October 17

What Is Sunbrella?

sunbrella_logoPerhaps you’ve heard the name, Sunbrella, and are wondering just what it is and why so many people use it on their boats, awnings, outdoor furniture, and other outdoor areas. While there are many other fabrics suitable for outdoor use, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a fabric that matches Sunbrella’s style, durability and protective qualities. That’s why Sunbrella offers a 10-year warranty on its shade and marine fabrics.

To start with, Sunbrella is 100% solution-dyed woven acrylic. Natural fibers such as cotton provide fertile grounds for mold and mildew to accumulate, and are vulnerable to the harmful effects of UV rays and environmental pollutants. Woven acrylics avoid much of this, especially when kept clean and dry.

“Solution-dyed” means that the color is actually infused into the fabric fibers themselves. This offers the best swathsprotection against fading and bleeding.

Sunbrella is also extremely strong. Below are some of the specifications:

Hydrostatic Test: AATCC 127-1998 – 40 cm
Oil Repellency: AATCC 118-1997 – Grade 5
Break Strength: warp 285 lbs., filling 180 lbs.
Tear Strength: warp 12 lbs., filling 8 lbs.
Tabor Stiffness: ASTM D1388-96 – 12.0
Wyzenbeek Abrasion-Wire Screen: 40,000 cycles
Cal Tech 117 CS 191-53 Class I Pass
Colorfastness: SAE 1960J Grade 4 – 1500 hours

The Skin Cancer Foundation has given Sunbrella its Seal of Recommendation, and the Greenguard Organization has recognized Sunbrella as being safe for use in environments such as schools and healthcare facilities.

Scotties Catalog sells the complete line of Sunbrella products. You can purchase them online, or give us a call at 800-780-8677. For more information, you can download the guides below:


Sunbrella Cleaning Guide

Sunbrella Fabrication Guide





October 3

Securing Your Boat Cover

Securing Your Boat Cover

There are various methods used to secure a cover to your boat. If you have a strong preference, this can influence the type of boat cover you should be looking at.

top_snapperMany factory and custom covers use snaps. Snaps offer a snug and secure solution. However, over time, snaps can corrode and fabrics can shrink, making it hard to snap and/or unsnap your cover. The Top Snapper is a handy little tool that helps you snap and unsnap taut covers. If your cover has shrunk to the point where you can’t snap it on at all, you can always purchase (or have made) a set of snap extensions. Usually made with 1″ webbing, these extensions can be made to any desired length, and have a cap/socket pair on one end and a snap stud on the other.

Another method used to secure boat covers is to have a rope or shock cord sewn into the length of the extensionshem. Our selection of semi-custom boat covers have shock cords, which are simple and convenient to use. However, if you plan to trailer with one of these covers, or if you anticipate the cover being exposed to high winds, you’ll want to further secure it to the boat. Our online covers all include 1″ webbing loops sewn into the hem every 30″ or so. You can use these loops with rope, bungees or tie-downs to secure your cover to the trailer. For mooring applications, we’ve recently added a sandbag mooring kit to our lineup.

With ropes sewn into the hem (as found on the custom covers we have online), there’s usually an opening sandbagwhere you can cinch the rope tight and knot it. A rope-ratchet can be purchased, which adds leverage when tensioning the rope. Still, making use of the webbing loops to further secure the cover is a good idea, especially when trailering.

Regardless of the method used to secure it, a boat cover is a necessity when it comes to preserving your investment. Whether you want to go the custom route or feel that a semi-custom cover best suits your needs, Scotties Canvas can help. Give us a call today at 800-780-8677 with all of your marine canvas needs.


August 20

The Bimini Top – Not Just for Boats Anymore

The Bimini Top – Not Just for Boats Anymore

Bimini tops are for boats, right? Yes, but…. Here’s a few other vehicles that have taken advantage of the shade offered by a bimini top.


You’d likely have to live in the south to recognize this vehicle. It’s a swamp buggy, and you can believe the passengers are happy to have a bimini top offering up a little shade in the hot, muggy swamps.


Okay, this is a watercraft. But how many people have entertained the idea of adding a bimini top to their canoe or kayak? Not many, we imagine.


At first glance, this looks like a boat, but it has four wheels for road use. We can’t decide whether this is a coat or a bar.


Ah, yes. The iconic Volkswagon Thing. We don’t know why, but this seems like a natural for a bimini.


We’ve seen a few golf carts adorned with bimini tops. Here’s a good example.



We saved the strangest for last. Here’s a rather odd bimini top on a rather odd trike.

Are you using a bimini top on something other than a boat? Email us your picture to support@scottiescatalog.com. We’d love to see it.



August 15

RV Camping in Winter

RV Camping in Winter

It’s already August. Autumn soon will be giving way to winter. Unless you’re getting ready to head south, it’s time to prep and store your RV, right? Not necessarily. Cold winds and snow don’t have to put an end to your RV adventuring. With some thought and preparation, you can enjoy the RV lifestyle year-round.


winter_rv01When water freezes, it expands. This can damage pipes, hoses and holding tanks. The best solution is to keep them empty as much as possible. Have a gallon of water handy that you can pour into the toilet when you are ready to use it. Fill your fresh water tank, then disconnect your hose and empty it (never store hoses with water still in them). Empty your black and grey water holding tanks before you start your trip. Add antifreeze (made specifically for RVs) to help avoid freezing. Add it to through your sink or shower for grey-water tanks and through your toilet for black-water tanks. Insulate and, when possible, heat all of the hardware that holds water. For example, special heating pads can be purchased that are specifically designed for holding tanks.


It’s important to keep the heat inside and the cold outside. Be sure that windows and doors seal tight. Caulk the windows, if necessary. Make sure all weatherstripping is in good shape. Make well-insulated winter_rv02curtains (the material used for oven mitts is a good choice) for all of your windows. You can also cut pieces of foil-backed foam insulation to fit your windows. Class A and Class C owners can create an insulated curtain that divides the living area from the cockpit, reducing the area that needs to be heated. If your RV isn’t carpeted, throw rugs can help insulate the floor (and keep those toes warm during a trip to the toilet in the middle of the night). You’ll also want to address the roof vents. Foam insulation cut to size is one way to go or, for a little more money, you can get special pillows designed to fit in the vents.

Heat Sources

winter_rv03Of course, all of the insulation in the world won’t matter if you don’t have a heat source. Your best source of heat is a factory vented heater. Be sure to test it before you begin your trip. Unvented propane heaters, electric space heaters and catalytic heaters are okay as suppliments. You’ll want to keep a window cracked for ventilation, and with propane you’ll want to be sure there’s a refill station within reach. One nifty alternative is the wood-burning stove. Wood burners made specifically for RV camping are available, and put out quite a bit of heat. You can cook on them and use them to heat up your RV without adding any moisture to the air.

Why is humid air a concern? Condensation, mold and mildew. Use an electric dehumidifier or purchase packets of dessicant crystals to help control the humidity. Crack a window to vent the moisture. You really don’t want to wake up to walls and a ceiling coated with ice.

And don’t forget nature’s heat source, the sun. When you choose a camping spot, try to park where you can benefit from hours of sunlight.


When you park, place boards under your tires and jacks. One balmy day could turn your camping site into a quagmire, stranding your RV in mud. Once parked, use insulated boards or fender skirts to help keep cold air from underneath the RV. Since there’s times when the weather will keep you inside your RV for hours, you might be tempted to invest in a TV. If so, go for an LED set, not LCD. The latter will freeze if it gets too cold.

There’s more work and planning involved when you decide to go camping in the winter, but there’s benefits as well. Year-round campgrounds will be far less crowded during the winter months, and nature provides plenty of serene beauty.



July 2

Carefree Eclipse RV Awning

Carefree 12 Volt Eclipse RV Awning


You’ve driven all day and now it’s time to set up camp. Oh, yeah. The awning. Sigh.

With an Eclipse RV awning, forget the hassle. Push a button and the awning opens. No locks. No latches. Add the Direct Response option, and you won’t even have to worry about retracting the awning if the wind picks up.

eclipse rv awning extendedThe truss-support arms scissor in and out, offering great head clearance while adding to the strength and stability of the awning. Each arm is independently adjustable so that you can set the pitch for more shade or efficient rain release. Set the pitch once and forget about it. The arms will still retract and, the next time you extend your Eclipse, return to the same pitch settings as before.

Hardware comes in your choice of white, black or satin. You can select either vinyl, armored vinyl (with alumaguard) or acrylic for a canopy. Take a look at the Eclipse manuals:

Owner’s Manual

Installation Manual

For more information, or to order online, go to RV Awnings Online. If you’d rather, you can call us at 800-780-8677.



June 17

Protecting Your Boat Cover

Protecting Your Boat Cover

Your cover protects your boat, but what protects your cover? You do. There’s a few things you can do to extend the life of your cover and help prevent rips, tears and deterioration.

When you first get your new cover, install it carefully on your boat. Use a wax pencil to mark areas where it comes into contact with sharp edges or where the fabric rubs against parts of the boat. Use our fabric repair/reinforcement kit to protect those areas with an extra layer of cloth.

Next, check for any areas that aren’t taut. You’ll want to use support poles in those areas so that water can’t pool. Pooling water can breed mold and mildew, especially if a cover is dirty. In addition, pooling water will eventually find its way through breathable fabrics and allow extra moisture to be trapped beneath the cover. When this happens, your cushions and electronics can suffer.

Each time you use your cover, it’s best to be sure that the boat’s interior is dry first. Even though our fabrics breathe, the less moisture found underneath a cover the better.

When you store your cover, make sure that it is clean and dry. Brush off any loose dirt and debris, then wash it downwith a mild soap. After a thorough rinsing, let the cover air dry completely. Once dry, roll up the cover and store it in a cool, dry place.

All of our cover fabrics are treated to be UV and mildew resistant. However, this protection can erode over time. We suggest applying 303 High Tech Fabric Guard every two or three years.

These few steps have the potential of adding years to the life of your boat cover.

June 7

Fulltime RV Camping – Gardening

Fulltime RV Camping – Gardening

You might think that the transition from sticks and bricks to the RV lifestyle means leaving your garden behind. That’s not necessarily so. As with so many subjects when considering fulltiming, the keys are to simplify, research, and think out of the box. Look around your RV, inside and out, and look for areas where you can grow plants as well as store them while travelling.


shoe_orgYou’re not going to have a plot of ground, so bone up on container gardening. Containers take less space and are easier to move around. Even better, containers all but eliminate concerns over pests and weeds.

Just about any container is suitable for planting. One solution that we found to be exceptionally creative is to sow your plants in the pockets of a hanging shoe organizer. It saves space and, when camping, you can hang the organizer from your RV awning. A more traditional container that incorporates flexibilty is the strawberry pot that has holes in the sides of it. Sow different plants in different holes, and reserve the top for two or three larger plants.

When choosing a container, remember that you’ll likely be moving the container around. Several small strawberrycontainers is preferrable to one large container. If you end up using larger containers, mix excelsior (packaging peanuts) with your potting soil to lighten the weight. It’s good for your mileage, and good for your back. The popularity of apartment gardening has produced a number of products that can be used by RVers. Upside-down tomato planters and windowsill herb kits come to mind.

What about the rear bumper of your RV? You can build a (semi-)permanant bumper garden. Make sure there is enough structural support for the added weight. This gives a whole new meaning to the term, “bumper crop.”

Travel Time

wall_planterYou’ll want to figure out how to store your plants while you are travelling. Cardboard boxes are one possibility. Place excelsior in the bottom to limit movement. Use bungee cords to secure the boxes. Some folks store their plants in the shower. Not a bad idea, since you can water them without worrying about getting the floor wet. That bumper garden? Drape clear plastic sheets over the plants and fasten the sheets to the planter box.


Both flowers and vegetables can be grown. Plants that need lots of sunlight should be in containers that can be brought outside once you’ve made camp. In fact, even if you’re only stopping for an hour or two, it helps to bring the plants outside for a little fun in the sun. If you planing on an extended stay in an environment that you’re not familiar with, contact the local County Extension office to see what plants are best to work with.


If you love gardening, you don’t have to give it up when you become a fulltime RVer. We hope that some of the ideas above help spark your creativity and help you become an RV gardener.


May 12

Which Awning Fabric Is Best?

Which Awning Fabric Is Best?

The canvas on your awning has seen better days. It’s time to get a replacement fabric. This is a relatively inexpensive way to spruce up your RV. The one question we hear more often than any other is, “Which fabric should I get?”

There is no stock answer to this question. Typically, there are two awning fabric options: vinyl or acrylic. Each has its strengths and weaknesses.

CarefreeFabrics_MH.inddAcrylic is a woven material with the color dyed directly into the fibers. This offers superior resistance to fading when compared to surface-dyed or painted fabrics. Because it breaths, air can pass through the canvas, keeping you a little cooler on those extra-hot days. Acrylics are water repellent but don’t mistake that for waterproof. If you are sitting under a wet acrylic awning and touch the canvas from beneath, water will seep through. Acrylic dries quickly and, in a pinch, can be rolled up while still wet. (However, we strongly recommend extending the awning at your earliest convenience to let it dry thoroughly.) The fabric is tough, and handles various weather conditions well. Mold and mildew won’t grow on acrylic, though it will form on the dust and dirt that can accumulate. A simple regimine of light cleaning can keep that at bay. Our acrylic replacement fabrics come in 5 standard colors, but there are dozens of custom colors available as well. Note that acrylics must be used with either Alumaguard or Uniguard aluminum protection. Both, Alumaguard and Uniguard protect your fabric when  the awning is retracted. Alumaguard is made with hinged slats that wrap around the fabric, while Uniguard is one piece of aluminum that hinges shut over the fabric.

The other fabric choice is Vinyl.

The vinyl replacement fabrics that we offer are made from high-quality, 4-ply vinyl. The top layer is made with a clear vinyl that helps protect the canvas against fading and scratches. The second layer has a painted pattern (either stripes, fades, or solid color). You have a number of patterns to choose from. Under the second layer is a polyester scrip that adds strength and stability. Finally, there is a bottom layer that is either white or repeats the painted pattern from the second layer. While vinyl is mildew resistant, it is not mildew-proof. Regularly rinsing the fabric off and letting it dry thoroughly before retracting your awning helps keep mildew at bay.  Vinyl is waterproof, so you don’t have to worry about water dripping on your head. These fabrics come standard with a vinyl Weatherguard. This is a heavy-duty strip of vinyl at the top of your awning that wraps around the canvas when the awning is retracted, protecting it from pollution, UV rays and road grime. You can also purchase an armored vinyl canopy, which comes with Alumaguard or Uniguard protection.

Recently, we introduced a third option: Premium vinyl. It is a stronger, heavier-duty vinyl that offers a full 10-year fabric warranty. Currently, premium vinyl canopies are availabe in your choice of three colors: Charcoal, Chocolate or Indigo stripes. The fabric warranty rivals that of woven acrylic, but the premium vinyl costs less.

Regardless of which fabric you choose, you can be assured that you’ll be receiving a high-quality, good-looking replacement fabric for your RV awning.


March 22

RV Spring Maintenance

Sure, there’s snow still on the ground, and you’re not quite ready to pack away those long johns. But it’s not the worst idea in the world to begin preparing your RV for the upcoming camping season. If everything turns out okay, great. However, if it turns out that you need parts or repairs, finding out about it early will help ensure that the work will be done by the time you’re ready to hit the road.

Begin by inspecting the exterior of your RV or camper. Check window seals, outside compartments and access doors to be sure they’re water tight. Keep an eye out for insect and rat nests. Open the awning, making sure the hardware functions properly and the canvas is in good shape. You can lightly oil moving parts using a light oil (don’t oil the sliding lock, however). Examine the tires for worn tread and/or tire rot. Check that the tires are properly inflated. If you have a trailer, repack the wheel bearings. Look underneath your vehicle for any telltale fluid stains. Pop the air conditioning cover on the roof and clean the coils.

Open the doors and windows to let the interior air out. Vacuum and clean the interior. Spread a little baking soda on the carpet before you vacuum to help get rid of any musty smells. Test your smoke alarms, and replace the batteries as needed. Inspect the ceiling for stains. If you see any, you’ll need to run down the leak that caused it.

Under the hood, check all of the fluids, hoses and belts. After sitting all winter, your RV will thank you for giving it an oil and filter change. If you removed your battery in the fall, hook it back up after cleaning the connections and make sure that it has a good charge.

Sanitize your freshwater tank. Begin by draining and flushing it. Fill it most of the way full with with a 64 to 1 mix of water and bleach (quarter cup of bleach to 15 gallons of water). Drive the RV around a bit in order to agitate the mixture. Run your hot water to ensure the mixture gets into the hot water heater. Next, drain and flush the tank again before filling it with a 64 to 1 mix of baking soda and water. Again, drive the RV around a bit and run your hot water. Finally, drain and flush a third time before filling with fresh water.

If you use propane, check this system for leaks. Test all propane-powered appliances.

Don’t forget your generator and tow vehicle. Change oil and filter on both. Perform a check on the exterior, tires, and fluids of the vehicle. Make sure that any towing lights operate correctly and make sure the hitch is secure.

Check all of your safety equipment. Be sure fire extinguishers are charged, first-aid kits are stocked and road flares haven’t expired.

Following these few steps will give you a head start on this year’s trouble-free camping season.

February 23

Motorized Awnings for Fifth Wheels and Travel Trailers

Motorized Awnings for Fifth Wheels and Travel Trailers

Travel'r motorized RV awning

Think that motorized awnings are just for Class A motorhomes?  Think again. The Travel’r 12-volt motorized RV awning is designed with fifth wheels and camping trailers in mind. Don’t think that, just because this awning is for lighter-weight RVs, it scrimps on features. You’ll find that it incorporates many of the same features that you’ll find on the 12-volt Eclipse awning, all at an economical price. The Travel’r uses a wormgear motor, just like the Eclipse, for smooth operation and long-term dependability. The one-touch button operation offers effortless operation. The truss-support arms allow easy access to your patio area while offering superior strength and reliability. When retracted, the arms mount flush to the RV, yielding great looks. An optional Direct Response wind detection system is available for protection from high winds. This system automatically retracts your awning when canopy movement exceeds the predetermined threshold.

You can choose between the steep-pitch and adjustable pitch models. If your RV is taller, you’ll want to consider the steep-pitch model. It has a more compact arm length (great for fifth-wheels), and provides maximum shade. With the adjustable-pitch model, you set the pitch according to your needs at each camping location. Both come with a full 8-foot extension.

The Travel’r comes with your choice of vinyl (including the new premium vinyl) or acrylic fabrics. The acrylic models include your choice of Alumaguard or Uniguard protection. The vinyl comes standard with Weatherguard protection (18oz 1000 denier vinyl), but can be ordered with the Alumaguard or Uniguard as well. Hardware can bo ordered in either black or white.

If you’re looking for a high-quality, economical motorized awning for your travel trailer or fifth-wheel, look no further than the Carefree Travel’r awning.