Our bus was used by a Central Oklahoma school district for the majority of its existence. That means it drove up and down red-dirt county roads, sat in the blistering sun every day of the summer, and was likely never washed properly. The roof was funky! I hauled the pressure washer up there and made short-ish work of the dirt and grime that was caked on our roof.
The side by side is very telling of the junk that was up there. It took around 35-40 minutes to remove all of the stuff from the roof. I then made a mad dash for the garage fan to dry the roof before it froze over night.
Once the roof was clean, I was ready to instal my Fantastic Fan and tape up our roof seams with Eternabond roof repair tape.
First, I made sure the roof was extremely clean...well for a roof at least. It was clean enough that I would probably eat a sandwich off of it, but not pudding. Does that make sense? Anyways, once clean I was ready for my fan install.
Background-We had previously filled the void left by our emergency escape hatch with a piece of LEXAN. It is supposed to be extremely strong, cheaper than steel, and looked cool. Now when I installed the LEXAN I used a generous amount of waterproof sealant and plenty of self-tapping screws. This area hadn't leaked yet, but it was only a matter of time with so many screws coming through the roof. More on the story of how we lost the roof hatch...
Thanksgiving 2016- Rachael and I travelled to Jenks, OK to attend my nephew's 2 year old birthday party. We thought it would be nice to show the family the vehicle that we were going to be attempting to build and move into, so we drove the bus. As always, Rachael rode shotgun (which is really a folding camping chair pulled up next to the driver's seat) and we puttered our way to Jenks. The bus did great! We didn't have any problems and the family loved it! At one point we had my family and my sister-in-law's family all in it at once playing with buttons, opening doors, and asking outlandish questions about how we planned to poop in the bus. Once we left Jenks, we drove to Rachael's parent's house near Bixby, OK. We pulled in and were greeted with the same enthusiasm as we experienced with my family. The only difference was when her dad walked in the bus and asked, "Did you have a hole in your roof when you left Tahlequah?"
We had lost our roof hatch door somewhere between Jenks, OK and Bixby, OK, which was quite a lot of ground to cover. On her father's advice, we took a different vehicle in search of the missing hatch lid, hoping that it wasn't the cause of some 20-car pile-up on the highway or something similarly devastating. Just before giving up our search near the half-way point of our route, we found a lonesome hatch door laying in the ditch like it belonged there. We retrieved it as quickly as possible and hopefully left no witnesses.
If you want the quick version of the install, check out the how-to video on our YouTube channel. If you haven't yet, subscribe to our channel and get updates when we post a new video.
I traced out a pattern on the LEXAN, drilled some corner holes, and used a jigsaw to cut the opening. The opening required some trimming, but the fan dropped in as easy as the instructions described (PS the instructions were of little help).
The model of fan we purchased is one step up from the most bare bones model available and is available on Amazon. Check out our affiliate links at the bottom of this post for more information.
We picked this fan because it offered all of the functions that we needed: exhaust function and variable speeds. We don't need a wi-fi remote to control the fan on the roof of our ~100 square foot tiny house on wheels. The motivation for this project is to simplify life, not make it more complicated.
Once the hole was cut and the fan fit snug, I laid down a run of Butyl tape (also in the affiliate links below) and sat the fan back in the hole. Ensure that the hinge of the fan cover is facing the front side of the vehicle and opens up to the rear. Once the tape of was down, I pre-drilled all of the holes and fastened the fan to the LEXAN with stainless steel bolts, washers, and nuts. The benefit of the LEXAN is that you can see the butyl tape sealing to the material from below and we felt very comfortable after watching the tape seal that we would have no problems with leaks.
Next was the task of taping off the seams of the bus roof with Eternabond Roof Repair tape (you guessed it, check out the affiliate links at the bottom for what we ordered).
Non-Pro Tip: Eternabond is extremely sticky! It bonds almost immediately to everything, so have a plan before you peal off the backing.
I laid the tape along every roof seam and overlapped enough to cover the rivets as well. I then taped the front air vent-like contraption above the driver seat and taped off the LEXAN and Fantastic Fan. Importantly, I did not completely seal off the roof vent above the driver's seat. This will be where the power cables coming from our solar panels will enter the cab and run down to our batteries. More on that in a later blog post. Read the directions for the Eternabond carefully as the manufacturer describes practices to eliminate air bubbles and how to properly apply the tape. Because it is winter in Oklahoma, it is not warm enough to apply our roof paint yet. It needs somewhere around 50°
That's it! Now you have all of the information that you need to install your own Fantastic Fan and repair your roof! If you enjoyed the blog post and want to follow along on our build, follow us on Instagram @Okienomads and check out our YouTube channel for more videos like the one in this post.
As mentioned above, check out our affiliate links below and if you buy something through our links we get a commission and you get a great product...WIN-WIN!