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Old 07-22-2011, 11:00 AM   #1
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A&E awning modification attempt

Hi all,

I have a 1973 Globetrotter that I am in the process of fixing up. It has an A&E awning on it that I would be happy to use if it can be modified/repaired. Problem I see is that it was probably the wrong size when it was originally installed. This puts the aft arm mounting squarely on the battery box lid (yes, that is what the PO did). So I thought I might be able to solve the problem either by cutting the awning tube and moving the aft arm foreward, or by shortening the arms and moving them both up. Anyone out there made these kinds of modifications successfully? Also, the fabric is shot, so will be replacing that as well. Don't know the condition of the spring. Pics are attached.
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Old 07-22-2011, 12:18 PM   #2
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A&E awning modification attempt

Greetings Belegedhel!

Welcome to the Forums and the world of Vintage Airstream ownership!

I had similar issues with the A & E Travel-Awn 5000 that was on my Overlander when I purchased it in 1995. At that time, A & E/Dometic was very unresponsive when it came to issues of needed replacement parts/support for their Vintage products.

The problem that I ran into with the shortened arms on my awning related to locating mounting points that would provide adequate security for the mounting brackets. The brackets were prone to pulling free from the side of the coach whenever exposed to just moderate breezes. At that point in time, A & E discouraged shortening existing roller-tubes and pushed for replacing with new tube and fabric. Rather than trying to remedy a product for which there wasn inadequate factory support, I made the move to a new Zip Dee of the appropriate size. The new Zip Dee was one of the best moves that I have made with my Airstream -- far easier to operate and much more aesthetically pleasing (IMHO).

Good luck with your investigation!

Kevin
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Old 08-13-2013, 04:41 PM   #3
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Well, its been two years that I have been tearing my trailer apart, and now finally, I am into reassembly. One day, a year ago or so, I was at my local RV parts place, and they were clearancing an A&E roller tube with fabric that would normally go for ~$900 for only $100. I snatched it up and stored it and finally got around to reassessing my awning situation in the last couple of weekends.

I decided to try to use the new awning tube with the rest of the old parts, and to try shortening the arms rather than shortening the tube. So this resulted in the following steps:

1) Remove, shorten, and reinstall the awning rail
2) Replace the incompatible end-cap connections on the new tube with those from the old one
3) Shorten most of the arm components by ~8"
4) Reinstall everything temporarily and see if it still works
5) Do final installation with more robust fasteners.
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Old 08-13-2013, 04:44 PM   #4
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I was surprised at how sparse the rivets were in my awning rail. Not only this, but looking at the rivets from the inside, probably 1/4 of them were really poorly bucked--I'm surprised they didn't leak. Removed the rail, shortened by about 2.5" on each end, then sealed and riveted it back in place. The holes that were left over got filled with a counter-sunk rivet.
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Old 08-13-2013, 04:46 PM   #5
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Next, I replaced the connections on the end of the new awning tube with those from the old one so that it would be compatible with my arms. This was way easier than I thought it would be--just drove out some roll-pins and swapped them out.
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Old 08-13-2013, 04:48 PM   #6
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Next was shortening the arm components. This made me nervous, as I figured I might over shorten, and then not have a functioning awning. Had to be very careful with the "measure twice, cut once" thing. Plus, of course, the ends that had to be trimmed also had machined windows in them and riv-nuts that had to be replaced on the newly cut parts. Lots of time spent with a hand file.
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Old 08-13-2013, 04:50 PM   #7
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Time to put the new tube into the awning rail. Got to make one final use of one of the gantries that were originally built for lifting the shell.
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Old 08-13-2013, 04:55 PM   #8
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Finally, everything is temporarily in place with sheet metal screws, and I gave it a test run (SUCCESS). I'll replace the sheet metal screws with backing plates with threaded inserts in them this weekend.

I appreciate the folks who love their Zipdee awnings, but since I am a cheap bastid (finished the project with only about $120 total outlay), and like to do everything the hard way, I couldn't resist trying to make this work.
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Old 08-15-2013, 04:51 PM   #9
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Congratulations, it looks good and you have a new awning for $120. I priced a new A&E and it was about $1300. So you did good.
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Old 08-15-2013, 06:16 PM   #10
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Why did you shorten awning rail? It was not needed, as far as shortening tube no big deal, wrap duct tape evenly around tube at point to cut off carefully follow duct tape edge, makes clean straight cut, I have done this several times [this info for other owners, that are thinking of shortening tube]. You made a very good pur. of new tube. Also using new type springs & and end caps on care free you must do this, fabric stays same size.
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Old 08-15-2013, 07:16 PM   #11
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I shortened the rail because it was simply longer than it needed to be, and interferfered with the installation of the upper brackets (or at least it did with the way the PO had them installed). Shortening the awning tube was neither necessary, nor an option, because I wouldn't have been able to mount the brackets on a rib if i had.
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