It’s rare that I swear on this blog, but this time I will make an exception and here’s why – somebody tried to steal, or vandalize, our ZipDee awning, in the process causing serious damage to our beautiful Airstream.
I noticed something what strange when I visited the trailer two days before we were setting out on our summer trip to Long Point. We store the trailer with RV Park and Go just north of Hamilton, in a secure lot, hidden well away from the street and prying eyes.
Because of our travels to Europe this year, we had not used the Airstream as much as we usually would have done. I decided to drop by two days before we were setting off for a week’s camping in Long Point to make sure our batteries were charged, tire pressure ok, that we had propane on board. When walking around the trailer, I noticed that one of the securing wheels on the awning was missing, and one of the supporting arms was out of its holder. At the time I thought that somebody had stolen the wheel itself, which was annoying, but not the end of the world as these are easily replaced.
I figured that all I had to do was get a replacement shipped, and thought nothing more of it.
Until, that is, we arrived at the campground and started to set up. If you own a ZipDee awning, you know that the one thing you never, ever, do is to let it snap back when packing up. Doing so can drive the fabric handle all the way underneath the front roller, making it difficult, if not impossible, to pull the awning forward again.
This is exactly what I found. Somebody had pulled out the awning, then snapped it back. Using wires, and pliers, I finally managed to free the handle and then pulled – only for the entire right side of the awning to come flying towards me, free from the support arm and ripping almost the entire awning support off the trailer, rivets pinging in all directions.
A ZipDee awning on a 34′ trailer is about 25′ long. Its heavy, too heavy to be stopped by one person. The weight ripped the rivets connecting the top of the awning to the trailer right out. The left arm was still connected and stopped the entire awning come out, but the damage was done.
Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures, but it wasn’t a pretty sight. Somebody, for whatever reason, had started dismantling the awning, then either gave up or got interrupted. When we pulled the awning out, the damage unfolded.
So here we were, just arrived, with three little kids and a trailer full of holes. My first thought was that rain was predicted for the next day, my second that CanAm RV was about an hour and a half away, so we should just pack the kids back into the car and tow the trailer up to London, then head home and cancel the holidays.
But cooler headed prevailed. A neighbour, who had seen the damage, rushed over with an offer of help, step ladders and tools. Together, we freed the remains of mangled metal and fabric, sawed off a drain and sealed the holes created with a tube of silicone that he had on board.
Because of the immense force generated by the awning ripping free, the holes were relatively clean, small and easily plugged – thank God for small mercies.
RV Park and Go responded to a terse, out of office hours, voicemail within ten minutes and are currently checking their security camera recordings. The silicone plugs survived a rainstorm and we’re booked to drop the trailer off with CanAm RV on Saturday. Our insurance will most likely cover the damage and I hope that the old awning, which was in great condition, can be repaired and reused.
I’ll be updating this post as developments warrant. Right now, my main question is: Why? Was this another Airstream owner, there are several parked on the same lot, who needed a spare part for his own awning? Did I make an enemy, towing with a minivan, who wanted to teach me a lesson by vandalizing my trailer? It wasn’t a bunch of kids, that’s for sure – they would have just smashed a window, or let a tire down. This was a targeted, precise, operation. But why? Unless the security cameras caught the act, I guess we’ll never know.