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RV Frameless Window Crank

RV frameless windows after modifying the crank assembly.

RV Frameless Window Crank

Frameless windows look great on an RV and they really cut down on maintenance, but they don’t let in a lot of fresh air. . .but can they?

Part of what we love about RVing is being in the outdoors. The crisp night air, the smell of Spring, catching a wisp of campfire smoke, or a cool breeze on a warm afternoon, it’s all a part of the RV and camping experience. We used to love Spring and Fall with our camper windows open, enjoying that fresh air. Unfortunately, frameless windows have made it a lot harder to let the outside in. Most brands are pretty much alike, but I’ll use our Montana 5th wheel as an example. The newer windows only crank out 4 inches, so the dual window here at my desk has a whopping 368 square inches of opening. The old-style sliding windows would have provided 720 square inches or nearly double.

So what can we do about it?

RV frameless windows after modifying the crank assembly.
Frameless windows. Pretty but not practical. The pane on the left has been modified to let in almost twice the air of a standard window.

Many widows are designed as a set, with an emergency escape window on one side and a crank-out window on the other. The crank window is regulated to only open as far as the emergency window so that it looks prettier. Listen, I’m 54 years old and function won out over style a long time ago. Who cares if the windows aren’t symmetrical if they can let in a lot more of the great outdoors?

In the case of our Montana, there is a thin plastic strip in the window channel that prevents the crank mechanism from opening all the way. This strip also lets them use mismatched crank assemblies, as our 3 sets of windows have 3 different length crank arms but the plastic has been trimmed so they all open the same distance.

The crank assembly of a frameless window on an RV.
Looking up into the window frame, you can see the two chrome crank arms. Between them is the plastic strip that prevents the windows from opening further.

I’d been eyeing that little strip of plastic and wondering what would happen if I removed it.

  • The crank arms start at 180 degrees and then only went to about a 90 degree angle when fully opened. Would this allow them to crank all the way to zero and meet? The smaller, single pane sofa windows cranked to zero and these bigger ones looked to be the same cranks with extensions riveted to them.
  • Would the cranks get stuck?
  • Would the glass fall out? The escape windows would open all the way without falling out, but there was no way to know on these windows. Let me stress here: Your windows may be different than mine. Be careful!
  • How much more air would it allow in?

As always, curiosity got the better of me and I had to give it a try. It worked!

  • The cranks open most of the way. There comes a point where they become hard to turn and they will get stuck, so just stop cranking when it gets tight.
  • The glass didn’t fall out. Your windows may be different, so use caution!
  • The windows open 7 1/2 inches! We now get 345 square inches of opening on the cranking windows.
  • 345 vs 184. . .over 157 square inches of extra opening. An over 85% increase!
  • Multiply that by the three cranking windows in our living room and that’s over three square feet of extra air.
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Time: 10 minutes
  • Price: Free
  • Benefits: Fresh air and increased air flow

SUPPLIES

  • None!

TOOLS

  • Needle nose pliers
  • Dental pick or small screw driver
  • An assistant to open and close the window
Grasping the end of the plastic strip with pliers, gently pull down on the strip, removing it.

Here’s what I did:

  1. Crank the window about ΒΎ of the way open. If you open it all the way there won’t be any slack in the system.
  2. Identify the plastic strip that keeps the arms from moving farther.
  3. You’ll need to get the end of the strip loose from the channel. I used a dental pick I carry in my tool box.
  4. Once the end is loose, grasp it with a pair of pliers and gently, but firmly remove it from the track. It’s a pretty tight fit.
  5. With someone inside to operate the crank, stand outside and hold the glass, in case your window frame lets it fall. Open and close it a few times to make sure the glass is firmly held and not going to fall out or bind.
  6. If you find your window hinge only holds to a certain point, stop before reaching that point, trim the piece of plastic to that length and reinsert it.
  7. Share these instructions with all your friends. You’ll be a hero. I’m not promising they’ll sing your praises around a campfire and pass down the story from generation to generation of how you made their RV more comfortable, but it could happen.
  8. Comment below and let us know how much it helped your camper.
  9. Relax and enjoy the new breeze in your RV!
The windowpane on the right is the standard emergency window. The pane on the left shows you how much further the window can open once the plastic strip is removed.

CALCULATIONS: Let me explain the math. We’re only calculating the change to the bottom and one end of the crank window.

ORIGINAL

(we’ll only do one end, since the other end has the emergency window complicating things)

Side opening is a triangle 4 x 20 = 40 square inches

Bottom is a rectangle 4 x 36 = 144 square inches

Total original opening 40 + 144 = 188 square inches

MODIFIED

Side opening is a triangle 7.5 x 20 = 75 square inches

Bottom is a rectangle 7.5 x 36 = 270 square inches

Total modified opening 75 + 270 = 345 square inches

Change = 345(modified) – 188(original) = 157 square inches

157 / 188 = 83% increase

Another view of the modified RV frameless window crank adjustment.

Be sure to post a link to this tutorial on all your social media! It’s a sure-fire way to impress your friends with how handy you are!

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