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Installation of MaxxFan fan / vent in rear of ProMaster Camper Van
(The forum tipped the images on their sides, despite having already rotated them on my computer. Since this is a bit annoying to look at, I've also included pictures in Imgur album - link at bottom of post)

I know this thread exists already, but Google isn't picking it up well because of the title, I think. So, a couple pictures and pieces of advice from my vent install.

1. Pick your fan: I went with the MaxxAir Delux 7500k, but all fans are pretty much the same I gather.

2. Pick your spot: I went with a mid-rear position, rather than placing it in the apparent sunroof location right behind the drivers cabin. I wanted to get the fan above the bed (my van is becoming a camper), to pull air through the vehicle. If the cargo area has 4 roof "sections", this would be the second one from the back. The obvious challenge with this location is the ribbed roof, which really wasn't as bad to deal with as I was expecting.

3. Make a "template" for the hole you are about to slice: In retrospect, I would have spent a lot LESS time on this step. My recommendation is to make a 14ish inch square out of some cardboard. I say 14ish inch square, because if you come out slightly crooked or off 1/8th of an inch, its no problem because of how I actually marked and cut out the hole - see below.

4. Side to side placement on the roof: I went dead center. It might be ever so slightly easier if you offset it by one roof rib so your cuts are ending up on TOP of a rib, rather than on the angled space between a high and low section of the roof ribs.

5. Forward / back placement. As I mentioned, I went with the second roof section from the rear, in the middle of the roof braces. However, turning this general position into reality while sitting on the roof was a chore. So, I brought the fan housing into the van, held it up on the ceiling exactly where I wanted it to be and marked dead center of that square. With that spot marked, I drilled a single hole UP through the ceiling so I could find the same spot on the roof. This let me place the housing in the exact same spot on TOP of the roof.

6. Drawing a square on the roof, so you know where to cut: This was easier said than done. I tried and tried with the cardboard template (and one of those China pens / all surface markers so I had more than once chance). Good thing I used a rub-away marker, since the template proved about useless. (Template was useful to visualizing approximately where the vent would go, but unhelpful in actually drawing lines on the roof.) It was REALLY hard to convince myself I was exactly in line with the roof and the fan would end up straight. I would never forgive myself for cutting a crooked hole in my roof..

My solution was to take a piece of strong cord or string and tie it between the roof rack mounting nubbins, which did a great job of creating a perfectly straight line across the roof of the van, only 7 or so inches ahead of where the fan would end up. Once that straight string-line was in place, it was easy to measure the from the string line back to where the forward most edge of my hole should be (this measurement is figured out by using the center hole I drilled in step 5, which was the middle of exactly where I wanted the fan). I measured this same distance on every roof "ridge" and marked them (this time with Sharpie!). Once I connected these dots, I had my forward line. From this straight, accurately placed line, I could build the rest of my 14" by 14" square with a lot of measuring and re-measuring.
guide string and tape outline.jpg

7. Prep inside: My wife had the super idea of loosely taping a big piece of plastic (I sliced open the protective plastic bag the fan was shipped in) to the ceiling all around where the hole would be. We taped it up good and it did a GREAT job of catching all those super sharp metal filings that the saber saw produced. Once the hole for the van is cut, and you've cleaned up the roof and edges, you just carefully remove the plastic and throw the whole shrapnel filled pouch in the dumpster.
filing catch with hole.jpg

8. Prep the roof: Hard to explain, but check out the picture. I put masking tape down around the lines for a couple reasons. First, I wanted to protect the roof from the skids on the jigsaw, and second, the tape gave the skits something to rest on for the cuts going across the roof ribs (this means you have to make those cross-rib cuts first, or you'll slice through your tape).
tape outline.jpg

9. Practice cutting: I did a little slicing around in the middle of the square to get used to the feeling of the saw in metal. I've never cut anything metal before, ever, so didn't know what to expect.

10. Cut! Drill some holes on the INSIDE of your lines. These can be close to the corners, but don't need to be - somewhere along the line is fine. Either way, you'll need to go back and clean up the corners. As I mentioned above, I cut the cross-rib lines first. As I finished each cut I used some gorilla tape to secure the inner square of material to the still solid roof to prevent vibration.
first cut.jpg

11. Clean up a bit: Careful wiping those tiny razor sharp filings off the roof - if you aren't, they will scratch your roof. I ended up using a handheld vacuum. I also used a file to smooth off the edges of the hole, since there were burrs all over. Before removing the plastic bag taped up in step 7, I also placed the fan frame in place and drilled small pilot holes for the screws, since those create filings too.

12. Apply some primer: metal primer on all the new cut edges, as well as the pilot screw holes. Cheap, quick - necessary? No idea, but seems like a good idea.
primer.jpg

13. While that primer dried I prepped the fan mount by placing "butyl" tape around the edge that would contact the roof. I used 2 overlapping layers, making sure to cover all the tape joints. Pretty simple. I also prepped the low points between the roof ribs by building up the low points (see Dawn's picture here: http://www.promasterforum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=15729&page=2).
butyl tape.jpg

14. Screw it: As long as you keep track of what screws in the kit go where, this is pretty straightforward, with the exception of getting the screws to hit the pilot holes through all that butyl tape. Just took some fuss, but no big deal. I started the screws with a drill, but finished them by hand. I guess they're tight enough? I could have cranked down on them more probably - not sure how to say when the housing is tight enough.

15. Mount the fan: This was a little challenging - the new MaxxAir fans have a gasket around the fan housing, which probably does a great job of keeping water out, but also made screwing the fan onto the housing a challenge. Right amount of pressure in the right place, and some patience, did the trick.

16. Sealant: I let that butyl tape squish out overnight and throughout the next day. Then I used a putty knife to cut away the excess and applied some silicone sealant around the perimeter of the housing and on top of each screw head.

Done!
installed vent.jpg

I also ran some wire to the battery with some conduit, but this will change when I add the second battery in the rear of the van. Tip: before insulating or paneling, run some conduit through the empty spots in the van frame for easy cable running in the future. Also, a coat hanger made a great (chimpanzee simple) tool to run the wire under the plastic mat and under the drivers seat to the battery housing. Undo the hanger, bend one end into tight "U", stick one end from the battery housing, under the mat toward the cargo area until it pops out from under the mat. Then tape the wire to the end of the hanger and just pull it back to the battery.
wiring and conduit.jpg

Imgur album here:
http://imgur.com/a/ml4SW#lHHJlZb
 

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Great job! I have the same fan and it is easier to install with the van on its side.
One thing that I messed up was not having enough wire slack for when or if I need to
service it. Guess I will deal with it if and when that happens.
 

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I am curious to know how the seals are holding up? I am looking to do a similar installation but am concerned about the thickness of the sealant in the roof channels. Any cracking?

Thanks.

-Stu
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I was on the roof installing a PV panel in May and the seals all looked good. No leaking so far.
 

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Great job! I have the same fan and it is easier to install with the van on its side.
One thing that I messed up was not having enough wire slack for when or if I need to
service it. Guess I will deal with it if and when that happens.
I'm curious how you got the van on it's side and then how you got it back onto it's wheels ;)

I've got a fan install and a sunroof install in the works, but I'm fortunate to have roof racks, so I'll luxuriate on a sheet of plywood while making my cuts :)
 

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Before I cut a hole in the roof of my van, I set up everything on the workbench to see how it all goes together. When I drop the fan housing into the the roof flange, the side holes through the metal clips for screwing the housing to the flange don't line up. I can just barely see the holes in the flange. If I gently push down on the housing, I might see a little more of the hole, perhaps about 1/3. If I push a little harder I can maybe see half the hole, but I am now getting some flex in the vent cover as I increase the pressure. Don't want to push too hard. Since this is on a rigid workbench, what will happen on the more flexible roof. Will I have to push so hard that the flange sealant will flex and become compromised? I called Maxxair and they said there is black rubber gasket in the channel on the flange where the fan housing drops into the flange. They said that a small amount of pressure is required to line things up and make for a good weather seal with the gasket. But I am not getting things to completely line up. I suppose if I can get the screw in there and get it started, it will pull the housing down as I screw it in. But should it be this difficult?

Anybody else have problems getting these holes to line up? Any tips on how much force I should apply. The only place I can see to push down is on the vent cover. There is a small ridge sticking out between the 2 holes on each side of the housing, but it is only about a 1/4 inch wide. Can't apply much force there.
 

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Anybody else have problems getting these holes to line up? Any tips on how much force I should apply. The only place I can see to push down is on the vent cover. There is a small ridge sticking out between the 2 holes on each side of the housing, but it is only about a 1/4 inch wide. Can't apply much force there.
Set fan upside down with trim ring removed. Now inspect the inside channel it should be free of wires and zip ties. I had a zip tie by the on/off button that needed to be repositioned. After that it went together like it should.
 

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Set fan upside down with trim ring removed. Now inspect the inside channel it should be free of wires and zip ties. I had a zip tie by the on/off button that needed to be repositioned. After that it went together like it should.
Thanks. I looked and my zip tie also looked like it could be in the way. I moved it and it made no difference. I looked at everything closely and what is happening is that when the frame of the fan housing is dropped into the roof flange, the frame is landing right on top of the gasket. Not sure if it should slip to the inside or possibly the outside of the gasket. But landing right on top prevents it from going in far enough for the hole to line up. Before I start messing around with that gasket, I sent off an email to Maxxair to see what they have to say.
 

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I had the same issue. I used a 1x2 to push down on that small tab then inserted an awl into the portion of screw hole that was visible. Worked the awl around to compress the gasket then removed it and was able to get screw started but slightly slanted. It straightened as I screwed it mostly in. Had to do that on all 4 screws. Cinched them down after all 4 were in.
 

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I don't want to trash the MaxiFan as I'm sure it is a great product but I have to say my Fantastic Vent went in easily, works great, it's simple and was half the price. What's not to love about that?
 

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I remember the install of the fan to the flange being a bit tricky. With the sealing gasket in there, it did require some awkward force to get the fan down far enough to get the four mounting screws in place.


After that it has been wonderful. I've had no rattles with it either open or closed. I love that I can leave the vent open all the time, no problems with it driving down the road fully open. Just don't try to open it WHILE driving, it doesn't do well against the air pressure. And I think it mostly has been open since the install. Even left it open when I washed the van recently; no water splashed inside.
 

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Followed the tips on this thread and put in a MaxxAir 7500 with remote. Went smooth. Would only note I used two layers of 1/2" plywood as backer on the inside of the room for the screws on top. I also just did a 14 1/4" hole which went fast and smooth. When you start your screw pilot holes, you'll want to put a screw in or two to keep the mount from moving, otherwise it will walk and your screw holes won't match up. I have the high roof and with the vent down, I have no issues with fast food drive thrus which seem to all be about 9' clearance. With the unit tilted up, I think its just at 9' 1". So double check before entering the drive-thru. Thanks for the all earlier posters on their tips!
 

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Followed the tips on this thread and put in a MaxxAir 7500 with remote. Went smooth. Would only note I used two layers of 1/2" plywood as backer on the inside of the room for the screws on top. I also just did a 14 1/4" hole which went fast and smooth. When you start your screw pilot holes, you'll want to put a screw in or two to keep the mount from moving, otherwise it will walk and your screw holes won't match up. I have the high roof and with the vent down, I have no issues with fast food drive thrus which seem to all be about 9' clearance. With the unit tilted up, I think its just at 9' 1". So double check before entering the drive-thru. Thanks for the all earlier posters on their tips!
Nice! Glad it went well. Why 14 1/4" and not just 14"? Is that what the instructions say to do?

Oh yeah, and did you put it at the front where the sunroof area is?
 

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When I did the 14" exact, I found my cutting with the jigsaw was not a straight line, so I had to go back and trim tiny pieces of metal several times which was not fun. With a 14 1/4" cut or so, you have more space to put the fan in and wiggle it to get it just right. I had tied a string between the middle rack mounts to get a good reference line. I don't remember now, but the screw locations seem like they were fairly wide, maybe 15 1/2" or 16", so cutting a slightly bigger hole will not impact the holding power of the screws etc. Maybe using a rotary cutting blade would allow a more precise cut. Not sure, I don't do much metal work.

I put it in the 2nd panel back, so behind the 1st ceiling panel that is designed for a sunroof. I wanted to reduce wind resistance and for my 136", it puts the vent directly in the middle of the van. I am reserving the 3rd panel for a flexible solar panel and the 4th, rear panel seem to be the place where folks put an A/C unit. I have not decided on that, but thought I'd leave it for a future option.
 

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Hello Promaster vent installers,


We have machined some adapters for Promaster guys wanting the roof vent in a location where there are ribs. They are CNC machined out of Celtec expanded PVC. There is a piece for inside and a piece for the outside. They are curved to match the roof so the vent mounts to a flat surface. Screws will hold well in the inside piece so no need to through bolt. Recommend sealing with Dicor, SikaFlex or equivalent. Cost is $75 shipped for both pieces.








Please PM or email if these can help you. We'll get them up on our ebay store soon.

 

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Hello Promaster vent installers,


We have machined some adapters for Promaster guys wanting the roof vent in a location where there are ribs. They are CNC machined out of Celtec expanded PVC. There is a piece for inside and a piece for the outside. They are curved to match the roof so the vent mounts to a flat surface. Screws will hold well in the inside piece so no need to through bolt. Recommend sealing with Dicor, SikaFlex or equivalent. Cost is $75 shipped for both pieces.








Please PM or email if these can help you. We'll get them up on our ebay store soon.

Wow Hein!

Thank you for for your enterprising spirit:) The spacers look great and having the matching inside spacer really make it a complete product. $75 is a good deal for a short run specialty product.

Your spacers look like they are a step up in quality from the Euro models. I purchased a Dometic spacer for my Dometic Mini Quad vent and I am not happy with it. Its profile thickness is to thin over the raised ribs; your design looks considerably stronger. I also used a spacer from a different Euro supplier for my Mini Heki skylight and thankfully it is much thicker and stronger.

Hein, do you do custom one offs for these spacers? I am about to install my roof top air conditioner and was going to use an aluminum plate and a lot of butyl tape.

Thanks again for thinking of us PM folks;)
 
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