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Old 11-09-2016, 06:54 PM   #1
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Difficulty of bodywork?

Hey Everyone,

I posted a question over in the Classified section regarding a bus that is for sale. It needs some body work and rather than continue to clog that thread I though starting its ow would be a good idea.



How big of a project would it be to R&R the rear cap & roof panel and reconstruct or replace the bent ribs? I have located new part$. They are a bit spendy but I like this bus.
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Old 11-09-2016, 07:35 PM   #2
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It really depends on your skills and tools.
It is very doable. The only factors I see are that you new end cap metal won't be stamped to match what's there as far as the curve around the light but then again it won't have the old light holes to deal with either. The other is bending the new rib metal to match the curve of the roof? To me the easiest way to do that would be to remove the roof panel back to the next rib and use a piece of angle iron to notched in 1/2-1" increments to be able to bend and tack weld it down at whatever starting point and work it (tack weld along the way ) to match the curve, weld the notches which is probably better done while tacked down to the matching rib so that it doesn't twist or bow out of its intended curve..
If you need an idea of the notching thing let me know I can take pics of some things I have done.
Good luck.
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Old 11-09-2016, 08:14 PM   #3
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It really depends on your skills and tools.
It is very doable. The only factors I see are that you new end cap metal won't be stamped to match what's there as far as the curve around the light but then again it won't have the old light holes to deal with either. The other is bending the new rib metal to match the curve of the roof? To me the easiest way to do that would be to remove the roof panel back to the next rib and use a piece of angle iron to notched in 1/2-1" increments to be able to bend and tack weld it down at whatever starting point and work it (tack weld along the way ) to match the curve, weld the notches which is probably better done while tacked down to the matching rib so that it doesn't twist or bow out of its intended curve..
If you need an idea of the notching thing let me know I can take pics of some things I have done.
Good luck.
Thanks!

I have a drill, sawzall, 120v wire feed welder and a BFH....

I can build, plumb & wire a house, build furniture and change my own oil..... I have never attempted any sort of body work.

I get the process you are describing for bending the rib. I have done something similar bending wood. Many saw kerfs to accommodate the bend. bend and attach to the adjacent piece. When all is perfect we fiber-glassed the back side. I think I can manage that.

Is replacing the sheet metal parts pretty much drill the rivets, remove bad stuff, fix ribs and then rivet new parts in place? Or is there likely to be tweaking, fitting and fabricating involved?

Thanks again.

S.
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Old 11-09-2016, 08:31 PM   #4
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Is it a free bus? The bus's are so inexpensive buying a non wrecked one is such a benefit. being you don't do body work means your going to mud the heck out of it to make it look right and then it will rust and crack etc.
If i were doing this i would only do it if i had spare parts bus so it was just go back to where its not damaged and drill rivets. Do you want to be a body shop guy or build a RV? Not impossible to do but really your time is worth a ton and these RV conversions already take a ton of time.
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Old 11-09-2016, 09:16 PM   #5
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Is it a free bus? The bus's are so inexpensive buying a non wrecked one is such a benefit. being you don't do body work means your going to mud the heck out of it to make it look right and then it will rust and crack etc.
If i were doing this i would only do it if i had spare parts bus so it was just go back to where its not damaged and drill rivets. Do you want to be a body shop guy or build a RV? Not impossible to do but really your time is worth a ton and these RV conversions already take a ton of time.
I don't think that I should need to "mud" it? I expect that the new parts from Bluebird should come out of the box in reasonably good condition and it is a school bus not a show car. If I am missing something please straighten me out.

My hope is that it will simply be a matter of removing damaged parts (& lots of rivets), repairing ribs and then installing new parts.

However, as I have never done body work on a bus I fear that I may be oversimplifying it.

The bus is not free but very reasonably priced. I don't see many "cheap" 8.3/5 speed equipped RE busses in really good condition. If you could point me to a source I would appreciate it. I missed one last month that I am kicking myself over. It was only $4k more than this one.
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Old 11-09-2016, 09:17 PM   #6
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Of course there is there is fitting and fabricating involved with metal work and a big hammer helps as needed and the kerf cut width needs to be maintained into your welding machine and your capability. In perspective for what you know as far as bending angle iron for the rib? Imagine a piece of solid oak 1/4 round that has to be notched to fit the bus ceiling with no visible seams when you are done? Maybe wasn't a good example but any extra lap metal would need to be cut out of the way so you have othing but a flat to flat weld so the metal will set/sit flat? Not a fast or easy process but cheaper than trying to or buying an exact replacement? If this is the option you choose let me know?
I haven't ever done specifically that but I do do sheetmetal and steel work for at least 20-years. If the price was right and it was what I wanted it would be mine.
Looks like one of my men hit it with a fork lift? Dang right I ca fix it?
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Old 11-09-2016, 09:44 PM   #7
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Of course there is there is fitting and fabricating involved with metal work and a big hammer helps as needed and the kerf cut width needs to be maintained into your welding machine and your capability. In perspective for what you know as far as bending angle iron for the rib? Imagine a piece of solid oak 1/4 round that has to be notched to fit the bus ceiling with no visible seams when you are done? Maybe wasn't a good example but any extra lap metal would need to be cut out of the way so you have othing but a flat to flat weld so the metal will set/sit flat? Not a fast or easy process but cheaper than trying to or buying an exact replacement? If this is the option you choose let me know?
I haven't ever done specifically that but I do do sheetmetal and steel work for at least 20-years. If the price was right and it was what I wanted it would be mine.
Looks like one of my men hit it with a fork lift? Dang right I ca fix it?
I understood what you said right up to the "big hammer" part. The balance I am not following......
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Old 11-09-2016, 09:49 PM   #8
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The bus is not free but very reasonably priced.
Don't confuse "price" with "current high bid".

What was the price of the new parts?
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Old 11-09-2016, 10:31 PM   #9
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Don't confuse "price" with "current high bid".

What was the price of the new parts?
No confusion here.

Price = What I am willing to pay. If the asking price or auction bid exceeds that then there is no sale.

The price quotes that I have received so far are rear roof cap $845.50, rear roof panel $395.66 , plus shipping. I am going to look into used parts as well to see if that may be a reasonable option.
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Old 11-09-2016, 10:54 PM   #10
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I can see charging a lot for the rear cap. That has a lot of investment in tooling to make that piece.

But damn, 400 bucks for a piece of sheet metal? That seems steep. Even if it's pre-bent to match the cross-section.
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Old 11-09-2016, 11:04 PM   #11
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I can see charging a lot for the rear cap. That has a lot of investment in tooling to make that piece.

But damn, 400 bucks for a piece of sheet metal? That seems steep. Even if it's pre-bent to match the cross-section.
I agree.

Repairing the existing cap is WAY beyond any skills that I have but replacing the roof metal with something from my local metals supplier may be an option.
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Old 11-09-2016, 11:18 PM   #12
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I agree.

Repairing the existing cap is WAY beyond any skills that I have but replacing the roof metal with something from my local metals supplier may be an option.
Remember to pre-heat the sheet metal before drilling the holes and riveting. Otherwise you'll get buckling and permanent creases the first time it's exposed to direct sunlight.
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Old 11-09-2016, 11:36 PM   #13
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Remember to pre-heat the sheet metal before drilling the holes and riveting. Otherwise you'll get buckling and permanent creases the first time it's exposed to direct sunlight.
Uh oh... You caught me in a fib. I was completely forgetting the metal work that I did when we converted my Eagle....

I placed a 3'x36' piece of 14 gauge (?) metal on each side where the windows had been. We lifted it with a forklift, attached the back end with rivets. The we attached a come-along to the front edge and cranked it tight. The we used a "weed burner" torch to heat the whole thing while keeping the tension on the come-along. When we had it as warm as we could get it we put a bead of Sikoflex (sp?) on each rib and riveted the front end down.

Flat, tight and clean. It was a thing of beauty until I had the spray foam insulation done. That is another story....
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Old 11-10-2016, 06:39 AM   #14
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There really isn't any need for heating the metal unless you like working in the heat. To each their own.
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Old 11-10-2016, 09:11 AM   #15
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Surely there are wrecking yards out there that might have the sections you want to replace.
Most collisions are to the front, sides and rear but not up high like that.
So that area should not be as high priced as those other areas.

http://www.skoolie.net/forums/f13/li...rds-270-3.html
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Old 11-10-2016, 11:00 AM   #16
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There really isn't any need for heating the metal unless you like working in the heat. To each their own.
When I converted my Eagle I looked at work that others had done and copied the method that yielded the results that I wanted.

The folks that did not use heat all experienced "oil canning" to some extent. The gent that shared the method that I wound up using had a beautifully smooth skin. He was a retired mechanical engineer and a pretty sharp guy. BTW: Some of you here probably knew his bus called: Enterprise.

I doubt that using heat on smaller pieces would have any benefit but my observations tell me that using heat on pieces as big as what we used on that project definitely has merit.
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Old 11-10-2016, 11:01 AM   #17
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Surely there are wrecking yards out there that might have the sections you want to replace.
Most collisions are to the front, sides and rear but not up high like that.
So that area should not be as high priced as those other areas.

http://www.skoolie.net/forums/f13/li...rds-270-3.html
Used part shopping is on my to do list today
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Old 11-10-2016, 12:42 PM   #18
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I placed a 3'x36' piece of 14 gauge (?) metal on each side where the windows had been. We lifted it with a forklift, attached the back end with rivets. The we attached a come-along to the front edge and cranked it tight. The we used a "weed burner" torch to heat the whole thing while keeping the tension on the come-along.
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The folks that did not use heat all experienced "oil canning" to some extent. The gent that shared the method that I wound up using had a beautifully smooth skin.
I'm by no means a mechanical engineer.. but if I'm doing the math right... the 10 foot panels I plan to use on my bus should have a change in length of 0.0965 inches over a temperature swing of 0 to 120 F (both are realistic, at least for surface temperature in the sun, in my climate). That means the skin over the whole 40 ft bus should change by nearly half an inch?? Obviously that length has to be taken up somewhere. And I won't be assembling it at zero degrees, I hope, so really it's more an issue of growing or shrinking 3/16 of an inch from its 60 F size. Of course with smaller pieces there are more joints which help absorb the expansion.

I wonder how much elongation the come-along really contributes. I'll have go to learn how to calculate that. Thanks for sharing the technique.

Regarding that bus.. it might be reasonable to get a piece of steel locally for the roof section. The Blue Bird piece will probably have a slight bend at the leading edge, but you could replicate that manually or have a local shop bend it. For the rear cap, definitely make the decision based on the worst-case which is that you have to order the part from Blue Bird. But it might be a good excuse also to buy a bean bag, hammers, and dolly (or a few) and try banging on it for an hour or two just to see how much progress can be had repairing the old part. Depends on whether it's the right time for learning a new technique, or a "get this over with quickly and move on" affair.
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Old 11-10-2016, 01:11 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by PNW_Steve View Post
When I converted my Eagle I looked at work that others had done and copied the method that yielded the results that I wanted.

The folks that did not use heat all experienced "oil canning" to some extent. The gent that shared the method that I wound up using had a beautifully smooth skin. He was a retired mechanical engineer and a pretty sharp guy. BTW: Some of you here probably knew his bus called: Enterprise.

I doubt that using heat on smaller pieces would have any benefit but my observations tell me that using heat on pieces as big as what we used on that project definitely has merit.
That heating the metal stuff is just an old "wives tale", man. Sorta urban legend- Like getting better mpg's with magnets.
Guess we'll just have to disagree.
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Old 11-10-2016, 03:11 PM   #20
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Hmmm...I guess all the sheet metal professionals I've worked with must have been "Old Wives".
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