How to fit a C-Channel C-Profile Awning Rail to a VW T4, T5 or T6

The most secure and weathertight way of connecting a drive-away awning to a VW T4, T5 or T6 is to fit a C-Channel Awning Rail and connect via an Awning Drive-Away Kit.  Sun canopy awnings will also slide directly in to a C-profile type rail.

How Do C-Profile Systems Work?

C-channel describes the ‘C’ profile of an awning rail which is either fitted to the side edge of the roof or into the roof gulley of a Volkswagen Transporter.custom-cut-length-of-c-profile-c-channel-awning-rail-length-100cm-to-149cm-length-6556-p

Awning Kador beading which is sewn-in to the top edge of all drive-away awning connection tunnels will slide directly into a C-profile awning rail to create a secure join between the awning and the van. However, if you do plan on driving out for the day, an Awning Drive-Away Kit is necessary to allow one person to easily detach and reconnect – for more information on how to use an awning drive-away kit, read our blog page; How to Connect a Drive-Away Awning to a VW T4, T5 or T6

Which C-Profile Rail Should I Fit?

There are a few different types of C-profile rails on the market and they differ significantly in price, fitting position and how they are fitted. These rails can be put into two categories C-channel awning rails and multi-rails which incorporate a C-profile rail. Use the information below to make an informed decision on which rail would be right for your particular Bus.

Reimo Multi-Rail Profile

Reimo Multi-Rail

Multi-Rails

The more expensive options are the multi-rail type awning rails which are either bonded or screwed or bonded and screwed to the edge of the roof just above the top of the doors.  These rails are known as multi-purpose because a drive-away awning can be connected using either the C-channel with a Kador Drive-Away Kit or via the gutter using a Pole & Clamp Drive-Away Kit.

Some manufacturers also claim these rails disperse rainwater… although we feel this is a negligible amount as the side roof gully will usually disperse the majority of roof rainwater on most vans.

These rails are normally very good quality and come in either their natural anodised aluminium finish or in matt/satin black with plastic end stops. If you’re confident… and capable enough, multi-rails can be DIY fitted, although most owners tend to get them fitted by a VW conversion company or vehicle body shop.

One of the most popular awning multi-rails is the Reimo Multi-Rail which at the time of writing costs approximately £220 + £50 fitting.

VW Mult Rail with C-profile insert 1

VW California Rail

Important: the Volkswagen multi-rail fitted to most VW California campers has a rubber C-profile insert that is sold as a separate part to the aluminium rail itself.  The insert part slides into the rectangular profile of the aluminium rail, however, the C-profile part of this rail does not retain 6mm core industry standard Kador as used in all drive-away awnings, sun canopies and awning drive-away kits.

We therefore recommend using a Pole & Clamp Drive-Away Kit in the top ‘gutter’ part of the insert to connect.  Alternatively, buy a length of 6mm to 7mm Kador Connector and 3 x lengths of Figure of 8 Awning Channel. Slide the Figure of 8 onto the awning tunnel Kador and then slide the twin Kador connector into the Figure of 8 with the larger 7mm side sliding directly into the aluminium T-channel rail.  If you haven’t bought the £90 rubber insert already, this connection method will save the cost of buying the expensive and often problematic part.

Pros: High quality anodised aluminium, good fitting position for use with a drive-away kit and can be used with a 6mm Drive-Away Kit or Pole & Clamp Drive-Away Kit.

Cons: Expensive, rail is always visible and the side of your van will need to be drilled or have adhesive used on it. The rubber C-profile insert of the VW California rail is too flexible and will not retain camping products fitted with standard 6mm Kador.

C-Channel Awning Rail

C-Channel Awning Rails are available in stainless steel or anodised aluminium finish and are normally much cheaper to buy than multi-rails.  The quality varies from cheap, thin gauge caravan type rails to high quality, heavy gauge anodised aluminium… so choose carefully!

custom-cut-length-of-c-profile-c-channel-awning-rail-length-100cm-to-149cm-length-[3]-6556-pC-channel can be fitted inside the roof gully of a VW T5 or T6 using the existing roof fixings to connect – happy days no drilling into your Bus required!  As T4’s don’t have any fixings in the roof gully a C-channel awning rail will have to be bonded into position.  Whichever van you have, if your roof gully is free to use this is a great option as it won’t change the look of your van at all – the rail is concealed in the gully.

If you have a VW Campervan with an elevating roof, the roof gully fixings will be already used for the scissor hinge and gas strut of your ‘Pop Top’.  In this case a C-Channel Awning Rail can usually be bonded vertically to the side of the roof gully just in front of the hinge and strut so it is concealed when the elevating roof is closed – see bottom section for more details.

It becomes a bit trickier to fit C-Channel to a van with roof bars as the roof bar brackets use the roof gulley fixings to connect.  If you have chrome or stainless steel chunky roof bars that have bolt on fixings at each end, it is possible to fit a 209/210cm rail (for SWB) in between the bars using the end fixing bolts.

There are some stainless steel C-profile rails on the market that have an additional wide fixing base for sandwiching under roof bar brackets, the rail then angles out of the gully just above the roof line.

Our anodised aluminium C-Channel Awning Rail is high quality 3mm gauge, German made and currently retails for £40 (for a 2.4m length suitable for a SWB VW T5).

Pros: Inexpensive, low profile, high quality anodised aluminium with concealed fitting in roof gulley or under elevating roof. No drilling of van necessary – easy to fit.

Cons: Awkward to fit with roof bars and some of the stainless steel caravan type C-rail on the UK market is thin gauge and looks cheap.

What Length of C-Channel Awning Rail Do I Need?

Drive-Away Awning Connected to a VWT5 via 6mm Drive-Away Kit 2The Kador connection on most drive-away awning connection tunnels is around 250cm in length but your C-Channel Awning Rail can be shorter than this as the Figure of 8 extrusions of the drive-away kit are made from rigid plastic. The Figure of 8 extrusions can extend out up to 25cm further than the end of you rail and still keep the connection tunnel fabric nice and taught – so 200cm is probably the minimum length of C-Rail needed to connect most drive-away awnings.

Although it is always preferable to fit C-Channel in one length, it can be fitted in two shorter lengths with a small bracer glued behind to ensure the join lines up properly.

How to fit a C-Channel Awning Rail to a VW T5 or T6

These instructions can be used to fit a C-Channel Awning rail to a van that has the roof fixings available to use (no elevating roof or roof bars fitted).  The rail initially takes 15mins to fit and can then be removed and refitted in just 2mins.

  1. Remove the existing roof blanking bolts, stick some masking tape to the inner edge of the roof gulley (closest to the centre of the roof) and with a mark the centres of the fixing hole positions across on to the tape with a pencil.
  1. Position the C-Channel on the roof approximately 3cm from rear door/s and carefully mark the bolt hole centres from the masking tape across to the rail.
  1. Mark the hole centres at an equal distance from the rail edge and drill 8mm holes in the rail – use a centre punch or nail in the centre of your mark to stop drill wander.
  1. Secure the C-Channel using stainless steel pan-head bolts and washers.

The front and rear 40cm of the rail can be given a gentle bend downwards of 15/20mm to follow the curved profile of the roof.

How to fit a C-Channel Awning Rail to a VW T4

These instructions can be used to fit a C-Channel Awning rail to a T4 van without an elevating roof or roof bars/rack.

  1. Lay the C-Channel rail in the roof gulley approximately 5cm from the rear doors and stick a few pieces of masking tape on the van roof to mark the edges of where the rail is positioned. Mark the front and rear of the rail with a pencil approximately where the roof profile starts to curve downwards.
  1. Gently bend the front and rear 40cm of the rail downwards 15/20mm to follow the curved profile of the roof.
  1. Stick two parallel strips of masking tape along the length of the roof gully following the guide pieces of tape, leave a 30mm gap where the rail will be positioned.
  1. Use Sikaflex 221 or similar automotive adhesive to bond the rail to the roof – apply a bead along the length of the gully and position C-Channel rail.
  1. Wipe away any excess adhesive and apply a few strips of masking tape to keep the rail in position. Weight the rail where necessary and allow at least 24hrs+ for the adhesive bond to cure properly – always follow the adhesive manufacturer’s instructions.

*Please note: it is important to position the rail towards the rear of the van to allow enough room for the sliding side door to open fully without snagging on a drive-away awning connection tunnel.

How to fit a C-Channel Awning Rail to a VW T4, T5 or T6 with an Elevating Roof

3 x sections of c-channel fitted to side of VW T5 roof gulleyThese instructions can be used as a guide to fit a C-Channel Awning rail to a T4, T5 or T6 van with a Pop Top.  As the roof gully will already be used for the scissor hinge and gas strut brackets, the rail will need to be positioned more towards the edge of the roof or roof gully.

Depending on the type of roof you have fitted to your van, sometimes there is enough space to fit C-channel flat in front of the roof gully when the closed elevating roof extends to the very edge of the van roof. Alternatively, the rail can usually be bonded vertically along the outer edge of the roof gully and if necessary can be bonded on in sections (as in the photos of the blue T5) which is fine for threading a sun canopy into but will be a bit awkward to connect to a drive-away awning when using a drive-away kit.

To bond the rail flat, follow the instructions below making sure the rail is positioned as farC-Channel fitted vertically to side of T5 roof gulley to the rear as possible while allowoing the elevating roof to close without obstruction.

c-channel fitted to side of VW T5 roof gulleyTo bond the rail in the vertical position at the edge of the roof gully follow the instructions below concerning use of masking tape and adhesive.  Ideally fit the rail in one continuous length, you can fit it in sections to avoid obstructions.  The rail can still be bent to follow the curvature of the roof but this will take a lot more pressure with shorter lengths.

It is a bit more tricky to bend the C-Channel Rail in an vertical position but still only takes a 5 minutes to get it close to the curve of the roof.

Put pressure on each end of the rail simultaneously with a wooden block positioned in the middle/where needed… this is obviously easier to achieve with two people or with one end secured in a work bench vice. Offer the rail up to the roof 3 or 4 times to check to contour in between bending it a centimetre or so at a time.

The rail can also be pop riveted into position if necessary as the fitting is concealed under the roof when closed.

Many of our customers have fitted our C-Channel Awning Rail under their vans elevating roof. However, as there are so many different styles of Pop-Tops on the market, unfortunately we cannot definitive answer as to whether it will fit on individual projects. We recommend getting a C-Channel Awning Rail Sample before ordering a full length to make sure it will fit under your particular elevating roof.

 

These instructions can be used to fit a C-Channel Awning rail to T4, T5 and T6 vans with an elevating roof.

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Lay the C-Channel rail either flat in front of the roof gulley or vertically on the outside edge of the roof gully in front of the hinge and gas strut as close to the rear door/s as the closed roof will allow.
  2. Mark the front and rear of the rail with a pencil roughly where the roof profile starts to curve downwards.
  3. Gently bend the middle section, front and rear of the rail where marked downwards 15/20mm until it matches the curved profile of the roof. This can be done on a bench over a wooden block with 2 people putting downward pressure on each end of the rail.
  4. Use Sikaflex 221 or similar automotive adhesive to bond the rail to the roof – apply a bead along the length of the gully and position the C-Channel rail. Masking tape can be applied at the edges and ends to mark the position and protect paintwork from excess adhesive.
  5. Wipe away any excess adhesive and apply a few strips of masking tape to keep the rail in position. Weight the rail where necessary and allow at least 24hrs+ for the adhesive bond to cure properly – always follow the adhesive manufacturer’s instructions.

*Please note: it is important to position the rail towards the rear of the van so there is enough room for the sliding side door to open fully without snagging on the drive-away awning connection tunnel.

High Quality Rail – German Made

Our C-Channel Awning Rail is high quality, German made, 3mm thickness anodised aluminium not to be confused with the cheaper thin steel caravan type rails on the market. The Kador insert gap is at the perfect angle and standard 6mm Ø core (7mm Ø overall) awning Kador slides along it nicely without snagging.

We offer standard cut lengths for SWB and LWB VW Transporter T4, T5 and T6’s and custom cut exact lengths up to 300cm for deliver within the UK. We also stock pre-cut lengths in two sections for European delivery.

0 Flares Twitter 0 Facebook 0 Filament.io 0 Flares ×

26. April 2017 by funkyleisure
Categories: VW Campervan Road Trips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *


0 Flares Twitter 0 Facebook 0 Filament.io 0 Flares ×