On a rare and random nice day I installed the first of the bonded side windows into the campervan. It went pretty well, especially given how big the window is. A fellow boater stood next to me as I popped the window in place in case it slipped but all was fine. Then I did some beginning work on the ceiling and screwed down the 12mm plywood floor.
See also the Vlog where I installed the rear windows by clicking here
Bonding the windows is something that many van builders seem to be nervous about and rightly so, since it does involve taking a jigsaw to the side of the van and cutting a huge hole in the metal. It’s not actually that hard, provided you take your time and are careful. You can read much of the process in the link to the rear window installation (given above) but in brief the idea is:
1. Drill holes (big enough to put the jigsaw blade through) from the inside of the window frame, at each point where the frame turns a corner. You can see where the frame is because the van will have been made with a double skin, the inner one of which will have been cut to the shape of the window in case of a factory installation.
2. Draw a line from hole to hole, using (in my case) a cardboard template for the corners, marked out again on the inside. Remember to get the template the correct way round when marking on the outside!
3. Use masking tape and newspaper to protect the metal that won’t be cut away.
4. Put lots of newspaper down inside to ensure the many metal filings you’re about to make will be caught and not drop down inside the van
5. Try to stop any filings from falling down between the inner and outer skin as well – I stuffed the gap with some foam.
6. Use a metal jigsaw blade and gently (gently!) cut away the metal panel to the shape you’ve marked. Take your time and go carefully around the corners. Try to cut (as far as you can tell but this is not easy) only the outer skin. If you’re cutting into both the inner and outer, then you’ve gone too far. Never mind, just get back on track as smoothly as possible. Use gaffer tape to hold the cut-out section as you make the last cuts otherwise it’ll fall off and either scrape the outside paintwork or crash down inside the van.
7. File down the rough edges of the window metal.
8. Gently collect up the newspaper with the filings and bin them. If left, they’ll rust in the van.
9. Apply paint to the cut edges so that they don’t rust. Leave to dry. I used black Hammerite which dries in an hour.
10. Using a rubber-coated mallet, knock the edge trim onto the edge of the window frame. Make sure it’s knocked into all the corners and is fully pushed into place.
11. Prepare the window as described in your adhesive’s instructions (in my case, the adhesive is https://geni.us/Van_Dinitrol). In my case that meant giving it a clean with any domestic window cleaner, then wiping a (provided) adhesion-enhancing fluid round the outside. This was allowed to dry for a few minutes (I also applied it to the border of the window on the van). Then a supplied primer is wiped around the window and onto the van. They say not to overlap any strokes of the primer (ie don’t paint it on back and forth like you might with a paintbrish) but to try to do it in one sweep. Allow this to dry (several minutes at least).
12. Use a cartridge gun to squeeze out the window adhesive either onto the edge of the window or onto the van. I chose to do it onto the van. It is crucial that you hold the cartridge at right-angles to the van so that the bead of adhesive comes out in a “tall” pyramid shape; in other words so that it’s big enough to make sure it’ll make contact with every part of the window when you hold it up. Trying to apply the adhesive as you would a sealant around the edge of the bath is not going to work. The cartridge nozzle should come pre-cut with this pyramid shape though not all do so you may need to cut it with a knife before you start.
13. Quickly (before the adhesive skins over, which is usually in around fifteen minutes) – but oh so carefully – hold the window up to the frame and push it into place. Although the adhesive takes a few hours to gain maximum strength, you’ll find you have only a few minutes working time in which to adjust the window, and by and large it will stick to whichever position you first put the window in so for goodness sake line it up carefully before pressing it into place. Some of those vacuum suction cup things to hold the glass come in handy here but I like to have someone else ready underneath the pane in case the suckers fail (this did happen!)
14. Push the window in place firmly all around the edges (where the adhesive is) and then use strips of gaffer tape, stuck to the roof of the van and brought down to the window, to stop it from drooping down while the adhesive sets.
15. Leave for at least two hours (I left mine overnight) before moving the van.
This is just a rough guide as to how I did it but if you are in any doubt, consult or pay a professional to do it for you.
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Products and tools used in my van build (as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.)
Ecotree Lithium battery: www.ecotreelithium.co.uk
New heater unit (diesel): https://geni.us/Van_Autoterm
New inverter (Renogy): https://geni.us/Van_RenogyInverter
Induction hob: https://geni.us/Van_InductionHob
Portable toilet: https://geni.us/Van_Toilet
Mains charger: https://geni.us/Van_MainsCharger
Solar charger: https://geni.us/Van_SolarMPPT
Old heater unit: https://geni.us/Van_PropexHS2000
Old sink / hob: https://geni.us/Van_SinkHob
Old inverter: https://geni.us/Van_Inverter
DeWalt jigsaw: https://geni.us/Van_DeWaltJigsaw
DeWalt drill: https://geni.us/Van_DeWaltDrill
DeWalt mitre saw: https://geni.us/Van_DeWaltMitreSaw
DeWalt circular saw: https://geni.us/Van_DeWaltCircSaw