The Great Awning Fiasco of ’16

You know how on trees and bushes the branches get smaller and more flexible the farther from the trunk they are, such that those on the very edge of the tree are thin, weak, and highly bendable?  Yeah, that’s what I thought too.  Turns out manicured trees don’t adhere to that principle, and the one I brushed up against in Key Largo while foolishly attempting to make an unplanned stop was essentially a two by four camouflaged with a fuzzy covering of fresh leaves.  Bottom line, I bent the living crap out of our rear awning strut. Three of the four major struts in the arm are bent beyond repair, and both connection brackets are cracked as well.


Bent inner and outer strut arms

You know how RV awnings are spring tensioned, so that they will roll themselves back up once you flip the mechanical direction lever, safely controlling the retraction from the center of the awning, well clear of the farm combine-like danger of the rapidly closing arms?  I knew that too!  But I also managed to get my awning out of its track during the roll up process while trying to assess and mitigate the damage from the event in the first paragraph.  So I went over to that bent rear awning arm, now stuck a couple of feet from full retraction, and shook it firmly to get it unstuck.  That’s how I came to be trapped, right arm pinned between the arm and the RV side, by my own stupid interference with the retraction process.  I wasn’t hurt, just stuck, but I did have flashes of 127 Hours in my head.  I  assessed I could pull my arm free at the cost of significant skin abrasion , but chose to swallow my pride and bang on the RV until Rose came out, who once satisfied I was unhurt, desperately wanted to take pictures before going to for help.  To her grave she will regret it, but I convinced her to just get the damn neighbors, who I walked through the process of extending my awning whilst I twisted awkwardly on the side of our motorhome.


Bent outer rafter

You know how you should only extend your awning during light to moderate winds, because they are constructed of materials that are less robust than the plastic and balsa wood models you constructed as a child?  I knew that as well!  But I also got caught by unexpected, rapidly increasing winds during the night in Key West, resulting in my front awning top bracket nearly ripping out from the RV entirely, and both components that attach the floating rafter to the strut being bent and damaged.  I was able to rescrew the upper bracket part way in, and repair the front rafter-awning slide with a hammer and pliers, and will work the rear one another day.


Rear rafter to strut arm slide out of track and cracked.  Repaired the front one already.

Seriously, some of the parts on this awning are so weak and incredibly cheap!  Fortunately, once I finally get around to replacing the entire rear awning assembly, that will leave me with enough extra components to fully repair the front bracket and pieces as well.


Front top bracket connecting the upper strut to the RV: Screws stripped part way out of the holes.


6 thoughts on “The Great Awning Fiasco of ’16

  1. Ooh, I wanted those pictures, too! Haha. Sorry Jack, but I can just envision you stuck there and hollering, “Forget the damn camera, Rosemarie, and just get me outta here!” Now aren’t you ashamed of yourself for yelling at her for just trying to do her job?!

    Well, I’m glad you got out without a broken arm! Just goes to show that life is not perfect even when you’re living the dream! You OK, Rosemarie?

  2. Pingback: Boondocking Sedona, Some Thoughts on Snowbirds, and Another Awning Incident | Shell On Wheels

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