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Old 11-29-2010, 09:49 PM   #1
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Default Roof vent? what about heat!

Hi, I am new here, and in the process of trying to find and buy a class b van. (or possibly converting one myself)

I am looking at one on the first of the month, its a 80's model ford van with a fiberglass rv shell.

I asked the owner if it had any leaks, he says he keeps it stored in a garage so has no idea. but the vent on top does not close, so it needs to be replaced and sealed with silicone.

So, I know im getting into a project I just hope its mechanically sound

How hard / expensive will it be to replace the vent? how about sealing the roof?

As a side note, what options do I have for heat? I want to use this for some parking lot boondoccking during travel. and its COLD right now
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Old 11-29-2010, 11:40 PM   #2
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Default Re: Roof vent? what about heat!

Replacing a roof vent should relatively easy to do. The cost will vary depending on what brand and features you want. Maxx and Fantastic are probably the top two brands. A vent with a fan that is the same same size of the opening is better than the vents with the small fans.

Basically, you remove the old vent, clean up any residual putty or caulk. The you bed the new vent on butyl rubber, screw it down and caulk the perimeter and the screw heads with a caulk like Dicor. I don't think I'd use silicone - sometimes it doesn't adhere well to fiberglass.

Here's a link to look at: viewtopic.php?f=33&t=539
and another: viewtopic.php?f=12&t=809

----------------------------

As for heat while boondocking - lots of Class B Vans have a propane furnace. Maybe the one you're looking at has one.
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Old 11-29-2010, 11:47 PM   #3
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Default Re: Roof vent? what about heat!

Re: the vent

You would need to have wiring in place for a vent with fan. I replaced a vent that didn't have a fan in my Class C with one that had a fan - luckily, the coach manufacturer had run the wiring to all the vent openings. The unused wires were just taped up out of the way.
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Old 11-30-2010, 03:56 AM   #4
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Default Re: Roof vent? what about heat!

I would be reluctant to purchase a unit from a guy whose roof vent doesn't close and he says he don't know if it leaks or not because it's in the garage. Has he NEVER had it out in the rain?
I have to think you could get a comparable unit with the option you want for about the same money if you're talking about an 80s unit.
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Old 12-01-2010, 02:56 AM   #5
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Default Re: Roof vent? what about heat!

I think I'd agree with JR on this one. Sounds a bit fishy to me.
Not sure about leaks? Never camped in the rain?
Highly unlikely, in either case.

Have you tried the RV Trader to see what else might be available near you?
Might be worth a google.

BTW, welcome. Buying a good conversion van can be difficult, and you have to
know when to walk away, and be patient. It's worth the extra time to do the
homework, so you're less likely to make a bad decision, and get yourself into a
really costly project. Good luck, and if you have more questions, you know where
to find us.
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Old 12-01-2010, 04:21 AM   #6
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Default Re: Roof vent? what about heat!

I looked for about 2 1/2 years for the one I bought. I kept looking, kept looking. I didn't want a rusty unit, and I did want the sky lights. All there was for a long time was the units in the $30,000-$40,000 price range, and She Who Must Be Obeyed did not want me to spend that kind of money, seeing as I already have 2 Goldwings and what not. Finally this one came up in Saskatchewan. It was an estate sale, one owner, low mileage and in excellent condition. SWMBO could not possibly turn it down, and she didn't. I'm happy as a pig in mud.
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Old 12-01-2010, 11:21 AM   #7
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Default Re: Roof vent? what about heat!

Quote:
Originally Posted by markopolo
Here's a link to look at: viewtopic.php?f=33&t=539
and another: viewtopic.php?f=12&t=809

As for heat while boondocking - lots of Class B Vans have a propane furnace. Maybe the one you're looking at has one.
thanks for the links, seems like a easy job, will A rv dealer or repair shop be able to do the install cheap? if not I can probly find a friend to do it, im disabled and dont know that I can get up on the roof, im game to try but...anyway thanks.\

Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny R
I would be reluctant to purchase a unit from a guy whose roof vent doesn't close and he says he don't know if it leaks or not because it's in the garage. Has he NEVER had it out in the rain?
I have to think you could get a comparable unit with the option you want for about the same money if you're talking about an 80s unit.
well he said there were no leaks at all except maybe through the vent because the close latch broke, he has had it in storage since it broke.../shrug I have talked the guy down to 750 bucks for the van, but he keeps the tv and dvd player..most rvs in this price range I have seen have leak issues somewhere..being a fiberglass shell im hoping the vent and windows are my only concern with leaks. he claims it was a very seldom used recreation /aren't all 80s models lol./

I have been looking at rv trader and ebay and cragslist and this is the first van this cheap that I felt had merit to look at..we will see after today ends. I dont have 2 years to shop for the perfect van, im going through a divorce and need a van to sleep in while I look for a new house. I like the idea of dry camping in the driveway of a house I want to buy for a little while to check out the nehiboor hood...I figure if I cant sleep in the driveway with out problems I probly wont like the area..its so hard to really know a area till you spend some time in it..usually well after escrow closes you realize u hate the nehibors playing music all night or cops get called every friday for domestic v, whatever a week or two of boondocking should help understand the "hood" realiztically if the van lives a year I will be happy...I will probly end up tricking it out and using it for much longer...unless its a lemon.

I someday want to add a roof air, could I just seal the vent closed and use the vent hole later for the AC? or is a vent required?

thanks for all the advice guys
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Old 12-02-2010, 12:10 AM   #8
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Default Re: Roof vent? what about heat!

A vent is nice to have. You can close all of the side windows for security but still have ventilation. Maybe a vent cover would be the way to go for now. It'll keep the rain out. (and maybe just caulk around the existing vent)
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Old 12-02-2010, 12:21 AM   #9
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Default Re: Roof vent? what about heat!

For the vent repair, take it to an RV shop and ask. Can't hurt, and you don't need
to get it done if they want too much. Most roof vents are pretty standard, based
on what I see at my local RV sales/service place and the latch may be replaceable.
Sorry we can't be more help, but it's hard to diagnose something you can't see. It
might be an easy fix. Maybe there's a way to remove the broken bit, and just close
it and clamp it with something.
If the roof inside and/or the floor below the vent don't have any visible problems, you
may be OK. Look for discoloration or warping of bloating of the roof liner (if there is
one) and any warping of the side/wall paneling (again, if there is any), or stains on
the floor or carpeting (pretty obvious, look for water stains, duh?? )
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Old 12-02-2010, 02:05 AM   #10
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Default Re: Roof vent? what about heat!

Well you called it...the "kept inside a garage and has no leaks" turned into a wet couch, and drivers seat with standing water around the lip of the over cab window .however I sorta expected that and am willing to deal with getting it sealed up. haven't quite decided how im going to go about that yet though.

So I ended up buying it for 500 bucks, a 1980 Ford Eldorado Motorhome. It needs new tires, Somethings wrong with the turn signals, needs leaks sealed, and a heater the in dash heater/air unit does not work! Need the back door repaired or replaced and rekeyed. needs plumbed (toilet goes to ground) etc etc..Some one hand me a life jacket I think I just jumped in to it lol

Ill take it to a local RV dealer for a quote on sealing the windows (and a cover or repair for the vent) for sure.

but I read something somewhere on the net about a person spraying on rattle can bed liner over a damaged area and it was water proof...so I am kicking around the idea of just spraying bedliner over the leaky windows..they are not positioned to view out of when driving and I can maybe leave some window area un-sprayed if I want to view out the window. which leads me to the idea of painting the whole van in bedliner..Thoughts?

This beast is going to be a project, I just pray its drive line is sound..
Time to start researching Propane heaters to see if they are safe to operate while in motion..it was a cold drive home.
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Old 12-02-2010, 02:48 AM   #11
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Default Re: Roof vent? what about heat!

Sounds like a project for sure. For any complex repairs to the Ford chassis,
including the dash heater/ac, rear door, and turn signals, you might want to see
if there's a trusted garage or Ford dealership near you. If they aren't able to do the
fix ups cheap, they may be able to suggest someone who could. I'd get the turn signals,
heater/ac, and rear door fixed first, at Ford, if you can "af-Ford" it. Tires can be got pretty
much anywhere, but make sure you get the correct ones for the weight and handling
characteristics of the 1980 Eldorado Motorhome. Don't put P rated tires on it, if it needs
LT (light truck) tires, or you may wind up with more repairs than you already have when
they blow. This is worth looking into before you get new ones. Make sure you do.
If you can afford it, maybe try a Discount Tire store. I got a great deal earlier this year
on a set of 4 Michelins for my Roadtrek 190P.

BTW, does it look like this one?
http://www.thebiglot.com/auto_photos.as ... =Nebraska&
Not a bad looking rig, if it does. More of a B plus, or a wide-body, possibly the first one ever!!!!

The leaks and the roof hatch/vent can probably be worked on by you, if you have the time and
energy to try it. I don't know about spraying bed liner - I'm not familiar with what it'll do or
look like, but it's up to you if you think it'll work. Maybe ask for a second opinion at an RV
shop or a Ford dealer. They may have some experience with leak sealants and their relative
effectiveness. Might be worth a go, but it's not my van.
One thing you may or may not have, is rust behind the inside walls on the van, unless the outer
panels are fiberglass or carbon fiber or some other non-metallic substance. It's a 30 year old
vehicle, and before you spend any real money on it, you want to make sure it's not going to
rust out from under you, with the long term exposure to damp and moisture. If the body behind
the cab isn't metal, you might be OK.

That's all I can think of for now. Maybe some of the other forumites have some ideas?
Be patient. Don't start getting ahead of yourself, as the temptation to get it ready to go
is pretty hard to resist. Try to draw up a plan of attack, and prioritize your repairs by "need
to do" versus "nice to do".
Good luck.
UPDATE- I now realize after looking at the pictures I found, that Ford probably won't be
able to fix your rear door as it's not OEM. Maybe the RV place could help with it as well
as the other body integrity issues. Also, although it's not recommended, you can probably run
the propane furnace at low speeds around town, but I wouldn't try it on the highway. If you
try it and the thing keeps blowing out that will tell you it's NOT a good idea. Also, DO NOT
go anywhere near a gasoline or propane filling station while any propane appliances are on,
or could be started. It's also a good idea to turn off or disable your coach batteries when you
need to get gasoline. If that shuts off your furnace, fridge, etc., that's a good thing.
After refueling, you can drive away from the pumps, stop, and then restart whatever.
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Old 12-02-2010, 03:24 AM   #12
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Default Re: Roof vent? what about heat!

Quote:
Originally Posted by KuZ
needs plumbed (toilet goes to ground) etc etc..Some one hand me a life jacket I think I just jumped in to it lol
Saves messy and potentially embarrassing trips to the dump stations. Nice touch.
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Old 12-02-2010, 03:41 AM   #13
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Default Re: Roof vent? what about heat!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike
Tires can be got pretty
much anywhere, but make sure you get the correct ones for the weight and handling
characteristics of the 1980 Eldorado Motorhome. Don't put P rated tires on it, if it needs
LT (light truck) tires, or you may wind up with more repairs than you already have when
they blow. This is worth looking into before you get new ones. Make sure you do.
If you can afford it, maybe try a Discount Tire store. I got a great deal earlier this year
on a set of 4 Michelins for my Roadtrek 190P.

BTW, does it look like this one?
http://www.thebiglot.com/auto_photos.as ... =Nebraska&
It looks somewhat like that van, though that one is larger, here is the pic from the add that was selling my van..ill be putting more pics up latter and starting a project thread..

Also mine has been gutted of everything but the table and couch and a porta john at the back and someone cut a hole in the back and mounted a house ac unit. I do think the body is all fiberglass..

How would I go about knowing what tires are supposed to be used? I do not want to just look at the tires that are on it as there is no guarantee they will be correct..

And as for disconnecting the battery's, the only battery's are the two under the hood, and there is no shut off other than the engine key...
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Old 12-03-2010, 01:39 PM   #14
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Default Re: Roof vent? what about heat!

I'm not an expert but what I would do is, when in doubt, try contacting the original manufacturer.
If they're long gone, look for the tire specs in the Eldorado owner's manual if there is one.
If you can't find it there, go to a reputable tire retailer (like Discount Tire) and ask them what they think.
The type and capacity of your tires will depend on several factors including the weight of the vehicle.
If it weighs more than a few thousand pounds, it likely requires stronger sidewalled tires with the
LT designation at the beginning of the size, like LT245 75R16 load range E, for example.
Some smaller, lighter, RVs probably can use P rated tires at lower load ranges (like load range D).
Ask a local RV dealer what they think, but get the tires somewhere else as the RV place is
probably more expensive.
2 batteries under the hood? Do you know if one of them is a "house" or "coach" battery to run your
12V DC stuff in the back of your van? Would the manual tell you if your van has 2 starter batteries?
If one of them is much heavier physically, or has a Deep Cycle reference on it somewhere, it's most
likely your house battery. There should be a way to disconnect it, either by a switch or a battery
disconnect of some sort, to help keep it from discharging when you're not using the van, or when
you just want to turn off the 12V current to your appliances. Again, check the owner's manual if there
is one.
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Old 12-03-2010, 03:33 PM   #15
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Default Re: Roof vent? what about heat!

Thanks for the advice mike, ill make some calls. I haven't been able to locate an owners manual, the seller didn't have one. The batteries look like regular automotive batteries as for powering stuff in the coach, everything but a couple of lights have been gutted, and those don't work.
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Old 12-03-2010, 11:18 PM   #16
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Default Re: Roof vent? what about heat!

No owner's manual? That's very common on older conversions, many on here have the
same problem. You may be able to get in touch with the manufacturer, or just try googling
the heck out of "need owner's manual" for your make/model.
You might also try browsing the NADAGuides website. They have a contact email, and I've
asked them questions about older models. They do reply if you're polite!
http://www.nadaguides.com/
Or, try joining RV Net and ask over there. There are folks on there that have all types of
RVs and motorhomes and it's a good source for expertise and knowledge, too. It's free to join.
http://www.rv.net/

As always, good luck.
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Old 12-04-2010, 12:13 AM   #17
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Default Re: Roof vent? what about heat!

Tok some more pics today, heres a few pics of the two under the hood battieres.


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Old 12-04-2010, 12:24 AM   #18
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Default Re: Roof vent? what about heat!

I may have mentioned that the turn signals are not working, Well I replaced all the fuses hoping that might be the issue as one was wrapped in tin foil! but no luck..The emergancy hazard flasher works though, flashing 3 of the 4 red signal lenses but not making the right hand turn signal indicator in dash light up, and the red right turn signal closest to the curb on the back, does not flash..I wonder if this might have something to do with the turn signal, either way needs to be fixed..

Took some pics of what I am dealing with.
Just a pic of the back of the rig

and a close up of the non working light. i

here you can almost see a a wire that is wrapped through one of the 3 mounting screw holes,

and here I have pulled the light out, its a self contained unit but I could not find any manufacturer info. you can see how there are two wires coming out of the housing, but whats the deal with this third wire hooked to the screw hole?
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Old 12-04-2010, 04:15 AM   #19
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Default Re: Roof vent? what about heat!

They look like starter batteries to me.
No idea about the signal lights. Extra ground wire to the frame through the
fibreglass body? Maybe a poorly designed DIY trailer hitch connection? Does it
have a hitch mount?
Are there any vocational high schools or colleges near where you live that teach
automotive repair or engineering? You might try taking the van to them, and
letting the students have a look at it all. It might not cost you as much as a
regular RV shop, and they might appreciate the opportunity to troubleshoot a
real vehicle with real issues and some puzzles, too. They might not charge you
anything.
Just a thought.
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Old 12-04-2010, 04:28 PM   #20
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Default Re: Roof vent? what about heat!

Must be a ground wire as Mike already mentioned.

Are all the bulbs tested and working?
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