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Old 04-05-2015, 10:21 AM   #1
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Cutting through side skirts?

Hi,

I am about to start building underbody storage for my bus. I have the general layout (in my head) for how I am going to do it. I have taped out the areas that I need to cut out in order to do it the way I want to:


(Passenger side)


(Driver side)

I am going to move the cabinet that is there already backwards to make room for a larger compartment, that is the smaller rectangle taped in the back.

So basically, at 27" on center, there are the ribs of the bus:



They appear to run all the way around the roof and down to the other side. When I had the bus apart, it looked like they were welded to a substantial piece of steel by the floor that ran the length of the bus, not to mention how many rivets hold them together. Would it be alright to cut the rectangles through these, as long as I riveted or bolted the frames for the underbody storage (making out of angle steel, like a picture frame around the opening) to these supports?

I am not a structural expert but it seems to me like that should be fine as there is a thick piece of steel running along the bottom of the skirt, and as long as I rivet or bolt the frame for the compartment opening on rather well, it should be fine, right?

To anyone whose bus has this storage from the factory, how is it done on that?

Thanks!!
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Old 04-05-2015, 11:08 AM   #2
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I like your plan, I would go for it.

Most factory box's just hang from the skirt skin on the outside, and are bolted to the frame on the inside.

Nat
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Old 04-05-2015, 03:45 PM   #3
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My Bluebird has two basement boxes hung between the frame and skirt. They are riveted to the outer skin and supported by two J bolts hung over the top of the frame at each end. These boxes hang outboard of the fuel tank. I also have a full width basement that is riveted to the outside skin and supported by brackets mounted to the frame. These are factory installed as far as I can tell.
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Old 04-05-2015, 06:54 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by nat_ster View Post
I like your plan, I would go for it.

Most factory box's just hang from the skirt skin on the outside, and are bolted to the frame on the inside.

Nat
I guess if my plan is Nat approved, then it is pretty solid
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Old 04-05-2015, 07:41 PM   #5
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Old 04-05-2015, 08:09 PM   #6
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Most of us don't worry too much about other peoples opinions--until they start asking questions like "What highway will you be on and when will you be there?"
now that right there was funny. i liked it on facebook...............
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Old 04-05-2015, 10:18 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by porkchopsandwiches View Post
I guess if my plan is Nat approved, then it is pretty solid
Thx for the vote of confidence.

What you plan on carrying in the new boxes?

The ribs are there more to stiffen the sides then to carry the weight.

Nat
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Old 04-06-2015, 12:43 PM   #8
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Thanks. I will not be putting too much heavy stuff in it. Water tanks are going elsewhere, I have to figure out a design for them.

I am not sure how to do up the door, which way to hing it, and how to seal it yet but I will figure it out.

Thanks!
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Old 04-06-2015, 03:25 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by porkchopsandwiches View Post
I am not sure how to do up the door, which way to hing it, and how to seal it yet but I will figure it out.
In case you hadn't seen it... There was some conversation on my thread on that topic. You're welcome and encouraged to use any ideas you might find there, as well as to add your own. In a nutshell my current plan is to have a sheet metal shop fabricate doors and Z-profile stock to build jambs, use unpainted aluminum or stainless piano hinge at the top edge, and foam bulb seal all the way around. In the thread I show a drawing of a very short door section that required an absurdly large gap at the bottom in order to swing freely; I've since re-done the drawing and found the required gap to be much smaller for a skirt-sized door. A local shop quoted USD$280 to make five doors about 18x48 inches and 70 feet of the Z-profile from 16 ga mild steel (I'm probably going to change the dimensions, and likely to switch to galvanized). Haven't spent much time thinking about the latch mechanism yet.
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Old 04-06-2015, 03:45 PM   #10
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Nothing below the floor in the skirt is structural. All that steel is put in there, both the rub rail on the outside and the vertical ribs on the inside, are only there to keep the skirt from flopping in the breeze as you are going down the road.

Any or all of that can be cut out if you need to.

I can't remember whose build on here removed everything below the floor line but it might be easier to do that and build a complete new skirt area than to cut holes into and and build boxes around the holes.

Our church is currently looking at adding some skirt mounted luggage compartments onto a Thomas Saf-T-Liner FE.

I don't think we will be going with Thomas luggage compartments due in large part to the cost.

We are looking at purchasing some aluminum tool boxes made by Merritt and adapting them to fit in the skirt area of the bus. Even including the mounting hardware and installation the cost is going to be less than just the boxes from Thomas. Aluminum Tool Boxes

For what it would cost to purchase already built boxes that are ready to bolt into place I think you will find it difficult to purchase the materials and build them yourself for all that much less.
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