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Old 04-20-2015, 11:21 AM   #91
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Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Salt Lake City Utah
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Year: 2000
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OK... So Nat, I think you're saying don't take it out for a drive because the weight of the roof standing up on stilts, without the diaphragm of wall skin attached to create a shear plane, may/will cause the ribs to twist, buckle, break their rivets, etc. Did I get it right? I agree! At present I'm only pushing it in and out of the garage as needed for access to the rear end.

Tango, let me see if I'm applying your suggestion to my circumstance the way you meant it. My plan is to disconnect the ribs at the floor by drilling out the four rivets that hold the end of each rib to the chair rail. Only the front-most rib (behind the front door and driver seat) will be cut; the others will simply be extended on the bottom. I think you're saying that the roof sheets may have some spring in them which could cause the ribs to splay outward when those rivets to the chair rail are cut. I guess a 2x4 trimmed to fit across the span of each rib, maybe fastened at each end with two 2" screws, would be sufficient restraint. I guess this strategy (disconnecting at the bottom) side steps the "both sides of the cut line" part of your comment?

The cross member braces and longitudinal support comments have me confused. Maybe it's because the picture of this raise in my head is different than what you're picturing. I plan to remove the rear wall (a giant fiberglass piece) and the cap that covers the driver area up front, and everything else above the floor line goes upward with the raise. Only the front wall with the windshield glass will stay where it is. Each of the windows openings is framed with a piece of sheet metal, maybe a 3" wide band all the way around each window. There is also a piece of C channel bolted between the ribs below each window. Hopefully that will be sufficient to keep the ribs all parallel and pointing straight downward. Those window frames will stay only until the raise is done and I'm ready to start attaching new skin; I haven't decided the fate of all the C channels yet. Does that address what you were thinking about with the cross member suggestion? I'll just have to wait for you to explain the longitudinal part more.
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Old 04-20-2015, 05:41 PM   #92
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Sounds like you are taking a very different approach. Most folks cut through the ribs at or around the windows and only jack up the "roof" section. If I am understanding your plan, you are basically disconnecting and lifting most of the the body and sides, then adding rib material & siding back at the bottom...right?

Either way, when freed, the ribs typically spring in or out and can move a surprising amount depending on what kind of tension they are experiencing.

Picture a complete circle, a ring of metal. Unless it is cast metal, when cut in two it typically springs out and wants to flatten itself a bit. That is the main force on the ribs I am referring to bracing against. They can also torque or twist the body overall as well.

Am I making any sense?

PS...do this work on the most level spot you can find. And once you start cutting...do not move the unit anywhere until you can get it back together. Stuff moves.
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Old 04-20-2015, 05:51 PM   #93
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Yeah, always the one to do it differently "just because." I figured that since I'm entirely re-skinning the sides anyway, I may as well extend at the bottom of the wall so the ribs have just one splice instead of two. When cut in the middle the "repair" section must overlap both the top and the bottom, but when extended at the end, there's only one overlap. Also, because this large-window transit body has alternating ribs cut off at roof level with a C-channel header above each window to carry the roof load -- I'll install a new full-height rib in those places where windows are deleted so the new skin has something to keep it from flapping in the wind.

The part about the ribs spreading outward (inward??) makes sense -- the sheet wrapped over the roof probably hasn't been bent to its yield point, at least not fully, and would want to spring to a more flat position. I had kind of discounted how severe the effect might really be, but a dozen 2x4s as spreaders for each rib are cheap insurance.
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Old 04-20-2015, 06:06 PM   #94
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Cool.

After doing my raise, I decided my next raise would be from the floor up.
Your doing what I was thinking.

Nat
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Old 04-26-2015, 10:13 PM   #95
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Here are a few detail shots of the fiberglass cap from the front of the bus. Sorry it's so dirty -- we had mud rain a few weeks ago and I haven't washed it, so things look weird with the dirt tracks running down. Big picture view:

Looking straight up from below the right corner:

Looking up at the place where the left and right windshield panes intersect with the cap:

The roof is going up 16-18 inches and I still don't know what I'll do to re-cover this section. Suppose for now that the windshield will stay as-is, and the destination sign will probably stay where it is (more about that later ;)). I guess I'm thinking of something kind of rounded sweeping up to the roof level. Suggestions how to construct that would be fantastic. Generally I've identified 1- modify and extend the existing fiberglass, 2- build all-new from fiberglass, 3- all-new from sheet metal. I don't have any experience with fiberglass, nor with sheet metal formed in any way except flat sides and sharp corners. It'll be a learning experience.
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Old 04-27-2015, 08:39 AM   #96
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With the roof raised, the likelihood of encountering tree limbs and such goes up. With that in mind, personally, I would replace the fiberglass cap with steel. Doesn't take much at all to poke a hole in 'glass.
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Old 04-27-2015, 08:23 PM   #97
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It depends how many layers you have. The landing gear bulkheads in the Cozy MKIV are made of 25 layers of fiberglass all in one layup - they can take the shock of 2000lbs of (loaded) plane hitting the ground at 10G on a bad landing without breaking. There are steel inserts but only because there's a slight elastic effect in the epoxy and you want to put the bolts (studs, really) that hold the gear on "in shear". The gear struts themselves are solid fiberglass and are basically indestructible.

I don't disagree about the risk but PERSONALLY I don't believe this is any worse than for a roof-top air conditioner. Mine has a flimsy plastic shell on it and I've never had a problem with it. If you belly under a low bridge, it doesn't matter what the top is made of - it'll still get ripped off. But a properly made fiberglass setup can take anything you throw at it.

The key is "properly made". You wouldn't expect 22ga steel to take a tree strike - you shouldn't expect the same from 1 ply of BID. You need a thickness appropriate to the task

It's a little hard to tell from your pictures exactly what you want to achieve. But my go-to plan would be to use 3/8" or so foam as a substrate and 2 plies of BID on top of that. I really want to get myself to a point where I'm working on my own (or even HAVING my own) project so I can make a series of videos on this. All the ones I seem to find on YouTube look NOTHING like what I do. I'll paraphrase here just to cover the basics - if this scares you off, stop now. If not, score!

1. Cut pieces of 3/8" or so PVC foam sheet to fit the area you want to fill. Attach it any way you like - I like to use hot-melt. You can get around curves the same way you would with wood - score it, cut it narrower, etc. You can sand it to get a radiused edge. Get the shape where you want it. If you want CRAZY profiles you can use urethane instead of PVC which sands even easier than limestone - you can literally shape it with VERY light passes of 150-grit. This is how I make ducts.

2. Mix epoxy (cheap $30 West 105 with the pump-style pre-calculated dispensers is probably fine) on a warm day to make a half-cupful in a wide mixing cup. Add microballoons ($10) until it's thick - about cold honey consistency. Use a plastic or rubber spatula to spread this on the foam and force it into all the foam holes. Scrape the surface so there isn't any excess - you're just filling the holes here.

3. Put two layers of BID cloth at 45-degree angles on the foam. The micro will help hold the first layer there if it's a vertical surface (hold off on the second layer in this case). Leave excess overhanging the edges - don't trim it now.

4. Mix a fresh batch of epoxy. With a paintbrush, apply it THINLY to the surface to "wet out" the cloth - the cloth fibers will seem to disappear. Work out the air bubbles. A squeegee also helps but be careful not to drag it and disrupt the fibers.

5. Add as many layers of cloth and fiberglass as you want. Two is plenty. Four is overkill but will totally take a strike from an average tree limb. Not that it matters - fiberglass is super easy to repair even in the field with stuff you can store in a small bag.

6. If you want a glass-smooth finish you can apply plastic (3mil works best) to the surface and squeegee again. Leave this on until it cures.

7. If you want to do the back, hit that next. By now this will be rigid so you can pop it off if you hot-melted it on, do the back, then re-attach permanently with a thin strip of BID (4" wide usually) that spans the old-to-new pieces.

8. Peel the plastic if you used it, sand lightly, and apply a surface coat of micro. When that cures, sand to a smooth finish and paint. Alternatively, you can use bondo. Somebody posted that this doesn't mix with normal epoxy coatings - I can assure you that it does, but it sucks so I don't recommend it. (It's heavy as hell compared to micro.)

I will definitely post a video of this as soon as I can. It sounds WAY harder than it actually is. The first layup or two is scary. After that you're like "f-steel, I'm doing it THIS way". The main drawback is cost. For skinning things or making ducts, I think it's about equal and takes less special equipment to do (no welding tools or skill required). But for structural components it costs more to do it right than just buying some C-channel. That's why you don't see many landscape trailers made from it. You could totally DO it, and it would be half the weight - and even the same strength. But AT that same strength it would cost twice as much.
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Old 04-28-2015, 10:14 PM   #98
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Thanks Tango and taskswap for the input. I confess I've spent more time than I should watching Ron Covell teasers and lazzemetalshaping how-to demonstrations on Youtube. It's almost magical to watch them take a perfectly flat sheet and make the most amazing things from it with caveman-simple tools. In my mind's eye I can totally see how a new metal front cap would come together beautifully..... but only after nearly $500 even for a "cheap" Harbor Freight english wheel, plus a shrinker, and there's no way as a novice I'd produce anything even remotely smooth and graceful as what's in my imagination. The fiberglass doesn't sound so bad after all..
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Old 04-28-2015, 10:26 PM   #99
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I'm going to allow my inner geek to shine brightly for a moment. I've always thought it would be fun to retain the original Luminator flip-dot destination sign on this bus, and as things have become more serious with the roof raise I realized I'd better figure out real soon whether I can customize that thing or not. So I hauled it into my office about a week ago..

and got to work reverse engineering it. For a long time I'd been thinking the most obvious thing was to re-program the controller piece and put my new messages in there. That's how it is designed to work after all, and of course we always use things as designed right? Finally I realized it was really kind of a dumb way to approach it because I don't want that controller anyway. So I broke out the ohm meter and oscilloscope to have a closer look at the connection between the controller and the sign unit.

This afternoon I suddenly realized that it would be kind of fun if I could have the sign hacked in time for my Cub Scout pack's pinewood derby that would be held later in the evening. That was just the motivation I needed, apparently, and I spent the rest of the afternoon working on it. Now I'll spend the rest of the week paying for it making up time.. but that was the most fun afternoon I've had at work in a while.

I'll put more detail on another thread so the long story stays short here. This picture says it all.

In the past I have photoshopped the sign in photos of my bus once or maybe twice. But no longer! I now have a program that can take a .BMP image file and write it out to the flip-dot sign. WOO-HOO!
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Old 04-28-2015, 10:34 PM   #100
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Cool as hell man.

Here is a better explanation of my roof raise using scaffold. A fellow member PM'd me prompting me to wright this up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Intalleyvision
So I'm convinced to use your method to raise the roof. Could you tell me exactly what you used? It seems like you attached the top of the scaffolding to the roof somehow? Is that correct? And then you just jacked up the scaffolding and therefore the roof?

Michael
Yes, I attached the tops of the scaffold frames to the ceiling in the bus. I also added a brace from the bottom of each scaffold frame, back to the ceiling, one 2x4 on each side.

To attach scaffold to ceiling, I first screwed a 8 foot 2x4 flat on the ceiling, spanning 3 ribs. Screws were number 14 3/8th bolt head screws, 2 inches long. I used two screws into each of the 3 ribs the 2x4 spanned.

The top peg of the scaffold would but up to the 2x4 on the ceiling. Under pressure, the top peg will dig into the 2x4 some. This is normal, and will keep the ped from moving.

Now the braces.
Scaffold uses metal braces that attach to pins that stick out from the scaffold frame. There are four half inch pins per scaffold frame. The bottom two pins are the two we are going to use.

Now drill a hole with a 1/2 inch wood drill bit, about 4 inches from the end of a 8 foot 2x4. That hole is what the 1/2 inch pin slides into.

Now swing the other end up to the ceiling, along side of the 2x4 that is screwed to the ceiling. Use some 3 inch deck screws, and screw into the side of the ceiling 2x4.

This creates the triangulation needed to keep the roof from moving front to rear.

The width of the scaffold frames keep the roof from moving side to side. Just be sure to lift both sides evenly.

When screwing up the jacks, I lifted the front 2 inches, then moved to the back. I kept repeating this till I was up 23 inches.

If you use 4 frames vs 2, you can use the metal scaffold braces, and no 2x4 triangulation brace is needed.

Nat
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