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Old 02-07-2016, 11:18 AM   #1331
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Originally Posted by OTRA15 View Post
The construction project manager in me feels that there must be a solution, but I haven't read this entire thread yet. Have you described the geometry of the ducts in an earlier post? Surface mounted, size of opening for supply duct, and so forth . . .

I am on the road now, but will read the pertinent posts here later.

Thank you for any guidance which might help,

Peter
Thanks for your interest, Peter. As this thread has over a thousand posts and addresses all aspects of the 25FB, I am posting a couple of pictures of one of the errant vents and the hole in New Lucy's ceiling that it goes into.

Brian
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Old 02-07-2016, 12:56 PM   #1332
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Falling vents is a common problem with the new 2016 ducted air directional vent design, even for us that got a 2016 with them as original equipment. We have had all of ours replaced under warranty and that did not really help. And yes, they tend to fall out when not moving, so road vibration is not the main issue. Thermal expansion and contraction of the metal inner skin vs. the plastic vent body may be the more significant factor, because the tab grip area is very small and aluminum likely expands or contracts more than the plastic used on the tabs.

I see the directional vent design as being flawed. The locking tabs on the vents have several very small steps along a ramp profile on the tabs that provides very minimal surface area on each tab to lock in place. The steps are so small that thermal contraction of the inner skin may be enough cause the vents to fall out. I assume these small steps were provided to allow the vents to be easily removed, but then once removed, the ramp steps are likely damaged and will not hold as well the next time they are inserted. If you were to cut off the ramped steps and thus make the surface area of the latch larger (e.g. one big flat area), they might lock into place better, but might become impossible to remove without totally mangling the vent.

Another issue is that the vents are are designed flat but are being mounted into a ceiling contour that is not flat. This means the vent may need to be warped to get all tabs long the perimeter to grab. or some tabs may not grab at all. Also, I believe that in at least some locations on our trailer, at least part of the vent opening is cut into overlapped interior skin sections which may make it impossible for some tabs to grab at all where there are two layers, because the steps cannot accommodate metal that thick.

I would also love to see the design drawings showing the tab dimensions compared to the hole opening dimensions. If the design dimensions of these two parts were not correct, you might have a loose fit by design. Then I would love to see a study of the actual vent tab and hole dimensions in production compared to the design dimensions. If the holes are coming out larger than design, or the tabs are coming out smaller than design, this could also lead to a loose fit, but that would be a quality control issue. Proper engineering and quality control at a major automaker would be on top of all these details. I wonder if Airstream is as thorough?

Finally, when you look at the directional vents as compared to the open screen vents, they restrict the airflow greatly. I would guess that the total opening area of each vent was reduced by greater than 75% in the fully open position as compared to the open screen design used in 2015. This probably makes the Airstream conditioner fan work much harder trying to push the air out and it likely significantly reduces the overall cooling ability of the Air Conditioner. Because of this, we have considered replacing some of the original directional vents that come on our 2016 with the open screen design used on the 2015's, but we have not done this yet. We wouldn't want to replace them all, because there is value to being able to direct air flow for at least some of them. Anybody have a few open screen vents they don't want?

In the end, I think adding tape to the vent tabs of circular opening in the roof is merely a band-aid that may buy a little time before the next time they fall out. I think there the best solution would the a total redesign of the directional vents that would have a better tab design, or maybe metal tabs, or might even require them to be screwed in place. Of course Airstream probably wouldn't want to consider screwing the vents in place because it would slow down production vs. the current "snap in place" design.

Maybe there is an aftermarket opportunity for someone here to design a better mouse trap (i.e. a better directional vent that solves both the retention and airflow issues), but I don't have that desire myself. I will keep paying attention, though, in case someone else develops a robust solution.
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Old 02-07-2016, 01:02 PM   #1333
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I just measured the vent holes in Lucy's ceiling. They are exactly 5" in diameter.

Brian
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Old 02-07-2016, 01:09 PM   #1334
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How about a dab of silicone on the plastic? I not talking gobs. It looks like there's a half inch landing to put it on. I know we're anti silicone but it would be hidden by the directional cover and would hold good enough.
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Old 02-07-2016, 01:14 PM   #1335
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I just measured the vent holes in Lucy's ceiling. They are exactly 5" in diameter.

Brian
Hi Brian,
I don't mean to be nit-picky, but as a retired engineer details matter. Did you measure all the holes (i.e. they might not all be the same) in multiple directions (i.e. they might be oval and not round)? And did you measure with calipers (i.e. not just an eye ball measurement with a simple tape measure)?

The locking tab surfaces on the vents are so small that a 1/32" variation on hole size might have a significant impact on retention. I don't have any vents to look at right now, but from memory I'd estimate the depth of the steps on the locking tabs to be 1/32" or less, which could make very small hole diameter differences very important.

But of course, I don't know what the correct hole size was even meant to be. A exact 5.00" sounds likely, but without the part drawing we cannot be sure. And getting a measurement on the vent tabs is even harder.
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Old 02-07-2016, 01:36 PM   #1336
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Not a solution to keep the vent cover in place, but if there's a way to connect it to some fishing line somewhere in the ceiling - at least if it pops out it won't hit the floor and wake you up. I know it's not what you're looking for but I'd start there since a redesign seems like the longer term answer. Good luck!!
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Old 02-07-2016, 01:51 PM   #1337
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Thanks for the photos Brian.

I agree with Joe and others that the tabs that go up into the duct supply hole have ridiculously small plastic steps on them, and that thermal movement (and vibration IMO) are the cause of the problem. And ditto on the precision of the "round" hole in the inner aluminum skin being a factor.

This is basically a bad design.

When the design engineers try to hide attaching systems like this, they usually make things worse! Have you ever tried to remove the small LED ceiling light fixtures with those weird little spring-loaded clips holding them in? I dare you to get it right the first time, without bending/creasing the inner ceiling skin!

I would bite the bullet and use stainless steel truss head allen sheet metal screws through the surface flange of each vent -- at least 4 per vent because you won't be able to tighten them much with stripping the ceiling aluminum skin. A dap of silicon as you seat each one wouldn't hurt (hidden behind the surface flange).

Is this inelegant? Yes, but it is an improvement IMO. Other than a total redesign -- with some "framing" behind the edge of the aluminum skin's "rough opening"-- and with a well-thought-out hinge/catch/release system for removing the vent for cleaning etc. -- the inelegance of the surface screws, if done neatly, could actually look pretty cool.

And it lets you move on and leave this issue behind.

Try one in the least visible location maybe for looks, and see what you think? Again, be careful tightening the screws to avoid stripping the ceiling aluminum skin.

Good luck,

Peter

PS -- I spec'd SS truss head screws with an allen head because they don't stick up much. Jamestown Distributors out of RI used to carry them, but there are probably many other suppliers on the Net. A box of 100 should not run you over $25 incl. shipping IMO, although I last bought them in the 1990's! An alternative would be regular SS Phillips head sheet metal screws which are sold all over.

PS2 -- In the meantime, you could add 3-4 Z-clips at each location from thin scrap aluminum -- about 1/2" wide and about 3" long. Hard to describe maybe:

-- (for each one of the 3-4 clips per opening) stick about 1" of the 3" length behind the ceiling hole lying flat against the back of the ceiling skin
-- bend the remaining 2" of length 180 degrees so it lies flat on the bottom of the ceiling (the inside of the trailer)
-- put vent up, and bend Z-clips back over the surface flange of the vent.

Also inelegant, but they won't fall down for now.
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Old 02-07-2016, 02:12 PM   #1338
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Thanks for all the interest and suggestions. I did measure three of the holes and each was right at 5" in diameter.

I did consider screwing the the vents to the ceiling and be done with it, but there is a problems with doing this. If I did this, the vents would no longer be adjustable as to direction and opening and and closing off.

I have also considered adding some kind of mild adhesive to the flange. I haven't tried this yet.

I agree that Airstream could have done a much better job of designing and executing this feature.

Brian
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Old 02-07-2016, 02:19 PM   #1339
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This vent cover falling problem sounds as if it could be wide spread. Airstream is a quality trailer. It seems to me they should put a team of product engineers working diligently to solve this problem. Then issue a recall to bring the trailers in for the fix. It's hard to imagine that there is so little factory help with this. Is there something missing here?
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Old 02-07-2016, 02:42 PM   #1340
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Ours is a 2016, and we haven't had this problem with the vent covers falling out, at least not yet. This is the first I have heard of it actually. I can see how bending the plastic tabs wouldn't work, but I wonder if you could glue a strong piece of small metal wire, like part of the right sized paper clip, at least half way up on the tab so that it would permanently hold the tab out a little bit?

If this ever happens to mine, I may try something like that on two or four opposing tabs to see if it would work.

Or maybe wrap some wire all the way around the vent through the tabs in such a way that it would hold them out a little bit?

Just some initial thoughts.
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Old 02-07-2016, 06:29 PM   #1341
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This issue with the vents seems to be widespread enough that Airstream needs to do something about it. I am hoping that they will come up with a solution.

Brian
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Old 02-07-2016, 10:22 PM   #1342
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Just for an additional data point, we have not had any issue with our 2015 directional vents falling out or coming loose in the first 9 months of use of our 27 EB. The vents were installed as original equipment. Joe
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Old 02-08-2016, 05:35 AM   #1343
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[snip]
I did consider screwing the the vents to the ceiling and be done with it, but there is a problems with doing this. If I did this, the vents would no longer be adjustable as to direction and opening and and closing off.
[snip
Thanks, I wondered about that. If you used washers to separate the vent flange from the ceiling's inner skin, would that allow adjustments etc.? Or does the plastic from the moving part of the vent fit within the flange in such a way that there is no room for the screws near the outside of the circular flange?

Or maybe we are trying to put lipstick on a pig, as they say?

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Old 02-08-2016, 08:03 AM   #1344
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Thanks, I wondered about that. If you used washers to separate the vent flange from the ceiling's inner skin, would that allow adjustments etc.? Or does the plastic from the moving part of the vent fit within the flange in such a way that there is no room for the screws near the outside of the circular flange?

Or maybe we are trying to put lipstick on a pig, as they say?


There just doesn't seem to be any way to attach the vent to the ceiling with screws without disabling the directional and closing off functions.

Brian
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