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Old 07-25-2015, 12:08 AM   #11
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Take a look at how my build is going so far to gauge the effort needed as well. "Heavy Fuel" is being completely gutted. To date I have found approximately 15 leaks in a clean California bus I brought back to Texas rain (well it was raining earlier this year....). Closed cell foam insulation will help seal the leaks, but I'm going for fully sealing all leaks before spray-foaming the interior. In addition to that I'm going to go for four inches of insulation all the way around except the floor at three inches. I'm a former trucker that enjoys peace and quiet. That insulation factor will get that quietness I'm looking for. Because I'm 5'9" I can get away with more insulation in the bus. If I was taller, I'd be seriously looking at a six to eight inch raise if I could afford it.

My interior has that black goo everyone hates to deal with. I'm suspecting most buses have it. If you get one that does, remember to open ALL the windows, have plenty of fans going, and use a respirator! The Airplane Stripper is NASTY stuff, effective, but NASTY!!!

So far my wife and I are pleased with how our build is going so far. However, the black tar is really slowing us down. My gut instinct tells me no matter what bus you get, you may have that issue. Please don't let that dissuade you form buying and thoroughly going through your bus. You'll be glad you did in the long run.

M1031
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Old 07-25-2015, 01:17 PM   #12
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No roof raise done on this site has ever taken place indoors. As far as I have seen, they have all been a outdoor job.

One person can complete a roof raise in a week if you get right after it.

Once you step into a bus with a lifted roof, you will understand.

A raised roof bus is a completely different experience.

After, the door can be moved anywhere, you can stand and look out the windows, the kitchen counter will not be in front of windows, shower stalls will fit, full size fridges fit without sticking out into the hall way, and no more claustrophobia of rubbing your head on the roof.

IMO a bus without a raised roof is a almost useless bus.

Nat
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Old 07-25-2015, 02:29 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlueBirdman View Post
For my money, closed cell spray foam is the only way to go. It not only gives the best insulation values per inch, but at 2" or better depth, it is a total air and vapor barrier, meaning no air infiltration and no condensation on the interior metal skin. That means no rust, and since foam isn't food for mold, no mold either. Closed cell foam also adds a tremendous amount of structural strength. On top of that, closed cell spray foam gives substantial reduction in low frequency noise transmission, meaning much more pleasant road travel and much better sleep when you stop at a truck stop (or an RV park with your neighbor's generator running till 2 AM) for the night.

Steel has high thermal conductivity, so both heat and cold will be transferred very efficiently into your bus. If you don't insulate properly, you'll be hot when you want to be cool and cold when you want to be warm. Raising the roof will allow you to spray 3-4 inches in the roof, 2-3 inches on the floor, and still have plenty of headroom/cabinet space left over. I'd do 3" in the walls as well. This will not be cheap, but it will have far greater impact on your comfort and satisfaction than anything else you could do, at any price.
Any recommendations on the closed cell foam? That was something I've seen in a few build threads already and was considering. The overall finished product just looks like it will perform better and last longer. I've already looked at some DIY kits but for 2" coverage on the walls/floor and 4" on the ceiling it's looking like it will be $2000+. At this price I wouldn't be surprised if it was cheaper to just contract it out to someone.

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Originally Posted by M1031A1 View Post
My interior has that black goo everyone hates to deal with. I'm suspecting most buses have it. If you get one that does, remember to open ALL the windows, have plenty of fans going, and use a respirator! The Airplane Stripper is NASTY stuff, effective, but NASTY!!!
Read through your whole build thread and left a comment about that black tar, I've dealt within in a few cars before that I stripped for race use or for paint. It's funny you ran into a storage place that didn't want your bus there because of their "image". That's one of my main concerns with going with a skoolie but I'll probably just have to work around it. I plan on installing a large ceiling vent fan at the back of the bus to pull a nice breeze through the bus on the not hot enough for AC days, I might put that in with some batteries at the beginning just to keep the bus cool and the air flowing as I work on it. Was already considering installing the batteries and solar towards the beginning so I can use them as a power source for tools.

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Originally Posted by Scooternj View Post
Gutting it will also allow you to get to any leaks to seal, take care of any possible rust on the structure, and allow you to wire it how you want it. Plus, you'll have the added advantage of knowing how to fix something if it goes wrong.

As for coach v skoolie? I've driven buses up to Fort Drum, and an air ride drivers seat made it a helluva lot more comfortable than the rigid pedestal of the other bus I drove up (and mine coming back from Maine). Yes, coaches are tuned to get you from Point A to Point B faster than most school buses, but at a cost- the amount of fuel used.

Don't count out Navistar engines. They've got parts availability just as good as Cummins and Fords; and the T444E was part of a joint Ford-Navistar production line.
I'll definitely being gutting the bus and was considering putting a nice coat of epoxy sealer or some other kind of sealer on the inside since its cheap, easy and offers a nice layer of protection against corrosion from leaks and the such.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nat_ster View Post
No roof raise done on this site has ever taken place indoors. As far as I have seen, they have all been a outdoor job.

One person can complete a roof raise in a week if you get right after it.

Once you step into a bus with a lifted roof, you will understand.

A raised roof bus is a completely different experience.

After, the door can be moved anywhere, you can stand and look out the windows, the kitchen counter will not be in front of windows, shower stalls will fit, full size fridges fit without sticking out into the hall way, and no more claustrophobia of rubbing your head on the roof.

IMO a bus without a raised roof is a almost useless bus.

Nat
You don't happen to know any links with some details on roof raising do you? I've read through your build thread and quite a few others. Basically what I've gathered from it is cut the supports between the windows, jack the roof up by your mechanism of choice, weld extensions into the supports, fill in the gaps with sheet metal.

My major concerns with a roof raise are the cost because I really haven't seen any estimates on a cost and also the loss of lighting. Natural lighting is something that I am trying to use to the max in my build so I would need to pick up some large windows to install after the roof raise which adds to the cost more.

I forget whose build thread it was but they did a roof raise but started it back from the front of the bus and had it slope up instead of just having the huge "forehead" on the front of the bus. That is definitely something I would look into doing, because I'm not fond of the full raises at the front and I think the sloping roof makes it look more stock like it came from the factory that way.
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Old 07-25-2015, 06:53 PM   #14
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Lots of theories and opinions here on how to go about a roof raise so I'll toss in a few (based on a 19"raise on a BBAA).

A retired BB engineer advised me not to cut through either cap stating them as critical to the overall integrity. I cut mine at the second rib behind the cap and "sloped" it in front as you described. The rear was finished off using a scrap rear cap attached above the original.

Another of his suggestions (which I followed) was to stagger all the rib cuts to prevent creating a "weak line".

No matter how you go about it...be sure to attach plenty of cross braces before you start cutting anything. The roof metal is under a fair amount of tension just from being stretched down and over the ribs. That tension can spread and warp the whole structure when it is cut free unless you attach something to keep it's shape. No big deal. I tack welded some 1" square tube above and below the cut line and it was still in shape when the time came to rejoin it all. A blessing. Oh, and I also ran a couple of pieces lengthwise to the top half of the cut.

My ex-wife and I did 90% of the raise in a weekend then took a few more days to finish welding and skin it out.

The cutting & raising is cheap and mostly labor. But the skinning cost can vary greatly based on the material you choose to close the gap. And I have seen just about everything used at one time or another. Personally, I think the best bet is to stay with something close to the original sheetmetal thickness and rigidity. But I have seen lightweight aluminum, galvanized sheet, 14 gauge steel, stainless, wood, wood frames with galvanized wrap, metal house siding, fiberglass and even some plastic sheets used to delete windows and close up the gap.

Just do some homework and if possible chat with a number of different folks who have "been there, done that"...then lived with the results. From there you can likely make the choices that will best fit your personal needs, abilities & budget.

Rock on.
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Old 07-25-2015, 07:30 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by nat_ster View Post
No roof raise done on this site has ever taken place indoors. As far as I have seen, they have all been a outdoor job.
I'm struggling to clear time to get out there and work on mine... but I was "in the right place at the right time" and have the use of a shop just long enough to tuck my 38 ft bus into. My brother helped set up the scaffolding for the raise this morning, and I'm going around now hunting for whatever bolts and welds still need to be found.

To the OP: my roof raise is different to all the others I've seen here because I elected to remove the rivets and separate the ribs/bows from the chair rail at the floor, rather than cut them at window level. I'm deleting two thirds of the windows because I want privacy and insulation in those places instead, and since there was so much exterior skin to be done, I decided to re-skin the whole thing rather than build a patchwork quilt. That opened up the access to disconnect and extend the ribs at the bottom. Pictures soon after the skins were removed back in April (goodness I've been slow!!) are there.

To my knowledge, nat_ster pioneered (at least here on skoolie.net) a method of raising the roof using scaffolding with screw-style leveling jacks, and a method of extending the ribs with hat channel custom-made to sit over the top of the factory stuff. I'm using both of those techniques on mine. You can see more about it on his "The Four Season Prime" thread.
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Old 07-25-2015, 08:02 PM   #16
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What Tango said about roof raises!

As to closed cell spray foam, my plan is to do it myself with kits even though a contractor might be a little cheaper on a per board foot basis. Why? I want to do some labor/time intensive things like spray my floor from the underside between all the braces and then use a thinner thermal break layer on top. That would be a difficult job/extra time and masking for a commercial contractor, and would drive their price way up.

Also, with my own kits sitting around, I don't necessarily need to have thought of everything up front. (The more build threads you read here the more value you will see in this...)

I like the Touch 'n Seal kits, specifically the two component 1.75 pound closed cell fire retardant foam. This product has very good flame spread and smoke specs, plus compressive and tensile strengths are both above 30 psi. (If anyone is worried about the finished strength of a roof raise project, just spray three inches of closed cell foam in the walls and ceiling and forget about it!)

Be aware that all foam chemicals have a definite shelf life and storage temperature requirements. That's before you use them. When you apply them, the chemicals and the substrate need to be within certain temperature ranges as well. Spraying foam in a bus conversion is not an ideal winter project.

If you're looking at a contractor, beware. The newest building and energy codes are driving foam use, and every insulation contractor is getting in on the act. Most of them don't have a clue what they're doing. (This is another reason to consider doing it yourself. At least you care...) If you want to hire it done, I'd look for someone who's been doing it for years, and who goes through a lot of foam.l If you're in any size market, they should have multiple rigs, and those crews should be busy. They should store their chemicals in a climate controlled space from receipt until day of use. On the commercial side of things, I like Bayer, Icynene and Gaco Western closed cell spray foam, in that order. There are other big players - I just have no info on them.

It won't be cheap. (I'm budgeting $2500 for my bus.) But, as I said before, there isn't anything else you could do - at ANY price - that will have as much impact on the livability and thus your enjoyment of the finished bus.
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Old 07-25-2015, 08:15 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlueBirdman View Post
It won't be cheap. (I'm budgeting $2500 for my bus.) But, as I said before, there isn't anything else you could do - at ANY price - that will have as much impact on the livability and thus your enjoyment of the finished bus.
The cost is unfortunate, but you speak the truth. One of the many reasons I chose to build a bus instead of buying a production RV is that for a "mere" $2500 (ouch!) I can have an extremely well-insulated RV, as RVs go. It'll be pretty good even as fixed homes go, really. To buy a production RV insulated anywhere near this level would surely mean significantly more cost. I want to use mine in all four seasons, without having to run the furnace or A/C full-time at the season peaks, and good insulation is the only way to get there.
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Old 07-26-2015, 01:09 AM   #18
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Raising the roof at the chair rail like Family Wagon is doing, is IMO the best method I have seen used so far.
I didn't even think of doing it that way until after I had completed my roof raise.

Like Family Wagon also mentioned, I brain stormed for awhile until I found a simple, safe, and plentiful method of lifting the roof. It turned out to be full size scaffold frames.

If you own a bus, having a few full size, 6 foot scaffold frames will be of tremendous use. Scaffold makes working at heights safe, and comfortable when compared to working off a ladder.

You also don't need to weld to complete a roof raise.
With today's metal adhesives, and simple bolting, all attachment can and should be done without welding the thin sheet metal.

The bus was built with rivets for the same reason a aircraft is built with rivets.

Every single weld in both of my Bluebird buses were broken. No single rivet was gone. A few were loose in my last bus, but it lived a life of hell on the dirt roads of a Indian reserve in northern Alberta, after 10 years of liquid calcium chloride on the roads of northern Quebec Canada.
The dirt roads here tear buses apart if they don't have air ride rears.

Nat
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Old 07-26-2015, 01:31 AM   #19
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Even the really horrible welds on my bus are still holding strong from the factory.
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Old 07-26-2015, 02:13 AM   #20
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Even the really horrible welds on my bus are still holding strong from the factory.
I don't know the history of your bus but I doubt it was driven on dirt roads for its entire life. Calcium chloride is fun stuff. It does wonders for steel. I've used it for accelerator for concrete.
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