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Old 03-17-2019, 06:59 PM   #1
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Collins Chair Rail Recommendations

My 2003 Collins has what seems like the standard chair rail made out of something similar to unistrut. It is riveted to the side wall. The panel below the rail is one with the floor and side walls (or is welded to them at a minimum) - there's no real way to get behind it without cutting a hole in it. The upper panel is fixed with the same rivets that hold the chair rail on the bottom, but regular Torx screws on the top.

The question comes as to what to do with the upper panel as far as insulation. I was originally going to remove it and put board insulation in its place. However, it's only a 1" cavity behind it, I can't insulate behind the lower panel (and so will have to insulate in front of it), and the chair rail seems beefy enough that as many people say, it may be helping the wall structure to a degree.

Does it make sense to remove the chair rail and upper panel so I can better insulate? If the rail is best left in place, how about running some sheet metal shears near the bottom? On the flip side, I'm now thinking it may just be best to leave the panels in place and just put 1" foam board over them. I'm not living in the bus, just taking vacations in it, and don't plan to be in extreme cold (but possibly high heat).

Thoughts? Thanks!

Chris
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Old 03-26-2019, 11:10 AM   #2
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Any thoughts on this? Every time I go into the bus, I change my mind if I want to remove the rail or not. It adds rigidity, but is not structural like so many other buses, it seems.

Thanks,
Chris
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Old 03-26-2019, 09:38 PM   #3
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I plan to remove mine to make framing the walls easier. I agree with you in that I don't think it is structural in any significant way. The potential problem with not removing the panels could be hidden rust?
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Old 03-27-2019, 01:17 PM   #4
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Thanks for the comments! I'll post back when I decide what to do, but I agree they're not structural, but probably add rigidity. Then again, the walls will do the same, even if to a somewhat lesser degree.
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Old 03-27-2019, 01:34 PM   #5
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I had an integrated chair rail in my bus and chose to remove it. I am planning to try to make up some of the lost strength/rigidity in my build. My plan is to run stringers along the outside of the bus at the same height as the rigid foam insulation. I will drill a hole through the stringers and into the ribs. Then I'm going to tap the holes and use bolts and washers in order to secure the stringers to the ribs. When I screw down the plywood to the stringers I should end up with a very sturdy structure that ties the sides together in a nice, solid way. I included a sketch of my plan, in case it's unclear from the description.

EDIT:
Just realized I labeled the space between the ribs as the 2x4 stringer and not the actual stringer. Hopefully it still makes sense.
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Old 03-27-2019, 02:02 PM   #6
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Interesting idea. It'd be good to see how that plays out.

That said, in retrospect, doesn't the rub rail basically do the same thing - act like a stringer to add rigidity to the side walls? On my bus the lower one is basically at the same height as the chair rail.
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Old 03-27-2019, 02:06 PM   #7
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I plan to eventually remove all of those interior panels to enable spray foam throughout. I know removing that rail and the lower panel will be a decent amount of work, but I'd prefer to maximize the insulation.

I think for most people it probably wouldn't be worth the effort if you're not expecting extreme temps. Toss some Buskote or the like on the roof and use lighter colors elsewhere should make it passable in the summer.
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