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RV Patio Awning Fabric Replacement – Carefree of Colorado Manual Pull-Down

RV Patio Awning Fabric Replacement – Carefree of Colorado Manual Pull-Down

You’ve heard us say it before… replacing awning and slide topper fabric is just about our favorite DIY RV project. That’s because it saves a lot of $$, yields better results, and is easier than it looks (when you know how… which we’ll show you, of course)!

The whole idea of being a DIY RVer is that we handle as many of our own maintenance, repair and update projects as we can. One of the worst situations we can imagine is getting a repair bill from an RV shop, and having the epiphany that we could have done the job ourselves for a LOT less. After all, labor is usually the lion’s share of most RV repairs.

In those instances where you’re unable to take on a particular project yourself, you should have the consolation of knowing that the job was done by a pro, so at least you got the most professional results possible, right? Well… not always.

Slide topper and awning fabric replacement is one of those things where the planets generally align against you in almost every way if you pay an RV shop to do it. Here’s why:

  • The cost of labor goes from zero to about a bazillion dollars an hour (well, it seems like it anyway).
  • Shops almost always use OEM (original equipment) fabric, which is:
    • More expensive than other options (like Tough Top Awnings material)
    • Oh, how to say this diplomatically…. low-quality [email protected]! Why do you think it failed in the first place? Not to name names, but Carefree must use the worst fabrics on the planet. And A&E is right behind them. The idea of paying more for it, and for the labor to install it, is… distasteful.
    • Not always readily available, so it has to be ordered, with long lead times being pretty common.
  • It requires an appointment in a specific location (us full-timers hate having to lock into being in an exact place and time, possibly weeks or more in advance).
  • You have to be out of your rig (again, anathema to full-timers… the waiting room in an RV shop is to be avoided like the plague)!
  • You’ll find out later… maybe after watching this video ;-) … that you could have done it yourself.
  • You have to look at yourself in the mirror after leaving the shop with your expensive-but-inferior new awning or slide toppers knowing that your DIY RVer cred is now at serious risk!

Seriously, you don’t have to be a super-capable DIYer to replace your own fabric. It’s just not that hard to do, and very rewarding, since it appears difficult… until you’ve done it.

We know that not every RVer is confident, competent or physically able to replace their own awning or slide topper fabric. But even they probably have friends who could do it for them for the cost of some pizza & beer (after the installation please)!

Bottom line… friends don’t let friends pay an RV shop for awning or slide topper replacement.


Visit www.toughtopawnings.com and enter the
Discount Code “RVGEEKSROCK”
for a 5% discount on your entire order!


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Richard Heys

Saturday 18th of January 2020

So my awning fabric was dry rotted. Unfortunately I removed it before watching your video, and I let the spring unwind completely. How do I figure out how much to rewind it when I replace the fabric?

TheRVgeeks

Saturday 18th of January 2020

16 rotations in the down position, or eight rotations in the up position.

Sofia James

Monday 21st of May 2018

Thanks for sharing this blog. I always insisted on Carefree installations – and I always been pleased with their products. Thank you for your suggestions and the manual information. With all that info we were able to get our awning to retract.

TheRVgeeks

Monday 21st of May 2018

Excellent! Great to hear.

Evelyn

Saturday 2nd of September 2017

Followed your video to replace our awning. We bought an av used and the awing material had been removed except on the track of the camper and the tracks of the roller. We purchased a new awning and after removing the scraps of awning both off the camper and roller we followed the instructions and replaced the awning. Great video and very complete. We also changed out the screws and oiled the springs. After replacing the awing and securing it we tried to retract the awning. The awning will not retract. We can wind the awning up manually and pull it down but it will not retract by itself. Can you give us some suggestions on what we can do to determine if there is something wrong with the springs or if we did something wrong with rewinding the springs or something with the arms.

Evelyn

Monday 4th of September 2017

RVGeeks

Thank you for your suggestions and the manual information. With all that info we were able to get our awning to retract. My husband using a screwdriver added an additional 5 turns and made some minor adjustments to the support arms and with that the awning retracted. Thanks again for making this project one that we could do ourselves and save us money and time. Evelyn

TheRVgeeks

Saturday 2nd of September 2017

Hi Evelyn,

Glad to hear that our video was helpful, but sorry to hear you're having trouble. Our only experience with a pull-down Carefree of Colorado awning was for the purpose of this video shoot with Tough Top Awnings (hope you got your 5% discount on the new fabric if you ordered from them!)... so we don't have any experience troubleshooting them. From what you're describing, it sounds like either:

The spring isn't tensioned enough for it to be able to retract the awning on its own. Which means you'll want to dismantle the left-hand arm again to the point where you can add extra windings to the spring, being careful to wind it in the direction the arrow points on the end cap. Not sure what model awning you have, but on page 8 of this PDF document from Carefree of Colorado, they list the total number of winds needed for different size awnings. Start there, but if your spring is old, it may require more winds than they recommend. Or... The latching mechanism on the right-hand arm isn't releasing properly and isn't allowing the spring to roll the awning back up. Be sure that, if you have it, the extended release arm mechanism (that brings the "Retract/Extend" switch down the arm so it can be triggered without using a rod) is engaging that switch correctly. When in the "Extend" position, and you pull the awning out, you should hear a ratcheting sound as that mechanism ensures the awning won't retract... and when in the "Retract" mode, it should release and allow the spring to rewind the awning.

Hope this helps! Good luck!

Richard Hubert

Wednesday 23rd of August 2017

Very helpful video as we have to replace the awning fabric on our 19' A&E awning.

One addition I would make would be to change all set screws and mounting hardware to Stainless steel, as I think it is criminal for manufacturers to knowingly use unprotected plain steel hardware on external applications, knowing it will only rust. This was VERY obvious in this video, showing rusty, unsightly screws & bolts. (As an aside - this is especially true in many other places on my rig, such as on my hydraulic leveling jacks and other areas of undercarriage chassis which are rusting badly.) But in this case upgrading a few awning set screws & mounting bolts to stainless will have it look better and last forever for only a couple of bucks.

A 2nd addition I would make would be to clean and lubricate the arms and hardware on the awning, while it is all dis-assembled. It's the perfect time to clean out dirt and grime in the support arms and to provide some lubrication to the pivot points and sliding support arms. Also a great time to lubricate the tension spring as well while it is out. I would wipe down the spring thoroughly with some synthetic motor oil (will not evaporate) as it is fully protected in the tube so should not attract dirt This will not only let it operate smoothly but also protect it from corrosion and rust. Thanks for the great video!

TheRVgeeks

Wednesday 23rd of August 2017

Thanks for mentioning all the great additional tips, Richard! One thing we love about doing this sort of job ourselves is that we're free to choose how deeply we want to go into rehabbing a piece of equipment like an awning. We understand that when someone else installs new gear for us, it's hard for them to decide how far they're going to go with replacing parts, especially when they don't have an inventory of assorted new parts with them. That was the case with Tyler, with him traveling to a remote spot to do the job, and not knowing anything about the condition of the RV before arriving (He actually did do some of the things you mentioned to make sure the awning was working correctly, but since this video was all about fabric replacement, we didn't include any extra details). But thanks again for reminding all of the other DIYers our here about all the additional tasks that can go along with a larger project.

Alirio Riera

Wednesday 19th of July 2017

Hi, I'm a first timer renting an RV and I really need your help... I need to rent a good RV from 25th to 31 this month in Denver, Colorado... Im looking for the best option... please guys, help me, I have traveled from far away with my wife and two kids for this trip. Thanks a lot!!!

TheRVgeeks

Wednesday 19th of July 2017

We've never rented an RV before, but we just Googled "denver colorado rv rental" and came up with about two dozen local places. Give that a try and you should be able to compare prices, equipment and availability among lots of companies.

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