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  Awnings and Backbox


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Read about our Autosleepers Symbol   Experiences and  modifications

Fitting a Fiamma Ultrabox 180 back box

Our Symbol came with a Fiamma cycle rack fitted to the rear offside door but we decided a back box would be more useful for our extended tours as when we took a bike it was rarely used as we aren't keen cyclists.

To keep use of the rear opening door, essential when in very hot places, I purchased another set of mounting brackets for the nearside door so that the rack can be mounted there, with the bike rails removed. The backbox is bolted to the rack tubing using the supplied U bolts and interior plates - although one plate required re-drilling as the holes didn't line up!

In order to mount the box on the fold-down tube two short wooden spacer beams made from planed 2"x2" were fitted to provide support for the box.

Additionally I fitted a modified "trailer board" with illuminated number plate and lights (but no triangle reflectors and the offside amber flasher disabled) as I felt the rack very slightly obscured the number plate and nearside rear light cluster when viewed from an angle (a 45 degree cone I believe) and I didn't want to be caught out by overzealous law enforcers. I also fitted a warning panel to the box for the benefit of Italian laws 

Although there is only a small area of vision through the nearside rear window on this van anyway I have fitted an additional interior mirror to the top offside of the windscreen which I have found invaluable for covering the blindspot 

van with backbox
Ready to move off from Lago di Ledro near Riva del Garda Italy with back box packed

Our first "awning"

We looked at drive-away awnings but they were too large and bulky so we bought a cheap dome tent which proved to be ok for giving us extra space when pitched on a site and was quick to put up, reasonably light (12kg) and fitted in our back box. The tent had fully opening centre section on both sides so could be clipped to the channel above the side door. Th oly problem with this compared to a full annex was the lack of windows. We only erected one of the inner tents to provide a dry area

tent awning
first trial of "awning" on a hard standing
motorhome with awning
         awning erected on a tight pitch in Italy
Our latest "Awning"

As we have travelled around we noticed especially in Europe that many caravanners have  small stand-alone annex tents for additional storage and for use as an outdoor kitchen. We looked at these in some dealers and found that they were too large and heavy for us with steel frames and heavy canvas but we discovered a suitable alternative - the Outhouse made by Outdoor Revolution This is basically similar to the double width toilet tents that used to be around but with a double zipped door opening and a rear window. It is extremely light at 3.3Kg and folds down to compact bag. It has pre-formed fibreglass poles and we found it could be put up in 10 to 15 minutes. Pity the colours aren't a bit brighter!
We have only used it a couple of times so far but it will get an extended trial in our 2008 tour.

We have also bought a Reimo sun canopy and fitted a proper slide through awning rail to the tihitop having checked with Autosleepers where the reinforcing area is located. This has provided plenty of shade on the few times we've put it up. Obviously not as convenient as a roll-out awning but only takes a few minutes to put up with four pegs. 
Both these items were purchased from Riversway Leisure at Preston and we haven't seen them at other dealers

outhouse awning
            First trial of the "Outhouse"
Reimo awning
                    Reimo awning and tent
Update Feb 2012

Although our latest van has a Fiamma roll out awning we still take the Outhouse with us as it provides useful storage if we are staying put for a few days and also reserves our pitch. We are also reluctant to use the Fiamma awning if there is any hint of windy weather or heavy rain although I have made tie-down straps using small ratchet straps bungees and dog anchors! 

Previous Tips

Fitting deadlocks to our Peugeot Boxer/Autosleeper Symbol

Fitting an Omni-bike  carrier to an Elddis Eclipse 

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