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Old 04-23-2021, 02:13 PM   #1
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Awning damaged by sudden dust devil - replacement suggestions?

I was out in the desert last weekend for the day, had the awning out while we were eating lunch. We had a nice breeze, temperature was about 80 degrees, parked at Galleta Meadows among the animal sculptures. Very pleasant way to spend a Saturday - besides I had just had the AEM recall done on the RV and as I was due for a biannual smog check the service adviser suggested taking a long drive to be sure the computer(s) were happy before taking it in for the smog test. Round trip from my home to Galleta Meadows is about 170 miles, seemed that that would be a long enough drive. Anyway, I saw some blowing dust a few hundred yards away, didn't think much of it as it was a little breezy anyway. Less than a minute after I saw the first bit of dust we were hit by a dust devil or maybe a microburst - visibility went to near zero, dust got into everything, including our lunch, and my hat was snatched off my head in an instant. By the time I chased down the hat the event was over, maybe 30 seconds altogether from clear and slightly breezy to intense wind and dust and zero visibility and back to clear and slightly breezy.

OK I've set the scene - as the awning was out in this intense wind it was damaged, the rear arm actually broke and part of it blew away, unnoticed by me or I would have retrieved the broken part before we left. Fortunately on this awning the motor is in the forward arm (this is a Carefree Trav'ler awning) so I was able to roll up the awning - a two person job, one to press the button and one to tuck in the dangling broken pieces of the rear arm.

I called my insurance company and the damage is covered under comprehensive so I'm in the market for a repair or replacement. The adjuster recommended replacement and sent me a check for the cost of replacing this awning with an identical one, parts and labor included. He did say that the amount could be increased if the check is not enough. I've made a few calls to RV repair shops and mobile RV services and have not received return calls yet - guessing everyone in San Diego is busy with the end of the desert season and beginning of summer travel season and the lifting of COVID travel restrictions. So it seems I have time to shop around for maybe a better awning or at least one with a wind sensor - which probably would not have helped in this instance as the burst hit so suddenly. I will have to pay the difference of course. Josh, the adjuster, asked to be kept in the loop when I find a repair facility and I will discuss any possible change of awning brand, style, price, etc. with him.

So now for the actual point of all this - does anyone have any suggestions for what to replace the awning with? I was in general quite happy with the Carefree, hadn't had any trouble with it and would probably be happy with a direct replacement, I'm just looking for suggestions.

John in San Diego
2016 Navion G
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Old 04-23-2021, 03:23 PM   #2
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FWIW I've seen more complaints about the Carefree brand of awning than any other awning. Functionality and customer service have been called poor by some. I've had a Fiamma manually deployed awning, and never had any complaints or problems with it. I've also had Dometic awnings, same status, no functional issues, although I did have one recalled back in 2013 - motor needed replacement due to the "deploy while in motion" problem that some of them have.
I currently have the Carefree, and have noticed the fabric doesn't always roll up flat, it tends to ripple near the ends. I've heard the same complaint from others with them. Must be the fabric is more prone to stretching? Other than that, no problems to date, but it hasn't seen a lot of use, pandemic related.
If Fiamma or Dometic made a replacement for it, when/if it finally fails, I would switch to one of them.
All comments are my opinions, and worth exactly what you paid for them.
2018 (2017 Sprinter Cab Chassis) Navion24V + 2016 Wrangler JKU (sold @ ????) - 2016 Sunstar 26HE (sold @ 4600 miles) - 2002 Roadtrek C190P (sold @ 315,000kms)
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Old 04-24-2021, 07:29 AM   #3
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We had a sudden rain downpour while outside cooking. Our Carefree awning collected water and folded the aft arm, tearing the rivets that act as hinges from the frame. We also had to do the two person roll up and tied it up with a bungee cord.

We didn't file a claim but was able to obtain new arms and motor for $500 from Carefree. They were easy to replace and now we have a spare arm/motor assembly.

I would say that we are especially cautious about pulling the awning out.
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Old 05-10-2021, 12:56 PM   #4
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Just a quick update - the awning has now been replaced with a new one, another Carefree Trav'ler. And I had the shop add a wind sensor - I had to pay the extra cost of the wind sensor but otherwise Progressive paid for the whole thing. I took it to "RV Specialists" in the Miramar area of San Diego. Mark, the owner, answered the phone when I called the first time and we had a several minute conversation about the awning replacement possibilities, very knowledgeable and pleasant guy. My only gripe about the whole situation was that it took all day to replace the awning while I waited, after I had understood Mark to say it was a couple of hour job. Had I known it would be all day I would have just dropped it off and gone home, probably by bike. But things kept happening, for one thing the replacement awning that arrived was the wrong one in one respect, it did not have the LED light strip on the roller as the original one had had. Mark had ordered the correct part number so the LEDs should have been there but they weren't and this wasn't discovered until the awning was installed. So rather than take it off and send it back he recommended adding a light strip to the side of the RV, just under the awning. I agreed to this idea and it actually is an improvement as the new lights can be used without having the awning out and even with the awning out it just works better to have the lights behind our chairs rather than in our eyes. But this added a few hours to the whole process as there was extra wiring to arrange. Long story short I expected to be at the shop for 3 hours or so but I was there for almost 9 - good thing I had taken my trusty laptop with a few books and the daily newspaper on it. I would have called a friend for a ride home but it always seemed that it was "almost done". Oh well it's done now.
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Old 05-11-2021, 09:01 AM   #5
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If / when our Fiamma awning fails, we'll probably have it removed and replace it with a Moonshade or similar. That would give us one less thing to worry about down the road (e.g. no worry about accidental deployments in-transit, no fancy electro-mechanical hardware to fail, and so on.).

Oh, and glad to see you got your awning fixed!
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ace, awning, replace, replacement

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