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Old 12-25-2006, 05:50 PM   #21
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Now that the seats are out it's time to continue the "gutting" process. On the agenda for today was the ceiling. First I removed the raceways (or conduits) for the wiring, they run above the windows on both sides of the bus and you can see them in this photo (with the black row numbers on them):



Next I removed the Torx head screws that hold each panel to a bus frame. There are 15 rows of screws with 63 screws per row for a total of 945 screws that hold the ceiling up...I think even for a school bus this might have been overkill!



Then the panels started coming down...



The factory fiberglass is still up on the left side. It's in fantastic condition but I'll replace it with something a lot more efficient. The metal ceiling panels will not be re-installed; they be replaced by (probably) 1/8" luan for a thermal break. We'll apply the ceiling finish (Ozite, vinyl, cork, whatever) to that.

I only got about half the panels down, I broke my Torx bit and there's no place to go buy one today.
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Old 12-25-2006, 06:45 PM   #22
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I'm gon'na jump in here and pick on youse guys. For the benefit of many other
would-be bus converters, you understand.

I had no trouble removing the seats in my bus(es). I was underneath with goggles
on (have since bought a face shield), and I held a deep socket on a 30" extension.
My partner-in-crime was inside with an air wrench. We started by agreeing
on a pattern of bolts down the aisle.

"Ready"
"WOOOOOOOOOP!"
"Got it."

"Ready."
"WHOOOOOOOOP!"
"Got it."

"Ready."
"WHOOOOOOOOP!"
"Again."
"WHOOP!"
"Got it."

"Ready"...

It went so fast we had to wait for the compressor to catch up. Two or three bolts
snapped off, the rest just unscrewed. Similar method for the inside bolts -- I held
with a wrench, and Peter whoooooooop'd with the long extension. Then we held a
seat-hurling contest. Gotta build a trebuchet!
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Old 12-25-2006, 07:34 PM   #23
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Sometimes I'm glad that Wayne saw it fit to use #3 Phillips bits for everything. Even the local gas station has those!

How are you planning on flexing the luan? Are you just going to push it into place or do you have a steam vox or something? How are you attaching it to the ceiling?

MY seatbolts weren't going anywhere with a wrench. In fact, many along the seat rail on the outside edge even had to be ground. What's worse is that they were all grade 8 bolts. It didn't take long for me to figure out why Wayne went bankrupt. With so much competition, it seems that many of their techniques would just put them above the price point people were willing to pay. Stuff like the continuous panels on the roof and sides couldn't have been cheap.

Did someone say trebuchet? For my freshman year College Physics class, a buddy and I built a mean treb. It used four 235-75R15 tires mounted on rims for the counterweight to send a softball sailing. It threw that ball 90 yards at 90 mph at a height of 45 feet in the air. Yep, that's parabolic flight, just like it's supposed to be. Unfortunately it self destructed in a test fire just prior to demonstration. I seem to recall shards of hot steel coming flying off the axle and into the crowd.....My recommendation is to use steel in building yours. The Home Depot wood the school's purchase order paid for just didn't cut it.
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Old 12-25-2006, 08:57 PM   #24
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looks like a mobile bowling alley, which end gets the pin setting machine?
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Old 12-25-2006, 09:49 PM   #25
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I'm glad you've been able to remove the screws in the ceiling panels. Mine are held in with #3 Phillips...and I can't get but one or two out before breaking the bit. At 950 or screws, that means I'd have to buy 475 bits to get the job done. I pretty much forced to leave the ceiling panels in place... Will have to just work with it that way. The insulation up there is thicker than I thought, found that out when I drilled through for the waste tank vent stacks...
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Old 12-26-2006, 10:10 AM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elliot Naess
I'm gon'na jump in here and pick on youse guys. For the benefit of many other
would-be bus converters, you understand.

I had no trouble removing the seats in my bus(es). I was underneath with goggles
on (have since bought a face shield), and I held a deep socket on a 30" extension.
My partner-in-crime was inside with an air wrench. We started by agreeing
on a pattern of bolts down the aisle.
I was able to do this on my first bus...the Blue Bird.

The ironic part on the Thomas is that all the hardware that holds the seats is stainless steel. Every bolt in the seat rails unbolted with ease. Those few in the floor where I could get to the outside bolts also came apart with ease. So, if I could have held the nuts underneath it would have been an easy disassembly.

The problem is that the bolts that hold the seat legs to the floor are inside the frame rails and Thomas installed four air tanks (two just aft of the front whees and two just behind those) between the frame rails just ahead of the storage compartment that takes up half the length of the space between the rear wheels and the front wheels. I tried every tool I have including weird combinations of extentions and swivels but I just couldn't get to most of the nuts under the bus (and none above the storage compartment). Thus my introduction to the world of cut-off wheels!

You would think on a rear engine bus with no driveshaft in the way that getting to the floor down the center line would be a piece of cake. Ha! As soon as they got the driveshaft behind the rear axle and opened up all that lovely space the designers thought of all the stuff they could run right down the center of the bus...and that takes up way more room than any driveshaft! Geez...who'd a thunk it?
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Old 12-26-2006, 10:50 AM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the_experience03
How are you planning on flexing the luan? Are you just going to push it into place or do you have a steam vox or something? How are you attaching it to the ceiling?
My belief is that 1/8" doorskin material will flex to fit the curve. If not I'll have to re-invent when I get there. It'll get attached with Sikaflex or 3M 5200 (or other high-tech adhesive if I discover a better one) and screws; once the adhesive sets I'll remove the screws. The luan will then be covered with Ozite, fabric, or vinyl with or without a thin foam backing as necessary. At the moment I'm leaning toward an off-white marine Naugahyde for light reflection and ease of cleaning; it will get glued (using a 3M spray adhesive) to the luan.

I have a lot more research to do on the best choice of insulation material.
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Old 12-30-2006, 03:45 PM   #28
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Skipping over here from the Millicent thread...

Quote:
If I do go for the lift one challenge that I have is that my window posts
(bus frames) are not vertical. Starting at the top of the side wall (bottom of the
window) they lean toward the inside of the bus by an inch at the top over the 22.5"
height of the windows. If I raise the roof 12" (that would be the plan) I don't know
how to add-in the new extension pieces and marry up the angles of the remaining
top and bottom sections of the original post. I may have to do some very careful
measuring and a CAD drawing to see what the issues really are.
On angled window pillars, we would mount the lifting apparatus vertically by shimming.
After Lift Off, we would cut the pillars half way thru and bend them enough to get both
ends of the inserts started.
A little oil on the inserts will make them slide in MUCH easier and will let the pillars find
their own angles as the roof comes down into final position.
Measure for squareness and weld.
Drink a beverage of your choice.
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Old 12-30-2006, 08:16 PM   #29
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Well darn...I wrote this over on your thread...so I brought it back over here!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Elliot Naess
Les:
I did not test the flexibility of my window pillars, but if they won’t bend easily,
you would just make partial cuts until they will bend, and weld them up afterwards.
That’s how the custom car builders lower their roofs. I’ve never looked at a Thomas,
but it sounds perfectly doable. I’ll take a fresh look at the Illusion thread and we’ll
make further plans there.
I do wish I had taken metal shop in high school rather than wood shop, that I had been a machinist's mate in the Navy rather than an electrician and that I had fallen in love with messing around with cars rather than boats...and least as far as this bus project goes. Once I get to the interior and can wire, plumb and build cabinets I'm good to go...it's getting there that offers the challenge!

That's a great idea Elliot and reminds me now that you mention it of the way I've read about several of the big bus folks making their new curved frames under the caps; I've even seen a few photos of it. Doesn't seem too difficult.

I'll get some photos tomorrow of the window pillars and their dimensions. This is starting to sound doable again (thanks so much for the encouragement and technical expertise); my wife Shelley will be happy that I'm not cruising the bus sale sites and eBay looking for buses with taller tops!
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Old 12-30-2006, 08:32 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elliot Naess
Skipping over here from the Millicent thread...

On angled window pillars, we would mount the lifting apparatus vertically by shimming.
After Lift Off, we would cut the pillars half way thru and bend them enough to get both
ends of the inserts started.
A little oil on the inserts will make them slide in MUCH easier and will let the pillars find
their own angles as the roof comes down into final position.
Measure for squareness and weld.
Drink a beverage of your choice.
Got it! I'll take a good look tomorrow and see how things look when i get just a bit more material out of the way. The windows are held in with Phillips screws that strip out in a blink . I bought some fancy screw extractor thingies (tech term) that I hope will help. If not I'll drill the heads off of the one's that fight back. I'll also take some careful measurement on the bus to see just how far I really have to tweak things.

The more I've thought about it, the more I've realized I really need (and want) more headroom in the bus. For more floor insulation, for looks outside, for a more open feeling inside (I can use larger windows), for a wider (er...taller audience) if I ever sell the thing, and so that my sisters' husbands (both of whom I like a lot) don't have to scrunch down when they're in the bus as they do now.

As a bonus I can use the typical rooftop A/C units; I'm not crazy about the way they look but that will keep me from using more space from my storage compartments for "basement" A/C.

Houston...I think we have another mission!
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