Acrylic Window Struts Stuck? Repair Them For Good – Cheaply!


This post may contain affiliate links.

It’s no secret that we love our RV’s double-pane acrylic windows.  They’re WAY better than glass for both sound and heat insulation, they’re lighter, and you can lock them in a ventilated position.  But the ones in our Winnebago EKKO had one fatal flaw: They would sometimes stick in an open position.  Not anymore!  Check out this video!

 

If you have the acrylic, dual-pane windows in your RV, they either already have struts that work with a thumbscrew, or they’re the ratcheting type shown in the video.  If you have the ratcheting type, and they haven’t gotten stuck on you… yet, consider yourself lucky.  It was my experience that no matter how well I cared for them (frequent compressed-air-cleaning, occasional dry lubricant), they would sometimes stick – and NEVER at a convenient time.  After being stuck in a mosquitonado one too many times (really, once is enough), I decided to figure out a way to ditch the ridiculous and stupid mechanism once and for all.  We had an acrylic RV window in Lance, and over all the years we had him, the window never failed once.  That’s because it was a thumbscrew-type window.  Once I remembered that, the path forward was simple.

Please don’t be put off by the need to acquire 3D printed parts.  It’s not hard at all.  Our local library, and even some of the public schools, have 3D printers, and people who know how to use them.  And if you want to pick 3D printing up yourself, it’s not that hard.  The material used to print all twelve of these is less than two meters, so there’s not a lot of cost there.  If you absolutely don’t want to learn or figure out how to get them printed, there are online services (Treatstock is one friends have used) that will source out the printing and have them shipped right to your door.  Again, the amount of printing is very minor, and the model is beginner-level with rafts and supports not needed.

A couple caveats.  I have tested this with the PolyPlastic windows found in our EKKO.  I have not tested this with any other brand or model of window, so it may or may not work on your windows (but you could probably modify the idea a little to get it to work).  And obviously, if you already have windows struts that close with a thumbscrew (instead of the silly ratcheting mechanism), then this procedure is redundant.

And now, for the links.

I promise a bunch of links for the things you’ll need to pull this off, so let’s get those out of the way.

 

Beyond that list of tools and materials, I think I do a pretty thorough job of explaining and demonstrating in the video.  But if there’s something you need help with, sound off in the comments below and I’ll try to help out!

Cheers!

 

 



James is a former rocket scientist, a USA Cycling coach, and lifelong fitness buff. When he's not driving the RV, or modifying the RV (or - that one time - doing both at once), you can find him racing bicycles, or building furniture, or making music. In his spare time, he works for a large IT company.


    35 thoughts on “Acrylic Window Struts Stuck? Repair Them For Good – Cheaply!

    1. Ruth Jansson

      James – Do you have any objection to my sharing a link to your video above with the guy who works in my local library who has just printed out your file for me? He is eager to learn real-world fixes with 3D printed parts.
      Thanks for getting back to me.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        No objection whatsoever – share away!
        And way to go getting the parts from your local library. That will come in handy!

        Reply
        1. Ruth Jansson

          Thanks, James. You are such a great asset to EKKOers. Library printed the file at 100% infill. (Hoping that was OK.) Took 1 hr, 19 mins to print. No charge for anything. Emailed file to Nick who will keep file in case I need more. Great service to community.

    2. Jim Sevey

      Thanks so much for this video and great instructions! I have completed all of our windows and I can report they work great! I ordered the 3D parts from Treatstock, seemed to be good quality, I did order 24 instead of 12, glad I did because I ruined a couple when tapping the first few and wanted a future supply should any of them strip. A couple of things I ran into: 1) Make sure to tap completely through the printed piece, close enough is not good enough!, 2) I had to resort to a hammer with a screw driver to persuade the struts to separate, no damage, 3) My printed parts were all too tight in the channel and had to sand the underside of each to get to slide freely, no big deal. I did one window with both struts first, then assembly lined the rest. No blood and didn’t lose any screws! Thanks again!

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Yay! Glad it worked out for you.
        It seems a lot of folks are sanding the underside of the printed pieces. That’s fine. Each 3D printer is different, so it’s natural to expect some variation. Better to have them too large than too small, I say.
        Thanks for stopping by!

        Reply
    3. Bob Pebly

      About to do this mod & have 2 questions.
      1) Since there is very little clearance on that drilled hole within the channel, would it be simpler to drill in the opposite direction from inside the channel out?
      2) Is flattening out the old notches even necessary?

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        1. Sure. Drilling from the inside out should be fine. You just need to get the hole in the right place relative to the end of the strut.
        2. I prefer it. If you don’t flatten out those old notches, the end of the thumbscrew will tend to catch in them, and it makes the operation of the window unpredictable. (In the notches, you have to turn the screw a few extra turns to get it to stay. And then a few extra turns to get it to release.) Ideally, the strut would have no notches at all so it would work the same in any position.

        Reply
    4. BobS

      I expect you will not over tighten the thumbscrews and strip the threads. Not sure about everyone. I know little about 3D printing and plastic durability.
      FYI I did see that a company called PROTOLABS will take an uploaded file and quote Aluminum printed parts with a resolution of 20 um. I have no clue what the cost would be.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        I like Treatstock (linked in the post above) for 3D printing without a printer. Once you upload your model, they act like a broker, and farm it out to many different printers all at once. Each has different pricing and options.

        Reply
    5. JOHN WILLIAMSON

      James, hope you’re in a good mood, cuz I want to ask you a slightly off subject question…my bathroom window fell off, only to be caught by the strut. I cannot figure out how the top hinge is fitted to the window trim. There isn’t really anything for it to grab onto.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        I’ve never looked at it. I’ll take a look today, and come back here if I figure anything out.
        Have you tried asking this question on the EKKO Owners and Wannabes group on Facebook? It seems like a couple people there have had windows detach – though I don’t remember the particulars.

        Reply
    6. Randy Stonesifer

      Thanks for your efforts on this. I hate having something that I cannot depend on. These struts definitely qualify. My library offers printing for a fee. One input they want is infill in the range of 5% to 100% with 15% being a default. What do you suggest?

      Reply
    7. Jeff

      Great video. Your suggestions in this video are will presented and your secondary quips about the modification process are funny and spot on. Keep up making content.

      Reply
    8. Henry

      Hi James, First of all, thank you so much for your videos. They are top notch and very informative. On this latest one, I have downloaded the files to get them 3D printed at my local library. A question that may not be related to this mod but perhaps in the mind of some of my fellow Ekko owners. What do you use to clean & polish these plastic windows? I have researched the matter and came across Plexus (used by many bikers to clean & polish the wind shield on their bikes, and also by the aviation industry). The downside of this Plexus is that it is super expensive. Also, I have seen “Plane Perfect Eyes Outside” but don’t know if it works or not. It is my understanding that if you use the wrong product, the windows can be damaged or scratched pretty bad. Thanks again for your ideas/mods/etc and hope to see you on the road sometime.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        We’re in a bit of a unique situation with our acrylic windows. Shortly after getting our EKKO, we had them covered (on the outside) with a product from STEK.
        The STEK product was meant for windshields, and apparently, didn’t work so well there.
        (We got our windshield done as well, but peeled it off in under a year because it became hard to see through.)
        Well apparently, the problems caused STEK to pull that product from the market.
        But on the side windows – it works great, and is still going strong!
        So we never do anything to our windows except hose them off. But our same solution is no longer available.
        Sorry we can’t be more help!

        Reply
    9. Anthony C

      As crappy as the strut is, I’d love to have one to modify for our Revel front window strut. It rattles like crazy when the air leaks from the strut. I’ve looked, but can’t seem to find one…any help appreciated! Great video as always.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        I’ve never looked at a Revel window strut in detail.
        What brand of strut is it? Is it marked?
        Winnebago recently started selling the window struts for the EKKO. Maybe they’ve done something similar for the Revel. Couldn’t hurt to call them.

        Reply
    10. JOHN WILLIAMSON

      James,
      Although this is a credible solution, it’s really fidly. The average owner will likely not go to the trouble of 3D printing, threading, buying parts, etc.
      I thought, and hoped you would have come up with a solution to make the current design function as designed. Given that dirt seems to make these malfunction, could a felt wiper/seal be made to prevent dirt entrance? I personally really like pushing up to release the catch rather than a two handed approach. Are you really sure the current design can’t be fixed?

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        If you’re happy with your current window strut design, then by all means, pass on this mod. If most of your camping is in dirt-free areas, you should be fine.

        None of the steps in this mod are difficult. We made sure to show all the steps, in close detail. No CGI effects were used in making the video. Owners with no experience in 3D printing have already ordered the part from online sources linked in the post. The remainder of the steps consist of removing and installing screws, tapping a hole in soft plastic, and drilling a hole. Everyone should be capable of these skills. But if they’re not, they can pass on this mod.

        Reply
    11. Alex

      Hi James,
      Thanks for the video (and the channel in general).

      Different question, I noticed that you changed the stock screen/blind for a fabric one that zips and rolls out out of the way. We love the function of the stock ones but hate the noise and rattles so, would like to do something similar to yours. Can you share if they are DIY or purchased? If there is a link to but them, would appreciate if you can share.

      Thank you!

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        Hey Alex.
        The ones you see in this video are something I made. We were trying to get them produced, but that fell through.
        Vanmade gear makes something similar to ours that may interest you. Check them out. We’ve used their gear and can recommend them.

        Reply
        1. Alex

          Hi James, thanks for the response. Too bad you could not get yours produced, the Vanmade ones look good but, seems from the video that yours are less intrusive to allow more light and less bulky. May have to try to work on my sewing skills…! 😉
          Thanks again for all the videos and info. You guys’ Ekko looks great and your improvements are amazing.

        2. James - Post author

          Thanks!
          And sewing skills come in extremely handy, so it won’t be wasted time if you decide to go that way.

    12. Shaun Simpkins

      Very nice, James.

      I watched this to see what you discovered about the internal pawls. Interesting little buggers.

      The most obvious thing I saw, though, was that these struts are VERY different from the struts used in the Dometic S7P awning windows – those use a fully enclosed design, tube sliding in a tube with a track on the outside – super tricky extrusion.

      For those Travato owners that might want to use your techniques to do something similar, I’d say don’t. The internal mechanism probably has a similarly functioning pawl, but the strut tubes are permanently attached to the pivot fittings and there’s no obvious and easily defeatable catch holding the tubes together like on the Ekko window struts.

      Practical issues aside, what happens if you make a mistake? I don’t know about parts availability for the Ekko’s window manufacturer, but Dometic doesn’t stock or sell replacement parts for the S7P windows in North America. You might get a UK retailer to sell you something that might be compatible, or you might fly to Australia to get a replacement strut from the big RV on-line parts stores there (they don’t ship to the US), but the only remedy in the US for a nerzt’d window strut is to replace the entire dang window at over $1000.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        I routinely disassemble and modify expensive stuff without a net, so I tend not to think about it too much. But in this case, unlike for the Seitz/Dometic windows, replacement struts for the PolyPlastic/Lippert windows are available from Winnebago (and presumably, Lippert). I think the price is nominal. I haven’t ordered any, but other EKKO owners have.

        As for the tubular/Travato/Dometic/Seitz window struts… I haven’t looked at them. If someone wants to get me one of them, I’ll see what I can come up with.

        Reply
    13. Tamara Cottom

      Awesome answer to a frequent sticky situation. We love your enthusiasm over projects and tools! Thank you for the file; we know that’s a lot of work writing a file for printing.

      Reply
    14. Graham Smith

      Very clever James. The next upgrade might be to make the little blocks out of aluminum.

      My EKKO is the second RV I have had with the acrylic windows. Love the windows, and the flexibility of the latches, but hate those struts. I will never understand why mfgrs will design something this complicated when simpler solutions are possible. The EKKO windows aren’t even from the same mfgr as the ones originally used in the Travato. But rather than designing a simpler mechanism, they just copied the original. And the copied version has more problems than the original.

      Reply
      1. James - Post author

        They can 3D print in some metals now.
        It would be significantly more expensive, but I can see no reason why it wouldn’t work.
        If anyone tries it, I hope they come here and let me know.

        I’m honestly not worried about the parts wearing out though.

        Reply
    15. Matt Gross

      Great idea! My last van had these windows and was a pain as you’ve shown.

      I wonder if there is enough room for brass threaded inserts as that would hopefully remove the wear and tear in the plastic part. It looked small so maybe not.

      Reply

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Comment moderation is in use. Please do not submit your comment twice -- it will appear once we have had the chance to review it.