This is primarily for the people with the standard, A&E
awning. You guys with the more
expensive, single-action or powered awnings do not need much, if any,
following monologue. I think the
standard Colorado awning setup is almost identical to the A&E.
Make sure the wind is calm when you extend your awning. I lost
an awning right over the top of
the RV in a sudden wind gust. It
broke all of the aluminum struts -- and missed my head by inches as it
flew over the top. The strut also cut a hole in my fiberglass
siding. Be very careful when retracting
your awning during high winds.
High winds will occur anywhere. So, I learned to keep the
awning well staked. Right. Then one day feeling comfortable
knowing that the awning stakes would hold everything in place, I
started hear a clicking sound in my cupboards. The awning was
actually pulling the side of my RV off. I went outside and saw
the screws being pulled out. I have not had the awning extended
since. I learned a similar lesson with my ramada/canopy.
I found an interesting article at the FMCA web site: Wind Forces and
your Awning. (I had a link to the exact page but they moved it.)
The following is the normal procedure for an A&E awning.
If in question, read your unit's directions.
- With the extender rod, pull the security latch on the
front end of the awning toward you.
This is a small t-shaped
lever on the awning roll front casing cover.
- Unlatch the retaining lock on each of the two vertical
This may be a lever that you pull sideways or it may be a plastic
- Loosen the tension knobs on each support bar until they
are loose but certainly not off.
- With the extender rod, pull the loop in the strap for
about one foot.
Make sure both
upper latches have released. If
not, wiggle the strut with the stuck latch.
If this does not
release the strut, retract the awning and
If this is still not
good enough, climb the ladder and see why the strut is stuck.
- With the extender rod, pull the loop in the strap until
the awning is fully extended. It will stay extended.
If not latching, check the security latch in step 1.
- Slide each unlatched support bar the bar to the awning
roll until it latches.
- Tighten the 2 tension knobs. You have a firm triangle
between the RV, the tension bar and
the extendable awning support bar.
- Attach an anti-flap device (Wal-Mart) in
the middle to the tension arm of each end of the awning. These
look like oversized Ping-Pong
paddles with a screw in the middle. There are other kinds but
they have the same purpose. I like the ping-pong paddles best.
- Attach a packing strap hook, ratchet-end down to the
end of the awning support (Wal-Mart, Costco). A packing strap is
normally used for
household moving. It is made of
woven cording with a hook at each
end and a
tension ratchet in the middle. The strap should be at least
10-feet long. And is hanging loose from the awning casing.
- Extend each of the two extendable awning support bars
to as high as desired by pulling the lever handle away from the support
pushing the handle and support arm out and up. Release the handle
when properly extended. See notes.
- Drive a large tent stake into the ground -- slightly
away from the vertical point of the awning end.
- Attach the ratchet-end of each packing strap to its
stake. Tighten the ratchet until the strap is taught but not under
Note that your RV must be stable (on your jacks) for this otherwise movement of the RV can damage your awning supports.
Awning Extension Notes:
- I place the extender rod ALWAYS in the same location in
case of an emergency and I need to retract the awning. I always
place the rod in the front strut of the awning support.
- The awning provides shade to your RV and your relaxing
time. This saves you electricity
and provides much comfort.
- A screen room is valuable if you live where there is a
high density of bugs or you have a higher than usual requirement for
privacy. I think these are
expensive. A screened gazebo seems
more flexible and much less expensive.
- If there will be any rain, or leaves from local trees,
leave one awning side lower than the other to drain the water.
- The higher you extend, the more susceptible to the wind
and the less shade.
- Never extend the awning past horizontal. Never to the last
hole in the slide.
- The pull-down strap is mounted in one of the roller
slots and travels the length of the awning. It is a good idea to
wrap this around the front awning
support when extension is complete. Otherwise the wind will wobble the strap to
the other end and it will fall on the
ground and get lost and be painful to re-insert into the slot.
Struts to the Ground
In its normal
connected position the awning struts form a
triangle to the waist-high side of the RV. This triangle makes for the strongest support configuration.
If you can be absolutely sure that no wind at all will occur
while you are in camp, you may unclamp the lower latch and stake the
bar to the ground. This will
eliminate knocking your head on the support bar.
If the wind comes up,
and the awning strut is staked to the
ground, the stakes may be pulled and your awning is history.
A new awning will cost at least $700. The lever handle is made
metal. This means that sooner or
later, the latch will break. These
cost about $20 at you local RV store. I carry a spare. You
need a drill to remove the old pop rivets and use a pop-rivet tool ($10 WalMart) to
There are many new support arrangements to make this process
easier or automatic. I am sure
they are worth the money.
- Remove your attachments: lamps, bug bugs, flappy-things, etc.
- Make sure the bottom latches are secure in the side of the
RV – especially if you had removed them and staked them to the ground.
- Retract the support arms by holding the lever handle
away from the support arm and permitting it to slowly retract into
- Remove the anti-flap devices on the extension supports.
Loosen the tension knob in the middle of each extension support.
Release the latch at the end of each extender support.
Retract each extender support
- Have someone hold the retracting strap securely.
- Use the extender rod to push the security latch back (front awning casing) to
its locked upright position.
- Carefully attach the extender rod into the loop on the
- With a smooth release, permit the awning to retract to
the side of the RV. It should
latch into the top of the extender arm.
Note that if you permit the roll to have any angle (spiral edges), your
vertical struts will not align when the roll reaches the top. In
this case, the outside struts will not cover the upper latch and you
will need to carefully repeat this process until the awning rolls in a
- Pull the two arms at each end together, they should latch. Tighten the
- Latch the retaining lock on each of the two support
arms. If it does not latch, then
the arm is not itself properly aligned and latched into the top
support. You may have to retry the extend-release
operation until it latches squarely at both ends (step 8).
- Put the extender rod away along with your attachments.
- The packing straps are already described.
- You may buy a string of lamps. There is a slot in the
awning roll to
- You may attach a vertical screen for both privacy and
sun evasion. This will keep your
RV warmer. Use the same slot as
for the above lights. You also get
more stability if you stake the screen down.
- You may add a screen room around your awning. If so, you
know more about this than I
- Always stake your awning unless you want to climb your
roof to recover the broken parts.
There are products just for cleaning awnings. I find a dish
soap solution (Joy) is
good for this and many other things. In Florida, a Joy solution
kills the algae growing on the concrete –
cleaning vinyl is a snap.
Under severe wind conditions you may want to connect
multiple packing straps and run this long strap the length of the
about the middle. Stake these at
each end of the awning. Under
these conditions, instead of more straps I would retract the awning and pray.
Do not underestimate the power of the wind to damage
your awning and its supports. If
in question, leave the awning retracted.
While driving across a San Francisco Bay area bridge, the front
strut came unlatched and even with the safety latch in place managed to
extend way from the RV you have no idea how dangerous this is. I
use a bungie cord now at the top of each strut to make sure nothing
While staking my strut to the ground a sudden burst of wind caught
the awning and it flew over the top of the RV taking the struts and
everything with it. All aluminum pieces were broken. One
had pierced the other side of my RV. And my neighbor said I was
lucky as the strut with the nail in it missed my head by inches.
I no longer remove the strut from the side of my RV when setting up.
I set myself up more or less permanently. I staked down the
awning as described above. I sat inside and listened to the
winds. I heard a popping sound. I went outside to discover
that the awning was destroying my RV. It was literally tearing
the entire side of the RV off. The awning permanently attaches to
the rain gutter strip on the side of the RV. Running the length
of the awning is a hemmed in rubber strip that installs the awning by
sliding this hemmed strip from the open end of the rain gutter at the
front of the RV to the place on the side where it permanently
resides. The front and rear brackets make sure it stays in this
place. So now the awning was pulling the gutter strip rivets out
of the side of the RV. Soon my roof would be loose and maybe even
the side of the RV. I retracted the awning permanently.
Right now as I write this I hear wind whistles and know I am safe.
Suggestions? Questions? Comments? Push the
Updated: August 14, 2008
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