Awning Installation

Fiamma F45S

The Fiamma F45S awning is to be installed on the side of the camper van conversion; the Fiamma F65S awning is to be installed on the roof of the campervan. We opted for the F45S because we had the solar panels on the roof and because we liked the awning to be on the side of the van. We could not find any documentation on the F45S installation specific to the Ford Transit, but we gave it a try anyway.

The awning comes with the “generic” installation kit so we ordered the kit specific to the high-roof Ford Transit (which seems in fact to be for the Europeans Ford Transit, but we had it working on our new-world Transit version).

Adapter kit manual here (pdf)

F45S awning manual here (pdf)

Fiamma High-Roof Ford Transit Kit vs Generic Kit

Fiamma High-Roof Ford Transit Kit vs Generic Kit

We were somewhat disappointed with the kit which only consist of 2 aluminum adapter plates and some wood screws; installed directly on the van, these plates will scratch the paint for sure (because of the mating surface) and welcome corrosion in the future.

Fiamma F45S installation kit mating surface

 

In addition, we did not like the idea of using “wood” blocks (or equivalent) on the inside of the vehicle as suggested by the Fiamma manual (it is impractical anyway because the support surface is not flat and there are structure components too). We needed to complete the kit ourselves with the material shown below. Even with the specific installation kit, this job is not “plug-and-play” at all; there is some craftsmanship involved, but anyone could do it armed with patience and attention to details.

 

TIME SPENT ON THE JOB: 6-8 hours

 

TOTAL COST : 1300$ USD

 

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MATERIAL:

Van Conversion Fiamma F45S Awning Material

 

TOOLS:

 

HOW WE DID IT*

*Disclaimer: we’re good, but not that much. Use these instructions at your own risks!

 

RULES ARE MADE TO BE FOLLOWED

First rule: The adapter plate must be located on the “Support” stickers, on the back of the awning.

Fiamma F45S support Installation

 

Second rule: The awning must be installed “vertically” (that’s the role of the adapter plates anyway)

Fiamma F45S Orientation

 

Third rule: The awning must be installed straight for the mechanism to work.

Fiamma F45S Straight Installation

 

 

 

First of all, we asked a friend to come at our place to have a beer. Shortly after, we informed him of the Fourth rule: no beer until the job is done.

 

Then, to protect our sexy van, we applied some painter’s tape at the approximate location of the adapter plates.

Fiamma F45S installation painter tape

 

We located the adapter plates at the “support” stickers and taped them to the awning.

Fiamma F45S installation support

 

The awning should be able to clear the sliding door during deployment. We partially deployed the awning (0.75 meter), hold the awning on the van and marked the height.

Awning Height

 

Then we located the forward-and-aft position of the awning. Ideally, we wanted the awning to cover the door area completely. Two persons located and held the awning in place while the third person marked the location of the adapter plates on the van.

Fiamma F45S installation aft forward

 

The awning is quite heavy and awkward to work with. So we first located and installed (using only 2 screws) the rear adapter plate (so we don’t have to carry the weight of the awning when we located the forward plate).

Fiamma F45S installation rear plate fixed 2 screws

 

Then we fine-tuned the level of the awning by using mixed techniques (measuring tape, string, eye-leveling) and marked the location of the forward plate. Every people involved had a different opinion. We fought. There was no more rules here.

 

We fixed the forward plate with only 2 screws and checked the awning fitting on both adapter plates. We ensured the three rules were followed. Nice.

 

Next, all holes were drilled through the van using the adapter plates as template. As usual to prevent corrosion, primer, paint & clear coat was applied to bare surfaces.

 

We cleaned the van surfaces with isopropyl alcohol and applied the 3M anti-erosion tape. The tape is actually very strong, so we punctured it at hole locations so the screws would go through.

 

We found that the mating surface of the Ford Transit adapter plates is not ideal (the surface of the generic kit is fine); to help distribute the load, we fabricated aluminum strips from a 0.062” thick sheet. This should help not to damage the erosion tape in the long run.

Fiamma F45S installation kit mating surface

Fiamma F45S installation alu strips

0.062″ thick aluminum strips ready to be painted

 

We pre-installed the 8 screws and the aluminum strip on the rear adapter plate. To prevent screws from falling, we put painter’s tape (duct tape works better) over the screws head. Then we applied Sikaflex (that’s a polyurethane sealant, as recommended per OEM manual) around the screws shank.

Fiamma F45S installation Sikaflex

Applying Sikaflex on the bolt shank

The rear plate was fitted.

Fiamma F45S installation rear adapter plate

Fiamma F45S installation rear plate fit tape

 

The hardware inside the van is as follows: rubber washer (to protect the van), fender washer (oversized outside diameter for better load distribution), lock washer & nut.

Fiamma F45S installation inside stackup

(photo taken prior to drilling all holes; there should be 8 holes here!)

 

At this point, the rear plate is fixed permanently; minor adjustments are performed on the forward plate in the subsequent steps. 

 

The front adapter plate installation is similar, except the roof as a nice (but unpractical to work with) double-curvature in this area… the surface mating with the 4 screws in the back of the plate is almost flat, but then the surface at 4 forward screws is definitely not flat. We needed to shim the adapter plate somehow. We figured a stack up of washers would do the trick.*

*Technical talk: in a pure shear-type application, increasing the stack up will also increase the moment on the fastener and this might not be acceptable (depending on the context). In our installation, the shear load comes mostly  from the weight of the awning and the 8 screws per plate will provide adequate support. The worst load case is probably the bending moment coming from an opened awning; in this case, the fasteners are mostly tension-loaded or compression-loaded and, we believe, it is acceptable to have such a big washers stack up. 

Washer Stackup

(this photo was taken after the installation)

 

Before sealing permanently (with Sikaflex), make sure to check that the awning will fit on BOTH adapter plates. The awning does not allow to plates to be off: the parallelism and alignment between the two plates must be almost perfect so adjust, check, re-adjust (by adding or removing washer), re-check, until perfect.

 

After the plates are fastened for good and the awning is fitted on the plates, it is still time to slightly fine-tune the forward and aft location of the awning. Then, 4 screws will be used to lock the awning in place. The adapter plates are pre-drilled, but the awning is not. Drill-it. We had to slightly re-locate the forward screws because it would interfere with the mechanism.

Fiamma F45S installation forward and aft locking

 

That’s it! We made it!

IMG_20160716_070512-01

 

 

ON SECOND THOUGHT…

After the installation, we realized that there is a gap between the van and the Fiamma F45S; this gap will allow some rain to go through as opposed to the F65S (which is installed on the roof). No big deal, we will eventually install something to close this gap. We would still choose the F45S over the F65S, but it’s good to be aware of this detail before buying it!

Fiamma F45S gap

 

UPDATE:

We ordered 4 meters of the Fiamma Rain Guard “L” (9cm width) seal through this eBay Store.

It took less than an hour to install. The seal really snap into the awning, feel very secure and has a “OEM” look.

We got heavy rain and it did what it’s suppose to do, except locally at one place above the sliding door where there is a few drops leaking. Not a big deal, we might add a tiny bit of sealant between the seal and the van to complete the installation.

Fiamma Rain Guard Cross Section

Fiamma Rain Guard

 

 

 

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ABOUT US

Hello! We’re Isabelle and Antoine, a couple dreaming of being on the move and we’re seeking for the ride of our life. We bought a Ford Transit van, we’re converting it to a campervan and we are now selling our house to make our dream a reality. We are sharing this in hope of inspiring and helping others to follow their dreams too!

 

 

CHEERS!

 

 

12 comments

  1. Comment by Patrick

    Patrick Reply August 17, 2016 at 5:57 pm

    I Bought a Fiamma and just finished installing. Really happy with it. It was a challenge as I didn’t get it delivered until two days before going on trip to Utah where we needed sunshade…

    anyhow I wanted to mention that Fiamma has a special rubber gasket that you install to close the gap between the unit and your wall. Go to their accesories pab=ge and you’l find 3 products, depending on the application. I had to buy all three (as they vary in width) in order to handle the curve of the Transit relative to the straight edge of the Fiamma.

    I did make a point of installing plywood backers (on the inside) to help distribute the load more evenly across the sheet metal. esp. with possible gust of wind that would come to torque the whole system. I would consider doing that if you still have access. I bought the stake down system to avoid uplift and also installed the little clips that allow you to 45 degree the legs back to the vehicle. The rear one was a bear since I had to cut into the plastic side panel and mount to the frame fro strength…..boy all the details…what a time suck but worth it when you get each one done and checked off the list!

    • Comment by admin

      admin Reply August 18, 2016 at 7:38 am

      Patrick,
      I can’t find the rubber gasket you are referring to… i went to the accessories page here.

      We did order the Rain Guard L (9cm) afterward to close the gap between the awning and the van, since there is some rain passing through. The Rain Guard is on its way so we did not installed it yet.

      This is an expensive and time consuming add-on to the van, but it is so worth it!

  2. Comment by Patrick

    Patrick Reply August 18, 2016 at 1:07 pm

    The rain guard is what I was referring to. Sorry I wasn’t using the correct terminology. I ended up having to purchase S (about 8 ft) 3 feet of M and 3 feet of L. It looks like we used different brackets. I used the factory brackets (3 of them) so my gap for most of it is probably less than yours, thus the S rain guard woked for 2/3 of the length.

  3. Comment by Paul Fox

    Paul Fox Reply September 3, 2016 at 5:51 pm

    thanks for the excellent writeup on your awning. always good to see what someone else has had to do before doing it oneself!

    patrick — do you have pictures of your install? the more the merrier. 🙂

    • Comment by admin

      admin Reply September 5, 2016 at 9:55 pm

      Good luck with your install!!

  4. Comment by Martin

    Martin Reply December 9, 2016 at 2:33 pm

    Avez-vous acheté l’auvent directement sur leur site ou il y a un distributeur au canada? Merci!

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply December 9, 2016 at 2:42 pm

      Sur leur site (par email) pour avoir exactement le modèle qu’on voulait. Je n’ai pas trouvé d’autres distributeurs au Canada et acheter aux USA ne vallait pas la peine.

      J’ai vu ta van sur Flickr, génial! Vous vous en servez pas mal?
      a+

      • Comment by Martin

        Martin Reply February 6, 2017 at 8:40 pm

        Salut Antoine! j’avais remarqué que vous aviez jeté un oeil sur notre van dans votre section inspiration 🙂 Notre van c’est notre bébé (en fait notre 3e!) nous passons pas mal de temps dedans et notre ti-gars y fait toujours mieux dodo! 🙂 Elle est présentement remisé pour l’hiver et avec ma conjointe on travail sur un nouveau projet! Je vais probablement vous contacter prochainement à ce sujet. Merci pour l’info et wow pour votre site et la van en construction! Excellent travail! Je sais pas si c’est votre première van, mais je vous averti on devient accroc! a+ Martin

        • Comment by Antoine

          Antoine Reply February 6, 2017 at 8:48 pm

          🙂
          J’avais trouvé ton Flickr durant nos recherches, alors que tout ça était juste un plan… j’ai vraiment aimé ton layout et le craftmanship! Good job!

          C’est notre première van en effet. Accroc? Oui, notre vie tourne juste autour de la van maintenant! Mais y’a une grosse partie de moi-même qui a hâte de décrocher et juste de pouvoir en profiter! Je m’ennuie de ma vie d'”avant”!

          Nouveau projet? Tu m’intrigues. N’hésite pas à me contacter! Je suis de nature curieuse (et pas trop patient).

          A+!
          antoine

  5. Comment by Martin

    Martin Reply February 6, 2017 at 8:46 pm

    fiammausa right?

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