Most Class B campers come with an awning already installed. It resides in its own garage on the right side above the door and it cranks out from the side of the vehicle. Our third-hand 1995 Dodge Roadtrek 190 came with two self-contained support poles at each outer corner and a third support pole stored along the side of our toilet compartment. A crank, stored in the wardrobe closet when not in use, fits into a screw mechanism where the awning may be cranked out to full length.
Awnings are used frequently by some class B owners and others say they never use it. It varies for us. If we are traveling and seldom staying more than one night in a location we almost never put up the awning. But if we stay in camp and the weather is nice (or damp) we often use it. The shade and protection from rain is great. Leaving it up overnight is risky if a storm might blow in. We've had to get up in the middle of the night more than once to roll the flapping awning up.
More Shade. Awnings work great when the sun is overhead, but when the sun angle is low the shade can nearly disappear. We had seen campers at outdoor dog shows hang a silver mesh tarp that could be attached with clamps to the awning edge. It blocked the harsh rays of the sun but let the breeze through. It is called SilverShade Mesh and can be purchase in standard or custom sizes. RV stores sell “awning drops” that slide into the track on the awning. You can also buy shade fabric and make your own. We have played with different ideas over the years.
Repair. A small tear in our awning one stormy night (before rolled it away) reminded us that we should not leave the awning up unless certain of good weather. At an RV store we found Awning Repair Tape. It is a heavy vinyl transparent tape with adhesive on one side. You cut it to fit over the tear and smooth it down for an invisible repair.
Cleaning. We have cleaned the weathering soot and stains from our vinyl-coated awning several times. The best method we have found is to stretch the awning out to full length. Use a 6-ft. stepladder and spray it top and bottom with Clorox Outdoor cleaner. Let it remain in place for 10 minutes, then scrub it with a long-handled brush and yellow sponge with green scrubber side. Rinse completely and let the awning air dry. Crank it back in carefully and you are ready for next time. And don't forget a bit of spray lube on mechanism to keep it working smoothly.
Tubing Trick. We noticed what a pain it was to remove leaves, maple seeds, and other stuff that got caught between the awning case and the fiberglass roof of our Roadtrek. We learned a great trick from another Roadtrek owner. Go to the hardware store and buy enough clear plastic tubing to reach the length of your awning. Push the tubing into the gap and no more debris will get trapped there! Is to clean and easy to remove whenever desired.
Other Awnings. The place we really wanted an awning was the rear window. We hated having a great view and having to put up Reflectix to keep the hot sun out. The solution was an easy project. An awning track and Kedar awning rope from a sailrite.com, some outdoor fabric from JoAnn's, a couple of grommets and some bungee cords and we had nice rear window awning. It's just enough to keep shade on our window and allow us to enjoy the view from the dinette. It takes little space and we always have it with us.
Patio Light. Our Roadtrek did not come with an outside light at the door. Several years ago we put outdoor LED strip lights down the underside of the awning case and made two power cords for it. We made a short cord for when the awning wasn't deployed and a long cord for when the awning was cranked out. Now we have a better lit patio than those who have an outside light. Others must have liked the idea, we are seeing new class Bs will LED strip lights for outside illumination now!
Even if you don't use your awning all the time, it is very handy to have, and with a little care and maintenance it will last a long time. Ours is still going strong at 20 years old!
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