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Old 04-09-2021, 09:19 PM   #1
Almost There
 
Join Date: Feb 2020
Location: East Texas
Posts: 77
Year: 2002
Coachwork: International (Navistar)
Chassis: 37' FE Flatnose 3800FC
Engine: 7.6L DT466 with Allison MD 3060
Solar Prep

We have a 2002 flat nose International. We eventually want to install solar (if I can ever figure out our needs and can come up with the money for it). However at this time it's just not in the budget. We have insulated the floor and put tongue & groove plywood down, used a ton of 2x2's to frame out the ceiling and walls and are getting ready to put installation in walls and ceiling. Oh yeah we have about half the electrical wiring installed. My long winded question is do we need to install those runner/rack things on the roof to attach solar panels to later, before we seal the ceiling up or can we wait until later when we can afford solar? If we wait, how do you then attach the racks, without damaging your ceilings or wiring? I know, probably a stupid question with an obvious answer.

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Old 04-09-2021, 09:30 PM   #2
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Join Date: May 2017
Location: Flemingsburg, KY
Posts: 1,430
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Amtran
Chassis: International RE
Engine: International T444e
Rated Cap: 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maggie01 View Post
We have a 2002 flat nose International. We eventually want to install solar (if I can ever figure out our needs and can come up with the money for it). However at this time it's just not in the budget. We have insulated the floor and put tongue & groove plywood down, used a ton of 2x2's to frame out the ceiling and walls and are getting ready to put installation in walls and ceiling. Oh yeah we have about half the electrical wiring installed. My long winded question is do we need to install those runner/rack things on the roof to attach solar panels to later, before we seal the ceiling up or can we wait until later when we can afford solar? If we wait, how do you then attach the racks, without damaging your ceilings or wiring? I know, probably a stupid question with an obvious answer.
My opinion:


Install what is called "strut channel" in the roof/ceiling BEFORE sealing it up. The beauty of the stuff is how versatile it is, you can use it to attach anything, anywhere you want. I would install two runs along the length of the bus near the top, probably around 30"-45" apart, 15"-22.5" off center depending on your ceiling. Use 1/2" bolts with lock nuts, bolt facing up. Washers on the inside if they will fit. Cover them in lap sealant up top as you torque them down.



It is especially important to do this if you are ripping out the ceiling, before closing the ceiling back up. Why? To test for leaks with all those new holes. Spray it with a hose after it dries if you can't wait for a rainy day.



If I were doing it again, I'd also put strut channel along the walls just under the windows for the full length of the bus, as well as strut channel just above the window before the curve starts. This stuff is unbelievably useful- use it to mount ladders, lights, a canopy, a fold-up outdoor table for barbecuing, even decks.
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Old 04-09-2021, 09:38 PM   #3
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Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: NM USA KD6WJG
Posts: 817
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: All American RE 40 FEET
Engine: Cummins 8.3
I used rivnuts 5/16” into the roof to hold down unistrut. I put butyl tape between the unistrut and the roof and then covered with sikaflex.
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Old 04-10-2021, 07:27 AM   #4
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Join Date: May 2016
Location: Grayson County, VA
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Year: 1996
Coachwork: Amtran
Chassis: International
Engine: DT466
Rated Cap: 65
We used Blind Bolts (similar to Rivnuts, I think?) to fasten L-brackets, which support the solar racking. If we'd had access to inside face of the roof though, I'd probably have done a more fairlsafe setup. We haven't had any problems in over 2 years and the Blind Bolts were so easy to install.
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Old 04-10-2021, 12:48 PM   #5
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Year: 1999
I would glue down the unistrut. Only downside is now you can't remove it.
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Old 04-10-2021, 12:55 PM   #6
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my plan is the blind bolts as already mentioned.
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Old 07-22-2021, 12:07 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kazetsukai View Post
My opinion:


Install what is called "strut channel" in the roof/ceiling BEFORE sealing it up. The beauty of the stuff is how versatile it is, you can use it to attach anything, anywhere you want. I would install two runs along the length of the bus near the top, probably around 30"-45" apart, 15"-22.5" off center depending on your ceiling. Use 1/2" bolts with lock nuts, bolt facing up. Washers on the inside if they will fit. Cover them in lap sealant up top as you torque them down.



It is especially important to do this if you are ripping out the ceiling, before closing the ceiling back up. Why? To test for leaks with all those new holes. Spray it with a hose after it dries if you can't wait for a rainy day.



If I were doing it again, I'd also put strut channel along the walls just under the windows for the full length of the bus, as well as strut channel just above the window before the curve starts. This stuff is unbelievably useful- use it to mount ladders, lights, a canopy, a fold-up outdoor table for barbecuing, even decks.

If you donít mind, could you elaborate the size of these strut channels that would result in the most secure support for the panels? Iím a newbie currently planning my conversion project and am trying to figure out what all I need for preparation.
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Old 07-22-2021, 12:23 PM   #8
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Join Date: May 2017
Location: Flemingsburg, KY
Posts: 1,430
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Amtran
Chassis: International RE
Engine: International T444e
Rated Cap: 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by 8ri-8ri View Post
If you don’t mind, could you elaborate the size of these strut channels that would result in the most secure support for the panels? I’m a newbie currently planning my conversion project and am trying to figure out what all I need for preparation.
What do you mean by size? You mean full-depth versus half depth, or do you mean length?

Any strut you find in the home improvement store in the electrical section is going to be stronger than your panels...
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Old 07-22-2021, 12:24 PM   #9
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Join Date: Sep 2018
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Year: 2007
Coachwork: Thomas Built
Chassis: Minotour
Engine: Chevy Express 3500 6.6l
I through-bolted 15/16 Unistrut with stainless carriage bolts through the ribs, head on the inside. It’s helpful to know the panel dimensions when you place the Unistrut.
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Old 07-22-2021, 12:28 PM   #10
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Sep 2018
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Year: 2007
Coachwork: Thomas Built
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You can get galvanized unistrut at the Home Depot or other big box. You can get aluminum strut at an industrial supply like Grainger. It’s gonna cost though. Unfortunately strut nuts are just anodized, but it should be ok for years. Just use stainless bolts and blue loctite
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Old 07-22-2021, 12:32 PM   #11
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Join Date: Sep 2018
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Year: 2007
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Engine: Chevy Express 3500 6.6l
When I did the through bolts I used neoprene-backed stainless fender washers and UV-grade Sikaflex against the roof surface, then the strut, then a double-thick stainless washer inside the strut channel and a nylock nut
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Old 07-23-2021, 02:29 AM   #12
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2021
Posts: 130
Every factory RecreationVehicle [spit] has holes in the roof [spit].
Vents, fans, air-conditioner(s).
And they all always leak.
.
Sky-lights above the bed.
Do not get me started on sky-lights above the bed [gnashes teeth, rends hair].
.
If I was me, I would look into a clamp system to connect onto the drip-rail.
.
.
On our ExpeditionVehicle, we mounted a commercial box.
The factory roof connects to the exterior walls using an aluminum extruded 'I-beam'.
The exterior edges of that 'I' are un-used, so I drilled and bolted through it.
What did I bolt to it?
My cross-members for the photovoltaic panels.
.
I glued the conduct for the cables across the roof and down the rear wall using my favorite sealer, Vulcum 116.
'Yes', Vulcum 116 is promoted as a sealer, but removing my conduit would require three body-builders or one husky farm-girl.
And would probably take most of the weekend.
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