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Old 05-09-2010, 12:44 PM   #1
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Zip Dee Hell

Since day one I've wondered about our 2010 Silver Clouds awnings. They have not been easy to extend or retract and I'm a big guy. The forced action of pushing into a locking position likely bent one of the arms over time and last week in Hurrican, UT the darn thing would not retract.

The local RV service company was nice enough to come out early Saturday morning for just $20. We frankly could have used 3 or 4 people to hold on to the awning while we tried to straighten one the outriggers. While doing this the spring in the main unit broke and we had to slowly roll the fabric back into the cylinder (don't try this as home as it is NOT easy).

After two hours the awning was retracted and I thought buttoned down. Here's the scary part! If you have a spring failure your awning will slowly (or quickly) unfurl by the winds force as you motor down the highway. This turned into the drive from hell across the deserts of Utah, Arizona, Nevada and California.

I had to stop every 20 miles and rewind (OK fight) the fabric into the canister. I finally was able to find a Home Depot after six hours of driving and 20 stops later and I purchased two large metal C-clamps. I bolted these over the awning canister to keep it closed.

Zip Dee seems to have a poorly engineered product. First off the safety catch should be at the front of the awning, not the back. If the spring fails in the canister your awning WILL OPEN as you travel. If I keep this pile of metal and fabric I will add a second safety catch near the front of the trailer. At this point however I have no confidence in the Zip Dee product. It seems to be the weak link in our AS after 3,000 miles.

If (when) your Zip Dee retractor spring fails you will likely need to remove the entire awning structure before traveling - or wait for parts, which we could not do on this trip.

Frankly, I will likely junk this and try another brand that has backup. Anyone have Carefree on a new AS?
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Old 05-09-2010, 12:58 PM   #2
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Might not be worth giving up on it too soon. AS have used Zipdee for a very long time.

To me, zipdee almost seems to be part of the Airstream "package" Ours didn't come with the zipdee chairs, maybe the previous owner decided to hang onto them. For the price they charge for replacements I guess we'll do without!

We have only had our trailer for a year and a half, no problems as yet with the awning. I've spent quite a lot of time on this forum before and after we bought the trailer and seen very few complaints about Zipdee.

I'll be interested to see what others think.


Good luck in any case with a replacement awning.


Brian.
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Old 05-09-2010, 01:11 PM   #3
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That would be sad to find out if Zipdee had modified (cheapened) their product; we've got three awnings that have worked, trouble-free, for years and years.
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Old 05-09-2010, 01:19 PM   #4
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I purchased a zipdee patio awning 4 years ago and have been very happy with it. I installed a street side awning last year to match it.

Your issues are clearly the exception. I would suggest that you contact zipdee and let them make it right.

I do not know of any other awning that is currently available for Airstream trailers.
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Old 05-09-2010, 01:21 PM   #5
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Boy, I am very surprised to hear of your bad experience. Based on my experience and what has been reported here, it is not typical. Do you know if the awning was factory or dealer installed?

I suggest you call ZipDee and discuss your experiences. They are nice helpful people and may be able to determine the source of the problem.

Even better would be to find a Rally where ZipDee will have a team and get them to look at the awning.

If you decide to swap out the ZipDee, you will have no problem finding someone to buy your ZipDee (broken or not)
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Old 05-09-2010, 01:38 PM   #6
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Zip Dee Hell

Thanks for all the feedback. I sent Zip Dee an email so we'll see about their customer and warranty service, which I'll report back on.

To me this is similar to what makes an airplane crash. I major part failed (the spring in the retracting canister) and the fail safe didn't work. The awning will wind out into the wind as it was installed by the factory.

Knowing this I would not go down the road with a Zip Dee without adding a second safety latch near the front. The factory latch at the back, while it helps, does not prevent the wind from catching the leading edge of the awning. Bottom line is a spring is the only thing keeping every Zip Dee awning from becoming a very large sail unless a second safety catch upfront is added. Ours kept going out to out five feet and the side of our new AS got a bit beat up.

Things like this always seem to happen in the boon docks so a second safety catch near the awning front would be very cheap insurance for sure!

Bill
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Old 05-09-2010, 01:55 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by ShinyRoad View Post
Thanks for all the feedback. I sent Zip Dee an email so we'll see about their customer and warranty service, which I'll report back on.

To me this is similar to what makes an airplane crash. I major part failed (the spring in the retracting canister) and the fail safe didn't work. The awning will wind out into the wind as it was installed by the factory.

Knowing this I would not go down the road with a Zip Dee without adding a second safety latch near the front. The factory latch at the back, while it helps, does not prevent the wind from catching the leading edge of the awning. Bottom line is a spring is the only thing keeping every Zip Dee awning from becoming a very large sail unless a second safety catch upfront is added. Ours kept going out to out five feet and the side of our new AS got a bit beat up.

Things like this always seem to happen in the boon docks so a second safety catch near the awning front would be very cheap insurance for sure!

Bill
This caused me to go out and look at our awnings. I guess because of the length, our curb side awning is held closed by a large round handled screw down device on each end. There is also a safety catch about 2/3 of the way toward the back. The roadside awnings do not have the large handled device, they just have the safety catches. However since they are on the street side, the safety catch ends up being on the front.

Regards,

Ken
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Old 05-09-2010, 01:57 PM   #8
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You made me go check mine...all the locks are on the upwind side on my MH... plus the main has two screw-downs
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Old 05-09-2010, 01:58 PM   #9
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Believe all Zip Dee patio awnings have screw down locks at each end in addition to the hook. At least the ones on my 2007 20' and the 2009 23' do.
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Old 05-09-2010, 03:48 PM   #10
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The screw-down locks at both ends of the awning is what's really holding the awning in place...the hook is just "helping" in my opinion. I can't understand an awning unfurling during travel if those screw-downs are in place and tightly screwed down to the locked position.

We've ever had any issues with ours, other than the slider arms needing to be lubricated periodially with a silicone spray to keep them easily "slideable."
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Old 05-09-2010, 04:03 PM   #11
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We've had a couple of sobs with other awnings but we find the Zip Dees a lot nicer and without problems. However improper installation can negate the ease of use and results. I was told by Zip Dee that my awning had several allignment problems from Airstream's installation. But your problem is the most serious I have heard of. It's a shame that your new Airstream got banged up and you had a horrible and dangerous experience on the road. If I were you I would try to get to the bottom of what exactly failed and take advantage of your Airstream warrantee. As others have pointed out Zip Dee has an excellent reputation and the quality is really very very good. They also are wonderful to work with. Don't throw the baby out with the water but do investigate and get your problems addressed to your satisfaction.

I have read somewhere here that a good emergency and fail safe measure is to secure the awning with a couple of cable ties and then cut them off at your destination.
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Old 05-09-2010, 04:24 PM   #12
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ShinyRd....

I've re-read your original post and am still a bit confused...

You mentioned having a hard time to get the arms to snap in - that would be for the curb side full awning - but that awning, as mentioned above, has those screw type 'wheels' to lock down the awning at each end, preventing the awning to unfurl while in transit...??? how can it come loose as you've described????

Now if you're talking about a 'window' awning on the roadside, that uses the coiled spring pressure to keep it furled during transit - that's another issue - those awnings don't have adjustable arms, causing the confusion in my reading of your post above...

Yes, if a window awing has a broken or unhooked coil spring, you'll need some external device to keep it furled properly, as you've found out - maybe a small 'notch' in the ends of the alum cover slats would allow the use of some tie-straps at each end to get you home...

Ray

Wheel added a pic to back up my tie-strap theory...
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Old 05-09-2010, 04:35 PM   #13
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withOUT pictures it's hard to guess at ANY of the issues here.

94.9% of the problems with z/d awnings are operator errors.

and 5% are related to DRYNESS/sticking inside the strut arms.

the small hook ((travel latch)) riveted to the tube cover is a relatively recent addition to the product.

and only a 2ndary/back up mechanism (think belt/suspenders)

and it's located at the rear because the spring is near the rear on the patio awning, as i recall.

the rotary/WHEEL turn knobs at each end will totally secure the roller.


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EVEN without the internal spring, but the ROTARY knobs need to be firmly tightened.

there are 30 years of patio awnings out there doing FINE without the hook/travel latch.

curbside window only awnings CAN unroll during travel with enough SIDE WIND, once the spring fatigues.

that typically takes 20 years, but the small hook/latches on the window awnings are useful in that regard.
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sorry shinny but the z/d bits may be the BEST parts on the stream, and the design has ~40 years+ of reliability...

THAT's the primary rub against the z/d parts, the design is LONG toothed and so MANUAL.
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while it's fine to contact them directly this stuff is also covered under the a/s warranty

and a qualified a/s dealer should be able to handle repairs.

cheers
2air'
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Old 05-09-2010, 05:19 PM   #14
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ShinyRoad,

Here are some photos of what the above are talking about. There should be one at each end of the awning that really holds it to the trailer Sorry about all the pollen!
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