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Old 05-28-2013, 08:00 PM   #1
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Wow that sucked - installed two Fantastic Fans

I just put two fantastic fans - both model 6000 RBTA into my 27' 1999 Safari. I replaced both of the stock manual vents.

On my trailer, a previous owner had installed max-air vent covers over the factory vents. It took about 30 minutes to remove each vent cover - gobs and gobs of thick caulk, plus eight 1/8 inch by one inch hex-head sheet metal screws holding them down. I was sure not happy to see all of those big holes in the roof.

Once I got down to the factory vents, it was very difficult to remove them. The screws came out easily, but boy were they very solidly glued / caulked into place.

After an hour of trying lots of different mechanical and solvent based solutions to remove the OEM vents, to no avail, I decided to try my heat gun - which worked like a champ to loosen the old caulk and let me work a thin putty knife underneath the old vent to break the seal.

This took a long time - at least an hour per vent - and after I got the old vents off, it was still very difficult to cleanly remove all of the old caulk from the roof - there were multiple varieties of white, grey and aluminum colored sealant hardened on the roof.

Once I got the opening cleaned up, things went smoother. It was relatively easy to find power both in the front lounge and in the back bedroom, and to fish wires through the ceiling to the fan locations. In both cases I had to cut back the interior aluminum skin to accommodate the interior trim for the fantastic fan - it was about 1/4 inch wider in both directions than the factory interior vent. I own an electric sheet metal shear; this was a job that would be much harder if you didn't have one.

Back up on the roof, I had expected the screw holes in the new fantastic fan to line up with the existing holes in the roof from the OEM vent. But this was not the case - none of the holes matched up - so there was again much more work than I expected to seal up each of the existing holes one by one - plus larger the holes from the vent cover bolts - both from above and underneath the roof panel.

Once all this was done, I installed the fantastic fans. They did not come with a foam gasket; I purchased butyl tape along with the fans and used this as the sealant between the fan and the trailer roof. I drilled new holes and then caulked in lots of new #8 x 3/4" stainless screws to mechanically fasten the fans to the roof. The last step was trimming the butyl tape where it squeezed out, and then caulking around the perimeter of the fan, and over the screws.

The fans work well, but this was a much harder job than I expected - I thought it would take about an hour per vent, it ended up being more like eight hours for them both - and I'm pretty handy. It was physically tiring work up on a ladder; I burned myself with the heat gun, and it was an overall sweaty and dirty job. I've done a ton of work on the trailer - from re-doing my brakes and bearings to installing floors, cabinetry, plumbing and solar - and this was the least enjoyable and most demanding project of them all.

So while I like the finished outcome - this project is one in retrospect I would have preferred to hire someone to do. If the existing vents weren't glued in so tightly I would probably feel differently - but it really sucked to get the old vents off and the openings prepared.
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Old 05-28-2013, 08:07 PM   #2
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Way to go Dan! The heat gun is the trick. I too have a scar on my arm from my heat gun. Doing a vent just like you just did.
So do the new fans suck or blow? I'm sure they do just what you expected.
Al
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Old 05-28-2013, 08:12 PM   #3
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Hah - isn't it ironic - yes one sucks and one blows. Which is just about how I felt about the overall project about six hours into it yesterday...
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Old 05-28-2013, 09:26 PM   #4
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I recently removed one of my vents. It was riveted in place, and had a ton of caulk and goop. I decided to just put a metal cutting blade on my Porter-cable oscillation tool, and it worked like a champ. I just stabbed in from the side and sawed through the goo and the rivets as well. Took about an hour to get the vent off, and that included putting a scraping blade on the oscillating tool, and using it to clean most of the remaining goo off.
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Old 05-28-2013, 11:39 PM   #5
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Two weeks ago I installed two fantastic fans in my '97 Safari and feel a lot better about it taking about an hour and a half each (about 3 hours total). I must have been lucky, although I couldn't believe how much sealant was gobbed on. None of the original holes matched the new fantastics, but lots of sealant did the trick.

I was on a business trip the following week and when I called my wife she said it had been raining hard all day. I asked her if the rain sensors closed the vents, she went out while still on the phone and said NO. I had her manually close them. When I got home I checked things out and found out that the fans must be ON for the sensors to work. They do not work when the fans are turned off. I hadn't realized that and went back and re-read the paper work and there is no indication that this is the case. At any rate, if the fans are off, I close the covers, when they are on the sensors work great.

I may be the only guy with these fans that didn't know this, but in case anyone else out there didn't know, here you have it.

The fans work great and the real test is next week when we head out for a 5-day trip.
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Old 05-29-2013, 05:36 AM   #6
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You could have paid someone to do the job but I can assure you, no one would do it better.
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Old 05-29-2013, 05:38 AM   #7
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"They do not work when the fans are turned off."

If you mean blades turning by "on"....ours have always closed with fans off.
But you do need to keep the sensor grid clean for them to operate properly.
I wipe them down with a damp rag from inside which also tests their operation.
These snap-in screens make the job a lot easier, quick way to clean the blades also.

#5 in this illustration....

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Old 05-29-2013, 07:44 AM   #8
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NO Dennis, you are not the only one to find out this way. In fact I suspect you are in good company. They need not be running but the on/off switch needs to be on. The thermostat switch can be such that they are not operating and the rain sensors will work.

Nice job. You deserve a cold one after that job.
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Old 05-29-2013, 08:01 AM   #9
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There is a reason the OEM vents are made of thick aluminum and are riveted on. You will notice that in most locations that there is a metal frame riveted around where there is a hole in the skin. This takes the place of what came out of the hole and allows the structure to still be strong. Holes without frames are weak points in the structure. A plastic frame won't support the skin and transfer loads. The plastic will be cracked and leaking in 10yrs where that original vent will still be there in 30yrs. Why not put a fan in the old vent? There is plenty of room.

Perry

Quote:
Originally Posted by Belegedhel View Post
I recently removed one of my vents. It was riveted in place, and had a ton of caulk and goop. I decided to just put a metal cutting blade on my Porter-cable oscillation tool, and it worked like a champ. I just stabbed in from the side and sawed through the goo and the rivets as well. Took about an hour to get the vent off, and that included putting a scraping blade on the oscillating tool, and using it to clean most of the remaining goo off.
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Old 05-29-2013, 10:41 AM   #10
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"If you mean blades turning by "on"....ours have always closed with fans off."

Robert, thanks for clarifying my point, when I said "on", I meant the power switch was turned to an on position, (regardless of fan speed setting), and not that the blades had to be actually turning. That is a function of the thermostat setting. I only meant switched on. Thanks again for the clarification. It rained again last night and they closed themselves, just as advertised
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Old 05-29-2013, 11:12 AM   #11
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My experience wis Fantastic fans has been , well, FANTASTIC. But then I was a spectator. see http://airgo.blogspot.com/2012_08_01_archive.html

Chris made taking caulk off with a sharp painters multi tool look easy, but he has lots of practice.

I'd have occasion to use the little vibrator tool to remove caulk from my roof. I was washing the roof with the antenna elevated and the gentlest brush stroke dislodged the cradle that holds the antenna in place when stored. In one of those Airstream QC issues we all love to report, the installer LEFT THE PROTECTIVE PLASTIC ON THE BOTTOM OF THE BASE AND JUST CAULKED AROUND IT!!! So for thirteen years the only thing holding it on the roof was the edge caulk and the weight of the antenna (I'm sure the Mothership could fix this in a $100 hour.)

It took some fancy language to clean a few inches of caulk off with a dull putty knife but only a few minutes to finish the job with the vibrator tool.

Moderators: you may move that last sentence to the "Sex in an Airstream" thread if you see fit.
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Old 05-30-2013, 07:12 AM   #12
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RE: "There is a reason the OEM vents are made of thick aluminum and are riveted on. You will notice that in most locations that there is a metal frame riveted around where there is a hole in the skin. This takes the place of what came out of the hole and allows the structure to still be strong. Holes without frames are weak points in the structure. A plastic frame won't support the skin and transfer loads. The plastic will be cracked and leaking in 10yrs where that original vent will still be there in 30yrs. Why not put a fan in the old vent? There is plenty of room. "

Actually, that is what I had in mind. I hate the idea of replacing a sturdy aluminum frame with plastic, though it seems that many have done so, and I hear few regrets. I had to remove the vent from the shell as the gasket underneath had dried out and was allowing the assembly to leak. The PO was responsible for the aforementioned goop.
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