Greetings to our loyal readers! Many humble apologies for the delay in getting this posted…BUT here we are! The vent fan installation has been completed!!!
Before I walk you through the sequence of events that completed the installation, allow me the levity of a disclaimer: The methods I used to complete this installation were not necessarily the most efficient way to accomplish this project! However, for reasons that I will explain momentarily, they are what worked for me…Different methods might be preferable for you.
A Fantastic Fan
So, as we have mentioned before, we purchased a “FanTastic Vent Fan” Model 3 2250. This model has a thermostat, the fan function is reversible (air in or out) and it has three speed settings. We did not opt to get the rain sensor or the remote control options on the model that we chose.
Soooooo….lets get into the installation, Shall we?
The first step of the installation, was for me, the most nerve-racking portion of the entire process. You must cut a hole in the roof of your van!!! Talise, bless her heart, could not be witness to this part of the project.
We had pre-identified the location in the van we were going to install the fan, which was between two roof ribs that are directly over our bed. I grabbed the plastic internal “beauty ring” that came with the fan, and traced the outline on the inside of the van roof with a Sharpie. Now it is time to… (Ominous music queuing up in the background) cut a hole in the roof of the van we just bought!!!
Here is my second disclaimer: I had two options at my disposal (IE: tools that I own without having to buy or borrow) I could have used my reciprocating saw or my tin snips to complete the initial hole in the roof. I opted to utilize the tin snips, purely for the reason that I did not want to accidentally make the hole too big. Now, because I had traced the cut outline from the “interior beauty ring” I knew my hole was going to be smaller than what I eventually need, but I am not 100% confident in my ability to cut precisely with the reciprocating saw. I preferred the control and slow progress of the tin snips for this project to reduce the potential for error. (And: for those of you who are looking for the not-yet-marketed “:Forearms of Steel” workout program… This is IT!!!)
So, after tracing my hole, I then drilled Four 1/2″ holes through the roof from the inside. I place the holes inside of the square I had traced, placed at the respective corners. I inserted my tin snips and began slowly cutting along the lines of the square I had traced. This part is slow going, and it does give your forearms a great workout…the degree of workout is in direct relation to the angle you have to work at (I was kneeling on the bed we already installed…in hindsight…standing would have been easier.) …and the most important factor, the sharpness and
quality of your tin snips. I was fortunate in this regard, my tin snips were practically brand new, high-quality and very sharp. (I don’t get to use my snips very often… they have now been properly broken in.)
After cutting the square out of the roof, you can see the results in the picture… this is what we removed from the van roof. This part of our Prairie Schooner will not be making the trip with us…
So this gives us a completed hole in the roof for the fan installation …..er …um …well, not really. At this point, the hole is the size of the interior beauty ring, which is smaller than the outside dimension of the actual fan assembly which is mounted from the top of the roof. I knew this going in…but I didn’t realize how much metal I still had to remove in order to get the fan assembly to fit properly.
So, in this picture you can see Yours
Truly test fitting the fan assembly from the top….Yup, it needs a lot more metal gone… How am I going to do this? I still don’t want to use the reciprocating saw…my poor little Dremel would take days to remove that much…What other tools do I have on-hand that will accomplish this mission?
Drum Roll Please!!! (forgive my constant use of this…any way I can interject drums into the conversation is time well spent…LOL!)
Enter the grinder! Yes, thats right! The rest of the metal that I removed was done using my electric grinder. I needed to remove metal a little at a time, but accomplish it more quickly than shaving little bits off with the tin snips. This worked really well, though it did take a while. The time was well spent in my opinion, as I did not want any errors to cause eventual leakage down the road.
Hindsight being what it is…Dear faithful reader, please do not do this exactly as we did. Grinding and cutting metal is messy…and when you are doing it directly over your bed!!! This is another incident where we realized that perhaps installing the bed should have been done after the fan installation. However, never fear, Talise has some really strong magnets that made short work of the metal debris.
So, after an hour or so of grinding, and stopping to test the fit for the fan assembly, and then grinding some more…it finally fit the way we wanted!!! WooHoo!!!
So, the next thing we learned in our research prior to starting this project is that the internal beauty ring that comes with the fan is designed for R.V. installation. The roof on the Prairie Schooner is much thinner than most R.V. roofs. This means that you need to cut off some of the plastic that comprises this internal beauty ring so that your fan assembly can mount flush to your roof. (Or, if you do not care about the finished look, you can install the fan assembly without the internal beauty ring…its function is purely aesthetics.)
Trimming the beauty ring is very easy…Simply push it through your new hole through the bottom of the roof….hold it there…get on a ladder and with a Sharpie, trace where the roof line meets the plastic…and then cut off what you don’t need! As you can see from the below picture… because of the thinner roof of the Prairie Schooner, most of the plastic had to go…
Just cut off the plastic around the perimeter of the beauty ring however you deem fit…as for me…I finally found something that my little Dremel could handle! My little plastic cutting wheel made short work of this task!
Now…before we started slapping
together, we have exposed metal that is no longer sealed against rust. So, we simply set the box that the fan came in to cover the hole in the roof (preventing over-spray). We then coated the exposed metal surfaces with some white rust-preventing spray paint.
In the below picture you can see where the
metal surfaces that we previously bare are now coated in a rust-protected paint. And…you can also see the tree in our front yard which occasionally dropped debris on me during this project to remind me that there was a hole in the roof… LOL! At least we had great weather for accomplish this project!
So, as we prepare to insert the fan assembly to the hole for continue the installation, we added a liberal bead of silicone around the perimeter of the hole to add an additional layer of weather-proofing to the fan installation.
Next… we slid the fan assembly into our new cozy little hole…lowering it gently onto the silicone. And now it is time to (ominous music from before returns…signaling to you that scary, dangerous and bad things are imminent) to screw down the fan into the roof of the Prairie Schooner! This makes more holes in the roof…but never fear..we have a solution for that!
Side note: The screws that came with the fan to secure it to the roof stick through in interior significantly. This is where we made the decision on whether or not to keep the internal beauty ring. We opted to keep it…not because the finished look is necessarily important to us….but because the beauty ring covers up the sharp screw jutting through the roof. It is a safety concern over aesthetics. We could have used some small 1″ x 1″ wooden supports to accept the screws, adding more support to the assembly, but decided that we didn’t need that. (Hindsight may dictate otherwise, but so far, it is working well.) We used the protruding screw tips to help secure the remainder of the ceiling insulation above the bed.
So, now we are ready to finish up this project. We applied a product which not only adds security to the fan install, but also further weather-proofs the perimeter of the fan on the roof.
We applied White EternaBond Mobile Home RV Rubber Roof Repair around the fan assembly. Talise cut beautiful angles edges that met up perfectly…until we got to the last corner where they were off a little bit due to slope and ribs present in the roof of the Prairie Schooner. Never Fear…just take another little piece of the EternaBond and overlap it like you would to a shingle on a house roof…and you are in business!!!
Not only does this EternaBond provide a water-tight seal around your fan assembly… it also adds a little peace of mind to the security of your fan…it is a permanent seal that holds everything in place. However… I realized after we were done that for me, personally, the most impressive effect was that it made my entire project look like I knew what I was doing!
We wired up the fan and tested it…it works great! We have tested it for water leaks…and again, we are very happy with how this project turned out!
Reminder: Make sure to sweep off all the little metal shavings from the top of the van’s roof, as these will rust as soon as there is any moisture. Rust stains are permanent and if enough metal shavings are up there, it could bleed rust colored runs down the side of your van, discoloring it permanently.
- White Eternabond Mobile Home RV Rubber Roof Repair 4″ x 10′, $20
- Fan-Tastic Vent 5000RBT PLR-WHT Vent w/Reverse and Thermostat in Polar White, $185
- Silicone caulk, we had on-hand already
- (Other prefer Dicor 501LSW-1 Lap Sealant for its adhesive and sealant properties, $11 for a tube of this caulk)
Please feel free to leave comments or questions… or if you just want to poke fun at me…LOL…We would love to hear from you!
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