Friday, February 15, 2013

Carefree of Colorado Vacation'R Screen Room


Vacation'R 17ft add-a-room screenhouse in Texas

                      Installing a Carefree of Colorado Vacation’R add-on room

     I fit the Carefree Vacation’R add-on screen room to my 1999 Coachman model 249QB 24 foot travel trailer. The critical measurement for determining the correct size room is end of roller tube to end of roller tube. Mine is 16 ft 7 in, so I purchased a 17 foot room. Carefree has taken great pains to insure that no permanent fixing of hardware to the RV is necessary to install this room.There is a set-up video at the end of this post.
    Original installation notes: The rail clips are a bit tricky, there are two brackets and two self-tapping screws for each one. They mount to the awning rail and are absolutely essential to the hanging of the side panels and the wall seal. It took some trial and error to find the right combination of the pieces. The installation notes and drawings are quite good, though.
This is a rail clip properly mounted on the awning rail

   The zipper inserts are the next step. Roll out the awning and set it up to the desired height. My roller tube is seven feet from the ground. The inserts slide into the roller tube at the slot access opening. Here I ran into some major trouble. My roller tube had no open slot access where it was needed. This will not be a problem on a properly installed tube. Mine had been replaced. So I had to make my own slot access with a drill and Dremel cutting wheel. I  only mention this so that a new user confirms that their roller tube has a access opening for the zipper inserts.
The zipper inserts slide nicely into the slot access

   Slide the inserts in all the way to the end, and hang the front pieces. The little black plastic hangers on the long zipper insert must face outward. My awning is 17ft so I have three pieces to zip in: an extension, then the very long main front panel (hanging it first by the three above-mentioned hangers and then zipping it in), and then the door. This part is easy and fun actually. In their design, Carefree makes these panels very long vertically.  Even with my awning set up at 7 feet, there is an extra 2 feet of material left over for the really high awnings. Note: the door can be completely removed and in many cases that is handy, especially if I'm in and out repeatedly.
   The side panels are easy to install as well. Initially, one has to determine which pitch setting to use: shallow or steep. Mine is shallow, so I zipped the panels up for that application. After that I have always just left them that way. Attach the bungee and ball around the roller tube on the outside edge and the hook on the RV side goes into the rail clip. The side panel top tucks underneath the awning and clips onto it in three places. Now stake the entire room into the ground. Start with the long front wall. A level is useful here to insure the walls are vertical. The typical set-up does require a grassy surface. I wonder about using the room sometime under very still conditions on asphalt, concrete or gravel, perhaps with some sort of weigh attached in place of the stakes.
Side panel attaches with bungee on one end and clips onto rail on the other

    Now comes the wall seal. One end of the wall seal hangs from the rail clip on top and the other to a stake staked into the ground slightly under the RV. Note this seal is somewhat less than truly a seal. There will be a gap, especially up toward the top, where it mounts onto the rail clip. This is a simple matter of engineering. The seal can’t contact the upper wall when it mounts away from the wall on top. The bottom is better, since the stake is under the camper. Repeat on the other side and now all that’s left are details.
    With the room now up, the skirt can now be installed along the bottom of the RV. Once again, Carefree has provided a method where no drilling into the RV is necessary. This panel can be hung on adhesive-backed hangers mounted every 18 inches along the RV side-wall.
   I have used the room four or five times now and I am very pleased with it over-all. Twice now I have taken the screen room down under very windy five minutes in the dark. This can be an issue in places like Corpus Christi, Texas.  I simply put it back up in less than 10 minutes the next day when the winds died down.
   The critical measurement when buying an add-on-room is the length of the awning, from one end of the roller tube to the other.


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  2. Thanks for the insights. I just bought this (16'-17') screen room for a 5th wheel that has 20' awning. Paid only about 20% retail and it is like-new condition. I assume it is too short for my awning. The door piece is ~30" long. If I acquire another door piece, it will be 6" short of the awning length. Will this be close enough?

  3. Very helpful! Thanks!

  4. If you want to know more about how vacation guide books can serve you, you can read Route 66, Traveler's Guide and Roadside Companion by Tom Snyder. www.mybahamasvacations

  5. Awesome review.. lots of great details.. they help with picking the right one.. so many to choose.. thanks again.