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Old 01-06-2014, 06:48 PM   #1
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Off-grid traveling family dreams

Hi everyone! I have been reading around for quite sometime now and decided to start my own topic. My family and I purchased a 2001 Thomas diesel and have begun the process of conversion. We are about to raise the roof by 2 feet to allow for more headroom to add sleeping lofts. We also plan to add 2 slide outs. We will have 4 children and us (2 adults) in the bus so we need as much floor room as possible. We also want our bus to be fully off the grid, solar panels, composting toilet, generators, etc. Anyone out there put solar panels on the roof of their bus? Any thing we should absolutely never try? Any advice is much appreciated. I am lucky however to have an amazing husband who restores classic cars for a living, so as for as welding and the dirty work goes, we have an advantage. I hope to update this thread as much as possible. We have been creating videos and taking pictures as we have gone through it.
You can see it all on
http://www.lemonheadpress.com
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Old 01-07-2014, 10:02 AM   #2
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Re: Off-grid traveling family dreams

Welcome to the insanity!
If you want solar panels and want them to actually work, you should read this blog thoroughly:

http://handybobsolar.wordpress.com/
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Old 01-07-2014, 10:27 AM   #3
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Re: Off-grid traveling family dreams

Welcome to the maddness.

There are a few of us here with the Thomas rear engine buses. I just took mine to Indiana and found out it handles the snow like an old VW bug. All that weight over the tires, work good.

I did a roof raise too, but only 10". Love my composting toilet. I plan to use solar in the future. WildBlue had a nice post about their solar, but their post's got deleted. But they have a backup on their web site check it out here http://www.wildbluebus.com/2013_01_01_archive.html At the bottom of the page is part 1 and 2 of their solar.
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Old 01-07-2014, 11:59 AM   #4
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Re: Off-grid traveling family dreams

Quote:
Originally Posted by lgonzalez
We also plan to add 2 slide outs. Any thing we should absolutely never try?
I'd think twice about adding slide outs unless there being designed by a professional engineer, IMHP your dealing with some major structural mods especially since your adding a roof raise, I've been working on aircraft 34 yrs ie overhauling , modifying, repairing & I would I'd maybe do one or the other on my own but both, I'd get help with that one
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Old 01-07-2014, 06:38 PM   #5
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Re: Off-grid traveling family dreams

in regards to the slide out comments...what if we plan on doing above floor slide outs and not flush ones? Are your worries based off of uneven weight distribution? We plan on adding levelers for added support.
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Old 01-07-2014, 07:09 PM   #6
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Re: Off-grid traveling family dreams

I seen a bus with a slid out like that in the back for the bedroom. The husband was too tall to fit in the bed. This gave him more leg room. I will see if I can hunt their build down for you.
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Old 01-07-2014, 07:11 PM   #7
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Re: Off-grid traveling family dreams

Quote:
Originally Posted by lgonzalez
in regards to the slide out comments...what if we plan on doing above floor slide outs and not flush ones? Are your worries based off of uneven weight distribution? We plan on adding levelers for added support.
weight distribution, body flexing, you'd hate to be driving down the interstate & the front of your bus is going west while the backend decides to go south
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Old 01-07-2014, 07:15 PM   #8
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Re: Off-grid traveling family dreams

Quote:
Originally Posted by allwthrrider
Quote:
Originally Posted by lgonzalez
in regards to the slide out comments...what if we plan on doing above floor slide outs and not flush ones? Are your worries based off of uneven weight distribution? We plan on adding levelers for added support.
weight distribution, body flexing, you'd hate to be driving down the interstate & the front of your bus is going west while the backend decides to go south
I'm not saying it can't be done or don't do it ,I don't know you or your husbands engineering abilities I'm going off my lifetime of experience just saying a blue print & second set of eyes might be in order, wish you best of luck
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Old 01-07-2014, 11:02 PM   #9
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Re: Off-grid traveling family dreams

While I cannot offer any explicit directives regarding this particular build, I do know for a fact that these units (buses) were engineered around an original set of design criteria that we as "converters" need to consider. In short...be careful what you chop. Modifying any pre-stressed body/chassis unit can easily lead to disaster if not well thought through. Example...I spoke with the engineers at BlueBird before I raised my roof. They said absolutely do NOT go cutting up the end caps or remove rib sections in an unbalanced manner. Otherwise, the whole rig could torque itself out of shape and collapse if put under stress (if you whack into something).

Integrating something like a slideout really requires some serious engineering thought as it dramatically alters the original design concept.

Just repeating what I was told.
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Old 01-07-2014, 11:11 PM   #10
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Re: Off-grid traveling family dreams

Ditto on what Tango said.
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