Saturday, December 15, 2018


After more than four years of Airstream Interstate Class B campervan ownership, I am routinely amazed that I can still discover new modifications that result in large efficiency gains.  This is one of them - a valuable capture of roof space that has historically been underutilized.
When I first posed this question to Air Forums Sprinter and B Van Forum, I was envisioning perhaps mounting a storage device in the space shown, using the referenced clamps.  My solution turned out to be even simpler than that.
I found a storage device that fit this space like a glove, but it's not what I had originally envisioned.
It just so happened that the ATV Tek ASEBLK Black Hunting and Fishing Expedition Cargo Bag fit the space like it was made for it.  
I used one of my favorite products as the underlayment on the roof, to allow for air circulation and drying, so that the ATV bag would not trap moisture next to the metal.
I cut a 1' x 3' strip of a Taskmaster rubber restaurant mat, which is the same product I cut down for our wet bath floor mat.  This product is officially known as the A1HC 35.43 in. x 35.43 in. Anti Fatigue Rubber Restaurant/Kitchen Mat.
Bonus with the Taskmaster: it could be pulled off the roof and used as a traction assist device if I ever got stuck.  I used a third of one of these mats to underlay the ATV bag, and I'll probably find another reason to put the other two thirds up on the roof eventually.

Here's what the ATV bag looks like positioned to fit:
It covers the raw open end of the solar panels on the rear end, giving it a more finished look.
I mentioned above that I didn't need to use the referenced clamps that I originally thought I would need.  Given the way the thing butts up against the 8020 solar panel frame, and given that existing hold-down straps were mounted on the bag in key areas adjacent to the frame, I decided to use screw eyes instead.  My husband sourced stainless steel eyes and also bolts that were compatible with the 8020.  With those in place, I simply attached the bag using 175 pound zip ties.  Here are a few pics.
Eye bolted into the underside of the 8020 solar frame, right next to one of the carrier clasps.

View underneath, showing the zip ties connecting the eyes to the existing bag straps.
Gratuitous pic of dog in the process of solar recharging.
Detail of how this attaches:  

(1) The bag is attached to the Taskmaster rubber underlayment mat using the straps that would typically attach it to the back frame of an ATV.  

(2) The rubber underlayment, in turn, is attached to the roof rack using 175-lb zip ties.  This commercial grade rubber mat is extremely strong and it would take tremendous force to rip through it (these mats are so tough that one of my professional clients uses them in a petrochemical plant application).  I don't anticipate any issues with it.

(3) The upper edge of the bag is attached to the solar 8020 frame.

Like this. 
Now, you may be wondering two things.  First, what the heck do I put way up there?

Answer:  Necessary junk that would otherwise consume valuable space inside the van. Nothing expensive that it would hurt to lose if a thief got his nosy self up there (which is unlikely).
Like these painting supplies for a renovation project we are working on.  I'm transporting the paint itself, 3 gallons worth, inside the Yeti that this is sitting on.  I don't want paint inside the van. 
Secondly, how the heck do I get up there to load and unload the bag?!  It's ten feet in the air!
Using my Telesteps 1400E, ladder of a thousand uses, which I have secured to the hitch platform.
I have a dedicated very-tight bungee so it won't slip.  And if I'm really struggling with anything in the bag, I can also bungee the top of the ladder to the roof rack itself for added stability.  
The hitch platform is covered in non-skid tread, plus the ladder is secure.  It's actually safer in this configuration than it is when I'm using it on open pavement.

Anyway, I'm delighted with this mod.  Glad I found an appropriate bag to create this most unlikely combination.

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