Installing Carefree of Colorado’s Ascent slideout awning

Photo Credit: Scott Hirko

by Bob Livingston
December 15, 2016
Filed under Products, Uncategorized

 

Add an element of style with this box-type design, while keeping debris and rainwater under control

Just about all fifth-wheels and trailers these days have at least one slideout. The additional square footage enhances livability, but dealing with rainwater and debris that collect on the roof of these room extensions is not always welcome. A common solution is to install a slideout awning, commonly referred to as a topper, which will divert rain, divert the pathway of water, and keep out leaves and dirt that can be barriers to complete sealing when the slideout is retracted. In some cases, the awning only worsens the problem by allowing water to puddle or debris to gather, which complicates the retraction process, especially in bad weather. When awning fabric is not taut enough to prevent sagging, owners devise interesting ways to lift the material, including the use of beach balls and PVC pipe.

Carefree of Colorado’s Ascent line of slideout awnings has been upgraded to not only ensure that the common objections mentioned above are minimized but also to add visual appeal to any RV.

Protection from the elements and good looks aren’t the only attributes of the Ascent. Carefree’s design makes it possible to add a slideout awning to rooms that are positioned close to obstructions like patio-awning arms, as was the case with the test fifth-wheel. The Ascent butts up against the outer edge of the slideout room, so if the slideout clears, the Ascent will also clear. Slideout awnings that rely on arms that protrude past the room flanges will not work on this fifth-wheel.

1)

Once it was determined that the slideout awning could not be flush-mounted on the wall, the room was extended a few inches and measurements were made for placement of the brackets.

2)

The brackets were mounted to the side wall using self-tapping screws. Each screw was then removed

3)

and silicone sealer

4)

was applied in the hole and around the threads to prevent water intrusion.

5)

The brackets were lined up at the bottom of the upper flange, and the screws were driven into the wall of the slideout. Take time to confirm that there is adequate backing to handle the length of the screws.

6)

It takes two people to position the chassis (also known as the deflector assembly) on the brackets.

7)

The groove in the back of the chassis is positioned into the hook of the brackets and mounted using two ½-inch screws for each bracket.

8)

Once the chassis is in place and secure, the protective wrapper is peeled off.

9)

The end of the railing was opened slightly and the edges filed smooth to prevent the fabric from hanging up and tearing during the threading process.

10)

Threading the roller tube and fabric into the railing goes smoothly once the leading end is started and free. It takes two people to handle the roller tube.

11)

Once the roller tube is in the railing, it’s mounted in the chassis using fender washers and thread-cutting screws. This is another segment of the job that requires a second person.

12)

The roller tube spring is pre-wound from the factory, and once the spring lock pin is removed, the spring will quickly roll up, taking out any slack in the fabric.

13)

Installing the cover is really easy, but again, it takes two people.

14)

With the slideout room open at least 3 inches, the cover is held perpendicular to the chassis, lifted and hooked onto the back of the chassis.

15)

After rotating the cover up,

16)

it is secured onto the chassis using shoulder screws.

17)

Spacing between the patio-awning arm and the edge of the slideout is very close, which makes the design of the Ascent ideal for this fifth-wheel.

18)

Woven-acrylic fabric matching the patio awning was ordered for the three slideout awnings. Fabric is held taut and at a good pitch to allow for effective rainwater runoff.

19)

The fabric rolls out smoothly while the room is extending, and strong springs facilitate retraction without a glitch. There’s no fabric billowing, and after subjecting the Ascent to strong, sustained desert wind, there were no signs of damage to the fabric or hardware.

The box-type enclosure is also a big selling feature. It is much nicer to look at than fabric on roller tubes that remains exposed to the elements, and the ability to remove debris and water (in squeegee fashion) limits trips to the roof for cleanup before retracting. And the box matches Carefree patio awnings for a more uniform look. Even though the test fifth-wheel was fitted with Carefree’s Travel’r patio awning with the FLXguard protective wrap, rather than the box style, the dark color and smooth lines of the Ascent still complemented the overall exterior aesthetics.

A number of other features have been incorporated into the Ascent, including an improvement in the pitch that is said to have the best rainwater runoff in the industry. While we appreciated the style and quality, the component design and ease of installation were even bigger selling points. All the mounting hardware is concealed when installed on the slideout, and the roller cover is hinged so it’s easy to remove and gain access to the fabric for cleaning. The hardware is available in black or white, and the fabric can be ordered in acrylic, polyweave or vinyl. We matched the acrylic fabric to that used in the patio awning.

Establishing the right length for each slideout requires accurate measurements, and the awnings are available in standard and XL sizes. Standard lengths run 46 to 196 inches (with an extension of up to 42 inches available), and XL starts at 197 inches and can be ordered up to 384 inches.

There are two methods for mounting the slideout awnings: direct or via bracket kits ($55). Carefree gives a three-question test in the instructions to help buyers make the installation determination based on the style of the slideout. The direct mount is basically for nonrecessed rooms with flat flanges, and there is a specific clearance requirement for the top. If you can make it work, it’s the best way to go.

The slideouts in the test fifth-wheel have recessed front sections and raised flanges, so it was impos­- sible to flush-mount the chassis (also called the deflector assembly). In this case, we used the brackets, which offer a precision fit on the wall of the slideout.

Once the chassis is hung on the brackets, the roller tube is threaded into the railing, which was already installed from the factory on this fifth-wheel. If the RV is not so equipped, an awning rail is provided and will add time to the installation process. From here the roller tube with the fabric is mounted to the chassis, the spring-lock pin is pulled, and the front cover installed. Figure on around an hour for each slideout awning, and you’ll need at least one helper to assist with positioning the components and threading the awning fabric into the railing.

Right from the get-go, the fabric opened and closed perfectly, and laid relatively flat. The fabric remained under a good amount of tension, which prevented billowing and limited the aforementioned maladies.

We subjected the fabric to strong desert winds, and at times the flapping noise was disconcerting. We worried about how the fabric was going to sustain many hours of strong wind and considered closing the slideouts, but in the end there were no signs of damage, a testament to the quality of the fabric and hardware. A minimum amount of water collected during a rainstorm and was easy to deflect off the fabric.
Carefree of Colorado Ascent slideout awnings not only enhance the look of an RV but also add a layer of convenience that will immediately be appreciated by any owner. In the end, we installed three slideout awnings in 154-, 142- and 79-inch lengths. Prices, of course, are dependent on size. The ones installed on the test fifth-wheel retail for $682, $657 and $533 respectively.

Carefree of Colorado | 303-469-3324 | www.carefreeofcolorado.com

 


 

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