Friday, August 16, 2013

Just doing it.

I had never cut a hole in a van roof before. I had put off doing it. I could turn a perfectly good roof into a leak. But if I wanted a vent in the Rolling Steel Tent, it had to be done.

There are professionals who do that sort of thing all the time. Better to leave it to them, right?

But what's the difference between the pros and I? They've done it and I haven't. They learned by doing.

Going back a few years, I had never worked on a motorcycle. I knew it was about nuts and bolts, but my biggest fear was that I'd open something and springs and parts would go flying and I'd need some big expensive machine available only in select parts of the world, and piles of money, to get everything back together.

But then I discovered manuals.


Instructions with pictures. And warnings not to open certain parts or things would go flying.

With that, I was able to tear apart and rebuild an entire motorcycle. I should be able to do the same with something as simple as a roof vent.

Thanks to the Internet, there are all sorts of instructions and helpful advice online. It turned out I had the necessary tools already, I only needed some specialized materials, also available online. (Oh, the running around and phone calls saved by Google and Amazon.)

So, armed with tools, materials and knowledge, I needed only to wait for enough dry weather, which came yesterday.

(Lurking to the side, there, is the angle grinder that nearly severed my finger a few weeks ago.
Get back on that horse and ride, cowboy.)
Cutting the hole was quick and easy. Getting the vent sealed into it, water tight, was the tricky part. But butyl tape and a generous application of automotive window adhesive got the job done.

The black goop isn't terribly neat, but today's rain has shown it to be effective. I can make it pretty later. When it stops raining.

So, now I have my vent and the right to call myself a vent installer. I've done it before. I know what I'm doing.

What might you be able to do if you just did it?


  1. Thanks for that last message. And thanks for sharing, I'm enjoying your journey so far, and dreaming of things not yet done. Cheers.

  2. Your thoughts on putting vent on the side of a van pro's/con's?

    1. It'll work fine with adequate sealing between the vent and the van and between the lid and the base. But the lid on my FanTastic vent closes with just a lip that overlaps a ridge on the base -- not a seal. I know someone who has the vent mounted vertically, but I wouldn't do it. Some other vent might seal better.