The roof will be replaced in two parts. While it would be preferable to have it all one piece to eliminate the seam, using two pieces allows me to get the rear portion closed in before starting on the more challenging cabover extension. Using one piece would also involve working with a much larger sheet of aluminum increasing the amount of time I would need an extra pair of hands (or two), and increasing the risk of damaging the panel. The front panel will overlap the rear one by at least 8″ which should provide for a more than adequate seal.
The original roof was .032, but I’m using 6061 T6 0.040 for additional strength for anything that might be added to the roof such as vents and solar panels.
The steps I took to install the panel:
- Clean surrounding panels well. I used oven cleaner because I had it and it’s what I’ll use to remove the anodizing from the panels that are not replaced. I followed that with soap and water and then mineral spirits.
- Where one panel overlaps other panels I used a hand punch to punch holes every 1.25″, the same spacing as the original rivets on the camper. I find the hand punch to be quicker and easier than using a drill, and it makes holes that, usually don’t require de-burring. If you’re punching or drilling the holes over areas where there were holes previously you want to either drill from the inside through the existing holes or stagger the hole location to avoid drilling a new hole in a place where it will partially line up with a previous hole. This would cause the drill bit to drift resulting in an enlarged hole. Where possible it’s a lot easier to drill the holes in the overlapping panel on a workbench as a guide for drilling the through holes when the panel is on the camper.
- I then placed the panel onto the camper and clamped it. I drilled a hole at each end through the punched holes and used Clecos to hold the panel in place. With the panel held securely to the camper in the correct place I drilled out the rest of the holes installing Clecos every foot or so to keep the panel flat and secure.
- There were several holes in the side panels near the roof that remained from the fridge and plumbing vents. I decided to close them off at this time so their patches could extend under the roof panel.
- With the roof and patches in place I went around the perimeter with painter’s tape to mask off the surrounding panels so it will be easier to clean up the sealant. The photo below shows the main roof panel at the top with a patch which covers the holes from the fridge vent and a plumbing vent. The aluminum looks different because the top piece has a clear protective film and the patch has a white protective film.
- The panel was then removed, a bead of Trempro 635 was applied to the perimeter of the underlying panels along the line of holes and the panel reinstalled with Clecos. This results in the Trempro squeezing out around the panel and through the rivet holes for a good seal.
- The panel was then buck riveted in place, a rather messy job due to the Trempro. It took three of us two hours to rivet the 4′ x 6′ panel, which is just at the long end of the Trempro working time. Buck riveting requires two people, one on the pneumatic riveter and one to hold the bucking bar. It’s helpful to have a third person as a gopher.
- After riveting I used mineral spirits to clean up the Trempro around the rivet heads before it cured.
- The following day after the Trempro had cured I ran a utility knife around the panel and pulled up the masking tape which left a clean edge.