Roof Vent Install

When most people buy a new vehicle, they don’t immediately cut a 14-by-14 hole in their perfect roof. But I’m not like most people, and with much trepidation, that’s exactly what I did this morning. In the end, I had nothing to worry about. This was probably the smoothest Maxxair roof vent install I’ve done so far.

The biggest problem I had was getting up to the much taller roof than I’m used to working with. My uncle and I figured out how to use one of his extension ladders with a tarp folded several layers over itself as padding across the top to get me high enough to work on installing the roof vent. The process was pretty much the same as I did just two months ago for the front vent on the old van. The main difference was that this roof is metal, not fiberglass, so I used my uncle’s grinder and a cutting wheel to make the hole. My template must’ve been pretty good, because the mounting bracket fit quite well on the first try, and perfectly after just a little bit of extra grinding on one edge.

The rest of the process was simple and much less nerve-wracking. I cut a matching hole through the two layers of insulation. Then it was butyl tape, screwing the mounting bracket into the roof, and gooping self-leveling lap sealant all around. The fan is in, and the only thing missing is a power connection — mainly because there’s no house electrical system in the van yet to connect it to.

The next step, though, is some major clean-up inside the van. I’m pretty much done with this construction phase for now, so it’s time to get rid of what feels like billions of cardboard boxes, put a lot of tools away, and make space to start putting in the electrical system, which requires a mostly different set of tools than I’ve been using so far. That’s more brain work and connecting wires together than the physical labor I’ve been doing so far, and I’m rather looking forward to the change of pace. It’ll involve a combination of components I’ll salvage from the old van and new parts I’m getting specifically for Smokey II. Even with the solar panel install delayed, I can get the guts of the house electrical system installed, plug it into shore power for now, and have it ready for other means of charging later when the parts arrive.

Right now, though, I’m feeling extremely accomplished with just the roof vent install. I’ve fallen slightly behind on work, so I’m taking the rest of the day to catch up and reset my brain, which finds the magnitude of the big clean-up somewhat daunting right now. It’ll also be easier to do this first thing in the morning while the temperature outside is still reasonably cool.

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