Fiamma F65 Awning 2

I went to put the awning on and found I need to take the interior roof panels out first. I’m not quite ready to do that because I still need to make my templates for the bunk supports and I want to be ready to wire in the lights. I did fit the brackets in place to see how they will mount.

They fit really well in the slot for the factory roof rail and it looks like they’ll be sufficiently stable to bolt my solar panels to as well.

What I don’t like is that the metal bracket is designed to sit directly on the roof. I feel this will chafe over time and rust my roof. Since I’ve got some time before I can install the awning, I ordered some 1/8″ neoprene to act as a gasket between the metal bracket and roof.

Check the width of the contact surfaces to get the right width neoprene. My choices were 1″ or 2″, so I went with the 2″. One roll should be plenty to secure the awning and solar panels.

I’ll put bolt through the neoprene sandwich and then squirt Dicor 501 over the whole thing. That should provide a permanent water-tight seal.

Fiamma F65 Awning

Last summer we took the Van out to Mt Rushmore. There was one stop in particular just North if Salt Lake City where we stopped at a bird preserve to have lunch. We were the only ones there, so we got out EZ up out and camp stove and made ramen for lunch. This stop and the pains involved in setting up that lunch have become what defines what we want in our van build. Basically what would enable us to stop and quickly prepare lunch without a lot of setup and tear down. We want to be able to eat and get back on the road without having to feed the kids fast food.

Step 1: Awning

After lots of looking around the Fiamma F65 seemed the best fit. The base model seems to be a solid unit and there’s lots of opportunity for expansion later on.

I found Panther RV through a Google search and called them up. Their price was good and they said it would take about a week to ship depending on when their next shipment arrived. A month lather, I get a super long wooden crate.

Inside that crazy long wooden box was one nearly as long cardboard box and one short box.

Yesterday I also received the front seat pivots from Norther Tool.

These aren’t made for the Sprinter, so I’ll have to do some fab work. One customer said he was able to make a mount for his Sprinter with not too much trouble.

Solar Install 2

Today I got going right after we got back fro TKD class. I got the wires cut for on j box and quickly realized it was really pointless to continue without the fittings I ordered fro Mouser. The water tight strain reliefs for the ground wire and optimizer wires. Fortunately, I was able to get in touch with our mailman and met him on his route. Upon opening the package, I found the ground strain reliefs were 3/8 thread and neither type had moisture seals. I headed to Lowe’s. I found the threaded bushings I needed to increase the size to 3/4, but no o-rings :(. To Home Depot. With fittings, bushings and o-rings now in-hand, I returned home 2 hours later. The difference was that now I truly had everything and the j-boxes went together fast.

Above: Ground strain relief with reducer bushing, o-ring and nut. I didn’t need the nut after all and had to take them all off.

The optimizer strain relief with o-ring and nut. Also ended up taking off the nut. Oh well.

5 sets ready to go up on the roof.

First j-box done! Notice the ground wire has a mid-strip. This is actually the second sub array from the end. It just happened to be the first I finished. The nice thing about the power optimizer is that they reduce the voltage down to 1 Volt each under no load. That means this sub-array only had 3 volts, so I can handle the bare wire. Made things a lot easier.

PV cables entering the j-box.

I finished both sub-arrays on the first floor and the j-box that joined them together before going up the wall to the second story.

Pulled the wire up to the last j-box and ran out of black! Not sure how that happened as I still had enough green wire to reach the ground and I bought the same amount. Well at least it reached the j-box with enough to tie into the PV cables.

After running out of cable, I headed down to the ground to open up the wall for the connection from the cutoff switch to the main panel. Lots of hammering.

Solar Install

DIY solar seems to be a perfect match for me. The designer at Go Green Solar did the panel layout and it looked fine to me. As I discovered, the problem was that the panels were later out in several sub-arrays on my roof to try and capture the best sunlight. Why is this a problem. Conduit. I had to run sooo much extra conduit. This was, by far, the most time consuming part of the entire project.

The Quick Mount PV flashing/mounts for panels and conduit did make the job of putting everything on the roof easier.

Go Green Solar didn’t provide the roof penetration flashing

I ended up getting the conduit mounts here

Horizontal Spar Bubble Repair

I had previously circled some bubbles between the core and glass on the spar that needed repair. Today I sanded them clean to get ready to micro and glass them. This will allow me to move on with hard point installation.

Using 60 grit, I sanded away the bubble being very careful to cause minimal damage to the core material. I deglossed the surface about 1″ around each bubble to prep for glass.

A closeup of some sanded bubbles. I’ll vacuum these out, clean the area with acetone, fill the bubble with micro and glass with one layer of BID.

Horizontal Spar Hardpoints

I did this last Monday 8/20/17, but didn’t get to post until today.

I did this exactly to instructions, but after I wished I had deviated a little and used my laser cutter.

From 1/4″ aircraft grade poplar plywood, I cut 20 1″ circles using a hole saw. I trimmed the flashing with a knife and sanded the loose bits off the sides and face. I did not sand them smooth.

2×4′ was the smallest I could order from Aircraft Spruce. Looks like I could have fit them all the way across and saved material if I’d thought of it sooner.

20 rough cut circles.

After trimming and sanding. Rough edges will help epoxy grip. All the loose material or over-sized bits are removed and they should fit nicely in the spar holes.

Before and after trimming and sanding. It took a long time to do them all. Next time I’ll just laser cut them a little larger and sand off the heat affected zone. Less mess and I’ll have a nicer finished product.

A Little Bit…

After I pulled my last set of ribs out of the flange molds, I haven’t had a lot of time to work on them. So I started trimming the flanges a little bit here and there as I had time. I found a hack saw blade works really well for this.

On Aug 7th I put the flanges on last 4 ribs and trimmed them the next morning. A hack saw blade with handle on one end really works well for this. It’s long enough to trim the whole flange, but gentle.

Untrimmed ribs just out of the mold.

Closeup of the trimmed flange done previously and the untrimmed side just demolded.

All finished horizontal ribs together.

HRIBs Continued

I flanges 4 more ribs tonight. 2x HRIB1, HRIB2, HRIB3

Both HRIB1 had bubbles under the glass on one side. I sanded and repaired these like on the Spar. 

I had done a bubble repair on HRIB3 previously, but I didnt fill the bubble with micro. I sanded out the bubble, cleaned the surface and glassed over the divot. This left an indentation about the size of a nikle. I wasn’t happy with the indenation on the rib and I wasn’t sure of the reduction in strength. Since this repair was already dry, I filled the divot with micro and glasses over the top so the rib, once again had a flat surface. 

HStab Spar 2

I put two layers of BID on each side of the Spar joint and repaired a bubble.

I sanded through the layer of BID on top of the bubble with 60 grit being careful on to disturb the foam and roughed up the area 1″ around. I filled the void on top of the foam with micro and cleaned any excess from the surrounding glass.

As usual I laid up the glass between plastic. I put one layer of BID over the micro and stippled it smooth.

I put the two BID stacks, one on each side and covered the up side with plastic to set.

After it was gelled this morning, I trimmed the excess with a knife. I also marked any of their bubble with a pencil so they could be repaired later. Before repairing them, I will lay out and cut the hard point for the elevator. There’s no point in repairing them if they just get removed for a hard point. The pencil makes them obvious so I won’t miss them later.

Horizontal Stabilizer Spar

I got the horizontal spar started today. The two sides were sanded on the edges to be the correct size and be symmetrical. The face of each side on the joining edges was scuffed with 60 grit and 1/4″ of foam was dug out from the ends. 

I made a 20gram mix of 5 min epoxy and thickened it with flox to be like thick cream cheese. I then packed the ends of each half where I had dug out the foam leaving a lot sticking out.

I made center marks at 3 places on each half and put plastic wrap over the location of the joint. I put the two halves together and lined up all the dots along the laser. I scraped off any excess flox.

The two halves aligned. Noted the pencil alignment marks.

I sanded off any excess 5min flox and took off the shine with 60 grit and trimmed the edges with a utility knife. 

Last thing I managed to cut 2 layers of BID for both sides of he joint. I cut the top piece to size and then added 1/2″ on both sides to add a slight taper in thickness to avoid stress risers.