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Old 02-28-2023, 11:29 PM   #1
Almost There
 
Join Date: Dec 2022
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Year: 1991
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: TC2000
Engine: Cummins 5.9
ITS ROOF RAISE TIME: Am I A Green Light?

Hey everyone! I want to touch base with all you knowledgeable people before I start on my roof raise next week. I need to get feedback on whether I have everything I need. Also need some assistance in determining how many sheets of 16 (or maybe 18 gauge) sheet metal I need.

TL;DR: im freaking out about the raise and need help. See the numbered questions at the bottom.

I will link examples of what I want the raise to look like.


Background:

So heres the background: Ive got a full size 1991 Bluebird TC2000 Flat Nose Puller Bus. We want to do a 12 raise all the way around and keep the roof flat like it already is. See the example pics. I DONT want to do the kind where the roof is sloped at the front. I dont like the look and seems like too much unnecessary work.

Prepping for Raising:

We are taking out all the stock windows and adding in some second hand RV windows from a scrapped RV we found on marketplace. As a result we will be cutting the hat channels in the middle of where the windows used to be like Chuck Cassady does in his roof raise video (with a 7.25 metal cutting circular saw). I will then go around pooping and shearing off every damn rivet with an air chisel like I did for the ceiling panels. Is this the right order? Or do I do this before cutting channels? I have pulled many unnecessary wires also and have found considerable excess in the wiring harness so I dont think Ill have to solder in any extensions. I am concerned about the wiper motors though and potentially cracking the windshield when shearing off the front rivets with the air hammer. Should I take off the windshield prior?

The Actual Raise:

We are raising the bus 12 with roof raise jacks from skoolie.com made of 1 all thread with the nuts and square steel ready to be welded to the channels. I plan on jacking it up using four of the heaviest duty bottle jacks HF has to offer attached to some 6x6 wood. However, im weary of this setup and would like some guidance. In one or two places we are using square tubing to frame the RV windows instead of hat channels (since some windows are larger than the gap between the hat channels). The rest of the hat channels will be supplemented with the custom hat channels from skoolie.com (https://www.skoolie.com/product-page/hat-channels) I will be hiring a professional welder to come out and weld all the hat channels and square tubing in place because Im an idiot when it comes to welding and Im certainly not about to f up something structural. I can tack stuff on but imma let the pros do the important stuff. A bit concerned about bowing and things like that with the roof. I saw Chuck Cassady adjusting things with ratchet straps. Not sure I follow what he was doing? Any suggestions overall here? Am I missing any steps?

The Skinning Process:

We will be purchasing tons of rivets of course. Would love to hear from you all what specific rivets we need because Im unfamiliar with that. Also, 7/64th drill bits and a pneumatic rivet gun are part of the equation. Im guessing Ive got to deburr every single damn rivet hole too? Also unsure if I need sealer on the skins or are rivets sufficient if you do the overlapping thing? Also, are clecos necessary? Please correct me here but my current impression of the steps between shearing the original rivet off and adding a new one for the skin is this: shear the rivet off, pry the metal apart to create a gap for skin, hang skin, drill through existing hole into skin and out other side, (insert cleco if using and go back to drilling. Move to next hole, drill and insert cleco. Do this until done with skin then remove beginning cleco, do following steps, then move to next one until all are complete) hammer metal flat with ball peen, deburr with countersink bit, degrease/clean, insert and secure rivet. Does this seem right? Is rustoleum primer somewhere in there? Maybe after the deburring? Maybe wet riveting? Please say no lol. I plan to hang the skins using ratchet straps. Saw a guy who weighed the straps down with 5 gal buckets full of water dangling off the other side of the bus. Seemed smart. Open to other suggestions too.

Finally, and most relevant to the current moment since im trying to place the order for all materials: Im unsure how to calculate the quantity of sheet metal I need. Hoping you math gurus out there can help me. I went around the bus measuring the back, sides, front, and then the area encompassing the door, and the driver window area (so these last two arent included in the measurements of the sides). Also for the height of the I added in an extra inch of overlap on top and bottom. So 14 for a 12 raise. Is this right? The measurements are as follows:
- The sides of the bus (measured from the back most hat channel to the front before the door on the passenger side and before the driver window on the driver side (I.e. the hat channel covering the major wire harness):
- Length: 28 10
- Height: (the existing window height + 12 raise + 1 of overlap on each side) = 38.25
- The driver side window area:
- Length: 3 (from wire harness to windshield)
- Height: 14 (12 raise + 2 overlap)
- The area above the air powered door (will be removing air powered apparatus above door)
- Length: 3 1 (from door to windshield)
- Height: 14 (12 raise + 2 overlap)
- Front of bus: measured from one end of the windshield to the other below the flashers (beginning and ending where the side measurements stopped)
- Length: 8 10.5
- Height: 14 (12 raise + 2 overlap)
- Back of bus: (measured above the emergency back door exit and below the flashers beginning and ending where the side measurements stopped)
- Length: 7 9
- Height: 14 (12 raise + 2 overlap)
It would be incredibly helpful if someone could help with the math there to tell me how many sheet metal panels I need to purchase. Bear in mind that I dont have the capabilities to bend metal where I am. I dont have a metal brake or flange or wheel or anything like that. All Ive got are some Bauer electric shears, a nibbler, jig saw, circular saw, metal chop saw, and angle grinder type things. I dont know how Im going to cut the metal to size if that needs to be done. Metal work is new to me.



1. What kind of set up do I need with the bottle jacks to raise the bus?
2. What step comes first in removing the roof? Do I shear the rivets around the circumference of the bus or do I weld the all thread on and cut the hat channels first and raise it then shear rivets?
3. How do I assure the bus stays straight and parallel with itself as it raises?
4. Will I need to cut the existing side metal around the entire circumference of the bus? Or just in the front and back since were not reusing the bus windows?
5. How does my process for skinning the bus sound, particularly with prepping for the rivets? Am I missing anything
6. How do I bend the metal around the edges in the front and back?
7. Do I need sealant like sikaflex on the edges of the skins?
8. What sort of rivets do I need?
9. What do I most need to look out for during the actual raising process?
10. What order should I do things in to best utilize the time I have with the professional welder?? Like what should the bus look like/what phase should it be in when he arrives? Should I tack weld in the hat channels for him or just let him do all that once he gets there?
11. What sort of special attention or extra caution do I need to have when it comes to everything in the back and front of the bus?
12. HOW MUCH SHEET METAL AM I ORDERING?


If you took the time to read all this you are a blessing and Im thankful for you and your concern. I appreciate all the replies and the knowledge you all freely share. Thanks for all you do and thanks for helping my wife and I achieve our dreams.

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Old 03-01-2023, 05:08 AM   #2
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Quote:
I will then go around pooping and shearing off every damn rivet with an air chisel
I would skip the first part here - a roof raise is messy enough as it is.

Quote:
Also, 7/64th drill bits and a pneumatic rivet gun are part of the equation. Im guessing I’ve got to deburr every single damn rivet hole too?
You want to use a drill bit that is just slightly larger in diameter than the rivets you're using which should really be either 3/16" or 1/4". A 7/64" drill bit implies the use of rivets which are much too small for this. Also, keep in mind that rivets are typically not exactly their nominal dimensions (my first batch of 1/4" rivets were actually .26" in diameter, for example) so order your rivets, measure them with calipers and then get drill bits of the correct larger size.

Yes, you need to de-burr your drilled holes.

Quote:
Also unsure if I need sealer on the skins or are rivets sufficient if you do the overlapping thing?
Sealant is needed under the overlap of the skins to ensure watertightness. You also need sealant around the holes before each rivet is installed or you will get leaks there (this is called "wet" riveting).

Quote:
Also, are clecos necessary?
You would have an extremely difficult time without using clecos, especially when wet-riveting.
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Old 03-01-2023, 06:18 AM   #3
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Hi Nick,

Here's a playlist of a roof raise which might help you out with some...maybe many...of your questions. Please watch these and then we can help you with any specific questions you might have afterwards. For example, you don't need heavy duty jacks to raise the roof - it just doesn't weigh that much. As to the materials math, I think you'll want sheets (strips) wider than the 14" you're thinking...unless you want the seams to show. Normally, I pull of the rub rails and hide the lap joints beneath them, which means I might actually use a 28-32" wide sheet for a 14-16" roof raise. I think that will make sense after you watch the videos.

https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PL...9pxqxRelSBl7uW
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Old 03-01-2023, 09:19 AM   #4
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Drilling, Rivets, Dynatron

Jay Cee Rivets is a popular source, use Stainless Steel, Closed End rivets. 3/16" where new, 1/4" where replacing & reusing the hole.


Pilot every hole, using an undersized bit. Increase the hole diameter by stepping up the bit size to ream the hole. This forms a perfectly round, deburred hole as the size is increased.


I typically use 5 bit sizes to complete each rivet hole (7/64", 1/8', 5/32", 3/16", #11). The 3/16" rivets are not 3/16, aka.1875". The 3/16" rivets are actually .1910". Be sure to order #11 bits. HD, Lowes & Ace do not carry machinists bits.


Apply (dip into) cutting oil onto the bits prior to every pass. I cant stress te oil enough, lube & piloting will enable a single set of bits to cut several hundred holes.


Buy and use clecos:
Clecos ensure every hole is aligned with eachother. Errors will be made, otherwise.


Drill each hole and immediately insert the cleco before drilling the next.


Disassemble, clean thoroughly, apply seam sealer to one side, reassemble with clecos, replace each cleco with a rivet.



Prior to inserting each rivet, I turned each rivet in seam sealer. See Musigenesis's test of this method, I followed his lead.


insert/tap into hole, &
compress rivet, wipe excess sealant. Note the edge of the panel, a tiny bead of sealant, squeezed out by the completed rivet, as they're tighter than the clecos. No breaks or stopping, Dynatron dries quickly.



Please peruse the Roof Patch thread below, it's chock full of photos & tips to help you complete leak free seams & seals.

Have you watched RossVTaylor's Roof Raise videos?
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Old 03-01-2023, 09:57 AM   #5
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For sure watch Ross's videos, you'll be well prepared once all that information sinks in. A couple finer points: Buy the extended warranty if you buy a Harbor Freight rivet gun. Get the primer on your sheet metal before hanging and a coat of paint on before the rub rails go back on. 1/4" rivets pull really hard, I didn't dip them with sealer and no leaks, 3/16" rivets got sikaflex sealer. Did seal on sheet overlaps. Glad I used 18 gauge, 16 would have been a lot more work and likely overkill.



Don't use silicone for anything.



Try to get the bus level and hopefully the need to use ratchet straps will be minimal. Have the welder guy there when you cut and raise to secure things asap.



Where are you located? Fill out your profile, might be near someone who is helpful.



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Old 03-01-2023, 10:12 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Timeline View Post
A couple finer points: Buy the extended warranty if you buy a Harbor Freight rivet gun.
And...don't spend the extra money on the more-expensive Chief brand 1/4-inch rivet gun at Harbor Freight. I have found that the cheaper (about $70) HF version works just as well, if you bump the air pressure up above 100psi, and they last longer. I've had 3 of the "better" Chief versions and while they will pull 1/4-inch rivets at their lower specified 90psi, all 3 have split vertically at the front of the handle...there appears to be a weakness in the casting design there.

And I also use the same 1/4-inch stainless steel closed end rivets, from Jay-Cee (rivetsonline.com), that Big Daddy Mac described. I get them in two different lengths, so I have some longer ones for multiple layers or re-installing rub rails.
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Old 03-01-2023, 12:16 PM   #7
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Hey thank you all for the wonderfully helpful replies! I will say more later tonight when I have time.

For now here’s example pics.

What I’m envisioning
My bus currently
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Old 03-01-2023, 01:17 PM   #8
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Hi Nick, here are photos of a couple I've done...to show you what I mean about putting the lap joints behind the rub rails. And I think the videos show that pretty well, too.

Click image for larger version

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Click image for larger version

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Old 03-01-2023, 08:45 PM   #9
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Where are you located? (filling out your profile will help us help you).
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Old 03-02-2023, 10:18 AM   #10
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if you stagger your channel cuts one high one low you will make your build stronger. never in a line as they can fold over at the seam. use cobalt bits as we drilled almost 1,000 holes with 3 3/16 bits without sharpening. primer the edges of the new steel before installing. we skipped the ugly rivits and used 3/16 carrage bolts
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Old 03-02-2023, 10:21 AM   #11
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top row is the original rivits the bottom is the 3/16 carrage bolts i got for 4 cents each
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Old 03-02-2023, 10:27 AM   #12
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back in the last century my high school welding teacher had us cut a piece of cardboard straight then tape it. then he had us cut it in zig zags or any staggered pattern. then we held them sideways and stack washers on the edge until they failed this will help you understand the importance of staggered cuts
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Old 03-02-2023, 10:31 AM   #13
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been done for 3 years now full timer
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Old 03-02-2023, 10:36 AM   #14
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i made some 6 foot tall by 7 foot wide sawhorses out of 2x10 and 2x6 to support the roof and jack and block it til i welded the new channel extensions in. you must worry about if it falls while inside
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Old 03-02-2023, 12:03 PM   #15
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I definitely respect anyone's design or build preferences...do what works for you (both materially and mentally). Stagger the cuts if you want. But a proper weld will be as strong as the parent metal and, perhaps, even stronger. So, personally, I do not stagger the cuts. Granted, I don't just butt weld new sections in - there are overlapping pieces, which further strengthen those joints. But even without the overlapped sections, a properly welded butt joint should be no less strong than the original material. A welding certification bend test will show this to be true. If ones welds are, in fact, going to be the weakest link then I could see some value in staggering the joints so the failure points aren't all in a line.
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Old 03-04-2023, 07:08 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rossvtaylor View Post
And...don't spend the extra money on the more-expensive Chief brand 1/4-inch rivet gun at Harbor Freight. I have found that the cheaper (about $70) HF version works just as well, if you bump the air pressure up above 100psi, and they last longer. I've had 3 of the "better" Chief versions and while they will pull 1/4-inch rivets at their lower specified 90psi, all 3 have split vertically at the front of the handle...there appears to be a weakness in the casting design there.


And I also use the same 1/4-inch stainless steel closed end rivets, from Jay-Cee (rivetsonline.com), that Big Daddy Mac described. I get them in two different lengths, so I have some longer ones for multiple layers or re-installing rub rails.



Good luck on the cheapo. My harbor freight had all the cheap rivet guns clearances to 24.99 and sold out.. looks like they are keeping the chief only..
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Old 03-04-2023, 08:27 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fo4imtippin View Post
Good luck on the cheapo. My harbor freight had all the cheap rivet guns clearances to 24.99 and sold out.. looks like they are keeping the chief only..
Thanks for the heads-up! I just checked and it looks like our store has some in stock...for $24.99 as you mentioned. I'm going to try and snag a spare.
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Old 03-04-2023, 11:14 PM   #18
Bus Crazy
 
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It's a testament to the expertise and willingness to help that people can find here on Skoolie.net...especially compared to FB. The OP has posted these same questions here and in a couple of FB groups. The difference in responses are amazing. Here, he gets photos and links and experienced advice. On Facebook, the comments have been essentially useless to him. This is, for sure, the best skoolie resource on the web.
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Old 03-08-2023, 11:04 AM   #19
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Yes absolutely Ross. This is by far the place to go. Y’all are invaluable. Reminds me of all the conversations I had with my grandpa about mechanics and woodwork. Stuff you’d spend hours or days looking for on the web he’d just tell you in a casual convo.
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Old 03-08-2023, 11:08 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by musigenesis View Post
I would skip the first part here - a roof raise is messy enough as it is.



You want to use a drill bit that is just slightly larger in diameter than the rivets you're using which should really be either 3/16" or 1/4". A 7/64" drill bit implies the use of rivets which are much too small for this. Also, keep in mind that rivets are typically not exactly their nominal dimensions (my first batch of 1/4" rivets were actually .26" in diameter, for example) so order your rivets, measure them with calipers and then get drill bits of the correct larger size.

Yes, you need to de-burr your drilled holes.



Sealant is needed under the overlap of the skins to ensure watertightness. You also need sealant around the holes before each rivet is installed or you will get leaks there (this is called "wet" riveting).



You would have an extremely difficult time without using clecos, especially when wet-riveting.
Yes, you are right as another commenter pointed out, what I meant was 17/64 drill bit.

And the set of deburring bits: ordered! Will get some sealant soon as well as the clecos. Does anyone have any recommendations on what/where to buy clecos?
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