Thursday, November 19, 2015

Brittle Shroud Syndrome

Put a plastic enclosure on top of a motor home and leave it out in the sun for 16 years and it will get brittle. I found that out when I put my palm through this air conditioner shroud while moving around on the roof checking the television antenna. Oops!

Well I wasn't too happy with myself, but it probably needed replacing anyway. And, I'll be more careful with the other one.

A few minutes later I moved down the roof and guess what? Yep, the other air conditioner shroud was already broken and I didn't do it. So I found myself in the market for two new shrouds. 

I located a couple sources for new replacement shrouds on the Internet but decided to poll a few other 1999 Tradewinds owners to see if they had any recommendations. They did. The same vendor too, Icon Direct in Canada. I also found out that I was the only one in our little circle of Tradewinds owners that still had the original A/C shrouds, a distinction I would soon lose.

I suspect that a low tree got the second cover. These old shrouds were made in two parts with a gray plastic band riveted around the bottom which itself is screwed to the air conditioner framework. Factory installed solar panels were also mounted atop of each shroud.

I had thought that these solar panels were glued to the shroud. Wrong! Under the glob of really tough rubber adhesive I found rivets. These rivets didn't just attach the panel to the shroud, they went through the shroud into the metal of the air conditioner. Each rivet had to be drilled out before the panel and shroud could be removed.

With the covers removed I took the opportunity to clean out small debris and record part numbers and serial numbers. These were indeed the original air conditioners.

The new pliable plastic shrouds were quickly and easily maneuvered to line up with the existing screw holes. The original screws were put back into place and I was done. The old covers were vented on the sides and open on the back. The replacement covers are vented on the sides and the back as well providing better protection for the condenser coil.

Re-installation of the solar panels however was deferred. First off I have no expectation that they are functional. If not, why punch holes in brand new shrouds? If we don't boon-dock do I need them at all? If I do, and if I need new panels, it's unlikely the mounting holes will be in the same place. So I'll wait and see.

The old shrouds were well past their useful life. They had become so brittle that when dropped off the roof they shattered. I consider this effort and expense not just a repair, but an upgrade.

No comments: