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Old 08-24-2008, 11:37 AM   #1
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Zip Dee Support Arm Air Staked to Ground

I have a 27FB, and with most of he FB models, the door location and main awning arm (when deployed) is sort of in the way when we want to walk behind the trailer. This is especially true when we are in a pull thru spot.

My Dealer suggested removing the lower bolts that hold the awning support arms and replacing them with these removable "D" rings, and also provided me with additional support brackets that would normally be used to fasten the to the body of the airstream.

This allows removal of the arm from the body of the airstream (when deployed) and then I use the additional bracket as a "shoe" to stake the awning down to the ground. I have the hardware and option to do this to both supports, but have only used it on the arm closest to the rear door.

I have tried this once, as seen in the pics below.


My dealer states that this is a stronger solution and will withstand more wind and rain than the traditional mounted to the body.

I am still a bit leary on this in winds and rain. Anyone else do this? What has your experience been in wind/rain? I'm one of those types that are usually paranoid about awnings in wind/rain, such to the point I don't even use the awning, at times or constantly roll them up all the time when we leave or at night, or at minimum, stake down the awnings when deployed. I'm slowly starting to get more comfortable with them in the wind and rain (sloped of course), but I don't want to let my guard down.

Any comments or experience with this setup?
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Old 08-24-2008, 12:00 PM   #2
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Kevin,

While this does solve your immediate problem of access to the rear of the trailer, I don't believe that it's a good idea with a Zip-Dee. While most of the other awning manufacturers (Carefree of Colorado, A & E) have removable lower rafter arms on their awnings, Zip-Dee does NOT! That's why there is a bolt in that location.

I believe this done for a reason. The others wold release with a built-in clip to allow you to create a 'garage' type of arrangement with both rafter arms in the vertical position. You would then tie them down and have a very secure set-up. The key here is the form and shape of those rafter arms...which were much heavier extrusions than Zip-Dee uses.

Also, they were straight sections with all of the loading being placed directly in a vertical plane, not on the angles and curves that a Zip-Dee arm has. Plus, even though the Zip-Dee arms are sufficiently stout to support the weight of the awning, the others, being more complex extrusions, have much more compression loading strength.

That said, I believe that your dealer is incorrect in his belief that this orientation is stronger. If Zip-Dee thought that their awnings should be deployed in this fashion, I'm sure that they would have made a convertible lock on the bottom bracket instead of the current bolt.

I had a 28' Carefree awning on my 40' motor home, and deployed that awning in the 'garage' orientation many times. I would never have considered doing same with a Zip-Dee, and several of my clients with older Prevost motor Homes equipped with Zip-Dees won't do it either.
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Old 08-24-2008, 12:11 PM   #3
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Call Zip-Dee and see what they think... It's there awning....
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Old 08-24-2008, 12:17 PM   #4
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That situp was in Airstream Life (Spring ed.) The only diffreance is they have the bracket bolted to a large plate with holes in it so they can drive stakes in the ground to hold it down. Looks like it would work good.

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Old 08-24-2008, 03:00 PM   #5
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rolling up the awning, when you're not there, is always a great idea.
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Old 08-24-2008, 03:34 PM   #6
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I have both a ZipDee and a Carfree (prefer the ZipDee BTW) IIRC both the manuals recommend stowing the awnings when the weather gets rough. The wording goes something along the lines of: If you wouldn't want to be sitting outside under the awning because of the weather, roll it up.

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Old 08-24-2008, 04:02 PM   #7
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I would definitely call Zip Dee for their opinion. Personally, it doesn't look safe due to the bend in the arm as mentioned previously. I would feel more comfortable just getting used to manuvering around the arm. That seems to be an issue for any Airstreamer with a Zip Dee regardless of the door location. We recently had a child friend of the family to run smack dab into our awning bar (left a mark).
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Old 08-24-2008, 04:18 PM   #8
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Some friends of ours in Seattle have done this with their 16' Bambi Zip Dee...they don't seem to have a problem with it...they, too, attached a set of "arm receiver" brackets to a plate and anchor that with tent stakes through holes in the corners of the plate.

My problem with this idea is how long it would take to retract the awning should the weather go south...and whether it could be done by one person...I can get our Zip Dee put away in about a minute by myself...faster if there's someone working the other end. Not sure we could do that it it were extended this way...

I would be curious to know what Zip Dee says about it...
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Old 08-24-2008, 05:55 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lewster View Post
The key here is the form and shape of those rafter arms...which were much heavier extrusions than Zip-Dee uses.
I agree. Once upon a time, it was a dark and stormy night and I was unable to get back to the trailer before the storm hit... The amount of water that came down in a half hour was biblical. Even with the Zip-Dee awning tilted, the weight was sufficient enough to bend the rear rafter arm... once it 'kinked' slightly, it just collapsed and bent in two. Parts easy to replace but not cheap...

Quote:
Originally Posted by lewster View Post
Also, they were straight sections with all of the loading being placed directly in a vertical plane, not on the angles and curves that a Zip-Dee arm has. Plus, even though the Zip-Dee arms are sufficiently stout to support the weight of the awning, the others, being more complex extrusions, have much more compression loading strength.
With my biblical rain experience above, using the rafter arm as a verticle support with the curved end seems to be tempting fate. Over time, alignment issues could crop up as a result of slight flexing & bending of the curved portion. And as TBRich said, closing the awning in a hurry may prove to be difficult. Would be interesting to see what Zip-Dee says... bet they don't recommend it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lewster View Post
That said, I believe that your dealer is incorrect in his belief that this orientation is stronger.
I hope the dealer wasn't the one in Buda... I had some maintenance done there last year and they created more problems/issues than I originally had. Also drained one of my propane tanks. Wondered why they asked if I needed any since I had them both filled maybe 5 months prior and hadn't used them at all...
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Old 08-24-2008, 08:12 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bambi_Bandit View Post
I have a 27FB, and with most of he FB models, the door location and main awning arm (when deployed) is sort of in the way when we want to walk behind the trailer. This is especially true when we are in a pull thru spot.

My Dealer suggested removing the lower bolts that hold the awning support arms and replacing them with these removable "D" rings, and also provided me with additional support brackets that would normally be used to fasten the to the body of the airstream.

This allows removal of the arm from the body of the airstream (when deployed) and then I use the additional bracket as a "shoe" to stake the awning down to the ground. I have the hardware and option to do this to both supports, but have only used it on the arm closest to the rear door.

I have tried this once, as seen in the pics below.


My dealer states that this is a stronger solution and will withstand more wind and rain than the traditional mounted to the body.

I am still a bit leary on this in winds and rain. Anyone else do this? What has your experience been in wind/rain? I'm one of those types that are usually paranoid about awnings in wind/rain, such to the point I don't even use the awning, at times or constantly roll them up all the time when we leave or at night, or at minimum, stake down the awnings when deployed. I'm slowly starting to get more comfortable with them in the wind and rain (sloped of course), but I don't want to let my guard down.

Any comments or experience with this setup?
The only advantage that setup has, is it does provide clearance at the entrance door.

Other than that, in my opinion, it is "not" a safe way to use an awning.

If a storm suddenly brews up, you will have a devil of a time retracting the awning.

On the other hand, the original setup allows very quick awning retraction back to the shell, should that same sudden storm or high winds appear.

Andy
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Old 08-24-2008, 09:31 PM   #11
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i've been meaning to put these "pool noodles" on the awning arms.
http://secure.poolcenter.com/images/wacky_noodles.jpg
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Old 08-24-2008, 09:31 PM   #12
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By the way and just for the record, we do not leave our awning deployed when we are gone or during the night...nothing worse than having to get outside fast (half-asleep) and bringing the awning in...and if there's a storm it's even worse! We just do it so we don't have to worry about it...if it gets windy at night it gets windy...the awning is put away and safe.

I've noticed other campers leaving theirs down all the time and looking askew our way when we put it up and down several times a day depending on the weather, or what we're doing...but all I would say if asked is "better safe than sorry'' (and eventually you will be sorry). It's an expensive lesson to learn the hard way.
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Old 08-25-2008, 11:20 AM   #13
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Spoke to Zip Dee

OK - Well I spoke to Zip Dee today.

As predicted and expected, they do not support this modification. They did say that they did make a device that did do this exact thing in the past, but had problems with it from a "liability" standpoint. In not so many words, I was able to interpret that people were hurting themselves getting the support arm off and on the body...

Anyways, net net of the conversation is that they are also aware of the modification being done, and even aware of the article in Airstream Life, but they do not support this and will not warranty any claims that are determined to be due to failures doing this modification...

So, I guess I'll ask my dealer to return my bolts and put me back to "stock" learn to duck my head more...

Limbo Party at my campsite soon!!!
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Old 08-25-2008, 03:39 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bambi_Bandit View Post
OK - Well I spoke to Zip Dee today.

As predicted and expected, they do not support this modification. They did say that they did make a device that did do this exact thing in the past, but had problems with it from a "liability" standpoint. In not so many words, I was able to interpret that people were hurting themselves getting the support arm off and on the body...

Anyways, net net of the conversation is that they are also aware of the modification being done, and even aware of the article in Airstream Life, but they do not support this and will not warranty any claims that are determined to be due to failures doing this modification...

So, I guess I'll ask my dealer to return my bolts and put me back to "stock" learn to duck my head more...

Limbo Party at my campsite soon!!!
Kevin,

I think you made a wise choice. However, If you would like to pursue the idea of 'armless' awnings, I can set you up with a lateral arm awning from Girard Systems, Zip-Dee or Carefree of Colorado (they all make them now). These have no vertical support arms and are held in place by lateral or horizontal arms that extend from the underside of the awning.

They are all electric, and have integral wind sensors that bring the awning in when a certain wind threshold is reached.

Be the first on your block to have one on your Airstream. They are standard equipment on all of the high-line motor homes.....
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