The Greatest Myth in RVing—
and What You Can Do About It!
The Greatest Myth in RVing—
and What You Can Do About It
By Keith A. Williams
Recreational Vehicles, whether they be travel trailers, fifth-wheel trailers, motorhomes, or slide-in pickup campers, are intended for recreational purposes. That suggests that time spent living or traveling in them should not be stressful, frustrating, dangerous, or accompanied by unexpected expenses. And with proper equipment, care, and planning, that can be the case.
One event, though, can ruin your whole day--and possibly several days. That disastrous event: the sudden loss of your RV's awning to a gust of wind while driving down the highway.
This loss can result in anything from a loosened awning with no damage to a completely destroyed awning (fabric, support arms, fittings, and all!) with significant damage to your coach. The cost to repair can run into the thousands of dollars.
Your trip can be delayed. The first delay is simply getting the awning rolled up again, if the only action was that it became unfurled with no damage. But if there was damage, you will be further delayed while cleaning up the mess. And if you need repairs before you can continue your trip, that creates additional delay and expense. As you can see, the "recreation" in Recreational Vehicle has been suddenly and temporarily removed. The frustration: Priceless.
Many people believe the cause of the awning loss was that the support arms somehow "came loose" and simply fell down. Therefore, they reason, tying the support arms together, fore and aft, with a strap of some sort, often of Velcro or a cable tie, should prevent the arms from falling down and therefore prevent the loss of their RV's awning.
This is the greatest myth in RVing!
The awning does not unfurl because the arms fall down. It becomes unfurled because air, usually a gust of wind from the side, got between the roller arm and the side of the coach, put pressure on the awning fabric, and the awning manufacturer's locking mechanism failed to perform its intended function.
When the locking mechanism fails, the roller tube rotates and the awning fabric is free to unroll. This creates an ever-larger area which exerts increasingly greater forces. (Much like a sail; think of your RV going down the road with a spinnaker!) Something's got to give! And it does.
To prevent such an unpleasant event and a temporary end to the RV owner's "recreation," something must be done to prevent the roller tube from rotating. If it can't rotate, the fabric can't unroll and become that powerful sail mentioned earlier.
There are at least half-a-dozen awning locks which are intended to prevent rotation of the roller tube when the built-in mechanism fails. Some are do-it-yourself devices which cost only a few bucks to create. One is even free, as it is simply the use of the existing awning wand to prevent roller tube rotation!
Some awning locks detract from the appearance of the coach on which they are mounted. Still others require either many seconds to engage or disengage or a modest amount of finesse with the awning wand.
A simple search for "awning lock" on Google will provide several choices for you to consider. You will quickly find as you do the research that some commercially manufactured awning locks have list prices of well over $50. But even that is a small price to pay for the reduction in risk provided by a quality and effective awning lock. (The next time you talk to someone who has lost his, ask him if he would have been willing to pay $50 to not have had it happen to him! Most would consider it the bargain of a lifetime!)
Here are things to consider, listed roughly in order of importance:
- Ease of use
- Ease of installation
- Support by seller
As they say, your mileage may vary. But make up our own chart and compare the offerings. When you decide which awning lock to put on your RV you will have a good basis for your decision.
Keep the "recreation" in your RV by installing an effective awning lock!!
Copyright 2007 by Keith A. Williams
The author has been a camper/RVer for a few decades. He currently has a HitchHiker Discover America with an RV Awning Travel Lock installed. You see, he lost his awning on a cold, windy, day in the middle of Nebraska and doesn't want that to happen again. Ever.
And because he enjoys the challenge of creating websites and doesn't want you to lose an awning, he has been marketing the RV Awning Travel Lock over the Internet since August, 2006.
If you have questions about awning locks or a lost-awning experience you'd like to share, please contact the author.
4101 Treeline Ct. NE
Cedar Rapids, IA 52411
Phone number: 1-319-395-7405, or