Camper Trailers Tech Tips

bedside awning





bedside awning




    Ever since I have had the camper trailer I have desired a quick and effective way of stretching the bed side awning without the use of pegs, poles and ropes. I was inspired when I spied a trailer in a caravan park doing exactly this on a recent trip away.

    Further inspiration came when I found out via the CamperTrailers forum that you could easily get 1200mm long by 10mm diameter fibreglass poles from electric fencing suppliers. Gallaghers and Thunderbird both produce suitable poles:
Each pole cost ~$4. The remainder of bits I had lying about in the shed, so total cost for this project was $8.


 putting it together 

    I fabricated a tubular bracket to attach to either end of the trailer to hold the end of the poles. The tube is welded to a 50mm length of 40mm x 3mm flat steel at 45deg to the vertical. I used 12mm steel tubing over the end of the fibreglass poles to stiffen and make the end more robust with ongoing usage. 12mm aluminum tubing can also be obtained from Bunnings with a 1mm wall thickness - a perfect fit over the 10mm fibreglass pole.

    I found the metal tubing from a broken $10 camp chair was the perfect size to accept the 12mm diameter tube fitted over the end of the fibreglass pole. The brackets are Tek screwed to the side of the trailer. I initially mounted the bracket higher, but found the poles rubbed against the lower edge of the tent base, so decided to lower them as shown in the photo.

    The tip of the pole required a bit more effort to fabricate a usable tip. If access is available to a metal lathe the process would be somewhat more precise and simpler. I decided to drill a 10mm hole lengthways down a 60mm length of 12mm solid steel bar. This hole was only drilled to a depth of 50mm, using a drill press and vice. The remaining 10mm of bar was drilled and tapped to accept a 5/16 UNC bolt, which fits inside the eyelet OK. I chopped the head off the bolt once tightened into the hollowed bar. This was then pushed onto the other end of the fibreglass pole.

    With the brackets in place on the trailer, erection is simply a case of slipping the fibreglass poles into the trailer's sockets, then gently bending the poles into the awning holes. The flex in the poles helps keep the awning reasonably taut without extra ropes.


how it works

    I initially used only short lengths of steel tubing over the fibreglass poles at the trailer end, but found the tension applied to the awning somewhat lacking. Increasing the length of this tubing to around 250mm meant the poles could only begin bending closer to the tip, and this increased the tension to a more satisfying level, the pole curvature is more obvious in the side on view below.

    To prevent the awning lifting off the pole tips in the wind, I'm considering pushing some of the rubber cups used underneath polycarbonate roofing screws over the tip once the awning is in place

    Hope others find may this information useful.




poles in position bolt in end metal tubing



 thanks to Ray Jones for sharing this idea


january 2009