Expensive introduction to MH Awnings

This story happened on: 04/10/2015

We have recently bought a second hand Burtsner Elegance 810i motorhome, and are very happy and proud of our new acquisition, and we super keen to get it out on the road for a weekends camping before the end of the summer.

As it was a new activity to our young family I took time to research into driving skills (which I should be okay at having driven HGV’s on and off for 20 years), where to visit and what procedures the various on board systems have to start and run. 

So suitably trained, but with no experience we decided not to venture too far off and settled for a fairly local site Freshwater Holiday Park, near Bridport in Dorset. Well the journey there was great, even the high volume of traffic did not dampen our enthusiasm as we trundled west towards our home for the weekend. We arrived in a couple of hours booked in without any dramas and quickly set up in the pitch.

The first night was lovely we had a walk around the site, had a great dinner cooked and eaten all inside our lovely motorhome. The TV was turned on and the Oyster auto search satellite thingy did its stuff without fault. Settling down to a good nights sleep we all were quite proud of ourselves on how well we had coped, this motorhome milarky is not so hard, or so we thought!

In the morning the boys were up early off out on there bikes again playing with new found friends and having a great time, while me and my darling wife cooked the breakfast. So still a wonderful weekend break was continuing. With the dishes washed and the dogs walked I thought I would have a closer look at how to put up these awning thingies, we were given two with the purchase. A big 4.5m one which is part of the Fiamma roll our blind and a smaller one, which I later found just goes into the slot on the awning roll out sun blind.

So my first mistake was to wind out the awning, attach the legs and support bars, as this obviously was not needed because the smaller awning fits up against the side of the MH. Okay simple lets wind it in, this is where the problems started. My inexperience and typical rushing into it like a bull in a china shop attitude, caused me to try to wind it in without first removing the support bars. When it would not wind in any further, what did I do…? I wound it harder, completely ruining the awning gearbox by stripping off all the thread.

After breaking this, I noticed my error of having not removed the support bars, so quickly stowed them away and went back to the winder. Nope and no amount of winding is going to get this thing back in its box. So cuppa tea and have a think about this, as the future of attempting to drive with a sail hanging off the side of the motorhome did not look good.

Right suitably refreshed and having explained to the missus that the gearbox must have been broken, sales man never told me that one did he! I approached the problem with a little more thought and a lot less brawn. By removing the cover I noticed a ½” drive socket, which must be used for something. So I got out my ½” socket set and gave it a couple of turns.

 Great this is working the awning started to retract, but for some strange reason it would not remain in. each time I got to the point where it was nearly fully retracted it went spinning back out. On one of these roll outs it broke a support arm too.

Ok, so having figured that it does not self lock with out the gearbox, I had to go back to the drawing board and give it some more thought over another cuppa tea.

I could not see how else I was going to get out of this dilemma, driving down the road with the awning out was a none starter. Then the thought of it rolling out all of a sudden on the journey home, did not bear thinking about. Then I had a brain wave, looking at the straps I had used to secure the boys bikes in the garage, its so easy this, if I wind it in all the way and then thread the strap behind the whole awning body at each end secure with the webbing straps job done. It sounds easier than it actually was to do, but I got the awning in and secure.

This whole incident had taken the better half of the morning but had not ruined the spirit, so we went off on our bikes the four of us and had a great day. Which was followed by a comfortable nights sleep and a wonderful Sunday mornings breakfast, but without the slightest temptation to touch the awning any more. We got back home also without any problems and all in all it was a great experience, which we will soon do again.


The cost dented my pocket around £300 in new parts for the awning, and are yet to be fitted, but I learnt so much. Smile