Interior panels Part 3 – Cutting – Front ceiling, side ceiling, and sink/door panels

Of all the panels, the front ceiling was the most enjoyable to make.  The scrolled front edge, dome light, and the meticulous alignment of the front retaining screw holes provided challenges of skill with both saw and drill.  This panel also stimulated an air of satisfaction, I think, due to the resolution of this project’s cornerstone – the eradication of the ghastly speaker holes.

Also cut from this 5×5 baltic birch plywood sheet were the second side ceiling panel, which has the camper light, and the panel that fits between the sink unit and sliding door opening.  The strip panel for behind the closet (not cut in this project) could also be added to these.  Since the basic procedures are the same as in the previous posts, I will just highlight some of the nuances of these panels.

Entire panel thread

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A warning, especially if the bus sat for awhile – above the front ceiling panel, there is fiberglass insulation glued to the metal roof. I say glued, but over the years it may have become detached; be careful it does not rain down all over the front seats during panel removal. As Moby demonstrates above, this is also a favorite mouse nesting spot.  This nest came complete with shredded newspaper and cotton balls dragged from who knows where, and even after sticking a vacuum between the roof and panel mouse pellets still littered the floor when I was done. To remove the panel, it must be pulled and bent in the middle, take this opportunity to shine a flashlight into the space and see what surprises may lurk there.

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Before the panel is used as a template, the dome light bracket needs to be removed. A 1/8-inch drill bit easily took care of the two rivets.

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With the bracket removed, the dome light cutout can be traced/scored.

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The original dome light hole is larger than the dome light, which means the panel edges are visible around the light. I never thought this looked “finished” and decided that my dome light hole would be a tad smaller than the original. Not only would this look better, in my opinion, but also provided me with some room for error while cutting the hole.

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After scoring the plywood sheet (with the exception of the dome light cutout which was only traced with pencil) and drilling out the screw holes (including the rivet holes for the light), I placed the dome light bracket over the pencil outline made from the original. I then aligned the bracket rivet holes with the 1/8-inch drill holes in the new panel, and made four marks in the center of each side of the bracket opening (top, bottom, left and right). Using a steady hand, I drew in a new dome light opening (inside pencil line above) that was smaller than the original but larger than the bracket. Taking my time, I then carefully used the utility knife to score the panel free-hand.

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After drilling four 25/64-inch holes close to the razor cut in each corner (as I did with all cutouts), I cut the dome light hole.

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The hole for the sink vent followed the same procedure as the ashtray and electric hook-up cutouts in the side wall panel. Since the circle is fairly small, I opted for several 25/64″ holes, drilled as closed to the razor score as possible, to help the saw make the turn. I wish I took a picture before I cut, but here is the leftover scrap.

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Sink vent hole.

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New panel (left) and old. No more speaker holes!!!!

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This is the second of the two side ceiling panels (new on right) for the pop top opening. Before removing the template, I drilled the holes for the camping light screw anchors (top and bottom, 25/64″ holes) and wires (center, 1/2″ hole).

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Last panel cut from this sheet fits between the sink unit and sliding door (new panel on left). This panel is held in by one screw at the top (no hole required) and a pop rivet about 9 1/2″ from the top. A 1/8-inch drill bit will suffice for both drilling out the old rivet and creating a new hole.

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