Designing the Van Part 10 – Fitting the Kitchen Window

With a loose idea of how the kitchen area was going to work and the frame for it built and ready I had to make some changes to the panelling so I could accommodate a window.

Despite having the skylight in place the van still lacked light so the window above the kitchen should give us a good view of the world and brighten the place up.

The story of how I procured the window is told in another article, so for the sake of convenience let’s say I already have it and this is how the installation went.

The window was from a scrapped caravan and came in several pieces; a seal which defined the shape, the window itself, a hinge with and caps and two receptacles for the clasps that would hold it firmly shut.

I called my dad in again for this one as he was a former sunroof fitter and was a deft hand with the jigsaw. I was personally too nervous to be cutting holes in metal as once they’re done there’s not much in the way of going back. It’s not impossible to fix but it doesn’t come cheaply.

We had to piece the window together first; a top hinged number which clasped at the base and would open almost 90 degrees. A side arm with a retaining screw held it open and also added a little extra security when it was closed. It was not going to be a sturdy window as such but for the price I paid I was happy with it.

The seal would act as our template and its inner dimensions gave us the first line to cut to. My dad traced it onto some cardboard then drew it on the van before casually taking the drill and jigsaw to it, cursing and swearing as tiny shards of hot metal fired at him like primitive projectiles.

He took his time to make sure the cut was clean and tidy. As the panel dropped away he grinned and we tried the seal inside the hole. The hole was too small which is a good thing as you can always cut a little more if needed. Too big and your world seems a less enjoyable place for a while.

After some adjusting and fine cutting the hole was the right size and we slotted the seal inside it. That was the first part done successfully.

We then had to build a frame that would sit inside the van and hold the seal firmly in place which was done with 25mm Medium Density Fibreboard (MDF). I took the unusual step of screwing through the metal of the body to hold the frame in place because I couldn’t think of any other way to do it.

I used the same boat window sealant to waterproof he screws and then fitted the hinge above the window so that it could be closed that night. That too had to be screwed into the body and sealed.

The window pane was put in place so all that was left was to fit the clasps for the handles and locks and fix the arm to the side of the frame, jobs which took about ten minutes in all.

Happy with my new window I downed tools for the day and put my feet up as heavy rain clouds loomed overhead. The night would be an interesting acid test for the new viewing hole and I was confident it would hold up.

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