Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Screen

If you have been reading these articles you read about the delivery of our Roadtrek and the salesman who just had no idea what he was talking about when he showed us through the new RV that we purchased - and going back to the beginning of the articles how we came to have this salesman after starting out with one that was super. Well, when we got home with the Roadtrek we discovered one more thing that the plumb-dumb salesman told us.

Going through the Roadtrek that day there was a window screen lying on the floor of the rear storage compartment. Mr. Salesman looked at it in a matter of fact way and told me that it had been left off so that we could put it on and off as we preferred. It belonged on the side entrance door to the Roadtrek and that you might want to leave it off for clearer visibility through this passenger side window while driving. I asked how it goes in and he told me it was easy to clip on and off. What did I know?

After a week of being home I told Meryl that I was going to put it into the window to see how it attached. The screen has a flexible, hard rubber frame with a zipper section on one side that opens to allow access to the window latch. With the exception of the driver and passenger front windows, van windows push out rather than roll down and lock with a latch. I looked all around the window frame and there were no clips. I looked all around the window frame and there were no clips. I tried pushing the screen frame into the edge of the van window frame and it just drooped down from the top and then fell out. Hmm.

I contacted Roadtrek service support from Roadtrek corporate. Where are the clips? How does this screen attach? The answer that I got was essentially - "uh oh!" that should have been installed at the factory - and if it was missed then it should have been found by the dealer during prep and installed then. Oh really?!? Plumb-dumb found it but apparently no one else had. And now I have it 200 miles away. The installation involved the screen frame being screwed into the door frame around the window. It meant drilling holes in both the frame and in the van door. This was not something that I relished doing to a new van. Roadtrek told me exactly what size screws to use and approximately where the screen went in the window frame. If I took it back to the dealer service center they would do it.

Now I had to decide, did I want to drive back to Pennsylvania just for this screen or did I want to try to do it myself. And would I do a more careful job at it than the dealer service would do. Nothing against the service at the dealer but I have found time and time again, that when you do a job yourself, you take much more care than the so-called professionals do and you do a much better finished job in the end.

I decided to do the job myself, but I wanted to see this screen in a Roadtrek window to be sure I was placing it correctly and positioning the screws where they needed to go. I asked on the forums and I also contacted the dealer - the sales manager and not the salesman- for photos. I also took the opportunity to inform the sales manager about his salesman.

Several Roadtrek owners were kind to take photos and the sales manager took excellent photos of each screw position. I purchased stainless steel screws and decided to add stainless washers to add more hold and also put less pressure on the rubber frame of the screen.

Meryl is a good helper and knows that when I do any job there will always be some frustration and yelling involved. I try hard and many will tell you that I have great patience - but when I start on a project we can always be sure that there will be something that seems to go wrong. So with that understood, I took the screen into my workshop and started to compare the photos to the frame. There were a few good reference points and taking the frame back out to the van we could line up these points and see exactly where to place the top and bottom screws. Using a fabric chalk marker we marked the positions. Back in the shop I very carefully drilled the top and bottom holes into the rubber frame. The screws on the zipper side clearly went into the corners. The screws on the other side were not as clear but using the positions of the top and bottom holes, I drilled those holes in the side. Now it was a matter of getting this on the window frame and drilling corresponding holes that needed to be much smaller for the screws to catch solidly in the door frame.

The idea was that we would tape the screen into position using painter's tape - the type that peels off without leaving any residue behind. It was a good idea if only the tape would stick which it did not. Holding the frame up was not doing much either. It was go for broke and put the frame in approximately the correct position and get the holes drilled one at a time, put in a screw and move along. It all went along well until one hole was drilled but no hole seemed to be there when I put the screw in. I moved the rubber frame out of the way and it looked like I had drilled a hole but apparently the plastic closed up from the heat of the drill bit. I drilled again and we were just about done. Of course, it is always the last screw that is a problem - and we could not find the last washer. I search of the workshop found it on the floor. All of the screws were in and I tightened them up.

It looks nice. It works. That is what counts.


  1. So when are you taking the "Roadster" on a camping trip? We are going on our first trip next week. Just 3 days, not too far. Hope the wheels don't fall off. We have never done this before.

  2. See next week's article about what is taking us so long to actually get on the road. Hopefully, it will be soon.

    The more we look to get going, the more stumbling blocks we encounter for the places that we want to go to - we are being stumped by finding surface parking in metro sight-seeing areas.