Windows – I can see the rain

Got all the windows installed, now I’m kickin mah feet up for a few minutes. Its cozy in here, raining outside. Eventually I’ll insulate that door, but for now its fine. I think in the coming weeks I’ll get the kitchen systems built.

Basically, a couple counter height custom metal cabinets with drawers, and a full height full depth pull out pantry. If there were a reason to leave your chair rail in the bus and not destroy it, this would be a compelling reason not to.


Some window installation details

No, not that kind of windows installation.

That’s more like it.

I suppose you could buy some zero depth rings and attach to the skin directly, but it would be a disaster if you had to remove the window later (lots of interior disassembly)

This method isn’t as easy as removing the trim ring and popping the frame, but its not bad – just drill some rivets out. Matching up the old holes with a new frame might be hilarious, hopefully I never find out.

I also believe that riveting the frames is a lot stronger, which is befitting of a skoolie.

Note that I didn’t use the beauty washers in the final install because I determined that would be dumb on my part.

Cut the window hole, these are 3″ radius. Try to always cut a little small. On a few I used a flapdisc grinder to enlarge the hole an additional 1/16″ or so on a couple.

After the frame fits flat against skin you are ready to install.
Mark holes in frame in a pleasing and mechanically sound pattern. Make sure your holes are to the outside edge enough.

Drill holes in frame, while not on vehicle.

Place window in hole (now with mounting holes drilled in frame)

Check alignment around hole so you catch the steel on all sides.

Using existing frame holes, drill the top and bottom ones through vehicle, and hold window in place with clecos.

Continue drilling the rest of the windows, adjacent to your last clecos until done. That way alignment is close.

Pull window out again, and prep window frame with butyl tape. It should cover the entire flange of the frame.

Prep vehicle side by ensuring paint is clean and defect free. Use some zinc cold galv spray from inside and coat edge of sheet metal and each hole drilled. Let it dry (just a few min)

Place window in hole with butyl tape, it will stick so make sure its right.
Reinstall clecos to hold window in place.

Wait 10 minutes. The clecos will apply pressure to the window frame against the butyl tape, squeezing it out. This ensures a positive seating without gaps. Do not rush.

After butyl oozes install rivets. I used a sealing/anti galvanic compound swizzled onto each rivet grip. Install rivets.

If you didn’t spring for expensive waterproof rivets, let everything dry up a bit and clean it well (remove excess butyl and rivet sealant) then seal the hole of each rivet with something robust, like sikaflex.

Windows complete – butyl tape seals

All the window holes are cut, its a lot of work. I dulled out the nibbler so I rotated the bit 180 degrees.

The rearward windows are in the galley, that’s why they are higher.

The little access flap on the driver side under the window will be a downdraft vent for the range, and maybe external gas/electrical/whatever access for the appliances.

Eventually I’ll replace the driver window with a less drafty rv version as well, but I want to get the current windows done first.

I went back on my decision to use threaded fasteners and instead I’ll be riveting.

When attaching different metals, I think you need to be careful of galvanic reaction. I will try and mitigate it by sealing the aluminum frame to the bus body with butyl tape, and making sure the steel on the bus is well coated in paint.

For the rivets, I selected a stainless fastener, which I will coat each one with PTFE goop (see pics below). This will eventually, maybe, cause the window frame to act as the sacrificial anode, in like 10-20 years. (Long enough for me!)

Adding windows – hot knife foam holes

I picked up a hot knife from harbor freight, I should have done that when I started working with the foam. Cutting does make a lot of toxic gas so I do it on the outside.

Cutting the metal, then the foam is a pretty simple operation. Making the trim ring insert will take the most effort now.

Attached a comparison of cuts from hot knife vs serrated saw.

Adding more windows

Some photos of cutting window holes. You can see the three inches of foam make for a daunting trim ring. As far as I can find, rv trim rings this deep don’t exist.

Some thoughts on things:

The notch to access the fasteners for the window, just enough to get your finger in there to hold the nut. When its “done”, as in I don’t want to take the window out and its sealed, I’ll stick a couple strips of foam in that crevice, or maybe some expanding foam.

The interior metal facing the foam panels is bone dry. This reaffirms my thoughts that bonding the foam to the steel is unnecessary, and in some cases bonding might trap moisture.

There is enough elasticity in the foam panels to move the cutter head of the sheet metal air nibbler.

Cutting the foam out was actually harder and more time consuming than cutting the metal out.

Adding some windows

First new window in place. Without trim rings rv window are cheap and impossible to install in a conventional rv. 16 gauge steel makes it “no problem”

The aluminum flange is too thin to effectively countersink panhead screws, so stainless fasteners backed with trim washers on the outside.

The trim washer spreads the load, and on final install holds a little slug of sealant to make the fastener hole water tight. Just run a bead of sealant or butyl around under the window frame to the exterior to bond the two together and make it weather resistant.

On the inside, foam insulation, with whatever you want for a trim ring since it doesn’t need to be structural. Since the vehicle wall is 3″+ thick, there aren’t any trim rings anyway.

Anyway I am happy with the way it is secured and the installation process is straightforward.


We had a windstorm, barely missed the trees, which is close enough. That could have been bad.

Not our trees, they were nice I guess. More southern exposure now.

We never lost power which would have been icing on the cake today. I was working on the entry door when the trees fell, so it got left open most of the day. The wind blew hard enough to bend the hinges that I haven’t added reinforcement gussets to so now I am bending things back into shape.

It’s probably a rare day the door is exposed to 50 mph wind from the rear direction.

Enough doors for now

OK, so door is done enough for now. The interior framework has needed attention. Once it is painted and bolted into place again, I can start adding walls, lights, chases for plumbing and wiring etc.

So start by unbolting everything, then a little wire wheel, flap disc, and 3m scotchbrite pad action, then a little cleaning with a fresh painter rag and lacquer thinner.

I would love to powdercoat all the pieces but pretty much everything is cost prohibitive for me.

I’ve found that if you have a decently prepped surface this combination of paint works well for bare metal, the rustoleum acid etch primer and their “professional” spray paint. They are both high build products that dry fast.

Perfect for penny pinching impatient people like me.

The weather is crappy but we had a sunny break today and took advantage of it as much as possible. I got a large chunk of the framework painted but it seems never ending.

I still have a few large pieces bolted in that have to come out, and I haven’t even gotten to the kitchen cabinet system yet.

Before I bolt everything back in, I’ll be installing the finished interior wall covering in many places which should give the appearance of some actual progress.

Once all the framing I have now is bolted into place I’ll get to work on the drawers and stuff for the kitchen. The pantry is a full height (78 inch) pull out system, and a bunch of drawers and stuff that I fabricated earlier. I’m looking forward to that part.

I’m guessing I’m still missing a few framework pieces, notably the crossover partitions from left to right, sliding door for the master bed in back, the shower stall framing, and the slider for the bathroom.

The shower will be interesting, I plan on using a 30×30 4 piece shower kit.