Drilling Holes for Fresh Water Fill & Shore Power

bsqr

Member
I need to drill two larger holes in the finished outer body of my van; 2" for a fresh water fill and 2-1/2" for a shore power outlet. I've drilled plenty of larger holes in the floor for hydronic hose, vents drains and the like. For this I used a hole saw and grommets. I found that hole saw doesn't make the cleanest edge, but with grommets it doesn't really matter as much. I'm very hesitant to proceed with these new holes in the finished side of the van using a hole saw. I believe the flanges and gaskets for the fill and power should adequately cover the holes if I'm careful, but I'm also thinking there must be a better way to accomplish this.

Can anyone recommend a reasonable way to cut a 2" and a 2-1/2" hole in a finished body panel that provides a cleaner, more precise edge?
 

2Cougs

New member
I need to drill two larger holes in the finished outer body of my van; 2" for a fresh water fill and 2-1/2" for a shore power outlet. I've drilled plenty of larger holes in the floor for hydronic hose, vents drains and the like. For this I used a hole saw and grommets. I found that hole saw doesn't make the cleanest edge, but with grommets it doesn't really matter as much. I'm very hesitant to proceed with these new holes in the finished side of the van using a hole saw. I believe the flanges and gaskets for the fill and power should adequately cover the holes if I'm careful, but I'm also thinking there must be a better way to accomplish this.

Can anyone recommend a reasonable way to cut a 2" and a 2-1/2" hole in a finished body panel that provides a cleaner, more precise edge?

I just got done doing this last week. My process....drilled from outside in, used spring loaded center punch to locate hole centers, drilled pilot hole same size as hole saw guide bit, applied single layer of gorilla tape over area to be drilled to help stabilize panel, used fairly new/sharp hole saws, used cordless drill with adjustable torque and set just strong enough to engage but not so strong that it torques out of your hand or wants to lock up and twist the panel and finally manually went low rpms on the drill when cutting. Keeping the cutting surface square and following this I got very good results.
 

bsqr

Member
I've used step bits a fair amount for my smaller holes and I looked into using a step bit for this application, but never did find a 2-1/2" diameter one. In my experience, a fair bit of heat is generated using a step bit. I'm wondering if that should be a concern with finished painted body panels?
 
Last edited:

OrioN

2008 2500 170" EXT
I've used step bits a fair amount for my smaller holes and I looked into using a step it for this application, but never did find a 2-1/2" diameter one. In my experience, a fair bit of heat is generated using a step bit. I'm wondering if that should be a concern with finished painted body panels?
Places that sell tools (like Klein) for electricians have them. Use 'cutting' fluid and slower speed to reduce the heat from friction. allow the hole to cool between steps.
 
Last edited:

Kajtek1

2015 long/tall limo RV 2.1l
I used hole saws on my Sprinter and they do much nicer edges than diamond blade I used for roof vent hole.
With Sprinter's mild steel body even cheap hole saws work just fine. If you want cleaner edges, cut part of the hole from 1 side and then having center hole thru - go on other side.
For smoothing the edges I use scissors blade at some angle - giving it scraping motion.
 

marklg

Well-known member
If you want precise holes in metal, Greenlee knockout punches are the way to go. The Harbor Freight knockoffs do work. Note that many of them are sold in conduit sizes, which is not the same as the hole size.

https://www.greenlee.com/us/en/knockouts

Punch_1.jpg

Punch_2.jpg


Regards,

Mark
 
Last edited:

canyoneer

2017 144 High Roof
Put the shore power connector under the back bumper, and you don't need to drill a hole in the sidewall.
Yes, or bring power down through the big wire grommet under the driver seat and mount a plate (with your 2-1/2" hole) to something under the van in that area and mount the shore power connector to that. The good thing about running your shore power to an area near/under the driver door is that you may have less chance of driving off with it attached.

Another option would be to use one of the body plugs in the lower wall that are easily seen down under the van. Just need to pop out the rubber plug and you've got access without drilling and possibly leaving a place for rust to form. And again, just mount a plate in that area under the van.

As for the water, I've seen folks use the body plugs for fresh water, but if you really need to run a 2" line, that may not work.
 

Graphite Dave

Dave Orton
Best to avoid holes in van sides. Consider other alternates. My Sprinter shore power connection was through the floor at the back left and the fresh water inlet was accessed through the open slider door. Transit shore power was down the driver side "B" pillar and fresh water again through the open slider door.
 

marky

New member
I agree with others, avoid any holes through outside panels. To avoid potential rust and for just for appearance. Put them beneath.

When using a hole saw on the sheet metal I always drill the 1/4" pilot hole first then put a smooth piece of 1/4' drill steel in the hole saw arbor for cutting hole with the saw. If you leave the drill bit in the while sawing it tends to auger out the pilot hole and then the saw starts cutting a ragged ratty ugly hole.
 

marky

New member
I forgot one important thing. When hole sawing sheet metal it helps a lot to keep the area wet with water while cutting. I use a spray bottle.
 

bsqr

Member
Best to avoid holes in van sides. Consider other alternates. My Sprinter shore power connection was through the floor at the back left and the fresh water inlet was accessed through the open slider door. Transit shore power was down the driver side "B" pillar and fresh water again through the open slider door.
OK, I'm taking some of these comments to heart. I've never really liked my fresh water fill location to begin with so I relocated it to a similar location to yours Dave. The fill is now going to be located on the backside of a cabinet in the sliding door opening. The hose does take up some valuable cabinet space, but I think I can compartmentalize reasonably well and minimize the impact.

As far as the Shore Power goes, my "receptacle" will fit quite nicely in the ~3" round plastic plug in the rocker panel under the van. My 1ga alternator pos & neg penetrate the floor near there, but I'm sure I can work around that fairly easily. Other than that the location is ideal as my main electrical equipment "board" is directly above that plastic plug. However, because of the awkwardness of plugging and unplugging at that location without laying on the ground, I'm still thinking about going with the exterior body panel location. I have a nice flat area of the body that's easily accessible from the inside as well and I have a very good quality receptacle that I'm confident I can get a good seal with. The backside of the receptacle is not waterproof and shouldn't be exposed to the weather so any other location under the van is a no go (at least with this receptacle). So.... Am I going to be crawling around on ground every time I plug and unplug if I use the rocker panel location or is that really not a very big deal and I should go for the rocker panel location anyways?
 

Graphite Dave

Dave Orton
OK, I'm taking some of these comments to heart. I've never really liked my fresh water fill location to begin with so I relocated it to a similar location to yours Dave. The fill is now going to be located on the backside of a cabinet in the sliding door opening. The hose does take up some valuable cabinet space, but I think I can compartmentalize reasonably well and minimize the impact.

As far as the Shore Power goes, my "receptacle" will fit quite nicely in the ~3" round plastic plug in the rocker panel under the van. My 1ga alternator pos & neg penetrate the floor near there, but I'm sure I can work around that fairly easily. Other than that the location is ideal as my main electrical equipment "board" is directly above that plastic plug. However, because of the awkwardness of plugging and unplugging at that location without laying on the ground, I'm still thinking about going with the exterior body panel location. I have a nice flat area of the body that's easily accessible from the inside as well and I have a very good quality receptacle that I'm confident I can get a good seal with. The backside of the receptacle is not waterproof and shouldn't be exposed to the weather so any other location under the van is a no go (at least with this receptacle). So.... Am I going to be crawling around on ground every time I plug and unplug if I use the rocker panel location or is that really not a very big deal and I should go for the rocker panel location anyways?
What I did for shore power on the Transit:

https://www.ortontransit.info/shore-power

I have no need for 30 amp connection. With the plug on a hook I can unlatch it without getting on my knees. I know where it is so can unhook it by feel. Also wanted it located at the driver door so I see it connected and will not drive off with it connected. I have a good reason for needing that location due to a previous issue.

I do not want to have a pressurized water system so do not connect a city water hose to the system. Fill the tank using an old fashioned car radiator fill valve. Valve has a lever on/off and a 90 degree discharge. Easy to fill tank without spilling water. Bought it from Ark Petroleum for $29.36 (205-330-7979). Valve brand is Milton. Part number is AS-0209.
 
Last edited:

marklg

Well-known member
So.... Am I going to be crawling around on ground every time I plug and unplug if I use the rocker panel location or is that really not a very big deal and I should go for the rocker panel location anyways?
Commercially built RVs have the connection on the side. Mine does. It's sealed well and there is no rust there. I would want to avoid crawling on the ground. In RV parks all the connections are usually on the same side, and the waste connection is usually near the electrical. Even if you are careful, you don't know what the last person spilled on the ground.

Regards,

Mark
 

Kevin.Hutch

2011 Mercedes 313 906
How about water proof screw in panel as used on boats, installed in the vertical section of the slider door step. The cord could be directly installed when the door is open and when the door needs to be shut remove the plug and pass the cord under the van through the hole.
 

Attachments

wquek

Member
That hole looks very clean. Any thoughts on what works best, faster or slower rpm?

That was made with a brand new saw blade so it helped a bit. I first drilled a pilot hole with a small bit. Then went through it with the hole saw. The drill I used wasn’t particularly powerful. I used a moderate speed and let the drill do the work rather than putting pressure on it. I also deburred with a deburring tool on the back side.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Top Bottom