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Old 04-13-2011, 07:28 AM   #1
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1968 30' Sovereign
Mt. Horeb , Wisconsin
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Carefree Awning replacement

If anyone has replaced the fabric on their Carefree awning, I'd like to know the safest way to put it back together. The replacement fabric is done and we're ready to reattach it to the roller and put it back together. However, when we took it apart, the spring unrolled so quickly, we could've been hurt. Just a little nervous about it happening again. Thanks!
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Old 04-13-2011, 07:55 AM   #2
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I think I saved this info from Lewster....My file won't attach....lets see if I can copy it here.
Read the entire procedure AT LEAST twice!!![IMG]mailbox:///C:/Documents%20and%20Settings/Robin%20Collord/My%20Documents/A$Eawning%20fabric.eml?number=0&part=1.1.2&filenam e=brows.gif[/IMG]

1. extend the awning, but leave the rafter arms fully compressed.
2. immobilize the torsion spring. if you look at the end cap (left side facing the awning), you will see 2 little holes in the cap. there is a corresponding channel in the end of the torsion spring, and you need to push a long nail or other piece if 'hard metal or wire' thru the hole until it comes out the other side. this will immobilize the torsion. hardened piano wire will also do. it should be as large as the hole to accept the large forces on the roller spring. you might have to roll the roller tube slightly in one direction or the other to access the inner channel.
3. remove the bolt holding the end of the roller to the rafter arm.
4. remove the rafter arm from the roller tube fitting. it is best here to allow the roller to rest on a ladder of appropriate height
5. attach a large vise grip pliers to the end fitting, rotate it slighly clockwise and remove the retaining pin. MAINTAIN THE GRIP ON THE PLIERS HERE!!!
6. CAREFULLY unwind (counter clockwise) the torsion spring until all of the tension is out of the spring. count the # of turns it takes to completely unwind it
7. repeat steps 3 & 4 on the right side of the roller
8. if there are no channels visible in the end caps that will allow you to slide out the fabric, you need to drill out the rivets holding the cap on to the roller tube and remove them
9. carefully slide the roller off the fabric. it will now be loose and hanging at the side of the trailer
10. the fabric at the top awning rail should be secured by a screw on either end of the awning rail, at the top. remove these screws, and the fabric should slide right out of the awning rail. do not touch the awning rail, as it is to be left in place.
11. have the awning fabric repaired at your favorite canvas shop. they should have the poly rope and will insert it into the new pocket that they sew into the top of the fabric.
12. before you re-insert the fabric into the awning rail, you should do 2 things. 'A' insert a screwdriver into the end of the awning rail and force the ends apart to allow a slightly larger channel to feed the fabric into. 'B' spray the entire channel with a dry lube like DuPont Teflon Multi-purpose lube (Lowes)
13. insert the fabric and center it in the awning rail
14. remove the torsion spring, wire brush it and liberally coat it with Boeshield T-9 before re-inserting it into the roller tube
15. do back to step and work backwards

re-tensioning the torsion spring is just as trickey as de-tensioning it. I need the overall length to give you the # of winds, or you can just re-wind in the # of turns that you un-wound it in step 6.

PS: you wind the torsion clockwise.

That's it!
"If it can't be reduced, reused, repaired, rebuilt, refurbished, refinished, resold, recycled or composted
then it should be restricted, redesigned or removed from production."
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Old 04-13-2011, 07:59 AM   #3
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Another note on A&E from the Forums.

Fabric replacement is not too difficult as long as you have a good understanding of the hazards associated with working with torsion springs. If you're at all hesitant I would recommend seeking the help someone with experience or take it to a dealer. On the scale of "Rivet" difficulty I'd rate this as a rating of "3 Rivets" on the scale of 5.

Just remember that stored energy in torsion spring can be very very dangerous if not handled properly. Please be careful. [IMG]mailbox:///C:/Documents%20and%20Settings/Robin%20Collord/My%20Documents/A&Eawning%201.eml?number=0&part=1.1.2&filename=flo wers.gif[/IMG]

Here's my way of tackling this.

If your fabric is still installed and the awning is functional you'll need to release the energy from both torsion springs. This can be done two ways, both of which require the assistance of a couple of friends.. Come to think of it you'll need the help of friends for most of this project.

Step A. Release Torsion Spring Energy

Method 1. You can lower the awning and cut the fabric. This will allow the roll tube to unwind and relieve the spring tension. You will need to control the spinning of the roll tube when the fabric is cut. I do this by tying a 1/4" rope on the cap nubs and letting the tube gradually unwind. The benefits of this method are:

a. The work can be done from the ground instead of off a ladder.

b, You're away from the trailer so there is less chance of skin damage.

c. The energy release is easier to control.

d. You can count the number of rope wraps around the awning tube so you'll have an idea of how many spring turns will be required when you reinstall the awning.

Method 2. You can reverse the steps shown in figure 4 of the pdf file. The key is to control the top plug when it is pulled from the arm. If you look at the spring rod extending from the top plug you should see two flats that can be gripped with a wrench and held when the plug is removed from the arm. You can also use vise grips grip part of the plug as comes out of the arm.

My issue with this method is that sometimes the top plugs need some persuasion to release from the arms and it is easy to loose your grip on the wrench. This can result in trailer damage or personal injury and you're working from a ladder.

I've always used method 1.

Step B. Remove Old Fabric

Once the spring tension is released unscrew the plastic end caps and remove the spring assemblies. Take to note where they came from as the front and rears differ. If you can't get the screws out then use a hacksaw to cut the heads off then you can grip the screw shaft with a pair of vise grips after the springs are removed. After the springs are out you simply slide the fabric and spline out of the roll tube end.

Next you'll need to remove the fabric from the awning rail (on the trailer). It is important to leave a 6 to 8 inch flap of awning material in place so you'll have something to grab while you're pulling the material from the rail. There should be 2 or 3 screws in the top of the rail that prevent the awning fabric from sliding in the groove. They need to be removed as do the awning stowage clips located on each end of the awning rail. Now look at the end of the awning rail to see if the groove ends are crimped, or flared. If they are crimped you may need to flare them slightly to make removal and re-installation easier. They can be flared with a flat tipped screwdriver. Flaring will really help out when the new fabric is being installed.

There's usually a buildup of crud in the rail groove. A couple of silicon spray squirts will go a long way to making the task easier. Next comes the tugging. It will help to have one person on each end tugging in unison to get the material and spline removed.

Step C. Maintenance

Now is a great time to check the rail rivets to make sure things are tight and sealed. I'd also clean the springs, replace the old plastic end caps, and replace rusty bolts and such with stainless steel. Clean the awning rail and roller tube grooves.

Step D. Re-Installation

Slide the new fabric into the awning rail first. I usually file the leading edges of the rail groove to prevent the fabric from tearing on any sharp edge as its being pulled in. A little lubrication will also help.

Slide the fabric into the roller tube groove.

Install the top plugs into the arms (no tension on the springs yet). Now with the fabric unrolled and the awning extended try to align things up so the fabric will roll up straight on to the roll tube. Just eyeball things at this point.

If you're satisfied with the alignment you can begin tightening the springs. I do this with the arms extended so I can stand on the ground. This requires some additional turns of the springs but its much more stable and safer for me. I use two wrenches to tighten the torsion springs to the desired number of rotations. One wrench goes on the flat and the other grips the end plug. It is very important to go slow and maintain control of the wrenches. Don't let anyone stand in the spin plane just in case a wrench slips and things go flying. Once the rotations are complete slide the plug into the arm and secure it. Move to the opposite and repeat.

Now try rolling up the awning and see if the spring tension is correct and adjust accordingly. Also check the fabric for alignment. You may need to slide the fabric in the rail to align things. Once this is complete, replace the rail screws to lock the fabric in to the rail and re-install the stowage clips on each rail end. Use sealant where penetrations are made.

Now pull up the lawn chairs, break out a few cold ones and admire your handy work.

I know this is a long post so feel free to PM me if I can be of assistance. I attached some photos of the flats, nubs and the awning stowage brackets.

Best of luck,
"If it can't be reduced, reused, repaired, rebuilt, refurbished, refinished, resold, recycled or composted
then it should be restricted, redesigned or removed from production."
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Old 04-13-2011, 10:58 AM   #4
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Hi toaster68,

Melody Ranch is on track as far as I'm concerned.

A link to the Carefree manual.

Be careful...As you discovered torsion springs can be dangerous and require your utmost care and attention.



"One of the best lessons I've learned is that you don't worry about criticism from people you wouldn't seek advice from."

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Old 04-14-2011, 07:46 AM   #5
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1968 30' Sovereign
Mt. Horeb , Wisconsin
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Thank you for the posts!!
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carefree awning, replace

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