Archive for the ‘elevating roof’ Tag

How to Connect a Drive-Away Awning to a VW T4, T5 or T6 – Which Drive-Away Kit?   1 comment

How to Connect a Drive-Away Awning to a VW T4, T5 or T6 – Which Drive-Away Kit?

How do I connect a drive-away awning to my VW T5 campervan? Which awning drive-away kit do I need for my VW California rail? What’s the best way to attach an awning to a VW T4? These are some of the awning connection questions that we get asked all the time, so whichever post 90’s model VW Transporter you own, T4, T5 or T6, we’ll talk through the connection options in this post.  For earlier VW Vans see our How to Connect a Vango AirBeam Awning to a VW T2 Bay, Splitscreen or T25 post.

What is an Awning Drive-Away Kit?

There are two basic ways to attach a drive-away awning to a van without an awning rail fitted – using the Throw-Over Straps that are supplied or the Roof Bar Tabs sewn in to the connection edge.

If your van has a C-profile type awning rail already fitted, the Kador beading on the top edge of the awning connection tunnel can be slid directly into it before pitching the awning. This connection method is fine if you don’t plan to drive the van out while your awning is pitched.

To drive a vehicle out from a pitched awning is definitely a two-person job and a very awkward manoeuvre which we don’t recommend attempting. One person has to hold the awning Kador whilst the driver tries to drive straight out without tearing the expensive new awning or running over the other persons feet. You then have to try to do it all again when you attempt to connect up again… maybe in the dark!

An awning drive-away kit allows one person to easily detach from the awning in just a couple of minutes and drive the van out for the day. It only takes 2 or 3 minutes for one person to drive back into position and reconnect to the awning.

Top Tip: always mark your position on the driver’s side before driving away. Use a Drive-Away Awning Guidance Strip or peg a guyline next to your tyres (approx. 5cm from the edges).  Peg the front of the marker at your front wheel centre so you know exactly where to stop.

VW T4, T5 & T6 Awning Connection Methods

Yes, there are quite a few different awning connection options depending on the configuration of your vans roof and whether you have an awning rail or wind-out canopy fitted. We think we’ve pretty much covered every Volkswagen Transporter van set up below so just scroll down the blue titles until you find yours.

VW T4/T5/T6 Vans without an Elevating Roof, Roof Bars or an Awning Rail Fitted

Connection Options: Throw-Over Webbing Straps, Limpet Suction Drive-Away Kit or Magnetic Drive-Away Kit

All Vango, Kampa and Outdoor Revolution drive-away awnings are supplied with either adjustable throw-over webbing straps or guylines which clip-in/tie into the top corner edges of the awning connection tunnel.

This is a quick and easy way of connecting to any van that doesn’t have an awning rail fitted. Many of our drive-away awning customers are happy to use the throw-over straps indefinitely or at least try them a few times before thinking about having a rail fitted.

Simply position the adjustable straps over the top of the van roof and peg them down on the other side.

Top Tip: if it is very windy and you are concerned about the straps rubbing on your vans paintwork, you can use a couple of tennis balls with a cut halfway through or short lengths of foam pipe lagging to protect the edge of the roof.

Alternatively, a Limpet Suction Drive-Away Kit or Magnetic Drive-Away Kit can be used to attach to flat or very slightly curved surfaces of the van roof.  These sort of kits have been much improved over recent years, although they do need to be connected to a flat surface of the van roof and do fail sometimes in windy weather.

 

 

 

 

 

If you would like to know more about fitting an awning rail to your van – see our How to fit a C-Channel C-Profile Awning Rail to a VW T4, T5 or T6 post or How to Fit a C-Channel Awning Rail Under a VW T5/T6 Elevating Roof on out ‘How To Guide’ page.

VW T4/T5/T6 Vans with an Elevating Roof but without an Awning Rail Fitted

Connection Options: Throw-Over Webbing Straps

The throw-over webbing straps can still be used on vans with an elevating roof as they are spaced about 2.5m apart on the awning connection tunnel allowing them to be positioned around the front and rear of the Pop Top. Simply peg them down on the opposite side of the van and adjust the tension.

Unfortunately, Limpet Suction and Magnetic Drive-Away Kits will not secure onto the curved outside corner edge of a VW Transporter roof.

VW T4/T5/T6 Vans with Roof Bars but without an Awning Rail Fitted

Connection Options: Roof Bar Tabs

All Vango, Kampa and Outdoor Revolution drive-away awnings have 2 or 3 hook and loop Velcro tabs sewn in to the top edge of the connection tunnels. If you have roof bars or a roof rack fitted to your van, simply attach the awning to them using the Velcro Tabs. You can take a ‘belt and braces’ approach and use the roof bar tabs in conjunction with the throw-over webbing straps which can be either pegged down as above or tied to the other roof bar.

As with the throw-over straps, many of our customers are happy to use the roof bar tabs connection indefinitely or at least before considering having an awning rail fitted.

Unfortunately, Limpet Suction and Magnetic Drive-Away Kits will not secure onto the curved outside corner edge of a VW Transporter roof. Roof bars also tend to lever them off if they are positioned towards the middle of the roof.

Top Tip: you can make the roof bar connection a bit more weathertight using a couple of lengths of foam pipe lagging to block the gap between a van roof and the roof bars.

If you would like to find out more about choosing and fitting an awning rail to a van with roof bars – see our How to fit a C-Channel C-Profile Awning Rail to a VW T4, T5 or T6 post.

VW T4/T5/T6 Vans with a C-Profile type Awning Rail Fitted

Connection Options: 6mm to 6mm Drive-Away Kit

If your van has a Reimo Multi-Rail or C-channel awning rail fitted, you can  use a standard 6mm to 6mm Drive-Away Kit to connect an awning. The kit includes 1 x 3m length of Twin Kador and 3 x lengths of Figure of 8 plastic extrusion.

Slide the Figure of 8 onto the drive-away awning and then slide the Twin Kador into the rail and the other channel of Figure of 8 to connect. Simply pull the Twin Kador out to detach and drive away.

VW T4/T5/T6 California Vans with a VW  Multi-Rail Fitted

 Connection Options: 6mm to 7mm Twin Kador with Figure of 8 Channel or Pole & Clamp Drive-Away Kit

The aluminium T-channel rail is fitted to most VW California roof as standard. These rails are also available as an aftermarket product so can also be found fitted onto any other converted VW van.

This aluminium T-rail is designed for mounting a cassette type wind-out sun canopy on (see below section) or a rubber multi-rail insert that slides in to create an awning connection. We have had many customers over the years that haven’t known about this additional rubber insert part and have been frustrated that standard 6mm Kador pulls out of the aluminium T-rail.

There have been issues with the rubber insert that have been well documented over the past few years on various VW forums and we too have had quite a few frustrated VW California customers calling us for advice. As the insert is made of rubber, the C-profile section can flex and release standard 6mm core Kador… we have even experimented with larger diameter Kador and this too pulls out. It is not unusual for the connection to feel okay and then pull out overnight in windy conditions or during the day when the rubber heats up in the sun.

If you have the rubber insert fitted and are concerned about the C-profile not retaining the Kador style drive-away kit, we recommend using a Pole & Clamp Drive-Away Kit as an alternative. The pole slides through a pole sleeve on the awning connection tunnel and sits in the top gutter part of the rubber insert, it is then secured with the clamps. We have many Customers who are happy to use this connection method as it is quick and easy to attach.

If your van just has the aluminium T-rail or you have the rubber insert but would prefer to connect directly to the aluminium rail, you can use a TWIN 6mm to 6/4mm drive-away kit.  Slide both Twin Kador sections into  the T-rail together and stay secured… cutting out the need for the expensive rubber insert.

VW T4/T5/T6 Vans with a Cassette Type Thule Omnistor, Fiamma, Dometic Wind-Out Sun Canopy Awning Fitted

Connection Options: TWIN 6mm to 6/4mm Awning Drive-Away Kit

Many VW Campers have a Fiamma, Thule Omnistor or Domectic cassette type ‘wind-out’ sun canopy mounted onto the aluminium T-rail.  Many of these wind-out sun canopies have a small diameter 4mm C-profile on the front leading edge… sometimes the canopy needs to be wound out slightly to see it.  We do also occasionally see wind-out sun canopies with larger 6mm diameter C-channel and now recommend customers buy a TWIN 6mm to 6/4mm Awning Drive-Away Kit which is guaranteed to fit.

Top Tip: if there’s a gap beneath your wind-out sun canopy and the van roof, you can make the connection a bit more weathertight by blocking it with a couple of lengths of foam pipe lagging.

VW T4/T5/T6 Vans with a J-rail fitted

Connection Options: Figure of 8 Channel

J-rail, J-profile rail or similar is sometimes fitted to high-top vans and T4’s to create a simple lip.  You can connect an awning onto the lip using Figure of 8 Channel – slide 3 x lengths onto the awning Kador and hook it over the J-rail lip. This method does rely on the tension of the fabric pulling away from the van to stay attached and can sometimes come off in windy weather.

We hope this blog page will help you and your drive-away awning to connect better with your Dub!

How to fit a C-Channel C-Profile Awning Rail to a VW T4, T5 or T6   10 comments

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 type awnings will 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 can be fitted to the side edge of a van roof in or next to 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 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 Drive-Away Kit

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’re 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 usually 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 aluminium rails are normally very good quality and come 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 is also the best quality.

VW Mult Rail with C-profile insert 1

VW California Rail

Important: the Volkswagen multi-rail fitted to most VW California campers is for use with a rubber C-profile that inserts into the rectangular profile part of the aluminium rail and is sold as a separate part… we have had many Cali owners calling us over the years frustrated that their drive-away awning or sun canopy keeps detaching.  However, if your Cali doesn’t already have the rubber insert fitted, don’t waste your money (£75-£90).  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.  The rubber flexes especially when it heats up in the sun and allows the awning Kador to detach.

If you already have the rubber insert part fitted you can use a Pole & Clamp Drive-Away Kit in the upper ‘gutter’ part to securely connect an awning.  Alternatively, slide both twin sections of a TWIN 6mm to 6/4mm Awning Drive-Away Kit directly into the aluminium channel rail.  

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 the Kador connector on camping products.

C-Channel Awning Rail 

C-Channel in T5 Roof Gully

Aluminium C-Channel Awning Rails are normally much cheaper to buy than multi-rails and can be fitted inside the roof gully of a VW T5 or T6 day van using the existing roof fixings to connect.  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 usually 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.

If your T5/T6 has roof bars fitted, you can buy a pre-drilled rail with an extended C-profile and wider base specifically designed to sandwich under roof bar connections at the existing roof bar fixing points.

Pros: Inexpensive and low profile aluminium rail which can be fitted in the van roof gulley with or without roof bars or under an elevating roof.  Usually very easy to fit.

Cons: Sometimes a bit more awkward to fit under an elevating roof.

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 at each up to 25cm further than the end of an awning 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.

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).   For vans with pop-tops see our ‘How To Guide’ – How to Fit a C-Channel Awning Rail Under a VW T5/T6 Elevating Roof

  1. Remove the existing roof blanking bolts or roof bar and clean the roof gully.
  1. Put some gentle bends of 30mm to 40mm downs towards the front and rear 40cm of the rail to roughly follow the curvature of the van roof – don’t over do it as this is just to help the rail ends sit better in the roof gully.
  2. Fit the standard profile rail using the blanking bolts or sandwich the extended profile rail under the roof bar connection points.  We have always fitted the rail directly on the roof surface and never had any issues, leaks etc. on any of our vans, however, if you are concerned that this may be an issue, you can use thin rubber washers or a small amount of silicone under the rail at the fixing point.

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 gully approximately 5cm from the rear doors with the C-profile against the outer edge of the roof gully 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. Two parallel strips of masking tape can be stuck along the length of the roof gully to protect paintwork from any excess adhesive. Follow the guide pieces of tape and 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 the 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 as far towards the rear of a SWB van as possible as a drive-away awning needs to be pitched practically back to the rear van pillar to allow enough room for the sliding side door to open fully without snagging on the awnings connection tunnel.

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

These photos show some examples of where our customers have fitted our C-channel awning rails under an elevating roof.

Depending on the type of roof you have fitted to your van, sometimes there is enough space to fit C-channel flat behind the roof gully. Alternatively, the rail can usually be fitted vertically along the outer edge of the roof gully, and if necessary, bonded on in sections (as in the photos of the blue T5).

 

c-channel fitted to side of VW T5 roof gulleyIt is a bit more tricky to bend the C-Channel Rail in a vertical position but still only takes a 5 minutes or so 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 and/or secured in a work mate/work bench vice. Offer the rail up to the roof 3 or 4 times to check the contour in between bending it just a centimetre or so at a time.

Many of our customers have fitted our C-Channel Awning Rail under their vans elevating roof.  However, as there are so many different types of Pop-Tops on the market, with some of the designs also changing over the years, unfortunately we cannot give a definitive answer as to whether it will fit on a particular roof make.

However, there are only 3 possible positions where you can fit a rail under any elevating roof and is usually just a process of elimination – see our How to Fit a C-Channel Awning Rail Under a VW T5/T6 Elevating Roof on our How To page for more in depth information about selecting and fitting.  If still in any doubt, 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.

The Funky Leisure Team