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Old 10-06-2012, 05:28 PM   #1
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Cherry Hill, New Jersey
Posts: 115
Year: 1997
Coachwork: Crown by Carpenter
Chassis: Ford B-800
Engine: 5.9L Cummins
Rated Cap: 55
DIY retractable awning/shelter?

I am wanting to employ a canvas/tarp based shelter attached to the side of the bus - not so much an awning since it may end up being 30ft x 30 ft of tarp. I'd like a place to cook over a fire when it rains, without all of us getting wet. I'd also like something retractable if possible, ie with a roller that I hand crank, so I don't have to fold up a 30ft tarp. I'd envision either I tie the far ends to trees (with rope) or have posts that go into the ground.

I'm curious if anyone has developed such a contraption (similar retractable mechanism to an awning), maybe something welded or put together from odd/spare parts? The RV place down the road wants to sell a 17" awning for $300 and I'd rather fabricate one from tarp or canvas, with the right roller mechanism. Especially since I want/need something that is much larger than 17 feet x 8 feet (or however far it extends out).

I'd also like a setup that could adapt to a fully-enclosed shelter, and I'd prefer to be able to get all the materials from the hardware store - ie canvas/tarp, vinyl 'windows', square tube metal, etc... without spending $2000. This is supposed to be a survival thing anyway.

My other option is to do it all manually and have some fasteners under the top of the windows so rain doesn't leak through. But that adds complication to storage. It would be nice to be able to roll it up and tie it to the chassis framing rather than build an underside compartment to hold it.
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Old 10-06-2012, 06:22 PM   #2
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Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Roswell, NM
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Year: 1986
Coachwork: BlueBird
Chassis: 40 ft All American FE
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Re: DIY retractable awning/shelter?

We used a stand alone canopy for many years with our pop-up. It had a center peak and after the original top died after the first summer, we used the heavy duty silver tarps and bungie cords.

You can build your own canopy with parts/plans. Sources here. I have others but this one is pretty comprehensive. Using their design tool I would opt for a slant roof frame to set up against the bus. Run a 2nd canopy to cover just the bus. Reson for using two canopies would be to keep the tarps managable and to be a bit more flexible in set up. We are currently under a tree and it would not allow us to cover/shade the bus (getting lots of bird poo on the roof). But a slant roof canopy would be nice if we could keep the wind from blowing it away.
This post is my opinion. It is not intended to influence anyone's judgment nor do I advocate anyone do what I propose.
Fulltime since 2006
The goal of life is living in agreement with nature. Zeno (335BC-264BC)
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