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Old 07-10-2013, 07:48 PM   #1
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Thoughts on replacing roof interior panel with Plexiglass

I was thinking about replacing the interior roof panel with a piece of frosted plexiglass so I can make it back lite. Any pro or cons of doing this?
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Old 07-10-2013, 09:34 PM   #2
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Are you contemplating replacing the entire center panel or just sections?
I've had that panel off. With 50 plus rivets, lights, A/C and antenna controls it was a real PIA to remove.
There are wire harnesses, tubing and insulation above that panel. You'll have to figure out what to do with that when you build you build the light boxes. LED’s I'm guessing? The extrusion that holds the panel is barely wide enough to hold the aluminum sheet. You'd have to come up with some way to trim out and secure the edge of the plexi.
Some might say that the panel has some structural element to it. I don't know. In any event I don't think you could rivet the plexiglass to the roof ribs without cracking it. I think with the weight you'd have to secure it somehow.


Now. With all that being said, I think that's the coolest idea I've read on the Forum in a long time. With a mat finish on the exposed side it would blend in during the day and by night could be set up to bring a wide variety of lighting possibilities to play.


I hope you can figure out a way to pull this off.
Post pics when you do.


Good Luck,
Tom
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Old 07-10-2013, 10:39 PM   #3
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I already have the center panel down because I've replaced the Ac and both vents on my roof. I'm also reinforcing a portion of the roof to hold a ceiling mounted tv. My thoughts on securing the plexi are self taping screws and then using a J trim down the sides. The lighting I'm using for the ceiling is green LED light strips which I will also be using for under cabinet accent, and also for some hanging cabinets.

I just wonder if it will make much difference for the heat coming through from what was orig there to the plexi I plan on putting back up.
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Old 07-11-2013, 05:37 AM   #4
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Plexiglass is an acrylic polymer. It is rather brittle and has a tendency to crack around the holes you use to mount it with in an Airstream. Many have mounted acrylic brag boards to in inside of doors and other places in Airstreams that tend to flex and move during their travels and resulted in cracks. You would be better off using polycarbonate sheet and drilling out the mounting holes to a larger size to allow for the movement. Do not snug the mounting screws up too tight, or use shoulder screws, for mounting. If you need to remove the insulation to gain space to mount the lights, that will affect you heat gain during the summer.
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Old 07-11-2013, 05:44 AM   #5
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Good luck with this idea. I must say it is a huge PITA to get the old one out. I bent mine in a couple places because I tried to do it alone. Your idea sounds cool but like the above said, there is a lot of stuff up there including all of the wiring for the electrical systems. Can't wait to see this...
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Old 07-11-2013, 06:52 AM   #6
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What kind of lights would you be using for the backlights? If it's something that doesn't generate a lot of heat such as LEDs, then an alternative would be to use white or ivory-colored cloth, painted both sides with a clear laquer to stiffen it. Kind of like doping the fabric on old-time biplane wings. Not only is it more flexible than frosted Plexiglas or polycarbonate, but it's lighter in weight, and easy to replace if it gets damaged. All you need thin wooden furring strips glued to the ribs, to staple the cloth to (or use upholstery tacks for a more finished look).

To decide what thickness of cloth to use, you can just hold test swatches up to the lights you intend to use, and see who much it diffuses the light. You can go thinner or thicker on the cloth as necessary.

And best of all, if you finish the job and decide you don't like how it looks, you're not out much money to rip it out and start over with something else.

Suggestion, to minimize heat gain in the summer, put a layer of 10mm Prodex directly against the inside of the trailer skin, and then mount the backlights below that.
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Old 07-11-2013, 09:45 AM   #7
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Thanks for all the advise, Dwight is lexan a polycarbonate? I'm glad you mention drilling out the holes a little bigger.
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Old 07-11-2013, 10:18 AM   #8
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I realize that the 2" wall thickness in an Airstream doesn't provide much space for insulation, but it is something. Are you not afraid that having no insulation overhead and the sun beating down from the Texas sky on the roof of your trailer might add considerably to the interior temperature?
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Old 07-11-2013, 10:47 AM   #9
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Lexan is the GE tradename for their polycarbonate. It has higher ductility than acrylic.
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Old 07-11-2013, 11:30 AM   #10
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I will still have insulation between the outer skin and the plexiglass.
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Old 07-12-2013, 10:50 PM   #11
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This is what my cabinets look like with the green LEDs

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Old 07-12-2013, 10:55 PM   #12
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Random placement with different temps and wattage could give a depth of field similar to the stars at night,,,,,

Things that make you say....hhhmmmmm!
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