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Old 09-22-2018, 08:30 PM   #1
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Short Bus Sleeping Loft

Hi, this is my third attempt to post this. The second attempt was so well written you guys would have been in awe of my wordsmith prowess!

So Iíve daydreamed a long time about converting a bus, originally thinking about a full sized rig. My friend, however, espoused on the benefits of being small. He thinks that a short bus is easier to park, gets better gas mileage, and can go places a full sized bus cannot. I am starting to think that way too.

One of my problems though, is that I want to have it ďallĒ. By ďallĒ I mean that I want to have at least a full size bed or a queen, a functional kitchen for someone that likes to cook, a little sitting area, and a toilet or maybe a wet bath. It seems to me that it couldnít all possibly fit in a short bus. Please correct me if Iím wrong about this.

Iíve been seeing a lot of SUVs running around with tents on their roofs and that got me thinking, why not have a second story on a short bus to serve as a sleeping loft?

Iíve been looking all over the Internet for something like this and while I see things like pop tops that expand headroom on full size vans and westfalia VW buses, I havenít come across something like Iím thinking about.

The criteria:

A platform big enough for a queen sized bed, but heck, why not a king size memory foam mattress? And room for a hatch to crawl from the inside.

Bulletproof construction. Something that will withstand the abuses of travel, wind shear when erected, and a lifting/lowering mechanism that wonít fail by twisting or freezing conditions.

Not so heavy that itís a monstrosity.

Easy to open and close, preferably by manual means.

Able to also support a couple PV panels.

The design idea:

Build a tubular steel frame with a weatherized plywood deck high enough to make a flat surface.

Build a fiberglass/carbon fiber/thermoplastic shell similar to a westfalia too thatís a little bigger than the platform and deep enough to contain the mattress, platform and tent sleeve that attaches to the platform and lid. The lid would be contoured to the roof of the bus and gasketed to weatherproof it and not create leaks of either water or heat.

Build a lifting mechanism that is capable of lifting and supporting the lid at least 4 feet above the deck. Originally I had envisioned a telescoping square steel tube post on each corner with a screw jack inside each one, but then I saw the VW Riviera style pop top with its scissor lift on each side (2 on the long side) so Iím thinking this might be a better plan since everything is integrated into the deck. I see having a hand crank rod that operates screws that move the scissors up and down.

So my question for all of you is does this sound feasible? If you think itís stupid please donít be afraid to say so. My friend the short bus advocate said so.

Will the DMV consider it a sleeping area, thus qualifying it as an RV?

Will the insurance companies insure me?

Thanks for reading and your comments,

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Old 09-22-2018, 09:33 PM   #2
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Build a slide out. It's simple to build and doesn't require you to be a gymnast to go to bed.
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Old 09-23-2018, 01:39 AM   #3
Join Date: Dec 2017
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Slide out?

Originally Posted by ol trunt View Post
Build a slide out. It's simple to build and doesn't require you to be a gymnast to go to bed.
How do you do that? Where is there a link to how you suggest?
Skoolie Research: International 3800, DT466, Allison 643 or higher, and high roof.
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Old 09-23-2018, 11:52 AM   #4
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The creative part of me loves the idea, but the practical part of me says there will be issues with it.

I'm not sure the insurance company would like the add-on on the roof - some companies don't like roof decks. While this isn't exactly a deck per se, it is an addition on the roof, and it will raise the center of gravity on your conversion. (I'm not sure how much, or if it would really make a difference or not.)

Otherwise, if it works on a VW van, then the idea should work on a bus. I'm just not sure how you'd actually build one from scratch. I don't know if companies will sell you just the hardware to build your own, or if you'd have to scrounge or scavenge a dead RV somewhere to get it from. My biggest worry I think would be making the lifting mechanism strong enough to support such a large roof (large enough to cover a full bed, with a hatch large enough for you to climb up to from inside the bus, AND carry the weight of a solar panel or two.)

I'd just make sure that you're okay with your sleeping loft being soft-sided. It won't hold the head or air conditioning in as well as a solid side will. In a rain storm, you're sleeping 8 feet off the ground.

Its a cool idea, but I think it would be easier to settle for a slightly bigger bus, and a slightly smaller bed. There are also murphy beds, or you might have to cave in, and just settle for single-size bunk beds. They might limit certain activities, but some compromises have to be made.
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Old 09-23-2018, 12:34 PM   #5
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Also, how many roof bows would you cut out? That's a pretty big deal IMHO.
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Old 09-23-2018, 04:05 PM   #6
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What about water leaks?

This is not the size you want but the idea is similar but with walls?

I bet if you keep looking on google someone has done something similar to what you want.
Skoolie Research: International 3800, DT466, Allison 643 or higher, and high roof.
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pop-up pop up bed loft

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