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Old 06-07-2014, 03:24 PM   #1
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2014 Interstate Coach
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Fiamma Eagle 65 Issue

Hi All,

I'm camping right now and ran into some problems with my automatic awning. The high wind sensor was triggered when I closed my sliding door and the awning began to automatically retract. My rear doors were all the way open (attached to magnetic latch on side of airstream) and the awning caught on the door. There's no way to stop the automatic retraction once it starts. The awning could not retract completely and caught the door in the open position. A fair amount of damage was done.

The door is dented at the top. The awning base has lifted from the top of the roof. The awning no longer works.

If the awning gets stuck is there any way to reactivate the motor? Or is my motor possibly dead?

This was a frustrating experience because once I saw what was about to happen there was no way I could stop it. Now, I know the location of the fuse (inside the passenger seat behind the awning buttons) and would have pulled it quickly before it caught.

Lesson learned - Never open your back doors fully if using your awning. It'll catch the door open, dent the door, and possibly break the awning. With all of the warning stickers, I would have liked to have seen that one.
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Old 06-07-2014, 04:53 PM   #2
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Cool

When I got my AI from the dealer the rear door had been dented apparently by just such an incident. The dealer, of course, fixed the door and the awning. But at least you know you are not the first person to have encountered this.

The limit switch that stops the retraction process is located in the awning cuff near the rear of the vehicle. It is a simple spring loaded toggle and you can easily stop the retraction by squeezing the switch closed with your hand. If you are not in the AI that might be a lot faster than finding and pulling the fuze. With luck you could then use you free hand to swing the rear door closed.

I found that out after an errant tree branch at Disney's Fort Wilderness Campground came adrift and fell on the awning bending the cuff and braces just enough the awning could not close completely and kept banging closed repeatedly until I put a clothes pin on the switch and duct taped everything up until I got home a few days later.

Three improvements I would like to see in the awning mechanism…
  1. A safety switch that would not allow the AI to move with the awning extended
  2. a safety switch that would not permit the awning to retract fully with the back door or sliding door is open. Enough to prevent wind damage but not enough to hit the open doors.
  3. a safety switch that would prevent the awning extending when either the right rear or sliding doors are open.
  4. or in lieu of 2 and 3 above, remounting the awning high enough to clear both the rear and sliding doors — at the cost of extra wind drag and noise to be sure.
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Old 06-07-2014, 06:15 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by joemikeb View Post
[*]A safety switch that would not allow the AI to move with the awning extended
No. That could potentially result in an awning problem leaving you stranded with an undriveable vehicle. A warning buzzer is plenty.
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[*]a safety switch that would not permit the awning to retract fully with the back door or sliding door is open. Enough to prevent wind damage but not enough to hit the open doors.
[*]a safety switch that would prevent the awning extending when either the right rear or sliding doors are open.
Easy enough.
Two contact sets from window alarms, the contact switches wired for open=off, closed=on. Put one on the sliding side door. Put the other on the passenger-side rear door. Reroute the wiring to the awning so that the awning power goes through the contact switches, in series. Then if either door is open, the circuit is broken and there's no power to the awning so it can't extend or retract. This will mean that you have no auto-retract at all with the doors open, thus protecting you from door damage, but at the risk of awning damage if a sudden high wind comes up while either door is open.
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Old 06-07-2014, 07:13 PM   #4
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I'm liking my old non-auto retract awning a lot better after hearing about all of these problems. But then I've never actually used it other than just to check it out.
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Old 06-07-2014, 08:01 PM   #5
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Wow, sorry to hear that happened. I just went out and looked at mine and the awning is higher and forward of the rear door when fully opened.

If the sliding door closing triggered the retract, and there wasn't any high winds, yours must be mounted lower and more towards the rear.

Hope you get everything fixed ASAP...
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Old 06-08-2014, 10:20 AM   #6
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No. That could potentially result in an awning problem leaving you stranded with an undriveable vehicle. A warning buzzer is plenty.Easy enough.
The AI is really not really drivable if the awning is extended but you can drive off with it out. I know because I have done it in a moment of distraction. There is a warning chime already, but it is too soft and too easy to not hear/a.k.a. ignore. I still like the idea of a cutoff switch when the awning is extended.
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Originally Posted by Protagonist View Post
Two contact sets from window alarms, the contact switches wired for open=off, closed=on. Put one on the sliding side door. Put the other on the passenger-side rear door. Reroute the wiring to the awning so that the awning power goes through the contact switches, in series. Then if either door is open, the circuit is broken and there's no power to the awning so it can't extend or retract. This will mean that you have no auto-retract at all with the doors open, thus protecting you from door damage, but at the risk of awning damage if a sudden high wind comes up while either door is open.
A higher awning mount would obviate any need for rear and sliding door cutoffs. Unfortunately the mounting brackets are cast aluminum and not easily replaced with longer ones. Not only that, I suspect the geometry of the awning requires more hardware engineering knowledge than I have. I am a software engineer not mechanical or automotive.
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Old 06-08-2014, 11:14 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by joemikeb View Post
The AI is really not really drivable if the awning is extended but you can drive off with it out. I know because I have done it in a moment of distraction. There is a warning chime already, but it is too soft and too easy to not hear/a.k.a. ignore. I still like the idea of a cutoff switch when the awning is extended.
Would you still feel the same if your awning was only extended an inch, not all the way, and stuck there? Then you still couldn't drive it.
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Old 06-08-2014, 11:56 AM   #8
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A while back my Eagle 65 did get stuck fully open, and it was while we were boondocking. I had no ladder or any other way to reach the socket to wind it in manually and was getting increasingly concerned how we were going to get out of this. Luckily a truck passed by and he backed it up so I could stand on his truck bed to reach the socket.
In the event the motor gears had stripped and the motor was replaced under warranty, but I've learnt my lesson to always travel with a small ladder.
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Old 06-08-2014, 04:08 PM   #9
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Well, after a few hours of playing around with it, I finally figured it out. It appears that the awning and the automatic slide out step are connected. When trying to leave after manually retracting the awning, my slide out step would not slide in. The alarm was going off. I spent a couple hours trying to fix it. Finally figured out which fuse it was (Fuse #10 15amp under drivers seat) and saw it was blown. I replaced the fuse and both the step and awning started working again. I didn't see this fuse number documented as the fuse for the awning, but it worked. In the end, the only damage that was done seems to be to the rear door. I hope that's helpful to anyone that might run into the same thing.
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Old 06-08-2014, 08:57 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by UKDUDE View Post
A while back my Eagle 65 did get stuck fully open, and it was while we were boondocking. I had no ladder or any other way to reach the socket to wind it in manually and was getting increasingly concerned how we were going to get out of this. Luckily a truck passed by and he backed it up so I could stand on his truck bed to reach the socket.
In the event the motor gears had stripped and the motor was replaced under warranty, but I've learnt my lesson to always travel with a small ladder.
I am presently looking into a small ladder, bungee cords and a long nylon general purpose rope.
We were 12 miles outside of Eureka Springs, Arkansas when we encountered a serious problem with our awning. We were stowing the awning for the evening, when 6 inches before it was fully in the closed position the failure occurred. A snap noise occurred and the awning shade rapidly deployed to a fully extended position. (YES, the slider door was fully closed.) Not having the previously mentioned, ladder, bungees and a general rope it was evident we were not going any where real soon. My initial thought was that if I could get the awning retracted manually, we could stand on a chair and push it into its stowed position and it would lock into position. Not having a working mechanical knowledge of the awning, I could only hope. We used the hand crank to roll up the fabric only because it would not pull the weight of the complete assembly up which out manual assistance on both ends. We failed to get the unit stowed as it was just too far out of the reach we needed without a ladder. Knowing that evening, we were going to have very serious weather that also included tornados, I reinstalled the center rib, positioned the awning very low, and secured each corner down with weight and what rope I had. It stayed secured during the storm that evening. The next day, we recruited help with ladders and rope to lash the awning in the stowed and now, secure position. We were lucky.
When we returned to home and got it to the shop the awning unit was removed for the bench repair. I was told that the metal gear on the motor shaft had split. The motor, which comes with the new gear and the gearbox were replaced and the unit was reinstalled and it is back home. NO, I have yet to activate it as I just got it back 3 days ago and weather has been very rainy here in Tulsa. ALSO I have yet to get the ladder, bungees and more rope. You know the saying, Once bitten twice shy AND Be Prepared.
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