B190 roof swap

Restoring a B190? Start a thread here so we can follow your progress!
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RyanC
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Joined: Mon May 11, 2020 6:03 pm

B190 roof swap

Post by RyanC »

Hi all,

I thought I'd document my B190 roof swap project. I started on the airforums but there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of B190 traffic there.

Anyway,
My wife and I have a 1994 E350 cargo van with a 7.3 diesel we've been camping in for probably 7 years or so. Its an old fire department van with only 40K miles on it. very nice shape. Now that we have a 1 year old, the low roof cargo van was quickly too small for the 3 of us.
I bought a 93 B190 that had been badly rear-ended from a nice guy named Andy in Mississippi who deals Airstreams & parts and trailered it home to Upstate NY. (he actually may have had it for sale on here.) I'm working on completely gutting the top, repairing some water damage & removing the top to place on our '94 diesel van. Even with a lot of google searching I couldn't find anywhere where someone had actually removed a B190 top before and placed it on another van, so hopefully documenting this will help someone.
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Last edited by RyanC on Mon May 11, 2020 9:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

RyanC
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Re: B190 roof swap

Post by RyanC »

Gutted the top over the weekend.
Typical rot around the front ceiling fan. Cutting the old wooden supports out and gluing in new. Glad I had searched this forum, I saw the 1995 resto thread from Kajun where he cut the supports out so it gave me the gumption to do it myself. I plan on gluing supports back in the same way and then going over them with some bondo-hair. The other roof penetrations surprisingly don't look like they leaked much.
My biggest reservation about doing this project was how hard it was going to be to break the seal of the fiberglass top to the metal roof. I had no idea if Airstream used some crazy hard tough stuff I was going to have to chisel away inch by in or not. Turns out its just screws and butyl tape! I haven't totally unscrewed it yet but just the few feet I did have separated completely on their own. Should be fairly easy to lift of once all the screws are out.
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weekender
Seasoned Traveler
Posts: 162
Joined: Mon Aug 25, 2008 12:00 am
B190 Year: 1993
WBCCI: 0
Location: Northampton MA

Re: B190 roof swap

Post by weekender »

Great project -- are you planning to install the B vans interior as well?

RyanC
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Re: B190 roof swap

Post by RyanC »

The interior of this B190 was shot. it was badly rear ended in I think 2014 or so? and had been sitting outside since then with the rear windows smashed out. Lots of critters lived in it those 5-6 years. Anything good was sold off before I got it, and anything else is going on the burn pile. The 460 runs great so a family member is taking that for a truck project.
I really just wanted the top anyway, so I'll be making a custom interior for it. The van its going on is already outfitted for camping so it shouldn't be too tall of a task to finish the inside of the top.

Rugster
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Re: B190 roof swap

Post by Rugster »

It's great that you're documenting this here. As you've mentioned, few others are likely to be doing this, but you never know. At some point, someone, somewhere, will be wanting to do the same thing, and will be happy to see your account, with pictures. I know that if I was doing it, I'd be heartened to know that the top is simply fixed with screws and butyl tape. Good old butyl tape. No RV handyman should be without it!

RyanC
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Re: B190 roof swap

Post by RyanC »

This weekend the high top switched vans. It really is a very doable project

Since I last posted I finished repairing all of the water damaged wood supports that were fiber-glassed in. Just cut them out with an angle grinder and used liquid nails to fit up new pieces. its imported to make the wood pieces bend to the roof, and not the other way around so that the roof maintains its arc to shed water. not pictured, but I had bracing in to maintain the curvature while the glue dried.
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After the liquid nails dried (which seemed like 3 days to fully cure) I went over the new wood supports with Bondo-Hair. It dried fast, is crazy strong and wasn't bad to work with. overall i'm very satisfied with the repair.
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While waiting for the weekend to arrive when I would have some extra hands to move the top, I spent the weeknights cleaning up some very minor drip rail rust on the new van. If i didn't do it now I never would be able to get to it in the future. I ground out all of the drip rail caulk from the new van and applied POR-15, then re-applied seam sealer. a PITA project but I think its worth it in the long run.
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RyanC
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Re: B190 roof swap

Post by RyanC »

Many hands make light work. This would have been very difficult with a couple less guys. To do this with out a hoist I think you'd need 4 guys minimum. luckily there were 5 of us.
After the B190 top was unscrewed there was nothing holding it down. The butyl tape separated effortlessly. we started at the back, just picking the top up high enough to get a long 2x6 underneath then worked our way towards the front. the reverse flange on the fiberglass top is extremely strong. I had no qualms about resting the top on the boards.
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I took note of where the old van roof was cut and marked out on the new van roof and went at it with pneumatic shears... which ruled. We had the roof skin off in minutes. we left the roof bows in for added support while pulling the top over. not sure if it helped at all but certainly didn't hurt. the bows are just bolted in so they were easy to remove after.
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RyanC
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Re: B190 roof swap

Post by RyanC »

After cutting the roof off the new van I parked it as close as possible to the old Airstream. (oddly enough both vans are 1 Tons, but the fire department van was like 6 inches higher in the back than the Airstream. it didn't squat hardly at all with the top on it either)
We worked slowly inching the top over, and sliding the boards so that they reached from edge to edge of both vans. Got a couple guys in each van pushing/pulling and it didn't take long.
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At this point we just eyeballed it center. the fiberglass top has a recess for the drip rail so when we pulled the blocks out it basically self centered. (within and inch or so) I cleaned the roof up with prep-all and reinstalled new butyl tape. re-used the old screws but with some big fender washers to help distribute the load and that was basically the day. unlike every project I've ever done, it actually went exactly like I imagined it would!
Sunday I filled both holes with MaxxFans to keep the rain out. A lot of work left to do, going to re gasket all the Hehr windows next, but at least its on.
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RyanC
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Re: B190 roof swap

Post by RyanC »

one of these i pulled from the old metal roof and just re-installed it here.
the front one is new. really like these fans. This is the first time I've used Dicor self-leveling sealant. That stuff is legit. flows nice and seems like it will hold up well. you can see I also removed the roof rack and plugged the solar wiring hole. I just used marine grade white epoxy for that.
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Millennial Falcon
Weekend Camper
Posts: 68
Joined: Tue Sep 18, 2018 9:14 pm
B190 Year: 1994

Re: B190 roof swap

Post by Millennial Falcon »

If a mod could please help with the photo formatting? Almost all of these photos are showing upside down.

RyanC, Great job! And thank you for the photos! Someone will have to do this in the future, and knowing how easy the swap is and having a photo guide will be VERY helpful!

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skater
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Posts: 2223
Joined: Thu Mar 08, 2007 1:00 am
B190 Year: 1991
WBCCI: 13270
Location: Annapolis, MD

Re: B190 roof swap

Post by skater »

This is really cool! Great way to save a B190. The new van might have helper springs installed - look for extra leafs in the rear springs. Jennifer's had them - we didn't notice the difference until we were underneath, and I was wondering why we had so much more space than mine did.
Millennial Falcon wrote:
Mon Jun 01, 2020 2:37 pm
If a mod could please help with the photo formatting? Almost all of these photos are showing upside down.
I'm not sure why it's happening. The EXIF data in the pictures is saying "rotate 180 degrees", so the software is doing so. The only solution would be to edit every picture individually...which is possible, but I'm supposed to be working on my real job right now. ;) It looks like it's a Samsung, possibly an S9, which is exactly the phone I have.

My guess is that if he holds the phone in landscape one way (say, with the bottom to the left), the phone gives the correct orientation. But if he holds it the other way (bottom to the right), the phone puts the rotation at 180 degrees and flips the picture upside down. This would make sense for displaying on the phone but obviously it's causing an issue for us. Hmm...maybe I can edit the files directly...that might do it.

Edit: I tried to fix the picture in this post but it didn't work. I'll keep playing with it.
1991 Airstream B190 - bought, 2005; sold, 2011; bought 2017
1995 Airstream Excella 30' trailer

WBCCI #13270, Washington, DC Unit

RyanC
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Re: B190 roof swap

Post by RyanC »

That is wild they're all showing right side up for me. I can try and edit the original images and repost them. not sure if i'll know if it works or not since they all look right on this end?

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skater
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Joined: Thu Mar 08, 2007 1:00 am
B190 Year: 1991
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Re: B190 roof swap

Post by skater »

RyanC wrote:That is wild they're all showing right side up for me. I can try and edit the original images and repost them. not sure if i'll know if it works or not since they all look right on this end?
Interesting - on my computer most were upside down, but on my iPad, only the one I “fixed” is. So it has to be something in how the browsers are interpreting the EXIF data.
1991 Airstream B190 - bought, 2005; sold, 2011; bought 2017
1995 Airstream Excella 30' trailer

WBCCI #13270, Washington, DC Unit

RyanC
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Joined: Mon May 11, 2020 6:03 pm

Re: B190 roof swap

Post by RyanC »

skater wrote:
Tue Jun 02, 2020 9:11 pm
Interesting - on my computer most were upside down, but on my iPad, only the one I “fixed” is. So it has to be something in how the browsers are interpreting the EXIF data.

viewing the post with Google Chrome like I normally do all the photos are right side up. Viewing with Explorer most are upside down.
no idea.

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skater
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Posts: 2223
Joined: Thu Mar 08, 2007 1:00 am
B190 Year: 1991
WBCCI: 13270
Location: Annapolis, MD

Re: B190 roof swap

Post by skater »

RyanC wrote:
Wed Jun 03, 2020 7:57 am
viewing the post with Google Chrome like I normally do all the photos are right side up. Viewing with Explorer most are upside down.
no idea.
It looks like it's something with how the browsers interpret the orientation and rotation EXIF data. It's happening here, but it's not really a problem with the board software or even the pictures. It sounds like some browsers don't handle it well.
1991 Airstream B190 - bought, 2005; sold, 2011; bought 2017
1995 Airstream Excella 30' trailer

WBCCI #13270, Washington, DC Unit

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