How to Connect a Vango AirBeam Awning to a VW T2 Bay, Splitscreen or T25
This article shows the connection methods available and how to connect a Vango AirBeam (aka AirAway) Drive-Away Awning onto a classic VW T2 Bay, Splitscreen or T25 campervan. The same connection techniques can be used to attach an AirBeam awning to other makes of campervans with similar roofs/roof rails.
All Vango AirBeam awnings have the same tunnel widths and connection options except for the Kela Deluxe 380 and earlier Attar 380 which have a tunnel connection width of 3m (just use a 320cm length Pole & Clamp Connection Kit).
VW T2 Bay, Splitscreen & T25 Connection Options
We would always recommend using a Pole & Clamp Connection Kit to connect to a classic VeeDub as this is the most secure. Figure of 8 Awning Channel is also pretty secure but does rely on the awning tunnel fabric being tensioned properly to stay attached in windier conditions. The Webbing straps and Velcro tabs can always be used if the roof gutter rail is obstructed by roof racks.
A Pole & Clamp Connection Kit consists of a 2.6m sprung sectioned pole and 3 x clamps with protective gaskets. Either a Vango Pole & Clamp Drive-Away Kit (RRP £15-£20) or Universal Pole & Clamp Connection Kit (RRP £15) can be used. The Pole & Clamp Kit can be used with any van with a clear roof gutter rail (without roof racks) that will take the 2.6m pole length.
- With the sliding side door closed, slide the pole through the pole sleeve on the top edge of the awning tunnel and place the pole into the roof gutter rail. Position the pole towards the rear of the Bus so the sliding door can fully open without damaging the awning tunnel fabric.
- Clamp each end of the exposed pole and put the third clamp in the centre position inside the awning tunnel where the material has a cut away. We usually fit the centre clamp after the awning has been inflated and roughly pegged to save faffing about under the fabric while it’s just hanging on the side of the Bus.
- Angle the clamps upwards (approx. 30°) with wingnuts pointing down, the gaskets are used to protect the paintwork on the underside of the roof rail. If it’s the first time you’ve used these clamps, carefully check that your Bus doors open and close without obstruction. We have supplied a couple of thousand of these kits over the past ten years and only had two VW owners whose doors were fitted/adjusted too high – but please check just in case.
If you have pristine paintwork and are cautious about putting a pole in your vans roof gutter rail you can wrap gaffer tape around the pole in a few places for protection.
If you have a Brazilian with a front roof rack fitted you should still have space in the gutter for the 2.6m pole length.
If you have a rear roof rack fitted, it’s still possible to use a Pole & Clamp Kit by cutting off one pole section and cutting it down to fit in between the roof rack brackets. Clamp the main part of the pole at the front and centre and the small section of pole at the rear with a small section of loose material around the roof rack bracket.
Figure of 8 Awning Channel is sold individually in 75cm lengths (RRP £4), you can pick up 100cm lengths in drive-away kits where it is sold with a length of Double Edged Kador. Figure of 8 extrusion is made of rigid plastic so is sold in shorter lengths instead of one long length to make it easier to stow in a vehicle when not in use. This method is a good option for vans with roof racks fitted.
The Kador strip beading (aka Keder) sewn into AirBeam awning tunnels is around 2.6m in length so 3 or 4 of lengths of Figure of 8 Awning Channel are required. One or Two lengths can be trimmed down with a junior hacksaw to the exact length of the Kador.
- Slide 3 or 4 lengths of Figure of 8 Awning Channel onto the Kador strip piping sewn-in to the top edge of the tunnel.
- Hook the other side of the Figure of 8 Awning Channel on to the edge of the roof gutter and position the awning so the tunnel fabric is taught enough to keep the channel hooked on.
If you have a roof rack/racks fitted, the Figure of 8 Awning Channel can be trimmed to fit in between and either side of the roof rack brackets.
Webbing Straps are supplied with all Vango AirBeam awnings. They’re a basic method of attaching to a Bus but some VW owners get along fine with these… although if the connection isn’t that tight they can be leaky in wet weather.
- Clip the webbing straps into the top corners of the awning tunnel and positioning them over the vehicle.
- Peg down on the opposite side of the van and adjust the tension until the tunnel has the best fit over the edge of the van roof.
If necessary, the webbing straps can be guided around the front and rear of an elevating roof on Westy’s Devon’s etc.
3 x Velcro hook and loop tabs are also sewn-in to the top edge of the awning tunnel. These are intended for connecting to vehicles fitted with roof bars (such as T4’s and T5’s).
The Velcro Tabs can be used to attach to the scissor hinge of an elevating roof and/or roof racks. Velcro tabs can also be used in conjunction with the webbing straps to form a secure connection.
A Kador Strip Drive-Away Kit consist of 3 x 100cm lengths of Figure of 8 Awning Channel and 1 x 3m length of Double Edged Kador Strip (RRP £25). Both components can be cut down to the exact length of you awning tunnel Kador to keep things neat. This kit is used to attach to vans with awning rails fitted.
We sometimes have High Top Buses coming into FL that have C-profile rails or J-rails fitted at base of the roof. Use a 6mm To 6mm Drive-Away Kit to connect into C-channel rail – slide the figure of 8 strips onto the awning Kador and then slide the double edged Kador strip into the figure of 8 and C-channel to connect. Just pull out the Double Edged Kador strip to disconnect.
We have also had the odd T25 in with a Fiamma or Thule-Omnistor wind-out awning fitted. These awnings have a C-profile channel at the front that can be used to connect an AirBeam awning. The profile is a slightly smaller diameter than standard awning rails so use a 6mm To 4mm Drive-Away Kit to connect and disconnect as above.
Use Figure of 8 Channel to connect onto J-rails as above.
Driving Away & Reconnecting
If you intend to drive out for the day in your Bus – it’s really important that you mark your parking position. A lot of VeeDubbers struggle with this part of drive-away awnings and it can be frustrating if you have to reverse backwards and forwards a dozen times to get back into position.
- Once you’ve pitched, tensioned you’re awning tunnel and done your final pegging, mark your position on the drivers side – there’s no excuse then for blaming your partners directions! 🙂 We just use a guyline pegged between wheel hub centres, position it a couple of inches out from the tyres. An illuminous or reflective guyline will make it easier to see in dim/dark light conditions.
- Loosen off front webbing straps and guylines then detach connection – cruise out of camp for the day in your 20th century design icon.
- To reconnect, wind down your window and drive back into position making sure that the pegs align with wheel hub centres.
- Re-attach the awning connection, peg the awning tunnel and then retension the front webbing straps and guylines.
The guyline marker also serves the purpose of marking your camping pitch… just in case someone thinks about parking or pitching too closely.
We hope this article has been useful.
The Funky Leisure Team