Nigel HutsonSee other Advice articles filed in ‘General caravan advice’ written by Nigel Hutson
With just a handful of tools, there are plenty of minor DIY repairs you can do on your caravan to save money and keep everything working smoothly. In our regular Practical Caravan DIY mechanic series we give general caravan maintenance advice with easy solutions to common problems. In this articles we're looking at how to fix Seitz caravan blinds and flyscreens when they're not behaving as they should.
Seitz produces two types of combined caravan window blinds and flyscreens: pleated ones and the more popular roller blinds with flyscreens, which have been around longer. Two things can go wrong with these blinds, aside from being ripped. The first problem is that your caravan blind or flyscreen may lose tension, which often occurs when left closed in storage or during towing. Manufacturer handbooks warn against this practice. The other common problem with caravan blinds is that the small plastic hooks that hold them closed may break or come loose.
Both are easy to fix yourself, and the only tools that you will require are a cross-head screwdriver, flat-blade screwdriver, a pair of pliers and a cloth.
If you can gain access to the side of the caravan blind cassette, you may be able to do the jobs with the unit in situ. If not, the first task will be to remove it. If the blind or flyscreen is damaged, you’ll want to replace the whole unit.
Removal is simple. Start by ensuring that the blind and flyscreen are fully retracted (for photographic purposes I left the blinds closed). Unclip both plastic end caps from the blind cassette by gently pulling them towards you and away from the cassette.
Once they are removed, you’ll see two screws at each end of the cassette that hold the unit to the wall; a third is at the bottom of the side runners. Remove the middle screws on each side, and then the bottom ones. Leave the top ones until last to make the assembly easier to handle. Remove the top screws and lift the unit away from the wall.
It may be easier to lay the unit flat on a table or workbench; do so with the inward-facing side face up. If the blind or flyscreen doesn’t roll up properly, re-tension them as follows.
At the top left, at the end of the cassette, you’ll see two slots in the plastic moulding. One is at the end of the blind’s roller, the other the flyscreen’s.
Depending on which has lost tension, insert the flat-blade screwdriver in the appropriate slot. Carefully press in towards the roller and turn the screwdriver clockwise. This will release the tensioner from its holder, so make sure you don’t let it slip off the screwdriver.
Turn the tensioner clockwise through 180˚ to start, then slot it back into its holder and secure by turning it as far as it will go anti-clockwise.
Once secure, test the tension by operating it. If it does not work properly, repeat the process above until it does.
If you let the tensioner slip, you’ll have to do a lot of turning to get the tension back! However, you must not over-tighten the tensioner — to be certain that you don’t, do it in stages, because you only need the blind/flyscreen to have enough tension to retract properly. Over-tightening is likely to damage the mechanism.
Broken or loose hooks
Nylon or plastic hooks at the lower corners of the blind and flyscreen slide through the runners that flank the window. They are pushed into the ends of the aluminium strips along the bottom of the blind/flyscreen.
The hooks are liable to break or simply to slip out of the aluminium strip, which can happen repeatedly. Here’s how to remedy both situations.
If you have broken hooks you will want to replace them. Fortunately, new ones are readily available at caravan dealers. You can do this with either the entire unit off the wall or in situ.
Start by removing the broken bit of the hook in the end of the aluminium strip. Although the hooks slot easily into the ends, you may need to work out the remaining piece. Examine the replacement hook to see how it fits in place. Simply press the new one in the end of the aluminium strip. Be careful not to damage the aluminium.
For loose hooks, here's a simple repair. Wrap the end of the aluminium strip in a piece of cloth to protect it. Gently close the end with a pair of pliers, being careful not to squeeze too hard, which would make it difficult to fit the hook.
Don’t try to secure the hooks with glue because one of two things will happen: either the glue will fail and you’ll be back to square one, or the glue will be too effective, making removal extremely difficult should the hook break in the future.
Once the blind/flyscreen is tensioned correctly or the hook has been fitted, reattach the blind to the wall. Refit the screws in the reverse order to the way they were removed. The top two screws will hold the unit in place as you secure the other four.
Once the unit is fitted, test it to make sure it operates properly. If all’s well, clip the end caps back in place and the job is complete.