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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Was originally going with Hein's adapters, but they weren't available. Tried the 8020 pivot setup; but it just wasn't as solid as I wanted. With nudging from posters here that plastic isn't hard to work with, I ordered some plastic and went after it. I tried to take a few photos in case someone wants to follow my amateur / dumb direction.

If you don't mind the work, the price of all this stuff PLUS the table saw is less than Hein's adapters. I'm sure his are much prettier. But these work and - if I only did it for this, it would be like getting a free table saw in exchange for my work. (I bought it because the old saw left a while ago and a table saw is a critical tool for building stuff.)

The metal mount portions are some 3" angle-aluminum I had left from the bed project on the last van. Worked out fine and plenty strong. Looks just like this: Amazon.com: 6061 T651 Aluminum Angle 3"X 5"X 12" Long 1/4" Thick: Home Improvement

I ordered a few different HDPE pieces, but this cutting board became the final material: https://amzn.com/B003HEWUFO
Using the table saw, I cut into 3x3 blocks (or close-ish) and tested the angle a bunch of times and finally settled on 6.5-degree working best.
146228

FTR, that was a pain: get four angles ready, cut four bases, mount it all on the roof, test for angle and clearance. Not quite right... repeat. Now that I know the angle and the 3x3 combo, the rest of them went really fast. It would take very little time to do another 10 of the bases - longer to drill the holes in that beefy aluminum angle.

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Was going with the 1" HDPE cut in half but it wasn't enough clearance on the roof and required another bar. Moved to shaving the smallest amount off the 1" to make the angle and I've got about 1/4" clearance from the cross-bars on the roof. Perfect. Not expecting much weight on the cross-bars. Solar panel weight will be carried on the edges.
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Cleaned the roof with a blade and scrubby thing. Dabbed the bare metal from the nibbler with paint.
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Used the clear Proflex stuff. Hope it keeps. Seems good. https://amzn.com/B00YBG3NXU
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Only ten photos allowed per post, I guess. Thought it worth mentioning / showing: note the "nibbles" in the metal holes on the roof. Clearly, the roof holes didn't line up with the bolts underneath. Don't know how that would have gone if I hadn't got the nibbler thing. What a cool tool. https://amzn.com/B0742G5562

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks, @harryn . Agreed. These are perfect (and already in the garage): https://amzn.com/B086WYLCRM
Four of them plus two 50w units next to the fan - mostly just to look cool. 🤷‍♀️😆

Thanks, @bitburger . Agreed as well. Makes it easier to stick with function over form when it won't really be visible... 🤣
 

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How hard is it to cut and drill holes in that Aluminum? I have all the basic woodworking tools but haven't worked with medal much.

Also, what size bolt did you use to attach the bracket, through the HDPE, and into the van?

Really appreciate the post. Super helpful in my build.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
@Lukef , the aluminum cuts very easily with a mitre saw. If you have a wood-working mitre saw, you should be able to replace the blade with a metal one and you're good to go. Technically, the aluminum is so soft that an aggressive wood blade /might/ work... at your own risk, of course. The blade I use is a "multi-use blade" and I go back and forth from aluminum to wood to steel without changing it.

I have this mitre saw: Evolution R255SMS+: Single Bevel Sliding Miter Saw With 10 in. Multi-Material Cutting Blade (also at https://amzn.com/B07SK3PZRR). But an affordable one from Harbor Freight would work as well (10 in. Single Bevel Compound Miter Saw). Last build, we used a cheap Ryobi saw from Home Depot. (I think this one: RYOBI 10 in. Compound Miter Saw with LED-TS1346 - The Home Depot). The down side to the cheap saw we used was that every cut wasn't all that "clean" and we had to file lots of stuff before we could use it. The Evolution above - for some magical reason, given that it's an "affordable" saw - cuts so clean we don't file stuff - just a clean cut and go.

Technically, you don't need many angle cuts on the aluminum, so even a cheap chop-saw would work.

Once you get the hang and decide what type of connector points you want to do, it's really easy stuff to work with. Cost-wise, it's not cheap: I pay about $4 a foot for the aluminum (in 6-12 foot lengths) and about a dollar or more for each angle connector. I purchase the bar stock from McMaster-Carr and the connectors on Amazon.



The bolts I used are M8-1.25 - I think it was the 50mm that I ended up using; but could have been the 40 or 45mm (I bought a few just to be sure. https://amzn.com/B07GCKQN8C They stick down into the van after, but who cares... just sticking into the insulation.
 

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@Lukef , the aluminum cuts very easily with a mitre saw. If you have a wood-working mitre saw, you should be able to replace the blade with a metal one and you're good to go. Technically, the aluminum is so soft that an aggressive wood blade /might/ work... at your own risk, of course. The blade I use is a "multi-use blade" and I go back and forth from aluminum to wood to steel without changing it.

I have this mitre saw: Evolution R255SMS+: Single Bevel Sliding Miter Saw With 10 in. Multi-Material Cutting Blade (also at https://amzn.com/B07SK3PZRR). But an affordable one from Harbor Freight would work as well (10 in. Single Bevel Compound Miter Saw). Last build, we used a cheap Ryobi saw from Home Depot. (I think this one: RYOBI 10 in. Compound Miter Saw with LED-TS1346 - The Home Depot). The down side to the cheap saw we used was that every cut wasn't all that "clean" and we had to file lots of stuff before we could use it. The Evolution above - for some magical reason, given that it's an "affordable" saw - cuts so clean we don't file stuff - just a clean cut and go.

Technically, you don't need many angle cuts on the aluminum, so even a cheap chop-saw would work.

Once you get the hang and decide what type of connector points you want to do, it's really easy stuff to work with. Cost-wise, it's not cheap: I pay about $4 a foot for the aluminum (in 6-12 foot lengths) and about a dollar or more for each angle connector. I purchase the bar stock from McMaster-Carr and the connectors on Amazon.



The bolts I used are M8-1.25 - I think it was the 50mm that I ended up using; but could have been the 40 or 45mm (I bought a few just to be sure. https://amzn.com/B07GCKQN8C They stick down into the van after, but who cares... just sticking into the insulation.
I am using 80/20 in my build and am using a low cost miter saw. Works a treat.
Use a “non ferrous metal” blade from Home Depot and lubricate the cut with WD40 or brake rotor cleaner and cut slowly. Perfect cut every time with no cleanup. Bill
 

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Where you removed the Ford plugs on the roof and installed the M8-1.25 bolts: are there Ford factory threaded anchor points there? I'm wondering if I can install a roof rack like you did after the interior ceiling is installed. If there are threaded anchor points under the plugs you removed, there would be no need to have access from the inside of the van which would require me to remove an already installed ceiling. Thanks in advance for your reply.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
@palmer1991, yes, there are 10 Ford M8-1.25 bolts welded to the holes (on the extended length van). No need to open up the interior.

FWIW, there are also a couple holes with no bolts. I ended up using two of the rear-most holes with washers and plastic spacers to try to provide a bit more stability to the back two-feet of the full-length rack since there are no threaded holes in the rear two feet of the van. 🤔
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
@Mark Haas, looking super cool. (y) TFPU.

I like the look of their 270... and then the price nudging up toward the all-electric Fiamma (not really that close, but...) and I get torn on the push-button versus having to actually get off my butt to put up the awning... 🤔

On the plus side, I really like that this mounts to the roof rack bolts without drilling into the side-walls AND rests down lower - versus the rack-mount Fiamma (or Dometic) keeps the thing another foot higher in the air... UGH. Choices!
 

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Was originally going with Hein's adapters, but they weren't available. Tried the 8020 pivot setup; but it just wasn't as solid as I wanted. With nudging from posters here that plastic isn't hard to work with, I ordered some plastic and went after it. I tried to take a few photos in case someone wants to follow my amateur / dumb direction.

If you don't mind the work, the price of all this stuff PLUS the table saw is less than Hein's adapters. I'm sure his are much prettier. But these work and - if I only did it for this, it would be like getting a free table saw in exchange for my work. (I bought it because the old saw left a while ago and a table saw is a critical tool for building stuff.)

The metal mount portions are some 3" angle-aluminum I had left from the bed project on the last van. Worked out fine and plenty strong. Looks just like this: Amazon.com: 6061 T651 Aluminum Angle 3"X 5"X 12" Long 1/4" Thick: Home Improvement

I ordered a few different HDPE pieces, but this cutting board became the final material: https://amzn.com/B003HEWUFO
Using the table saw, I cut into 3x3 blocks (or close-ish) and tested the angle a bunch of times and finally settled on 6.5-degree working best.
View attachment 146228
FTR, that was a pain: get four angles ready, cut four bases, mount it all on the roof, test for angle and clearance. Not quite right... repeat. Now that I know the angle and the 3x3 combo, the rest of them went really fast. It would take very little time to do another 10 of the bases - longer to drill the holes in that beefy aluminum angle.

View attachment 146226

Was going with the 1" HDPE cut in half but it wasn't enough clearance on the roof and required another bar. Moved to shaving the smallest amount off the 1" to make the angle and I've got about 1/4" clearance from the cross-bars on the roof. Perfect. Not expecting much weight on the cross-bars. Solar panel weight will be carried on the edges.
View attachment 146229

View attachment 146230

Cleaned the roof with a blade and scrubby thing. Dabbed the bare metal from the nibbler with paint.
View attachment 146234

Used the clear Proflex stuff. Hope it keeps. Seems good. https://amzn.com/B00YBG3NXU
View attachment 146231

View attachment 146235

View attachment 146232

View attachment 146233

View attachment 146236
Would this Fypon 1-1/4 in. x 96 in. x 2 in. Polyurethane Brickmold Trim-MLDWM180-8 - The Home Depot material work for the blocks?

149326
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Maybe? Seems tall enough but a bit narrow. My blocks were 3" x 3" or 3" x 4"... could work? 🤷‍♀️

I used HDPE based on someone's recommendation... can't remember where I got that. But I think someone else said it might not be the best for sunlight exposure... but who knows? It was easy to cut and if it decays enough in 5-10 years... well, who knows if I'll even have the van then?

If I were cutting acrylic, it wouldn't have worked. ABS might have - but it doesn't have any give. The HDPE seems to have a little give (lower durometer, presumably). $20-$25 for a 1" sheet (or cutting board) on Amazon.
 
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