Awning Repair Time
Photo Credit: Chris Hemer
by Chris Hemer
January 1, 2014
Filed under Trailer Gear, Trailer How To
Dometic Replacement Parts and a Couple of Hours of Labor Will Put the Fun Back into Patio Time
When it comes to life outdoors, a patio awning is a necessity. Whether it’s to keep you comfortable in the hot summer sun, or dry during an autumn rain, a patio awning is an exterior feature that few of us can live without. Along with putting down your RV’s leveling jacks and plugging in, deploying the awning is part of a ceremony that means you’ve arrived, and are ready to enjoy all the things RVing has to offer.
So when the awning stops working, it’s easy to see how the RV experience just isn’t the same. It’s a little like cookies without milk, or peanut butter without jelly — you can still enjoy, but it’s certainly not as good as it could be. Happily, if the awning is damaged or has called it quits altogether, there are a variety of replacement options available from the awning manufacturers. For example, Dometic USA offers awnings in both manual and power configurations, and they can be ordered in a wide selection of fabrics, sizes and colors to suit most trailers and motorhomes.
The front awning arm was actually bent slightly to the left, which prevented the awning from deploying correctly or completely.
The first step to replacing the old awning was to get the arms away from the coach so the mounting bolts could be accessed.
With the rear awning arm pulled out, it was easy to see that it was bent, too. Obviously, the former owner had struck something with the awning deployed or partially deployed, which caused the damage.
Once damaged, the awning arm was making contact with the mounting bracket on the coach every time the awning was deployed/stowed. Clearly, the awning had been used in its damaged state for a long time.
With the awning arms away from the coach, the mounting screws could be accessed and removed with a cordless drill.
Beneath this plastic bracket are more screws that secure the awning arm to the coach, so these must be removed as well.
The remaining two screws under the plastic bracket are removed.
Upon inspection of the roof brackets, more significant damage was discovered. You can see that the bracket itself was badly bent, and the resulting roof damage had been repaired rather poorly with automotive-grade silicone.
Since new roof brackets did not come in the kit (they’re normally not required) the awning arm was removed from the bracket, and then the bracket carefully bent back into shape for re-use. The roof was properly repaired before the new awning was bolted into place.
Before the awning assembly is removed, the arms are secured with nylon ties to prevent the springs from pushing the arms out. This is an important step; if the arms are not secured, they could cause injury during removal.
The old awning material was mildewed and showed signs of rot, so rather than attempting to save it, it was cut away from the roof rail.
With the bolts removed and helpers holding the awning arms at each end, the entire assembly could be removed from the coach.
Rather than removing the new awning assembly from its plastic wrap, a useful tip is to just cut the top of the wrap, so the awning does not get dirty on the ground awaiting install.
This small cotter pin prevents the assembly from unintentionally deploying, so it is important to leave it in place until the awning is mounted and ready for use.
The awning is lifted into place, and then secured to the roof brackets first.
The material at the end of the awning is fed into the roof rail, and the awning tube carefully slid into place. This takes some patience, as the material can snag and rip if not carefully fed into the roof rail.
The power cord for the awning motor is plugged in first, as it is located behind the arm and can’t be accessed once the arms are bolted into place.
The top mounting bolts are installed next.
The bottom mounting screws are installed in a reverse order of the removal, and once everything is secured, the nylon ties are cut and the previously mentioned cotter pin removed.
The new awning functions perfectly, and looks fantastic.
We recently observed a Dometic WeatherPro power awning as it was repaired on a 2005 Winnebago Itasca. Purchased used only months ago, the coach was in very good condition, save for the original power awning that was hurtin’ for certain. It would deploy partially, but then had to be pulled out the rest of the way by hand — and even then, it didn’t look quite right. Clearly, the previous owner had struck something while the awning was deployed or partially deployed, bending the awning arms and a bracket. Perhaps because of the resulting lack of use, age or both, the awning material had also begun to mildew and rot, rendering it practically useless.
Installing a new replacement awning isn’t terribly difficult, but it does require a few friends, a couple of ladders and a healthy dose of caution. After all, even a small patio awning is a large, heavy and cumbersome piece of equipment that is under spring tension, and must be handled with extreme care to prevent injury. If in doubt, always contact a local RV dealer or RV outlet such as Camping World to have the awning installed for you.
While this awning is being installed on a motorhome, the installation process is similar on a trailer. It’s a simple matter of ordering the correct size (the WeatherPro is available in lengths ranging from 10-21 feet) and installing it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Within a couple of hours, you’ll have it made in the shade.
574-294 2511 | www.dometic.com