Paneling the Ceiling (Part 2)

Paneling the Ceiling (Part 2)

May 20, 2015 Categories Camper Van

This is part two; here is part one.

In order to panel the sides of my ceiling (“upper walls”), I first had to run the PVC pipe for my battery vent. The vent is needed because the batteries create hydrogen gas (which is explosive) while charging and the only way to get the gas out of the van is through a vent. I’ve seen some setups where the battery box is actually located outside and under the van, which is definitely the way to go if you can fabricate a metal housing to contain it all.

I used 1 1/2″ PVC to create my vent and capped it off with a plastic “Mobile Home” vent cap found in the plumbing/RV section of Home Depot. The vent cap allows the gas to escape while keeping the rain out. I avoided using pipe horizontally and kept everything going vertical so the gas should have no problem escaping (hydrogen is lighter than air, so it should just rise up and out). I also had to cut a hole in the roof for the pipe to go through. Before I cemented any pipes together, I did a dry fit to get the angles I needed for everything to work.

With everything cut and in the correct angle, I used a marker to draw lines on the pipe and numbered the connections so when I took it apart to cement it all together, I knew exactly what pipe went where and at what angle. I bought an Oatey Handy Pack which contains the purple primer and clear cement needed to glue the PVC together. Cementing it together is pretty simple. First, make sure your pipe and fitting is clean of dirt or anything else, then apply some purple primer to both the pipe and the fitting. Then apply a layer of the cement and push the pieces together. You’re supposed to give it a 1/4 turn and hold it for 30 seconds, but it will hold in place in about half of that time.

I’m not done with the bottom half of the vent tube, as I ran out of 45° bends. I bought some more tonight and I’ll glue the rest of it up tomorrow.

With the tube in place, it was time to cap it off. I started by adding a layer of putty tape to the bottom of the vent cap. This will help keep water out.

Then I climbed up and added some roof sealant around the hole where the tube comes out to make sure water doesn’t get in. Next was adding the cap and screwing it in place. And lastly, I took some more roof sealant and covered the screw heads to make sure water doesn’t get in or around them.

Now that I had the battery vent out of the way, I could start paneling. The driver side went up pretty smoothly.

The passenger side, however, was a huge pain in the rump roast. I’ve decided there’s a section of my ceiling that is contained within some kind of paradox bubble in which the laws of math, science, and logic do not apply. Let me try to explain where I struggled with a pretty picture.

I want to stress that all of the support beams are exactly the same height and the bottom of the ceiling frame was completely level. Yet, somehow, the ceiling curved up in the center. After trying to fix it and failing, I decided “screw it, I’ll just add a spacer in the middle to push the ceiling down.” After adding the spacer, the center now measured at 18 1/8″ and the outer supports still measured at 18 1/2″. So, in theory, the center should be curving downwards. NOPE!

I have no explanation as to how it’s happening, but even with the center support effectively being shorter than the others, it’s still curving upwards! There’s nothing logical at all that explains what is happening. If the bottom of the ceiling frame was curved, sure, it would make sense – but it’s not, it’s completely flat.

In the end, I got it pushed down enough to where the tongue and groove boards would fit together and not show any gap, but if you stand in front of it and just look at the boards, you will notice the curvature. It hurts my brain thinking about it. I ended up running out of boards and couldn’t even finish paneling the side.

I bought some more boards tonight, along with some other things I needed, so I should be able to finish it tomorrow… assuming no other paradoxes consume hours of my life.

Continue on to part three.

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