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Old 07-20-2020, 06:26 PM   #1
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The March Hare (continues)

Hey all, been a few years since I was here. Last post wondering just how much I could cut out of a badly rusted '04 Blue Bird TCF and formulating a plan to repair the rot.

As it turned out all of the cross members had fractured and I decided to build a new bus from the inside out.

Nearly 2 year of weekends later and I'm getting somewhere, just thought I'd share the updates.

If you ever looked at a project and suddenly wondered if you'd bitten off a bit too much?

Well, I've done this with a cheap sawzall, an angle grinder, drill, and a 20 year old 120 Volt MIG.

Oh yeah .. and a bag of hammers.

The entire bus was gutted. Floor, chair rails, all internal structure.

New 2 x 2 x .250" square tube cross members were installed using the factory bracket scheme, with every second 1 x 2 x .125" on end.

These support 2 x 4 x .125" (between the wheels) and 2 x 3 x .125" (behind the rear axle) rectangular members running the length of the coach under the roof bows which have been cut back.

I just finished the wheel tubs - I fabbed entirely new ones to flange to the body and mate to the rectangular members.

The eventual intention is to cut away most of the skirt for belly boxes (storage, gen set, etc.) - with the major structure in, I'm going to switch gears tomorrow from repair to modification mode - beginning the first belly box fabrication.

What I've been doing so far on my web site (pics and articles):

Findsomethingandburnit - The March Hare.

Of course still miles to go until I sleep .. But I'm getting somewhere

Tanks for reading,

Jim.
Attached Images
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File Type: jpg wheel tub 1.jpg (396.2 KB, 26 views)
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Old 07-20-2020, 06:41 PM   #2
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Arizona buses. I'm telln' ya!
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Old 07-20-2020, 07:34 PM   #3
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There's hard core rust remediation ... and then there's this. Very impressive floor rebuild, that's how you tell rust "not today".

FWIW when I rebuilt the section of my floor around the wheel wells, I was just as concerned about preventing the body from sagging without the floor supporting it. I was actually planning on building wooden walls under the skirt for support, but as it turns out I had to go fetch my bus from the clutches of the guy I had originally hired to rebuild the floor and drive it five miles back to my parking spot - with the giant open hole in the floor. That section of the body never sagged or deflected even a tiny bit, with 8' on one side of the hole and 12' on the other unsupported by any floor.

It would be fun to get drunk and test this theory at a bus graveyard, but I actually think you could remove almost the entire floor of a bus, leaving a couple of cross-members at the back and behind the driver's seat to bear up the whole load (and leaving the chair rails with the horizontal lips in place), and the body in the middle would not sag significantly. The bus body minus the floor is essentially a large piece of c-channel, which has good resistance to bending in the relevant plane.
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Old 07-20-2020, 07:49 PM   #4
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Nice work. Good job on the tubs. After reading all that I'm so tired from just thinking about all the work you have done that I need a nap. Keep the pics flowing.
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Old 07-21-2020, 06:32 AM   #5
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musigenesis -

I'd agree with our C-channel hypothesis on a good day, but the floor plating under tension was about all that was holding mine up. All of the factory "L" members had work hardened and fractured on either outboard side of the frame rails.

Been wondering if they're all like this after 15 years of service, or I just got particularly "lucky".

I was surprised at how much (longitudinal) stiffness the roof (and rub rails!) alone offered - one of the bum-pucker factors during this build was just how many feet can go unsupported without ending up with a 40 foot lawn banana. I went 4 rows at one point, but didn't sleep well. Of course static load compared to driving.

...

Arizona bus indeed! Arizona anything.

Found an ad before I bought mine. A 4 wheel drive(!) 14 row Bird 3800 - T444e/manual. Downright pornographic!

Unfortunately, I'm not exactly welcome anymore past the border .

...

Speaking of old iron in miraculous condition - although not bus related per se.

Last month I acquired my grandfather's last work truck ('68 Mercury 3/4 ton) which I haven't seen since 1979.

I was hoping at best to find a hulk in one or more pieces axle deep in cow poo that I could perhaps just salvage an emblem from .. some part of his truck - and was literally speechless when I found a more or less intact truck on inflated tires in a hay field. Rough to be certain, but more than enough to bring back. I have no idea how it survived 52 Canadian salt belt winters.

The current owner had known my granddad and knew what the truck meant to me. He gave it to me, but asked, as he had bought a spare engine, sheetmetal, and an entire bed full of spare parts - if "I would mind" giving him $300 for the parts as he would have no use for them without the truck.

My next project after the bus.


Jim.
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Old 07-21-2020, 10:10 AM   #6
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Wow!
Jim you have just elevated yourself to Rockstar status!
Carry on
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Old 07-21-2020, 10:19 AM   #7
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Holy cow. Nice work. I would have pulled the engine and tannerited the body.

That's awesome you are bringing it back.
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Old 07-21-2020, 02:24 PM   #8
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Thanks /blush.

Here's the tub in place. The "kicked up" ends fit on top of the structure I put in, and the floor flange on the "X" cross member arms all 3 sides. The body flange will be riveted through the exterior. Should work.

Note the small box mating to the roof bow.

As well, the kick ups are fully boxed 2" on either side of the tub face, with 1/4" gap between the box and the structure (to clear the welds). I'll eventually just cut a small plate to cover the gap from below and keep road goo out.

It's been an interesting day - lost half of the bus work day to wasps. Man they build fast!

Noticed the first 3 days ago .. got miffy when I was drilling a hole. Today noticed a nest on the roof above row 13 and they chased me out of the bus.

I could reach the nest with a 12' 2x4 through an open window, so knocked it off and ran. One bus full of very angry sounding wasps!

Went back and they were congregating around the remaining stem of the nest (oddly, seeming to abandon the majority on the ground) so the second wave was a remote brake cleaner on a stick attack quickly fashioned.

It's taken most of the afternoon and it's been a hell of a battle, but I think I can call victory and get back to work. Only two or three at a time randomly buzzing about, dispatched via work glove.

I'm actually surprised that they didn't manage to score a tag or two.
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Old 07-21-2020, 04:22 PM   #9
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If they try to come back, put a bit of used motor oil on the old stem/the spot where the stem attaches.


That was the only thing that convinced a dirt daubber to give up on building a nest in the mailbox.
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Old 07-21-2020, 04:47 PM   #10
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Nice job, wish I had 1/4 of your motivation!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oscar1 View Post
Wow!
Jim you have just elevated yourself to Rockstar status!
Carry on
Is that because of his fab skilz, or because he isn't welcome south of the border?
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Old 07-21-2020, 09:23 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JackE View Post
Nice job, wish I had 1/4 of your motivation!

Is that because of his fab skilz, or because he isn't welcome south of the border?
Haha. I just love the fab skilz mad skilz, I'd never question a man with that kind of talent on past indiscretions!
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Old 07-21-2020, 11:34 PM   #12
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Although I honestly appreciate it .. not my fab skills. You get a close look at those booger beads?

I am a certified muppet treading water. Albeit holding my own I think.

One of the reasons I post is to hopefully inspire everyman .. sorry, everyperson - like me, wondering if they're in over their head: But sally forth brave dream warrior, figure it out as you go - of'times f*** it up and do it again.

I will build this bus. And you will build yours.

I am not smarter, nor do I possess a talent or a unique insight into the universe that you don't.

I'm simply just too damned stubborn to give up.
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Old 08-04-2020, 06:29 AM   #13
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I've been putting this off.

The last 6 inches are total trash, although the actual door frame is intact.

Today I'm going to start on this ambitious fabrication which will hopefully slip in under the existing frame and give a lower perimeter surface to rivet the replacement sheet metal - if the rain gives up.

The radiused box sections will be 14 gauge, the rest .125" hollow tube. It wasn't exactly foresight, but looking back I'm glad now that I terminated the side rails with mating flanges - this should bolt right in if I measure right.

"Should" .. lol.

I haven't decided yet whether to attempt butt welded patches or just cut away up to the wrap-around rub rail and lap a new sheet in under the rail.

There's a dead fridge in the farm dump with just enough 20 gauge to do it. Nice thing about scavenging kitchen appliances for metal: Free, and well protected from the cancer right from the factory.

Wish me luck!
Attached Images
File Type: jpg rusty bus.jpg (125.1 KB, 5 views)
File Type: png skoolie fabrication.png (327.0 KB, 5 views)
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Old Yesterday, 03:24 PM   #14
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Well .. did I think it was just going to slip in there as if buttered?

Not so bad though .. It just needs a minor shave.

I expected a few trial fits and rework, which is why I only tacked the boxes to the tabs.

Dang it though .. every inch I peel back I find another two that have to come out. Unfortunately the lower door frame isn't going to be salvageable after all.



Girlfriend can't understand why I'm doing this. As I did drive the thing 2 hours here, and at a glance the external coach appeared more or less intact - she just doesn't get why I've spent two summers going through Band-Aids and a gallon of water in 90 degree heat - cutting it up and putting new bits in - and still don't have a floor.
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File Type: jpg IMG_20200808_160422287.jpg (578.0 KB, 3 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_20200812_152918392_HDR.jpg (266.6 KB, 4 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_20200812_152936474_HDR.jpg (292.1 KB, 3 views)
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Old Yesterday, 03:32 PM   #15
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.....too far in to quit now! Keep at it you will get it done.
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Old Yesterday, 11:45 PM   #16
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Don't I know it.

What the hell was I ever thinking?

You know the funny bit? Recalling wondering how I'd deal with the rub marks were the seats had marred the interior cladding and wondering what colour I'd paint her.
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Old Today, 12:01 PM   #17
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Quote:
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Don't I know it.

What the hell was I ever thinking?

You know the funny bit? Recalling wondering how I'd deal with the rub marks were the seats had marred the interior cladding and wondering what colour I'd paint her.
That did make me laugh a little.....but not so much. I've gotta keep my Yap shut til I get the rest of mine gutted and see what's down there.
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