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Old 11-03-2014, 01:26 AM   #11
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Re: 98 Bluebird TC2000 Conversion:2 Feet Roof raise 3 Slideo

When I cut out side panels for slideouts and figured out that I needed to modify lower part of side panes for basement I realized that there will be almost no original (yellow) sides left. Also I needed to cover holes from removed windows. I decided to remove all steel side panels (yellow ones) and use aluminum to cover the whole bus except the roof and the front. Here is what would be left (marked green):


I started looking for aluminum and lucky me I found a men who used to build trailers for years and finally decided to retire. I bought lots of aluminum for much lower price. It is not perfect but I am not going to build an Airstream polished bus.

I used 1/8" aluminum for all side and back panels:






I did get into few problems:

First: Originally the rear corners were round. For me this was a big problem. I decided to make 2 45 bends and tig weld the rest of rear corners. Before welding:


Back side reinforced:


Done:


The second problem was: I didn't know how to terminate the top of aluminum panels. Originally roof edge is bent up to keep rain from windows. I tried to bend it back....no go. So I cut every corner bent it back and tig welded all back using silicone bronze:


Also I welded extra angle from inside. Here is marked with red marker. Also holes are marked. This holes go through angle,aluminum panel to bottom af the bent roof steel. So the new aluminum panel is "sandwiched":
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Old 11-03-2014, 07:17 AM   #12
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Re: 98 Bluebird TC2000 Conversion:2 Feet Roof raise 3 Slideo

For your diagonal bracing above the slide out areas, I think you should have used 2X2 square steel tubing. At each slide out You need to use 2X2 square steel tubing diagonal in each space beside the slide out ( |\|/|) tieing all the framing together with diagonal bracing. Then you need to make diagonal bracing in the floor plus beef up the outer edge. Slideouts can really rack a frame.

Of course I am not an engineer. Although I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express once.
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Old 11-03-2014, 10:10 AM   #13
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Re: 98 Bluebird TC2000 Conversion:2 Feet Roof raise 3 Slideo

I'm no engineer either --- but this appears to be one of the most ambitious builds I've seen in a long, long time. And very well thought out and executed. Great looking workmanship. My only question so far regards where the dissimilar metals meet. Aluminum to steel or galvanized? Is there any kind of insulation between them? They do not play well without it and electrolysis can eat them up very quickly. Everything looks so good I just had to ask. Best of luck and please do keep the pix coming.
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Old 11-03-2014, 11:31 AM   #14
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Re: 98 Bluebird TC2000 Conversion:2 Feet Roof raise 3 Slideo

Galvanic (electrolytic) corrosion is something I worry about on Millicent. But so far I have not seen any damage.

Fabulous build, Vlad!
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Old 11-03-2014, 12:17 PM   #15
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Re: 98 Bluebird TC2000 Conversion:2 Feet Roof raise 3 Slideo

Quote:
Originally Posted by lornaschinske
For your diagonal bracing above the slide out areas, I think you should have used 2X2 square steel tubing. At each slide out You need to use 2X2 square steel tubing diagonal in each space beside the slide out ( |\|/|) tieing all the framing together with diagonal bracing. Then you need to make diagonal bracing in the floor plus beef up the outer edge. Slideouts can really rack a frame.

Of course I am not an engineer. Although I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express once.
Wait until I get to the bottom frame that holds slideout box. I have 3"x3" square steel tubing outside and 2.5"2.5" inside bolted to bus frame. All this recessed under the floor and welded to it.
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Old 11-04-2014, 03:05 AM   #16
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Re: 98 Bluebird TC2000 Conversion:2 Feet Roof raise 3 Slideo

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tango
I'm no engineer either --- but this appears to be one of the most ambitious builds I've seen in a long, long time. And very well thought out and executed. Great looking workmanship. My only question so far regards where the dissimilar metals meet. Aluminum to steel or galvanized? Is there any kind of insulation between them? They do not play well without it and electrolysis can eat them up very quickly. Everything looks so good I just had to ask. Best of luck and please do keep the pix coming.
I did think about steel zinc aluminum combination. I am going to use close end stainless pop rivets where I can't reach the back of the rivet. The rest of the rivets will be solid aluminum. Also I am going to use a lot of PL glue when rivet aluminum panels to steel/zinc body frame.

To have galvanic corrosion you need to have dissimilar metals and some electrolyte. Water can be an electrolyte because water usually have some salts dissolved. In my case water will be in contact with SS rivet+ aluminum panel or aluminum rivet+ aluminum panel. Both this combination will not create galvanic corrosion.This will happen outside of the bus. There is not going to be water Inside the wall (I hope) where aluminum meets steel and zinc frame elements.
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Old 11-04-2014, 03:19 AM   #17
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Re: 98 Bluebird TC2000 Conversion:2 Feet Roof raise 3 Slideo

Here are some tools I used:

1. Mig welder. I have Miller 180 mig. Bought it almost 10 year ago simply love it. Most of my steel welds are done with it. I know some people use gasless mig welders. I personally hate them and wire is much more expensive.


2. Tig welder. This is very new to me. I planned to use aluminum and stainless extensively so I had to buy it. This is AC and DC model 185. You have to have AC to weld aluminum. All aluminum welds are done with it. Also I used it for "brazing" roof slope area (used silicone bronze rod).


3.This is a little tip. I have 2 80 cubic feet gas bottles. One for mig gas the other for argon. It costs about 55 CAD to fill one of them. I found rental bottles for 7 CAD rent a month + 85 CAD to fill. The rental bottle is 4 times bigger.... So for now I have this 2 big boys:


4. Rivet removal. I used air chisel to remove all rivets (few thousand ). I tried few chisels and found out that some have many more BPM but the internal hammer is very light and this chisels just buzz and don't cut anything. I found one that have lower BPM but heavy hammer. This chisel cuts steel rivets in 2-3 seconds.

5. Pop riveter. I use HF air/hydraulic one. It still works great. Pulls 1/4" steel rivets just like nothing.


6. Plasma cutter. A must have tool for project like this size especially when aluminum cutting is involved. I use it to cut everything. Cuts 1/4" steel or aluminum like butter. All 1/8" aluminum panels are cut with it (hundreds of feet). Consumables are cheap and last few days. I simply have no idea how to cut 1/8" aluminum without it.


7. Welding protection. I use 3M respirator and 2097 cartridges. Can't smell a thing (even skunk smell goes away )


8. I use flap discs and a grinder to grind down welds where needed. They work well when brand new but soon work very slow especially on aluminum.


Today I bought this flat sand paper disk and a backing plate at HF. It is just about a $1 a piece. Oh men how much time it saves it is just unbelievable. It takes seconds where I had to grind for minutes.... I was always thinking that they are a joke... I was wrong...
For now I will use them instead of flap disks. I will still use flap disks for fine grinding.


BTW I took picture of this disk after I ground a ton of aluminum. There is no even a sign of wear and no stuck aluminum...

Here is a tip how to get steel/aluminum profiles for cheap. I bought 4 sheets of 1/8" 5'x10' galvanized steel at local metal recycle place. I paid $40 CAD a sheet. I took this sheets to metal fabricator. He sheared them and bent profiles I needed. I paid about $120 CAD for bending. Now I have few miles of angles, channels etc for next to nothing. The same I do with aluminum.... The rear corners were bent for me and I welded them.
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Old 11-04-2014, 06:43 PM   #18
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Re: 98 Bluebird TC2000 Conversion:2 Feet Roof raise 3 Slideo

Hey Vlad --- Looks you have both the tools AND the skills to produce a dream coach. And many thanks for sharing the pix and info.
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Old 11-06-2014, 01:31 AM   #19
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Re: 98 Bluebird TC2000 Conversion:2 Feet Roof raise 3 Slideo

As I said before because of potential galvanic corrosion my plan was to use stainless blind close end pop rivets and solid aluminum. Today after spending few hours searching rivet's specs I decided to make my own experiment.

I took few pieces of 1/8" aluminum, drilled holes and riveted them using solid aluminum rivets and stainless ones I ordered online. I staggered 3 pieces about 1/4", so outside were in the same plane and inside was shifted just like this " |I| " . I pressed them with vi?e to make them look like this: "|||".

Solid aluminum snapped even before all pieces were aligned, almost right away. Stainless didn't snap at all. It deformed itself and all surrounding aluminum and kept holding pieces together. Here are pics. Both after deformation:





First picture shows how much pressure I applied using monster 10" vice.

Also I liked that this rivets have there head like a cup shape where rivet is touching the surface. This can keep some sealant and help to seal this rivet even better:


So, after this experiment I decided to use all stainless closed pop rivets. I know they are expensive but I do everything myself and have nobody around to help me to set solid rivets. My arms are not 5 feet long unfortunately ...

Also it is a good idea to plan things ahead. I know I will need a lot of insulation one day. I kept looking for foam insulation on Craigslist. Today I picked up 43 sheets of 4x8x2" ISO board. The price was 15 CAD a piece wow this was a deal....
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Old 11-06-2014, 01:03 PM   #20
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Re: 98 Bluebird TC2000 Conversion:2 Feet Roof raise 3 Slideo

You have embarked on a great project.

My only concern has to do with weight.

A friend had a front engine Blue Bird All American. I mentioned to him my concern about weight. After taking his bus to the public scales he became concerned as well. He ended up moving the tanks and his gen set because he was starting to get overweight on the steer axle.

On a rear engine bus some of the same concerns would not be as important except for the fact you are adding a lot of weight in the form of slides and basement storage.

The TC2000's used much lighter duty axles than the All Americans. I would hate for you to go to all of the sweat and $$$ on your conversion only to have to find a new front axle to support the added weight.

Good luck and happy trails!
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