Window Installation- 10x36 Hehr panel bed windows

highsierrabear

New member
Hi everyone-

Old lurker, new sprinter owner, first post.

Background and Info
Just picked up a partially converted 2014 Sprinter (with obsessive, over the top insulation and sound dampening), 280 watt solar panel, and Fantastic fan. otherwise a clean slate).

Picked up the windows at RB components. I got the sprinter in the SoCal desert and drove it back to NorCal through LA to RB Components, where I had ordered the Headliner shelf and some electrical parts. Also drove to Santa Barbara and picked up the DIY panel bed from Overland Sprinters on the way back.

It was 113F when I left the Palm Desert area, and a long, hot day. Nothing like buying a sprinter sight unseen from craigslist and driving it through LA in 100F+. Nothing against you SoCal denizens, but the LA sprawl is one of my least favorite parts of the world.

RB Components was great to visit. The guys at RB components were cool and had all the windows in stock. They had several pimp custom sprinters in their garage and let me check them out and climb around and take pics for inspiration. Who are these people with $150K+ to burn on a sprinter? Epic conversions though.

The Windows
I picked up two of the Hehr 10x36 windows for installation in our bed area. Light and ventilation are important to us.

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The windows were about $200/each and seem like basic RV windows. Looked great on the $$$ custom conversions.

Continued...
 

surlyoldbill

New member
They are about the same look and size of some Motion windows; Sprinter SS, that I ordered for a van I'm doing for someone. I contacted Motion about the trim ring, and apparently they just clamp to the sheet metal and there is no interior trim. Let us know how you finish out the inside.
 

highsierrabear

New member
Okay, bear with me as I learn to use this somewhat antiquated forum. (a few attempts to figure out how to resize the pics, then upload them). In 2016, not being able to easily upload smartphone pics straight into the forum, or insert them inline for easy reading feels so outdated.

Anyway. I followed the excellent post for installing the CRL windows in the front of the van and moved to the back windows.

Disclaimer
I'm not a professional. I am a fairly skilled DIYer, with an epic collection of tools. I've never installed van windows before. My only experience is reading, online research, and a lifetime of building my own stuff.

I have very little experience working with vehicles, but previously owned a Ford E-350 15-passenger van that I did a DIY conversion on (with solar, water system, cabinets, fans, and a modular queen sized bed).

The first cut you make in the side of your van is the hardest! The rest get easier. Measure 8 times, cut once!

Installing the windows

I consulted with the folks at RB components about some installation tips. They said to use a 1/4" plywood ring as a template to get the trim ring to clamp right. I had a brilliant idea to use 1/2" ABS instead, but quickly realized that this was too thick and had to abandon my idea (1/2" ABS would have been great, impervious to moisture, and provided a stiff backer plate. 1/2" was too think for their trim ring and could have worked, but made for an unsightly gap between trim ring and window. Back to 1/4" plywood!

First I cut a template to use to get a sense of the placement of the window on the inside. I used a plastic panel I had lying around but cardboard would be just fine as well.

Then I clamped the window to the plywood, traced a template and used a jig saw and battery powered circular saw to make the template. Personally, find that plunge cutting with the circ saw makes a straighter cut than trying to freehand long straight cuts with the jigsaw. If you've got a rock steady hand, the jigsaw is fine.

I frittered with the corners of the template so that they didn't interfere with any of the existing metal of the van siding.

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Attachments

highsierrabear

New member
... continued.

Now that I had a trim ring to use as a template, I was able to place the window exactly where I wanted it on the inside. As high as possible, and as far back as possible. (I probably could have squeezed it back an other inch or two but am happy with it's location).



I used a rotozip with 3.5" metal cutting blade to carefully cut out the stiffeners. I could also have used an angle grinder. I find the rotozip easier to use and a little slower in cutting which was a good thing. I own both a rotozip and angle grinder, though. I would not have attempted cutting the vertical stiffeners with a jigsaw or recip saw. Too risky for me! (I would have bought a cheap harbor freight angle grinder if I didn't have one).

Rotozip detail.jpg

I used a putty knife to cut the caulking on the back side of the stiffeners. They came out easily.

Cutting caulk away.jpg

Note on the pics of my van. The previous owner did an obsessive job with sound dampening and insulation. There is Rattletrap sound dampener everywhere in the van. Cutting it out and cleaning it up was probably 25-35% of this whole job. Works great, total pain in the butt to remove.

Stiffeners removed.jpg
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Once the vertical stiffeners were removed I was able to get the plywood template/spacer flat and transfer my cut marks to the van siding.

Trim ring fitting 1.jpg

One of the important things I did was to make line up marks on the metal and on the plywood template. Because I was installing windows on both sides, I made two plywood templates and transferred the cut marks to the second plywood spacer (so that both windows would line up exactly the same on both sides.

I debated whether to cut out the entire vertical stiffeners or just what I needed and decided to leave as much as possible, just to provide a bit of stiffening of the metal panel. In the end, I think this was the best decision.

Rotozip detail.jpg

Cutting caulk away.jpg

Stiffeners removed.jpg

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Trim ring fitting 1.jpg

continued...
 
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highsierrabear

New member
... continued

With the stiffeners removed and the template transferred, it was time to start cutting.

I drilled holes from the inside along the template with a small drill bit to transfer the template to the outside. (I got this from the thread on installing CRL windows in the front- thank you!).

Holes to transfer template 2.jpg

With lots of holes, it was easy to transfer the cut template to the outside of the van, tape up the side, and get to cutting.

Template transfer.jpg


I used a corded jigsaw with a fine metal cutting bit, and jigsaw set to no forward oscillation, for a slow cut. (Note, the $10 full face shield from Harbor Freight is totally worthwhile for using both the angle grinder

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Making the cut.jpg

I test fit the window. Nice fit, and straight to within 1/32 of an inch over 36".

Test fit.jpg

Overall I was really pleased with how easy the template transfer cut and window test fit was.
Next step was to clean up any burrs on the outside with a file, and angle grinder (sorry no pics of this). After making sure that there were no burrs and the metal was clean, I did some additional masking on the outside, vaccumed up the metal shavings from the inside, and painted all bare metal surfaces with two coats of self etching primer.

Holes to transfer template 2.jpg

Template transfer.jpg

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Making the cut.jpg

Test fit.jpg
 

highsierrabear

New member
... continued

Big hole in the van!

Big hole in the side.jpg


Test fitting
Test Fitting window.jpg

I wanted to seal the plywood spacer ring, so I sprayed two coats of flat black paint onto it to give it a bit of weather and moisture resistance.

After the paint dried, I clamped and glued the plywood spacer ring to the inside. I used adhesive Silicone caulk left over from a different project, but I suppose you could use any number of adhesives.

Clamping ring.jpg
Clamping ring 2.jpg

After the caulk set up overnight, it was time to screw prep the windows and screw them to the van. This is the only part of the window installation that required two people. I prepped the window by applying a strip of butyl tape around the exterior flange of the window. Sorry, no pics of screwing the window in. Pretty easy. I used #8x3/4" screws.

I had my lovely girlfriend apply pressure from the outside as I screwed the trim ring into place. We worked from the top corners down, then toward the center. On the first window, I forgot to mist the butyl tape with water to keep it from sticking immediately to the van siding. This made a big difference between the first and second windows. Also, the butyl tape from the first window was pretty stiff since I had it in an exterior shed and the temp was in the 40s overnight. Made it harder to work with. I learned from the first window, and left the butyl tape in the sun for a bit to warm up for easier application to the window flange.

The first window went in easily, but I think I had a small lump of butyl tape in the back that never flattened out completely. There is about 1/16" or less bit of butyl tape showing on the back of the first window installation, although it continues to ooze out slowly after 2 days. This could also be due to a bit of deformity in the van sheet metal siding (it was a used van). This is the only part of the installation that I'm not totally happy about. It's one of those things that will annoy me forever, but that no one else will ever notice.

The second window went in easily and flush. Misting the butyl tape with water and applying it a bit warmer seemed to make all the difference. Excess butyl tape oozed out for about a day, and I cut it out with a plastic putty knife.

I will get some more pics of the finished product and post tomorrow. Will also do the garden hose leak test tomorrow as well.

Here is a pic of the inside when I was test fitting with the DIY panel bed I picked up from Overland Sprinters. The mattress is a luxurious 6" memory foam 3 fold mattress ($189 from Amazon Prime delivered in two days! It does obscure the window by a couple inches, but since it's more comfortable than a hotel bed, it's a fair trade off.

Test fit with Panel bed.jpg

Our sprinter build is just starting, and will continue for the next few months. Doing a 4-week road trip to Colorado, and doing the basics of getting us on the road comfortably. Then doing the full build out, water, heat, cabinets, etc between October and April.

I certainly hope that helps someone out there thinking about installing these long narrow windows. We all draw from the wisdom and experience of fellow DIYers, and gain inspiration from each other's projects.

I am working on wrapping up the panel bed in the next couple of days and will update with a post from that project.
 
Okay, bear with me as I learn to use this somewhat antiquated forum. (a few attempts to figure out how to resize the pics, then upload them). In 2016, not being able to easily upload smartphone pics straight into the forum, or insert them inline for easy reading feels so outdated.
I totally agree...I love this forum but it's the only one I use that doesn't allow smartphone images to be uploaded directly. I live on the move and pulling out a laptop and resizing is not really an option. It's too bad because I'd likely contribute much more, as others would too I suspect.
 

OldWest

2004 T1N Westfalia
If don't mind a little extra heat, could paint (glossy reflective) or otherwise blackout the entire window indentation area. From afar, it'd look like a fully glassed Sprinter passenger van.

Alternatively, could go RV route with a big graphic in window area--pick graphic which would have dark mountains or something to blend in the horizontal windows.
 

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