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Old 10-06-2015, 07:52 PM   #1
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Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: Salt Lake City, Ut
Posts: 82
Year: 98
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Smile Roof raise alternatives

My wife and I recently purchased a 98 Thomas Saf-t-liner from a guy who already started the conversion process. The interior height is 6.5ft, but we would really like to gain some additional inside height. In Texas, the maximum vehicle height is 14ft. We don't plan on driving much.

We are just trying to find a cheaper way to live for a few years so we can save up for a small house, maybe start a family without going into a lot of debt.

I have been reading up about roof raises for several weeks now, and that was our original plan, but then this great bus popped up on craigslist and it was such a good deal, plus a lot of the work was already done, so we snatched it up quick.

The original owner took out the windows, riveted sheet metal in, and insulated the inside quite well, so I no longer want to do a traditional roof raise.

Now I've seen a number of alternatives to a normal roof raise. Some people have welded a mini-bus frame onto the top of their bus, I saw a guy who put a pop-up camper up there, and I have seen a few wooden chimney like additions.

So this got me thinking, what can I do to add additional height and maybe a few windows. My first thought was to weld 3-4 truck caps (also called hard tops, or camper shells) onto the top of the bus. If I found some with well insulated windows, this could add some extra light and make the interior feel more roomy.

Then that got me to thinking, why buy these hard shells, why not make them? I have access to a CNC mill, and I have the original bus windows,

I do a lot of 3D modeling and 3d printing. Perhaps I could design my own additions. Then I thought, why design several small additions, why not one long and wide one?

I have searched on the forums, but I haven't been able to find anyone doing, or even talking about this. If this discussion has already occured, can someone point out the key search phrases? And if not, I would like to start a discussion on additions that could be made to the top of the bus. I would prefer to work with wood since I can have the intricate cuts made on the CNC machine. I might add sheet metal, siding, or plastic to cover the wood for better protection against the elements but that can come later. Right now I would just love to hear any input from the skoolie expects on this site.

I have attached a few rough design ideas below, please let me know what you think.

Notes:
-The drawings are close, but not exactly to scale
-The bus shown in a '91, not a '98, mine looks a little different
-The number and type of windows will likely change
-The wooden braces would as large as possible while still being smaller than 4x8ft (4x8 is easily available and cut-able by the CNC router
-The real bus has 2 long metal ridges going lengthwise down the roof and are not shown in the diagram, but the CNC router can easily cut room for them
-The original bus roof has a number of rounded metal roll over bars all down the roof of the bus. The wooden cross sections would be placed above, and attached to these roll over bars.
-A little over half of the roll over bars would be removed.
-The new upper roof would be covered, sealed, painted, and insulated.
-If I did use the original windows, I would lock them closed for safety and probably insulate them with clear plastic film or double paned glass. Something to keep the hot Texas weather at bay.
-On the rear most wooden brace, I would likely install a window mounted AC unit.
-The lateral bracing, shown in blue, would need to be worked out somehow, again, the CNC router should be able to make something that looks good but still helps distribute forces while driving.
-I will probably build 3 complete sections on the ground, and then assemble them together as one unit after they are hoisted onto the bus.



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Old 10-06-2015, 08:02 PM   #2
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Location: Stony Plain Alberta Canada
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Welcome.

Please don't make a cobbled up mess using truck caps, and other vehicles welded to the top of a bus.

Making messes like that is part of what is causing all the trouble getting converted skoolies insured. They are a motor vehicle accident waiting to happen.

Best would be to just learn to live with the original height of the roof, as many here have.

Also, how can it be insulated well with such a low roof? Good insulation is minimum 2 inches of rigid Styrofoam in the floor, and 2 to3 inches in the ceiling. I have a feeling the bus is not insulated as well as you think.

We all look forward to pictures.

Nat
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Old 10-06-2015, 08:06 PM   #3
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Year: 98
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I am having a hard time attaching photos. They are below the size and pixel limits, but I am still getting an 'Upload of file failed' error.
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Old 10-06-2015, 08:10 PM   #4
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Rated Cap: 72
Don't try to upload them to this site. That is a bad idea.

Use a third party hosting site like Photobucket.

Instructions can be found here.

http://www.skoolie.net/forums/f10/ho...-op-11846.html

Nat
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Old 10-06-2015, 08:19 PM   #5
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rough draft idea 1

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Old 10-06-2015, 08:20 PM   #6
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bus photo 1

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Old 10-06-2015, 08:21 PM   #7
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Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: Salt Lake City, Ut
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Year: 98
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bus photo 2

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Old 10-06-2015, 08:36 PM   #8
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Chassis: TC2000 FE
Engine: 190hp 5.9 Cummins
Rated Cap: 72
Nice looking bus.

The roof support ribs cannot be cut out to open the ceiling up like that. The whole bus will fold and crumple.

Nat
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Old 10-06-2015, 09:58 PM   #9
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Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: Salt Lake City, Ut
Posts: 82
Year: 98
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Chassis: D
Engine: 7.2L turbo Cat C7 3126
Rated Cap: 84
Nat,
Thanks for your quick feedback!
Do you know what percentage of the support ribs can be cut out? I've seen several buses that had one or two removed. I knew that removing most of the support ribs was not feasible, but I was hoping that they functioned more for roll over support perhaps a little less as wall supports.
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Old 10-06-2015, 11:09 PM   #10
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Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Stony Plain Alberta Canada
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Year: 1992
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: TC2000 FE
Engine: 190hp 5.9 Cummins
Rated Cap: 72
I would not remove any of the supports in the roof section.

Cutting out every second wall support is fine, but the roof will sag real bad with even one support removed.

If you were to add headers up top, you might be ok removing two out of every three supports. However, just like in house construction, for every one removed, they must be replaced at the ends of the headers. If you remove one stud, you need to add one on each side. Remove two, add two on each side. In home wall construction, they call them cripples and king studs.

In all honesty, just demo the entire inside of the bus, raise the roof and start over. Trying to do what your thinking is going to end up more work, time, and the end result will not be nearly as strong as a good roof raise.

For reference, I have never seen anyone on this site remove roof supports. We have done it at the bus shop when tearing buses apart for scrap. That's how I know how bad they sag.

What did they skin over the windows with? Tin, wood?

Nat
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