Thursday, January 13, 2011

Awning

Lazy Daze installs Fiamma awnings. Although not as sturdy as the normal spring-loaded roll-up awnings on most motorhomes, they do provide a sleek custom look to the side of the LD.
Caution: These awnings should never be left deployed while you are away from the rig, or if possible windy weather is expected. A few minutes to stow the awning could save you from finding your awning folded back over the LD or ripped completely apart.
Great Idea
Problem: When it rains the rain runs down between the LD side and the awning casing and usually manages to get the patio mats/rugs wet and/or muddies up the immediate area. There is about a 1/4" gap that allows that to happen. We have EZE Gutter but it does not protect roof water runoff over the sides during heavier rains.
Solution: To solve this problem, I took a roll of 1/2" backer rod <http://www.demandproducts.com/backrod.html> and using a putty knife gently tamped it into that gap. This should force any water to run onto the awning. Lowes carries 3 sizes of backer rod. I didn't want anything too permanent like a sealant in case the awning ever had to be replaced. This has not been tested but I think it should work.

Preventive Maintenance
You need to lubricate the spring loaded lateral arms with silicone spray or one of the "dry slide" type products. About every 6 months you need to lubricate all of the moving parts/joint etc...as they will have a tendency to get stiff.
You may need to have someone pull the awning out while someone else cranks the handle to get it out this time. Once the awning is out, lubricate the elbows (in the center of the lateral arms) and both ends of the lateral arms. Then work the lateral arms to loosen them up. The crank does not roll the awning out it is just releasing pressure and the springs in the lateral arm push the awning open.
Caution: WD-40 is not a particularly good lubricant. Rather it's a penetrating oil that is probably best used to free stuck parts (tho' there are better things for this, like "Liquid Wrench" etc). WD-40 will tend to gather dirt and dust, and this will act as an abrasive to accelerate wear to sliding and moving parts.
On rotating bearings, that have minimal exposure to dirt surfaces, a better high-pressure lubricant would be "Tri-Flow" or "Super-Lube Spray" (by Synco) - - both these products have a carrier that allows them to penetrate. The carrier evaporates to leave a thicker grease behind. Super-Lube is particularly good, as it's a synthetic with a broad temperature range (sold at Lowe's and on-line), it would also work well to lubricate the step etc. 
Trouble-Shooting
Awning does not roll up evenly
The awning material in both the upper roller and the lower end are free to travel in their slots, and I suspect that is what you experienced, as I had the same problem. What you have to do is first center the material in the roller slot on top. It is not hard if two people do it, one moving the material and the other checking the other end to insure it is centered. Then you come down and move the material until it is centered in the cover. It is easiest to hold the material and gently bang the cover end with your fist. Then roll it up and I bet everything will be OK, unless your arm adjustments have caused a problem. 
One contributor also took out the screws on the outer end cap and replaced them with longer ones - this stopped the fabric from walking - the screws are a 2 1/2 inch #8 wood screw, a 3 inch would be better.
Cover does not close at one end
Steve Newton explained that wrinkles in the fabric were the cause of the problem and could be removed by moving the center bar to the side with the wrinkles and slightly cranking the awning in and let it set for a few hours to pull the creases out. This works best on a
hot day. This solution has never worked too well.
Fiamma suggested a different fix: Fully open the awning exposing the roller assembly the fabric rolls up on. On the side that doesn't fully retract place several strips of duct tape (I used hockey stick tape) about 12" long on the exposed roller assembly. This slightly increases the diameter of the roller on that side allowing the awning to retract equally on both sides. You will need to experiment with the layers of tape to get it perfect. Starting in 2004-2205, the awnings have a red adjuster, located at one end of the big roller, that slightly increases or decrease the diameter of the roller. If the loose side is also on the aide of the adjuster, twist it to increase the diameter. This will pull the awning in at little faster rate on that side, letting both side close evenly and tight. Decrease the diameter if the adjuster is at the tight end.

Awning will not deploy when turning crank


The spring-loaded arms need to be lubricated. See PM paragraph above.

Awning will not retract at one end
1. Check the "Dual Shock Absorber": Recently when closing the Fiamma awning on our 2002 RB I heard an abnormal loud "pop." On close scrutiny I discovered that the right side "Dual Shock Absorber" had cracked and split open. The "Dual Shock Absorber" is the last part of the folding arm where it fastens to the coach. It's very easy to locate with its bright orange and white label.
On the Fiamma web site I found what I thought to be the part, but it was only labeled as a number - not the name "Dual Shock Absorber". In searching through the Fiamma site I found a very valuable item - their telephone number ( 407 672-0091 ) In talking to a very helpful employee, ( Bob ? ) he was able to confirm that the part number was almost what I needed. I had mistakenly thought that the broken piece was part of a larger, one piece, section and that the whole unit would need replacing. Where in fact there are two separate pieces and I was replacing only the upper one. ( item code 03396-01A ) He also pointed out that the "Dual Shock Absorber" came in a right and left version - which the parts chart did not show ! He went on to explain how the installation was quite simple and did not require awning support nor disconnecting of the awning arm. All this help for free - but the cost of the unit was a staggering: $4.95! :) My installation time was under five minutes.
2.  Packing up to come home after a few days of camping, the Fiamma awning would not fully retract at one end. Wanting to get home, I tied it back with a couple of zip ties, intending to look into it at home.
When I got around to it, I found this inside the awning's cover at both hinges.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/lwade/9096840883/in/set-72157634246512721
and
http://www.flickr.com/photos/lwade/9096840883/in/set-72157634246512721/
It should have looked like this.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/lwade/9099080274/in/set-72157634246512721
and
http://www.flickr.com/photos/lwade/9099088834/in/set-72157634246512721
What broke were the two nylon shock absorber bushings. Years of use and exposure to heat caused both to deteriorate and eventually break. They appear to be expendable. New bushings are available from Fiamma at a cost of $28 shipped.
http://www.fiamma.com/EN/download/awning_repairing/
It took about half an hour to replace both of them.
If your Fiamma awning is more than a few years old, check both of these bushings periodically for cracking.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/lwade/sets/72157634246512721/
You need to know the model number of the awning when ordering parts. Under the cover, on the right side, is a specification plate with all the needed information. It should look like this.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/lwade/9096852119/in/set-72157634246512721
If the bushings are intact and the awning still does not fully retract on one side, it can be adjusted. Awnings built in 2004, and newer, have a red adjusting ring on the left side of the roller. It is used to slightly increase or decrease the roller's diameter, causing that end to be tighter or looser.
http://www.fiamma.com/download/reparation/Trouble_shooting.pdf
Pre-2004 awning do not have this feature. I use strips of duct tape, applied to the roller and first few inches of the awning to increase the roller's diameter at the loose end. Add strips, one at a time, until the awning rolls evenly at both ends, depressing both of the red lock pins.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/lwade/9096860313/in/set-72157634246512721
The crank doesn't come to a tightened state; it just continues to turn
The crank's hooked end goes into a plastic loop. That loop is on the end of a cranking axle, held in place by a pin that goes through the plastic piece and the axle. The plastic piece can easily split or the pin can fail, both of which can lead to this problem. You can replace the pin and/or the plastic loop, but it's a major pain because of the tight clearance.
For an A&E systems product. I found the part (Gear Assembly) on the internet from a supplier in Texas ($100). The installation was easy , I just had to drill out a couple of rivets, and now I'm good to go. Thanks for all your help.
Awning stuck halfway
Tried to crank in awning and a popping sound and crank just slips. Feels like stripped gear. Awning is about 1/2 out and won't go either way.
It may not be the gears. You will have to take off the end cap (three screws), attach the turning rod to the black receiver (winch slot) and turn. Try to determine if the receiver (winch slot) is turning but not the rod it is attached to. If so, you need to find a way to re-secure it to the rod. There may be a pin or you may have to put a clamp to stop it from turning on that shaft so that you can roll in the awning. You may want to help push the awning as you turn the shaft to ease the tension and allow it to turn and not slip. To contact Fiamma, try service@fiamma.com. Phone: (407) 672-0091.
How to Remove Awning Roller
I just repaired the A&E Horizon box awning on our '96 26.5MB. I had a difficult time locating the correct part for my specific awning. Be sure the supplier is using your correct A&E (Dometic) box awning model number 977(xx)13.(xxx) found on the data plate inside the awning cover. xx=color 13=length. Roll tube diameter changes at the 13ft length. PDF parts break out and supplier at AAARV.net in Sacramento CA. The part number and price for a 13ft awning: 2.25” diameter roll tube is 3104701.002. $117.92.
Removal and replacement is a two person operation two ladder operation.
Use the below procedure for removal and replacement. You can also use for field removal of an extended awning that won’t retract. Requires two ladders, one can be a step ladder, # 2 philips and flat blade screwdrivers, 3/16” drill bit with drill motor and ½” thin wall socket wrench.

Extend the awning and lower carport legs and install the center rafter for support.

On right side of awning, remove the plastic winch snap on cover.

Remove the winch by loosening the three pan head screws using flat blade screwdriver

Drill out the pop rivet holding the lower box cover to the RH end cap.

Using the Philips head screwdriver remove the two remaining screws holding the end cap to the upper cover extrusion.

While supporting front of roll tube, have assistant support back of roll tube while you pull forward to release rear roller from its support.

Roll awning around roll tube tightly if you plan on placing back in box for transport.

Using socket wrench, loosen the stainless nyloc nut on front support leg.

Support front of awning using the ladder and slide the leg forward to remove.

You should now be able to slide the bead out of the awning cover by moving awning tube forward.

At this point you can replace the broken part on the winch end or put the rolled awning back in the box for transport. Screw the end caps back in. You will have to manually push the awning cover back and snap in. I would use a strap to insure the cover does not open during transport. The winched awning tensions the cover on taking the strain from the plastic lock tabs. When the awning is completely repaired; replace the pull rivet on lower awning cover.

I repaired the plastic / cast roller end with three stainless screws and saved the hundred bucks :) The plastic roller tube cap will taps out easily. If you have the right part at hand you can skip the leg removal.

Contributors: Bob Snyder ( Service Technician, FIAMMA, Inc.), Tom Riley, bumper, Gus Weber, Kurt, Bill Atkins, Virginia, Lucas, Chris Horst, Andy Baird, Dale Dollins, Annie Olson, Larry Wade
Revised 21 Jun 2013
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