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Old 04-24-2020, 09:43 AM   #1
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Trapped in my Airstream! Awning collapsed!

The main arm bar on my Zip Dee awning snapped in two, the awning fell against the Airstream door, trapping me in the trailer! This happened at 4:00 AM. Around 7 I was able to contact a neighbor to pull the awning off the door to open it and get out. (I didn't want to use the emergency window and then have to reinstall it.) It looks like the awning main arm bar snapped in two. Is that what you call it? I am enclosing a picture. Is this a complicated procedure to replace the arm bar? I am concerned that it might involve something horrible like rewinding the roll up spring.
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Old 04-24-2020, 09:49 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by alphamale49 View Post
The main arm bar on my Zip Dee awning snapped in two, the awning fell against the Airstream door, trapping me in the trailer! This happened at 4:00 AM. Around 7 I was able to contact a neighbor to pull the awning off the door to open it and get out. (I didn't want to use the emergency window and then have to reinstall it.) It looks like the awning main arm bar snapped in two. Is that what you call it? I am enclosing a picture. Is this a complicated procedure to replace the arm bar? I am concerned that it might involve something horrible like rewinding the roll up spring.
We always roll ours up at night...and never leave with it out...they are very flimsy
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Old 04-24-2020, 09:49 AM   #3
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We always roll ours up at night...and never leave with it out...they are very flimsy
Just order a new arm...
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Old 04-24-2020, 09:54 AM   #4
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Please tell us how this happened, so that others can learn.

Was there rain overnight, and high winds perhaps? Was the awning in the "full up" position, such that it could trap rain, and get very heavy?

For the arm to bend that much, there was likely more weight bearing on it from above, than just one end of the awning roller IMO.

Glad you are OK.

Peter

PS -- We also never leave our awning up at night.
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Old 04-24-2020, 09:56 AM   #5
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For customer service, contact info here.
http://www.awningsbyzipdee.com/contact-us.html

And, yes the spring will have to be rewound. Not a hard job, but extremely dangerous. If you loose your grip on the tools/awning arm they can fly at speed that will break things and hurt people.

At the end of this video it shows how to wind the spring.
https://youtu.be/qUBa_khKsQk
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Old 04-24-2020, 09:57 AM   #6
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Looks like a serious bend on that arm before the snap. Maybe wanna check your main bar to ensure it’s still straight. Order it all at once from zip-dee

This is our worst fear. Glad you’re okay
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Old 04-24-2020, 10:47 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alphamale49 View Post
The main arm bar on my Zip Dee awning snapped in two, I am concerned that it might involve something horrible like rewinding the roll up spring.
It does, but the danger is over. The spring is already unwound without killing someone!
I had the same piece break. It's called the Main Arm Bar. The good news is you can rescue the awning, and then call Zip Dee and order the part. As I recall, it was about $45 plus shipping. Zip Dee is easy to deal with. (Let them know if it's front or rear because the holes are on opposite sides.
Here's a parts list and names.
http://nebula.wsimg.com/36853a1e4185...&alloworigin=1

Now for the nuts and bolts. I think I know from experience how to help. First, the upper main arm won't go back into the arm tube if it's bent (and it doesn't take much.) I had to hacksaw off everything but about 2'. The goal is to get the arm bar back into the tube far enough to latch into the top hole.
It's possible you might have to remove the upper arm bar from the roller casting (one bolt) and hammer it flatter to go into the tube.

This is where you'll have to wind the spring. I went to the big box store and got a 3' piece of pipe and the largest cable ties they had. I tied the pipe to the remaining arm, and started winding. Best to have a helper here, just stay clear if anything lets go. The rule of thumb is one turn per foot of awning length, + 7 turns. (Unfurling takes 7 turns).

So In my case it was about 23 turns. BE CAREFUL. Don't allow anyone in the plane of the broken part, I have the scars to prove it.
I had to wind clockwise. (Think about how the roller winds to go back, and wind the spring to make it happen.

Then, stick the remaining arm bar in the arm tube and latch into the top hole. At this point, you can remove the pipe and cable ties and roll up the awning for travel.
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Old 04-24-2020, 12:54 PM   #8
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Later;
When you get the replacement part, you're going to have to unwind the spring again, replace the new Upper Arm Bar in the head casting.
Now it will be too long to get back in the Arm tube, so you'll remove the 1/4" bolt holding the "Lower Hinge Bar" to the side of the Airstream after winding it back up. You won't need the pipe for this last step since you'll have the leverage of a new shiny upper arm bar.
And be proud you didn't need a trip to the emergency room!
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Old 04-25-2020, 05:40 AM   #9
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Thanks everyone. I'll give a status update at a later time. The good folks at Out-Of-Doors Mart in Colfax, NC have already put the new part in the mail.
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Old 04-25-2020, 08:09 AM   #10
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While the damage to your awning is a real bummer and will take some time and money to repair, your comment about not wanting to use the emergency window made me think. We never know when that is something we will need to use and may not think about it very often or ever. This post serves as a good reminder to re-familiarize ourselves with that emergency exit; how it works, practice opening it. Almost like a fire drill, you never know when it could make a difference.
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Old 04-25-2020, 08:17 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by alphamale49 View Post
Thanks everyone. I'll give a status update at a later time. The good folks at Out-Of-Doors Mart in Colfax, NC have already put the new part in the mail.
Thanks. Please also comment on possible causes, if any, per Post #4.

Thanks,

Peter
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Old 04-25-2020, 08:20 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by OutdoorIdaho View Post
While the damage to your awning is a real bummer and will take some time and money to repair, your comment about not wanting to use the emergency window made me think. We never know when that is something we will need to use and may not think about it very often or ever. This post serves as a good reminder to re-familiarize ourselves with that emergency exit; how it works, practice opening it. Almost like a fire drill, you never know when it could make a difference.
Good point, and especially make sure that the "pull handle" to remove the screen spline is available instantly in an emergency. Without this handle, removing the spline can be time-consuming, and very difficult.

Peter
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Old 04-25-2020, 08:38 AM   #13
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Once you remove the screen covering the emergency exit, it's not a "replace it yourself" item. It's a trip to the dealer.
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Old 04-25-2020, 08:54 AM   #14
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Not necessarily a dealer fix. It may be as simple as replacing a screen panel on a sliding patio door at home, depending on your model and upper cabinets which might be in the way.

https://www.airforums.com/forums/f51...ts-188178.html
https://www.airforums.com/forums/f44...ng-169166.html
https://www.airforums.com/forums/f45...ut-164881.html

Most folks can tackle this project IMO. The new screening does not to fit perfectly flat, it just has to keep the bugs out.

As TCwheels's signature says . . . "Don't let perfect be the enemy of better!"

Happy trails,

Peter
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Old 04-25-2020, 08:59 AM   #15
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Once you remove the screen covering the emergency exit, it's not a "replace it yourself" item. It's a trip to the dealer.
It's not that hard, I've done it. It isn't any different then replacing the screen on a regular door or window. You could just call anyone who replaces screens in houses to put the screen back, that would probably be cheaper and a lot quicker then a trip to the dealer.
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Old 04-25-2020, 09:00 AM   #16
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Once you remove the screen covering the emergency exit, it's not a "replace it yourself" item. It's a trip to the dealer.
I pulled on the loop on mine, not knowing what it was. I figured it out before I pulled it all the way out, and put it back in just like replacing screen material on home window screens. I didn't pull it all the way out. Is there something I missed that makes it a dealer repair? I didn't see anything. Looks like all you need is a screen installation roller. Asking for a friend....

Al
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Old 04-25-2020, 09:05 AM   #17
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In some models the upper cabinets block easy access to the top horizontal run of screen spline, not to mention access to the screws holding in the screen frame itself, as discussed in some of the threads linked earlier.

For instance: https://www.airforums.com/forums/f51...ml#post2167284

Easy for some is difficult for others . . .



Thus . . . broad-brush advice, based on one's own trailer, is often not accurate.

Peter
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Old 04-25-2020, 09:21 AM   #18
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Speaking for myself, I have never opened the back window (over our bed) in three Airstreams and 17 years. Given that we have two windows on either side, plus a ff above, we just don't need it. And it's kind of awkward anyway.

So, I would not hesitate to pull the screen out if I needed and just not replace the screen.

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Old 04-25-2020, 09:26 AM   #19
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Been there, bent that. Replacement was around $75 (much less than I thought). Now i am sure to lower one side in a rainstorm! AW Warn and MollysDad laid out your next steps.
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Old 04-25-2020, 10:19 AM   #20
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Invest in a mobile repair guy and not in a hospital trip.
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