On Friday our awning finally arrived (a long time coming - it was ordered back in December.) After unboxing it, I prepared for the installation on Friday night. Three aluminum brackets got bolted to the roof rack in specific locations to support the awning as there is a massive amount of leverage from a 13 ft long and 10 ft deep awning. The brackets went on with a bit of figuring as I had to work around the Ford roof rack mount points. On Saturday Angela and I were away until mid afternoon and we missed her brother and nephew who I was hoping could help me lift the awning into place. Angela and I decided to give it a try and that part went off without any problems. We carefully climbed the two ladders and hooked the awning onto the three brackets. Now I had to get a small bolt and nut onto each bracket to secure the awning into place. The van is a gift of awkward and small spaces... The instructions say to open the awning a couple of feet to expose the bottom rail that sits on the brackets - no problem there. Then you're supposed to drill a hole into the rail (by going through the bracket hole) for the bolt to go through. That's a great strategy if the awning is mounting onto the side of the van. Because the awning mounts onto the roof rack and is overtop of the van with about 1" of clearance, there's no way to get a drill in there to make the holes as shown in the instructions. I tried compact angle drivers, machine screws, self tapping screws, etc. with no luck. So I figure I'm going to have to put masking tape onto the rail and mark with a Sharpie the distances to drill the holes, then bring the awning down to the ground, drill the holes, and remount. First bracket marking was not a problem. I'm on the ladder at at the middle of the awning trying to mark the tape for the second hole. (Side note here - I have a very big head. We're talking XL for bicycle helmets or as the doctor told my sister - your brothers are in the 90th percentile for head size. Oh well.) I'm struggling to see the hole location properly to mark the tape so my head pushes again the awning fabric a bit... I hear a "click"! The next thing I know the 80 lb. awning is now balancing on the top of my head and I'm balancing on the ladder. It's partially open and the front rail and main awning body are moving about! Yes, I'm swearing in my head at this point... I grab hold of the front rail with my right hand while I hold onto the ladder with my left and I'm thinking, "What now!? Do I try to put it back onto the rail? Do I call for help? Do I climb down with it on my head?..." I try lifting it with my head (good thing I have a strong neck from my wrestling days MANY years ago) and almost have it back on when it pops off again. I have no choice but to try and climb down with it. I do get it and myself down to the ground successfully. The "injuries" turn out to be a very small ding near the top of the cargo door and a couple of scuff marks on the front edge of the awning case. PHEW! I let Angela know and we recover by measuring for the holes, drilling, put the awning up (only to find one hole was a bit off), take it down, adjust the hole, and then as always during this project make modifications because the bolts sent were too short to feel secure. The bolts and nuts got secured after lots of work with a spanner/wrench 1/8th of a turn at a time (there's that gift of awkward spaces again!) Awning disaster recovery complete...
Calvin here - after spending almost 33 years in education as a high school teacher, elementary teacher, and elementary administrator, it was time to retire! I did so happily and with no regrets; it was a terrific and fulfilling career. I do enjoy building projects as the design and building process is very therapeutic and you see a completed functional product in the end. Now to combine the build with another of Angela's and my passions - travel - is something we're really looking forward to.