Installing The Aluminum Roof On The Motorhome
The next step after getting the plywood on the roof installed was to get the aluminum installed. To get the aluminum up on the roof, we stood two 10ft – 2x4s a few feet apart against the side of the RV to make a ramp for the roll of aluminum to ride up. We then used rope to roll it up the 2x4s and get the whole roll up on top. It was light enough that I was able to pull it up by myself. Once I had gotten it up there and straightened out, my dad and I cut the band holding the aluminum roll, being careful to not let it come unwound too fast and throw one of us (or both) off of the top of the RV.
We got it rolled all of the way out and then positioned it so that it had enough overhang on the front and back. I also evened the overhang on the sides. I had decided to not put a seam on any of the upper surfaces, so the aluminum would roll over the back ridge and go all of the way over the front. I also decided to not re-install the large front window that goes across the overhead area since they are really susceptible to leaking. The whole overhead area had substantial water damage so much of my thinking was reactionary in trying to prevent it from ever re-occurring.
Once it was correctly positioned, we lifted the back end of the aluminum up and proceeded to glue down approximately 5 feet or so across the very back of the roof. This would serve to hold the aluminum sheet straight when we rolled back the front end of it and glued the rest of it down. For glue, I used contact cement. When searching around on the internet, that seemed to be the best adhesive, especially cost-wise, for adhering the aluminum to the plywood. I chose DAP 273 Weldwood Original Cement – 1 gallon and purchased 2 gallons for this project. You can find this stuff at Lowes and Home Depot. To apply it, I just used a cheap paint roller and a disposable paint tray. Oh, and I highly recommend an extension handle for the paint roller.
One of my mistakes was not making sure to properly prepare the surfaces. I make sure they were clean of any dirt and debris, but I probably should’ve sanded the aluminum and wiped it down with 91% Isopropyl Alcohol or something to make sure it was really clean. But I was in a hurry to get this done, so that was ignored for the sake of time.
Once the back portion was glued down, we shuffled our feet as we slowly moved around on the roof to try and apply adequate pressure for proper adhesion as per the product instructions. This sat for a couple of days before we glued the rest of it. The delay was mainly due to the fact we ran out of time and I had to wait until my dad had time to help me with it since this wasn’t a one person job. We rolled the front part back and basically repeated the process. We glued it down in roughly 5 foot sections at a time until we were done. We repeated the “old man shuffle” as before and that took care of the top part. I waited a while before I did the front and the back because I wanted to finish getting those areas rebuilt before I attempted to glue it down so the metal wouldn’t get in the way. This turned out to be a smart move.
We went ahead and folded the aluminum roof over on the edges along the sides for most of the length using a rubber mallet. This was to prevent rain from running over the edges and then running back up under the aluminum and getting the plywood wet. I didn’t attach it on the sides or anything. I just made a sort of eve to deflect the rain water for the time being.
This whole time I was multi-tasking and working on other tasks because my dad was only able to help me at certain times, so there’s a lot more occurring simultaneously. In the next post, I’ll go into how I rebuilt the overhead area. There’s still more later on in regards to the roof, but this was as far as I went with this for a while, so the rest will have to wait for a future article.