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Old 04-07-2005, 06:44 AM   #1
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Wisconsin
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Interior Panel Removal

I just started work on my Carpenter-bodied bus conversion project. After pulling all the seats out, my first impulse was to deal with it like I would an old home renovation: tear out the interior wall & ceiling board, fir-out the studs, insulate, then install new interior panels.

Then I got to looking at these interior panels. They seem to be made of fairly heavy-gauge metal, and they are attached with the same huge blind-rivets that the exterior skins are attached with. My first thought was “darn, those rivets are going to be a bitch to remove” (anyone have any ideas on that?). Then I started wondering about the structure. It seems to me that these interior skins might be contributing a great-deal to the rigidity of the whole body. Will I be compromising the structure by removing them?

Has anyone here removed the interior panels of their bus (especially the ceiling)?

-A Moose
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Old 04-07-2005, 10:09 AM   #2
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I personaly left panels on the inside and just fired over em sure i lost a few inches but saved a lot of work for the ceiling i got some winabago scrap paneling that had foam and vinl on it i think ive got a pic on my site of ceiling
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Old 04-07-2005, 12:47 PM   #3
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Yes, the interior panels are a pain to remove. I tried a few methods but settled on angle grinder w/grinding wheel, plus time and elbow grease.

My reason for removing the interior panels was this: There's a metal skin on the outside, a metal skin on the inside, and these two skins are connected by metal. This means there is an efficient thermal bridge to bring the outside temps to the inside, regardless of how much & what type of insulation is in the walls.

(I considered keeping the interior panels intact, and just adding insulation. But I'm 6' and can't lose any more interior headroom, plus see below.)

One more advantage to removing the panels & insulation is you get to spot (& fix) any hidden leaks which have been "behind the scenes" for all those years. Same for the floor.

My info is here: We're early in the conversion process, but you can see how we dealt with the interior. Took 2 people (each with angle grinder) approx 3 weekends to remove all of the panels & insulation.

Bus conversion/info here
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Old 04-07-2005, 05:53 PM   #4
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From what I have read the interior metal does provide some structural support. Of course comapred to a stick and staple the bus would still be much stronger with the inside and outside skin tore off. If you plan on rolling you bus keep the interior skin. If you look at an MCI you will see that the interior skin is just plastic and fiberglass. They are not designed to roll over though. I will be stripping the sucker down to the bones because of the previously mentioned insulating issues. I also want to cut down on weight as much as possible.
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Old 04-17-2005, 07:17 AM   #5
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Panels Removed

Thanks for the input, guys. I decided to go ahead and rip the interior panels out of my bus – mainly because it would eat at me not knowing what was under them.

Those huge (1/4”) Carpenter rivets that I was complaining about turned out to be a plus from a removal standpoint. For one thing, there were only about 400 of them holding the interior in.

The best method I found to remove them was a three-step process:
  1. Drive out the hard center pin with a suitable drift (3/16” in my case). I could often knock them out with a single blow if they had no rust (rusty ones went a lot easier if hit with WD-40 ahead of time).[/*:m:82c6f]
  2. Drill out the center of the rivet with a drill sized the same as the rivet diameter (a good bit would cut through the mild-steel rivet body like butter). I tried to stop short of going all the way through – usually the rivet head would start to tremble or spin just before giving way completely, and that would be my cue to stop.[/*:m:82c6f]
  3. Stick a punch into the hollow rivet heads and snap them off (I would put this off until I was ready to remove the whole panel).[/*:m:82c6f]
I think overall this went about as fast as grinding would have, but was a lot more fun. It also preserved the sheets in pristine condition – I could reuse most of the roof panels, for instance – but I think I will find another use for them.

Now that I’ve done it, I think stripping the interior was the right decision: While the walls and roof were insulated with fiberglass bats, it was a rather shoddy job – I think I will be able to double the R-value of the space with better insulation and attention to detail. There were leaks and rusted areas hiding in there that badly needed attention. Also, this bus has one of those Carpenter-built bodies from the Indiana plant – there are a lot of welds that need attention (their reputation hadn’t prepared me for the reality: it looks like the welding was done by school-kids – while the bus was bouncing down an un-paved road).

-A. Moose
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Old 04-17-2005, 09:31 PM   #6
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Do you have any pictures of those welds? It may be of some help to others with Carpenter bodies to see.
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Old 08-28-2006, 12:50 PM   #7
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At first I resisted the idea of having to remove the interior skin due to the apparent work involved.

However, after our first trip and the extreme heat buildup we experienced I think a comprehensive insulation plan is in order. I don't want to loose any headroom or create any condensation issues. Like Bullwinkle, it also bothers me not knowing what's going on behind there. The weight reduction aspect is another excellent benefit.

I now reckon that removing the interior skin is the way to go. I guess I'll have to save the rollovers for my next conversion.
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