The ambulance came with a small skylight. It was an opaque one that looked fairly dirty, but functioned well and seemed to be waterproof. However on closer inspection it was all but fine: At first glance it looked like leaves were stuck to the top, but this turner out to be a bodged repair job with fibre glass smeared over the fixings. It was only when we went on the roof that were saw the atrocious job of mastic around the skylight and when we removed the ceiling, saw the mouldy battens securing the skylight from below. It had to go!
What a beautiful job the original installers had done, right?
We dithered on what to get and what size. There is a good choice out there. In the end we went for a Midi Heki made by Dometic. This well-established brand has proven itself in the market many times over and I like the features- built-in blind and mosi screen.
With the sizing came the challenge: Our old window cut out size was 350mm x 400mm, the new size was 700mm x 500mm…but the width between the two van ribs was only 460mm. Can we cut into the rib without compromising the structural integrity?
On the end we decided that we could, especially as Campy Van for steel reinforcement plates to level the ceiling along all it’s ribs in the original conversion. So up we went to the van roof. (I’m not very good with heights, even as far as a van roof, so I asked my uncle to help out with the rooftop side of the job.) We figured out roughly where the new opening was to be and drilled a small pilot hole to double check. A jigsaw wasn’t going to fit by the front edge of the old window, so after making out the square to be cut out we grabbed and angle grinder.
Despite working a lot on the van by this time, taking things apart, this was my first cut into the body work.
I was nervous!
I shouldn’t have been!
Cutting the straight lines was straight forward ? and for the rounded corners we used a graduated hole drill piece.
Hole cut we tested the skylight frame: Perfect on first round.
Next challenge: The van has ribs on the roof for added strengthening. How are were going to for a flat frame to the ribbed roof and ensure our midi heki doesn’t leak?
After some research and asking on SBMCC forum I went about cutting some little infill pieces from some acrylic sheet we had lying around. These were stuck in place with a flexible mastic glue, Sikaflex.
Next we applied the Sikaflex to the underside of the window frame in the allocated slot, making sure to go evenly and give it plenty.
Then we pushed the window outer frame into its place, clearing the excess mastic from places and filling in where we hadn’t put enough.
Usually one would secure the frame down to the framing battens and ceiling cut out at this point. As we had neither in place, we weighed down the frame overnight, till we were sure the Sikaflex was well set.
It rained next day, so we’ve had a chance to test the watertightness of the installation.
Couple of days later I got to the point of refitting the old ceiling- measured up the cutout with the help of the underside cover piece and made the cut out.
I added the frame securing brackets- screwing them into the frame and the ceiling.
And clipped on the frame from below.
I love the look of the new skylight! It gives a lot of light, yet I can shade it or use on hot summer evenings too, but keep bugs away.
I’ll have to grab a picture from above too, ‘coz it looks great.