Wednesday, September 14, 2011

"Awning-ology"

Way back from the very first RV I owned, I’ve had this love-hate relationship with awnings. On one hand, there’s nothing like sitting under the awning, sipping on your favorite beverage at Happy Hour. On the other hand, we roll up the awning on the side of our RV’s and travel down the open road praying that a side wind doesn’t inflate it and tear it off.

If you haven’t experienced an awning “unfurling” on you while traveling, you have been lucky. Most of us have experienced it or talked to someone that it has happened to.  Awning damage not only occurs to stationary RV’s with their awnings out but also to those traveling down the road. When a powerful side wind contacts the side of the RV, the air is diverted in all directions, including upward into the retracted awning and causes the "unfurling".  Awning damage is the 3RD highest Insurance claim made in the industry. We have always made sure that we do not leave our awning out when we are away from our RV, or at night and have never had that type of damage.

However, we have sure had them “unfurl” while driving down the road and it was always when we experienced a high side wind. The first time it happened was on one of our Teton 5TH wheel’s and it took the awning completely off and tossed it in the ditch.  Since then I have used several different methods of securing the awning to eliminate the problem but I never did feel comfortable with any of those methods. I know and agree the best advice is to just shut down and not travel during such winds. But that's not possible all the time.

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Now this Foretravel Motorhome has Awning “locks” on the arms of each awning. This is the fix most people use and I have used it before. However, I never had complete faith in them as they are no match for the power created from strong side winds and do little to prevent unfurling or ballooning.

We found out these lock's don’t do the job when we were bringing the motorhome back to Custer from Nacogdoches, TX when we bought it last year. In Kansas, we were traveling West on the Interstate when the wind kept getting stronger and stronger and it was hitting us directly on the side with this awning. Having experienced this unfurling before, I positioned my rear view mirror so I could keep a close eye on the awning. Sure enough, soon it started ballooning as the wind gusts inflated it.

Fortunately I was able to pull into a rest area immediately. I was at the winds mercy, there was nothing I could do. So as we sat waiting for the wind to go down. I noticed  that the map showed a secondary road just a half mile ahead that I could go North on, So we eased on up to that road which turned out to be a great road and then we had a tail wind way on up into Nebraska. Solved the problem that time; however, since then I started searching for something to stop this problem.

I could find nothing that I thought would do the job.  Then some of you will remember my Blog written as we were coming up to Custer, SD this year from our place at North Ranch, AZ, we again had serious ‘unfurling” of the street side awning. We were going down I-80 headed West doing fine with a great tail wind again but then at Rawlings, WY, we had to turn North and I knew we were in trouble. The very strong wind was hitting us smack dab on the left side.  Soon again I saw the awning beginning to balloon or “unfurl”. I slowed down but that didn’t help.  So I pulled into a nice wide spot along the side of the road and we sat...and we sat...and we sat. The wind didn’t let up in the least, in fact I believe it increased even more. I didn’t want to lose that awning, so we sat it out.  Thankfully, Verizon had a strong signal way out there and with our air card, we were able to get some computer time in. I immediately set out to find the solution to this awning unfurling problem. I had to find something, this was ridiculous!
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This is what I finally found and I’m hoping it is my solution to the problem. It is called RV Awning Clamp and is manufactured by RV Innovations..
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It's not cheap by any means but it appears to be very sturdy and in my mind it is the only item that I feel will do the trick and still not look too terribly distractive or unattractive. I’ll let you know how it works. Now Ms. Pat and I must remember to unlatch it before we put the slide out!!! We already have a big RED warning sticker on the slide control.
 
*Please Note: You will notice that these clamps are not recommended for slideout awnings. Well, mine is a dual purpose awning.  It is a slideout awning and a window awning and I believe it should do the trick just fine…. (famous last words!:-)

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It is a GREAT WEEK!!!!

We are enjoying our “Cabin” more every day….thanking God for such a wonderful life and good friends.  It is truly a Blessing.

Mike

This Blog is Published every Wednesday and Sunday..

7 comments:

Kenny And Angela's Adventure said...

Neat little gadget can't wait to see how it works.

Jerry and Suzy said...

The only on-the-road awning unfurling we ever had was when we took a friend's older unit out -- he wanted to sell it to us, and we liked it, but he wanted us to pay for all his good memories as well as the motorhome. As soon as we saw the problem we pulled over and stopped. Didn't know what to do, as (1) it wasn't ours, and (2)we knew nothing about motorhomes at the time. Saw a convenience store at a turnoff 1/4 mile ahead, crawled in there and bought some duct tape. That held everything together for the rest of the trip, but it was butt ugly.

Judy and Emma said...

So, do you have to climb up on the roof each time to undo it? I'd really like to know how you latch and unlatch it.

Janna and Mike said...

I'm with Judy, Mike--do you have to unlatch it every time?

squawmama said...

Can't wait to hear more about how it works...
Have fun
Donna

THE BAYFIELD BUNCH said...

Yep, happened to us in Kansas a few years back. Not nice!! Had a new awning installed in Quartzsite a couple months later. Will be interested to see how you make out with the new device. With all the big unpredictable winds in the southwest it is rare for us to even put the awning out anymore,

where's weaver said...

We haven't had that problem...yet! Glad you found a solution. Enjoy the ride.