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Old 03-31-2006, 10:23 AM   #1
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Removing the side rails of a Mini Bus

I am the new proud owner of a 1987 Chevy G30 Mini Bus (350 dually with handicap lift - I just removed) I bought from a college in Georgia. Very low miles, body perfect, engine perfect, great tires, cold front a/c, cold rear a/c, and trans perfect; $1300. Already drove it 9 hours home and no problems at all except it is a gas hoooooog! All I added was a brake light switch $9 and the temp guage doesn't work.

I have just sold an incompleted Datsun V8 Z project (I am oldestzguy on HybridZ.org site) and and beginning this project as it offers more family uses.

I want to make it look like a Hot Rod type woodie. Consequently, I was thinking about taking the horizontal rails off of the side, painting it and then replacing some of that area with wood as in a surfer woody look. What I am worried about is that the rails aren't there just for protection, but rather structure. Have any of you guys removed any of these, and, if so; did it cause any problems. I know you can also paint the sides like woodgrain, but I think that would be a little tricky for me as I am going to do my own painting, etc. and although I can figure out most things logically; I am smart enough to know that there is also some level of talent required and I don't seem to have it.

I am very impressed by this site and everyone's attitude and skills and look forward to reading each post.
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Old 03-31-2006, 10:39 AM   #2
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not sure on the side rails

I can't give you a definitive answer on the side rails but you could always make them look like a wooden trim board for your woody look, not with paint but with a vinyl aplique. They are just printed out from special color printers so you could submit a picture of any kind of wood to the vinyl graphics supplier and they print it for you to your specs. then you just paint the rail a background color that is close to the wood color and glue the big sticker to it. On a seperate note another new member, kdenault, is looking for a bus with a wheelchair lift. you might offer her yours as you aren't going to use it. then she has a wider opportunity to get the bus she wants. just a suggestion.
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Old 03-31-2006, 10:47 AM   #3
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Thanks trentet; that is a fabulous idea mostly because it would save me a loooot of work and money and basically look the same, as well as, I have a customer that has a vinyl graphics shop and I think I could paint just the railings like woodgrain as it would not be that demanding of a job overall. As far as the lady needing the handicap lift; Regretably, I already gave it away to a shop owner friend who removed it for me. He is going to use it as an engine worktable hoist or something.
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Old 03-31-2006, 12:22 PM   #4
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I like the vinyl idea. Those vinyl truck wraps I've seen look fantastic. I would imagine a person would have to take some time to do it right, but the end result would probably be very good.

I wouldn't remove the rails as they are in fact structural. They keep the sheetmetal skin from flopping in the wind and warping. In addition they are important to the actual safety of the vehicle. They are there for side impact and I'm sure they play a roll in preventing column buckling if you were to roll. An idea might be to simply trim over them. I know it's not ideal, but it could work. This is what the builder of our house did, actually. He wanted a vaulted ceiling, but it was necessary to have standard trusses in this section so he simply put them in and trimmed them entirely in stained cedar. It looks good and really makes it feel like you aren't under some big structural thing. He even went so far as to trim out the pattern on the sheetrock walls on either end so it is continuous.
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Old 03-31-2006, 02:56 PM   #5
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Well, I have made a very easy decision already. My customer says that he can furnish me outside custom top-of-the-line vinyl that you could not tell from real wood without an inspection that will not come off or deterioriate for up to five years at a cost of $8 per square foot. He says I can bring in the board prepared the way I want it to look and he can scan it into a repeat pattern of the vinyl. It will be tough and easy to apply as there is no real preparation except to clean the surface a little. He also said that if I wanted to use the side rails as the trim wood (different color wood) he could make that also and that you can use a heat gun to even make it stick to rivet heads, etc. and it will never come off. You can trim it with a razor blade knife after you have installed it and adhered it to the tough corners, etc. and it will look perfect and last forever. The rails will look just like wood that is attached with matching wood dowels because you will be able to se the rivet heads in surface of the vinyl a little. What a great idea. High quality, long life, cheaper, cleaner, easy to replace, ease of application. Lots of choices. I might even use it to cover the inside ceiling where some of the fake stained glass is going to trim out a fake lighted skylight.
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Old 03-31-2006, 03:03 PM   #6
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Take pictures I'd really like to see how it turns out.
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