…were designed to accommodate what’s known as a pole-and-rope awning made of fabric. It attaches to the trailer by means of what’s called an awning rail; this is usually a narrow strip of metal with a channel in it to hold the awning’s edge.
How Does a Pole and Rope Awning Work?
One side of the awning fabric has a rounded edge which slides into a hollow track mounted on the side of the trailer (sometimes called the awning rail). The awning rail is an aluminum channel shaped like a C (if you look at it from the side).
Vintage pole & rope awnings were used almost universally from the 1940s into the 1970s. They are installed only when in use and are taken down and stored when traveling.
Because it’s nearly impossible to find original vintage camper awnings, it may be a better idea to either fabricate your own, new awning or have one made to order.
Where to Buy a Vintage Camper Awning
The Internet has allowed many vintage trailer owners to connect with other enthusiasts who also make hard-to-find awnings for these types of campers.
Marti’s Awnings out of Chico, California specializes in custom vintage trailer awnings. She says that,
I’ve been in the sewing business my entire life, including 30 years of owning an auto/boat and aircraft upholstery business. (No, I don’t do that work anymore. No cushions. No curtains!) I’ve been making trailer awnings professionally since 2008.
According to her website, she’s amassed quite the inventory of hard-to-find Sunbrella and Dickson fabrics.
Kristi from Vintage Awnings, has made vintage trailer awnings out of the popular Sunbrella fabric since 2007. She also uses marine-grade pull cords and heavy duty brass grommets in her work.
Some of Kristi’s awning designs as sent in by customers.
Kristi says that,
It takes approximately a week to ten days to make a vintage trailer awning, depending on the size.
According to her website, you can expect to pay anywhere from $175 to $600 for a vintage awning, with the wide range based on size. A 20′ by 9′ Airstream awning is going to cost a lot more than a smaller 6′ by 6′ tin can trailer awning.
Pole and rope awnings are simple to install, cheap, and durable (since you can remove them!). Unlike expensive automatically actuated awnings there are no moving parts, and you can take the awning off completely during transit or during particularly windy or stormy weather.