Originally Posted by Protagonist
Minor things are all non-permanent, the most expensive being the addition of a Fiamma Privacy Room to enclose the area under the awning. I'll use it for the first time next week, and let you know how it works. Hopefully well enough to be worth the expense.
As promised (threatened?) I've got a report on that Fiamma Privacy Room. I used it at Eisenhower State Park, Denison, Texas, last week.
When the thing arrived via UPS, I unpacked the carboard carton and transfeered everything to the "MegaBag" that was packed with it. That's a nylon bag supposedly large enough to hold all of the pieces. Yeah, it's big enough, but NOT strong enough. It has webbing handles on both ends and webbing carry straps in the middle. The stitching ripped out on one end handle and the carry straps, leaving me with a 55-pound bundle that's almost impossible to carry.
Earlier this week I ordered a much better bag from a company called Sam Ash, that makes equipment bags for drummers, to carry their drum stands and such. It's got rollers at one end, and a rigid base, along with the end handles and center carry straps. It's not quite as long end-to-end as the Fiamma MegaBag, so that some metal pieces won't fit, but I'll figure out something different for them. The Sam Ash bag has a 100-pound capacity, and the rollers will make it easier for a solo traveler like me to handle. and it should be easy enough to stand it on end behind the driver's seat and lash it into place for transit, unlike the Fiamma MegaBag.
When I went to set up the Privacy Room, the instructions were crap. Mostly pictures that didn't clearly illustrate what they're trying to show, and stilted text that was translated from Italian by someone for whom English is a second language at best. However, being an engineer, I pride myself on my ability to figure out how to do things without instructions when necessary, so I pressed ahead valiantly.
The instructions were actually written for a Privacy Room that fits on an F45 awning, not an F65 awning. I didn't know that I'd have to drill the awning case to install two brackets. Not a problem, just unexpected. It's only one drilled hole per bracket, and the brackets should be able to remain in place thereafter, not be removed every time you take down the Privacy Room.
The key to setting up the Privacy Room is the "Clip System S" as it's called in the catalog, or "FastClip" as it's called on the labels on the clips. Basically, they're a pair of four-foot-long clamps that slip-fit together to make eight-foot-long clamps. Connects to the brackets I installed on the awning case at the upper end, attach to the leading-edge metal part of the awning (whatever that's called) at the lower end, and then clamp to the awning fabric along the entire eight-foot length.
The problem with the FastClips was the connection at the lower end. They're supposed to connect to protrusions on the leg swivels, but my F65 awning has a different type of leg swivels that completely lacks any kind of protrusion for the FastClips to interlock with. I got by through the simple expedient of putting them in place and then retracting the awning just far enough to put the FastClips in compression. It was fine for that outing since there wasn't much wind, but I don't like the idea of just friction-fit if there was any kind of a wind. I'm still trying to work out an acceptable substitute connection method before my next trip. If I can't figure anything out, I'll order a pair of F45 leg swivels to replace the F65 leg swivels.
One must be careful when attaching the FastClips to the awning fabric. There are some sharp edges that can cut the fabric. I'll be rounding those corners with a file before I use the Privacy Room again.
Once the FastClips are in place, the rest is pretty easy. Each wall and door panel has a plastic "bolt-rope" at the top that feeds into a slot on either the front of the awning or the outer edge of the FastClip. Feed the panels in, pull them tight, zip adjacent panels together.
Then another problem cropped up. The wall panels that butt up against the side of the RV have foam inserts that are supposed to be sandwiched between the RV's outer surface and a vertical metal pole, mistakenly called a "vertical rafter" in the instructions. The problem is, the pole is straight and vertical; the wall of the Sprinter is curved and angled. I couldn't use the poles. I worked around that by using a pair of bungee cords, conected at the top end to the awning case, and at the bottom end to a metal stake driven into the ground. The bungee cords conformed to the shape of the Sprinter van body, unlike the poles.
One other problem, at the sliding side door, I had a choice of that foam-filled edge interfering with closing the sliding door, or blocking the passenger front door. No possible way to set it up without blocking one or the other because the doors are too close together. I chose to block the passenger front door since I use the sliding door far more often while camping.
After that, it was just a matter of staking down the lower edges of the walls, rolling up the plastic windows to leave screened openings, and hey, presto, I was done.
It made for nice covered storage and a decent retreat from the deerflies (big as pigeons, I swear!), and because that side was in shade all the time no matter what the angle of the sun, it even made the interior of my Interstate about 5 degrees cooler than on my previous outing.
Plus, thanks to the FastClips clamped along the edges of the awning, the awning didn't flap as much when a breeze sprang up. Even when I don't use the whole Privacy Room, I'll probably use the FastClips on every outing, once I figure out that whole lower-end issue and file off those sharp corners.
The first attempt at setting up took about two hours; I expect the next attempt to take significantly less time now that I don't have to figure out what I'm doing and don't have to drill any more holes. I was working alone the whole time; it would have gone about 25% quicker with a second person.
The time to take everything down and pack it away was only about 45 minutes, again working alone. It would take less for two people because folding the wall panels is awkward for one.
While setting up that first ime, I swore up and down that I'd throw the damned thing away when I got home, but I changed my mind once I was done. I'll use it again, but probably will get more use from the Privacy Room during the relatively mild Louisiana winters. With the plastic windows rolled down, it should retain heat nicely.
I did take some pictures once I was done setting up, but haven't yet downloaded them or reduced them to a size that I can attach to a post. If anyone's interested, let me know.