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Old 12-26-2006, 12:03 AM   #11
Bus Nut
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OH yeah, I almost forgot you are going to want a good heavyduty 1/2" drill minimum, larger is even better and low rpm is advantagous, loop a piece of light 1/4" chain around the framerail and have a helper use a lever inserted in the loop to apply pressure on the drill while you align and aim it, it's a good team building, communication exercise that will really speed up the process and also save many aching muscles.

good luck
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Old 12-26-2006, 03:17 PM   #12
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After going back and looking at the LATCHO DROM II site how is the rear body attached to the frame? Is it possable to unbolt it from the truck frame, jack it up and drive the bus out from under it? If so yuou could cut the body down to make your flatbed(cut off the top, cut the sides off above the wheel wells, remove the bus and shorten the frame, then trim the rear body so the wheelwells fit over the tires, install it back onto the bus, reattach the tiedowns to frame and then finish the top of the sides somehow. Inside the bed some joist brackets to drop in temporary crossmembers to carry longstuff will make you popular at the supply house/lumber yard, flat surface above the wheelwells and fifth wheel so someone can load you with a forklift or lay sheetgoods flat, good tiedown points would also be a good thing.
It also looks like your truck boxes could be installed ahead of the rear tires and either hung from the body or mounted on some angle iron L brackets bolted to the frame.

Your fifth wheel hitch should be bolted to the truck frame not the body
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Old 12-27-2006, 10:30 AM   #13
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Thanks Paul …
I wish I had the option to just un-bolt the back section and pull it off the frame. That certainly would make my life easier.
But there’s no place here on the island to get rid of the body (as is).
Our dump won’t take it…so I’ll have to whip out my hateful sawzall and cut her up into pieces the dump will take.

Since my little house is the size it is ….I’m not going to move the rear axle forward . I’ll leave it where it is and cut the frame back close to the axle hangers.
For the bed part I’m going for a frame of steel with pressure treated deck lumber for the trucks deck.
I’ve been checking out the MDT & HDT forums and have gotten some really good ideas for building my deck.
Thanks I had planned on hanging my boxes below the rear deck.

All of that has to wait for better weather ,were having some of the worst storms people have ever seen here ….so I decided no more foolish stuff like trying to work outside in bad weather.
What I am working on right now is running around town asking people if I can crawl under their trailers to take pics of their frame.
The steel I needed for the 20 foot main center frame section of our trailer project got delivered last week I’m getting all my numbers right , because I want to have a welder put her together soon.
Bought a good chopsaw and drill press setup so I can do some of steel work myself which should save us some cash here …
Thanks again

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Old 12-27-2006, 08:33 PM   #14
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Some of the commercially built 5th wheel sites have blowups of how their frame/floor systems are laid out, i'm not saying that that is gospel for construction but it's a good place to start.
I'm thinking that I'll recycle a mobile home frame and double up the crossmembers @ 2' max spacing. These frames are unbelievably flexable at the horizontal perimiter without a floor deck, the strength is in the verticle direction, and the diaphram /skin adds the rigidity.
Analogy; an enclosed semi trailer has no frame, it's strength is in the lengthwise rails and connecting diaphrams/skins, a flatbed trailer has a significant frame,with camber, and no sides.
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Old 12-27-2006, 09:14 PM   #15
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Hey, Soused Moose; try cutting up the body with cut-off blades like your chop saw,
rather than the sawsall. Cutoff blades are available for skil saws and angle grinders.
Millicent The Bus - roof raised two feet, toy-hauler tailgate.
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Old 12-28-2006, 07:18 AM   #16
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Thanks Paul , on our website we have links to some info on frame building/design. I’ve been researching this for a lot of years …the best resource I’ve found for seeing how a more conventional 5th wheel frame is put together is Stan Millers site. He took a very good series of pictures of his Automate 5th wheel being built.

Another great Resource on this is Glen-L ….they have very good and very affordable plans for building a travel trailer or 5th wheel.

For awhile ,I thought about just buying a commercial flatbed trailer and building on that…then after a good bit of research , it hit me a School bus which is essentially a MDT truck has its limits to how much weight it can carry or pull.
What I’ve learned in my research on this is its very important to take into account how you’re going to tow your trailer around.
Since a commercial flatbed has its wheels located at the rear of the trailer …much more weight is placed on the hitch then you see with more conventional trailers, but they don’t care about that because they typically haul these trailers around with Heavy-duty trucks..
You can pick up other commercial trailers which have their running gear located in positions that don’t put so much weight on the hitch …but you’re still running into the reality that the frames were designed for a different application …so they’re either over-built or under-built.

The word over-built definitely applies to using a Mobile Homes frame.
A mobile Homes frame is made up of relatively ‘huge’ I-beams and never was designed to travel with. It was meant to be moved from the factory, to a sellers lot …then moved somewhere and set up for a semi-permanent dwelling.
So even if you pull the house off the mobile home and add some extra framing to stiffen it up …you’ll just wind up with a very heavy overbuilt built frame.
I don’t think you’d get very far trying to haul it around with a School bus or MDT truck …you’d need an HDT.

So this is why I’m going the more expensive route of building the frame from scratch . We’ll have a frame designed to be strong enough to carry the house ….but isn’t too heavy or over-built .An over-built frame would cut down on how much weight we could carry.
Will our bus be able to tow the weight our trailer most likely will be … I really don’t know?
It could turn out to be a situation where I’ll have to give the bus away and buy an old Mack logging truck.

………………………………………… ………………………………………… ..
Thanks Eliot ….
I used a cut-off blade in my framing saw to take out the floor section and it worked great.
I am tempted to use that method to take the roof off. That’s the only place where I hate using my sawzall …the sides don’t bug me because you can lean into the saw and don’t have to worry much about kick-backs.
Are you questioning my Aaa-thoritttyy ?
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Old 12-28-2006, 08:58 PM   #17
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Ok...I'm a little lost on what your final plan is here (I'm still lost on the plans for my own bus), but a word of caution just from reading some of the posts. When you get the driveshaft shortened, you're going to have to be exremely careful about the angles from the carrier bearings. The angles are precisely measured for the factory suspension genometry and obviously moving the axle forward is going to mess up the hypotenuese (did I spell that even remotely correctly?) which happens to be the driveshaft length. The end result could be some pretty horrible vibrations, even from a perfectly balanced driveshaft. The solution could be one of three things as far as I see it....

1. Recalculate all carrier bearing angles and adjust as necessary. This is a whole lot of work

2. Run a constant velocity joint off the back end of the last carrier bearing. This is likely expensive, but easy

3. Eliminate the last carrier bearing and run a single piece driveshaft from the next rearmost carrier bearing. You still might have to mess with the carrier bearing angle and driveshaft whip will become an issue unless you use some thick wall tubing, but this is what the guys with lifted trucks tend to use most frequently.
Skooling state at a time...
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Old 12-29-2006, 01:05 PM   #18
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Because I built the house section larger than I originally thought I would … I’m going to leave the rear axle as is.
But thanks anyway … I appreciate the help and info.
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Old 12-29-2006, 08:39 PM   #19
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Driveshafts, U-joints, carrier brgs. -- multipiece driveshafts are used to eliminate long driveshaft sections that torque-up, distort and then start to whip which creates an imbalance condition, the U-joint angle is kept at approximately 1 degree per joint untill you get to the last shaft where their are joints at both ends that are operating at the same angles and therefore canceling the harminics that are created when you exceed 1 degree of angle, also if you do not have some angle in a u-joint it will develope harmonics/vibration. Carrier bearings do just that they carry/support one end of each section of driveshaft until you get to the last piece with 2 U-joints that goes to the axle.
I hope that this helps clarify the previous post on wheelbase/driveline modification.

Soused Moose;
thanks for the websites and reply to my thoughts on frames etc I highly recommend that you get ahold of a steel company's full line catalog and reference book, it will list standard shapes and dimensions of steel along with weight per foot, I'm looking at 10" Ibeams @25.4 and 35 lbs/ft and then their is a 10" junior I beam @ 9 lbs/ft which is a lot stiffer than 1/4 X 6 X 2 @12.2 lbs/ft, upon closer inspection I think that you would find that mobile homes are built on jr I beams and if you set your triaxle suspension between 1/2 and 2/3 back on your frame it will balance well and pull like a dream. The majic formula for a 5th wheeler on a pick-up is 20-25% tongue weight on the truck, your MDT has a rear axle/suspension that is rated at approx 17,000lbs and is going to be real happy with 10k lbs or approximately 1/2 of your gross trailer wt.
Thats another opinion, for whatever it is worth. BTW how did you make out with welding lessons and congratulations on the chopsaw and drillpress.

Happy New Year
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Old 12-30-2006, 05:54 AM   #20
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Of course this is going to take some time , because I don’t have any money to be doing something like this …
Even so ,I figure I’ll mostly have the trailer frame completed by mid-late spring. . I already have all the Dexter axles , springs , hubs ,wheels tires that’s a done deal. …the only thing I need is more steel , which I’ve been getting from Metal supermarkets in Seattle who put this bunch on a barge and shipped it to us. ( we already have the 2-20ft sections of 2x10 in storage)

I’m using ¼ rectangular steel rather that Channel or I-beams , basically because after chatting with Stan Miller, that guy who took those pics of his 5th wheel being built … I figured since Automate is considered a top of the line manufacturer I’d stick with a sure thing.
For the center main frame I’m going for 2x10 main runners, with 2x8, 2x6 & 2x2 cross members …
If everything works out like it should, some time next week the welder will start putting it together, once he welds it up we’ll flip it over weld on the axle/spring hangers …put the running gear on and tow that section to storage.

Then I’ll get the steel for the rear frame section and the front, have him weld those sections up and store them until the weather gets better.

Then we’ll weld them to the main frame …pop on our great Trail pin box and there you go…
Once that’s done I’ll use the Chop-saw ( didn’t get here yet) to cut up the various angle-iron pieces we’ll need to have welded to the frame then call the welder up to install them.

I have emphysema so the welding class didn’t last as long as I would have liked…but I did learn how to use a cutting torch which was very cool and fun.
Are you questioning my Aaa-thoritttyy ?
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