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Boulder, CO

A guide to the wilderness of the West.


Let there be light

I cut a 2'x3' hole in the roof  of the van to make room for sunlight and star gazing.  I purchased a piece of 1/4" plexiglass off craigslist, cut it to size, and covered the hole.  I had no idea if it would actually work out, but did!  It is awesome.


  • Plexiglass, or an actual skylight
  • Butyl Tape
  • Self taping screws
  • Silicon Caulk 


  • Jigsaw w/Sheet Metal Blade
  • Power Drill
  • Caulk Gun
  • Ear Plugs

trace a pattern & make the cut

I made a pattern on a piece of cardboard and traced it onto the top of the van with a marker.  The grooves on the top of the van made it easy to find an exact center.  Drill holes at the corners (I didn't have to b/c there was already a hole in the top from the vent the previous owner had installed) and make the cut with the jigsaw.  Now you have a big hole in your  van.

Make the pattern, trace it, and then cut.  This made it easier to find the center of the van, and gave me a good idea of what I was about to do.

Making the cut.  Nothing like chopping into your new van!

Place the PlexiGlass, Butyl Tape, & Secure with screws

I cut the 1/4" piece of plexiglass to size using a table saw; but you could possibly have this done at the place of purchase.  Lay down a good amount of butyl tape, making sure to add extra to fill in any gaps (such as the grooves on my Econoline).  Situate the plexiglass, drill pilot holes through the plexiglass/roof, and secure with screws every couple of inches.  Using a caulk gun, put a bead of silicon along the outer edge of the skylight and smooth over with your finger.  

Fill all the gaps with butyl tape

Looks messy, but made a great seal.  Still no leaks!  Finish sealing by applying a solid bead of silicon and smoothing out with your finger.