Manual Awning Arms Won't "Unlock"

The friendliest place on the web for anyone with an RV or an interest in RVing!
If you have answers, please help by responding to the unanswered posts.

Zulu Kono

Well-known member
Joined
May 28, 2022
Posts
120
Location
USA
Just arrived home from our first outing in the Dutchmen.
Everything worked out great except our awning.
It's similar to the Dometic A&E in this video, only ours is
way longer and has a "Tensioner Rafter" in the center.
Could not for the life of me get either of the two arms to lift up off their "hooks".
I used the rod to flip the switch to "Unroll", loosened
the screw-wheel on the tensioner, then used the intended
handles to lift up on the arms and try to get them to "unhook".
One of those handles actually snapped off as I was lifting.
What am I doing wrong?
An awning was a must-have when I was trailer
shopping, and at this point mine seems unusable.
 
Last edited:

Gary RV_Wizard

Site Team
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Posts
77,094
Location
West Palm Beach, FL
You should not flip to the Roll-up position until the side tension arms have been unhooked and moved to their store position next to the sidewall. Flipping the Roll/Unroll "switch" should the very last step before the roller begins to turn. Otherwise the roller puts pressure on the arms and makes everything else difficult. So when the video says "do all the steps in reverse order to roll it up", don't start with the roller tube switch.
 

Zulu Kono

Well-known member
Joined
May 28, 2022
Posts
120
Location
USA
You should not flip to the Roll-up position until the side tension arms have been unhooked and moved to their store position next to the sidewall. Flipping the Roll/Unroll "switch" should the very last step before the roller begins to turn. Otherwise the roller puts pressure on the arms and makes everything else difficult. So when the video says "do all the steps in reverse order to roll it up", don't start with the roller tube switch.
I can't get the side arms "unhooked" regardless of the position of that switch.
Believe me, I tried every possible combination of steps I could think of.
In the video, his arms just lift up and off.
Mine are locked in some how.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

Site Team
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Posts
77,094
Location
West Palm Beach, FL
It occurs to me that there are some minor differences in the mechanism over the years. One is that the release button for the side rafter (tension) arm moved from the underside to the end of the side rail. I don't know which you have, but are you finding the release button? It's called the slider catch in the written instructions. This version of the A&E manual shows it on the underside. You must pull the release to slide the rafter tension arm back down.


If this explanation and manual doesn't help, guess you will need some hands-on advice/help. Maybe a neighbor is familiar with the manual A&E awning? Or maybe somebody here lives close enough to stop by and help.
 

Rene T

Site Team
Joined
May 20, 2011
Posts
20,030
Location
Farmington NH
I can't get the side arms "unhooked" regardless of the position of that switch.
Believe me, I tried every possible combination of steps I could think of.
In the video, his arms just lift up and off.
Mine are locked in some how.
What are you trying to unhook? That’s where I get confused. Can you take a picture of what you are talking about? That would really help.
Is it at the very top of the arm assembly on the wall of the rv? If it is, at times I’ve had to use the wire handle hook to grab onto the roller axle and pull it away from the rv. Just make sure the roll lever is in the extend or unroll position. You may have to pull it away this way on both sides
 

uchu

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 9, 2019
Posts
911
Location
Ontario, Canada
Maybe the lock button is not getting released when pulling the handle up? I have the exact Dometic awning in "George" and have never experienced that issue...
 

Zulu Kono

Well-known member
Joined
May 28, 2022
Posts
120
Location
USA
After watching a different video, I think my awning model
may be different than the one in the video I originally posted.
Maybe the arms don't "unhook" like the ones in the first video.
Maybe after you flip the switch it just pulls out with no "unhooking"?
I left the camper up in the mountains so I
won't be able to test it out again until Friday.
 

Kirk

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 30, 2005
Posts
4,059
Location
Full-time , Escapee
Could not for the life of me get either of the two arms to lift up off their "hooks".
I used the rod to flip the switch to "Unroll", loosened
the screw-wheel on the tensioner, then used the intended
handles to lift up on the arms and try to get them to "unhook".
One of those handles actually snapped off as I was lifting.
I have a manual awning by Carefree and it works nearly the same as the A&E on my last RV. But you do not unhook the arms from the side of the RV to lower the awning. You loosen the screw in knobs, release the locking device on the side of each arm.
1660078987567.png
Next unlock the roll brake.
1660079191705.png
Now you use the reach rod to hook the pull tab in the center of the awning and pull it down until fully extended. Then slide the the support brace on each side to the top of the arm where it will lock, then pull snug and tighten the black knob on each side. The picrues can be found in the awning ownsers manual from Carefree of Colorado.
 
Last edited:

Gary RV_Wizard

Site Team
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Posts
77,094
Location
West Palm Beach, FL
OK, I re-read the OP and see I was mistaken. But I'm still not clear on what won't "unhook".

The first video showed lifting the arm a bit before unrolling while the last one skips that step. That "unhook" step is a mystery, and it is not shown in the A&E awning instruction manual I included earlier in this thread.
Sure would help to know what model awning this is, but the manual I posted covers the three common models, Sunchaser, 8500 and 9000. I've owned both an 8500 and a 9000 and those instructions are accurate.
 
Last edited:

Zulu Kono

Well-known member
Joined
May 28, 2022
Posts
120
Location
USA
The first video I posted is one I watched before we left
for camping, so I left home thinking I knew what I was doing.
Where we're camped there's no cell service, and we like
it that way, so I was unable to look into it until I got home.
At this point I'm fairly certain I was doing it wrong all along, and my awning
is probably like the one in the second video by Rednecks Gone Wild.
I won't know until I get back up there to check it out, probably tomorrow night.
Gotta get back up there and get me some more of these rotund beauties!

huckleberries.jpg
 

Rene T

Site Team
Joined
May 20, 2011
Posts
20,030
Location
Farmington NH
I have a friend that has a very tight awning meaning when we close it, the last 2’ we let it go as fast as it will go. To top of the arms ride up and over the bracket which is bolted to the side of the rv over the gutter. In order to open it, I flip the lever to extend/unroll then using the handle with the 90 degree bend on the end, I have to hook it over the axle for the roller tube and pull it off the brackets. I have to do this on both ends. This may be the OP’s issue
 

NY_Dutch

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 22, 2010
Posts
8,103
Location
Where our wheels take us!
Make sure to flip the arm lock "flippers" located about midway up the arms down to release the arms as seen in the second video. With the tension knobs released and the top latch flipped to the down position, the awning should roll down using the pull strap.
 

CharlesinGA

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 6, 2017
Posts
1,453
Location
50 miles south of Atlanta, GA
I've had two different A&E 8500 awnings. On the Thor, there was no lifting up of the arms, (which I think is the more common design) It had plastic latches that locked the rafters inside the main arms. You took your thumb and middle finger, straddling the outside of the arm and pushed toward the side of the RV on the black locks, this caused them to release and the rafter became loose inside the arm.

On my current awning, no black clips, rather it has the flip up latches like shown in the drawing Kirk posted above in post #11.

Then, on either one of them, loosen the black knobs about two turns.

At that point, on the Thor, you simply took the hooked rod, flipped the latch with it, hooked the black strap and pulled the awning out, the arms will come with it. On the current awning, you take the rod, flip the latch and hook the strap and pull it about two clicks of the mechanism. The roll will loosen, but the arms will not come out. Now, you can grasp the arms, lifting on the lever (it has to be unlatched to let the awning move upward) and lift them up and outward. You must put those two or three clicks of slack in first or you will never get the arms to unhook from the top.

After you have unhooked both arms, then go ahead and pull it out with the strap. With it fully extended, slide the rafters out till the gray plastic clips catch them at the top of the arms, and pull down hard to tension the awning fabric and tighten the black knob. Do this to the other one, then raise the awning up using the release levers. I do a few holes at a time. If there are two people you can go full up together.

The latch that came loose can be pop riveted back in place or a short screws and self locking nuts, so long as it clears the rafter slider when it slides by inside the arm.

Do not damage any of this stuff. Dometic has or is in the process of discontinuing virtually all of the spare parts for these model 8500 awnings. I guess too many people like the new electric junk.

I have added an RVAwninglock and it is a positive lock that prevents the roll from turning until you pull the D ring and rotate it to keep it unlatched. It is to prevent unfurling of the awning in high wind conditions on the road. If one is installed it will be on the aft arm, opposite end from the latch.

Charles
 

Attachments

  • Rvawning lock inst finished fig14.jpg
    Rvawning lock inst finished fig14.jpg
    268.8 KB · Views: 3
Last edited:

Zulu Kono

Well-known member
Joined
May 28, 2022
Posts
120
Location
USA
Do not damage any of this stuff. Dometic has or is in the process of discontinuing virtually all of the spare parts for these model 8500 awnings. I guess too many people like the new electric junk.

I have added an RVAwninglock and it is a positive lock that prevents the roll from turning until you pull the D ring and rotate it to keep it unlatched. It is to prevent unfurling of the awning in high wind conditions on the road. If one is installed it will be on the aft arm, opposite end from the latch.
Too late.
I snapped one of the lift handles off while trying to force the
arms upward, which I'm pretty sure was the wrong procedure.
Also, there are these plastic "catches" at the top of each arm which
I now know are to release the tension arms when retracting the awning.
One of those was completely missing, and I broke the other
one futzing with it while wrongly trying to deploy the awning.
So far I've found replacements for both on Amazon at around
half the price of what an RV dealer quoted me over the phone.
I will win this fight.

Also, I'll check the aft end of the awning to see if a PO
may have installed the gizmo which you referred to.
Thanks for that tip.
 

Zulu Kono

Well-known member
Joined
May 28, 2022
Posts
120
Location
USA
The verdict is in, I'm an idiot!
The awning is indeed a model 8500.
First thing I did when I got back
to camp last week was flip all the
switches and pull out on the loop.
Thing came open like a prom dress.
Pretty easy to set up except for the
side where I snapped off the handle.
I was able to use a screwdriver and pry the lever
back far enough to release the pin that's in there,
but I don't want to go through that again.
Ordered a new one off Amazon for $20.
I've had way more expensive mistakes that that.

The plastic "catches" at the tops of the arms are
gone on both ends of the awning, but everything stayed
in place the whole time, even during some light winds.
I was going to replace them, but now they seem
kind of pointless, and $18 for four little pieces
of cheap plastic seems stupid.

Thanks to everybody who contributed to this conversation!
 

Old_Crow

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 20, 2016
Posts
3,612
Location
Tom's Place, California
Those plastic clips really come into play if you decide to unmount the bottom of the main rafter and put it on the ground like a normal patio or carport roof support.
I started doing this after the first time somebody clocked themselves in the head with the awning rafter. I probably wouldn't have worried about it if that person had been someone other than my wife.
 
Top Bottom