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Old 11-22-2015, 05:29 PM   #1
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Replaced blinds in 2013 Airstream Interstate

During our recent trip to the west coast, the string broke in one of our blinds. Upon returning, I called the manufacturer of the blinds to buy the string. The string came with instructions.

We weren't overly happy with the stock blinds. When we moved into our house about eight years ago, we bought a Bali blind for our bathroom and really liked the way it works and how it has held up. We bought some cheaper Levolar blinds for a couple other windows and do not like them nearly as much.

So I measured the existing blinds and we went to Lowe's to order them. The sizes were (2) at 44"x26". (1) at 51 1/2"x26" and (1) at 48"x26". If the blinds are longer than 48", they split the length in half and mount the two equal size blinds on one frame. We could have bought either double or triple cell blinds. However, as the triple cell blinds are thicker, the framework is wider. I was concerned that they would be too wide to fit. So we ordered the double cell blinds. Turned out to be the right decision. They arrived last week and I spent a couple days installing them this week.



Removing the existing blinds is fairly easy. First you have to unscrew the string holder from the window sill. There are two clips that hold the blinds at the top. Simply press back on the clips and they will be released. Then remove the stock clips.

Now came the difficult part...figuring out how to mount blinds that were made for conventional house windows. First of all the new clips had to mount on the opposite side from the factory location. The issue here is that the mounting surface is fairly narrow. The reason this is a problem is that you have to slip the track on the blinds into the clip by angling the blind. Since the blinds are behind the trim, angling the blinds was an issue.

Also, on the two rear windows, there is an aluminum support that hangs down slightly below the top mounting surface for about a foot from the rear. I tried mounting the clip with one screw and letting it hang out in the open below the gray standard Mercedes window trim. I was able to get one blind mounted this way by taking loose the tan trim around the windows and folding it away at the bottom. That worked on one side but on the other side the aluminum trim hung down further and would not allow the blind to fit flush and thus it would not hook into the clip. Further complicating things was the fact that I could not push out the bottom of the tan interior trim in the kitchen counter area. So I had to find another solution.

Being old, I oftentimes wake up during the night and then have trouble going back to sleep. These are times when I think about those things I need to do and they usually keep me awake until I figure out what I am going to do. That night, during one of these periods, I came up with the solution. If I could mount a board at the top that was wide enough to pre-mount the blind and then allow a way to fasten the completed unit, I would be able to make everything work.

I have some scrap wood that I keep for shims. I chose a number of small pieces that I could try in the openings to get my measurements. 2.75 inches was the width that worked. However, the width of the top mounting surface at the two rear windows was 2". If you laid a 2.75" piece of wood at the top, the outer edge would hit the factory gray plastic trim and thus lay at an angle. So what I needed was a piece of wood that was 2.75" at the widest point but cut out to be 2" where it met the upper mounting surface.

I love to work on my cars and have done some major projects. But, when it comes to wood, I am all thumbs. Fortunately my best friend can both work on cars and wood. And he has a full wood workshop. I drove the motorhome over to his house, showed him what I was trying to do and showed him the two pieces of wood that I had used to form the shape I needed. He recommended using hardwood and also recommended using a 5/4 piece of wood that would be a full 1" thick. The local lumberyard had a 48" x11"x 5/4" piece of oak used for staircases.

At the rear, because of the aluminum hanging down, I could only use a piece of lumber that was 24" long. So my buddy cut the first piece from the full 48" piece and then cut it in half. Once we determined that these pieces were going to work, he cut the other two pieces the full 48" length. After trying to fit these, we made one 44" long and the other one 46" long.






After mounting the clips I installed the blind to the board. I then drew a line along the edge of the blind. This gave me the amount of room I had to drill the holes for the screws. Being hardwood, my buddy recommended I drill the holes for the mounting screws big enough so the screw did not bite into the oak mounting board. Doing that would make sure I could pull the mounting board tight against the mounting area.





To finish it the mounting board so it would look nice and not be seen through the window, I painted the board and the clips black. I am glad I did as the shiny clip would have been very visible.





I then mounted the blind to the board and placed the screws in the holes.





Using a nut driver and an impact screw driver, I placed the board with the blind against the mounting surface. There was just enough room to get the driver, with an extension, between the blind and the tan trim board. Mounting in this manner does not require loosening any of the inside trim.



As I was posting the photo above I noticed that one of the screws needs to be driven home. I will have to check them again.

Now I had the blinds in place but, with the blinds down, they would flop around against the window frame while driving. To remedy this, I found some hooks at Lowe's that I thought would work. They came with double sided tape on them which I removed. I then drilled a hole in each one and mounted them to the lower trim with stainless steel fasteners. The plastic clips that are mounted to the blind have a hole in them. When lowered, the clip on the blind hooks onto the hooks. Since I don't like things that rattle, I wrapped velcro around the hooks. I am not totally satisfied with the velcro so I may change to some other material.











Alabaster was the color we chose which was a perfect match. Now we have blinds that will offer a bit more insulation and, in our minds. look better. BTW, I do have a set of stock blinds that I would sell. I would re-string the blind with the broken string if someone buys them.



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Old 11-22-2015, 05:43 PM   #2
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They look great! The broken strings in the originals are a royal pain. I have had to re-string so many times (in rear doors) that I have goten the "system" down. Still.......those blinds look great. When my wife sees them, I will probably have another project in my future.
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Old 11-22-2015, 09:10 PM   #3
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Looks really good. Should help w/ the insulation too.
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Old 11-22-2015, 09:57 PM   #4
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LOVE that style of blind so much I spent a small fortune outfitting one of my former houses with them... only to find that, in the deep south with its magnificent diversity of life, insects tend to crawl into the hollow tubes and either poo or die in there, both activities that leave visible stains which cannot be removed.

I kept a very clean house, but it didn't matter - doors still open and close multiple times per day, and when insects fly into the house, what do they do?? They head straight for the windows. Sigh. I wish you better luck than I had.
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Old 11-23-2015, 05:36 AM   #5
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Those look really nice!

Thanks for sharing.


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Old 02-22-2016, 05:36 PM   #6
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We had our first opportunity to use the new blinds last month on our Florida trip. We love them. They go up and down easily with one hand. The insulation factor was greatly increased. And they look great in the AI.

During that trip, the strings broke on the rear door blinds. We ordered new blinds upon our return and I installed them last week. This was an easy install as the window panels can be removed so I could work on them on my bench. There is a wood reinforcement on both the top and bottom of the window openings, so it was easy to install the brackets. I installed the same type of hook at the bottom to secure the blinds while we are traveling.












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Old 03-01-2016, 10:10 PM   #7
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Very impressive! Did you say you were old??!!


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Old 03-02-2016, 11:39 AM   #8
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Quote:
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Very impressive! Did you say you were old??!!


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Thanks.


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Old 03-02-2016, 04:43 PM   #9
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Youngster!
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