Roof Vent and Heater Projects

The old Fantastic roof vent needed a bit of cleaning…  This is before.

Hello and welcome to the blog today.  It was a productive Tuesday!  As part of the van conversion project of 2011, I had cut a hole in the roof and installed a [then] high-end Fantastic brand roof vent.  It was one of the best purchases made… and continues to be despite the fact that the fan motor had quit working.  Thankfully, the fix was FREE and it should be okay until spring (when I can fix it permanently).

On – off fan switch

While breakfast was cooking, YouTube provided several informative videos about people who fixed their roof vents.  I knew power was getting to the Fantastic Vent because the lid would open and close… but the fan just would not spin.  I thought “Holy moly, it’s the fan motor”.. but thankfully it was not.  The picture above is a plunger type switch like you would find in a car – you know … the one that corrodes and you have to diddle it to get the dome light to turn on.  I jabbed the plunger and wiggled wires and “voila” — the fan took off.  A knife was used to clean the lug to which the white ground was attached; this spring I will replace the lug and polish up the nut.  At least for now the problem is solved.  Removing the motor and fan assembly is easy.  That will be done this spring as part of a deep cleaning.

The moral of the story is to wiggle the crusty connections… and fix them before they get to be a problem.  It would be interesting to know how many fans get replaced when it’s only a bad connection at fault.


By now I was pretty happy.  The next thing to tackle was replacing the truly crappy heater used for cold weather months.  I had an El Cheapo Walmart heater that didn’t work well; I was constantly having to mess with it all night long while camping.

A small infrared heater adds warmth and a look of warmth to this tiny living area.

Menards had a decent sale on this model plus an 11% rebate.  I’ve always wanted to try one of these infrared heaters.  It seems to heat well.  Hopefully it doesn’t cook the cat; the heat seems pretty gentle.  I don’t plan to do any camping in sub-zero weather this year – just those “one day wonder” fishing trips with the car.  But for above zero temps, this cute little heater should work just fine.  It will be tried “in combat” early next week.  I forgot to add it has a remote control — one could get spoiled!

I didn’t get around to camping on Monday or Tuesday of this week.  There was just too much work to do around home – things like mowing two yards.  A neighbor’s yard was mowed and when the guy gets back home from his work, that means an extra $20 toward the camping fund.  (I pay myself before getting the cash).  What is cool is that working for just an hour ($20) buys nearly two nights of comfortable sleep.  That is because at this time the state campgrounds are only $11 – a true bargain!  Such a deal.  🙂

For now, that’s about it.  Jenny will be camping with me up north a couple nights next week.  Trout stocking season is winding down and with recent rains much of the drought has been eliminated; the creeks are in perfect shape.  Please join us camping, cooking, and enjoying the beautiful autumn Iowa weather.

Safe and happy travels!

Brad and Jenny
Jones County, Iowa

About VanTrekker

I am a former vandweller in Eastern Iowa who, for several years (off and on), lived in a 2007 Chevy cargo van. I still travel around Iowa with my tortoise shell cat, Jennifer Stefanie. Our favorite place to explore is the Country Heritage Community, the four far northeastern counties of Iowa (Clayton, Winneshiek, Allamakee, and Fayette). Ride along as we fish in pristine trout streams, enjoy fine home cooked camping meals, and meet new people. It's all possible on a shoestring budget. Happy travels always! --- Brad, the "Van Trekker"
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6 Responses to Roof Vent and Heater Projects

  1. Jo says:

    It’s great that you can fix just about anything that goes wrong. So you now have a working fan again. And that heater is really good looking adds more of a homey feeling.

    Going to try out your crab Empanadas tomorrow bought all the stuff for them today

    • VanTrekker says:

      Hi Jo. Thanks for the kind words. I hope the crab empanadas turn out tasty. I am looking forward to making them again. Let me know if they turn out good. I had to keep taste test them to get the filling sweet but not too sweet. The kids at work sure liked them. — VT

  2. Croft Randle says:

    Those plunger switches are a common problem and Fantastic Fan will send you a free replacement if you ask.

    • VanTrekker says:

      Hi and thanks for the info! I will contact them tomorrow. I love the Fantastic roof vent. It’s well worth the money paid for it and has held up very well. Take care and happy camping! — VT

  3. my_vantasy says:

    I spent March in a pop up truck camper with a heater like that and an electric blanket. One morning, the camper was covered in snow, but the little dog and I were OK. It just takes up a lot of space in a truck bed. Works great to heat a room in the home base, too.

    • VanTrekker says:

      Cool! I bet you enjoyed the March cool evenings and that warm electric blanket. Sounds great!

      I have high hopes for the heater. The plan is to get a good picture of Jenny sleeping on the green chair with the heater on. She likes the van to be kind of toasty at night. So does my friend Arthur… (Arthur-itis) It will be nice to enjoy a cool evening with a bit of snow, some warm cinnamon stick apple cider, and a needlework project. Next week’s trip is in the planning process… There will be plenty of comfort type foods.

      Take good care and thanks for the note.

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