Motorhome Upgrade: MCD Innovations window shades

Stepping up with these coverings enhances privacy and improves climate-control efficiency

Over the years, motorhome window coverings have come in a variety of choices: curtains, Venetian blinds, pleated shades and Roman shades. In the past few years, roller shades have gained wide acceptance as the window covering of choice in motorhomes for their ease of operation, reliability and visual appeal.

In the world of RV roller shades, perhaps no brand is more recognizable than MCD Innovations. Founded in 2003, MCD produces roller shades that are used by many motorhome manufacturers, and are available in manual and motorized formats. The manual shades use a speed reducer to slow the shades while retracting quietly. An auto-stop mechanism limits how high the shade will retract so it can be accessed easily at the bottom of the valance. MCD’s motorized shades contain a 12-volt DC motor located inside the shade’s roller tube that’s controlled by a switch or a remote control. The tubular motors are quiet, and the upper and lower stop limits are programmable.

[1] The length of the shade assembly determines the number of mounting clips needed. [2] Shade assemblies are easily removed by prying off the mounting clip tab with a flat-tip screwdriver. [3] The learning keys are metallic, with a black button, or covered with red or clear plastic.
[1] The length of the shade assembly determines the number of mounting clips needed. [2] Shade assemblies are easily removed by prying off the mounting clip tab with a flat-tip screwdriver. [3] The learning keys are metallic, with a black button, or covered with red or clear plastic.

MCD’s American Solo Shades are a single-shade unit using Clearview Solar Screen (day) or a 100 percent light-blocking (night) material. The day shade is a finely woven black mesh fabric that provides UV protection and reduces solar heat transfer. Night shades are available in several colors of vinyl or decorator fabrics. American Duo Shades have a day and night shade in one unit; both can be operated manually or with a motor, or one shade can function manually, while the other is motorized.

[4] Cable ties are often used to keep the Learning Keys from hanging below the valance. [5] Clearview Solar Screen fabric day shades can easily be seen through from the interior yet still provide privacy. [6] Sway shades offer full coverage of raked cockpit windows.
[4] Cable ties are often used to keep the Learning Keys from hanging below the valance. [5] Clearview Solar Screen fabric day shades can easily be seen through from the interior yet still provide privacy. [6] Sway shades offer full coverage of raked cockpit windows.
If your window coverings are worn, broken or just plain unsightly, MCD can custom build roller shades to fit. The first step is to determine whether you will self-install the shades or have them professionally hung at MCD’s manufacturing facility in McKinney, Texas, or by one of its certified dealers. The McKinney facility has 12 RV spaces with electrical hookups where customers can park overnight while their shades are updated. Upon arrival, technicians take all the necessary measurements and quote a price. The shades are custom-built and installed — the entire process usually takes about five days to complete.
Installing roller shades in the living area isn’t difficult for someone who’s handy. However, due to the complexity of windshield shades, MCD recommends having them installed by trained technicians. Owners who want to self-install a windshield shade should call MCD’s technicians and discuss what’s involved. Careful measurements will need to be taken before placing an order. MCD’s order form, found on its website, provides detailed measuring instructions.

Installation begins by removing the valances, the existing shades and the mounting brackets. The mounting clips can then be installed, either to the top of the valance, the bottom of a cabinet or to the ceiling at a distance of about 3⁄8-inch from the window frame. Be sure to mount the outermost clips no more than 2 inches from the end of the shade. Verify that the shade will not hit any obstructions when operated.

[7] Wiring for powered shades can be tucked inside the valance.
[7] Wiring for powered shades can be tucked inside the valance.
If the shades are motorized, a 12-volt DC power source must be added. The shade motors will require power and ground wires, and can be controlled by adding a generic switch or with a dedicated MCD remote control. If you’re not experienced with wiring, it’s best to have it done by a trained technician.

The shade is attached to the clips by inserting the edge of the mounting rail closest to the window into the clip first, and rotating the shade assembly upward until the front edge of the mounting rail locks into place. Reattach the valance and the installation is complete. Motorized shades will need to be programmed.

Programming the shades isn’t difficult. MCD provides excellent instructions in the owner’s manual or on its website in the Technical Information area. The shades can be programmed to individual channels for single shade operation or multiple shades can be programmed to the same channel allowing them to be raised and lowered at the same time by pushing one button. The 14- and 15-channel remotes include “all day” and “all night” buttons that raise and lower the respective shades at the same time. The two-channel remotes can also control multiple shades on each channel.

[8] An Allen wrench is used to loosen the bracket setscrew. [9] The brackets slide off the mounting track. Two screws hold the motors to the bracket. [10] A white-bodied motor is standard in new American Roller Shades, and features low-voltage protection that eliminates the chance of losing its programming.
[8] An Allen wrench is used to loosen the bracket setscrew. [9] The brackets slide off the mounting track. Two screws hold the motors to the bracket. [10] A white-bodied motor is standard in new American Roller Shades, and features low-voltage protection that eliminates the chance of losing its programming.
Motorized shades in the cockpit area contain a safety feature that limits the shades from being lowered too far when the motorhome’s ignition is on, preventing the shades from blocking the driver’s vision. These dual-range motors need to be programmed once with the ignition on and then with it off. The lower limit for “ignition on” should be set above the driver’s eye level so the shade can be used as a sun visor while driving.

Whether new MCD shades were just added or they were installed at the factory, maintenance and repairs are not difficult. The AutoStop mechanism and spring tension on American Series manual shades made since July 2009 can be easily adjusted. Depending on the model, adjustments are made by rotating a dial at the end of the roller tube or by pushing in and turning an adjustment slot with a flat blade screwdriver. The adjustment slots are located at each end of the shade, and the shade may need to be removed before adjusting. Spring tension adjusters can be either a black slot or dial. AutoStop adjusters incorporate a white or gray slot or a black dial with small white marks.

[11] The new 15-channel remote (left) is smaller than the 14-channel unit (right) and has an LCD display. [12] The faceplate of the remote is removed to change the batteries.
[11] The new 15-channel remote (left) is smaller than the 14-channel unit (right) and has an LCD display. [12] The faceplate of the remote is removed to change the batteries.
MCD manual shades come with the AutoStop and spring tension properly set. Shades with dial adjusters may need to be reset over time. All new American Roller Shades are fitted with slotted provisions that should not need readjustment.

Although failures are uncommon, a spring assembly or AutoStop mechanism can be replaced by removing the shade and pulling the shade material down slightly to lock it in place. After the bracket setscrew is loosened and the bracket can be slid out of the mounting track, the faulty mechanism can be removed from the roller tube using a pair of pliers, if necessary. The slots in the new component are aligned with the keys in the tube and then slid in. All that’s left to do is to reinstall the bracket and shade to complete the repair.

Replacing a motor in a powered shade also only takes a few minutes. But in this case, the setscrew on the bracket is loosened but not pulled out of the mounting track. Once the two screws that hold the motor to the bracket are removed, the bracket is pulled slightly out of the mounting track, providing enough room to remove the motor from the bracket.
Installation is the opposite of removal.

It’s important to order the correct motor if the shade is remote-controlled. The red-bodied motors will only communicate with the older 2-channel and 14-channel remotes. The new 2-channel and 15-channel remotes require a white-bodied motor.

[13] Programming buttons and batteries can be found by removing the front cover on the remote. [14] The manual shade adjustments are in the center of the brackets. The gray color shows this is the AutoStop adjustment.
[13] Programming buttons and batteries can be found by removing the front cover on the remote. [14] The manual shade adjustments are in the center of the brackets. The gray color shows this is the AutoStop adjustment.
MCD also manufactures specialty shades for the screen door and cockpit windows. The screen door pull-up shade comes with a Clearview solar screen, or a light-blocking night shade, and mounts to the interior of the door at the bottom of the window. These shades are available only in manual operation and come in several styles to cover most window shapes.

Sway shades are a specially designed manual or motorized shade for windows that are wider on the bottom than the top. A conventional shade that pulls straight down would leave the bottom forward corner of the window uncovered. The Sway shade fabric moves forward as it is lowered. The forward edge of the shade is cut at an angle to match the window. The result is complete coverage and privacy.

To remove dust from Clearview day shades, vacuum using a soft brush attachment. Stains and stubborn dust can be removed with water and a soft bristled brush or sponge. Hard-to-remove spots might require the use of a mild soap solution. Vinyl night shades should be cleaned with a microfiber cloth or color-free paper towel and water. Mildly soiled fabric night shades should be cleaned with a wet sponge. MCD recommends Woolite Pet Stain & Odor Remover + Oxygen to remove tough stains, followed by Scotchgard upholstery spray after cleaning. Be sure to let the shades thoroughly dry before rolling them up.

The MSRP for American Roller Shades varies by length and whether the shades are motorized or manual. American Duo manual shade assemblies vary in price from $150 to $370, while American Solo manual shade assemblies are $75 to $185. Motorized shades controlled by a switch add $115 per shade to the manual price, while remote-controlled shades add $165 per shade. A 15-channel remote is $165 and a 2-channel remote is $35. Screen door shades sell for $90. American Duo windshield shades, up to 98 inches wide with a maximum drop of 65 inches, have a price of $795, while the American Solos retail for $395.

Although upgrading isn’t inexpensive, MCD American Roller Shades offer reliability, increased privacy, heat reduction and ease of maintenance, which all adds up to make a strong case for this type of interior improvement.

MCD Innovations | 800-804-1757 | www.mcdinnovations.com


 

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