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Old 03-28-2013, 08:40 PM   #1
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What in the world is my roof made of ? Solar Time!

Any idea's what my roof is made of? How thick is it? I can't seem to find any info out there on the web. I would like to install solar panels but I don't know what would secure them to the roof sufficiently. Don't want to have them taking flight while going down the road. What kind of stainless steel screws? Ones with expansion inserts? Can't use bolts, no way to do that...

I have a 2000 37' National motor-home. They are out of business and I can't call them for information.
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Old 03-28-2013, 09:16 PM   #2
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Welcome to irv2.
You can download what ever model you have here and find out the roof construction.
Stickies at top of forums may have information you need.
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Old 03-28-2013, 09:21 PM   #3
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Take off the shrouds on your vents from the inside you'll be able to see the entire profile. The forward one is really easy to get at. They are held on by the four screws and the handle.
My 99 Tradewinds has a rubber roof with about three inches of foam laminated between some very thin layers.
Dick
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Old 03-28-2013, 11:20 PM   #4
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Take off the shrouds on your vents from the inside you'll be able to see the entire profile. The forward one is really easy to get at. They are held on by the four screws and the handle.
My 99 Tradewinds has a rubber roof with about three inches of foam laminated between some very thin layers.
Dick
Thanks. I'll do that.
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Old 03-28-2013, 11:56 PM   #5
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Take off the shrouds on your vents from the inside you'll be able to see the entire profile. The forward one is really easy to get at. They are held on by the four screws and the handle.
My 99 Tradewinds has a rubber roof with about three inches of foam laminated between some very thin layers.
Dick
Didn't work. There is a wooden pine box surrounding it. Don't see anyway to get it out.
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Old 03-29-2013, 01:54 AM   #6
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This may be your lucky day. I had my Tropical re-roofed about 2 years ago. Had the whole thing off. it is 1999. It is also a 37 footer so it is likely the same.

Basically your roof is as follows. National used a metal superstructure to support your roof. Square tube struts criss cross your roof. Between the struts is Styrofoam which is used as insulation. Wiring harnesses are in an around these struts particularly in the area of air conditioners. On top of the struts is a sheet of luan which I believe is about 1/8th or may 1/4 of an inch thick. As I recall this was screwed in and then your roof membrane was glued to the topside of the luan.

There is some wood framing around things like your vents and ac mounts but for the most part, there isn't a lot up there to screw into. I did have a solar panel up there that wasn't hooked to anything so I just ditched it. It wasn't in very good shape anyway. You can see the position of it just in front of the forward AC shroud. I believe they mounted there for 2 reasons. 1. was that they ran the cabling in through the AC Opening. 2. they may have been trying to secure to the framing around the AC.

I can say it didn't blow off. Hope this helps. If I can find some of the pictures taken during the repair, I will post them so you can see what you are dealing with more clearly.
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Old 03-29-2013, 08:42 AM   #7
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Didn't work. There is a wooden pine box surrounding it. Don't see anyway to get it out.
Bummer! Did you see the triangles of rubber while in there? If it's any indication, National mounted the OEM panels on the A/C shrouds.

Dick
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Old 03-29-2013, 12:57 PM   #8
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This may be your lucky day. I had my Tropical re-roofed about 2 years ago. Had the whole thing off. it is 1999. It is also a 37 footer so it is likely the same.

Basically your roof is as follows. National used a metal superstructure to support your roof. Square tube struts criss cross your roof. Between the struts is Styrofoam which is used as insulation. Wiring harnesses are in an around these struts particularly in the area of air conditioners. On top of the struts is a sheet of luan which I believe is about 1/8th or may 1/4 of an inch thick. As I recall this was screwed in and then your roof membrane was glued to the topside of the luan.

There is some wood framing around things like your vents and ac mounts but for the most part, there isn't a lot up there to screw into. I did have a solar panel up there that wasn't hooked to anything so I just ditched it. It wasn't in very good shape anyway. You can see the position of it just in front of the forward AC shroud. I believe they mounted there for 2 reasons. 1. was that they ran the cabling in through the AC Opening. 2. they may have been trying to secure to the framing around the AC.

I can say it didn't blow off. Hope this helps. If I can find some of the pictures taken during the repair, I will post them so you can see what you are dealing with more clearly.
Thanks for posting this reply. Pictures would be a big help. I seem to have the same roof as you described. It would be nice to see the tubular framework underneath if you find your pics. Thanks again!
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Old 03-29-2013, 01:01 PM   #9
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Bummer! Did you see the triangles of rubber while in there? If it's any indication, National mounted the OEM panels on the A/C shrouds.

Dick
No, all I could see was the wood going all the way up. I took off 2 separate vents and they were the same from the inside. I've seen many motor-homes of various years with more than a few solar panels on them so, there must be a way to secure them properly.... I just have to keep looking for the answer.
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Old 03-29-2013, 05:10 PM   #10
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I used a strong magnet, sliding it on the surface of the roof, to locate the steel support tubing. There were 2 runs of steel tubing about 14 inches apart running front back for entire roof length. These are what NRV mounts the ACs to. Cross wise there are thinner steel ribs or bows that are part of the truss like structure that forms the curvature of the roof. I found these about every 48 inches or so until just to the rear of the rear AC.

I was able to locate the cross bows and use them with sheet metal screw and my own mounting brackets to secure the solar panels. Used the lap sealant around the screws.

In a similar manner, I was able to mount my winegard satellite dish centered on the backbones of the roof and one cross member such that most screws found metal framing.

The insulation NRV uses is custom preformed foam blocks that have grooves and passageways. When all are assembled, the passageways form the AC ducting. The grooves also line up and can/may be used as conduits for the ceiling wire harnesses. I was able to utilize some of these feature to add cabling and 12 volt wiring for my own needs.

HTH

Marty
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Old 03-30-2013, 12:12 AM   #11
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You may want to post your question here NationalRV : National_RV Some of the members worked for National before they closed. You'll need to join the group to post.

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Old 03-30-2013, 08:54 AM   #12
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I used a strong magnet, sliding it on the surface of the roof, to locate the steel support tubing. There were 2 runs of steel tubing about 14 inches apart running front back for entire roof length. These are what NRV mounts the ACs to. Cross wise there are thinner steel ribs or bows that are part of the truss like structure that forms the curvature of the roof. I found these about every 48 inches or so until just to the rear of the rear AC.

I was able to locate the cross bows and use them with sheet metal screw and my own mounting brackets to secure the solar panels. Used the lap sealant around the screws.

In a similar manner, I was able to mount my winegard satellite dish centered on the backbones of the roof and one cross member such that most screws found metal framing.


The insulation NRV uses is custom preformed foam blocks that have grooves and passageways. When all are assembled, the passageways form the AC ducting. The grooves also line up and can/may be used as conduits for the ceiling wire harnesses. I was able to utilize some of these feature to add cabling and 12 volt wiring for my own needs.

HTH

Marty
Marty,
Thank you so much for clearing things up. I like the magnet idea. That will help me also find those rafters and a good source to secure the solar panels. Did you take any pics of your install? I'd love to see them.
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Old 03-30-2013, 04:05 PM   #13
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No picts of the install, sorry.

Back then I often forgot to have a camera handy. The magnet trick should make your install easier.

Approach the metal from several direction with the magnet to get a feel for the center/width of the metal. Kind of like using a stud finder!
Also before you drill any holes, try to map out the length of each of the roof metal you are interested in. Then draw a pencil line between the suspected centers. Don't use a longer drill bit then the screws you will use. This will help to not drill thru any wires.

M
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