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.

February 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.

February 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.

February 9

Let’s Cover Some Boat Types – Jet Boats

Let’s Cover Some Boat Types – Jet Boats

Want to have some real fun? Consider hopping a ride on a jet boat.

jet boatActually, a jet boat is any boat propelled by a jet of water thrust from the back of the craft as opposed to the more traditional propeller. Waterjet propulsion can be found in a variety of  high-speed applications, including military boats, rescue craft and passenger ferries. However, when most people speak about jet boats, they are speaking about the sport boats made by companies like Yamaha and Sea-Doo.

Jet boats offer exceptional hole-shot acceleration and are more efficient than prop-driven boats at high speeds. (There’s no struts, rudders, shafts, etc. on a jet boat to add to the drag.)

Jet boats are extremely maneuverable. It’s quite common for a jet boat to be able to turn 180 degrees within its own length, and many can be wiggled sideways into a berth only a little larger than the boat. Byjet drive v stern drive using a deflector to equalize forward and reverse thrust, a jet boat can even turn while standing still. Try that with a prop-driven boat.

Another advantage is that jet boats have a very shallow draught. Most jet boats have the jet nozzle located above the waterline (which, though counter-intuitive, actually increases performance). This means that none of the propulsion system sticks out below the hull. With a shallow-angled hull, a river-going jet boat might have a draught of 12″ or less.

Finally, jet boats are considered to be safer for swimmers and marine life. There’s no moving parts underneath the hull to injur them. Of course, there’s still the hull to consider.

With all of these advantages, why doesn’t everyone own a jet boat? There are a few disadvantages, as well.

The water intake of a jet boat can suck up weeds and debris. Even a protective grate can’t stop it all. Foreign matter can disrupt the flow of water, greatly decreasing the drive’s efficiency and potentially damaging the impeller and other mechanical parts of the drive. Prop-driven boats are more efficient at low speeds. Furthermore, with less water pumping through the jet drive, slow speed maneuverability takes a hit. (This can be overcome by lowering the deflector a bit and increasing the motor’s RPM, but only at a cost of efficiency.)

If you decide to purchase a “sport” jet boat, be aware that there’s lots of vinyl in the interior. More so than for many other types of boats, you’ll want to cover the boat when not in use. Boat Covers Online offers a line of semi-custom covers designed for jet boats. You can look up your boat online, or give us a call at 800-780-8677.

February 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.

January 29

Installing Your Boat Cover

Installing Your Boat Cover for the First Time

Your new boat cover has arrived and you’re anxious to see how it fits. That’s understandable, but slow down and take your time, especially when trying it out for the first time. If, for some reason, you need to return your cover, it needs to be in its original condition. Covers that are not in new condition are not eligible for exchange or credit.
Never use a knife to open the box that your cover arrives in. One slip, and the fabric might have a new hole in it. At best, you’ll incur the cost of a repair. At worst, the cover might be rendered unusable.
Once the box is open, you’ll see that the boat cover is wrapped up like a sleeping bag. The bow end is on the outside of the roll. You’ll find the product tag sewn on the inside of the hem. Follow the instructions below for proper installation:


  1. Place the cover on or near the bow of your boat. From there, you can unroll it down the center of your boat towards the transom.
  2. Once the cover is unfurled, slip the front end over the bow. Work your way towards the back of the boat, pulling the cover open to the sides as you go.
  3. Before you finish covering your boat, position any support poles that you will be using. If you are installing any reinforcement fabric (for trolling motors, windshields, etc), position, cut and apply it now.
  4. Pull the cover taut. You don’t want areas to sag, as this can cause water or snow to pool, shortening the life of your cover and possibly allowing water to seep inside the boat.
  5. Once you are satisfied with the positioning, you can use rope, bungee or tie-downs (sold separately) to secure the cover to your trailer.
  6. To remove the cover, begin by folding the sides to the center, then roll it up from back to front. This way, you can follow the above procedure again the next time you need to cover your boat.


January 22

Premium Vinyl for RV Awnings

Premium Vinyl for RV Awnings


For years, rv awning owners have been deciding between standard vinyl and woven acrylic when it comes time to replace their awning canopy. Both of these fabrics have their advantages and disadvantages.

The standard vinyl is good looking and, being less expensive than the acrylic, is the most popular choice. Our vinyl awning replacement canopies are made with 13.5oz vinyl, are single-hemmed with traditional fabric thread and carry a 1-year warranty.

Some think that woven acrylic has a more elegant look. It provides greater durability and resistance to fading and staining. Most woven acrylics come with a 10-year fabric warranty. However, all this comes with a significantly higher price tag when compared to standard vinyl.

Now there’s a third choice on the market. Premium vinyl is now being offered with almost all of our vinyl RV awnings and vinyl awning replacement canopies. The construction is more rugged, using double hems and double stitches. The fabric itself is more durable, made as it is with 15oz vinyl and embedded with antimicrobial agents. Tenara thread is used throughout. Tenara is the strongest thread on the market, resistant to UV, hot, cold, acids, and bleach. It’s so strong that Tenara offers a lifetime warranty. As for the premium vinyl, its warranty equals that of the acrylic at 10 years.

The premium vinyl is available in Chocolate, Charcoal or Indigo stripes. The stripes for companion awnings are proportionally smaller to give a finished look. This just might be the perfect combination of looks, durability and price.

January 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.


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.


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.


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 We’d love to see it.

January 15

RV Awnings 101

RV Awnings 101

You are now the first-time proud owner of an rv awning. You know absolutely nothing about it. No problem. We’re here to help.

The first thing you should do is read your awning installation and owner manuals. If anything is unclear, call the dealer or manufacturer and ask questions.

If you are installing the awning, be aware that the two bottom brackets bear most of the weight. These brackets are mounted on or just above the floorline. Be sure that any holes you make while mounting the awning are properly sealed so that no water can get through. Don’t use a power screwdriver to affix brackets. They can apply too much torque.

When your awning is extended, its two biggest enemies are wind and rain. If your awning is 17ft wide or wider, we strongly recommend using a center rafter. The rafter helps control billowing and aids in water runoff. Also, pitch one end of the awning lower than the other, creating a slope so that water can flow off the fabric. It’s best to have the lower end be away from your RV’s entrance so that any puddles that form won’t translate into muddy tracks inside the RV. Also, be sure to to make the canopy as taut as possible when you extend it.

The best way to protect your awning from wind and rain is to roll it up in inclement weather. Because bad weather can surprise you, it’s best to stow your awning in the travel position each night plus any time during the day when everyone will be away. Straps or clamps are available that you can use when the awning is extended to help minimize billowing.

How much wind is too much? It can vary, but gusts are more destructive than sustained winds. Note that higher end RV awnings have built-in wind detectors that automatically retract the awning when winds reach a specific speed. Usually, the owner can set the speed for when detector activates.

When you roll the awning up, double check that it is locked in place. More than once, we’ve heard of an awning coming loose and opening up on a rolling RV. Needless to say, this can cause extensive damage to the awning.

There’s not a lot of work involved when it comes to RV Awning maintenance. If you lubricate the frame (inside the arms, for example), use pure silicon spray only. Never use WD40 or machine oils. And never, never lubricate the brake mechanism. Clean the awning, top and bottom, once every two or three months. Leave the awning open until the fabric is completely dry.

A little time and education can lead to years of enjoyment sitting in the shade under your RV awning.