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Old 10-20-2017, 10:04 AM   #1
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Panel roof attachment

I know the thread must exist but I could not find it. I have solar panels, mounts but I can't be sure what ia a safe way to mount panels. Screws or do I need rivets? It's a typical metal roof on a bus.

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Old 10-20-2017, 12:59 PM   #2
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I know the thread must exist but I could not find it. I have solar panels, mounts but I can't be sure what ia a safe way to mount panels. Screws or do I need rivets? It's a typical metal roof on a bus.
Most (smart) people mount small brackets to the roof into ribs- rivets are best. They then mount a rail to the bracket, raising the rail off the bus skin. Then they use the clips to the rail.
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Old 10-20-2017, 01:19 PM   #3
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Man that was just in time, I am at place to get rivet gun. Seems much more sensible the way you described it. I don't want to be a dummying so I will try and emulate what smart people do. Thanks again.

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Old 10-20-2017, 08:32 PM   #4
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Man that was just in time, I am at place to get rivet gun. Seems much more sensible the way you described it. I don't want to be a dummying so I will try and emulate what smart people do. Thanks again.

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Home Depot didn't have the rivets I was assuming that would be good, 1/4" steel. Covered with Henry's I was going non stainless. On second thought I need to come check my mounts to see how that will work together.

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Old 10-20-2017, 09:42 PM   #5
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My roof's central walkway from which my panels are hinged, and the outer attachments for their telescoping struts, are all bolted through each roof rib with 3/8" stainless bolts and Nylok nuts coming through from underneath. Crowns have a roof rib every 19", and I used 18 ribs. This means I have a total of 72 bolts holding everything in place, so no risk of anything coming loose, ever! And for the inevitable question about weather-sealing all those penetrations, each bolt has some EPDM rubber washers that make a watertight seal against the roof and prevent water wicking down past the bolt threads; after last winter's torrential El Nino rains here I had no water leaks at all from any of my 72 bolts (but water did seep at in the front roof hatch, an original fitment from the factory).

Just remember that driving down the road at 65 MPH is producing the same windload on the panels as a mild hurricane, so don't take any chances with securing them.

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Old 10-20-2017, 10:33 PM   #6
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My roof's central walkway from which my panels are hinged, and the outer attachments for their telescoping struts, are all bolted through each roof rib with 3/8" stainless bolts and Nylok nuts coming through from underneath. Crowns have a roof rib every 19", and I used 18 ribs. This means I have a total of 72 bolts holding everything in place, so no risk of anything coming loose, ever! And for the inevitable question about weather-sealing all those penetrations, each bolt has some EPDM rubber washers that make a watertight seal against the roof and prevent water wicking down past the bolt threads; after last winter's torrential El Nino rains here I had no water leaks at all from any of my 72 bolts (but water did seep at in the front roof hatch, an original fitment from the factory).

Just remember that driving down the road at 65 MPH is producing the same windload on the panels as a mild hurricane, so don't take any chances with securing them.

John
How did the bolts attach to the ribs? I worry about putting holes in them. On the other hand I don't see another way but drill into them in some way. Holes in the roof don't worry me, the sealants right now are pretty effective as well as those gasket bolts. I'm making a 2x4 box around the brittle e exit that is now ripped out. Using those gasket deals and Henry's caulk,paint, tape and epoxy for fiberglass because I refuse to lose that battle. Slept in some miserable places but not this time.

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Old 10-20-2017, 10:56 PM   #7
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Home Depot didn't have the rivets I was assuming that would be good, 1/4" steel. Covered with Henry's I was going non stainless. On second thought I need to come check my mounts to see how that will work together.
Lol, no they don't. But these guys do
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Old 10-21-2017, 12:45 PM   #8
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3M VHB tape, needs good prep but no holes
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Old 10-21-2017, 11:26 PM   #9
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How did the bolts attach to the ribs? I worry about putting holes in them. On the other hand I don't see another way but drill into them in some way. Holes in the roof don't worry me, the sealants right now are pretty effective as well as those gasket bolts. I'm making a 2x4 box around the brittle e exit that is now ripped out. Using those gasket deals and Henry's caulk,paint, tape and epoxy for fiberglass because I refuse to lose that battle. Slept in some miserable places but not this time.

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I just drilled holes through the ribs' flanges. Subtle? No, but it's strong. Heck, I could probably lift my bus by the solar panels!

Incidentally, your bus isn't a 1992. Crown was killed off by General Electric ("We Bring Good Things To Life") in 1991, so it's probably a 1990 or 1991 - very few Super IIs were made in 1989, their first year of production.

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Old 10-22-2017, 11:54 AM   #10
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True. Feb 91. Forgot to change it. One of the last I suppose.

Apparently the ribs can handle it. Thanks. Only problem I have with the rivets is that will be only project for rivets for me until I do version 2 makeover involving ripping ceiling out and who knows what else. Right now I want it on the road for winter and rains which are very soon. I don't understand a couple things about rivets like the various options, washers or w/e they have. In the meantime I could bolt it.
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Old 10-23-2017, 03:52 AM   #11
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Maybe someone can read this diagram. I would rather have a tilting solar panel array. I don't want to spend the money. Maybe there has been another simple solution that I am missing and that is ok, point me to it, I guess... lol. I will try and make sense of the drawing.

Black arches are ribs on bus. Horizontal black rectangles are 2x4 flat on roof. The red rectangle is one solar panel. Purple squares are non moving attachments to ribs. Green squares are hinges. Yellow rectangles are spring loaded push rods like what you find on trailers. You pull rod, it resists due to spring. Last is blue lines, they are rope fed through eyelets which are also blue but circles. Where 2 blue lines goes to 1 is a pulley or an eyelet, to be determined.

Ok so if you are on side of bus where blue line is, you pull line. It reaches to yellow which are spring loaded pins. When retracted the bottommost 2x4 which has no permenant mount to roof, becomes detached from the permenant 2x4. This releases it from the adjacent 2x4, second from bottom. There should be a hydraulic arm (no symbol in drawing) or two so when pins are pulled it pushes panels up because they are hinged (green symbol).

Now if somehow this makes sense and is feasible so far (certainly I'm missing something), then another issue is reducing drag. I would take 4x4 and place it at windward side, the front. Sure there is weight and more expense but it would maybe block enough wind to reduce some of that pull from panels acting like sails.

Crazy idea but I needed to try. Will it work?
I dunno, maybe 50-80 dollars.
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Old 10-23-2017, 04:20 AM   #12
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I'm trying to follow....it seems overly complex at first glance. For $50, it'd be worth a try. I wouldn't recommend wooden 2x4 in the elements.

Are you trying to avoid sending your wife or kid up to tilt the panels? It looks like you would still need to climb-up to release the mechanism. The video makes valid point that manual tilt allows for inspection.

It'd be very cool if you could automate the tilt so that itself-maximizes ideal angle. Good Winter project.

I am in a similar spot- getting ready to do interior ceiling and want solar & mounts roughed-in at this stage. Tilting def seems worth while for longer stays.

I realize you are trying to do this inexpensively, but if you see how the fancy ones are done, you can reverse-scrapyard engineer some from cut-offs.

angle2.JPG

Adjustable-Tilt-Angle-Solar-Mounting.jpg


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Old 10-23-2017, 05:40 AM   #13
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Thinking about it. I can get up to the roof easily through the new e hatch with ladder. I do want it simple, like you said. Sometimes an iffy idea can lead me to coming up with a better plan after reconsiderations. I don't like lifting each panel one at a time though, it seems inefficient. For a longer stay, then it might not matter to do one at a time.

I don't like the ones they sell so I might experiment.
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Old 10-23-2017, 11:23 AM   #14
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I got it !!!

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Thinking about it. I can get up to the roof easily through the new e hatch with ladder. I do want it simple, like you said. Sometimes an iffy idea can lead me to coming up with a better plan after reconsiderations. I don't like lifting each panel one at a time though, it seems inefficient. For a longer stay, then it might not matter to do one at a time.

I don't like the ones they sell so I might experiment.
Ok, bear with me. I slept on this and I think I almost have it. I put too much time into drawing this with wrong tool and used as many colors as I could for you

So, I pull-up to my spot, have tanks full of compressed air. Sun is overhead, great. Sun moves, I pssst some air into my cylinders and it tilts my solar array to Ra.

I made a manual version for you Luddites.

Aluminum shaft is 10' long and $40, won't rust. Miracle plastic is slicker than elephant snot and easy to machine. 2 blocks can be made from one square, drill center hole, then rip. Bearing caps get thru-bolted to ribs. End caps need limiter tab to prevent lateral slide-out. Panels need resting bumper/ mounting point 'cuz wind. Small self-aligning post/receiver would work. Some small details to work out, but works in my head. Mounting panels to shaft will require torsional stiffener or *crack*.

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Old 10-23-2017, 11:59 AM   #15
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Have you thought about using a linear actuator?

If you fix the "free end" of the panels to a single piece of square tube, one linear actuator could raise and lower them all together by whatever distance you set.
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Old 10-23-2017, 12:45 PM   #16
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Have you thought about using a linear actuator?

If you fix the "free end" of the panels to a single piece of square tube, one linear actuator could raise and lower them all together by whatever distance you set.
On the diagram-

The pneumatic cylinder (Bimba) is the linear actuator. I would tie the panel free-ends with a bar, didn't include in drawing. You could just push the bar-up, like you said. He wanted his to be rope-operated.
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Old 10-23-2017, 12:50 PM   #17
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With yours or my contraption, if you mount a solar meter where you can see it then you could pull the array down and the strut would lift it up. That makes it adjustable. Have just enough strut power so it's easy to pull back down.

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Old 10-23-2017, 10:38 PM   #18
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Have you thought about using a linear actuator?

If you fix the "free end" of the panels to a single piece of square tube, one linear actuator could raise and lower them all together by whatever distance you set.
Oh, I missed that one earlier. I like it! What I might do is set it up flat (static) and make sure I build it in a way so adding an actuator is not a problem for future. Need to let the finances take a rest for a bit but then I can get back to it and it won't be so permanent that I can't add the ability to raise it later. As for the square tubing, I needed that anyway since I might add some to where the wide front door flap is now, that way I can put in some real locks on that. Just need some certified used oxygen and acetylene tanks.
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Old 10-24-2017, 12:02 AM   #19
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I think these ideas would confuse even Rube Goldberg! Where's KISS, or at least the notion of engineering elegance through what Robert Pirsig called "lessness"?

I hinge my eight Sharp 255W panels from the central walkway between my two roof hatches, and through the front hatch I can easily climb up onto the walkway to clean panels when needed. (I put two water quick-connect outlets up there, so to wash down the panels needs only a washdown brush and a short curly hose. No dragging hoses or heavy buckets of water up there for me! Why make this job harder than it needs to be?) Each panel sits in its own support frame made from 6063 angle, so to completely change out a panel would take only a few minutes. When the panels are down against the roof for travel they are at 21 degrees below horizontal, but each one can be raised to level, 21 degrees up (for summer), 33 degrees up (for spring or fall), or 45 degrees up (for winter). This means that in summer one side of panels is 21 degrees down, and the opposite side of panels is 21 degrees up. Guess what the ideal summer angle for panels in SoCal is? When the sun is lower in the sky, I raise the far-side panels higher, but the near-side is always at 21 degrees down. It's not quite as good as having all my panels able to be fully raised, but any loss of solar harvest will be inconsequential, especially that I have over 2000 watts of them anyway! (I think that most of the year I'll have far more potential power-production than I'll need, but for overcast short winter days you really can't have too much PV.)

The actual way I raise the panels is with simple home-made stainless-steel telescoping struts with snap buttons. Each strut's top end is hinged and pivots onto the panel, and the bottom end pivots and slides in a length of T-track that is hinged to a longitudinal 6061 angle rail against the roof. This way, each strut telescopes, pivots, slides and hinges, ensuring that only compressive loads are seen. When down against the roof for travel each panel is secured by two simple clamps onto the 6061 angle, absolutely preventing any movement whatsoever. To raise a panel only needs me to release the clamps, then just raise it as far as needed; to lower it I just push in the snap buttons and down it comes. Easy! No tools are needed, and it takes only a short time to move each panel. And yes, I get up on a step ladder - what's wrong with that? Everything is made from 18/8 stainless-steel and 6061 or 6063 aluminum for all-weather dependability and long-term reliability.

Each panel's MC4 connectors mate with its own 10AWG feed-in cable that runs inside aluminum conduit, and each side of four panels feed into a combiner box under the walkway from where the individually-fused and paralleled outputs are sent by 4AWG welding cables inside the roof ribs down to the charge controllers' 50A input breakers. Each side of panels has its own Morningstar TS-MPPT-60 charge controller that charges its own bank of (eventually) four golfcart or L-16 batteries through some 80A breakers. In effect I have two completely separate and independent systems running in parallel, and each battery bank has a 250A Schottky output diode to prevent back-feeding to the other before they combine at the DC load center that powers the Magnum MS2000 inverter and the DC loads. This way I have complete redundancy - nothing could ever deprive me of power! Each bank of batteries need not even be the same type or age - I can use whatever I buy at the time, and replace half the batteries at one time to prevent having all my batteries dying at the same time. All the batteries are on pull-out trays of my own design, just like the start batteries also have, and the charge controllers and inverter(s) are also on swing-down mounts for easy access. The house batteries can also be connected to the start batteries for cold-weather boosting, using a pair of Blue Sea high-capacity rotary switches for their Pos and Neg 4/0 interconnection cables. And if I ever need to charge the batteries from the Magnum's own 100A charger, the Schottky diodes can be bypassed by means of another Blue Sea switch. Each battery bank has its own 300A Class T catastrophe fuse on the negative (hence the need for a separate Neg switch for the starter interconnect), and each individual battery will also have its own load fuse.

Yes, it's a lot of work to do it this way, but in the long run it will be more reliable and effective than other systems I've seen. It's still a fundamentally simple system, with everything designed for easy access and serviceability.

John
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Old 10-24-2017, 12:40 AM   #20
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I'm struggling a bit with how this is more simple than a couple of hinges and a linear actuator.

I'd probably have to see it.
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