The Aluminum Asylum

Skinning Over the Windows

Since we didn't need (or want) to keep ALL the windows, we picked out the ones we wanted. After much thought, we decided to utilize the original aluminum window track frame, removing all the glass and the panel frames for the glass. We bought a 24 inch x 50 foot long piece of heavy aluminum flashing to use as the metal skin.  

To start with, I dismantled the window track frames completely. I removed the glass from the metal frames and set the glass aside. I then removed all the old caulking on the window track frame. I used a razor blade (like the kind that goes in a razor knife) to get it off. I reused one of the long aluminum tracks that the glass fit into for the bottom of the frame. When I put the window track frame together, I realized the the window frame for the glass was slightly too small. Easy fix. I simply removed the window stop from the tracks and moved them to the bottom of the track. I used one stop held flush to the bottom of the window track as a guide to drill a new hole for the screw that went into the bottom glass frame piece, and the other stop as a shim to force the stop up against the side of the track frame that faced the exterior.  After drilling the hole, I placed the window stop in between the frame  and track as a spacer. I used a drill bit that was slightly larger than the original screws so that I could pull up the metal tight. I also had to drill out the hole for the top piece of the track frame (the one with the rubber weatherstripping.

  Window Stop

Drilling new hole using stop as a guide

Stop used as a spacer

View of Exterior side

After making sure the window track frames would fill together right and fit back into the window, We cut the flashing to size. We used a metal square to ensure a "square" rectangle. A sharp blade in my razor knife was used and after 20 passes with the knife (30 for me) David had a cut piece of metal.... to width, then we had to cut it to the right height.




The metal flashing was wiped down with plain vinegar to remove any oils. I slid the metal into the frame after first removing the bottom frame piece to get the metal in and then reinstalled the metal piece, making sure the spacers are not hung up on the flashing.

Then I caulked the metal between the flashing and the track frame (on the exterior side) using latex caulk. David helped me flip the frame over so that we could shim the metal tight to the exterior side of the frame. Doing this squeezes out some of the caulking. After shimming the metal all the way around the perimeter, the frame is flipped back over again and the excess caulk is cleaned off with water and the film left by the caulking is cleaned off using paper towels wet with the vinegar.  I made sure the corners were well caulked as well as the areas where the frame  pieces meet.



Metal sheet caulked and shimmed to dry.




Exterior of the blanked window



Close up of the caulked window frame. I made sure the little gap at the bottom was caulked.

After the caulking has dried overnight, we removed the shims and used a can of Great Foam Spray foam to fill the void between the metal and the track channel on the back side. When this had cured completely is will help hold the metal flashing in place until the caulking dries completely. Because we are caulking metal to metal, it takes longer to cure than if we were caulking metal to wood or wood to wood. The wood  absorbs the moisture in the caulking. The foam will be trimmed where needed when we glue 1 inch of Owens-Corning Foamular 150 foam sheathing to the sheet metal flashing. Once everything had set up, I primed the aluminum flashing and aluminum frames on the exterior side with a white primer that is specially formulated to used on aluminum and galvanized metal from ACE Hardware.



I did the foaming in two steps. I foamed in and let dry, then when back over to make sure it was solidly foamed.




Skinned over window dry fitted to make sure it will fit in.


Skinned window with primer.




Some of the skinned window panels, painted and caulked into place.





I used a whole tube of caulking for each window... Overkill? Maybe but I would rather have too much than not enough. And not that much squeezed out on the exterior.




I put another layer of Great Foam around the insulation panels after the  windows skins were caulked into place.



Rear Window Signage

Since we are putting the bed and blocking the rear emergency exit door, we decided to build a false wall to "flatten" to rear wall/exit door. The panel over the emergency door will be removable to allow us to get the big appliances in/out. But the section that covers the small windows on each side of the door will be permanent. I decided to cover the opening with metal flashing painted a light colour to keep the bould up dowm. While traveling up to Albuquerque on I25, I got to looking at the "warning" signs on all the semi truck/trailers. I liked the ones about wide turns and the "if you can't see my mirrors" notices. I thought those would be good to have on the bus. After looking online at the various "stickers" I decided to make my own with the Printmaster program I have. this is what I ended up with.....


I pulled the beauty ring from around the rear windows, glued/screwed a piece of metal flashing in place, let dry. The I primed and painted the base colour  and the transferred the graphics I wanted onto the prepared metal. Once it all dried. I cleaned and resealed the rear window (to make sure it won't leak) and installed the panel.


This sign turned out slightly "off". Perhaps because I had originally laid out the sign upside down (had to unstick and reglue it all back up). Still I think it looks pretty good and I will not be repainting it.


Some of the trim work already painted.... so much trim.  Rustoleum Hammered Copper with Rustoleum Gloss Black painted "insert". I dumped the little plastic insert strips since they had shrunk over time. But the trim painted all Copper looked odd to me. After the strips were picked out in Gloss Black, then the BlueBird  plate looked odd in just Copper, so I painted the "background" in the Gloss Black . It is very shiny in the sunlight. The lights and Flasher Shields will also be painted in the Hammered Copper.