Van Build: Maxxair Fan Installation

Honestly, once you cut one hole, it wants to make you cut more. It was a pretty quick job, after we got the correct metal-cutting drill bit.

Written By Freedom Strider

On March 7, 2020

Now the frame is dry, we hop on the roof and start cutting a hole for our new Maxxair Fan! Installing your own roof vent van in your campervan conversion is not too daunting a task (especially after cutting out a hole for a window) but you do need to make sure you have the right tools and waterproof it properly.

1

Drill a hole in your nice new frame

Before doing anything, we dry fitted our newly built frame around the fan, marked and drilled a hole in it to fit the Maxxair Fan wires. 

It’s easier to do it now, rather than when the fan is installed.

maxxair fan - extraction fan - van conversion

2

Where does the fan go?

We already knew exactly where we wanted to install the fan, but now is your last change to make up your mind. If you’re having only one extraction fan, having the nearest your kitchen is the best idea; with our layout the kitchen is in the back.

We used the frame to mark out 4 lines of the hole size we needed to cut, being sure to centre the frame in the middle of our ceiling. 🎯

In each of the 4 corners, we drilled a 5mm, then a 10mm hole, so we can fit the jigsaw blade in and cut the rest out.

maxxair fan - extraction fan - van conversion

TOP TIP

Be sure to use metal cutting drill bits when drilling through the van. We had a pack of ‘for metal’ drill bits but they weren’t tough enough to cut through the steel of the van. So instead we got a set of titanium tipped drill bits, which worked amazingly well.

A set is not expensive, and it’s worth buying one for your whole van conversion anyway.

3

Bin bag protection

Before cutting out the hole, tape a bin bag beneath the part you’re about to cut out in order to catch any metal shards and the actual piece of metal you’re cutting out, otherwise you’ll have a very messy cleanup job.

maxxair fan - extraction fan - van conversion

4

Make a hole in your roof (on purpose)

Next we hopped up on the roof (remembering to bring all our tools, gear and also a power extension cord), and prepared to cut the hole.

We cleaned the area with our dwindling alcohol supply, drew 4 border lines on the roof as a guide, using the pre-drilled holes as a guide, put duct tape on the bottom of our jigsaw to prevent it scratching the roof, and cut! ✂️

It’s best to cut 2 sides fully, cut the 3rd one nearly all the way, but leave a few mm remaining.

Then when you cut the 4th side all the way, it won’t fall straight down, and you can cut the remainder easily.

The duct tape trick, it sort of worked but still scratched the van, and some of the metal shavings stuck to the duct tape, so not really sure we’ll use that trick again.

maxxair fan - extraction fan - van conversion
maxxair fan - extraction fan - van conversion
maxxair fan - extraction fan - van conversion

5

Sanding, test fit, and rust protection

We used some files and a power sander to even out the rough edges, and used the Maxxair Fan plastic frame (not the wooden one we made) to make sure the hole was big enough to fit the van. 

It took a few tries, and because the roof ribs don’t allow the plastic housing to sit flat, it can be a bit tricky.

Once smooth and fitting nicely, we removed the bin bag, and used hammerite to rust protect the edges of our newly cut hole. 🖌️

maxxair fan - extraction fan - van conversion

6

Stick on the wooden frame

Moving inside the van, and using our trusty Sikaflex Pro 3 and a good caulking gun, we spread sealant around the perimeter of the hole we just cut, and stuck on our wooden frame with clamps.

After making sure it was all lined up (ish), we hoovered any runaway metal shavings, and had lunch. 🥪

maxxair fan - extraction fan - van conversion

TOP TIP

Leave the sealant to dry for a few hours. We left ours to set for only an hour or so, and as soon as we tried to screw screws into it, it fell off and was a hassle to hold in place whilst screwing the fan back on.

7

Numpty alert – remember to dry fit

Before fitting the butyl tape, dry fit the plastic fan housing, and mark with a pen where the screw holes are. 📐

This will allow you to accurately position the butyl tape so that the screws actually screw into the tape, plug their own hole and increase the water resistance of the area.

maxxair fan - extraction fan - van conversion

8

Butyl Tape

Since the van ribs make the fan sit unevenly, we need to level out the fans plastic frame base.

Instead of hitting the ribs with a hammer (not a good idea), we built up layers of butyl tape in the gaps to make it level and added waterproofness.

We also ran a full length of the stuff on top of everything once it was level, to give the plastic housing something to grip and stick to.

maxxair fan - extraction fan - van conversion

9

Screw in the fan housing

With the plastic frame on top, we pre-drilled all the screw holes with a 2.5mm metal drill bit, and then, in a criss cross pattern, screwed in some 3.5 x 50mm self tapping zinc screws.

The self tapping means in theory you shouldn’t need to predrill a hole, but we did anyway since they didn’t catch without a pilot hole – understandable since it is a stainless steel roof. 💪

maxxair fan - extraction fan - van conversion

10

Sticky sticky sealant

With the frame in, we went around the edge with some Sikaflex 512 – you need a certain sealant for this job as it not only has to dry flexible, be neutral cure and be waterproof, but also has to resist UV since it’s exposed to the sun.

We probably went a bit overboard, but we definitely don’t want this thing to leak. We also covered all the screw heads in sealant since they will also leak if not covered. 💦

maxxair fan - extraction fan - van conversion

11

Fan is open for business

Finally, we slotted the actual fan into place, and secured it with 4 side mounting screws into the little metal brackets (oh and don’t install the fan backwards).

We did test the fan with a 12V supply to make sure it worked, but for now, it shall remain unwired until our electrics are done. ⚡

maxxair fan - extraction fan - van conversion
maxxair fan - extraction fan - van conversion
maxxair fan - extraction fan - van conversion
maxxair fan - extraction fan - van conversion

quick look

Quick Steps Overview:

 

  1. Drill wire hole in frame
  2. Dry-fit and trace border
  3. Drill holes in corners with metal drillbits
  4. Cut out fan hole from the top with jigsaw
  5. File and rust protect edges
  6. Stick wooden frame on from underneath
  7. Level area with butyl tape
  8. Screw in plastic fan frame
  9. Waterproof with sealant
  10. Attach fan to plastic frame

NEXT VAN BUILD STEP

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