How to fit awning limpets to your van
Nigel Hutson finds a simple way to secure a porch awning from stormy weather
I WILL ADMIT, our Kampa Rally 200 porch awning hasn’t seen much daylight in the past couple of years, despite us knowing how useful porch awnings can be.
Of the three awnings we have (the Kampa, a full-size Isabella and a Fiamma Caravanstore canopy), the porch awning is probably the most practical for regular use.
As there’s generally just the two of us, we rarely use the full awning for short trips, and when we go somewhere warm, the canopy is the one that’s used, with the hope that we will only need a sunshade.
Perusing the Kampa stand at a recent caravan show, I came across its Limpet Fix system, devices to hold awning flaps and skirts to the sides of a caravan.
Obviously, the Limpets are meant for Kampa products, but I see no reason why they couldn’t be used universally.
For instance, when Adam was but a lad, wheel arch covers in full awnings came with fixings to attach them to the sides of caravans. The problem was that this usually entailed screwing things into the sidewall, not something I would do while a caravan is still under warranty.
Having had my interest in the porch awning rekindled, Kay and I took ours with us on a week’s stay in Shropshire.
At this stage, I hadn’t given the Limpets much more thought, although I had wondered how suitable holes could be punched through the fabric where needed. That was about to change.
We arrived at the campsite on a calm, sunny day, and put up the porch awning in no time.
One problem I have found with porch awnings in general is that no matter how carefully you set them up, thanks to awning skirt rails and other body trim, it’s almost impossible to get the awning flush against the side of the caravan from top to bottom.
There’s usually a padded section that fits behind any poles (including air), and another flap behind that, to fill the gap, but the flap often flaps. It’s also difficult to stop draughts here.
Day two arrived, and strong winds were forecast overnight. Rather than taking down the awning, we decided to brave it.
I bought a set of tie-down straps (purpose-made for our make of awning) and as we’ve had past experience of the porch awning and the canopy moving in the awning rail, not only did we attach the storm straps, I also fitted Isabella Safe Lock awning stops (other brands are available).
These slide into the rail either side of the awning, and wingnuts lock them in place, stopping the awning moving within the rail.
It’s belt and braces, really.
Overnight we endured winds of 40-50mph and we were certainly buffeted. Thankfully, the awning didn’t budge. However, I was kept awake by a very loud buzzing, and I could feel vibration through the caravan wall, coming from the awning. At first, I thought it was the storm straps vibrating, but it was actually the flaps running from roof to floor next to the caravan that caused the problem.
We were less than a mile from a dealership, so off I went to buy a set of Kampa Limpets. I thought I’d worry about how to punch the holes when I got back to the caravan, but thankfully, next to the Limpets was a purpose-made tool for doing just that.
Armed with the set of eight Limpets and the hole-punching tool, I set about fitting them.
The first thing is to ensure the caravan sidewall is clean in the area where the Limpets are going to be fitted. This is for two reasons. First, you don’t want to cause damage to the caravan’s paintwork, and second, the surface needs to be clean so the Limpets attach.
The next step was to mark where the holes would be punched through the flaps. I started with one near the top (about 100mm from the top and 40mm from the edge), and then one near the bottom
(obviously this needs to be in a place where it will attach to the caravan and not thin air, so again, in our case about 100mm from the bottom of the caravan and
40mm from the edge).
Measuring the distance between the top position and the bottom and then dividing by three gave me the measurements for the two remaining placements, again
40mm from the edge.
With the positions marked, the four holes were easily punched through using the tool, which I hasten to add made a very good job of doing so.
The Limpets then need to be dismantled into their three separate parts. There’s a clear part with a screw thread in the centre, then a part that looks rather like a fan, and finally a cap/ grip that screws onto the thread.
Attach the Limpet
Starting with the clear part, working from the caravan wall side of the flap, feed the screw thread through the awning flap, and then put the fan-like part over the thread from the other side of the flap.
Next, loosely screw the cap/ grip onto the thread. Place the clear part on the caravan wall and tighten the cap/grip so that it holds onto the wall. Make sure not to overtighten it, however. Repeat this for each of the other Limpets. Job done. Detaching the Limpet is straightforward, too. Simply unscrew the cap/grip until the assembly is loose and peel the clear part from the caravan wall. As (bad) luck would have it, we were again battered by 40-50mph winds a couple of days later. I’m very pleased to report that not only did the awning stay put, but we also had no repeat of the vibrating or buzzing noises.
Initially, we secured our Kampa Rally 200 porch awning with storm tie-down straps Awning stops slide into the rail and lock, to prevent the awning from moving out of place The Hole Punch makes the job a lot easier The Limpet and its three constituent parts Finally, attaching Limpet to the sidewall Our neighbour’s awning was soon airborne – no storm straps or safe locks had been fitted Loose flap between caravan wall and awning Marking positions for holes to be punched Attaching the clear/threaded part The completed job looks neat and functional This started out over the entrance door and happens if the awning slides along the rail The Limpet Fix Kit contains eight Limpets Making holes using the Limpet Hole Punch Fitting the fan-like part Close-up showing Limpet fitted in place