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Old 05-14-2015, 08:17 PM   #1
4 Rivet Member
Starstream's Avatar
1979 31' Sovereign
Spring , Texas
Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 307
Saga of the Fans

We ran into many issues while replacing the fans on StarStream (1979 Land Yacht). As stated in my previous post, when I would run into trouble, I would turn to the forum for answers. When I can't find a particular thread or if my search word(s) didn't prove to show enough to answer the question, I would improvise. Which is the wrong thing to do.

Some will say the only stupid question is the one not asked. This is such a true statement but the answers by some can make the askee feel as small as an ant.

So, I didn't take my own advice. I didn't put my big boy pants on and ask. This of course created more work which of course adds more time to the re-do.

To answer my question of what have I learned? If you really want to get the job done in the quickest fashion --- Ask the question......

This is how our roof looked prior to starting the fan re-do. I use re-do because of the number of times it took to finally get the project done.

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I have no idea what they used as sealant but it was as hard as concrete but sure didn't chip like concrete.

The first attempt at removing the old fans was to drill out the rivet heads. Which as it states was the first attempt it was also the first failure as well. After the rivet heads were removed I used a stiff putty knife to try and pry it off. The fan was not budging no matter what.

I then used a wonder bar, which was a stupid idea, besides the fan not moving, it bent the aluminum skin and caused a tear in the skin.

The next attempt was a cold chisel as a wedge and a mallet. I was able to get a couple of rivets to move with this method but after the second tear, this method proved not to be the best idea either.

My next attempt I used a larger drill bit and drilled out the rivets. This was great. Now I have huge holes through the fan lip and huge holes into the roof space. Still couldn’t get the fans to move.

It is a good thing we have no rain in the forecast for several days with those large holes in the roof. It is also good I am only working on one fan at a time……

Day 4 into the fan re-do and I’m not ready to throw in the towel.

I know the only thing holding the fan down at this point has to be the sealant. I’ve drilled out every rivet I could find. The next step is to go inside the trailer and pull the center skin off and see what it looks like from the inside.

Not wanting to completely destroy the center panel I just pop off enough rivets to lower it past the fan. I make sure I’ve got goggles and a mask on, which was a very good idea as the second set of rivets came off, all the dust and crud came pouring out.

Once opened up I can see this white goop smeared all over the flange area. I use a scraper to try and get this stuff off. To my amazement I find it is still pliable and like super glue. The elasticity of this stuff reminds me of the Stretch Armstrong I tried to pull apart only to have the arms go right back.

So out comes the stiffest scraper I can find and after a few hours I get the goo off. Once the goo is removed I am able to get the wonder bar up and between the fan’s flange lip and the trailers skin. At this point I know I’m going to have to do some sort of patch work anyways so I just go for it and man handle the fan up and off.

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I finally have one fan out but I have two more to do. Before I start the next one, I go ahead and pull down the rest of the center skin to see if the other fans have the magic goo holding them down. Sure enough, all the fans have the stuff.

Knowing I am going to have to fabricate some sort of patch to put on the new fan, I decide to take the easy road this time. I get the jig saw, put a metal cutting blade in and zip right through the roof and as close to the fan as I can. In under 5 minutes, I have the next fan out. Change the blade and another 5 minutes the last fan is out.

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The fabrication I came up with was to create an extra frame flange for the fans flange (say that fast three times). To insure a proper fit, I had a good friend of mine do the actual fabrication cuts and they turned out great. I put butyl tape around the edge of the fans flange and then used stainless steel sheet metal screws to attach the two together.

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I then put butyl tape on the fabricated frame and attached the whole thing to the roof and applied new sealant around each flange and over all the screws.

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By early afternoon, all the fans were affixed and the project was done. An unexpected leak test was performed the next day from the rain.

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Old 05-15-2015, 06:20 AM   #2
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aquinob's Avatar
1973 27' Overlander
Portsmouth , Virginia
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 776
That is why I decided not to replace the whole vents but just fabricate new fans to make them work.


Ongoing adventures at:
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Old 05-15-2015, 06:47 AM   #3
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Alden Miller's Avatar
1993 34' Excella
, Maryland
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 214
Images: 2
I had to replace my antenna and clean up a huge amount of extra caulking around a vent on my Airstream. I found a heat gun does wonders to soften the hardened sealant.

1993 34' Excella 1000
2005 Dodge Ram 3500 Diesel
(No it doesn't have a HEMI in it)
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Old 05-15-2015, 12:34 PM   #4
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Starstream's Avatar
1979 31' Sovereign
Spring , Texas
Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 307
One thing I might have done differently-- I should have rounded the corners of the fabricated frame. It might have given a more natural look to the new flange.
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Old 05-16-2015, 04:58 PM   #5
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Vintage Kin Owner
Vermilion , Ohio
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 35
Looks like it turned out nice. Alden is correct, a heat gun makes all the difference
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Old 05-17-2015, 11:06 AM   #6
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Starstream's Avatar
1979 31' Sovereign
Spring , Texas
Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 307
Thanks for the compliment on the way it turned out.

I think it turned out very well too. I think I will add a stainless steel bolt, neoprene washer on the outside and fender washer inside and a locking nut. This will add an extra level of protection from some sort of catastrophic failure due to wind and road turbulence.

I will try the heat gun on the bathroom exhaust vent.

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