Before starting your bus conversion there are several decisions that must be finalized. One of these is what are you going to do about the emergency hatches. There are several options like covering up the existing hole, replacing the hatch with another item, or leaving the emergency hatch in place.
Removing the Emergency Hatch and Covering Up the Hole During a Bus Conversion
The emergency hatches are nearing 2 decades old and believe me, they are not looking as dapper as a 20-year-old. They are visible signs of cracks in the plastic, the rubber seal is dry rotting, and the chalking has weathered and is sagged in spots. It has a tendency to leak while you are driving or while parked. Yep, it is time for emergency hatch surgery. REMOVE THEM!
Step 1: Cover up the hole with sheet metal.
Tips when covering up the existing hole.
- Wear your personal protection equipment.
- Once the old hatch is out, clean off all the existing chalk, tar, or butyl.
- Grind down any rust and treat.
Step 2: Make sure the surface is clean before securing the new metal.
Pro Tip: If you removed the inside ceiling panels, you can use a piece of the metal to cover over the emergency hatch.
Replacing the Emergency Hatch with Another Item
After I explain to our clients that the emergency hatch must go, they want to know what item could go in its place. Do you know the number one most requested item to install in the place of the emergency hatch?
If you answered a skylight you would be correct. Yes, you can install a skylight.
Other items you can use in the existing hole are:
- Air Condition Units
- Fantastic Vent Fans
- Standard RV Vent
- Roof Access Skylight
Leaving the Hatch In Place
A few of the clients insist on leaving the emergency hatch in place even when I advise against it or offer other options. After all, it is their skoolie so they can decide to leave the hatch alone. Some people like to leave them because they want to be able to exit through the hatch onto the roof deck. Others think that in case of an emergency, it would be great to have the emergency as an escape option. Both of these are valid points to consider but could be served better with a roof access skylight that is in better condition than the existing emergency hatch. In addition, our floor plans are designed to have two exits from each room of the bus. Therefore, for safety reasons the hatch is not needed due to having the emergency windows or a door for an exit.
The two main reasons I suggest not leaving the hatches in place are:
- Because they leak. They LEAK!! You can reseal around them on the roof but overtime they will still leak. If you try to remove them, most of the time the plastic will break. Of course, there is the option to buy a new emergency hatch, but if you are thinking of doing this why not get an egress skylight?
- Because they can come open while the bus is in motion.
I know this to be true. As I sat on the couch, gazing out the window deep in thought I felt water drops landing on my face. I had the window cracked slightly so I didn’t think much about it until I heard a loud bump and rain was soaking the bus floor. I looked up to see the emergency hatch had flung open and there was no way to shut in while the bus was in motion.
So, in order to reduce bustrations just remove the emergency hatch on your bus before you convert it.