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Old 07-16-2009, 02:03 PM   #1
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Roof raise or floor drop...

OK...an idea that I'm kicking around...when I finally get all the money together having just spent my entire bus fund on getting married instead (congratulations or perhaps condolences may be in order, yes)...anyway...

There are sister buses here in town...one has a title, one doesn't. The current owner just wants the motor and tranny out of the bus without the title. He has made me an offer I can't refuse. Buy one get one (basically) free! What would I do with the second bus without a motor or tranny? Use it for a horse (trailer), of course! I'd need to use it for storage for awhile (a la baaadpuppy's Stowaway) first, but then...

The height of the bus with the current axle would make it very prohibitive for a horse trailer. What I would want to do is remove the stock axle and replace it with two 7k or 8k axles riding on 17" tires (probably). I haven't measured to see how much this would drop the entire vehicle, but my guess it would look like a low rider! That is basically my floor drop idea. I think the floor of a skoolie would be perfect for a horse trailer (it's the same basic concept as in my other horse trailer). So my next thought would be to then raise the entire sides so that the door at the front (or perhaps skirting) would be level with the floor of the bus, then fill in the bottom with new sheet metal. This would move what currently is skirting on the bus to above the floor (or at floor level). That would amount to basically a 1.5 foot roof raise, I think. This would take care of the low rider effect/ground clearance issues that I think I'd have by just putting different axles below. This would give about a 7.5' center height in the "trailer." I'm just kind of guessing on that number. I'd cut the back door to make it horse accessible and whatnot. I would add a gooseneck hitch to the frame where the dognose/engine compartment was cut off.

In my mind, this gives an insulated, horse safe trailer with a lot of room. I might remove some of the windows, but they are all safety glass and in good shape. A trailer this size non-insulated would run well over $20,000. I would have a place for all my saddles (and kids) at the front to sleep for overnight camping trips. Of course by the time I would get this done, the three oldest will have graduated from high school I'll bet!

Another way to imagine this would be to leave the ride height of the body where it is, then drop the floor to the bottom of the door, or at least to the bottom of the skirting.

Any ideas or thoughts? I'm concerned about the weight and if two 7k or 8k axles would handle the weight of the bus with 3-5000 lbs of horses inside. Also, I don't know anything about bus construction except that they are designed to protect kids and other than the 5 kids we have at home, my horses are my kids! I think this would be a really really safe trailer for them. I don't know how the sides of the buses are attached to the floor/frame.

For reference, the buses in question are both 1986 Ford B-700s with the 6.6L, AT545 trans, 65 passenger Ward bodies. I got this idea after seeing pictures of a horse trailer that a friend of mine built 20 years ago using a custom built trailer and wrecked refrigerated van trailer.

Thanks for any and all feedback on this bizarre idea. I hope I've sketched out my idea well enough. I have tons of actual sketches that make it look really cool! But then again...?
Ben.
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Old 07-16-2009, 09:54 PM   #2
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Re: Roof raise or floor drop...

Sorry, I'm having trouble visualizing how one would drop the floor on a bus. Considering the bus floor sits on the frame rails...

Be that as it may, you are talking about one very heavy trailer!!
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Old 07-17-2009, 12:24 AM   #3
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Re: Roof raise or floor drop...

That's kind of what I'm saying...drop the floor and the frame rails down so that the floor is level with where the skirting (the part below the frame rails) ends. The frame will then sit on top of new axles. I'll measure tomorrow, but I think the skirting is about 1.5' hanging down past where the floor is...the bottom of the door is about 2' lower than the floor.

So...Basically, I'm wanting to remove the dognose/engine area, detach the floor and frame and lower it so that it's even with the bottom of the skirting if possible. I just don't know how the floor is hooked to the body of the bus. They have to be tied together somehow. Then I'd like to refasten the floor to the lower part of the skirting in a similar fashion to how the floor is fastened currently. So from the ground up, there'd be new lower profile trailer axles with 16" wheels, frame rails supporting the floor, then the floor supporting the bus body starting with the bottom of the skirting rather than where it currently does. Hopefully that gives a better image.

I figure the trailer would be heavy. I looked through a previous thread discussion weight. I also looked at weights of new steel horse trailers. My guess is that an 18,000# bus minus the seats, fuel tank, stock axles, dognose, motor, heaters, etc. might get into the 10,000# area. Then you'd need to add in the weight of the gear and 3-5 horses and be right about 16,000# total weight. Still a heavy beast, but should be less than the original bus. Other thoughts? Thanks again!
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Old 07-17-2009, 10:39 PM   #4
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Re: Roof raise or floor drop...

The bus body is built as a uni-body type of thing, the bus floor is pretty the base the rest of the bus body is built on, and then after the body is complete they drop the whole thing onto the frame. I really don't think you can lower the floor, and I don't see how you can lower the frame? You have tires & axles with springs that hold the frame off the road, and the body sits on top of that. I may be missing something or not understanding something here, I just don't picture what you are saying as being possible. The skirting you see around-underneath the bus is just that, it's to hide the underside including the frame.

The only thing I can picture here, is you want to raise the entire body of the bus up so that the skirting is even with the top of the frame rails, then completely remove the entire floor of the bus and relocate it to the bottom of the skirting. I suppose it is possible, but you're talking a complete off the frame rebuild of the entire bus. You'd be better off just raising the roof...

Even if you do this, the floor of the bus is still going to be at the same spot, on top of the frame rails....
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Old 07-17-2009, 11:59 PM   #5
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Re: Roof raise or floor drop...

I see what you're saying about swapping the axles under it and such, but the previous post is correct. There just is no good way to liberate the whole shell from the floor. It would be much easier for you to cut the top off, extend the studs, and build a flat roof.

What's your plan for dealing with...uh...excrement? That is some nasty, corrosive stuff. Don't most newer horse trailers have stainless or aluminum floors to combat this problem?
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Old 07-18-2009, 12:17 PM   #6
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Re: Roof raise or floor drop...

Most horse trailers that I see, be they steel or aluminum, have a 2x6 or 2x8 wood floor. It is then generally covered by a thick rubber mat, about an inch or so I think. Often times the sides are coated with plastic, pressure treated lumber, "bed liner" type material, or again the same rubber mat that was on the floor. Sometimes the sides are just bare steel or aluminum. Some trailers have an aluminum floor instead of wood...I think those are more the stock trailer type for cattle. In general, as long as you scoop it out, keep it clean and reasonably dry, there's little problem with excrement. I've seen people completely ruin a brand new trailer because they never cleaned it out. It will just eat through the sides. But if you clean it after each use, it's not generally a problem...sawdust also helps to absorb the moisture...which is probably the biggest enemy.

Thanks for all the feedback. I'm still not completely deterred yet! It's a good thing that I have a long time to think on this and decide if it's practical (which I'm sure it's not!) or worth the time.

Ben.
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Old 07-18-2009, 04:28 PM   #7
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Re: Roof raise or floor drop...

Yes...basically...I wish I could transfer the sketches in my head or on paper to my computer. I don't have a scanner or anything cool like that!

What I want to achieve is a lower floor height...that is remove the stock axle and replace it with 2 8k axles. I figure this will bring the "trailer-bus" to it's knees, or skirt. (basically creating a low-rider effect). The floor would then be about 12" or so off the ground, with the skirting dragging the whole way. Since I want to use it has a horse trailer, I really don't want the floor to be more than 8-10" from the ground, so I could add a ramp I suppose. If I then cut the floor and frame rails away from its current location, and attached them to the bottom of the skirting, I would have both a lower floor height and a higher interior height. This would get rid of the low-rider, skirt dragging stuff. Or, once the new axles are on, just cut away the skirting and raise the roof.

I guess the important thing is to get the "trailer-bus" low enough to the ground that the horses can step up into it. The center-height of the bus is only about 6'2", so all of my animals would fit height-wise. I would really rather have a 7-7.5' inside height though. So I guess if the new axles made the floor low enough, I could just do a roof raise and call it good.

My mind's eye sees a bus cut off after the 5th or 6th window leaving a flatbed with a gooseneck ball in it. Hooked to that bus, would be the "trailer-bus" (dognose, fuel tank, driveshaft, etc all removed) as a gooseneck. The roof lines would be about the same, and all the rub rails would match up. The back of the tow bus that was cut off would be grafted onto the trailer-bus's gooseneck. I'm trying to create a poor-boy version of a Freightliner M2 (kinda) capable of towing a "matched" horse trailer...just because it'll look cool and we have a big family! Something like this...if the link works...

http://sandwfeeds.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/01.jpg

Hope that helps...again, crazy idea, I know! Thanks!

Ben.
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Old 07-18-2009, 05:58 PM   #8
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Re: Roof raise or floor drop...

Build a new trailer frame and floor to horse/children specifications on three 7000 # axles. Remove the bus shell from original frame, cut out original bus floor and discard. Fabricate shell onto new trailer frame and floor. Scrap the rest to offset some cost. You go three axles because...you can't add a third axle later easily when you decide to really deck it out. You may be able to use c-channel from bus frame. Unless you are blessed with alot of time, new material goes faster.

Cool idea especially if you cut 8 ft. of shell off the back of your bus to put your hitch (hauler style) with a matched paint job on both vehicles. It would be 50+ ft long, and difficult to maneuver but definitly one of a kind.
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Old 07-18-2009, 10:21 PM   #9
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Re: Roof raise or floor drop...

Well, at least now I understand what you are trying to accomplish here. I agree with the above post, trim off the skirting...raise the roof to needed hight or build a new roof.

As for the axles, you are going from heavy duty truck axles to trailer axles, they don't carry the same weight load, so you gotta do the homework to find out what the bus shell is going to weigh, what the horses are going to weigh, and what the axles & smaller tires are going to be cabaple of supporting. An all steel school bus body is NOT light by any means, and a horse weights....well, like a horse!! Trailer axles and tire load ratings differ widely but under no circumstances will the carry the kind of weight a bus/truck axle can. You will likely need a 3 axle rig just to handle all this weight.
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Old 07-19-2009, 02:23 AM   #10
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Re: Roof raise or floor drop...

Tandem dual wheel axles is probably the best route to go from a stability standpoint. A tire blowout with single wheels on a tandem camper trailer will bring it to its knees thanks to the equalizers between the springs. It might seriously injure your horses if it were to happen to this trailer. Dual wheel axles give you more stability, more redundancy, and often price out very competitively with three smaller axles all while handling better.
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