The next instalment in the tale of the van conversion involved cutting more holes. After the nerve-wracking experience of making that first cut in a perfectly sound panel in order to fit the window, we were a bit more confident this time. There was still a lot of measuring and cardboard template making involved though!
Rather than fit more windows in the side of the van, we decided to let more light in through rooflights. This was partly to improve insulation in the body of the van and give more flexibility in layout & places to mount storage, and partly to keep it looking more like a works van for occasional stealth camping. The addition of openings in the roof would also make it easier to have a good flow of air through the van for ventilation purposes.
We had hoped to fit one large sky light above the bed at the back of the van, but the positioning of reinforcing struts across the roof of the van gave us very limited options. We couldn’t find a rectangular option that would fit, but did come across these mini-heiki rooflights which come with fly screen and blind included. Two of these fit next to each other about 2/3 of the way down the van. This isn’t ideal, but far enough away from the window in the door to allow a good airflow when they are open.
These roof lights have large radiused corners (24mm), so we marked out where the cuts needed to go with tape and started by drilling the corner holes with a step drill, as we couldn’t find the correct sized hole saw.
Once the corners were defined, it was a relatively straight forwards task to cut between them with the reciprocating saw to complete the profile of the opening, albeit a bit tiring holding the drill above your head in a space you can’t stand up straight in. Once the apertures were cut the edges were tidied up with a file to remove sharp edges straighten up a few deviations.
Before we bonded in the skylight assembly, we took the extra time to protect the newly exposed metal edges around each of the cuts with zinc primer. Hopefully moisture will never find it’s way in there, but over time seals become less reliable, so it made sense to spend the extra few minutes now for the added protection. We masked off the apertures with newspaper to prevent overspray onto the roof, and sprayed from the inside.
Once the paint was dry it was in with the skylight assemblies which are simply bonded in using Sikaflex adhesive / sealant applied to the dedicated channel in the plastic body moulding.
The assemblies were then dropped in from above and secured with a simple wooden frame inside. The adhesive is moisture cured, and we left it for 24hrs before testing that they were watertight and that they opened properly once installed. All good!
It has made a huge difference to the amount of light inside, as you would expect. As well as being nicer to be in once it is a camper, the extra light also makes it a lot nicer to work in during the conversion.
On to the electrics next…….