Monday, February 28, 2011

Repair/Replace Vent Hatches

Being on the roof and exposed to all the elements of Mother Nature, vent hatch covers often deteriorate to the point of needing repairs or replacement. Failure to address a problem could lead to a serious problem of the cover totally failing at just the wrong time, such as in a severe thunderstorm or while driving down the highway at 65 mph.

Issues

The cover has developed small hairline cracks

Several LDers report fairly long-term (two years plus) success using Eternabond applied over the cracks. It is recommended that you drill a small hole at each end of the crack before applying the Eternabond to prevent the crack from lengthening. Alternatively, if the old hatch cover isn't too bad, you could cover with fiberglass and resin, putting pigment in the resin to protect it from the UV and then even painting it.

Cover is cracked beyond repair and needs replacing

Over the years, Lazy Daze has used several different brands and sizes of hatches and covers, so it may take a little searching to find a direct replacement. Each brand uses a slightly different style of hinge. Contact Lazy Daze to see if they have what you need. When replacing the cover, remove it and take it with you to the RV parts store. There are several different non-compatible hinges. It is possible, with some effort and inventiveness, to either use the old hinges with the new cover, or the new hinges on the old housing. You may need to drill some new holes in the frame and become familiar with a pop-riveter.

It appears there three possibilities for replacing your escape hatch cover:

Older LD's use the Elixir 26X26 escape hatch; there are two versions of this model:

The 90014-OS-1 was manufactured through 1994. It has a 2 1/4 H hinge plate.

The 90014-1 (PPL # 31-1993) started in 1995. It has a 1 5/8 H hinge plate.

The newer LD's have a smaller 17" x 24" hatch and should be ordered from the Mothership. The PPL hatch will not work.

By the way, the online suppliers call them "exit hatches" if you're having trouble finding them under "vents".

The replacement of the Elixir cover is easy. Simply remove the four screws on the small aluminum tabs (two screws on each tab) on the exterior of the vent cover. These tabs hold the cross rail to which the hand-crank arm attaches on the interior side of the vent cover. Once the
cover is free from this cross rail, there's one screw on each end of the roof-mounted rail where the leading edge of the aluminum vent cover and the motorhome join together. (This creates the "hinge" area at the front of the vent). Once you've removed one of these screws, hold the vent cover straight up and down(vertical to the roof of the LD)and slide the cover off towards the side where you removed the one screw on the roof-mounted rail. The installation is just the reverse of this procedure. It should take 20-30 minutes to remove and replace.

Some more tips on replacing a hatch cover

To slide a new cover with the hinge attached is nigh impossible since the hatch has to be open more than is possible with the hinge attached. You’ll have to remove the hinge by driving out the pop rivets.

After the cover is in place, use stainless steel machine screws with stainless steel nyloc nuts and washers. Using nuts allows the screws to be snugged but not over tightened and it's a lot easier than setting the big 3/16" pop rivets. You can cut off any excess length of the screws with a Dremel-type tool.

In trying to slide the hinge pieces together, do not use grease – it will only attract dirt. Instead use silicone or other dry lube.

If you want a vent with a stronger, longer-lasting cover, Fantastic Fan makes a vent-only replacement of the same quality materials as its fans. You can choose a White ASA (Weatherable ABS) opaque dome (no light transmission) or Smoke ("Lexan"™) Polycarbonate Dome for a skylight effect.

Cover will not stay securely closed

Steve Newton at the Mothership advises: Generally, if the escape hatch lid is closed and tightened down very firmly as described in your Lazy Daze owners manual it will not open. If you are sure that you have tightened it down very firmly, and it continues to work its way open, there is a simple fix. If you look up at the plastic roller on the end of the crank arm it resides in an aluminum track. When the escape hatch lid is in its down or closed position, visually note the exact location of this roller in reference to where it has stopped in the track. You will need a pair of pliers to crimp the lower section of the track at this location. Crank the escape hatch lid fully open. Access the roof and find the same spot on the aluminum track that the roller had been in when the vent was closed. The lower side (the side toward the floor when the lid is closed) of this extrusion has an "L" shaped lip that keeps the roller in place. Gently crimp this "L" shaped lip inward at the location that you noted previously when the vent was closed. When properly crimped, tension will be placed against the roller eliminating the possibility of the hatch vibrating open. If you crimp the track too much, the lid will not close completely creating wind noise and the possibility of water entry. If the track is not crimped enough, the lid will continue to vibrate open. There is a very fine line as to how much you can crimp the lower lip on this extrusion to eliminate the problem and not create another.

The shower dome is loose in one corner and can be pushed up easily

You need to crawl up on the roof and see what happened. You'll probably find some cracked plastic. If the cover isn't attached to the roof, air suction on the dome while you're moving will eventually crack off the other corners and the whole thing will go flying off. You more than likely will have to replace the dome.

Contributors: Barry Barnes, Larry Wade, Steve Newton, Mike Richmond, Scott, Alex Rutchka, Michelle Ress, Steve

Revised 4 May 2015

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