Friday, July 3, 2015

Mawnings Spent Installing an Awning...Part 1

It's been really toasty here, so we've only been working mawnings

The installion almost didn't happen at all. We ordered a Carefree Freedom wall mount awning through an on-line dealer. It was about 10 days between my order placement and the delivery. The unit was drop-shipped from Carefree.
Carefree packaging was inadequate to protect against the shipper they chose. The awning's box arrived in this condition:

Someone evidently tried to stop the box from bleeding out by wrapping the poor thing in shrink wrap. Maybe it was the murderer trying to hide the evidence.
It was too late. The awning was DOA on arrival:

I refused shipment, and the dealer immediately started the process of getting a replacement. Very friendly, cooperative folks at the dealer!. From this point on out, I dealt with Carefree customer service.

About 10 days after the awning was re-ordered, the replacement showed up (via another carrier and with Fragile stickers on the box). Evidently, the Fragile stickers did their job. The box was damaged very much like the first one, but not so badly that the awning was crunched. We opened the box ends at the loading dock to be sure.

Got the box home, and discovered that whoever packed it cleverly left out the mount brackets, hardware, and crank handle. (This is a manual opening awning). They did generously include a redundant pair of leg support latches (in black...). The awning is silver, and so was the other set of the leg supports.

I called customer support. They said that this problem also just happened to someone else. They also said they'd ship out the missing stuff right away. Actually shipped about 2 or 3 days later, by UPS Ground. So, the awning just sat around for another week.

The package arrived this past Friday. It did have the mounting brackets and HW, but not the crank handle.
Had to recall customer service, and got the crank handle shipped "overnight". It showed up Tuesday. SO, I am less than whelmed with the competency of Carefree's picking/packaging/shipping decisions. If, as I suspect, this happens regularly, there is a real problem with management in those areas. I should be clear that I have no complaints about the Carefree customer service folks I talked with. They were uniformly friendly, and seemed to want to get this all resolved.

Well, I finally got the awning and parts kit, so now we can talk about the install.

I decided on the Carefree wall mount for a few reasons:
  • My solar panels don't provide enough space for a roof mount unit or brackets.
  • The Fiamma units only seem to be available with vinyl fabric. I wanted acrylic
  • I couldn't find anyone selling manually operated Fiammas.
  • Fiamma had a longer delivery lead time than Carefree. (Although as things turned out, Carefree took about as long to get something functional/installable out here.)

I'll talk about getting the awning mounted here. In Part 2 I'll talk about what I had to do to get the thing to stop rattling. I need to take a few pics for that, and it's too **** $%@%#^&$(&*^* HOT to do that now.

We chose a 4M long awning to cover the passenger side from just forward of the slide to just about aft of the rear window. The problem is that Annie's front slopes down and gets narrower, starting over the sliding door.
The vertical slope was easy to measure with a snap line.

So, it was easy enough, following Carefree's instructions, to locate where the mounting brackets needed to go.

Then hang the awning on the rear 2 brackets.

Each bracket has 2 mounting holes. I made some 3/4" ply backer plates. I made 'em as long as possible to fit into the space between Annie's inner wall frame and her skin. The brackets also are just about as wide as the flat(ish) wall panel area where the brackets mount.. They are VHB'd to the outer wall.

The rear two brackets line up very close to Annie's wall braces (that connect the inner and outer walls). That means there is little to no flex to the outer wall's sheet metal, even when the awning is fully extended.

Not so lucky with the front bracket.

Because the front of Annie narrows, the front bracket needs to be shimmed. Turns out that it needs about 1/2". I used 2 thicknesses of 1/4" aluminum flat stock, cut to size, drilled and VHB'd together and to the bracket.

The front bracket also falls far from any internal wall supports, so I made up an wooden internal brace that sandwiches snugly (unloaded) between the 2 walls. This way the awning torque force is transferred to the very strong interior wall.

I took Annie out for a spin, and the mounting seemed stable. However, there was a heck of a lot of rattling coming from the awning itself, especially as I drove on rutted dirt roads. I think I've got that mostly handled now, and that'll be the topic of part 2.