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Old 03-10-2017, 06:48 AM   #1
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The Awning is out - OMG - I am still driving down the Road

About 9:30 A.M. MST my wife and I were west bound 40 miles east of Ruidoso, NM, between MP301 and MP300 when a very strong gust of wind, estimated in the 50 mile an hour range hit the right (passenger) side of the Motorhome. The road in this area drops down a long 4-6% grade and then goes around a right-hand curve and then back up. The wind gust caused the 18+ foot awning, attached to the right side of our 2009 Winnebago Destination 37G to unfurl and extend to the open position. This awning is electrically controlled and the lock mechanism is electric. We heard a loud "POP" prior to the awning unfurling. I was able to safely get to the side of the road at just about MP 300. By the time I got the Motorhome stopped, and got outside, the back arm of the awning was broken and the awning fabric and the roller was being flipped up onto the top of the Motorhome repeatedly. I quickly took a couple of photographs and then started to try and wrangle the flapping awning to the ground. Since this is an electric awning, I had no way to disconnect the arms from the side of the Motorhome and get it to the ground. The awning when fully extended is about eight feet off the ground on the “low” end and eleven feet off the ground where attached to the top edge of the Motorhome. I attempted to get a rope around the back end of the roller to try and keep it under control as it continued to flip on to the top of the Motorhome with each gust of wind. After about 10 minutes of struggle, during which the awning continued to flip onto the top of the Motorhome and then going to the fully extended position, only for the wind to flip it on to the top of the Motorhome, with damage continuing, two passing motorists stopped to help.
With their assistance, we were still not able to control awning and get it disconnected from the Motorhome, which was the only viable alternative to mitigate further damage and be able to continue driving the Motorhome.
On my direction, one of the assistants climbed onto the roof of the Motorhome (he volunteered, younger, more agile than I) and cut the awning off the mounting point on the top of the Motorhome. This then caused the fabric to get caught in the wind and blow it around the awning roller (tube), again causing an uncontrollable situation. The fabric was then cut from the awning roller and stored out of the wind. With the wind continuing, we were able to get both arms disconnected from the Motorhome, along with the awning roller. By this time both arms were bent beyond repair/use as was the awning roller.
While on the roof cutting the awning fabric free, it was discovered that the refrigerator roof vent was broken and the front end was being lifted by the wind and bent back. I decided to have the assistant remove the refrigerator vent cover completely to prevent it from coming off the vehicle as we were driving, potentially causing damage to my towed vehicle or other vehicles on the highway. At the same time it was observed that the slide cover (topper) on the right rear bedroom slide had also partially unfurled, on the back end. I felt that it would be safe to travel with it in this condition.
Since we had no way to safely transport the eighteen foot awning roller and the attached arms, it was left alongside the road.

Monday morning quarterbacks have suggested that the awning roller and arms could have been "strapped" to the side of the Motorhome in the closed position and the travels continued, because once the fabric is removed, it is no longer a wind catcher.

Has this happened to you? What did you do?* What would you do if it happened to you?* Since this was an electric awning is there a better lock technology?

Cross posted to The RV Forum -
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Michael (KG5UMH) & Debbie - 2009 Winnebago Destination 37G - Dramatic Gold - - 340 Cummins ISB, 2500 Allison, Freightliner XC 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee
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Old 03-10-2017, 06:58 AM   #2
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Now that is bad day.

My motor home doesn't have a ladder on the back so I purchased one of those extending ladders. I wasn't sure if I needed to carry it all the time or leave it at home. You sharing your experience answers that question.

I think you did it okay. Some scrapper will pick up your old parts.

The next question is how to prevent this from happening to begin with?
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Old 03-10-2017, 07:19 AM   #3
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Never thought the electric awnings would do that! I'll have to take a good look at some way to lock mine in. Always had "safety" straps on the old manual awning.
Hope your insurance goes good for the awning and also damage resulting from the run away awning!
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Old 03-10-2017, 08:20 AM   #4
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Amazing. I saw a Winny pusher earlier this week heading west on I70 with his patio awning about like yours (destroyed) and it appeared he was choosing to continue to drive it that way. I would say wind was 30-40 sustained with gusts that were tipping semi's. I have not had that happen to me to date. Fingers crossed.
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Old 03-10-2017, 08:43 AM   #5
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Years ago, DW & I were headed for Glamis in our newly purchased (used) Jamboree in heavy wind conditions. The same type of wind gust hit us and partially unrolled the awning (just about a foot). We pulled alongside the road, but in order to re-roll the awning correctly, it had to be completely unrolled first, and that was impossible in the heavy wind. I was able to drive slowly to a nearby building and kinda "hide" behind it, and between the two of us, were finally able to get it unrolled and rerolled. Luckily, there was no damage to either the awning or the RV.

Once home, I fabricated a metal strap lock mechanism that would make the same thing impossible in the future.http://

The problem with it was the requirement for me to go up on the roof to latch/unlatch it, but it certainly worked well.

I haven't figured out exactly what type of latch/lock I want to use for my new (to us, 8 months ago) RV, but your experience has reminded me that I WILL install something.
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Old 03-10-2017, 08:55 AM   #6
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I have seen this happen a few times on the highway. The worse one was when the arm and roller got sucked under and blew the right side tires and put the MH in the ditch.

I don't understand why the industry doesn't provide safety straps on all the large awnings as a DOT safety issue.
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Old 03-10-2017, 08:55 AM   #7
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Happened to me. I did the same as you, just cut it off to stop the damage. Not a lot else you can do. After it was replaced I put large, heavy wire ties high on the double arms when stored as a preventative measure.
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Old 03-10-2017, 09:09 AM   #8
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Some years ago, driving west on I40 near Clines Corner, we were driving in a thunder storm. A bolt of lightning hit the ground 200 feet from us. The air burst totally unfurled our awning. It wrapped on top of the rig, broke off the radio antenna, and basically bent up all the components. I now use arm straps 100% of the time. I like the looks of the strap in the above photo, just don't like the thought of getting on the roof every time I want to open or close the awning. Wish there was a better "mouse trap".
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Old 03-10-2017, 12:18 PM   #9
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Don't own one; just came across the Web site a couple years ago:

Save Your RV Awning with an RV Awning Travel Lock!

Someone's installation write-up on the RV Awning Travel Lock:
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Old 03-10-2017, 01:37 PM   #10
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Man oh man can I identify with this.... Same thing happened to me last summer.... Luckily I was able to get it under control BEFORE any major damage occurred... Unlike you, it took me 30 mins to finally get anyone to stop and give assistance... I even had motorhomes drive by me while I attempted to flag them down, which really disappointed me... I faired so much better than you did... I simply replaced the motor myself (which I found out later I really didn't need to do - but that's another story) and mine is back in service.... I do now have an extra motor in perfect working condition tho....

These electric awnings are held closed by the motor itself... No "locks" exist to hold them closed... What happened to you is exactly what happened to me - the power of the wind put enough upward force on the awning fabric that it resulted in the roller spinning on the motor shaft completely rounding out the oval hole the shaft fits into in the cap on the end of the roller....

Sadly because mine is a Carefree brand they make no locking device (that I can find) for it.... Some how we need to be able to "lock" this roller so it can't spin on the shaft resulting in a billowing awning....
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Old 03-10-2017, 01:48 PM   #11
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NOTE: JUST WENT TO THE LINK ABOVE AND THEY NOW DO HAVE A LOCK FOR THE POWER AWNINGS.... I'll be ordering mine ASAP!!!! Price appears to be around $50.00.... Highly recommend everyone with a Carefree Elec Awning get one and install it ASAP... Trust me - you DON'T want this to happen because it's terrifying.... Right Micky53usa ????
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Old 03-10-2017, 02:03 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by l1v3fr33ord1 View Post
Don't own one; just came across the Web site a couple years ago:

Save Your RV Awning with an RV Awning Travel Lock!

Someone's installation write-up on the RV Awning Travel Lock:

After mine partially unfurled in Michigan a few years ago and bought one of these as soon as we got home. I dodged a bullet and don't plan on it reoccurring. The awning cannot unfurl unless this lock is released.
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Old 03-10-2017, 02:06 PM   #13
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10+ years ago, a guy I work with had this happen. He said afterwards he put 2" Velcro around the old style manual arms as high as he could get while standing on the ground. Now days the most of the arms are flush mounted. I'm thinking some sort of locking pin through the arms, or a wrap around cable with a quick disconnect that can be reached while standing on the ground. A pain to remember to remove before use, yes. But the cost of awning replacement plus damage repairs to the RV, or worse possible tire blowouts - would be much more of a pain.
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Old 03-10-2017, 03:12 PM   #14
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Years ago was fishing in Mammoth area with a buddy and his MH. Wind caught the awning while on the 395 and opened it. As he pulled over and slowed the awning opened all the way and he clipped it with a highway sign. Done. Cut fabric and ditched the alu scrap, all of it. It was all over in <10 min. We had a good LOL.
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