I said it before and I’ll say it again:
Doesn’t time fly when we are having fun? 😉
On the last log book entry, I mentioned the excitement of having the first RV window going up… What I didn’t really realise two months ago was the huge amount of work involved in converting a coach into an RV… and doing the lot by yourself!
The other thing that just takes all your time away is measuring things right… You see, in a house the majority of corners are square, the ceiling is flat and so are the walls… You have none of it in a coach! Everything is curved to some extent and while it is not impossible to get the job right, it does however take so much more time in ensuring that the measurements are correct.
I would also like to mention that removing the original windows and replacing them with proper RV windows, actually makes sense. Without going into technical details lets just say that, even by having only converted one side of the coach, I can already feel the difference in temperature… A flat 5 mm glass, simply cannot compete with 60mm of insulation (50mm XPS plus both panels). It really has made a huge difference and I’m sure that by the time both sides are done, it will be an excellent living environment..
I did like the coach look and didn’t want to replace the entire skin, as there was nothing wrong with the lower half, so in the end I went for black matte panels that still look a bit like the original tinted window..
The first job was to remove the windows and if you have never done it, please be sure to keep reading as there is an easy technique to achieve this.. Having watched the professional window guys at work several times, it didn’t really help as for start, they are normally working on a broken window and they also have to be concerned with the internal furniture of the coach.. In my case the priority was not to break the glass as it goes everywhere and it takes ages to clean up.
The only two tools I used was a set of blade knives, 18mm and the bigger 25 mm later in the process and a pair of suction cup.. First thing is to remove the Sikaflex around the perimeter of the window. Just pay attention not to scratch the body which in my case is fibreglass.
Once the outside perimeter is clear put the suction cups on the glass for later on and start to cut the sikaflex under the window on the inside.
Now you only want to cut the bottom and the two sides, and keep the top for last. It may seem like hard work but it is not as there is only a little line of sikaflex holding the glass in place and if you are lucky (as I was), the sikaflex is quite old and brittle.
It just took an average of 15 minutes per window and once the first one is off, it does get easier as you now have more room outside to also insert the blade under the glass…
What ever you do always have the blade against the glass and not the body of the coach, unless you want to play with fibreglass and rivets later on… 😉
Once the windows are out, its time to examine the frame, the body and to completely remove all the old sikaflex. Just remember that the new sikaflex will have go back in the same spot again, so clean preparation is essential for a successful result.. Once most of the sikaflex and rust, if you find any, have been cleaned, is time to weld the new frame in place so that your windows will fit the new location..
In the picture you can see the new galvanise frame and some of the new insulation panels. Welding the new frame was actually a bit of a problem because of the two extension cords used to bring the power from the shed to the coach, it was just too far and the welder did struggle a bit.. Then I realised that I already had the generator in location under the floor, so in the end I made the new generator welcome by testing his capabilities from the word go…
Once the new frame is in place you will need to glue some spacers for the new panel. The reason you need spacers is because the glass was 5 mm, so unless you are using the same thickness for your new panel, you will need to space them out, so that when the new panels are installed they are flush with the rest of the body..
Once the spacers are on, then its just a matter of applying the new Sikaflex and putting the new panel in position.. You don’t really need to hold the panel for that long as the Sikaflex will grab on the panel pretty quickly, and it also helps the fact that the frame of the coach is normally not perpendicular but it has a bit of an inward angle..
If everything went to plan you should be able to install the insulation within 24-48 hours (depending on the weather, the hotter the better) and the electrical cable/conduit you may have.. Then it is time to cut the outside panel for the new window.. A good Jigsaw is all you need as the composite panels are not that thick…
As usual, measure twice and cut once.. It is not really that hard as you have the new frame inside guarding the blade, so you only have to mark the four corners.. Here you can see the two new panels and one has had the protective film already removed..
On the panels it tells you that you have up to 45 days to remove the protective film, but once the window hole is cut, there is no need to leave it on.. Once the outside panel has been cut, then it is time for the inside panel to be installed and cut for the window to finally being installed.. There are plenty of choices for windows but I had my mind set on the Eurovision as they are simple, light and have a nice internal blind ensemble. You can also add curtains at a later date, as it already has the mounting for the track.. I also like the fact that you don’t need to drill any holes to install the window.. I could have gone for the sliding windows, but I always had bad luck with them in the past, as after a while they don’t seem to move freely any longer and you also can’t keep the window open when it rains… A friend did argue about the fact that with the sliding one you can have them open while you are driving, but personally I don’t like the idea..
Well… here it is! Gigi finally has his first RV window installed and I’ve got to be honest, I’m quite please with the end result…
By the end of this month I should have both sides finished…