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Should I be concerned about this?

Naio
Explorer
Explorer
When the raised roof was installed on my van, the original roof was cut away, except for a bit above the driver and passenger seats. That bit now forms an interior loft, for storage or for a child bed. pretty typical, I think.

what worries me is that the original roof sags down in the middle. When I got it at had a little sag, and after a winter of travel it has more sag. I only put lightweight things up there, but it's a large space and the lightweight things add up.

It's a little hard to see what's going on in this picture because there are a lot of layers. The worst sag is the headliner, and you don't need to worry about that. But the first layer below the level, the corrugated metal, is the original van roof. You can see it's down about an inch from level, and it used to be probably an inch above level. So it has come down a couple inches.

Do I need to do something about this? If so, what should I do?

1. Put a piece of 3/4" plywood across the whole loft floor? That would add a lot of weight up there, but would shift the load to the edges of the loft near the side walls.

2. Put a vertical 2x4 post next to the passenger seat? I could make sure it is supported under the floor, and add blocking between the loft layers.

3. Get a welder to build a metal arch for support? This would be a lot of hassle due to allergies -- and possibly expensive.

4. Something else?

Thank you all for your advice!

3/4 timing in a DIY van conversion. Backroads, mountains, boondocking, sometimes big cities for a change of pace.
8 REPLIES 8

Naio
Explorer
Explorer
I don't think I can do pictures of the screws. It would be necessary to get up on a ladder, and I have knee issues. I'm happy to describe, though, if there's anything that is unclear. (I'm not really sure that the attachment situation is relevant.)

The raised roof is attached to the original van structure all the way around, with screws about every three inches. It was a professional install.
3/4 timing in a DIY van conversion. Backroads, mountains, boondocking, sometimes big cities for a change of pace.

pianotuna
Nomad II
Nomad II
Hi Naio,

I think we need some pictures of the sides of the van (from inside and outside?) so we can see the screws that hold the raised roof in place.

I'm still partial to a sheet of 3/4" plywood on top of the sagging shelf and sheet metal screws to suck the bottom up. If there is a cavity left it might be filled with great stuff--but the foam is not structurally strong.
Regards, Don
My ride is a 28 foot Class C, 256 watts solar, 556 amp-hours of Telcom jars, 3000 watt Magnum hybrid inverter, Sola Basic Autoformer, Microair Easy Start.

Naio
Explorer
Explorer
I'm trying to visualize the result. I hope you will bear with me here, and not think I am being overly critical of your suggestion :-).

I'm trying to figure out what exactly it is that worries me about the current situation, and what effect the angle iron solution would have on it.

I'm concerned that the weight of things I put in the loft right now is pulling the entire loft downward, and especially the front center. I worry that by pulling it down, I am pulling the sidewalls inward and putting stress on the seam between the raised roof and the side walls.

I don't know whether this is something I really need to worry about. The raised roof is held on to the side walls by screws, about every 3 inches. So I guess downward pressure on the center of the loft is resisted by all those screws along both sides of the van.

If it is a problem, how would the angle iron sandwich change the situation?

I think it would transfer all the stress to the two section of the loft edge, one at each end of the angle iron. The loft metal would want to tear at those points.

I don't think it would change the stress the loft contents put on the side walls. I think that would stay approximately the same.

Also the weight of the angle iron and the strap bouncing around up there as the van goes down rough roads might not help matters.

--

Maybe one of you will tell me that I'm worried about the wrong thing, and that the angle iron project is a solution to a different problem, one that I am not aware of.

I'm used to thinking about houses that are made out of wood and don't go down the road. I also feel like I don't really even understand what holds the box of this van together. It seems like it is about tension rather than obvious post and beam weight bearing. Either that or nothing is holding it together and it's just as flimsy as it sometimes feels...
3/4 timing in a DIY van conversion. Backroads, mountains, boondocking, sometimes big cities for a change of pace.

wapiticountry
Explorer
Explorer
Naio wrote:
These are interesting ideas!

The original roof, which is now bent, is two layers of metal. The top layer is the corrugated layer closest to the level, The lower layer is not corrugated.

They aren't consistent distance apart, along the whole span. In the center of the span they are maybe an inch and a quarter apart and then at the edges they are touching.

So if I were to put some kind of stiffening at the lip I would have to fabricate a complex shape to stick between the two layers of metal. Not impossible. I have a bunch of insulation foam board that I might can do it with. Or maybe I could just spray a bunch of great stuff in there?
I bet it would pretty much just smush (technical engineering term) together. The angle iron will stay straight and the flat iron can be a bit wavy and still be strong. More bolts will be better than less.

Naio
Explorer
Explorer
These are interesting ideas!

The original roof, which is now bent, is two layers of metal. The top layer is the corrugated layer closest to the level, The lower layer is not corrugated.

They aren't consistent distance apart, along the whole span. In the center of the span they are maybe an inch and a quarter apart and then at the edges they are touching.

So if I were to put some kind of stiffening at the lip I would have to fabricate a complex shape to stick between the two layers of metal. Not impossible. I have a bunch of insulation foam board that I might can do it with. Or maybe I could just spray a bunch of great stuff in there?
3/4 timing in a DIY van conversion. Backroads, mountains, boondocking, sometimes big cities for a change of pace.

wapiticountry
Explorer
Explorer
Span across with angle iron on the bottom and a strip of 1/4" thick metal strap on the top. Drill bolt holes every six inches or so and use round head machine bolts fed from the top. Visualize it as sandwiching the end of the loft between two very strong and stiff pieces of metal. Grind away any excess bolt on the bottom and then fabricate a padded fabric cover. Even better would be if you could find a machine shop and have the angle iron holes tapped for the bolt thread. Then you could grind the excess bolts flush. Much more work than some other options, but it would be the strongest repair.

gbopp
Explorer
Explorer
I think Option #1 is the best and simplest choice. Can you push the roof up and run some short lag screws with large washers into the plywood?

Or, push the roof up and run the lags into a 2x4 placed along the edge of the roof cutaway. It would be less weight and create a lip to keep things from sliding off the loft.

A verticle 2x4 by the passenger seat will get old quickly.

BurbMan
Explorer II
Explorer II
I would go with option #1