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FCStreamer 06-18-2016 08:26 PM

Catastrophic Zip Dee awning failure
So I suffered a catastrophic Zip Dee awning failure today. We had flash rains, worse I have seen in a long time, and they hit while I was away at Lowes picking up something. I got back to the trailer just in time to see one of the arms snap in half, the awning lose all tension, and a great big slash on the side of my AS.


The rain subsided and we attempted unsuccessfully to manually roll up the awning. It's huge. It's a one piece the length of my 30 footer.

I was able to remove the broken arm, and I removed the other one as well and now the awning falls flat to the floor covering the door. Makes getting in and out of the Airstream a bit interesting.

It was getting dark, it was still drizzling, I was wet, tired and disappointed. So my plan was to take a pair of scissors and cut the awning off.

My wife, being a bit more level headed, suggested I look up some removal instructions on the Internet. What the heck. If that doesn't work THEN I use the scissors.

I found them. (The removal instrcutions).


We found the one screw holding the cloth on one side, but it was late, I was tired, and decided to give up. Let's wiggle our way into the AS and go to sleep. Tomorrow is another day. I may even change my scissor plan B.

Stay tuned... :blush:

Mrjkq 06-18-2016 08:46 PM

I've learned over many years of RVing that leaving the awning extended is a disaster waiting to happen. Yesterday here in Vegas it was over 100 degrees & very windy, I needed to get the direct sun off my trailer to assist the AC, I extended the awning & tied the pull down strap to a tree keeping it secure.

overlander63 06-19-2016 03:41 AM

Always tilt the awning when you deploy it, so rain water won't pool on it.
If you are leaving the trailer unattended, roll the awning up.
If heavy rain or high wind is forecast, roll the awning up.
If you hear the awning flapping in the wind, roll the awning up.

Providing the tube hasn't bent or buckled, you can get a new arm, and replace it yourself. It's not hard, though two people working together will help. All you will need is an assistant and a 7/16" wrench. And, of course, a new awning arm.

SteveSueMac 06-19-2016 05:03 AM

Catastrophic Zip Dee awning failure
Ugh....not a fun sight to see... Very sorry to hear this.

When you say there was a slash in your AS, do you mean the awning arm pulled out of the AS and tore the aluminum?

Such a bummer...good luck - I'm sure everything can be repaired even though I can totally empathize with your sense of deflation...

AWCHIEF 06-19-2016 06:25 AM

Expensive lesson learned the hard way. Seems I continue to see this happen almost every trip.

A wise old blue water sailor once told me "If you think it might be time to put in a reef, it is probably too late."

CRH 06-19-2016 06:27 AM

Forget the scissors. After winding the tension back, two strong people should be able to help the awning roll back up. Replacing the rafter arm is a easy job. Cutting the cloth would be a $1000+ mistake.

hippiechick 06-19-2016 06:50 AM

So sorry to hear this. Good luck with the repairs. Keep us posted.

FCStreamer 06-19-2016 07:59 AM

It scratched the AS as it broke, but I don't see it penetrating the aluminum. Just a surface scratch.

We figured out how to remove the cloth. I'm calling someone to come repair this. This is not fun for me.

FCStreamer 06-19-2016 09:26 AM

Ray Eklund 06-19-2016 09:53 AM

Awnings hold Sunshine better...
Boondockers understand that having an extended awning comes with caveats.

Wind. The awning is not designed to handle gusts nor steady winds. Adjust for the conditions. Your support rods can bend and be damaged.

Rain. You need common Boondocking understanding to have your door entry awning set higher than the opposite end. This way the water does not pool, but runs off and away from your doorway. Pooling water on your awning WILL be fatal...

Snow. Do not even have your awning extended as it will fail.

Sunshine. When NOT in your trailer, lower your awning to the lowest setting to avoid all of the above.

It is disappointing that you learned the hard way, but not the first. Be prepared to use common sense in the use of your awning. No Airstream Owner's manual will discuss these caveats for your awning's use and under what conditions.

I am sure you will be more careful in the future. It was not the failure of the awning, but your failure to apply common sense under possible conditions of use. This is intended to 'educate' those following your disaster, so others can learn.

CRH 06-19-2016 11:23 AM

I don't think you need to be a boondocker to understand how to use a awning

Denis4x4 06-19-2016 11:54 AM

I have drilled holes in the awning arms and use 1/4" bolts to keep the arms from collapsing. I also use an awning strap secured on dog leash pegs that screw into the ground on my AS that is set up as a guest house/wet bar on the river. This is the third year that we've used this sort of setup with no issues. It goes without saying that one end is lower to drain rain water.

Foiled Again 06-19-2016 01:37 PM

The ZipDee awning isn't really all that intuitive. I'm sure everyone of us who was lucky had someone else explain the "how to" or saw a youtube video.

We should provide a skicky post on "ZipDee for newbies"- especially how to get it down in a hurry! I rather dislike using mine simply because I'm normally alone AND I'm not tall enough to hand crank the lockdown wheels. Getting it up and down is not as bad as lifting full 40 lb propane tanks, but it sure goes SO much easier with two someone helping with it.

I just bought a "Clam" screen room... which I plan to use in lieu of the missing awnings on the Avion. Chose it for several reasons: (A) one person CAN get it up and down fairly simply (B) if it gets fouled up by wind or rain, it's a lot cheaper to replace than an awning (C) with decent tent stakes it shouldn't be able to come apart and foul up anything ELSE like the side of the trailer. My sister, a tent camper of long experience warned me about how bad the 5 inch plastic stakes they include with tents and screen rooms work.

I don't know what I'm going to do if as I suspect, this screen room will "integrate" with the hatch of the EB. It doesn't pack small. Right now it's on the shelf behind the couch in the Avion. Going to have to redo the whole packing job in the truck if I want it for both trailers.

My campground just got hit by straight line winds last weekend. Lawn chairs, screen rooms, awnings, a BIG tree, grills, bikes, golf carts etc. were tossed everywhere. Even one trailer slid almost 4 feet sideways - why it didn't roll no one knows - and even though three screen rooms were damaged none of them whacked a trailer or car.


Protagonist 06-19-2016 01:53 PM


Originally Posted by Foiled Again (Post 1808465)
I just bought a "Clam" screen room... which I plan to use in lieu of the missing awnings on the Avion. Chose it for several reasons: (A) one person CAN get it up and down fairly simply (B) if it gets fouled up by wind or rain, it's a lot cheaper to replace than an awning (C) with decent tent stakes it shouldn't be able to come apart and foul up anything ELSE like the side of the trailer.

Thanks for posting this. I have a Coleman canopy and the screen walls to go with it, but it's a real pain to set up or take down by myself so it hardly ever gets taken along on trips. The Clam looks like it would be easier to manage.

duncans 06-19-2016 02:11 PM

Boondocking tidbit
Yes, boondocking on the Olympic Peninsula with 2 in diapers presents some challenges, but the ZipDee Awning made good use of the 400 inches of annual rainfall. One end down to "catch" all that rainfall was very helpful in stretching our water supply. ;)


Any wind, that awning went up, stowed safely out of harm's way.

barts 06-19-2016 02:12 PM

The awning is a large sail and water collector. My sympathies on your misfortune.

Note that stainless arms are available; these apparently used to be default for Airstreams in the past as our 1971 Tradewind has them and it was pretty
much base level trim everywhere.

These are much stronger than the aluminum arms. This does NOT mean you can leave it up in a windstorm, but may give you the extra margin of safety to save future grief.

We normally only leave the awning out in a sheltered area where high winds are not going to be an issue (surrounded by thick forests, for example). To take care of rain, we leave one side of the awning lower than the other; this insures that only a small amount of rain can puddle anywhere before it drains off.

One technique I have seen used to relieve load on awnings in windy areas is to drive ground anchors in and change the lower awning arms from bolted to the trailer to being bolted to the ground anchors. This leaves only the top of the awning and awning extension arms fastened to the trailer. I've not done this personally, however, and there are always conditions that will require that no awning be extended.

Good luck -

- Bart

paddle whisp 06-19-2016 02:56 PM

I'm so sorry this has messed up your weekend.
I wonder what folks do to cover the door from storms and sun?

TBRich 06-19-2016 03:37 PM

It's a hard lesson ... Sorry it happened to you ... The scratch is not pretty but it could have been worse. Good luck recovering from it... The good news is that you will. Hang in there!

graysailor 06-19-2016 03:43 PM

Here in AZ the temp is supposed to hit 120 degrees today. I have been battling the heat for two weeks now. The awning really helps thet AC and the refridge to keep up. Throughout the day there are wind gusts that of course make me nervous. Sometimes I just bring the awning in so I don't have to think about it. Love/hate relationship with my awning. Thank goodness I do have a power awning so not a big deal to take it in and out.

Bill Lynch 06-19-2016 03:46 PM

That scratch on the side will polish out but you want someone to do it with repainting the damaged clear coat. Otherwise moisture will get under there and strip the clear coat off in very little time.

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