It’s Dark in here; or: No Free Candy

Windows.  They look nice, they let light in, the can provide ventilation, and our van had NONE.  We got the partition out and that was a big step in making the van feel like a bigger van.  A dark van.  No windows.  No good.  I guess it’s time to do something I’ve never done before: cut a huge hole in the van and install a window.

For T1N vans, the name that came up over and over again was CR Laurence, and they can be found on Amazon distributed by DK Hardware Supply.  This being a new task (though not too crazy of a task really) I chose to cut a single pane window into the passenger side sliding door as a trial to see how it would all go.  Absolute worst case, I have to buy a door.  We’re fortunate with our van, as the windows we purchased are all designed to fit into the factory “punch outs” (those square outlines all over the van).  This is also another reason why we chose a T1N van.

Screen Shot 2018-06-20 at 8.49.10 PM
The day we bought the van.

We’ve seen a few variations of other windows used, and we may still put a small window above where the bed sits – but that’ll be much later, if at all. I could steal people’s pictures but just Google “sprinter windows” and you’ll see the 4 basic versions.

  • factory-fit
  • round
  • short and long
  • rectagular

From a planning perspective, we are going to end up with one factory-fit window on each side just behind the front seats.  The one on the sliding door will be a single pane, and the one on the drivers side will be vented.  We will also put factory-fit windows in both rear doors.  Our reason for this is with 2 adults, a child, and an 80 pound dog we need more storage.

On to the Task

You’re basically going to use a jigsaw to cut the hole out for the window.  A few things to be mindful of:

  • Wear eye protection, long sleeves, and a hat.  Hot metal shavings….EVERYWHERE.
  • There are braces around the windows, and in some cases double sheetmetal.  There is also a channel around the metal that you have to reach through.  Make sure and have a blade long enough to chew through all that.
  • Th jigsaw will get drug along your paint, pulling chewed up metal pieces along with you.  Get some good masking tape and make sure and double or triple it up all along the outside of the window cutout.
  • You’ll be leaving an exposed metal edge after you’ve finished cutting.  Have a file handy (I used a bastard cut file from my bike tool bin) to file down the sharp metal edges, if for nothing else but to not bugger up the window while test fitting.
  • That exposed metal edge will need to be primed to keep rust from dragging you into the pits of despair. We used a high quality can of spray primer, and sprayed it into a box, then used a small brush to do two coats around the edge.

Process isn’t that difficult, just take your time and don’t go all nuts about “Oh my Stars I’m cutting a hole in my van!!!”

YOU GOT THIS

  1. Have your tools ready:
    • masking tape
    • jigsaw with metal blades
    • drill, 3/8″ bit or larger
    • window
    • window gasket
    • paint/primer/brush
  2. Mask off the outline of the window punch-out and channel.
  3. Drill holes in at least 2 of the corners, up against the corner of the channel.
  4. Insert the jigsaw blade and have at it. Cut the center of the channel and you’ll be about PERFECT.
  5. Once cut, file down the rough edges.  Careful!  I have a nasty cut not paying attention on my first window.
  6. Get two coats of primer on there.  Took about 1 hour total for it to dry.
  7. Stick the foam gasket around the mating edges of the window and inner frame.IMG-1506
  8. Have someone hold the window from the outside and get it lined up just right.
    • There is a raised space on the inside edge of the outside frame.  Make sure that you have clearance for this space!  VERY important for waterproofing!IMG-1529
  9. From the inside, screw the frame in using screws from alternating sides and corners.  The screws fit into a channel, you’ll see it lined up in there. No need to drill holes.IMG_0384

YOU’RE DONE!  HAVE A BEER!  Enjoy the light and “hopefully” fewer people asking you if you give out free candy…..

The first window took me 2 hours.  Each successive window has taken 45 minutes.

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