Roadtrek

Roadtrek

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Finally Resolving the Window Cover Problem

The front of every Roadtrek roof has a signature thee windows. On the Chevy Roadtreks and also the new Zion, these are real windows. On Sprinter Roadtreks these are decals. I would so much have preferred decals.



Our 2011 Roadtrek 190 Popular came with three plastic panel covers for these windows. The covers for the two flanking windows have done a fairly decent job in blocking the sunlight that streams through the roof windows. The center window has done a poor job at this with light streaming through past the top of the cover - since we have owned the Roadtrek. I could never figure out why. The window covers are held in place with turn buttons that fit into slots cut into the covers at the Roadtrek factory. The turn buttons are installed at the factory to match the slots. Why did then did the cover not fit?  It took me until very recently to realize that the either the turn buttons are in the wrong place or the slots on the cover are in the wrong place. But how could that be? Surely, there is a template or computer guided cutter used to cut out or stamp out the cover. And when the turn buttons are installed there must be a standard placement.





To block the light coming through the window, the cover needs to cover the gasket that surrounds the window glass as shown in the photos above. The side covers do this. The center cover does this on the sides and bottom but not the top.

I decided to make my own cover to correct this and finally, get the coach dark when the sun comes up in the morning. Now, I have gotten the comments on the last article about blocking the light that comes through the ceiling fan - just wear a sleep mask. A sleep mask was the first thing I tried when I was being woken when the sun came up every morning. The sleep mask seemed a good idea and I put it on and in the morning it had moved off of my eyes and there was the sunlight. It may work for some, I must move a lot in my sleep and the mask was not staying on. I have heard from other Roadtrek owners about these windows who feel the same way as I do - the covers - particularly the center cover - just do not block the light. There are earlier year Roadtreks that did not come with any window covers at all.

I looked in home stores and craft stores for a hard, not flexible, material that would make a good cover. I was hoping to find a plastic similar to the original but found nothing like it at all. Most of what I found in craft stores - corrugated plastic board or foam core board did not block the light. I also looked at window cling material that is used for blackout windows which would have worked but I was concerned about a warning on the package that the glass could break with this material applied if the glass becomes too hot. These windows in the direct sun get VERY hot. I did not want to chance having these windows break - they are an odd shape and size and to replace one, you must wait for Roadtrek to send a replacement or hope to find a glass shop that is willing to match the shape with auto grade glass. I was in my workshop and  found a small piece of oak surface plywood that I had used for a project at sometime in the past. It is nicely finished on both sides, is the correct thickness - this was another problem in matching the cover as the cover must fit under the turn buttons. The original cover is 5/16" thick. This plywood just happened to be 5/16" thick. The turn buttons can be loosened - enabling more space under each one - but they can only be tightened down so far, so any significantly thinner material is no good. I went to Home Depot to find a 2 foot by 4 foot sheet of finished oak plywood. Having been in Home Depots and Lowes stores in other parts of the country, I know that the condition of the wood sold is very much better than the wood that is sold in these stores local to me. Any trip out for wood involves visits to multiple stores to find wood that is not warped, cut up, or scarred. If one wants to build a boat you will find wood perfectly bent at these stores near me. Plywood should be different, especially hardwood plywood - but two stores and I found nothing usable. At that point I gave up to wait to go another day to more stores. Perhaps I was not meant to find the wood, as I returned to my workshop and was rummaging around in my wood stacks and there was a nice piece of oak plywood large enough to cut the cover from.

OK - so I took the original cover which is actually the correct size and traced it onto the plywood. In the Roadtrek I measured where the slots for the turn buttons were off - if the bottom of the slot on the original had been the top of the slot, it would have fit as it should. I traced the line of the bottom of the slot on the original and moved the original down so that the top of the slot would now be in the correct location and traced around the slot. I took the plywood over to my bandsaw fitted with a fine tooth blade for a smooth cut and cut out the new cover. A little sanding on the cut edge and the new cover was ready to test.



Perfect! The top of the cover completely covers the black gasket as the original should have.


No light now comes through the new cover! If I do this again, there is one more thing that I would correct. The length of the slots are just a little too long - on the original of all of the covers and on my new cover. Shortening this would hold the cover a little better and would prevent the little light that leaks through the slot.


Just to illustrate clearer what is wrong with the original cover. Here are two photos comparing the corrected cover in wood to the original grey plastic cover.



We tested the new cover out on the next trip and it worked perfectly. If you have mis-fit covers (how can that happen???), this is an easy way to make new covers if you have basic woodworking skills or know someone who does. (No need for big shop tools, a hand scroll saw for a few dollars will cut this out easily.) Finished oak plywood is really nice wood to work with - both sides are finished and the grain pattern is beautiful. I have not used any surface finish on the cover. If you do want to finish it, use something that will hold up to the heat of the sun coming through the glass in the morning when the window is in place. As I say, these windows get very hot in the sun. I have made Reflectix covers for the three of these roof windows (sometimes called "opera windows") to put up when leaving the Roadtrek in the sun all day to cut down on the intense heat that builds up in the coach in this area under the windows - but the Reflectix fits loosely and does not cut out the light.


6 comments:

  1. My 2002 190V Chev Roadtrek has curtains. They work well. If I need to improve the light cutting powers, I will just make new curtains. Why they changed it, I don't know. Save money I guess.

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    1. How are your curtains attached to the three roof windows? We looked at all different ways to put curtains over these three windows and other than velcro we could not come up with a way to keep them over the windows and tight around the edges.

      All of the other windows in our Roadtrek have curtains - but the three in the roof have these covers.

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    2. I should add that the problem with velcro is that adhesives to attach the velcro don't stay stuck in the 100 plus degrees that it can reach inside the Roadtrek on a hot day.

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    3. If you bring up the 2002 Brochure in Roadtrek.Com , third page down shows the (cockpit). If you look closely you can see the curtains and the bottom curtain track.

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  2. Curtains are attached by curtain tracks, both bottom and top. All you have to do to open and close them is to slide the curtains. The tracks are screwed to the surface. I will try and find a picture showing how it works.

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    1. I see that in the brochure. Thank you for sharing this. The shape of the windows and the roof line are a little different now and trying to duplicate this would not be easy, plus it would require that the track be riveted into the headliner. Your set up is a lot better than the covers used now.

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