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Old 11-17-2016, 01:12 PM   #1
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Material for roof raise!?

Hey everyone,

I'm having the most difficult time finding material to extend the ribs on my bus. It's a 2001 Thomas and the ID of the ribs are 1 1/8" wide which is impossible to find square giving that side. They are also 1 3/4" deep which makes it an odd size obviously. Recreating the ribs seem to be tough to because there are 4 bends and dimensions are tight.

If anyone else has run into this problem and found a solution id love to hear about it!

Thanks!
Cody
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Old 11-17-2016, 03:07 PM   #2
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I checked a few places that I know deal in metal tubing but no one has that size.... I'd be willing to bet it's probably gonna be a special order item (at a premium price, no doubt).

Maybe something you could do by proxy.... get some U channel steel with an inside dimension that will just fit around that tube steel and cut to the height of your window opening after the raise, and weld it in place? Ideally it would need just a tap or two with a hammer, that way it will stay in place while you weld it. May not have the strength that the tubing would have but as long as you keep the shiny side up and the dirty side down it should not be a problem right?

Just a thought.....
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Old 11-17-2016, 03:29 PM   #3
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nat_ster, myself, and I believe a few others here have removed a sample section of the hat channel (ribs) and had a local shop fabricate custom pieces to fit over the factory stuff. I initially balked at the higher cost as compared to using square tube, but I have to admit that the fit is excellent (much better than I could have hoped for with off-the-shelf tube of any size) and in the grand scheme of thousands of dollars of bus conversion cost, I'm glad I ponied up the extra $250. I saved time in assembly and I feel better about the final result.

Just now I remembered one of our members did report a bad experience having channel made. It seems there was a misunderstanding with the metal shop about the dimensions and the pieces were made much too large. I suggest submitting a rough drawing for quote purposes, but deliver an actual sample of your rib material before beginning the job and clearly state that the acceptance criteria is that the custom pieces fit nicely over the sample.
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Old 11-17-2016, 04:50 PM   #4
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Hate to ask the obvious...but...have you checked with Thomas? Some Skoolie makers sell "repair sections" for ribs and others sell full ribs. I know for a fact that Blue Bird only sells full ribs (they are one piece that runs from side to side). You can however buy full ribs and cut out what you need. That's what I did when I raised my BB 19". I then used the arched sections to create the new "outer" roof.
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Old 11-17-2016, 05:40 PM   #5
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I always wondered: how do they ship those big one-piece ribs? LTL freight with that thin little piece stuck on an absurdly big pallet?
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Old 11-17-2016, 06:03 PM   #6
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They probably stack enough to build a complete bus on a pallet and stretch-wrap or otherwise tie them together so they don't separate in transit.

Not sure what they would do if you're only ordering a few...
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Old 11-17-2016, 06:05 PM   #7
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Yep. That's pretty much the picture I recall.

Blue Bird only uses one piece ribs, but from what I understand, many manufacturers use three or more separate segments that are either bolted or welded together. No idea how the Thomas's are built.
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Old 11-17-2016, 06:08 PM   #8
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I'm thinking the same thing. Seems that for just a few, the only economically feasible thing would be to buy them "at retail" from stock on hand at a local Blue Bird dealer/shop who orders in full pallet quantities.
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Old 11-17-2016, 07:21 PM   #9
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But... Is something from the manufacturing company going to be 'exact material' or 'oversized material'?

In my mind for a roof raise... You'd want oversized material. Otherwise, you're going to have butt joints where the ribs are extended.
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Old 11-17-2016, 07:53 PM   #10
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I would go with two custom formed channels.
One would fit over the existing stubs at the lower portion and the raised portion. From inside the bus. And the old and new welded together.
The second formed channel would be sized to slide over the channel legs of the new outer channel from inside the bus.
These two new channels would be lap welded vertically creating a rectangular tube. From below the sill all the way to above the window opening if possible.
This additional thickness between the windows might render the original windows a bit to wide for the finished rough openings however.
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