Rig Updates

Installing a Fantastic Fan in our Van

After we had the flooring and walls up, it was high time we installed our new Fantastic Fan. They have many different models but after researching we decided to go with the medium model that has 3 different speed settings and the manual vent open and close. The more expensive ones that come with automatic rain sensors, reverse, 10 speeds, etc. just seemed like a little much for our application. Here is how we installed our fantastic fan vent into our 1985 Ford 4×4 van. A classic write up with lots of pictures is always good and relatively easy to follow along.

For this application, there was already a standard 14′ x 14′ hole cut that was housing an old manual vent that the previous owner installed in the van. From my research that is the scariest and/or toughest part, basically because you are cutting a hole in the roof of your rig. If you are installing the fan in an RV, there is a good chance that you already have the hole cut and are just replacing your old vent for the new Fantastic fan. This write-up is perfect for you.

To start, I needed to get onto the roof and start scraping away at the old sealant from the current vent. With a paint scraper, screwdriver (for scraping), and my drill with the proper bit, I was able to easily remove the old screws fairly easily. After the screws were out I was able to remove the old vent without much problem with a bit of Bailey’s help down below.

hole in van roof
The hole in the roof after the old vent was removed

In the photo above you can see what the hole looks like with no vent in it. Getting the vent out was pretty painless. Now the real work starts…. I’d say I spent a good hour scrubbing and scraping at all of the old sealant and caulk on the roof. Honestly this was the hardest part of the whole installation, LOL. In addition to the paint scraper and my screw driver, a bottle of mineral spirits and a rag is great in this situation. The mineral spirits really helped to bring all that old crap up without jacking up the paint. Goo gone also works just the same.

Pro tip I figured out halfway through! I duct taped a garbage bag on the inside of the van so I could scrape all the crap off without worrying about it falling into the inside of the rig on the nice new floors.

scraping sealant on roof
Removing old sealant and caulk from the roof

Before you actually put your Fantastic fan into it’s new home permanently, you can hook it up to your regular car battery to test it and make sure it works. I honestly didn’t even think about it and completely skipped this step. Turns out my motor is working just fine so I’m all good, but it never hurts to check before doing all this work. Now that I had a clean work surface, it was time to install the fan.

hole in roof
Admiring the view from the hole in the roof before the Fantastic fan goes in

For my next trick, I had to run all over town looking for this special RV putty tape, aka butyl tape. It is specifically made for this sort of thing; to keep water out of window and door cracks on RV’s. You should really order this online when you order your fan to save the hassle. At any rate, I finally found the tape and ACE hardware and was able to return to the project. Put the putty tape all the way around the entirety of your fan base as well as the hole in the roof where the fan will sit. I actually put 2 layers of this stuff on the roof because there are little rivets that run along the roof of the van and I wanted to make sure everything was very water tight. The putty tape is like long strands of play-doh that stay pliable forever. Nice and easy to push around or cut away excess when everything is tightened down.

butyl tape on fan
Putting the RV putty tape (butyl tape) around the fan base
butyl tape on roof
Applying the butyl tape to the roof, there is only 1 layer in this picture

Next! Moment of truth, drop that bad boy in there and give ‘er the old test fit. Everything should fit like a glove. Unless of course you cut your own hole and you measured incorrectly or something. In that case, you’re in trouble. Pray for sun. Seriously though, once you have the fan sitting nicely in the hole, you’re all but done. It is unlikely that your new Fantastic fan screw holes will line up with any old screw holes. Mine surely didn’t. What you’ll want to do is pre-drill yourself some pilot holes with your favorite bit, as long as the bit is smaller than the mounting screws that came with your fan. From there you can take the screws that came with the fan and screw them in nice and easy, one by one, going from one side to the other to make sure everything is tightened down evenly. After you have all the screws tightened down, be sure to trim any excess putty tape sticking out.

fan in roof
The new Fantastic fan installed in the roof with excess putty tape trimmed
fan in van
The fan installed in its new home

The last step of water sealing your new Fantastic fan is to use a self leveling sealant of some sort. I went with the most popular from my research, Dicor Lap Sealant. Throw it in a caulk gun and you’re off to the races. You probably only need to do the sealant over all of the screw holes, but I went ahead and did the sealant over all the screw holes and all the way around the fans edges, just to be sure.

fan with sealant
Fan completely sealed with Dicor self leveling lap sealant all the way around

My fan was now ready to be hooked up to any 12v power system! The black wire (positive+) get connected to power, while the white (negative-) wire goes to ground. For our application, we used some 14 gauge wire and hooked it up to a 12v fuse block that is connected to our solar system setup. If you are installing this fan in your RV, there is a possibility you can use existing power wires close to where you installed the fan. If there are no power wires close by, you can locate the closest light and splice into that power wire to run power to your new fan. Do the same with the ground wire and you’re powered up and feeling cool! Thanks for reading my write-up on installing a Fantastic Fan Vent in your RV, 4×4 van, school bus, or really whatever you want. Leave a comment if this helped you. Cheers.

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