September 23, 2015

Day-Night Shade Adjustment & Re-Stringing

By: Rob Lowe

Featured Picture

I have included a series of photos in a PDF file that you can refer to as you read this blog posting.

Shade Repair Photos  It should add some clarity to a number of points. The order may be slightly out of sequence however the slides will aid you if you decide to repair the blind yourself.

Many RVers, who have ‘Day-Night’ or pleated shades in their RV, become frustrated when a string in the shade breaks or the blind goes out of adjustment (See Slide 1). Of course, the initial reaction is understandable since the shade no longer functions as designed. However with a little effort, the blind can be operational in no time. If all the strings are in good condition and not broken, then usually all that is required is to properly adjust the tension of the individual strings in the shade. Check out TechTip #49 on our website to learn more about how to adjust blinds that have the older style ‘bobbins’ used on many RVs. I’ll discuss adjustment of the newer ‘bobbin’ style later in this article.

Of course, the key to the repair of a broken string is having the required string and other parts available when needed. United Shade makes and sells a First Aid Blind Repair Kit (shown in Slide 7 and available on our website). By keeping one in our RV, we eliminate the need to find one when needed. I recommend being prepared since you never know when you will need to replace a string.

Fabric shades are attached to a lambrequin (or decorative frame enclosure) by screws screwed into the top of the blind (Slide 4). This lambrequin is attached to the RV wall by one of two methods. When the blind is below a cabinet, it is screwed into the bottom of the cabinet, using two to four, typically Phillips head screws. Often a long screwdriver will be required to access them given the narrow space between the shade and the lambrequin or the wall (Slide 5). In addition, the screw heads may not be visible because they are covered by the lambrequin material (Slide 2). The sides are attached to the wall by screws using a small ‘L’ bracket (Slide 3). If the window shade is free standing, (without a cabinet above), then the top is also attached by screws into ‘L’ brackets at the top.

To begin the repair process, I recommend removing the lambrequin as a unit from the wall and laying it on a table face down while the screws holding the shade to the lambrequin are removed (Slide 7 &10). The side string retainers will also need to be removed (Slide 11). To do the actual restringing you will require a sewing needle to feed the new string through the holes in the blind. United Shade has produced an excellent set of instructions, which we have scanned and they are available by clicking on this link:

Blinds Repair instructions

Before you can access the strings you will need to remove the plastic end caps on each section (Slides 12-17). Slide each blind section out of the metal channels (Slide 18 & 19). Follow the instructions in the kit and notice that the string crosses over in the middle section and exits on the opposite side after each section (Slides 20, 21 & 22). Begin by measuring a piece of string as mentioned in the instructions longer than the original and tie with a double knot this string to the original spring (or a new one if the original is not usable). Using a sewing needle to draw the string through each section (Slides 23 & 24), crossing the string in the first metal section between the night and the day section (Slide 25). Pull the string through the day section (Slide 26) and remove the needle. Do the same for the other string(s). When the restringing is complete, then slide night section into the upper metal channel and repeat for the day section (Slide 27 & 28). Guide the left and right string across the lower metal channel designed as a hand grip and feed through the channel end with the holes in them (29 & 30). Install the blind back in the lambrequin (Slide 33 & 34) and reverse the initial steps to remount on over the window. Follow the directions in the next section to adjust the blind. Note: While many shades coming on an RV are installed with a lot of tension when, in reality, all that is required is enough tension to hold the shade up with the tension being equalized on each string so that it can be moved up evenly side to side.

I recently had the opportunity to repair a set of ‘night-only’ shades and these instructions together with the little ferrules (to protect the string going through the metal sections) and the newer style "bobbin” retainers made the task very straightforward. (This shade was a four string version which are more difficult to adjust than the two string shades). These retainers are a vast improvement over the original style which depended upon the each of strings being fed through holes in the larger outer ring of the ‘bobbin’ then knotted. When there are four strings, two are fed down the left side and the other two are brought down to the ‘bobbin’ on the right side. To hold the blind up and allow it to be moved up and down with ease, tension can be applied to the strings by turning the ‘bobbin’ in a clockwise direction. To release tension, the ‘bobbin’ is turned counter clockwise. This process makes individual string tension adjustments difficult, if not impossible, since both strings are turned together. Over time the plastic deteriorates on the outer ring of the ‘bobbins’, eventually breaking around the holes due to the great amount of tension on a small area.  On the blind I was repairing, all of the original ‘bobbins’ were broken, which meant none of the blinds could operate correctly. As it turns out, I only replaced one string on three blinds, yet I had to replace five ‘bobbins’ to restore the shades to proper operation.

The newer style ‘bobbin’ is a two part design with a base and a cap that fits into the base section using one screw to retain the ‘bobbin’ to the mounting surface (Slide 31 & 32). One or two strings from the shade are fed between the two halves (one on either side of the screw in the center) and when the retaining screw is tightened the ‘bobbin’ holds the strings. Since these strings are not knotted to the outer ring as in the older design, one can adjust each string individually by pulling down that string with the ‘bobbin’ loosened from its mounting surface. This allows each one to be tensioned with ease and the tension can be checked by plucking the string like you would a guitar string to listen to the sound. If both strings emit a similar tone when plucked, then the tension is the same. Always move the shade fully up and down a couple of times after making any adjustment to allow the tension to equalize, then check each string for the tone. This ‘bobbin’ design is far better than the older one and it will be long lasting and trouble-free. Check out the First Aid Blind Repair Kit on our website under the Products Tab and the gold Horst Probe and Accessories Link.



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