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Old 05-17-2018, 10:08 AM   #31
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Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: HI, CA, OR, PU (Parts Unknown)
Posts: 81
Coachwork: Ward Vanguard
Chassis: GMC Vandura 3500
Engine: 350 Chevy V8
Meet Skoolio the 1990 GMC Vandura Short Bus

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When I bought Skoolio, the first upgrade I invested in was a tow hitch which was bought from Uhaul.

My thinking was that I was going to need a way to bring a motorcycle with me when I hit the road.

What I did not realize then was that there was a whole lotta other enhancements required.

Things that would amount to me being comfortable and cozy whilst traveling all about.

Other projects quickly took prioritity, and so the new hitch has been waiting patiently in Skidog's garage for it's installation time to come.

That time is now!

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Like 95% of mechanical projects, the tow hitch installation was not a simple bolt it on, wash your hands and call it good to go type of deal.

The bumper needed to be marked, removed and then be notched out so the hitch tube would be accessible.

This involved both the hitch and the bumper being put on and taken off several times in order for accurate cut lines and hole locations to be determined.

Again Skidog had just the thing we needed to make this process much easier and we called on our old buddy the motorcycle lift to jack things up and down when needed.

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There was also the matter of some steel plates being in the way that also needed to be cut away to allow the hitch to be mounted.

Using a plasma cutter, which has become one of my favorite tools, made cutting through the metal an easy task.

After the unwanted steel was removed, burrs were removed and the cuts cleaned with an angle grinder. Primer was sprayed on the bare metal to help keep the rust away.

The hitch was bolted on with four grade 8 1/2" bolts that I has to go out an buy because Uhaul forgot to include them in the package. (Thanks guys.)

There was also 2 carriage bolts, that did come in the package, that needed to be fished through holes in the frame using a wire which threaded onto the bolts.

This was way easier than I thought it would be and Skidog was very impressed by this simple but ingenious device.

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Since the bumper was bent and we had it off, we took the time to straighten it out the best we could.

With a lot of direct heat from an acetylene torch, the weight of a Kubota tractor and the hammering on with a mallet we managed to get the thing pretty darn straight.

The already shabby looking paint on the bumper looked even worse after all the bangin' and a-torchin'.

After the was hitch installed I decided that would take the time to repaint the bumper.

So stay tuned for all that...
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Old 05-26-2018, 08:59 AM   #32
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Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: HI, CA, OR, PU (Parts Unknown)
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Chassis: GMC Vandura 3500
Engine: 350 Chevy V8
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The new Trojan Batteries for Skoolio’s house electrical system are going to be housed below the bus in a custom made steel support frame.

Fortunately for me, Skidog once again has everything needed to fabricate our next project.

I have some previous experience with welding and braising. Now with some instruction from Skidog, I am going add wire welding to the list of handy things I have learned.

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After using a chop saw to cut the angle down to a size (approx: 10.5 x 14″) I set about to cleaning up the area where the joints will connect with the help of a grinder and vice.

A clean surface free of rust, goop and grime is crucial to getting a strong bond and good bead when welding.

Obviously eye protection and gloves are essential. However, I learned a little late that a long sleeve shirt will help stop the tiny slivers of metal flying off the grinder from irritating the skin on your arms!

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With all the pieces of steel cut and cleaned, I am now almost ready to get to welding them together and fabricate the top and bottom of the frame.

In the meanwhile, I am on the look out for some metal rod to bend into “J” hooks. Also needed is some sort of pipe or tube to use for the “J” hook guides.

Once I have all my bits together I will be ready to start welding the sections together
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Old 05-26-2018, 09:55 AM   #33
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Small welding tips...


...in addition to cleaning all the weld joints...bevel both pieces at about 45* on the side you'll weld from. Makes for a much stronger joint than just laying a bead on top.



Also, the best beads are those made with a very small air gap between the pieces rather than the metal being pushed together.
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Old 05-27-2018, 08:58 AM   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tango View Post
Small welding tips...
Thanks, I will keep them in mind next time I put on the welding mask
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Old 06-03-2018, 07:56 AM   #35
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Location: HI, CA, OR, PU (Parts Unknown)
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Chassis: GMC Vandura 3500
Engine: 350 Chevy V8
https://youtu.be/8Io7Yw06i5E

Another skoolie update and vlog is uploaded!

I now have an inside propane line, a tow hitch and a few rear bumper mods.
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Old 06-19-2018, 09:39 AM   #36
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Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: HI, CA, OR, PU (Parts Unknown)
Posts: 81
Coachwork: Ward Vanguard
Chassis: GMC Vandura 3500
Engine: 350 Chevy V8
Meet Skoolio the 1990 GMC Vandura Short Bus

IMG_9766.JPG

Once back in California after our road trip to Nevada, I got to work on getting the battery box finished and installed.

More wire welding went down and my bead chops are getting better, but I still have a long way to go before I am a “master welder.”

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“J” hooks were made with threaded metal rods that Ski had lying around and a bending tool.

These rods will slide through a couple of fittings that were welded to the upper frame and serve as guides for the “J” hooks.

A couple of chain links were welded onto the lower frame for the “J” hooks to latch into.

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Steel uprights were cut, drilled then attached to the lower frame, I was now ready to spray paint the box with primer.

4 Holes were then drilled into the crossbeams and 5/8″ bolts were used with mechanical locking nuts to mount the box.

There were some minor design flaws.

I miscalculated the amount of room needed between the frame and body.

So I had to fiddle with the “J” hooks to get them into the guides which help secure the top half of the frame to the lower.

Also, the wingnut for the “J” hook on that same side did not have the clearance to spin. It was easily replaced with a tall bolt so that it could be properly tightened.

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After battery box was installed, The exact location for where the access door was measured, marked then cut out with a jig saw and plasma cutter.

The rough edges were then de-burred and smoothed with a grinder.

Since the ball was rolling and motivation was set on maximum, I fabbed up a hatch from scrap diamond plate that Skidog had scavenged from a wind turbine.

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A piece of wood was cut to fit the dimensions of the access hole and the diamond plate was drilled and then screwed to the top of the plywood.

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Apart from the fiddly “J” hook, everything went together and fit pretty darn good.
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Old 06-21-2018, 05:45 PM   #37
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Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: HI, CA, OR, PU (Parts Unknown)
Posts: 81
Coachwork: Ward Vanguard
Chassis: GMC Vandura 3500
Engine: 350 Chevy V8
Meet Skoolio the 1990 GMC Vandura Short Bus

https://youtu.be/ayRQRwg8ADw
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