Using factory M8 threaded holes in roof to mount solar - Ford Transit USA Forum
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Old 06-22-2018, 08:02:AM Thread Starter
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Using factory M8 threaded holes in roof to mount solar

Everyone,
I'm mounting a panel on my 130wb med roof using the 4 forward most attachments, crosswise. The panel fits nearly perfectly.
What I need, however are "L" brackets which are 2 inch x 4 inch, probably aluminum. Does anyone know where to get these? How thick do they need to be?
Thanks
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Old 06-22-2018, 09:00:AM
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Angle aluminum extrusions should be easily found at metal supply, welding supply, and other similar stores. Something in the 1/8" to 3/8" thick range ought to be strong enough for most loads. If you are buying the metal from a fabrication shop you can tell them more about the load and get their recommendation.

Something else to consider is that the surface of the roof is angled out at those points, so you may have to have something to level it out before bolting the angle on, or, to adapt between the cross-piece and the angle. If you determine the angle needed, you may have a fab shop use a brake to bend aluminum flat stock to exactly the right angle for your application.

2015 T150 148" MR
Ecobeast - 3.31 - Cargo

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Last edited by Travlin; 06-22-2018 at 09:03:AM.
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Old 06-24-2018, 03:57:AM
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Gwhis has detailed information on mounting solar panels using the method you mention on page 4 of this thread:

https://www.fordtransitusaforum.com/...lar-panel.html

I used basically the same design for installing my solar panels. Photos of my install are on page 8 of the same thread. The local metal supply house did not carry 1/4" thick 2" x 4" aluminum angle, so I ordered it from the supplier Gwhis used, McMaster-Carr. The local metal supplier did have 1" schedule 80 (thick wall) aluminum pipe. The stainless steel u-bolts came from Lowes. Since the van is subject to vibration, stainless steel nylon lock nuts were used on the u-bolts instead of the included nuts.

The benefit of using pipe instead of 80/20 is that it eliminates the problem of the 5 degree shims needed to make the vertical sides of square roof rails parallel. The installation is very secure, has no wind noise, and helps shade part of the roof.

There was primer paint on the Ford mounting threads, so you will want to carefully insert the bolts so they don't strip the threads. I inserted the bolts about half way, removed them and cleaned the threads, and then reinstalled with threadlock.

2016 Transit 350 Cargo, 148" WB, Medium Roof, 3.7L V6, Side & Rear Door Glass

Last edited by Geo; 06-24-2018 at 04:23:AM.
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Old 06-24-2018, 09:10:AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Searayjay View Post
Everyone,
I'm mounting a panel on my 130wb med roof using the 4 forward most attachments, crosswise. The panel fits nearly perfectly.
What I need, however are "L" brackets which are 2 inch x 4 inch, probably aluminum. Does anyone know where to get these? How thick do they need to be?
Thanks
I also have a 130wb med roof. Which solar panel are you using? Can you include a link? I'd like to see the dimensions and specs. Thanks!

2018 T-150 130 MR 3.7
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Old 06-24-2018, 11:02:AM Thread Starter
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https://m.ebay.com/itm/1-200-Watt-12...=2241589232016

Thanks. Great idea relative to angle. I assumed they were flat. I'm mounting such that each angle brkt will mount the panel perpendicular to length of van so angle brackets will be parallel. I think that way may not matter
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Old 06-24-2018, 10:13:PM
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Searayjay,
The angle mount brackets should conform to the Ford roof rack mounting guidelines listed in the Q-249 Special Vehicle Engineering Bulletin attached below. The brackets should distribute the weight across the entire load bearing area surrounding the M8-1.25 threaded hole as shown in the document. Basically, you need a bracket that has a 2" x 5" footprint. The bolt must not extend more than 0.62" into the van.

Hein's roof brackets are a good example of what to use, or you can make your own like several of us have.

When you are driving on the highway, you are at hurricane wind speeds. Make sure that whatever you install on the roof is well secured!

Hein's Ford Transit Brackets
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Q-249 Transit Roof Rack Mounting Guidelines.pdf (345.8 KB, 25 views)

2016 Transit 350 Cargo, 148" WB, Medium Roof, 3.7L V6, Side & Rear Door Glass
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Old 06-25-2018, 10:21:AM
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Here is how we mount the same size panel from Grape Solar:

http://www.impact3d.com/Ford_Transit...nd_Maxxair.pdf

We produce the towers and tabs to support the panels off the bottom of the 8020 t-slot 1517crossbars. The crossbars can be ordered directly from 8020.net.

towers: https://www.ebay.com/itm/132465789379
tabs: https://www.ebay.com/itm/141878685652

I call out 4 tabs per side on the drawing above but could be done with 3 since the panel can be bolted to the towers if some holes are drilled.

There certainly is an opportunity to DIY some brackets for less cost. Our system is well engineered and shown to go the distance. A van has a long sometimes rough ride ahead so consider that in your design. Below is a photo (and link) of a different configuration using our towers and tabs to support the panels on our transit:


http://www.impact3d.com/solar_array_...gy_Eclipse.jpg

All the best,
Hein
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Last edited by Hein; 06-25-2018 at 06:17:PM.
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Old 06-25-2018, 01:56:PM
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How about using VHB Tape?
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Old 06-25-2018, 07:37:PM
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3M makes several versions of very high bonding tape, so you would need to do some research to determine which one to use for your application. Bear in mind that the VHB tape is actually bonding to the paint on the Transit, and not the metal. Surface preparation is very important. I have used 3M VHB tape for other applications, and it is amazing stuff.

There are people who have used VHB tape (and other adhesives) to attach solar panels to van and RV roofs. They seem to have been mostly successful. I used the roof rack mounting locations because I wanted the solar panels securely bolted to the van.

2016 Transit 350 Cargo, 148" WB, Medium Roof, 3.7L V6, Side & Rear Door Glass

Last edited by Geo; 06-25-2018 at 07:52:PM.
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