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Old 03-16-2018, 12:01 PM   #1
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Putting Stuff On The Roof

I am planing to install ~400lbs of solar panels (not including mounting hardware) on the roof of my Giilig Phantom (documented here). A fellow forum member has raised concerns about the effects this additional weight may have on the bus' center of gravity (CG).

So I've started this thread to get some feedback on the topic. Of course all are welcome to pontificate, bloviate, whatever... But I would especially like to hear from actual Skoolie owners with actual stuff on their roofs.

What do you have on your roof?
How much does it weigh?
What effects has it had on the handling, etc. of your skoolie?
Bonus style points for pics...
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Old 03-16-2018, 12:14 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ComfortEagle View Post
I am planing to install ~400lbs of solar panels (not including mounting hardware) on the roof of my Giilig Phantom (documented here). A fellow forum member has raised concerns about the effects this additional weight may have on the bus' center of gravity (CG).

So I've started this thread to get some feedback on the topic. Of course all are welcome to pontificate, bloviate, whatever... But I would especially like to hear from actual Skoolie owners with actual stuff on their roofs.

What do you have on your roof?
How much does it weigh?
What effects has it had on the handling, etc. of your skoolie?
Bonus style points for pics...
I'm no where near this point, but the generic questions I have are what else have you done and where is the rest of the weight going to go? If emptied the bus out and then did a roof raise, and then solar panels, yikes, I know you would feel that going around a corner or with a high cross wind. But I assume you have a big battery pack, probably water tanks as well? If you get all the weight down low, that will help quite a bit.

I was personally nervous when I hit a section of wyoming that was closed to light high profile vehicles. I detoured around a couple of hundred miles to avoid that piece of freeway. Could I have made it anyway with my stock bus (with factory tall roof) probably but why chance it. If I had a bunch of weight up on the roof, well that would have been asking for trouble probably since the rest of the bus was empty.
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Old 03-16-2018, 12:18 PM   #3
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I have a roof-full of solar panels, each one in its own individually-tiltable support frame, and everything hinged to a central walkway between my two roof hatches. All in all, there's quite a lot of stuff up there, but I've not noticed any difference whatsoever in handling or stability caused by the extra 400 or 500 pounds. Mind you, heavy-duty commercial vehicles like our buses just shrug off loads that would bring most RVs and lesser buses to their knees. I say don't worry about the extra weight on the roof - you probably won't notice it.

To keep the bus's CoG no higher than necessary, I always make everything above floor level from aluminum instead of steel, and I make everything below floor level as strong as possible with little regard to weight. For this reason the solar panels' support frames and everything else on the roof are made entirely from 6061 and 6063, with heavy steel used for all the tanks' and batteries' supports below the floor. Even the interior walls are framed in aluminum!

John
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Old 03-16-2018, 12:22 PM   #4
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Good idea starting a thread on that.

We have 12 small panels on the roof 8 Kg each so that is about 240 lbs
Planning on more.

It is spread out over the whole roof so I do not feel it is a strength issue.
With the additional C channel I actually would think that the roof strength has increased.

Dory has a very low center of gravity due to all aluminum construction .

School Bus Conversion Resources - joeblack5's Album: not a skoolie - Picture
We used 3/8" allthread. 4 pieces per strut C channel. To save weight on top of the HVAC we used allthread directly from the HVAC covers to the solar panel frame.

The HVAC system on the roof in itself is about 500 lbs

I never drove a bus before so I can not comment about how it has affected the ride but it feels fine with me.

Later J
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Old 03-16-2018, 12:29 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tigerman67 View Post
I was personally nervous when I hit a section of wyoming that was closed to light high profile vehicles. I detoured around a couple of hundred miles to avoid that piece of freeway...
I drove my bus across that same stretch of highway (I80?) in late December while driving it back to MD from Redding CA. That story of survival is documented here. I didn't detour and the bus behaved well; I did see a few tractor trailers on their side during that portion of the drive. I presume their trailers were empty.
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Old 03-16-2018, 12:42 PM   #6
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I have run that stretch (I-80 through NV, UT and WY) and remember having to apply significant "opposite rudder " in order to hold my lane.

What bothered me most was when the wind would ease suddenly
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Old 03-16-2018, 03:33 PM   #7
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Ive done that section of I80 a few times in a car with bad weather, and at times have seen a ridiculous number of flipped semi's on my worst trip through there in a car. They had the freeway 'Closed' for light weight high profile vehicles from Wolcott to Cheyenne. Normally I would have just consulted my phone for more details, but in Rawlings my phone wasn't getting any data. So I had to break down and TALK to a real person who was local working at the gas station, which we do so infrequently these days. He pointed out where the wind would be the worst near a couple of mountains, and they specifically called it at Wolcott because there was an alternate road right there that will take you away from the worst area, although the WYDOT hadn't bothered to sign it as a detour. So it was nice to get some quick help, although it did require some mandatory talking about buses (which is great most of the time, but my 3 day travel permit was going to expire at midnight, so i needed to get on my way).

Most of Wyoming doesn't exactly feel very urban. When you get off the freeway not near any towns, it really defines 'a dark night' and does start feeling like the middle of nowhere. You realize that breaking down late at night out there would be a bad idea. Although I have found that in reality rural areas tend to be much more helpful if you are broke down on the side of the road in any vehicle compared to being in a city.

Since I was still driving home at that point with my new bus, I really didn't want to attract any attention to myself by zipping by a state patrol guy when the road was 'closed' so regardless of actual hazard, it was probably smart to detour for me.
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Old 03-17-2018, 12:51 AM   #8
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Good thread,I to had also wondered this. I think I will do alum. upper platform for the weight. Also had thought about this due to it seams no matter how well you paint steel you will get a rust run after it rains. One bad thing is I will have to mock up and take to get welded unlike steel.
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Old 04-20-2018, 07:47 PM   #9
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Ask these guys!

Someone should find the people who grafted the top of either a bus (1) or a VW bus (2) on top of a skoolie...
  1. youtube dot com /watch?v=CatXYsC_xYw (or search "Moving The Bus - School Bus Conversion - Double Decker - ep. 01" by Bryce Phelps on YouTube)
  2. thesamba dot com /vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=279650 (or search "VW Bus grafted onto top of school bus?" on Google)... there's even a thread on here about it! skoolie dot net /forums/f13/vw-bus-grafted-onto-school-bus-roof-smart-or-stupid-idea-544.html

See how they handle going down the road...
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