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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
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I have made short mentions of this in a few replies to other posts. I wanted to do a full write-up for others who might be looking for options for a ceiling.

I didn't want a fancy ceiling since my main purpose of the van is a toy hauler. I won't be spending any living time in it, but will spend many hours hauling mountain bikes, motorcycles, etc. I wanted a ceiling that was simple, durable, maintenance free, and inexpensive.

My goals for the final product were:
1. Noise deadening
2. Insulated
3. Look as factory as possible

I won't go into detail on #1 and #2 above because each can be it's own topic. Just for a quicky, noise deadening was achieved with HushMat from a stereo shop and insulation using 2" polyester batting from Hobby Lobby. That combination reduced the noise level DRASTICALLY. It's no different than an ordinary car now. I'll put more info in separate posts, but feel free to ask here if you want to know more before I get to that.

The ceiling itself:

I used 3 sheets of 4mm thick 4'x8' polypropylene. You can find it at some harware stores such as Menards, but a local plastics shop had Coroplast brand for a lower price ($13.99) in a variety of colors. I used black because I was covering it with dark carpet and didn't want any mistakes to show through as would white for example.
http://www.totalplastics.com/products/45

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I cut a 2.5" strip off each piece and used it to bond the 3 sheets together to make one big sheet.

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I used 3M Scotch-Weld SF100 cyanoacrylate adhesive. This stuff is very expensive for such a tiny bottle, but it works. It was on Amazon for a couple hundred dollars. Too expensive for me. I saved a search in ebay and it came up the next day for $22.20. One bottle did it for me.

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From what I read, the surface of polypropylene is inactive and will not adhere easily. I read were in manufacturing they excite the surface then glue it immediately. Apparently it goes inactive quickly. I did a test with lacquer thinner which I keep in the garage for parts cleaner. The guy at Total Plastics said that denatured alcohol has been known to work sometimes, but no guarantee. I know lacquer thinner melts some plastics, so I wondered if it would work. Not only did it work, but the bond was stronger than the substrate in my test. The combination of SF100 and lacquer thinner actually welded the pieces together. And it did not appear to harm the surrounding area except for slight dulling.

I made a template of the ceiling with cardboard boxes.

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Traced the template onto the polypropylene and cut it out.

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I wanted to use the stock holes in the ceiling ribs. They seemed to be perfectly placed. So I installed drywall anchors in them, screws, and cut the heads off with bolt cutters. The sharp screws put a dimple in the polypropylene when I temporarily installed it. I also wanted to put the stock dome lights back in the stock locations. I crammed a 2"x2" wood block in the hole and put a screw in the center. This marked the location for the lights.

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I transported the ceiling on a stretcher made from E-track I would be installing later.

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I temporarily installed the ceiling and lightly pressed where the screws were so they would mark the plastic. I didn't want them to punch through because then my drill bit would not stay centered.

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.....Attachment limit reached. This post is continued in the next reply.....
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
....continued from above....

I dropped the ceiling and returned it to the garage for hole cutting. Sharp spade bits cut nicely when backed by a wood block.

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I then cut the rectangular holes for the dome lights. My intention was to snap the lights into the plastic. I made a test piece and the plastic held the barbs on the light. But, it didn't give me a good feeling that it would hold if removed a couple of times. The barbs on the light smashed the plastic instead of snapping across it like a metal hole. If I thought I would never remove the lights I would have left it as-is. I had some sheet metal left over from recent furnace work. I decided to make a backing plate and adhere it to the polypropylene with the same glue. I made a test piece and it worked great. The light snapped in solidly and the metal bonded strongly to the plastic ceiling.

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Next I covered the ceiling with carpet. There are numerous styles and colors available. Subwoofer box carpet is very easy to work with. It has a bit of stretch factor making uneven cuts easy to hide for a seamless look. I again prepared the polypropylene for adhesion by wiping it down with lacquer thinner. I used 3M 90 spray adhesive from Lowes for $12.99/can. I used 3 cans. I did not wait until the adhesive got tacky to place the carpet on the ceiling as the instructions read. This carpet has no backing. So the spray adhesive lands on the loose fibers on the surface and doesn't get a grip on the material. I put the carpet on the ceiling while the adhesive was still wet and worked it with a rolling pin until I saw the glue begin to come through the carpet. I performed several tests before hand to figure this out.
Carpet eBay: $59.70 for 6 yards https://www.ebay.com/itm/Headliner-Magic-Speaker-Box-Carpet-Trunk-liner-4-Colors-54-Wide-/252935645424

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You can save time and money by not appling any covering. The cost of this project before carpet was about $75. The polypropylene looks quite good by itself. I took my time cutting a straight line where the sheets would join together so there would not be any gaps along the final seam. It looked like a factory one-piece ceiling. As mentioned earlier, my purpose for the carpet is noise reduction. Not noise generated from outside (HushMat and insulation took care of that), but internally sourced noise. Human conversation and stuff rattling inside the van needed something to dampen the sound waves bouncing off the vinyl, metal, plastic, and glass. This is normally achieved with carpet on the floor. I did not want it on the floor because wet muddy bikes would be in there. So I opted to put it on the ceiling instead.

I could not find color matching retaining clips, so I "painted" gray ones with a black sharpie. One very light coat so the original gray showed through made them match close enough that they were camouflaged after the ceiling was installed.

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I used 4 clips at each roof rib for a total of 16 clips. I found them at All Pro Auto Fasteners for $5.10/15box https://allproautofasteners.com/product/rocker-panel-moulding-clip-4-2/ . So I got two boxes. The extras I painted with a silver Sharpie and covered the rectangular holes around the rear windows (my van is silver). I will explain that in separate topic. After dealing with All Pro Auto Fasteners I would not buy from them again due to long lead time and I had to mail a check. What year is this? I got subsequent clips for other jobs from eBay. A bit more expensive, but very quick delivery and I could pay using PayPal. https://www.ebay.com/itm/15-Rocker-Panel-Moulding-Clips-Gray-Impala-Lumina-For-GM/400925859437

The clips are available in different colors such as red, tan, white, gray, maroon, and black. Sharpies are available in many colors too. Some experimenting by combining the two you can match almost any surface color.

My total for the the ceiling was $173. But, as I stated earlier, it can be done for about $75 if you don't cover the polypropylene. There is no functional need to cover it other than noise control. The aesthetic appeal of the bare polypropylene is quite good in my opinion. If you get creative, you can obtain virtually any look you want with the selection of patterns in vinyl, fabrics, wallpaper, etc. I saw diamond tread polished aluminum printed on vinyl. It looked so kewl I was tempted. But I stuck to my goal of noise reduction. Your imagination is the limit to the appearance of the ceiling.

Here is the final product.

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Very nice! My professional opinion. There are a few tricks to make it easier/cheaper. For better adhesion of fabrics, use something like "StaBond", or heavy paint or "DipIt" before applying adhesives or double-back tape. I would really like to know total added weight and did you have to use the BEMM for CG and stability tests?
 

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FYI:

THERMAX Heavy Duty is designed as an insulation and interior finish system for walls and ceilings... it can be installed exposed to the interior.

So, install, Done. Or install, paint, done. Or cover with carpet, install, done.

(need to insert tube sleeves to support screw fasteners, but not really req'd for push-in clips).

Costs quite a bit more than regular grade Thermax, though, and certainly a lot more than 4mm Coroplast.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Very nice!...
Thank you.

I would really like to know total added weight and did you have to use the BEMM for CG and stability tests?
I didn't think about putting it on the gram scale, but I picked it up with one hand several times to move it around the garage. It's kind of awkward because of its size, but definitely light. I think the cardboard template felt heavier.
 

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This is great man, and I like the idea of this being lighter than wood. Pretty solid work! Is the material rigid enough to keep shape or will it bow out when there is something under it like puffy insulation? Thanks for the great write up.
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Is the material rigid enough to keep shape or will it bow out when there is something under it like puffy insulation? Thanks for the great write up.
There is 2" insulation behind the ceiling.

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The van roof has a curve to it. Curves are more rigid than flat. The ceiling becomes much more stable when installed to the curve. You can see the curve better in this photo.

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If in doubt of the rigidity, thicker polypropylene can used such as 5mm instead of 4. Double fluted is also an option.
 

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On gluing Poly or ABS;
When I ran a snowboard factory we would "flame treat" the ABS internal tip and tail pieces, otherwise the epoxy would not stick during lamination. Deceptively simple, you just take a plumbing torch and lightly pass the flame over every part of the plastic right before gluing it. I made several R&D boards with different materials, and I found this to work with poly, too.
 

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Not for the traditionalist build but for the van cave dwellers on the forum here is my spartan Thinsulate SM600L ceiling. After two years it would be difficult for me to give up the adaptability of rare earth magnet "hangers" on the cross beams. Being 6' tall in a mid-roof it's also easy on the head. The Thinsulate is held in place without adhesive using hardwood dowel rods inserted into the existing cross beam holes.
 

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Read the BEMM. The illustration is just plain weird. Like, how do you solve for inertia in a static setting? Apparently Ford don't like people messing with the CG of their vans. Not a funny subject.
 

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Thanks for posting the additional details!

I did this also based on your first posting. I found some double stick tape from Joanne's Fabrics (Aleene's Fabric Fusion) to bond the strips across the back side. I can still pull it apart, but it takes quite a pull.

Love the idea for the sheet metal around the light holes, I will have to implement that as I noticed the plastic by itself is easily deformed.

I'm using the factory push pins and they work pretty good with just the plastic. I ordered some light colored vinyl from a local marine upholstery shop, and am having him apply it along with foam backing since he said the vinyl seams should be sewn together for a clean look. Will have to see if the push pins have enough length once the panels are upholstered. If not I may be ordering the ones you mentioned, thanks for the links to them!

Thanks again for great write up! I wish I had waited a month as it would have saved me a lot of work!
 

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Read the BEMM. The illustration is just plain weird. Like, how do you solve for inertia in a static setting? Apparently Ford don't like people messing with the CG of their vans. Not a funny subject.
The Transit can accept an OEM accessory roof rack with a total capacity of 420 pounds. I thought it was funny that you asked if he recalculated the CG after adding 30 pounds to the ceiling.
 

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Wow, great information, thanks.
I've bee planning on doing something similar, but had not considered the corrugated plastic sheets. They won't be easy to find here in town, but that is just another reason for another road trip.
 

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Very nice ceiling install. I'd steal your set up if I needed a ceiling in the back. Mine has a partition behind front seats so rear ceiling wouldn't be a benefit to me
 
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