Hehr Roof Vents

One of the things that frustrates Airstream owners is the condition of their aluminum vent lids and lifters made by Hehr(1951-1965). Some opt to put in Fantastic Fans, freeing up parts to repair the remaining vents. I was lucky enough to collect enough parts over a 3 year period to restore to original condition our three vents, including the missing one from the hole where the old swamp cooler was residing.

An old vent. Most were generic replacements with frozen operators and missing screens.

This is what the remaining vent covers look liked before polishing.

The seal was captured under the retainer and re-riveted back on. The seal I used was from Soff-Seal, but I wouldn’t use it again if I had the choice – the profile just isn’t quite right. Adhesive backed seals will not work – as soon as it gets hot, they fall off. I understand that Vintage Trailer Supply is looking to have a replacement seal made.

A polished and reassembled vent cover.

The bottom side of a restored vent. Each vent was:

  • Disassembled (drilled rivets out)
  • Polished (compounded and Cylo-wrapped using Nuvite polish)
  • Replaced seal (see left)
  • Openers Freed up (see below)
  • Reassembled using “A” (soft) aircraft rivets

The unattainable Hehr Lifters (Operators, a.k.a. Openers)
Most freeze up with time after water gets inside them. If you soak them in a small coffee can of PB Blaster or Kroil, they will usually free up. You can then maintain them with annual applications of WD-40 and lithium grease.

Missing Screens
If your screen is completly missing, you can easily make one from aluminum linoleum/carpet edge trim and screen. (http://www.cornerhardware.com)

Damaged Screens
If the screen is damaged around the operator holes (very typical), the best fix is to silicone sealant 3/4″ id steel washers around the holes (see below image). Use the Hehr operator handles to position and hold it up in place while the sealant cures.

Finished & installed

Inside view of the completed vents.

The good news is that Vintage Trailer Supply is working on replacement vents and parts. Another source is the from people who install Fantastic Fans or Air Conditioners, freeing up the old vent parts.