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Old 07-22-2018, 02:09 PM   #1
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ZipDee Awning Fail

At 3:30am we arose to the sound of an artillery round being fired from our position. (That's all my dreaming brain could come up with.)

So I'll start by admitting that it's really "my fault." We had a bunch of people over for a campfire and so I put the awning up as high as it could go on both sides. Wanted to minimize the chance that anyone hit their head. That night it started to rain. And rain. And rain. Then BANG! The awning filled with rain and the arm support simply couldn't take it.

The aft most arm of the Zip Dee awning let loose at the #3 detent and collapsed in on the door. As we ran to see what happened, the door was completely shut and we could not open it. Eventually the adrenaline and claustrophobia was enough to overcome it and I wrestled it open and was able to secure it in the (relatively light) wind and rain. But that spring is under a LOT of tension and I was hit several times by the broken arm before realizing what was happening.

Now, I know full well that ZipDee says you need to leave the awning at an angle so rain water can drain and I always have. I completely forgot that I had left it level "just this once" though and went to bed without rain in the forecast.

HOWEVER, I do not think that the awning should be able to fill with water to the point where the arms are able to explosively fail like it did. Bend to the point where the arm is ruined and the water then drains... totally. It managed to scratch up the side of my unit pretty good as well.

The only good news here is that it appears that I will only have to replace one single arm / bar but I have no idea (on a Sunday) what this costs or how long it will take to get the replacement.

Questions:

How do I find out which part / serial number awning I have? My books are safely at home, 1500 miles away.
Has anyone else experienced this?
Is re-winding this awning a big deal?
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Old 07-22-2018, 03:08 PM   #2
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You will need the left (rear) arm hardware, satin, for a wide body Airstream.


Also, both Zip-Dee and Airstream specify the awning is a shade awning only, and must be retracted if it starts to rain. Yeah, I leave ours open, too, in light rain.
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Old 07-22-2018, 10:03 PM   #3
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I have seen Zip Dee awnings with a grommet in them right behind the roller tube. The grommet acts as a drain.

Rewinding the spring is no big deal. I have taken my awning completely off to get it restitched.
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Old 07-23-2018, 11:49 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CRH View Post
I have seen Zip Dee awnings with a grommet in them right behind the roller tube. The grommet acts as a drain.

Rewinding the spring is no big deal. I have taken my awning completely off to get it restitched.


YES! That is exactly what is needed. Something, anything to allow the water to drain away. I wonder if that was a factory install or if someone had modified it...?
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Old 07-23-2018, 11:51 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by overlander63 View Post
You will need the left (rear) arm hardware, satin, for a wide body Airstream.


Also, both Zip-Dee and Airstream specify the awning is a shade awning only, and must be retracted if it starts to rain. Yeah, I leave ours open, too, in light rain.


Ordered today. Zip Dee was extremely helpful and I got right through. The part was like $47. Fingers crossed it’s the right one. They looked it up by AS year, make and model.
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Old 07-23-2018, 12:33 PM   #6
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I retract my awning at night and anytine we leave the campsite during the day. But I do keep the roadside and rear awning out.
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Old 07-23-2018, 12:51 PM   #7
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We retract our awning when we go to bed, even if there is no sign of bad weather. It's just easier than being awakened by wind, then laying there wondering if I should go out in the retract it before it goes. Been there, done that ... before we started putting it away as a matter of routine. We DO use the awning in light or moderate rain with one end tilted down sometimes ... but if it gets too bad we put it away (not a fun thing to do in he rain).
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Old 07-23-2018, 01:05 PM   #8
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Gee, I'm surprised that I have never done that one. I've done about everything else over the years. I have always been a scaredy-cat about the big awning. Not as much about rain as wind. Fortunately, I was outside when the wind almost ripped it off the trailer. I was able to get it rolled up in time, although it was a battle. I do also leave the rear and street side awning out all the time, even when Lucy is parked in the alley behind our house.


You are fortunate that you didn't have more damage. Good luck in getting it all back together.


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Old 07-23-2018, 01:18 PM   #9
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This is not a Zip Dee fail. All awning brands can break under the conditions you described. I've seen it happen to my father in laws rig camped at a remote site on the Santiam River. It sucks when it happens, which is why I'm paranoid and over cautious about using the big awning.

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Old 07-23-2018, 02:47 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chaseav View Post
YES! That is exactly what is needed. Something, anything to allow the water to drain away. I wonder if that was a factory install or if someone had modified it...?
I was told it was factory on older awnings
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Old 07-23-2018, 04:43 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chaseav View Post
YES! That is exactly what is needed. Something, anything to allow the water to drain away. I wonder if that was a factory install or if someone had modified it...?
Quote:
Originally Posted by CRH View Post
I was told it was factory on older awnings
Y'all are correct. It was done through the 1970s, and discontinued during the 1980s.
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Old 07-23-2018, 05:04 PM   #12
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I've had a couple awnings with the grommet drains. The opening in the grommet is so small that a leaf will stop drainage. So, it did not solve the problem completely. Best thing is to roll it up any time you are not under it.
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Old 07-23-2018, 05:13 PM   #13
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Same thing happened to us last year in Colorado. Left awning fully extended and went to town. DUMB! Returned to camp to find awning had failed in hail storm. Contacted Zip Dee and had the replacement parts in 3 days. We NEVER leave our awning up overnight or when we leave camp. One word of advice, inspect attachment points for bent or loose brackets/hardware. Love the idea of a drain grommet.
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Old 07-23-2018, 05:21 PM   #14
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Brass grommet kits in assorted sizes are available from your friendly local big box hardware store.

Usually only takes a hammer to crimp the parts together.

Use another, bigger hammer held up there by a very sturdy assistant as a backup to the baseplate of the grommet setter to avoid tearing the awning fabric.
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Old 07-23-2018, 07:42 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TBRich View Post
We retract our awning when we go to bed, even if there is no sign of bad weather. It's just easier than being awakened by wind, then laying there wondering if I should go out in the retract it before it goes. Been there, done that ... before we started putting it away as a matter of routine. We DO use the awning in light or moderate rain with one end tilted down sometimes ... but if it gets too bad we put it away (not a fun thing to do in he rain).

We (I) do this, and ours has the grommets near the tube.
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Old 07-24-2018, 11:33 AM   #16
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I learned my lesson last year when I left it out on a beautiful sunny day and went to town. About an 2 hours after I left horrific thunderstorms came up with super high winds. I didn't have the awning at the right angle for all the rain that happened, so when I got back the awning had a ton of water on it. Luckily the only damage was a broken claw and very bent arms. The claw actually broke because I tried to fold up the awning with the arms so bent. A bit of straightening on the arms and a new claw and all is well again. But if I go away where I cannot make it back to the trailer in an hour I will now roll it up. Not worth the hassle or risk. To fix the claw in the short term I used a pipe clamp to secure it to the extrusion, so at least I was able to use it for the rest of the trip.
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Old 07-24-2018, 01:21 PM   #17
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This bears repeating IMO:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Caffeinated View Post
This is not a Zip Dee fail. All awning brands can break under the conditions you described.
. . .
When I read the headline for this thread, it kinda sticks in my brain . . .

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Old 07-24-2018, 09:18 PM   #18
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This bears repeating IMO:


When I read the headline for this thread, it kinda sticks in my brain . . .



Maybe it’s a generational thing but when I say “Zip Dee Awning Fail” I’m only saying that my awning, which is a Zip Dee, stopped functioning as intended. I’m not assigning blame to anyone other than myself but hope that my post points out that these things have the ability to explosively fail. And in my case, did. Had someone (my kid or dog) been underneath it, it would have very seriously injured them. So, FYI, when they say it’s for shade only, they mean it and they did NOT secretly over Engineer the thing to protect people from their own oversights. Okay? I still love Zip Dee too!
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Old 07-24-2018, 09:32 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chaseav View Post
Maybe it’s a generational thing but when I say “Zip Dee Awning Fail” I’m only saying that my awning, which is a Zip Dee, stopped functioning as intended. I’m not assigning blame to anyone other than myself but hope that my post points out that these things have the ability to explosively fail. And in my case, did. Had someone (my kid or dog) been underneath it, it would have very seriously injured them. So, FYI, when they say it’s for shade only, they mean it and they did NOT secretly over Engineer the thing to protect people from their own oversights. Okay? I still love Zip Dee too!


Thanks for the clarification. It may be generational or perhaps a generational impact on the language. When I first read the title of this thread and then read your original post, I had a conflict going on in my brain and here’s why I think that happened.

There’s a modern implication (probably from YouTube videos with the word “fail” in the title) that “XYZ fail” means something happened that shouldn’t have. Like - the ZipDee awning didn’t perform as advertised - the product “failed” to deliver on its promise.

As you wrote in your original post - you described the mechanical failure as the result of something you admit was a use not recommended by the manufacturer. Yes, it technically experienced failure in the sense that it buckled under the weight of the water and/or pressure of the wind. In manufacturing we calculated MTBF/mean time between failure of components knowing they had a certain life we could count on. But as we’re warned about those conditions by the manufacturer, the awning operated exactly as described and promised by the manufacturer - or in other words, using it differently than described by the manufacturer speeds the MTBF artificially. The structure “failed” mechanically in that definition, but the company/product didn’t “fail” since their product wasn’t used as required.

So I see what you’re saying - and - I understand where the disconnect comes in.

Glad no one was hurt, you can get this repaired and sharing your story helps others remember to follow manufacturer recommendations.

Good luck with everything!
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Old 07-24-2018, 09:43 PM   #20
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Made the same mistake about a month ago in South Padre Island on the last day of a 13 day journey. Left for the beach and sure enough a downpour came through and buckled the main roller and gas arms. I have a Relax Zip Dee which required me to hire a mobile RV service to remove it for the 550 mile drive back to Dallas. Just sickening...Where do you stick a 22'1" awning you ask? You strap it it to the top of your Airstream with zip ties and bungee cords. Nine grand for a completely new Zip Dee Relax awning with labor. Parts to be delivered Friday! $500.00 deductible, priceless!!! Hard lesson learned...retract awning when leaving the campsite and during light rain/winds.
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