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Old 10-31-2015, 10:07 PM   #1
tym
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Holiday Rambler Owners Club
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locating roof ribs HolidayRamber 1983 imperial

On a 1983 HR Imperial 33 the roof is doing OK and I need to understand and locate the ribs which are somewhere beneath a rivet free aluminum skin. The only rivets are down a midline stitch seam. For solar panels I want to mount a tilt frame on that compress directly over rib support.
I have not found any online images of a stripped AlumaLite frame nor any drawings of structure. I have tried 2 different stud finders from above with no consistent beeps; not sure if that is interference of the top metal skin or that the ribs are lower and beneath a plywood layer under the skin.
The ceiling is inverted carpet material based on inspection at vent and AC perforations this seems to be laminated to a sheet material of either styrofoam/or fiber. and there seems to be about 2 3/4 inches from ceiling carpet to topskin.
But using sharpened siding nail (like a mini 2" icepick) I have plunged on X and Y axis cross the carpeted ceiling never encountering any face of an aluminum roof rib. Could the rib be a T instead of channel so that the bottom of the rib is a 1/16" target statistically missed in plunges a 1/2" apart?
Can anyone describe what they have seen in AlumaLite roof systems circa 80's?
Any method on how to positively locate ribs in the roof?
By the way I cant locate side ribs either and need to for another few projects?
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Old 11-01-2015, 08:02 AM   #2
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Side ribs (vertical and horizontal) are easy. Just wait for a calm cool morning and check out the condensation pattern on the exterior sides. Have some tape with you to mark them easily.

You may get away with that on the roof as well. Haven't tried that.

Your interior ceiling likely has 48" sheets (of something or another) installed lengthwise going side to side. Those joints should be over ribs. Ceiling vents and AC's should have ribs both to the front and rear of each.

It might also help to drop speakers, roof vent flanges, or anything else of consequence installed in the ceiling, and do some poking around above the interior ceiling panels with a piece of coat hanger wire, exploring front to rear. Any obstruction found is likely a rib.
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Old 11-01-2015, 08:22 AM   #3
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This is a cross-section of my ceiling/roof that may help. This photo is the refrigerator vent opening in the roof. The bottom layer is the vinyl-faced foam ceiling panel. The aluminum roof framing is a long way from the ceiling surface that you see.

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Old 11-01-2015, 08:31 AM   #4
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locating roof ribs HolidayRamber 1983 imperial

This shot is looking forward from the space between the rear cap and the rear wall of the bedroom. You can see the inside surface of the fiberglass cap. The styrofoam insulation between the ceiling framing and the aluminum roof is tapered to match the curve of the roof. I have not yet disassembled far enough forward to see a horizontal roof brace that spans this gap, or a longitudinal center member that the roof panels would attach to at the center seam.

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Old 11-01-2015, 10:14 PM   #5
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these responses are a help
from ahicks I will check out the early morning condensation. I am not sure if there is a thermal break between rib and outer skin. Although I could imagine the ribs matching those panels at 48" intervals...but that should be a multiple of the o.c measure...like 24" or maybe 16" is what I was expecting...or if its one big rib every 48" there must be smaller purlins running with the long axis of the RV

From Mike I suppose the photos of his rig 17 years later production is representative . This looks like about 1.5" of 3 interior panels, then about 2" of a rib aluminum and the fine line of the skin above that. The skin seems separated by a dark area that must be mastic adhesive. that should still conduct some heat on a supersaturated dewy AM.
I will also try the ice pick set to at least 2" of depth and poke the XY ceiling "carpet" again.

Thanks , I will report back for the sake of other puzzled retrofitting owners
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