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Old 10-31-2013, 05:57 PM   #1
JEL
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Ol' Bessie!

Hey skoolie buds!

First - Thanks! I've been cruising through many of your posts and the experienced advice is very helpful.

The backstory: My name's Jesse. I'm a 25 year old guy, an entrepreneur, and I need a place to live. Here's my critical 5 for where I want to live:

-reasonably low cost (10k or less)
-environmentally minimal impact
-capable of mobility
-all the aspects of a "home" (kitchen, bed, bathroom, shower, garage, desk etc)
-not a cardboard box / does not look like I built it in the dark using only my feet

So, like every other cash strapped semi-recent college grad - I bought a school bus.

Specs on my bus:
- 2002 Thomas
- CAT Turbo diesel
- Allison Transmission (Automatic)
- Length bumper to bumper is 27 feet
- Fully operational handicap lift
- Dana axles front and back
- 180k on the odometer
- Gets about 11 mpg right now
- I'm the 3rd owner. 1st owner was a school district in Richmond, VA, 2nd was a used car dealer nearby Richmond (bus is now near Asheville, NC)

This is my first post here, so I'm trying to think about how organize things logically. I'll get some photos up tomorrow if possible. Many, many questions rolling around, but the biggest is the roof raise. I've tackled quite a few big design challenges but the roof raise is still raising some quesions. Anybody have good advice there?

Cheers,
Jesse
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Old 11-01-2013, 09:34 AM   #2
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Re: Ol' Bessie!

I'm just finishing the roof raise on my bus. check out my post listed below for the high lights. I will answer any questions I can.

Welcome and good luck.
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Old 11-01-2013, 12:09 PM   #3
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Re: Ol' Bessie!

Welcome to the mayhem! --- Having a list is a great start. A roof raise sounds more daunting than it really is. My ex-wife & I did a 19" raise on a 40' BBAA in a week just working evenings (had nothing to do with the divorce, that came much later BTW). Numerous ways to go about it and with a little searching & reading here you'll likely see most of them. One thing that many people don't do but is a must...is to cross brace both the cut free and the remaining structures to keep them stable prior to cutting anything loose. Just tack welding some steel tube in place will do but do it about every 4-6 feet minimum. Otherwise, as soon as you cut a roof section free it (and everything else) will torque out of shape and they will never fit back together again smoothly.

Other considerations include...

1.)...it is best to alternate the location of the cut from window to window. That way you avoid a straight run "weak line". I cut one at the top and the next at the bottom of each window. No big deal.
2.)...reinforce the cuts thoroughly. On mine, I found that 1-1/4" square tube fit perfectly inside the ribs so I fully welded a length that went all the way from below the floor up to the curve in the roofline then added a section of repair rib over the difference to fill the gap. It was very solid and even got the blessings of a Blue Bird engineer (they HATE anybody messing with their designs!).
3.)...if you leave the endcaps intact, the whole rig will be much, much stronger. They provide the majority of the torsional rigidity for the whole rig.

Course, that's just how I did it. I would encourage anyone else here to jump in with ideas/experience.

Best of luck and do post some pix. We just love watching youngsters work.
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Old 11-01-2013, 04:05 PM   #4
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Re: Ol' Bessie!

William - Thanks for dropping in! I spent about 2 hours on your thread last night reading everything you had. Phenomenal work man! I'll definitely stay tuned.

Tango - Very much appreciate the considerations on the roof raise. Cross bracing is not something I considered but will absolutely do that now that you bring it up. I hear you with leaving the end caps. I have a feeling that lifting the whole roof as a "cap" ie blasting out the rivets on the front and end cap will be less work than cutting incisions across the roof just behind the front cap and just in front of the end cap. I know it's going to be some work either way, but does that sound accurate? Like you said I'm thinking either 1" or 1 1/4" steel square bar laid into the C channel of the windows. Then steel sheeting across everything. And come back later to cut holes for RV windows.

Here are some pics of this sweet mama
http://s771.photobucket.com/user/jes...?sort=3&page=1
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Old 11-01-2013, 08:42 PM   #5
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Re: Ol' Bessie!

I hope you mean square tubing and not square bar--I'm sure you do.
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Old 11-01-2013, 10:53 PM   #6
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Re: Ol' Bessie!

What? You guys don't think I should add ~9,000 lbs of high, structural weight? Only kidding. Yep, you're right on - I meant tubing... I just have a tendency to equate "tubing" to "cylindrical" for some reason. Thanks for keeping me in check
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Old 11-02-2013, 01:23 AM   #7
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Re: Ol' Bessie!

Good lookin' rig and a great size --- one option for the rear is to get a "repair rib" and weld it to the very back of the existing cap and skin in the area over it. It provides a smooth roofline plus gives you a substantial area between the inner & outer roof for overhead storage or an A/C. That's where I put the unit for my BB then ran a duct down the middle. Worked great and I never had to worry about tree limbs taking out the A/C.
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Old 11-02-2013, 05:56 AM   #8
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Re: Ol' Bessie!

Welcome,that wasn't parked in the parking lot near AvL was it?

I go asheville once a month, we now have about 6 skoolies "in the area"
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Old 11-02-2013, 11:20 AM   #9
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Re: Ol' Bessie!

Quote:
Originally Posted by bansil
Welcome,that wasn't parked in the parking lot near AvL was it?

I go asheville once a month, we now have about 6 skoolies "in the area"
We'll be heading to Asheville in a few weeks. Skoolie party anyone?

Welcome aboard!
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Old 11-02-2013, 11:44 AM   #10
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Re: Ol' Bessie!

Bansil and Inkblots - Asheville skoolie party for sure! When are you guys thinking about coming through? Give me a shout when you're headed this way. I'm in Fletcher - just 10 miles south of Asheville proper.

Sat in the bus for a long time last night trying to wrap my mind around this roof raise. What I'm thinking at this point is to leave one window on each side behind the drivers seat. Heard a few of y'all raise a great point about intersection visibility. There is also some bracing that looks to protect the drivers cab that stops there - so I want to leave that in tact. Also I just can't see dismantling the entire front door and windshield area with any amount of success. The back on the other hand - I think I can manage. So it would be a bump up (sloped) about 5 feet from the nose of the bus, and then straight back from there.

Goals for today:
-Pull up the rubber flooring
-remove last rear panel
-get up that last $&%*#)@ handicap rail
-Finalize my digital 3d model and get it up here for 2nd opinions
-List the handicap lift, seats, and windows on craigslist (is this a long shot? anybody know some org. who needs / buys these?)

Cowabungaaaaa!
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Old 11-02-2013, 12:32 PM   #11
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what kind of insulation is this?

Decided to pull the insulation too - way easy and it looks to be in fine condition... but what is it?

Now, I know it should be fiberglass... but it doesn't look like the fiberglass I'm used to. It's totally white (not pink or yellowed), and it is not "piecing apart" hardly at all. Here's the link to my photobucket two photos of this insulation:
http://s771.photobucket.com/user/jes...]=1&sort=1&o=0

Am I crazy? Could this be cotton batt? Skeptically hopeful...
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Old 11-03-2013, 04:51 PM   #12
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Re: Ol' Bessie!

Put a match to a tuft of that insulation, If it melts it's probably some kind of plastic. If it burns it could be cotton. If nothing happens it's likely glass.

The stuff in your picture looks like some mattress batting I found a while back. It was some kind of plastic and a bear to cut with a fresh box cutter blade.
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Old 11-03-2013, 07:28 PM   #13
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Re: Ol' Bessie!

Quote:
Originally Posted by roach711
Put a match to a tuft of that insulation, If it melts it's probably some kind of plastic. If it burns it could be cotton. If nothing happens it's likely glass.

The stuff in your picture looks like some mattress batting I found a while back. It was some kind of plastic and a bear to cut with a fresh box cutter blade.
Nice call - Any excuse to light some stuff on fire! So, it did something in between melting and disappearing when I put a flame to it. It just vanishes, but leaves a tiny melt on the side it was closest to. pretty cool actually. It may be plastic or it may also be some sort of cotton fiber doused with a ton of flame retardant. (Took a sample to both Lowes and Camping World and neither had ever seen anything like it or could identify it)

Here's a sketchup of my "final" layout - still open to recommendations!

The idea is that clothing storage will be under that "couch" that's in front of the bed. And then a desk will pull out on sliders from behind where the "back" of the couch is. Kind of weird to describe but I'll shoot a video when it's all said and done to show what I'm talking about.


Got most of the rubber floor out this weekend, pulled all that insulation out, got the small junk out of the way like the medic kits, hand rail, fire extinguisher, and then had a ton of fun with the walls that are under the windows. Not a huge fan of the cut wheel (I know, I know - some of you will hang me out to dry for saying that) so I used metal scissors and got 4 or 5 good cuts right up close to the window. Then I had enough to get my hand on, and was able to "tear" the rest of way parallel to the window. It's really not a big deal... just tearing metal with my bare hands
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Old 11-03-2013, 08:17 PM   #14
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Re: Ol' Bessie!

Got most of the rubber floor out this weekend, pulled all that insulation out, got the small junk out of the way like the medic kits, hand rail, fire extinguisher, and then had a ton of fun with the walls that are under the windows. Not a huge fan of the cut wheel (I know, I know - some of you will hang me out to dry for saying that) so I used metal scissors and got 4 or 5 good cuts right up close to the window. Then I had enough to get my hand on, and was able to "tear" the rest of way parallel to the window. It's really not a big deal... just tearing metal with my bare hands



I'm finding that a big chisel with a 8 pound hammer has been the fastest for me averaging about 3 swings per rivet
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Old 11-04-2013, 12:44 PM   #15
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Re: Ol' Bessie!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tango
Welcome to the mayhem! --- Having a list is a great start. A roof raise sounds more daunting than it really is. My ex-wife & I did a 19" raise on a 40' BBAA in a week just working evenings (had nothing to do with the divorce, that came much later BTW). Numerous ways to go about it and with a little searching & reading here you'll likely see most of them. One thing that many people don't do but is a must...is to cross brace both the cut free and the remaining structures to keep them stable prior to cutting anything loose. Just tack welding some steel tube in place will do but do it about every 4-6 feet minimum. Otherwise, as soon as you cut a roof section free it (and everything else) will torque out of shape and they will never fit back together again smoothly.
I made sure I was on level ground with a level bus and used two plumb bobs to check if my roof torqued. The rear went out 1/4", but when I welded the tubing in, it pulled it back square.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tango
Other considerations include...

1.)...it is best to alternate the location of the cut from window to window. That way you avoid a straight run "weak line". I cut one at the top and the next at the bottom of each window. No big deal.
Since I welded the tubing from top to bottom in the U-chanel, I figure I won't have a weak line. The tubing is stronger than the u-chanel, I welded in the chanel not along where it was cut. Maybe I'm fooling myself, but I made a promise not to roll the bus to test it.
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Old 11-04-2013, 09:34 PM   #16
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Re: Ol' Bessie!

Awww..no roll test!?
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Old 11-05-2013, 02:28 PM   #17
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Re: Ol' Bessie!

Having rolled over a box truck trying to avoid a moron on a phone, you do NOT want to roll a bus!!!!

Sounds like you have a great project and a definite direction you want to go. I'm kind of making it up as I go along because I am currently living in it! so it is a 'fluid' plan, as they say.

I bought my bus back when I was 21. Crazy times! hope your's takes less time than mine to complete, I'm 33 now!
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Old 11-06-2013, 01:05 PM   #18
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Re: Ol' Bessie!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ferroequinologist
Having rolled over a box truck trying to avoid a moron on a phone, you do NOT want to roll a bus!!!!

Sounds like you have a great project and a definite direction you want to go. I'm kind of making it up as I go along because I am currently living in it! so it is a 'fluid' plan, as they say.

I bought my bus back when I was 21. Crazy times! hope your's takes less time than mine to complete, I'm 33 now!
Definitely NOT trying to roll this puppy. To that extent - anyone have any kind of calculation or formula based on weight, height and wheelbase etc? Not critical but would be nice to know.

Also, what kind of sheet metal did y'all use to "skin" the bus after you raised it? Ideas on where to source it?

For the "Roof/Hell Raising Party" I've decided to use 2 forklifts borrowed for the day from neighboring companies. Thinking one on each side, and then tow/rachet straps on the interior from one side to the other as a way to keep the uchannel from warping out of shape too much. Once I get a spec on that metal, it's go time baby!
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Old 11-06-2013, 05:07 PM   #19
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Re: Ol' Bessie!

I used 18 GA that is what my walls are made of, My roof itself is 16 GA. I have seem people use 20 GA also. I got my steel from a local welding company that cut it to size for me.
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