The father of a friend is a retired machinist, and still has access to his friend’s machine shop, so we took all my T-slots pieces to the machine shop and counterbored all the required holes for the 80-20 anchor fasteners.

This made the bed frame quite a bit stronger and more rigid than the end fasteners and L-brackets I had used previously. I also installed some plastic “washers” between the van wall and 80-20 in order to minimize heat transfer. Between that and a nylon washer against the bolt head, there is almost no metal-to-metal contact which will hopefully reduce conductive heat transfer and keep the temperature a bit higher in the van in cold weather. Since we want to use our van for skiing and winter camping, this is important for us. (See the buildagreenrv heat loss calculator for analysis)

plastic washers

When I received my weatherguard roof rails and test fit them, I found that they rested directly on the painted roof surface. I ordered some 3M paint protection film and applied strips of it to all the contacting paint surfaces. Hopefully that will preserve the paint better. After that I installed the rails, which was not a big issue. The roof studs continued to be difficult to turn, and I damaged the paint on some when twisting, but the undercoat was not penetrated, so I hope they’ll be OK. The roof rails have bright red plastic end-caps which are quite ugly. Eventually I’ll probably build a cap out of aluminum to match the rails, but these are good enough for now. I’ll likely need to remove the rails to install stand-offs for the solar panels at some point anyway.

weatherguard bracket install

bracket detail

opposite bracket detail

rails installed

I also tested the roof curvature with some 1”x3” aluminum on top of the roof rail, and this gives sufficient clearance that the panel is not hitting the roof peak. I may want a bit more space to improve solar panel cooling, but 1” appears to be about the minimum.

roof curvature