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Old 05-22-2009, 01:47 AM   #11
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Re: tractor trailer/cargo carrier conversion?

more thoughts,

it's easy to get an assembled trailer title and registration here in michigan, all you need is a weigh slip from a certified scale, any truckstop,grain elevator or scrapyard is a good place to start, depending on the weight you may need to have it inspected by the police to insure that it has all the lights and brakes required, it never hurts to have reciepts for the major components

brake controlers; the good controllers that tapped into the hydraulic brake system were outlawed probably because ralph nader won a lawsuit because someone didn't install a contoler the right way and some inexperienced overconfident driver was talking on the phone in rushour trafic and caused an accident
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Old 05-22-2009, 10:05 AM   #12
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Re: tractor trailer/cargo carrier conversion?

Here's my 1/50th of a dollar on the subject...I tend to be a thread killer of sorts I've noticed (not because I have anything good to say, though), but here's a thought for what it's worth.

I'm looking at two buses, 86/88 Fords with air brakes. I want to chop of the rear 15' or so off to make a flatbed with a gooseneck to attach and haul a horse trailer or a flatbed for haul. I've been thinking about this since February. Just the other morning, I got to thinking about what to do with the "chopped off" part. I thought about a storage shed in the back yard, but that didn't appeal to me. So the current incarnation of my plan would be to find a wide enough car hauler (just like for your application) and mount the sides of the bus and roof on top of a flat-deck car hauler trailer. This would give me an enclosed box for my horses that should be fairly strong, semi insulated, safety glass, and "free" other than the cost of the bus, trailer, and my own blood, sweat, and tears. I could add a foot or so to the bottom of the bus walls to raise the midpoint of the "new" trailer to 7-8' depending on the roof height of my bus, etc. This would be fine for horses. I'd need to skin the bottom and the front of the box at that point. For your application, you could build a ramp or adapt ones that might come on a car hauler flat deck.

I'm not sure I'm painting a great picture here, but I hope you get the idea. I've sketched it out a few times and I think it'll be cool as all heck. But again, I'm a math teacher of junior high kids...so I have to be a bit loco right?

Ben.
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Old 05-22-2009, 10:39 AM   #13
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Re: tractor trailer/cargo carrier conversion?

Quote:
Originally Posted by NewSkewlHauler
Just the other morning, I got to thinking about what to do with the "chopped off" part. I thought about a storage shed in the back yard, but that didn't appeal to me. So the current incarnation of my plan would be to find a wide enough car hauler (just like for your application) and mount the sides of the bus and roof on top of a flat-deck car hauler trailer. This would give me an enclosed box for my horses that should be fairly strong, semi insulated, safety glass, and "free" other than the cost of the bus, trailer, and my own blood, sweat, and tears. I could add a foot or so to the bottom of the bus walls to raise the midpoint of the "new" trailer to 7-8' depending on the roof height of my bus, etc.
Funny you should mention that Ben. I was thinking something similar myself.

I have an intermediate need for a storage unit of some sort so I can get the items currently stored in my bus out of my bus. I know where some busses are for sale locally for about $1800, which I'm sure I could get knocked down.

I was thinking that it would provide me with a mobile shed for the yard while I do my conversion, and I could put all my conversion goodies in that bus/shed and get other peoples stuff out of my bus and into their sheds where my stuff currently is. Of course, an old box truck would work the same way, just with less ventilation options (and less points for leaks).

Further along in my conversion, the "extra" bus could probably provide more raw materials to use on the conversion bus. I could probably also get something for the driveline/etc to help offset costs.

The more I think about it, the more I like that idea.

I might just stop by there this weekend and take a look at those busses.

jim
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Old 05-23-2009, 06:32 PM   #14
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Re: tractor trailer/cargo carrier conversion?

I did stop by there today, and bought one of the busses. The other one is still there if anyone is looking for one in the mid-atlantic area.

I'm planning to use it for storage in the short term. Haven't decided whether removing the seats would be helpful for that, but I'm thinking it would. Not looking forward to that task. It was something I managed to avoid on the first bus by buying it already done.

I do keep eyeing that monster sitting out there.... strong frame, great shell, good length (actually, a bit longer than needed). Just changing over to some electric brake containing trailer axles and figuring out a solution for the tongue and I'd have a nice trailer. I'll definitely have to give it some thought. Still plenty of time left before I have to decide anything.

This weekend I don't have anyone that could help me out with working on either bus, so it is unlikely that much will get done.

jim
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Old 05-26-2009, 10:17 AM   #15
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Re: tractor trailer/cargo carrier conversion?

The more I look at this bus and crawl around in and under it, the more I think it would be perfect as a trailer body behind my main bus.

Of course, I'll need to have the trailer frame first. At that point, I would know what length I would need for the trailer body, and I could just chop the bus at that point measuring from the back of the bus. Supposing that number were 20', then I would take the last 20' of the bus.

As for the chopping, I would remove the panels at that point rather than cutting them, and separate the front and rear sections that way, keeping the rear box intact along with its ribs. Then, it would be a matter of jacking the body up, driving the bus out from under it, and putting the trailer under it and lowering it into place.

I've been thinking it would be neat to put the bus body on the trailer backwards, with the rear of the bus facing the tongue of the trailer. This gives me a ready made door, which is convenient.

At the other end, I would take the next major rib of the bus and put at the very end, then put the panels back on and cut them to match the rib. Then simply frame in a square-ish hole for the garage door (either a bi-fold or a rollup typical garage door), some tail/brake/etc lights, and so forth, and it'll be a nice garage on a trailer.

I don't know what I would do with the remainder of the bus at that point. However, it would probably contribute more parts.

I suspect I would need to raise the roof on the trailer to give enough clearance. I would also want to add a side double door wherever the drivers door of the vehicle inside the trailer would fall, so it'll be easier to get in and out of the vehicle. I've been thinking that a low deck trailer frame would be good, so I would have to put wheel wells inside the enclosed space and make sure the vehicle could safely drive over the humps, which likely means adding some kind of ramp/track inside for the vehicles tires to ride over the humps.

I'd like to keep some of the school bus windows in the trailer, as it would be free ventilation.

So, still an insane idea, but I think a far more practical one than the original idea of converting a cargo container.

jim
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Old 05-26-2009, 03:00 PM   #16
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Re: tractor trailer/cargo carrier conversion?

Quote:
Originally Posted by baadpuppy
I've been thinking it would be neat to put the bus body on the trailer backwards, with the rear of the bus facing the tongue of the trailer. This gives me a ready made door, which is convenient.
look closly at how the outside skins overlap each other, the front of the skin is under the back of the ski ahead of it so that wind and weather flow over the seam instead of the seam acting like a scoop trying to pull the weather into the interior, it's a lot more work but you could remove the rear cap and reinstall it at the front of the body with the proper overlap pattern.

if you don't need extra headroom or a lower floor you could cut the bus frame long and pull the rails together for a tongue, then remove the driveshafts and inner axle shafts and make up coverplates to seal the rear hubs. if the ''trailer''axle has hydraulic brakes install a hydraulic brake actuater in the tongue/coupler, if it's air brakes you will need to install the required valves and plumbing in the tow vehicle
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Old 05-26-2009, 03:34 PM   #17
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Re: tractor trailer/cargo carrier conversion?

Quote:
Originally Posted by paul iossi
look closly at how the outside skins overlap each other, the front of the skin is under the back of the ski ahead of it so that wind and weather flow over the seam instead of the seam acting like a scoop trying to pull the weather into the interior, it's a lot more work but you could remove the rear cap and reinstall it at the front of the body with the proper overlap pattern.
Ack! I knew about that and completely spaced on it when thinking... time for a bit of re-think.

Quote:
Originally Posted by paul iossi
if you don't need extra headroom or a lower floor you could cut the bus frame long and pull the rails together for a tongue, then remove the driveshafts and inner axle shafts and make up coverplates to seal the rear hubs. if the ''trailer''axle has hydraulic brakes install a hydraulic brake actuater in the tongue/coupler, if it's air brakes you will need to install the required valves and plumbing in the tow vehicle
Well, I'm pretty sure I'm going to want the extra headroom. Also, I'm worried about it being too top heavy. There's also the consideration of trying to get a vehicle 36" off the ground with ramps that a mere mortal can lift.

The "new" bus is hydraulic brakes, but I think I'd rather have trailer axles under the frame.

With the frame on a bus being narrow and to the center, do you think that would be a problem, or would it make sense to spread the frame rails apart more, realizing that the cross members would have to be changed, which is of course assuming they're bolted and not welded. I'll have to take a closer look at them tonight when I get home.

I could lose some of the lower side skirting if it meant having a lower trailer. Obviously the frame that the bus has currently is definitely strong enough for my needs, but I do worry about the height involved. Those are some tall frame rails.

ugh, more thinking and planning to do. Still, plan a million times, build once.

jim
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Old 05-26-2009, 07:22 PM   #18
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Re: tractor trailer/cargo carrier conversion?

So what of this "new" bus? Motor/trans/passenger rating, etc? I can't wait until you get started on this. I want pictures!!!! WHEN I get my bus, I'll be able to point out to the other half that this has all been done before and I'm not reinventing the wheel. I got to thinking today that growing up in Northern Minnesota, the local school district had a trailer that they pulled behind the "sports bus." It was just the last 20' or so of an old bus that they had chopped up. I think they used it a lot during football and hockey season to carry all the extra equipment around in. It looked pretty cool. I think that for your application (and mine eventually), a lower floor height would be the best thing. I thought I saw a LoadMax (maybe another brand) gooseneck car hauler trailer that was 96" wide overall. It was 7' between the fenders of the trailer, so there'd be no "hump" to drive over (unless you have some major super swampers on that 4x4!). The remaining 12" (6" each side) was on positioned in front of and behind the fenders...so it was kind of like having running boards. You could build a 1' tall (or so) 1x2 steel frame to lower the cutoff portion of the bus onto. I like the idea of attaching the rear cap at the front for ease of access and ease of building a door. Detaching and reattaching the rear cap might be a pain, but it will produce a nice finished product in the end. Do your buses have the same coachwork?...that would be sweet if the body styles were somewhat similar. Best of luck.

Ben.
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Old 05-26-2009, 09:12 PM   #19
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Re: tractor trailer/cargo carrier conversion?

Ben,

the details, including pictures, are in the thread "oops, I did it again" located here: http://www.skoolie.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=4271

Yes, both busses are Thomas Built Busses. It is amazing the similarities and differences.

For instance, the pusher has 4 rub rails, while the gasser has 3.

The gasser has some oversize windows, the pusher seems to have a single standard size.

The driver window on both busses seems to be identical.

The pusher had the switch console overhead, and the driver sits really close to the side window. The gasser has the driver sitting closer to the center of the bus, and the switch console between the driver and the side window.

What would've been über cool would have been one of those 20-25' front engine flat faced bluebirds as a "toad". Turn the rear into a drive-in hatch like millicent, put in some fold down bunks, and have a weekend getaway camper behind the main camper. Yep, that's truly insane... yet I toyed with that idea for a while. I think it would look cool going down the road, but I don't know that it would be worth the extra work.

I've been looking at trailer axles online, and found some tandem 14,000 pound axles for a decent price at one location, with electric brakes on each axle (7,000 pound per axle). So really, it'll boil down to getting the frame right.

In any case, with the drizzle here I didn't crawl under the bus for a better look at the frame tonight. Hopefully tomorrow night. Dad and I hope to begin seat removal. I believe we'll start with a wrench on top and an impact driver underneath with an extension. Once we've done all that will work, we'll go back with the angle grinder for the rest. Considering how clean the bus is underneath, and how easily the first two started to come loose, I don't anticipate too much trouble. Before I can do that though, I have to get in there and identify exactly which seats I want to remove. eep! time to plan!

I know it isn't the "normal" way to do things, but I want to plan for having the vehicle backed in, so the axles will be a bit more to the rear than normal. This lets me have the double door on the curb side. Also, it'll be super-easy for someone to just drive straight out. Basically, backing out means starting without being able to see all around you, and moving towards being able to see more. Backing in you start with being able to see all around, and lose visibility as you enter, but you also reduce the danger zone as you enter.

Having the engine towards the rear of the trailer may make this a fun exercise.

I'm really liking the idea of using the bus frame the way paul suggested, and just dropping it onto lower axles. I know that frame is very strong. Your idea of a wider axle is intriguing. I'll have to give that some more thought. It might raise the price a bit much though. I really don't mind wheel humps as long as what is over the wheels is strong enough to handle a vehicle going over it. And that's really up to me doing a good job.

It will be some time before I can start on this particular aspect of conversion. I first have to make some serious progress on the main bus. I also have an old RV to finish destroying, a summer kitchen to help finish building, and some other things going on in my life as well that will be big time and energy consumers. But some of those things might result in more assistance on the conversions, so that's a good thing.
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Old 05-27-2009, 03:38 PM   #20
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Re: tractor trailer/cargo carrier conversion?

more thoughts;
an internal beavertail like millicent and backing the trailer tires onto a ditch or depression will do wonders for loading deck height.

if you're serious about tandem axles, single wheels, the easy way is back to the used mobilehome frame with the stock 6k axles and take the bus body off of the truckframe and shorten the mobilehome frame to fit.
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