Another one (awning) bites the dust

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scottydl

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We just returned from our annual (and favorite) camping trip to the eastern shores of Lake Michigan... it's like a freshwater ocean on that side, with soft sandy beaches, crashing waves on breezy days, and amazing sunsets over the water.

It rained heavily one of the evenings at the campground, so we were inside the RV playing games and watching TV as a family. Our Carefree awning (which I installed myself a couple years ago) was extended, which has never been a problem as long as the wind stays minimal, and our usual campsite is down between large wooded hills (actually sand dunes) where almost no wind ever reaches. Of course I had the awning tilted down on one end, to allow water to cascade off that corner. It had been working fine for several days, as I had observed lighter rainfall and A/C condensation dripping down as expected.

Around 10pm (after a couple hours of rain) I opened the main entry door under the awning to let the dog out... at least I tried to open the door. It stopped after about 6 inches outward, and I noticed to my horror that the awning had obviously filled up with water and the fabric was stretched/bowed so far down that it blocked the door from opening. I squeezed outside and took about 5 seconds to assess before deciding I needed to lower the low side of the awning some more to let the excess water spill off.

As soon as I pulled on the arm height adjustment handle (which seemed "stuck" so I gave it a harder tug), CRASH WHOOSH SPLASH the entire thing came crashing down on top of me! I got an instant shower, which was more like a waterfall from the deluge of awning water... I stood there stunned and somewhat trapped by the awning/roller, which was now hanging straight down with my body between it and the side of my trailer. Luckily a folding chair had been against the side of the RV, which took the impact from the roller that came rapidly swinging down... instead of it smacking into my legs or back.

After clearing the stars from my head and taking a look at what happened, the connections had snapped on both ends of where the upper arms attach to the roller. The roller cap itself broke on one side, and the other side was the joint between the cap and arm. In hindsight, the arms/mechanics had an incredible amount of downward weight on them from the pooled water (which must've found just enough of a low point during the heavy rain, and gathered there instead of spilling off the side)... when I tried to force the "locked" arm to move, the weakest points gave up and down came the whole sh'bang. My wife and kids (who were inside the RV) said the trailer rocked back and forth & sounded like a truck came down the hill and crashed into the trailer.

After many local inquiries and phone calls, I filed an insurance claim (since we were traveling and I didn't have a ladder/tools needed) and the next day a mobile RV tech + helper came out and removed the lifeless awning and arms... photo below. The 16 foot roller was fed into the trailer through a partially-disassembled rear window, in case it (or the arms) are salvageable and can be re-used for the repair/replacement. The trailer was dropped off at a large RV dealer/service center on our way home from Michigan to Illinois, and we jam-packed everything from the trailer into our Suburban for the rest of the trip home.

Why "another" awning biting the dust? Here's the story of the awning failure on my first RV. :p Different circumstances at least! After 11+ years of RV'ing I would like to think I have most everyday RV things figured out, but this goes to show that the elements can still humble me pretty quickly.
 

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scottydl

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Oh yeah, all the lights are still in great shape... one of the "tiki torch" type light covers was smashed and a bit misshapen, but I bent it back into a general round shape and it's ready to be hung (on the new future awning) on our next trip!
 

RedandSilver

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Well at least you didn't mention anyone getting hurt.
Let us know how it turns out when everything is back together or a new awning is put up.

MI can get plenty of rain especially near the lakeshore.
I put up my awning when rain is forecast because is can change from a sprinkle to a down pour in record time.

Where in MI were you?
 

scottydl

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The rain was forecast and everything, and we've experienced brief storms here before... just nothing that ever made me think there was enough water to "defeat" the awning-tilt and gather in the fabric instead. It was dark outside and I never even thought to check periodically until it was too late.

RedandSilver said:
Where in MI were you?

Southwestern area, near South Haven. Specifically at Covert Beach and Campground... www.covertpark.com
 

PopPop51

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Mar 30, 2010
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After a Florida squall, I had a similar pooling that was precipitated (get it?) by an awning that wasn't tilted QUITE enough and fabric that wasn't stretched QUITE tight enough.
The one thing I did do right was to unload the water by taking a broom and pushing up the center of the awning fabric from below.
The weight of the water had bent the awning tube beyond repair, but I stayed dry and nothing else broke.
 

scottydl

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PopPop51 said:
The one thing I did do right was to unload the water by taking a broom and pushing up the center of the awning fabric from below.

I thought of this exact remedy AFTER that fact (isn't that when all good ideas arrive?) ... which is what I should have done, instead of pulling on the arm adjustment latch that had a few hundred extra unrated pounds pressing downward.

Good news so far... the insurance estimate / claim process is going very quickly and smoothly. I've already been reimbursed for the mobile RV tech, mileage costs for having to drop off & pick up the trailer for service, and total awning replacement cost ($1900+) has been approved and I'll be getting that payment also. I provided my debit card during the claims process, so the money is arriving instantly.

Hopefully the service center will be able to get the parts and finish the installation just as quickly as the rest of the process has occurred.
 
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