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Old 06-27-2010, 10:32 AM   #1
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Monroe , Louisiana
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Vent cover restoration 76 Caravanner

I'm no expert by any means, but I am very fortunate to have a lot of materials and tools at my disposal for rehabing my 76 Caravanner I just acquired. Once I towed it to my shop I discovered that the plastic piece from the front vent was completely busted out.

At this point I'm more concerned with protecting the inside from the the elements so I opted not to buy the 70 dollar domed plastic cover and just replaced it with a piece of plexi glass I had.

My Caravanner apparently had been in quite a hail storm and the aluminum cover had tons of golf ball sized dings all over it. After removing all the broken plastic and old gaskets I tried out my metal working skills. I was quite pleased with how it turned out actually.

After I cut out my piece of plexiglass I blasted both sides in my bead blaster to give it a frost effect and cut the intensity of the sunlight coming through.

The motor in my vent still works but the fan blade has disintegrated except for the hub. With the flat plexiglass instead of the dome, the glass presses a bit on the motor shaft but I plan on replacing the huge motor with a much smaller unit so I will have more than enough room.

That's how I did it. It may not be professional, but it worked.







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Old 06-27-2010, 10:43 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crowemagnon View Post
I'm no expert by any means, but I am very fortunate to have a lot of materials and tools at my disposal for rehabing my 76 Caravanner I just acquired. Once I towed it to my shop I discovered that the plastic piece from the front vent was completely busted out.

At this point I'm more concerned with protecting the inside from the the elements so I opted not to buy the 70 dollar domed plastic cover and just replaced it with a piece of plexi glass I had.

My Caravanner apparently had been in quite a hail storm and the aluminum cover had tons of golf ball sized dings all over it. After removing all the broken plastic and old gaskets I tried out my metal working skills. I was quite pleased with how it turned out actually.

After I cut out my piece of plexiglass I blasted both sides in my bead blaster to give it a frost effect and cut the intensity of the sunlight coming through.

The motor in my vent still works but the fan blade has disintegrated except for the hub. With the flat plexiglass instead of the dome, the glass presses a bit on the motor shaft but I plan on replacing the huge motor with a much smaller unit so I will have more than enough room.

That's how I did it. It may not be professional, but it worked.
You can bend the 2 motor brackets downward, so that the motor will clear the cover.

However, the motor will not hit the cover when you use the original gasket.

Using a smaller motor, will also reduce the air movement.

Plexiglass will fail quickly, since it does not have a UV guard.

Seal the 16 rivets that you used, as they are all "leakers".

Andy
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Old 06-27-2010, 10:59 AM   #3
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Nice job, that should work just fine. Plexigalss tends to turn brittle from UV so you may have to do this again in a few years. If you do, you could experiment with Lexan (polycarbonate), as it has better UV resistance and is less brittle than Plexiglass (acrylic). Another thought is to make a small wooden form, heat the lexan with a heat gun and let it sag a bit into the form. When it cools, you could have the "hump" shape you need to clear the fan. Also, use a good bead of Vulkem under the glass and rivets. One last thought is to bead blast only the inside and leave the outside smooth so it stays cleaner.
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Old 06-27-2010, 11:21 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Inland RV Center, In View Post
You can bend the 2 motor brackets downward, so that the motor will clear the cover.

However, the motor will not hit the cover when you use the original gasket.

Using a smaller motor, will also reduce the air movement.

Plexiglass will fail quickly, since it does not have a UV guard.

Seal the 16 rivets that you used, as they are all "leakers".

Andy
I definitely put a dab of silicone on each side of the rivets.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cosmos View Post
Nice job, that should work just fine. Plexigalss tends to turn brittle from UV so you may have to do this again in a few years. If you do, you could experiment with Lexan (polycarbonate), as it has better UV resistance and is less brittle than Plexiglass (acrylic). Another thought is to make a small wooden form, heat the lexan with a heat gun and let it sag a bit into the form. When it cools, you could have the "hump" shape you need to clear the fan. Also, use a good bead of Vulkem under the glass and rivets. One last thought is to bead blast only the inside and leave the outside smooth so it stays cleaner.
I knew the Plexiglass wouldn't be a permanent fix. I never considered your idea of heating the lexan though. I would probably rig up a heating element instead of a heat gun for more even heating to prevent lumps.

The other two vent covers still have their lexan in place but they are bent all out of shape so I should be a pro at it once I finish all of them. There's nothing like the satisfaction of finishing a project and bringing something back to its former glory.
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Old 06-27-2010, 01:16 PM   #5
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BTW, my dad informed me that that it actually was Lexan that he gave me.
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Old 06-27-2010, 01:28 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by crowemagnon View Post
BTW, my dad informed me that that it actually was Lexan that he gave me.
Great.

BUT, never, ever, use any silicone thast canget exposed to the sun, especially on rivets.

The sun breaks it down and it falls off. Then when you want to apply a proper sealer, it won't stay because of the silicone barrier that was created.

Use either Parbond or Vulkem sealer. Either one of those will last at least your lifetime, and give you "ZERO" trouble.

As an Airstream owner, you basically need 3 things.

1. A good sealer.

2. A good humor.band:

3. A few extra bucks.

And when you have a question, ask before you leep, as many people on this Forums offer great advice, and "how to's".

Andy
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Old 09-12-2010, 09:06 PM   #7
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Hi,
I also found my roof vent covers to be in poor condition, PO had covered with duct tape to stop leaks.
1- I removed inner and outer plastic panels.
2- Polished aluminum frame.
3- Installed new translucent polycarbonate panels using butyl tape.
4- I installed new foam gasket on aluminum flange
5- I sealed rivets w/ Sikaflex
6- Re-installed on roof.
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Old 09-13-2010, 04:19 PM   #8
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I replaced all three of my roof vents with gray Fan-Tastic fans from Vintage Trailer Supply. They were easy to install, have passed several impressive leak tests, are 3 speed reversible, work good, and look great!

Fan-Tastic Fan Vent

Gary
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