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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I just pulled my van from the queue at Van Specialties. Decided to go DIY instead from here on out. Before I took the plunge, though, I hired the guys there at the shop to do a couple small projects for me. This included installing a Fantastic vent in the roof.


Here’s my problem. I somehow had in my mind they would treat the raw, freshly cut metal edges against rust. Well, they didn’t. Hard to miss the edges, they’re so shiny, silvery, and covered in burrs.



I’m kinda surprised. Seems to me, it would have taken them but a second to dab on a tiny bit of POR-15 or Rust-Bullet. Maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe Van Specialties has been in business so long (they have), they’ve simply learned that this kind of treatment just isn’t a problem.

What do you think? Is life too short? Should I just cover it up as best I can with more putty and call it good? Or, should I try spraying/dabbing in some sort of primer/sealer and risk an unpleasant interaction with the putty?
 

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I have had roof fans installed in 2 vans by a company that does them all the time (several a month) mostly in handicap accessible vans. They do not treat the raw edges but depend on doing very careful sealing with putty tape and bulk putty to fill the valleys. They do not use any inside framing. They depend only on quality stainless screws into proper size holes in the sheet metal. I have never had a leak and no water means no rust.

This company (Van House in Hampton, VA) has been in business for decades with long term ownership. Many of the vans they work on are used by demanding commercial customers. Apparently their workmanship is such that they get very few complaints. When they work on a roof they bridge over the vehicle to avoid a person's weight flexing the roof so as not to disturb any seal. As in most businesses speed is important; down time is lost money. Treating raw metal edges would probably involve drying time meaning lost time.
 

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I would shoot some paint up there. The roof is where the condensation starts. Auto part stores may have a close match and the paint isn't to bad.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
As in most businesses speed is important; down time is lost money. Treating raw metal edges would probably involve drying time meaning lost time.
My thoughts exactly. Van Specialties is insanely busy right now. Eighteen month wait, as of yesterday. Their parking lot is so full of vans to be converted, there's hardly room for a customer to park. A product like Rust Bullet would have to cure, and they'd rather cut the hole, putty it, screw the fan on, and be done. OTOH, I think they'd probably use a primer if they were really worried about it.

As Ken suggests, I'll probably put something up there, if only to make myself feel better. Unlike a commercial vehicle that just hauls people during the day with the windows wide open and the heater on, or just tools and gear, a campervan's roof can actually drip with water after a night in cold weather.
 

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You have already lost more metal to the butcher that cut that than you would ever lose to some rust to the edges
 

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I visited Van Specialties early in my building process. I was underwhelmed by what they were doing. I guess I'd call the visit inspiring--inspired with the confidence I could do better, and they weren't particularly busy then.

I watched them cover pieces of luan with a rough fabric, then glue them on. A kid was sticking them on with no concern as to whether they were even straight. This minimal build was going to cost $34,000.
 

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Hi All,

I have cut into the PM for a Fantastic Fan, shore power and a large side window. Each time I have used a good metal brush on primer. The primer tends to cover well and dries quick and hard with a durable surface.

Toiler,

I would brush on some protection while it is exposed. If you use a primer it will tend to wick around the corner and give good coverage. In my opinion condensation is a real problem no matter how well you cover and insulate.

I have seen rust on an old van that I rebuilt back in the 80's. It was paneled and insulated with some windows added and the rust was nearly through especially on untreated surfaces. So, it does not take much to protect raw metal surfaces--always better to treat them with something.

Mike
 

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Boy what a butcher job! And they have a waiting list?

I would spray some primer and paint up there also but I would consider wire brushing or grinding the very rough edges off first.
 

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For what its worth (or not), on my personal tour of the VS shop (when I popped in to pick-up a sofa sleeper) their shop foreman said their wait list was "100 vans deep" and "kid, this ain't rocket science". Guess somewhere in there explains the pink insulation they use and the quality of your fan install. Prime it and move on.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks, everyone, for the feedback.

I’m glad I posted this. Anyone searching for Van Specialties in the future, hopefully they’ll find this and get a better sense for what they’re getting themselves into.

MSNomer and dnelsonid, you both must have sharper inductive faculties than I have. Took mine several visits to VS’s shop before it came around to the same conclusion. I just didn’t see the same signs at first. To be fully forthcoming, what finally turned me away from them and convinced me to do the conversion myself was their customer service. Couldn’t believe how badly they treated me the day I turned in my van for the fan install. I should have turned around and walked away right then. Could’a, would’a, should’a.

Sadly, they were the ones who installed my windows. Now I’m quite sure they did nothing to treat those metal edges, either, even though they promised otherwise. I’m considering popping one of them to see, and if so…ugh! I’m going to have a big job ahead of me.

If I lived in the desert southwest, I might let it go, but it rains buckets here. Plus, I like to ski, which means my van is going to be dripping water inside during the winter for years to come. Bummer.

Live and learn.

Upside: By doing the conversion myself, I’ll have more DIY photos to share with you all! :D

Thanks again!
 

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I use a product called por 15 on metal surfaces. I used it around my windows, roof fan, and electric hookups on the side of the van. its a great and very durable product.
 
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