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Old 08-03-2010, 12:44 PM   #1
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Basic Conversion Structural Question

Judging by many of the projects on the board, one of the first steps of the conversion process is removing the interior skin metal panels.

Does this weaken the structural integrity of the bus?

Is the bus constucted via a stressed skin construction like an airplane?

Are there any work arounds besides replacing the original skin to prevent 'racking.'
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Old 08-03-2010, 04:55 PM   #2
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Re: Basic Conversion Structural Question

Thank you for the response, Leonidas. However, my conversion is slated toward a more full-time capacity in very cold weather circumstances.

I'm not only removing the interior walls, but also the interior ceiling to inspect, clean, and super-insulate.

Many projects chronicled on the board have done so and redesigned the interior skin with other materials.

Has this caused any problems? Was it a concern before you did so and did you just get lucky?
Or, did you calculate that the interior skin made a minor contribution to structural stability?
Or, was neither true and does the bus snake its way down the road at high speeds/winds?

I'd rather not replace it after taking it off and have the extra inches, but I will if it's an issue.
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Old 08-03-2010, 06:11 PM   #3
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Re: Basic Conversion Structural Question

We plan on keeping the interior skin intact. There is already some great insulation in it. The ceiling is still uncoated and it's much cooler in the bus than in the RV (1 1/2 blue foam ceiling with SnowRoof Coating on exterior) and much quieter when it rains. Plus we have looked at the amount of steel rivets that Bluebird used. We have removed steel rivets from the Eagle. It's not an exercise we want to repeat. We will skin over the interior with a layer of foam insulation and glue paneling to that. But we also have a time frame to get the bus finished to move-in shape.
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Old 08-03-2010, 07:34 PM   #4
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Re: Basic Conversion Structural Question

Thanks Smitty. Your plywood looks even sturdier than the factory skin. I wonder whether you completely joined the ribs without gaps or you just hung the plywood off them.

I'm going 4" of insulation on the roof, 3" inches on the sides and 2" inches on the floor. -All rigid polysio and going to tape it off in two layers to overlap, right?

I'm not afraid of cutting off rivits, lornaschinske. It's the reattaching that worries me.
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Old 08-09-2010, 10:01 PM   #5
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Re: Basic Conversion Structural Question

I got another bus yesterday to toy with. If this keeps up, I might have to join a support group.

The floor is totally rotted out and the interior is crap, but the mechanics and exterior are awesome.

My first bus has junk engine/tranny, but a decent floor and body inside and out.

I'm trying to inspect what I need to do to cut and weld to replace the rusted out metal.

Can't swap engines - one bus is diesel and the other's gas.


If you're at all serious about the weather, you gotta insulate and caulk. Otherwise, why not just get a pop-up?
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Old 08-11-2010, 12:41 AM   #6
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Re: Basic Conversion Structural Question

Not sure what the inner skin of the wall is made of in your bus , but in mine they were cheesey aluminum and I was able to pull the rivets right through the sheet. Like peeling an orange it came right off. I also took the metal ceiling panels off, inspected, fixed a leak, put in new insulation and then reinstalled the orginal panels. It was worth doing. It was also extremely dirty behind all those panels and walls. It takes time though. In the long run it may be worth doing and installing new insulation or an least inspecting the insulation if your going to be in very cold climates.
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Old 08-17-2010, 05:23 PM   #7
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Re: Basic Conversion Structural Question

It seems there is two sections to the wall of (at least my) bus. There is a section directly below the windows that is made of "cheesy aluminum."
Then there is a lower section beginning at the bus seat attachment rail going all the way down to the floor. It is much more sturdy and looks to be structural. Sorry for the lack of pictures.
Has anyone removed that as well? How did you do it? It feels like it is welded to the floor.
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Old 08-30-2010, 12:48 AM   #8
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Re: Basic Conversion Structural Question

Yes those panels are welded to the floor and use very heavy rivets. I removed both in my bus and it was difficult. Havent noticed if removing has upset the structure but I feel fine about it. I removed them because I insulated with 2 in. foam board and it would not fit unless I removed them. But if I had to do it again then I would leave them cause its a pain to remove and that lip that the old seats sat on could come in handy when building cabinets etc...
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