Submitted: Thursday, Nov 10, 2005 at 23:39
ThreadID: 122322 Views:6304 Replies:8 FollowUps:6
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We have just signed up for a 19ft BT and are in the process of deciding which awning to use - Coolibah or Sunburst. We went to the mini caravan show in Brisbane whilst there and saw a couple of demos with the Coolibah at the Aussie Traveller stand. It appeared to us that every time the Coolibah was being put away, the roof (canvas?) came in contact with the ground. To us, this would mean that if you had a couple of days of wet weather and the ground was very muddy, your roof would get very messy. We know that BT recommend the Coolibah because of the wind rating, but we have only had the roll out type. I have read some of the archive messages re awnings and mention has been made about the chance to wipe the roll-out type awning off the side of the van if in the bush, but we don't envisage - at this stage - going into those situations. Any advice out there??????

Thanks, Sandy & Rob Williams.

Also, anyone had trouble getting replies to e-mails sent to Aussie Traveller?
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Reply By: Bushtracker - Friday, Nov 11, 2005 at 00:49

Friday, Nov 11, 2005 at 00:49
First of all you do not have to have it come into contact with the ground... They do that just for the easy and the demonstration of doing it single handedly... Secondly, it comes down to the fact that the Sunburst or the Dometic Electrolux, or one of the other two wind out type of awnings are all pretty much the same in that they are a Devil to ever add walls or screen room to, and they also do not tolerate very high wind. You have to remember to wind them up all the time, at night in wind and rain storm weather, everytime you go away, tropics rainy afternoons, anytime the wind gets over about 18 knots they start to flap themselves to pieces... Yes the Coolibah awning takes a couple of minutes to put up, but it takes wall easily, comes ready made for walls, and takes much higher wind...

The ease of use, in the wind up type, is not so easy if you have to keep putting it up all the time... Or replace it on insurance when you don't. We at Bushtracker don't mind which you get, but our last measure of the time to add walls to a wind up awning was around 30 minutes. 45 minutes on the first couple of trys.. And, you still have the problem of it blowing itself to pieces in high wind when you are away for the afternoon...

One report recently was of all the awnings in one camp, all were destroyed in an afternoon quick hitting storm, but the one Bushtracker with the Coolibah. It might be a little hassle to learn how to use it, but long term it is still the best, and that is the type of gear we strive in use, the Best.... For the Best...

Regards, from the Ranger at Bushtracker, always scouting for a better way....
AnswerID: 567415

Reply By: Noosa Fox - Friday, Nov 11, 2005 at 01:17

Friday, Nov 11, 2005 at 01:17
I can't really comment on the roll out type with support arms down the van, as we have never had one. They are probably easier to put up and I ofter see people using them for a lunch break etc, but I have noticed that they flap a lot when the wind gets up, and most people seem to close them up as soon as the winds start.

We have the Coolibah and after putting it up a few times it is very easy to do by one person, and I can do it without hit touching the ground.
So long as the awning is securely pegged down, it will stand most strong wind gusts, and we have had trees blown down beside the van with no damage to the awning.

Our van has a number a scratches along the windows and side panels from contact with trees and I believe having the canvas part of the awning scurely enclosed inside a metal enclosure is far better than having it exposed and easily ripped by a tree branch.

If I was getting another van, I would put another Coolibah awning on.

When ordering a Coolibah awning I would also Recommend that you pay the little extra and get a powder coated one, as this prevents anodising of the aluminium poles making them difficult to slide together, and they also mark the canvas.

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AnswerID: 567416

Reply By: TRB60 - Friday, Nov 11, 2005 at 04:56

Friday, Nov 11, 2005 at 04:56
We have had several vans with the sunburst awning, they are simple and quick to erect, as far as wind causing a problem camec make anti flappers which attach to the awning each side in the centre and will handle a lot of storm activity.We lived in the west and other parts of australia with no problems.The wall attachment may be a problem but we do not require them.
regards terry bridges.
AnswerID: 567417

Reply By: Homeboy - Friday, Nov 11, 2005 at 06:02

Friday, Nov 11, 2005 at 06:02
So far I have seen a couple of awnings being ripped off vans on our travels and they are all the sunburst ones, that said they always look so easy to put up and to put away. We have however got used to our awning although we did think Paul made it look so simple erecting the awning then putting it away when we picked up our caravan but after thinking about it a few rain storms would alter the canvas and it can take a bit of mucking around to get the canvas tightly wrapped up for travelling. We have mastered it very well though now and it can be done single handed fact I did it all by myself the other day, so it doesn't take a burly man to do the job! ;o)

Anyway the one thing I would say is to think more carefully about where you are going to put doors and windows if you are ordering walls to your annex as we found later on the design we had didn't work so we had new walls made at extra cost to us. We also made extra shade areas which have been a huge bonus.

AnswerID: 567418

Reply By: Silver Fox - Friday, Nov 11, 2005 at 08:39

Friday, Nov 11, 2005 at 08:39
I just had an annex fitted to my awning. I would like to know where Homeboy's doors in the annex were considered so wrong as to get replacements made. However that's not the main reason for my thread. I was tinkering around the B/T yesterady and thought I'd try the water-tight door. (Having a fantasy about fording a swollen slow running river.) To my surprise it wouldn't shut it. Two small details: The press studs for the annex skirt stopped it just short of squeesing the seal shut and the top hole for the bolt was a few mm off centre. Couldn't close it anyway. No big deal at home. Maybe on a river bank in Kimberleys would have been a nuisance?
Solution: I used a half inch drill to almost drill through in line with the press studs. This allowed the door to close onto the seal. The enlarging of the bolt hole was easy too. Now bring on those river crossings. cheers.
AnswerID: 567419

Follow Up By: Noosa Fox - Friday, Nov 11, 2005 at 21:23

Friday, Nov 11, 2005 at 21:23
Those press studs appear to be a problem with all vans, so your fix of a hole being drilled might be something that Aussie Traveler should do when fitting the skirt.

We carry a piece of foam rubber about 50mm thick, and when on very dusty roads, close the water door onto the foam that then seals the vent in the main door. This prevents any dust entry into the van.

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Follow Up By: Homeboy - Saturday, Nov 12, 2005 at 21:32

Saturday, Nov 12, 2005 at 21:32
Silver Fox we had dn't thought about things like walls at all and our order was a bit fo a rush so we just had a standard layout which included one door (close to the front of the van), a long window from floor to ceiling along the main side of the wall and one window at the back. We now have 2 doors one at either end and both are position so they have a window between them and the van. We also have 2 large windows that come to waist height alogn the main wall. We also took someone's advice and had plastic covers made so we could sit inside our annex when it rains and stay dry but still have light coming in. This is a very good set up for the basic annex or at least have found on our travels as it covers you for all possible situations.

The other thing we added was a porch area which is fantastic as we have often been soaked fiddling around with the zip trying to get into the annex. Then we also added a sail on the opposite side to at as a sun shade and as an extra area to chuck the washing line when the rain starts. We also added an extra extension to the roof line of the annex so if we wanted we could be without walls as we are now but have more undercover area (we had 2 extensions made one in canvas and one in shade cloth)

All in all this covered us for everything thrown our way and so far it has been a great success but as our van is up for sale now someone else will enjoy the benefits :o(

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Follow Up By: Paul and Barb - Monday, Nov 14, 2005 at 07:51

Monday, Nov 14, 2005 at 07:51
Over the last 2 years we have managed to squash the press studs flat with the waterproof door closed. I have now made up 2 stainless discs and pop riveted them on to the angle iron near the press studs, these now take all the pressure off the studs when the door is closed.

FollowupID: 845146

Reply By: Freewheelers - Saturday, Nov 12, 2005 at 01:05

Saturday, Nov 12, 2005 at 01:05
hi all
because taccks are wide at the ground than 3000 abve the ground ie branches over hang & vans sway at more at the top than the bottom the roll at the top is the most vunerable part so arms down the sides are less of an issue than people think
Stephen & Deborah

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AnswerID: 567420

Reply By: Turist - Saturday, Nov 12, 2005 at 02:20

Saturday, Nov 12, 2005 at 02:20
Back to the subject, Awnings.
In October last year we were camped on a beachfron National park campground a bit north from Coffs harbour NSW.
A very savage storm hit the area around midnight, destroying banana plantations, de-roofing houses, knocking down trees etc.
The van was jumping around like a boat in a storm.

Anyhow, there were about 9 or 10 other vans in the campground.
Ours was the only van that still had an intact awning when the sun came up.
All the roll out style awnings were badly damaged or destroyed.

The only extra precaution that I took was to put a rope from the outside front and rear corners of the awning back to the van chassis.
Sort of formed a triangle of tie downs.

Coolibah awnings rule!

"Do It While You Can"
Nobody is getting any younger.

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AnswerID: 567421

Follow Up By: Bushtracker - Saturday, Nov 12, 2005 at 02:41

Saturday, Nov 12, 2005 at 02:41
Thank you Bob,

I have heard that result from many, many people... And I myself have been in a Downburst from a tropical thunderhead in the middle of the night with forty or fifty knot winds that would have absolutely destroyed the other types of awnings. While people's personal taste and opinions will vary off the track from our recommendations, our advice is always based on the overall experience of the many... And the overall good of the many.

There will always be exceptions to that type of awning, like someone a bit overweight, or with a hip replacement, or something that would keep them off from standing on a chair or a short ladder to do the buckles on the Coolibah… But overall, I would suggest that our advice on matters comes with best intentions, and I would hope it is taken that way.

Kind Regards from the Ranger…
FollowupID: 845147

Reply By: TroopyTracker - Saturday, Nov 12, 2005 at 03:47

Saturday, Nov 12, 2005 at 03:47
Isn't there supposed to be a new version out very soon of the Coolabah?
AnswerID: 567422

Follow Up By: Bushtracker - Monday, Nov 14, 2005 at 19:38

Monday, Nov 14, 2005 at 19:38
Hello Matt,
They say yes, but have for a long time... They say new winding mechanism and some other improvements, in six months, but it never comes off... I would say yes, but for anyone reading this, don't hold your breath as to when. We will Post it when we see it and have put it to the test, until then it is just on the back burner somewhere....

Kind Regards from the Ranger...
FollowupID: 845148

Follow Up By: TroopyTracker - Wednesday, Nov 16, 2005 at 05:03

Wednesday, Nov 16, 2005 at 05:03
Think it was at Melbourne show 2 years ago they were telling me "soon"! They also said they would send me a new steel cable for one of the legs that ripped when tree hit awning.

Since then I've also driven the car into the awning (reversing-wife guiding). Pulled the main pole out, bent it back to straight between spare and hi lift on back of car, re assemble-perfect. Can't kill this awning!!

FollowupID: 845149

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