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Old 08-29-2015, 02:40 AM   #81
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Oh. Dear.

You're in a Serious Pickle. Stepped in Deep Do-Do.

If I understand it right, there's little more than gravity holding your bus together at the moment. Well, that and the exterior skin sheet metal. Here are a few more pictures from mine to help check whether I'm understanding the situation correctly. The first shows how the rivets attach the roof bows aka hat channel aka ribs to the chair rail. Those rivets are the main thing holding the roof-and-wall piece to the floor-and-frame piece. In my Blue Bird there are four solid rivets holding the end of every rib to the chair rail. A few, like the one here, are places where one section of chair rail and another overlap. These had six blind rivets in addition to the four solid rivets. Only three dashed lines are shown because the top-most solid rivet spot got cut out of the picture.


And a view from the inside. Again, this view is possible because I've removed the sheet metal from both sides of the wall, cut out all the rivets, and jacked what's left of the wall and roof upward 16" so the bottom tails of each rib are now visible above the chair rail. I had a sheet metal shop make me some hat channel that fits just right over this existing stuff to extend it.


So, first things first: there's really very little holding your bus together right now. It'll be a Good Idea to not move it at all, and maybe also to make a deal with the local weatherman to not call for any strong winds. Next, you'll have to figure out how to replace all those fasteners. The solid rivets may have been originally installed with a tool like this (in other words, this is the rivet gun, a sample rivet, and the "bucking bar" I bought for installing new rivets for my roof raise):



Solid rivets are probably not looking like a good option to you right now, though, because bucking (smashing) them requires access to both sides. You probably didn't have in mind to strip off the exterior metal like I have done to mine...

IMHO blind ("pop") rivets are probably not a good idea because in general (again, in my opinion) they're not as suited for structural work as solid rivets are. Though one of the rivet vendors I talked to (probably rivetsinstock.com, though hansonrivet.com is where I ultimately bought my gun and rivets) offered something that was a blind rivet but supposed to be as good as a solid rivet. I thought it was expensive: 50 cents each as I recall..

nat_ster on his Four Season Prime build has used short bolts, 1/4"-20 by 1/4 or 1/2 inch length I think, for fastening new sheet metal to the ribs on his bus. If you have access to an impact gun, you might be able to do this. Drill an access hole through the hat channel above the chair rail, fish a piece of wire or string as a leader into the access hole and out the hole where the bolt needs to go. Use it to feed a bolt, thread end first, into the access hole, down the channel, and out through the rivet hole. Carefully get a nut started on the bolt, then zip it tight with an impact wrench. This is a fun trick for bolting things when you don't have access to hold a wrench on one end of the bolt. If you have access to a MIG welder, you could weld a little bit of MIG wire to the end of the bolt and use that as the leader to fish it down the wall. Or maybe something thin tied around the bolt threads, like dental floss, fishing line, or sewing thread.

As to the chair rail ledge that probably was the start of all this.. I guess you could cut it away.. I wouldn't, though. I think it adds rigidity to prevent the walls wobbling inward and outward. In my bus I plan to insulate deeply enough that this ledge will be buried inside the wall.
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Old 08-29-2015, 06:47 AM   #82
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I'm just cutting a small recess in whatever I'm mounting against the walls for the chair rail. I think you'll find that this will take a bunch of time. I guess another option is to use your angle grinder and cut off the rail (the protruding lip that the seats mount to)?
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Old 08-29-2015, 07:36 AM   #83
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Thanks for information. The chair rail is still in a few spots sturdily attached along the inside of the bus due to some of the areas of the vertical steel skeleton it's welded to. I also didn't remove any of the interior roof panelling, only the inner skin above the chair rail and below the windows. We removed all of the rivets from the chair rail though along both sides of the interior.
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Old 08-29-2015, 07:49 AM   #84
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PowerDaniels View Post
Thanks for information. The chair rail is still in a few spots sturdily attached along the inside of the bus due to some of the areas of the vertical steel skeleton it's welded to. I also didn't remove any of the interior roof panelling, only the inner skin above the chair rail and below the windows. We removed all of the rivets from the chair rail though along both sides of the interior.
The roof paneling is safe to remove.
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Old 08-29-2015, 06:48 PM   #85
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Thanks for the pics, family wagon. While the chair rail's lip was a big reason we began removing the rivets, it's also because the metal is corroded in a lot of spots. Here's a picture of the back right corner of our bus, where you can see along the bottom that it's rusted badly, and that's ignoring the fact that part of the skeletal frame in the corner (not part of the chair rail, is completely gone in one spot)


Then here's a picture of just what we basically did at every rivet spot along the bottom.


even where the wheel wells are…


What are my options now besides what family wagon mentioned?

I'm not going to remove the exterior, so obviously I don't have access to use rivets with a bucking bar behind it and I'm probably not savvy or skilled enough to do the other method he was trying to explain to me… I'm kind of scared we really messed this up… but I'd like to try to start fixing this tomorrow (sunday).
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Old 08-29-2015, 09:32 PM   #86
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In the places badly rusted, I would have a piece of 14ga sheet steel bent into a 90 degree. I would go 6 inches to a foot back from the bend. So your basically making 14ga angle iron 6 inches to a foot wide.

Remove the chair rail in the places that are badly rusted. Grind the floor down smooth.

Fix the rust behind, and top coat it. After installing the angle we just made, you won't be able to get to the rust to fix later.

Now install the angle along the floor to wall seam. Make sure it fits well, and use a few self tapping #14 metal screws to temporarily hold it into place.

Now, you need outside access to fix this. No way around it.

You can remove the outer panels. This I think you should and need to due to the amount of rust.

Or

You can drill holes in the outer skin to allow you to get to the backside of the ribs.

1/4 bolts will work fine in place of rivets. However, You must be able to get to the back side to fix this.

Nat
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Old 08-29-2015, 09:42 PM   #87
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Wowzer! That's nasty! --- And I'm with Nat...new metal is definitely in order.
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Old 08-30-2015, 05:18 PM   #88
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Eeew. That's some serious yuck, and it's entirely understandable why you'd want to remove and repair that! Sorry if I was overly dramatic or dire in my post the other day; it was late and perhaps I overdid it. It's kind of a serious situation, but not the end of the world. It'll take some work but can be fixed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nat_ster View Post
Now, you need outside access to fix this. No way around it.

You can remove the outer panels. This I think you should and need to due to the amount of rust.

Or

You can drill holes in the outer skin to allow you to get to the backside of the ribs.

1/4 bolts will work fine in place of rivets. However, You must be able to get to the back side to fix this.
I didn't quite follow, Nat.. are you saying outside/back side access is needed only for fixing the rusty places, or also for new fasteners in the other places?

If the ribs are packed with fiberglass insulation inside like those on my bus are then this scheme for fishing bolts into place might be impossible. Even if the ribs are open inside it'd still be a chore to fish bolts into place without opening the outside.. but I think it could be done. I'm attaching a sketch that might help explain it. I used a 1/4"-20 by 1/2" hex cap bolt as a prop, but it would probably take a 5/8" hole to pass that bolt's head through. A button head socket cap screw would have a smaller head diameter. They're not so universally available as the hex cap style, but maybe worth hunting after because of the smaller access hole requirement.


Drilling an access through the exterior skin as Nat suggested might not be so bad.. Just need to figure out a clever way of incorporating the hole patches into a design of some kind. Maybe some of them would covered by the rub rails, even (but then you're looking at another boatload of rivets to remove and re-install, but these at least could be the blind "pop" type that don't need access to both sides).
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Old 08-30-2015, 06:53 PM   #89
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I was having a bit of trouble following Nat's explanation too, wasn't sure if he jumped from one area of explanation to another… Regardless, I am BEYOND grateful for all of this information from you guys and everyone who has provided information and suggestions.

Thank you guys so much!

I didn't get around to trying to figure all of this out yet today, and family wagon, I might have to go with your method, but I'm still very open to all ideas people can come up with to fix this.

I don't want to remove rub rails and exterior metal. Most of the body is in great condition, there's just the ugly parts like that back corner that need major work.

I also don't know what I should do about the wheel well area, since the threading option doesn't work with those rivets.
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Old 08-30-2015, 07:01 PM   #90
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Call the people at Hanson Rivet and rivetsinstock.com and tell 'em the situation. You've got some 1/4" diameter solid steel rivets removed in error and need to replace them, but it's blind access only now because the back side is covered up. They may have something interesting to offer.
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