It seems like a silly thing to try and do, but there are times when you may need to put up your awning in a place where your caravan isn’t. I had such an occasion recently because I needed to check over my caravan awning after Storm Katie had collapsed it over Easter. The problem you see is we have put our van into summer storage in Devon and we live in Telford. Being back home means we don’t have the van to hand to hold up the one side of the awning so I had to come up with a rig to do the job for me.
My solution was to make a trip to the local DIY store for 2 lengths of 2m long 22mm plastic pipe and 5 lengths of 2.4m long roofing battens. That’s what I bought but knowing what I know now, I would have bought 2 of the roofing battens and 3 sturdier lengths of timber because roofing battens were only ‘just’ up to the job of uprights.
First I drew a straight line down the length of the pipes. I then took the first length and clamped it into my workmate. Using a tenon saw I cut down the line making sure I only went through half of the pipe, don’t cut the pipe into two halves, you want to end up with a complete pipe that has a slit down the one side. You do the same with the other pipe, then cut a little more away at either end to make a V opening to the slit. If at all possible you could do with making the slit wider because the pipe is very stiff and clamps down hard even tough it has been cut through.
Next join 2 lengths of the batten together to make a 4.4m long length of batten. Screw the pipes to this long batten and your head rail is now complete. Lay this on the ground where you are going to pitch the awning.
The 3 remaining battens now need to be hammered into the ground, so using the header rail to work out how wide you need to set them, hammer them into the ground as upright as you can make it. This is difficult, don’t worry overly if they aren’t 100% upright just get them as near as you can. Now you can screw the header rail to the top of the uprights and make any brace pieces that you think are necessary to hold it in place. It’s important also to brace the bottom of the uprights too and to use some ratchet straps as guy ropes to make sure the whole thing doesn’t fall over.
Now comes the hard bit, you need to feed your awning connector strip into the slit in the pipe, this is a two person job, one to guide the strip in and the other to give it a good pull through. As mentioned before, the pipe clamps hard and so the awning strip does not feed in as easily as it does on a caravan (perhaps you know how to widen the slit a little? Comments please below).
Once you have pulled the awning strip through enough and have all of it in the pipe slit, you are ready to pitch our awning as normal. As I said, the roofing battens aren’t really strong enough as uprights, I noticed mine were bending and would have snapped if I hadn’t had the ratchet straps in place. I’m not envisaging having to do it again, but you never know I may need to put it up to clean the bird poo of it next year. Perhaps if it is going to become a regular occurrence then I might make a more sturdy set up, maybe get some caravan awning rail and screw it to a wall? Any suggestions about how to make this better – or if you have a better solution please comment below.