How To Trash One Side of Your Airstream

Broken Window and Awning

It’s really quite easy. I’ve done it. Put your awning out in the rain and don’t have one end of it a lot lower than the other end. When the awning fills up with water, the awning supports will snap and the pieces attached to the spring mechanism will spin around and thrash the aluminum on the side of your trailer. It sounds like your tailer has been hit by lightning and it shakes the heck out everything. Quite exhilarating, expensive and is best experienced on the second day of your vacation. I know.

Snapped Awning Support

Oh yeah, the collapsed awning also broke a window in our bedroom.

It was the 2nd day of our 2 week vacation to Moss Landing. We were at El Chorro Campground and it was pouring rain. We’d gotten there the day before in the afternoon and the weather was gorgeous. Over night it clouded up and rained. In the morning, just after we got up, the awning supports snapped. Of course the campsite we were in was on a hill and a water-mud slurry was coursing through it. I could hardly stand up as I took apart the awning. I recruited one of the camp hosts to help but he wasn’t very mechanical and mostly just provided moral support. My wife stepped up and provided the muscle needed to hold things in place as I took them apart. Luckily, after I removed the awning supports seen above, I was able to roll the awning up and lock it in place despite the fact it was slightly warped in the middle. I would have had to cut it off if I was unable to roll it up. I duct taped a piece of black plastic trash bag over the broken window. Duct tape will fix anything and I always have some handy. Don’t leave home without it.

Here’s a couple of pictures a few days later from another campground. I wasn’t in the mood to take any the day it happened and my family had the foresight not to suggest it. The lighting doesn’t bring out the scratches and dents (as a matter of fact, the trailer looks pretty good) but they are there and ugly up close.

Broken Window and Awning
Window Replaced, Waiting for Aluminum Panels and Awning

The picture above was taken a month after our vacation to Moss Landing, during a camping trip, while waiting for the Airstream dealer to get the replacement aluminum panels and new awnings. We weren’t going to miss camping trips just because of some dents and a missing awning. Note the nice big dent between the door and front window.

The bill was around $23,000.00. Aluminum panels on these trailers aren’t cheap.  Most of the panels on the door side of the trailer were replaced due to scratches and dents. Our deductible is $1,500.00 so I feel we got off fairly easy. We did decide to upgrade our awnings at this time by adding new awnings on the driver side of the trailer and over the back window. In addition, we picked a blue striped fabric Zip Dee offers to replace the stock grey one that comes with the trailer. The new awnings look very nice. The blue stripes really pop out next to the aluminum.


I’ve noticed that the newly installed large awning over the door appears to be mounted higher over the door and a bit lower at the back of the trailer. There definitely is more slope when the awning is opened, before I adjust it. I will add even more slope when it looks rainy from now on.


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