Opening and closing the awning

Maintenance of the body of the camper

Opening and closing the awning

Postby skater » Wed Dec 28, 2011 12:06 pm

The awnings in our campers are pretty simple, and though there are various design changes over the years I think they essentially work the same way.

Here's how I open my awning:

1. Unlock the two latches that keep it closed.
2. Hook the crank handle into the eye and start rotating it a bit to open the awning a few inches.
3. Loosen the thumbscrew on one leg, then push it toward the outside edge of the awning (against the spring), then lower the leg to the ground. Raise the leg so that it's supporting at least some of the weight of the awning. Repeat for the other leg. Note the manual for my awning indicates that this is unnecessary; you should be able to crank the entire awning out then lower the legs. However, I like to avoid putting as much stress on the arms as I can.
4. As I unroll the awning, I occasionally stop and reposition the legs to "walk" the awning out, again, so the arms aren't supporting the entire weight.
5. When the awning reaches full extension, the arms will go almost entirely straight and the fabric will go slack. Crank it back up a little bit to make the fabric taut.
6. Adjust the legs to make the awning approximately level, but you may want to lower one end in case it rains.
7. Technically the awning should either be staked down or the legs should be placed into the holders on the side of the camper if yours has them (mine doesn't).

Contrary to that 6th step I don't recommend leaving the awning open in the rain. Here's why. Yes, that is the remains of one of my awning arms after it collapsed due to the weight of rainwater. Granted it was a pretty nasty storm, but don't risk it - close your awning. (I'm normally pretty careful about closing it but it just didn't occur to me that day.)

To close the awning, I basically do the reverse - cranking it in, stopping occasionally to "walk" the legs back in. When the awning is fully retracted, swing the legs back up into it by loosening the thumbscrews again, making the leg as short as possible, then pushing against the spring to fold the leg in. The feet only fit in one direction, and they will slide into a hole in the other part. One of my legs always pops right in, the other is somewhat balky, so be sure both pop in. Tighten the thumbscrews again to prevent them from loosening and falling out.

How does the awning work?

I'm glad you asked, because I've figured it out (after having mine apart due to the aforementioned collapse) and it's really quite simple. When you turn the crank, there is a gear mechanism up there that rotates the spool, and that's all it does.

The tension that forces the awning to unroll (and roll evenly and tightly) is all provided by the arms, which are spring loaded (quite heavily, mind you - there's a lot of force there) so that they are trying to straighten out. So, essentially, there are four moving parts -- the gear mechanism and spool (which move as one), and the two arms. That's it.

Maintenance

The awnings should not be closed while wet (or, if they are, opened and allowed to dry as soon as possible).

Cleaning is done with a mixture of 1/4 cup of dish soap and 1/4 cup of bleach mixed with 5 gallons of water. Slosh this mixture on to the top of the fabric, then roll it up for 5 minutes to get the bottom of the fabric. Roll it back out, hose off with fresh water, repeat if necessary, and allow the awning to dry before rolling it back up.

Lubricate the rafter arms and support arms using paraffin wax or silicone spray. Also lube the threads on the knobs.

Small Window Awning

If you have the optional awning over the street side large window, to open this just unroll it using the ribbon and hook it on the provided hook below the window. I've given up worrying about this one being wet when I close it - it gets wet when it rains even while closed.

This awning relies on springs in the roller that are set so that the awning is always trying to roll up (much like 'normal' RV awnings work). If this awning should come off the camper, be careful - the roller springs in them have a lot of tension that will want to spin the arms around unexpectedly.
1991 Airstream B190 - bought, 2005; sold, 2011; bought 2017
1995 Airstream Excella 30' trailer

WBCCI #13270, Washington, DC Unit
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Re: Opening and closing the awning

Postby mtnmanb » Tue May 15, 2012 6:21 pm

I'm curious if people here have permanent clips on the side of the B190 that they hook the arms into or if you stake the arms straight up and down when it's fully extended? My RV never came with clips on the side and the dealer is ordering them. Should I just forego the clip install and just stake them straight out? Will the legs support it?

Thanks!

B)
'90 bought 27Apr2012
Added Safe-T Stabilizer shock, port. generator, EZE RV gutters, curtains, memory foam 5.5" mattress, rebuilt bunk, Double Pancake LED light, O2 sensor, shore plug, 4655 Converter, Battery under couch, MaxxFan Fantastic Fan
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Re: Opening and closing the awning

Postby skater » Tue May 15, 2012 7:41 pm

mtnmanb wrote:I'm curious if people here have permanent clips on the side of the B190 that they hook the arms into or if you stake the arms straight up and down when it's fully extended? My RV never came with clips on the side and the dealer is ordering them. Should I just forego the clip install and just stake them straight out? Will the legs support it?


They will support it - in fact this is the only way I ever put mine up. You can put it up either way; but it's stronger with the clips. I'm not sure why Airstream didn't install them.
1991 Airstream B190 - bought, 2005; sold, 2011; bought 2017
1995 Airstream Excella 30' trailer

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Re: Opening and closing the awning

Postby Sector9surf » Tue Sep 05, 2017 1:00 am

Where do you get replacement parts for the awning?
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Re: Opening and closing the awning

Postby skater » Tue Sep 05, 2017 7:42 am

Sector9surf wrote:Where do you get replacement parts for the awning?


What year is your B190? That's important. If it's pre-1992, good luck. It's a Dometic awning, but they'll tell you it's a Fiamma awning, until you send the diagram to Fiamma and they'll tell you it's not one of theirs, then Dometic will realize it is, in fact, their awning, and they no longer have parts. (By the way, that shooting in Orlando a few weeks back was at that Fiamma office.)

If it's 1992 or later, it's likely a Fiamma-made awning with a Dometic name on it. However, I'm not sure if Fiamma made all of them through the end of the B190 run - I thought I heard once that Dometic starting making their own again at some point, but I could be wrong.

Short version: Start by calling Dometic.
1991 Airstream B190 - bought, 2005; sold, 2011; bought 2017
1995 Airstream Excella 30' trailer

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Re: Opening and closing the awning

Postby mountaindent » Tue Mar 06, 2018 2:17 pm

I am so torn on getting a replacement awning(my B190 had the clips except for one with no awning). It is nice to have some shade but, most of the annoying issues with RV life up till now has been associated with the awning on the previous rig. Have you seen a screened room that could be placed in front of the side doors to expand the living space while the doors are open? AND, my doors when open have a light that runs off the house battery and how does one keep the doors open without draining the house battery?
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Re: Opening and closing the awning

Postby skater » Wed Mar 07, 2018 3:02 pm

mountaindent wrote:I am so torn on getting a replacement awning(my B190 had the clips except for one with no awning). It is nice to have some shade but, most of the annoying issues with RV life up till now has been associated with the awning on the previous rig. Have you seen a screened room that could be placed in front of the side doors to expand the living space while the doors are open? AND, my doors when open have a light that runs off the house battery and how does one keep the doors open without draining the house battery?


I don't know of any screen rooms...the ones I've seen work with the awning.

In mine, the light actually runs off the engine battery, which is even worse. But you could replace it with an LED or just remove the bulb.
1991 Airstream B190 - bought, 2005; sold, 2011; bought 2017
1995 Airstream Excella 30' trailer

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Re: Opening and closing the awning

Postby mountaindent » Wed Mar 07, 2018 7:16 pm

When I take the camper in for a repair and I see them leaving the side door open for long periods of time I start to cringe. Thanks for the info about taking the bulb out. Perhaps, a screen room outside the camper not depending on leaving the door open at all of I planned on camping in an area for awhile.
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Re: Opening and closing the awning

Postby lido14co » Wed Mar 07, 2018 9:36 pm

mountaindent wrote:When I take the camper in for a repair and I see them leaving the side door open for long periods of time I start to cringe. Thanks for the info about taking the bulb out. Perhaps, a screen room outside the camper not depending on leaving the door open at all of I planned on camping in an area for awhile.
I disconnected the switch on the side door that turns on the interior lights ( the front or lights on a 92). Problem solved. If I remember correctly, it was just removing a couple of screws on the button and following the wire to a plug connector. We got screenz for the side doors and front windows so we’re able to leave them open when it’s hot and there’s no shore power.


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Re: Opening and closing the awning

Postby mountaindent » Thu Mar 08, 2018 9:28 pm

Thank you for the solution to leaving the doors open and not having the battery run down.
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Re: Opening and closing the awning

Postby mountaindent » Thu Mar 08, 2018 9:29 pm

lido14co wrote:
mountaindent wrote:When I take the camper in for a repair and I see them leaving the side door open for long periods of time I start to cringe. Thanks for the info about taking the bulb out. Perhaps, a screen room outside the camper not depending on leaving the door open at all of I planned on camping in an area for awhile.
I disconnected the switch on the side door that turns on the interior lights ( the front or lights on a 92). Problem solved. If I remember correctly, it was just removing a couple of screws on the button and following the wire to a plug connector. We got screenz for the side doors and front windows so we’re able to leave them open when it’s hot and there’s no shore power.


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Do you have a link to the screens by any chance?
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Re: Opening and closing the awning

Postby lido14co » Thu Mar 08, 2018 9:39 pm

mountaindent wrote:
lido14co wrote:
mountaindent wrote:When I take the camper in for a repair and I see them leaving the side door open for long periods of time I start to cringe. Thanks for the info about taking the bulb out. Perhaps, a screen room outside the camper not depending on leaving the door open at all of I planned on camping in an area for awhile.
I disconnected the switch on the side door that turns on the interior lights ( the front or lights on a 92). Problem solved. If I remember correctly, it was just removing a couple of screws on the button and following the wire to a plug connector. We got screenz for the side doors and front windows so we’re able to leave them open when it’s hot and there’s no shore power.


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Do you have a link to the screens by any chance?

http://skreenz.com/FordSkreenz.htm

Not cheap but decent quality. The front window screens just slip over the door. The side door screen uses Velcro which is supplied. We’ve had them for the last two summers and they’ve worked great. I believe there’s a post on site where people have successfully made their own for a lot less. Wasn’t in my skill set though!


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