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Old 07-18-2014, 08:31 PM   #1
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Roof Raise - Building My Own Flat Roof

Every "roof raise" thread I've seen is lifting the factory round roof, and I'm wondering if there is a reason why OTHER than to save the cost in materials.

I want a flat roof, for the following reasons:
#1) Maximized interior space
#2) I want to be able to sit or stand on my roof. Building a deck takes extra time and materials, so why not make it so the roof just works as is? Maybe add some sand to roof paint so it's non-slip?
#3) Some of my interior design plans (ie: beds) works better with a square roof


I have this envision of raising the roof so the bus is at a maximum height of 13'6" (maybe less if I include the future addition of roof-top AC units), and turning the back door into a ramp.

I just want to know as much information as I can. What are the cons to building a flat roof?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 07-20-2014, 11:01 PM   #2
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Re: Roof Raise - Building My Own

Just wanted to bump this again...
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Old 07-21-2014, 09:17 AM   #3
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Re: Roof Raise - Building My Own

Are you thinking of cutting the curved roof entirely and replacing it with a flat roof? If so, first thought that comes to mind is how much work that would be.. Holy moly.. Secondly, you'll be losing a significant amount of structural strength. The body ribs are all one piece. Cutting them down low and lifting a few inches for a roof raise affects structural integrity moderately. Cutting the arch out entirely will affect structural integrity massively! You might be better off buying a transit style bus if you want a flat ceiling.
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Old 07-21-2014, 01:28 PM   #4
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Re: Roof Raise - Building My Own

Quote:
Originally Posted by jazty
Are you thinking of cutting the curved roof entirely and replacing it with a flat roof?
That is my thoughts, yes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jazty
If so, first thought that comes to mind is how much work that would be.. Holy moly..
I'm not afraid of hard work, and I have a good team of people to help me

Quote:
Originally Posted by jazty
Secondly, you'll be losing a significant amount of structural strength. The body ribs are all one piece. Cutting them down low and lifting a few inches for a roof raise affects structural integrity moderately. Cutting the arch out entirely will affect structural integrity massively! You might be better off buying a transit style bus if you want a flat ceiling.
This is my biggest concern, and where I really want to discuss some things.

My thoughts are this: School buses are built in an "overkill style", designed to withstand a roll-over 1.5 times. That's accomplished by round roof using a single-piece rib up and over the bus. Typical RV's have a flat roof, and as far as I know, they're not built with a single "rib" or "frame" up and over the body, right? Wrong?

Also, if welded correctly, aren't the welds stronger than the two pieces of metal they join?

I guess I'm hoping that if I design the roof/cage correctly, it will certainly be just as strong if not stronger than a traditional RV. I tend to build things "overkill" myself.



I should also note, I'd decided to raise my overall bus height to no more than 12ft total (haven't calculated how much of a roof raise that is, yet, but off the top of my head it will be a two to three foot raise max). I measured my bus the other day, and it's 12ft tall from the ground to the very tips of my CB whips/antennas. That's tall enough! lol...
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Old 07-21-2014, 02:03 PM   #5
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Re: Roof Raise - Building My Own

Quote:
Originally Posted by iverSUN
Typical RV's have a flat roof, and as far as I know, they're not built with a single "rib" or "frame" up and over the body, right? Wrong?
From what I've seen, you're right. I think most RV roofs and walls are built of wood or a composite material with a foam board core. That's why they look like this after a serious accident:


(^ Hey, I think I have those some captains chairs They sure are ugly, but only cost me $20)
http://www.marshlakeyukon.net/FireRe...008RVCrash.htm


http://www.grizzlylaw.com/rv-motorho...sh-worthiness/


http://tucsoncitizen.com/morgue/2008...river-at-i-19/

Quote:
Originally Posted by iverSUN
Also, if welded correctly, aren't the welds stronger than the two pieces of metal they join?
Sort of.. From my understanding, the weld itself can be stronger than the material, but the chances are that the surrounding metal has been partially annealed. An area that has different characteristics than the rest of the subject can fatigue and fail over time. That's the reality of welding. Realistically, though, you can throw thick metal all over and end up with a tough skeleton that won't fatigue in your lifetime. It's not likely to be a problem. As a side note, a 90į corner is inherently weaker than a curve.

Quote:
Originally Posted by iverSUN
I guess I'm hoping that if I design the roof/cage correctly, it will certainly be just as strong if not stronger than a traditional RV. I tend to build things "overkill" myself.
With time and money, anything is possible! If you go this route, be sure to have a well thought out plan to keep it sealed. Water will pool... Be sure to seriously brace the walls before you start cutting, as well. They will flop around out of true. Insurance could be a problem with so much structural work being done. You might want to check into that. Also, lots of pictures of the progress must be posted once you get started!

You know, you may actually be describing converting a school bus to a box truck.. Have you done much to your bus yet? It'd save you considerable time starting with one of these:
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Old 07-23-2014, 05:18 PM   #6
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Re: Roof Raise - Building My Own Flat Roof

Yeah, I kind of want it to look like a box truck lol... but with windows, and with the cab connected to the "cargo" area so it maintains that "RV" feeling.
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Old 07-23-2014, 07:27 PM   #7
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Re: Roof Raise - Building My Own Flat Roof

You would do better to use a box truck as shown and put windows and a pass-through yourself, as it seems to me that removing the roof and putting something else in its place will be much more work than refurbishing a moving van or truck.

I have a friend who turned a truck into a portable observatory for his homebuilt telescope.

Other than the sliding roof, which he said was a pain, he modified the box section with an RV door and a drop staircase like a bus, and he built and mounted storage boxes below it, added some windows and stuff. He said all of the external work was easily done, as the side panels and floor cut easily.

He was looking at doing a bus this way, but said the frame and skin of the bus would have been too much of a pain to deal with, and he hated even thinking of tackling the roof.

And you can get good deals on trucks from the same places as school busses. His is one of those totally efficient Isuzu flatnoses and it gets really decent mileage, even with about 2 tons of telescope (really big-assed scope. really really big assed...) and tons of assorted carp and grabbage thrown in.


As a side note, after watching the watermelon haulers that are skoolie razees (an old nautical term for cut-down) with no roofs, it seems the cut-down hauler body has a lot more sway in it than a regular bus. Though this may be due to crappy maintenance of the haulers.
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Old 07-24-2014, 12:09 AM   #8
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Re: Roof Raise - Building My Own Flat Roof

You might want to look at a stepvan. Flat roof, connected cab... also the roofs on most step vans are metal, not the see through flimsy stuff on box trucks.
You can get ones up to 35 ft long
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Old 07-24-2014, 08:57 AM   #9
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Re: Roof Raise - Building My Own Flat Roof

Quote:
Originally Posted by jmar896
You might want to look at a stepvan. Flat roof, connected cab...
That's a good idea! Hadn't thought of that..

Quote:
Originally Posted by jmar896
also the roofs on most step vans are metal, not the see through flimsy stuff on box trucks.
It's rather easy to find all metal box trucks, as well. Especially the older ones, which would be in a more appealing price range anyhow. Like this one!
http://cgi.ebay.ca/ebaymotors/1986-I...orcev4exp=true
Sheet metal over plywood construction with a full rib structure.. Even comes equipped with a DT466! That is one awesome truck I want it.
Nonetheless, if iverSUN wants a flat roof then a step-van would be a great option.

Ok, sorry iverSUN.. I'm done de-railing your thread for the day..
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Old 07-24-2014, 11:31 AM   #10
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Re: Roof Raise - Building My Own Flat Roof

much easier to start with a vehicle closer to your desired outcome. the cost would be crazy...im sure 2 or 3 times the cost of whatever bus you are looking at.

with enough time and money.....anything can be done.... but the wisdom of it is a whole other topic.
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Old 07-24-2014, 01:09 PM   #11
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Re: Roof Raise - Building My Own Flat Roof

PM Das Mel about her opinion of the Flat Roof on her Class C! She has been fighting a slight sag coupled with a leak. As flat roof eventually sags over time. If you want to walk/sit on your roof, put a deck raised up above the roof. It will give you a bit of shading for the actual roof. I would avoid punching holes (potential leaks) in the roof as well. Make your deck removable so that you can perform maintenance on the roof that it will eventually require. Just my opinion. But I've been up on our roof. My latent fear of the sudden un-intentional contact with the terrain kicks in.
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Old 07-24-2014, 01:42 PM   #12
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Re: Roof Raise - Building My Own Flat Roof

Quote:
Originally Posted by iverSUN
... I have this envision of raising the roof so the bus is at a maximum height of 13'6" (maybe less if I include the future addition of roof-top AC units), and turning the back door into a ramp.
Have you checked out the height a rooftop A/C unit adds to a roof? Usually a fraction under 14" high.

13'6" is the standard minimum for interstate highway clearance. Once you get off the interstates, that can and does change. I have low clearance POI collections for bridges that are 13'2" & below, 12'9"" & below, 12'6" & below, 12'4" & below. So you need to figure where you are going to travel. Don't forget that repaving can and does change the allowed height and it is not necessarily signed correctly. The POI's do not take into account the rural and not so rural roads with low hanging tree limbs and telephone/power lines.

This is the POI collection:
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Old 07-24-2014, 06:13 PM   #13
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Re: Roof Raise - Building My Own Flat Roof

Quote:
Originally Posted by abwetzel63
I have a friend who turned a truck into a portable observatory for his homebuilt telescope.
*Great big shiny eyes*
Please tell me your friend lives in Florida, too. I really want to meet him.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lornaschinske
PM Das Mel about her opinion of the Flat Roof on her Class C! She has been fighting a slight sag coupled with a leak.
I. HATE. My. Roof. HATE IT! Whomever came up with the STUPID idea of SANDWICHING CHIPBOARD between pieces of PLYWOOD for a ROOF out in WEATHER needs to have their KNEECAPS REMOVED. GAH! I've been fighting this leak for A YEAR AND A HALF! NOTHING I do fixes it for longer than the next rainstorm. And guess what? Now it's Monsoon Season.

There are. No words. For the amount. Of loathing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lornaschinske
If you want to walk/sit on your roof, put a deck raised up above the roof. It will give you a bit of shading for the actual roof. I would avoid punching holes (potential leaks) in the roof as well. Make your deck removable so that you can perform maintenance on the roof that it will eventually require. Just my opinion. But I've been up on our roof. My latent fear of the sudden un-intentional contact with the terrain kicks in
^ Something I actually want to do on my Bus, for the shading of the roof and so I can have a higher 'ground for paintball cannons (I'm particularity EVIL when it comes to Trick-or-Treaters without a costume and red kool-aid during water balloon fights). A good way to do it is to essentially make a giant rollcage and attach the cage to the sides of the Bus (or in your case, the Boxvan, since the Boxvan may turn out to be your best bet). That way it's still removable, in sections for easy removal, and if something breaks you can fix it without tearing the whole thing apart.
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Old 07-24-2014, 07:17 PM   #14
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Re: Roof Raise - Building My Own Flat Roof

Mel, yes, he lives in Florida and he works for NASA. Unfortunately, he's about as friendly as a CARB board member on a bad day, trapped in a non-Californian Truck terminal. Yikes. Fully outfitted workshop inside a hanger. Argh!

As to your roof, do you have a secondary vehicle or is your rv your primary vehicle? If it is semipermanent, why not get one of those pole-barn tent kits and roof over your rv? You can get fence poles cut down to size to fit a narrower or shorter shape than the original, which are usually 10' x 20' footprint. Or you can cut down the existing poles. Whole thing can mount to the top of your craft, with no legs on the ground, so to speak.
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Old 07-24-2014, 10:31 PM   #15
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Re: Roof Raise - Building My Own Flat Roof

Quote:
Originally Posted by abwetzel63
Mel, yes, he lives in Florida and he works for NASA. Unfortunately, he's about as friendly as a CARB board member on a bad day, trapped in a non-Californian Truck terminal. Yikes. Fully outfitted workshop inside a hanger. Argh!
Boo to grumpy people.

Quote:
Originally Posted by abwetzel63
As to your roof, do you have a secondary vehicle or is your rv your primary vehicle? If it is semipermanent, why not get one of those pole-barn tent kits and roof over your rv? You can get fence poles cut down to size to fit a narrower or shorter shape than the original, which are usually 10' x 20' footprint. Or you can cut down the existing poles. Whole thing can mount to the top of your craft, with no legs on the ground, so to speak.
I'm in a campground. Can't build a polebarn until I get to FL and buy some land. I'll be selling it next year before we move back East so that I won't have to spend half my savings just to get it moved. So I'll fix the roof and the leak in the propane lines so that it won't blow up the next owner and that's it.
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Old 08-01-2014, 12:38 PM   #16
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Re: Roof Raise - Building My Own Flat Roof

I feel like Step-vans and box trucks don't really work for me.

I like the ~40ft length of the bus, the reliability of a fleet-maintained school bus, and the simple fact that: I've already got it (bought it for $1500 OTD ~7 years ago).

Money spent on a decent step van or box truck, could just be money spent on what I've already got and already know.

Who knows, maybe I'll keep (and raise) the stock roof and just build a deck on top.

Bah! Decisions, decisions...
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Old 08-01-2014, 03:34 PM   #17
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Re: Roof Raise - Building My Own Flat Roof

A roof raise with a deck above it is probably the best thing to do.

The deck would help serve as a heat barrier to the top of the bus, and help keep you much cooler.

And just raising the roof is probably a lot less work than having to fabricate a whole new roof. Of course, if you are ambitious enough... But you got the old roof right there...

Ah, decisions decisions. I am envious due to the fact that I am bus-less.

Good luck and have fun.
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Old 08-31-2014, 10:49 PM   #18
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Re: Roof Raise - Building My Own Flat Roof

We'll look/fix at the propane line when we get over there in Oct if you can last that long. I take it you aren't using the LP.

Make a list of everything we need to check out. Put the furnace on it too as I'm sure it needs to be cleaned out for the upcoming winter.
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Old 09-01-2014, 09:03 PM   #19
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Re: Roof Raise - Building My Own Flat Roof

Crown built such a beast--the only ugly crown I ever saw. Looks like they stuck a crown "cab" on a big box truck. I am sure it makes a wonder interior to work with, but oh man is it an ugly beast. One on CL in Denver right now if you want to see a pic. I am technically challenged when it comes to posting pictures.

Edit to add link (until it gets nuked): http://denver.craigslist.org/rvs/4646621373.html
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Old 09-01-2014, 10:31 PM   #20
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Re: Roof Raise - Building My Own Flat Roof

Function before form. That would be easy to build out thanks to all the square edges. To me it looks no more absurd than the current cut away dog nose school buses. It is certainly a one of (or so) a kind!
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