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Awning rails anyone done there own


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Hi all newbie here,

 

I'm looking to get the awning rails redone on my caravan has anyone done the there selves rather than in a workshop. Im Quite competent with the old tools, fixing things and diy. Mechanical and electrical engineer by trade. Anything tips on doing them and resources for new stainless screws I've found the tape on line I will need and have a source for the strip insert. Just wondering if it's hard to do?

Obviously all old sealant needs cleaning off white spirit then moths to clean that off before revealing. Any tips on removal etc.

 

Your help would be appreciated 

Many thanks

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Yes, I removed and resealed them on a 1996 Coachman Mirage 480/4 back in 2001 and my parents ABI Dalesman two years ago.  What a horrible job......

 

It's straightforward, remove all screws and carefully lever it away from the old sealant.  However, the rail (usually in two halves) needs to be handled carefully to prevent it bending and then scrupulously cleaned, I used petrol but white spirit and the like also works.  Before refitting I wiped it over with thinners to remove any oil traces.

 

The mating faces on the caravan also need to be perfectly clean but be prepared for finding some rot in the timbers behind and also some screws rounding out in the holes.  I replaced all of the screws with new stainless steel screws and added extras wherever they didn't feel to be biting into the wood particularly well.  I used the cartridge sealant rather than the ribbon type and filled the groove in the awning rail completely.  I also ran a length of masking tape round the caravan to try and help keep the sealant off it to make cleaning up easier.  I then ran a bead of sealant round the contact face on the caravan and smoothed it off to ensure that the entire surface was covered.  Ideally three people should re-fit the rail to make it easier, the mastic on it will stick to everything (wear old clothes!), position it carefully and lightly attached a few screws.  I then used a block of wood and mallet to knock the rail flat up against the body, this was done gently and the excess sealant wiped away.  I then tightened up all of the screws (a bit at a time) and cleaned up again.

 

It's straightforward but messy and time consuming and due to the unwieldy nature of the rails really needs a few helping hands to lift off and re-fit, but be prepared to uncover some rot as mentioned earlier.

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2018 Volvo V90 and 2018 Swift Sprite Quattro EB

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Regarding the stainless steel screws mine came from eBay, but remove one of the old ones to get the right size.  On my parents ABI I went up a size but be aware that if the heads are too big it will give problems trying to get the rail strip back in.  Might be worth buy a few samples to check first.  You don't have to go up a size but in the case of my parents caravan it was quite old and the rails had been done once before so I wanted to ensure the screws were biting into the wood properly.  Adding more screws helps but obviously increases the number of potential water ingress points.

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2018 Volvo V90 and 2018 Swift Sprite Quattro EB

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I did the front nearside of my 2009 Bailey Pageant last year. As Gary has said, it's not too difficult, it's time consuming and messy plus you can't really do it on your own. I used both mastic strip and cartridge sealant especially around joins, (my leak was where the front, side and roof all met.) If using mastic strip, a good tip is to poke a little hole through it to allow the screw through easily before you offer it up to the sidewall. If not the mastic sticks to the screw and wraps itself around itself when screwing it in, this pulls mastic away from other areas and you don't want that. My awning rail also had a rubber gasket strip top and bottom so I fitted new ones whilst in there along with the strip that covered the screws.

 

All seemed well but this spring I had damp again is the same place. I had been lulled into a false sense of security by the dry summer of 2019.

 

Removing the wall board revealed that the wooden frames of wall and roof were rotten and I remembered that the 3 screws in that area didn't grip as tight as the rest. I had to remove the overhead lockers and shelving on that side to gain access to rip the rotten wood back to sound dry material. I decided to cut the wall and ceiling boards back to an area where the joins would be hidden by the shelf and partition walls and make a neater repair rather than a patch. Clean up, refit new battens, (it's surprising how small the amount of wood is in caravan body construction) and refit the 3 screws in the awning rail plus 1 in the foof strap, tightening down now was a different experience, mastic ooozed out as it pulled the rail in properly this time. I purchased some polystyrene of the correct thickness from eBay to replace any damaged in the process, glued it in with Gorilla glue. I obtained the correct match for my wallboard and ceiling panel from a localish company who does this stuff full time for dealers, they sold me 2 off cuts and saved me quite a few quid.

 

That takes me to the present time, as soon as I post this I'm off to fit the shelves back and reinstate my overhead lockers.

 

I recon it has saved me a few hundred quid, it's not dificult and very rewarding, go for it.

 

 

Dave.

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I've done this a couple of times, not out of choice!  I did it on a hot day and used a thin steel wire (an old guitar string) as a cheese cutter, being careful not to damage the aluminium bodywork or bend the awning rail.  It's also better having another pair of hands or two to hold the awning rail slightly away from the body as it comes away and while putting it back.

 

I've used both the  mastic tape and Sikaflex 512 (adhesive sealant in a tube) and the latter is my favourite, if more messy.  I also cleaned everything with isopropyl alcohol rather than white spirit (which leaves a residue) and replaced the screws with stainless steel ones (one size longer), all  sourced from Ebay.

 

Nearly forgot, spraying the screws with silicone spray helps to lubricate them so they don't bind as they go through the mastic.

 

Take your time, clean everything thoroughly and you'll be fine.  Good luck.

Edited by Crannoghome
forgot the silicone spray tip!

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I've done both of our previous vans, and literally just got back from screwfix having picked up some Sikaflex EBT+ to do this one. 

 

The first van I used mastic strip, the second I used cartridge sealant, the cartridge is infinitely better, if messier especially if like us the roof of the van is "dressed" over the sidewall and pinned to the frame that holds the awning rail. The strip type cannot deal with the uneven surface and trying to tighten the rail to the sidewall you could see that where the screws are the rail had pulled in but between the screws it bowed out slightly, I added an extra screw between each existing one to counter. 18 months later we had water ingress back in the front corner which I had previously repaired. At this point we scrapped that van and as soon as we got the next I did the rails as a preventative measure, this time I used sikaflex and we never had any damp issues in that van.

 

Many of the tips I've learned along the way have already been mentioned, use a cheese wire to cut the rail away, not being musical I used some old bike brake cable that I unbraided, little wooden wedges to drop between the van and the awning rail are useful to stop it reattaching itself and having to work single handed I taped the rail to the roof with masking tape until it was all loose. 

 

I go up one gauge in screw but use the same length, and I always use Spax TStar which are a bit pricey, about £20 for 200 but it's an important job, don't spoil it for saving a fiver on screws. Beware "stainless" screws on ebay at very cheap prices, not all are as stainless as  they should be. T star have an exaggerated thread and give fantastic grip. You can literally submerge them and they'll still be good to drive in twenty years. They have a torx head too which is much better than pozi. Screwfix only have limited sizes nowadays and the smaller ones they do in packs of 25 or 50 making them very expensive. I order mine from a company in Germany via Amazon. 

 

Always replace the infill strip, don't try to reuse the old stuff as, if the van is old enough to warrant resealing then it will have gone brittle and will not reseal properly. Before fitting it I like to get a little paintbrush and dab sealant on the head of each screw. You can never take too many precautions. Inevitably you will find screws with the head so corroded it will not release, I use a fine stepped drill bit and drill the head off. I wouldn't trust myself with a grinder in the awning rail. Remember the rail is much softer than the screw. 

 

You should get a squeeze out of sealant as the rail is pulled to the van side, I use my thumb nail to remove the majority. Wet a cloth with white spirit then wipe it over your thumb and it should clean up nicely. Then to finish the edge between the rail and the van I find the round axle bar from meccano is the perfect size and diameter to leave a nice finished profile between the awning rail and the van. Again keep a cloth to hand dampened with white spirit to wipe the bar on every few inches. 

 

It's a fiddly, nasty, messy job, but not technically difficult and once done it you'll have the knowledge that your van should be watertight again, most probably better sealed then when it left the factory and you can look forward to many more years in it. 

Edited by PMW
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Mercedes E350 CDi AMG Cabriolet, Lunar Freelander 640EW Twin Axle @1700kg

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Some good advice here from our members do I've pinned it to make it easier to find. 

Graham

 

Unless otherwise stated all posts are my personal opinion 

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I resealed my caravan using non setting butyl rubber sealant (Hodgson Seamseal CV) in a cartridge.  The previous owner had used mastic strip but the awning rail was not bedded in and used to "leak out" during time.  As others have said, it is messy and time consuming, especially cleaning off the old mastic.  I also put the mastic cartridges in a bucket of warm water, so it makes it easier on your hands to squeeze it out.  I also found, by default,  if after fitting the rail, and squeezing out the excess mastic, leave it 24 hours before scraping off the excess.  The mastic "skins" and is far easier to remove.

 

Again, as others have said, I use white spirits to remove mastic and then wiped with meths, to remove traces of white spirits.  The screws were already stainless so I just refitted them.  I was tempted to use larger screws but, as said previously, the heads are too big and do not fit flat on the rail.

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I did my awning skirt rail last week on a 2008 swift caravan, as all the previous replies have said removal and refitting is pretty easy and straightforward, however it took me bloody ages to clean all the surfaces up with white spirit, i was going to do the other side of the caravan but didn`t have the heart

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I've seen some recommendations for WD40 to remove old mastic, but a wipe down with meths or IPA afterwards to remove the oil.

Land Rover having a rest.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I have been told by a Caravan repairer that only some of the holes are used to screw the awning rail to the body, If they any cracks in bodywork relating to a awning screw hole, he will use one of the other holes when refitting screws to bodywork...to clean the final bits of mastic I would use 100% isopropyl alcohol. Which is also good for cleaning electrical terminals on tow bar electrics, greasy mirrors/windscreens etc ....

Edited by gtepete
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  • 2 months later...

Hi we are doing ours at the moment  yes getting the old mastic off is,  let's says trying and tiresome.  I have discovered that vinyl gloves help, but do sometimes get all fingers stuck together. We are on a very tight schedule to do ours, as we are loaning a barn, but the damp issue to bad to leave it. Good luck. 

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13 minutes ago, Joboggis said:

Hi we are doing ours at the moment  yes getting the old mastic off is,  let's says trying and tiresome.  I have discovered that vinyl gloves help, but do sometimes get all fingers stuck together. We are on a very tight schedule to do ours, as we are loaning a barn, but the damp issue to bad to leave it. Good luck. 

 

A plastic scraper and some white spirit should assist, then some decent cleaner that doesn’t leave any deposit (like white spirit does) 

Experience is an awful teacher who ends up sending you simply horrifying bills

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We're on the home run now, thankfully. Unfortunately finger tips and thumbs have taken a beating, putting the rubber gaskets back on a complete nightmare. They have shrunk! Also discovered several 3 foot sections on gaskets that had no sealant on them at all, and looked as though they never had .We have used mastic tape and sikaflex. Next to do is resealing all of roof vents, and replacing some interior panels that had a bodge job done on them. 

Love my caravan, but bought in haste as could no longer camp,  should have checked all of the paperwork, as damp test sheet not there. When we had her serviced last year  was told to put winter cover on and wait and see if she had been resealed. Obviously not. She is 13yrs old and deserves to be treated with respect in her old age. 

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On 24/06/2020 at 13:05, OWOMW said:

I've seen some recommendations for WD40 to remove old mastic, but a wipe down with meths or IPA afterwards to remove the oil.

Ditto recommend IPA

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  • 1 month later...

Hi all New member Thanks for the add 

Hopefully gonna do the awning rails over the Christmas period on our Swift Charisma 540 Model Year2001 5 Berth 

Question 1 how many screws will I need for both sides TIA 

Question 2 I have damp @ the  2 rear corners about 9 inches squared is this a major problem? Ihave read its a common problem with this caravan any advice is welcomed

Regards Niall

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Hi Niall, welcome to the forum. You shouls be able to count the number of screws that you will need before removing any, get a few spares too. I had stainless steel ones but replaced them with good quality ones when I did mine. I also went for screws that were about 4 mm longer than the originals to give me a bit of extra bight into virgin wood deeper in but not too long that the went out the other side. Depending on your own construction, you may need to remove the plastic insert that covers the screws to see and count them. I would also get new strip to go back in when you have done the job, it's cheap enough and more flexible than the old stuff.

 

I too had both rear corners damp/soft, I found that rain water tended to run down the sides , under the van and continue onto the van floor rear corners when parked. I stopped this from happening by inserting a small strip of 90 degree plastic corner strip under the edge of the back panel using some Soudal RV61 to glue it in place. The rainwater now drops off the verticle edge properly.

 

Note, water will get splashed onto the bottom ply when travelling, this should dry off when you are pitched up and doesn't cause any problems, it's when it keeps getting wet and doesn't dry out that you get rot starting to damage the ply. I hope this helps you.

 

Dave.

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On 30/11/2020 at 11:47, Pickled Onion said:

Hi Niall, welcome to the forum. You shouls be able to count the number of screws that you will need before removing any, get a few spares too. I had stainless steel ones but replaced them with good quality ones when I did mine. I also went for screws that were about 4 mm longer than the originals to give me a bit of extra bight into virgin wood deeper in but not too long that the went out the other side. Depending on your own construction, you may need to remove the plastic insert that covers the screws to see and count them. I would also get new strip to go back in when you have done the job, it's cheap enough and more flexible than the old stuff.

 

I too had both rear corners damp/soft, I found that rain water tended to run down the sides , under the van and continue onto the van floor rear corners when parked. I stopped this from happening by inserting a small strip of 90 degree plastic corner strip under the edge of the back panel using some Soudal RV61 to glue it in place. The rainwater now drops off the verticle edge properly.

 

Note, water will get splashed onto the bottom ply when travelling, this should dry off when you are pitched up and doesn't cause any problems, it's when it keeps getting wet and doesn't dry out that you get rot starting to damage the ply. I hope this helps you.

 

Dave.

Thanks Dave for the advice. I have new screws/sikaflex212/222 5 tubes plus the rail guide strip 50 metres 

Im going to tacjle it over the Christmass holidays hopefully 

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Good luck mate, that's one way to work the Christmas pud off.

 

It's a messy and tedious job but cleanliness is the order of the day, (see note on white spirit then meths) so that the new sealant bonds everywhere it should. Get it in the cracks, folds and smear it on the last half of the screw threads so that when you tighten them it helps seal the holes, plus a little bit more over the finished screw head for good measure.

 

Dave.

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15 hours ago, NIALL FLEMING said:

Thanks Dave for the advice. I have new screws/sikaflex212/222 5 tubes plus the rail guide strip 50 metres 

Im going to tacjle it over the Christmass holidays hopefully 

Put the sealant in a bucket of hot water before use, it makes it easier on your hands!!

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