When every little breeze counts (front window screens)

About a week before our first extended camping trip with Moby, we decided to execute a test run to a local campground in order to help eliminate any potential mechanical problems, e.g., test the replacement transmission and discover inadequacies of our camping supplies.  We quickly discovered (or perhaps were just reminded) of the fact that sleeping in a bus can get a little stuffy when the breeze dies on a hot, humid summer night (especially in the front child’s cot area above the front seats).  With several days at Assateague quickly approaching and the forecast predicting formidably high temperatures, maximizing any movement of air through the bus became a priority.

In thinking back to a parts bus I once owned, I recalled that it came with two screens which attached by means of snaps to the door frame around the front windows, much like the original rear hatch bug screen.  The owner of the parts bus drilled holes in the front doors and screwed the snaps in around the windows.  They looked very effective, but the multitude of non-stock snaps drilled into the windows frames left much to be desired in the aesthetics department.  There had to be an easier, less damaging method for attaching screens to the front windows and I spent several commutes pondering viable solutions until I came up with, what I thought at the time as an exceptional remedy – magnets.  With only a week to prepare, we ended up cutting some leftover screen material to fit the front windows and binding it to the outside of the door with round magnets gleaned from a craft store.  The worked well enough, but, with a active sleeper in the front child cot, the magnets readily popped off and mosquitoes happily dined on everyone after entering through gaps between the screens and bus.

Our travels this past summer included a return to Assateague and its hot, humid summer environment.  We, therefore, set about refining our screen solution for the front windows.  The primary issue lay in the weak craft magnets which barely had enough strength to attract the metal door frame through the screen material. Again, I dreamed up an innovative, clever solution – extra powerful neodymium magnets (my ego later deflated somewhat after discovering that the employment of magnets in general, including neodymium, for this purpose proliferates the web).  With thirty 1/4-inch neodymium magnets ordered from The all encompassing virtual department store and some more spare screening, we were set to try again.  I say ‘we’, but this became Martha’s project and the final results are a result of her ingenuity.

Because of my involvement with other chores at the time, we did not take the appropriate procedural photographs.  However, this is a simple project and the lack of documenting pictures should not be a hindrance.  Martha started by cutting two 38-inch long by 18-inch tall rectangles from the screen roll.  This provided enough room for 1-inch hems all around to hold the magnets.  Starting with the long direction, she used a sewing machine to sew both top and bottom hems, leaving the ends open.  Through these open ends, she fed seven magnets (four on the bottom and three for the top), spacing them evenly along both hems, and stitching by hand around each to hold them in place.  This was followed by sewing the side hems, which proved very difficult as the magnets clung to each other and the sewing machine like ticks on a hound dog.  Finally, Martha fed eight magnets along the side hems (four per hem), hand-stitched them in place, and closed the open hem ends.


Final product. We used a fine screen to protect against no-see-ums, but the finer screen also blocks more air.


Instead of placing the screen on the outside of the door, we opted for internal placement. Now when our active sleeper pushes against the screen, the material is pushed against instead of away from the door, thus preventing gaps between the screen and window frame.


They fit well and do not interfere with door operation. The windows can still be rolled up in the event of rain.


Mosquito’s perspective.


4 thoughts on “When every little breeze counts (front window screens)

  1. Ingenious solution ! I have a windscreen cover for my van which also uses magnets, but fits on the outside to prevent frost from lying on the screen. It’s fine when it’s still but have on several occasions had to retrieve the cover (still stuck on by the magnets) from the side of the van after blustery nights ! Your inside screens should be well secured though.

    • Thanks. It is nice to know the newer campervans have a solution to help maximize ventilation, but why does it always seem factory modifications like this never seem to get it quite right?

  2. You still get credit for thinking it up all by yourself. It’s a fantastic idea.

    I laughed out loud at “mosquito’s perspective”. 🙂

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