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Awning Woes


Marcusmax
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Just returned from 3 weeks in Belgium and Holland. Fantastic, would recommend to anyone. However we had some pretty rough weather, which took its toll on our awning. This is only the second time we've used the awning, the van being a replacement-upgrade for our old one. I had it tensioned and pegged down as firmly as possible but the ground on our pitch in Amsterdam was not as firm on one side as the other. Anyway we had an almighty storm one night and although I kept checking at intervals, when I got up in the morning a section of the roof on that side had filled with water, so much so that I had to push pretty hard to get it out. The small flap which comes over the front of the awning always tends to pool as well due to the fact that it's impossible to get it really taut, seemingly because of the way it's designed.

 

On the next pitch we moved to I had it up very well I thought, nice and tight and well pegged down with a decent slant but as soon a there was heavy rain (and there was plenty), the water pooled in the same part of the roof again. So I reckon the material had been stretched by the first incident and is now prone to pooling even if the awning is properly tensioned. So I took the poles from the front section which pools anyway and used them to provide extra support for that part of the roof. I also made a sort of lattice of rope going between those poles. It didn't rain badly enough after that to properly test it but I took the whole thing down after a few days because the hopeless plastic pegs that came with it could not withstand the wind we had one night - I spent the whole night out there with the front section flapping around, making sure that nothing got too out of hand. By then I'd had enough.

 

So I'm left with a couple of questions. First, is there a way to prevent this pooling happening again if as I suspect the material of the roof has stretched? Would extra lateral roof supports help or is it down to the sort of makeshift solution I used? Secondly, the awning is a Gateway Sherwood, the 2nd biggest they do at 1075cm. We used to have a Dorema with the old caravan which never gave us any problems like this. When I first took this one out it struck me that the material of the roof seemed very thin and quite stretchy, in fact both halves of the roof were stuck together so I had to carefully pull them apart. This was completely different to the Dorema roof which was made of a heavier grey material. The specs say the Gateway roof is 280 gram. Does anyone know if these Gateway awnings are good quality or are they on the cheaper end of things? As I say it came with the new (2nd hand) van. Also since the front part has always pooled it's possible that the previous owners had already used it in such a way that stretched that part so maybe the roof had also been previously stretched.

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Hi Marcusmax,

I have a Gateway Leisure New Forest which I suspect is made of similar material to yours. However, I purchased mine brand new in April of this year and I will say they are at the "budget" end of the market. Also mine is smaller sized one at 800cm (2 berth van) but I must say I'm very impressed/happy with it although I can see what you mean about the thinness of the roof material so I'm very careful when putting it up. I have not had any problems with water collection on the roof even during a very wet 4 days at Clitheroe site in late May but have had mostly dry weather since then. Your storm sounds pretty bad especially with wind as well so I might not be making a good comparison. Perhaps you are correct about stretching the fabric but my feeling is that if that we're the case you would have a "baggy" bit on the roof when dry. Hope some of this helps.

 

Regards

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Hi

 

No knowledge of this particular awning but you can get odd "spare" awning poles from many dealers, perhaps one way is to put together a couple of extras to improve the roof line and stop the pooling.

 

It does sound like the material has been weakened though, perhaps laying it out at home in the sun ( ha ha!) and re-proofing it might pull it back into shape?

 

On the point you mentioned about pegs! I've been using the hard ground pegs ( basically very big nails with plastic fittings on the end) on all pitches for the past few years as they give me a better fixing on grass as well. Saves carting several types of peg about :) They have stood up to force 10 gusting 12 on a Welsh hillside grass pitch without pulling out.

 

 

Jim

"keep your motor running"

caravan: Avondale Avocet ( 2006) - tow car: Renault Laguna (2007) - play car: Mercedes 300SL (1988)

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A lot of awning manufacturers, notably Kampa, market specially designed monsoon poles for this very purpose. If you have spare pockets on the awning rail trim, the Kampa ones may fit because they clip to the front cross pole. Cheap too!

Nissan X-Trail Tekna + Coachman Festival 450

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These awnings are at the budget end of the market, Its unlikely you will ever get it perfect, due to the fabric and design.

 

Personally I would look out for a 2nd hand Isabella or Ventura, you'll find these are much more robust, even the 20 yr old + models.

If you peg these down properly and secure with storm straps, they're less likely (although not unknown) than other brands to sucumb to the elements.

2017 Swift Elegance 580  towed by 2015 Volvo XC70

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Thanks everyone for your helpful replies. I do think the size of ours is part of the problem, given it's quite thin there's a greater chance water can pool over the length of it. Also yes, the storms were pretty bad (in Amsterdam it was the tail-end of that hurricane a few weeks ago) so conditions were extreme. There is no 'baggy' bit though, it looks fine and fairly even when up so perhaps the material hasn't stretched much, though it may well have been weakened. It was a very heavy pool coming down about 2 feet. Thankfully the frame is very strong and quite heavy being made of metal so this prevented the whole thing from collapsing. I also had the storm straps fitted.

 

I may well get some spare roof poles or those monsoon ones, though I don't have any spare pockets. However I could probably get a couple of those from Gateway. I'm thinking a couple of extras in the same direction as the existing ones although I had put the front ones in side-to-side. Laying it out may well help although no, there's not much sun at the moment! I'll look into how I might re-proof that section. However despite the pooling it didn't leak at all so I'm not sure that would be necessary, unless it could help to strengthen it. In terms of pegs I went out and bought a few bags of heavy-duty metal ones the day after my all-night vigil but didn't get to use them cos we decided to take it down in between showers. I will be using those in future though.

 

Yes I was thinking this might be on the budget end. I'm reluctant to bin it if I can avoid it because apart from these issues we really like the awning in terms of colour and look. So I will try and make it serviceable first but thanks for confirming it is of the cheaper variety. Makes me feel a little better that it was not just my lack of skill in putting it up. It was a bit dismaying to have to take ours down while all the other Dutch and German ones appeared to be standing up fine to the weather!

 

Another thing is that I'm wondering if the weight of the pooled water or the movement from the wind might have strained or damaged the awning rail? There's no visible sign of any damage but given our last van succumbed to water ingress on the awning side I am a little paranoid about this. As I said the frame seemed to take and hold the strain but it did make me wonder. I'm going to clear out the van today (sadly!) so I will also take some damp readings.

 

Edit: One more thing. Any thoughts on how to stop water pooling in the small section at the front, the flap that forms a sort of peak over the front wall? The way the poles attach to it do not make it taut. I tried using some guide ropes clipped to it to pull it out but that didn't work.

 

Thanks again!

Edited by Marcusmax
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Well I took some damp readings especially on the awning side and there's no sign of any damp so far so that's good. Also spoke to someone at Gateway who simply re-iterated that it's vital to have the roof tensioned correctly to prevent water pooling. He didn't suggest any solution other than using extra poles when the weather's bad. I guess it's down to trial and error at this point to see if I can come up with a system that works. I certainly don't want to spend my holidays anxiously wondering if the awning is going to survive the next downpour. .

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