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Old 08-02-2009, 07:00 PM   #1
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Repairing separated awning fabric

Finally got some time to pay attention to this task (this post is taken from another thread, same subject, but I wanted to post a complete repair here).

I ordered two diameters of tubing -- 1/8" and 5/32". The 1/8" slips too easily through the slot in the edge of the awning cover slat, so I elected to use the 5/32", which will barely fit down the sewn tube in the edge of the fabric.

In order to get the nylon tube to fit at all, you have to clean out the edge of the fabric. A straightened out clothes hangar is long enough to reach the length of each of the individual fabric stips (the entire fabric is made from narrow pieces, about 30" wide). I put a small hook on the end of the hangar wire to catch the remants of the old fiber cord in the sewn tube. You have to run the wire through the fabric several times to get everything.



Steps:
1. Snip the fabric about 1/2" from each major seam. The allows you to slip the wire in one end and all the way through and out the other.
2. Run the hook through the edge several times, until you stop pulling out small pieces of brownish fuzz that looks like old wool.
3. Cut the end of the nylon tube on a 45 degree angle and push it in through the snip. If you can't get the tube through at least half the width, then pull it back out and see if it's got brown fuzz stuffed in it. If so, run the wire through again. I've been unable to get the nylong tube to go the full width, so I insert another length in from the other snip.
4. When the first tube is in as far as I can push it, a little more than half way, I cut it off and then grab it through the fabric and pull it back so that the tube slides into the 1/2" of edge that's towards the seam. I'm thinking that having some tube inside that snip (cut) will help when I'm trying to insert the fabric back into the aluminum roller cover.
5. Insert the tube from the other end, until it meets with the piece that was previously inserted. Then cut it and work it back into the 1/2" piece of the edge. This will leave a small length of edge without any tube in it, right in the middle of the section. You'll also have a gap in the seam area.

Now, the next trick will be to order a new slat from Zip-Dee. If it's longer than 8', it has to be shipped by freight, which costs over $100, more than the slat. So for my 20'-7" roller, I'm going to order 3 slats that are 7' long and cut one of them so that they make a single long slat that is the exact length. I don't think having two slits in the slat will be a problem. The fabric will still be covered from UV and it doesn't mind gettng wet (it's nylon).

Zep
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Old 08-02-2009, 07:39 PM   #2
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After thinking about it, I decided to take another look at the crimped edge of the slat. The aggressive crimps on the forward end were really discouraging, but I decided to attempt repairing the tube shape so that I could insert the repaired fabric in the original slat. Zip-Dee repair instructions say that it is possible to open up the crimps, if you are careful.

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The first thing I discovered is that you damage both edges of the tube when using a screw driver to pry the crimp open. I figured it was better to damage the lower edge, which is hidden under the fabric. I used the thin steel blade of a putty knife to protect the upper edge as I twisted the screw driver.

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As you can see from the number of nicks in the lower edge of each opened crimp, it takes 4-5 twists to open the entire crimp.

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Once the crimps are open, the tube is decidedly not very pleasing, as the deformed area is generally of varying diameter and pretty ragged.

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My solution was to use a drill bit of the same diameter as the original tube as a anvil to pound the tube back into shape. This required an external weight held behind the tube to allow a small ballpeen hammer to reform the tube edge. An added benefit is that the jaggies are also reduced. You can see the before and after here.

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The actual tube diameter might be 17/64" or 9/32", but the 1/4" drill bit worked fine and the fabric slid into the tube OK, maybe a little bit more difficult due to the small jaggies in the lower tube edge. You can move the drill bit along by inserting a screw driver and taping the blade close to the slat with a small hammer.

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The fabric is back in (no photo) and the edge of the tube is re-crimped. There was only one small crack, right at the location on the forward end when the orginal "too aggressive" a crimp was. Otherwise, the tube seesm sturdy and the fabric seems to be effectively captured.

Zep
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Old 08-02-2009, 07:54 PM   #3
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Great Step-by-step Roger. Thanks for posting all the fotos!
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Old 08-04-2009, 03:35 PM   #4
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You can get longer lengths of tubing in the edge of the fabric by this simple technique -- discovered quite by accident.

After you have pushed the tubing in several inches, you can usually push it the full length of the panel if you insert the hangar wire into the tubing and maybe 1/2" out the other end. (This means you need to cut the tubing a couple of inches longer than the individual panel so the hangar is long enough and you can push it all the way across.) For some reason that isn't obvious, the wire makes the tubing slip much more easily into the fabric.

Zep
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Old 08-04-2009, 06:04 PM   #5
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"jaggies" There it is again, another highly technical term, I'm still confused
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Old 08-13-2009, 09:26 AM   #6
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Great post. I've got the same repair scheduled for this weekend. Where did you find your 5/32" tubing? Looks like cable housing. My hardware store only had 1/4" which looks too snug for the channel.
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Old 08-13-2009, 12:12 PM   #7
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Yes, 1/4" is too snug. I ordered from Pneuaire Pneuaire - <font size=3>Nylon Tubing</font>. Had to order 100', but that's only about $18.

Zep

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Originally Posted by treeair View Post
Great post. I've got the same repair scheduled for this weekend. Where did you find your 5/32" tubing? Looks like cable housing. My hardware store only had 1/4" which looks too snug for the channel.
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Old 07-16-2010, 09:37 AM   #8
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Other tasks being finally completed, the awning is back on and operational. Whew!

Recall the two different awning rails? This Sovereign had the type on the left.

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Well, this awning had a "conversion rod" that took care of that. I wonder if this trailer was originally built for a different awning?

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All there was to do was put the arms on, carry the tube down to the street, insert arms, and rotate in place.

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Not so fast. Turned out the rear holdown had corroded/galled and I couldn't unscrew it. A little vise work in the shop, followed by some tap and die action, and it works as good as new (except the pin holding the threaded rod is now bent, so I'll be getting a new fitting).

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Old 07-16-2010, 10:31 AM   #9
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Roger,
You still have the Sovereign? How many Airstreams do you own?
And I tought I had aluminitus bad.
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Old 07-16-2010, 10:45 AM   #10
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Four, presently. But the Caravel is on the blocks and the Sovereign is next, unless we decide to park it in Port Townsend as a getaway.

The Safari is mostly a pile of rubble and doesn't get worked on because of the "refinements" for the others. Time to focus....

Roger
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