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Old 08-31-2020, 04:13 AM   #1
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Best bus to roof raise?

As the title says. I'm searching for my bus. I'm looking for a rear engine but haven't decided on a brand. I read somewhere that some are harder to do a rood raise too. I believe it was Thomas. Any input would be appreciated thanks
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Old 08-31-2020, 06:49 AM   #2
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As the title says. I'm searching for my bus. I'm looking for a rear engine but haven't decided on a brand. I read somewhere that some are harder to do a rood raise too. I believe it was Thomas. Any input would be appreciated thanks
IC/Amtran, Bluebird, Thomas. In that order.
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Old 08-31-2020, 07:09 AM   #3
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Most (All?) Thomas buses have a slight angle to the windows which can complicate roof raises. The others have straight vertical walls.
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Old 08-31-2020, 07:10 AM   #4
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IC/Amtran, Bluebird, Thomas. In that order.



Carpenter / crown by carpenter would be in there .. id put it before bluebird as it has a single roof gutter so when you skin windows it doesnt look as wierd. it also has no wall taper like thomas does..


-Christopher
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Old 08-31-2020, 07:11 AM   #5
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Very helpful, thank you
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Old 08-31-2020, 07:18 AM   #6
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I dont think a rear engine bus presents any more challenges than a front engine.. since the engine sits a fair bit behind the rear wheels i'd want to support the bus well while raising and make sure you return the body structure solidly at the rear , otherwise id think youd have a lot of flex..



some of the rear engine have air ducts on the sides that you could even raise if you wanted to, or reroute.. or even raise around if you chose..
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Old 08-31-2020, 07:48 AM   #7
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Carpenter / crown by carpenter would be in there .. id put it before bluebird as it has a single roof gutter so when you skin windows it doesnt look as wierd. it also has no wall taper like thomas does..


-Christopher
YEah some of the older defunct brands were good.
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Old 08-31-2020, 07:51 AM   #8
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YEah some of the older defunct brands were good.

I mentioned it because I see these come up fairly regularly in auctions.. they were made through 01, for some reason there were many of them in texas.. so lots of rust free versions.. granted they never made an RE and the FE is collector-status rare..
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Old 08-31-2020, 08:18 AM   #9
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This comes up a lot, and some people say that raising a Thomas is no problem at all, but without explaining why not. I wonder if it's possible that there is enough flex in the chair rail and in the ceiling ribs such that when you rigidly clamp in a straight extender between the cut ends of the ribs, the bottom wall bends slightly outwards and the top part slightly inwards, resulting in a still-straight wall that is slightly less angled then the original.
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Old 08-31-2020, 08:55 AM   #10
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This comes up a lot, and some people say that raising a Thomas is no problem at all, but without explaining why not. I wonder if it's possible that there is enough flex in the chair rail and in the ceiling ribs such that when you rigidly clamp in a straight extender between the cut ends of the ribs, the bottom wall bends slightly outwards and the top part slightly inwards, resulting in a still-straight wall that is slightly less angled then the original.
This is a good point as well.
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Old 08-31-2020, 09:36 AM   #11
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This comes up a lot, and some people say that raising a Thomas is no problem at all, but without explaining why not. I wonder if it's possible that there is enough flex in the chair rail and in the ceiling ribs such that when you rigidly clamp in a straight extender between the cut ends of the ribs, the bottom wall bends slightly outwards and the top part slightly inwards, resulting in a still-straight wall that is slightly less angled then the original.
Owning one, I'm gonna say no.

The trick to raising a Thomas is to raise it from below the window line where the body starts to taper -- this way you're raising the body where it's straight and the insert you make is straight and then the tapered part sits above your raised section.
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Old 08-31-2020, 10:28 AM   #12
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Owning one, I'm gonna say no.

The trick to raising a Thomas is to raise it from below the window line where the body starts to taper -- this way you're raising the body where it's straight and the insert you make is straight and then the tapered part sits above your raised section.
that presents the problem of being able to stagger your cuts in the channels.2 rows of cuts in a horizontal line will be a weak point unless some type of square tubing is put behind each connection. welding shops like to stagger cuts when they can for the extra strength. this would be better if you had a rollover or a tree hitting from a angle.
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Old 08-31-2020, 10:38 AM   #13
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that presents the problem of being able to stagger your cuts in the channels.2 rows of cuts in a horizontal line will be a weak point unless some type of square tubing is put behind each connection. welding shops like to stagger cuts when they can for the extra strength. this would be better if you had a rollover or a tree hitting from a angle.
Yes...

To raise a Thomas nicely requires more skill and more thought because you're not just extending a straight vertical wall -- that's why everyone's posts above put Thomas as the least desirable to do a raise on -- I don't disagree with that.
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Old 08-31-2020, 10:39 AM   #14
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We are just finishing up the roof raise on our ‘96 Bluebird All American.

All I can say is f*** rivets ��.

But seriously, removing the rivets took waaaaay too long. If you go that route, make sure to buy a higher end air hammer to remove them with. We started with the cheap, $15 one from Harbor Freight and probably would have saved us 2 weeks of work if we spent an extra $100 from the get go.

I hear that some Thomas busses have screws instead of rivets. So that is definite a laborious section to consider.
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Old 08-31-2020, 11:06 AM   #15
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We are just finishing up the roof raise on our Ď96 Bluebird All American.

All I can say is f*** rivets ��.

But seriously, removing the rivets took waaaaay too long. If you go that route, make sure to buy a higher end air hammer to remove them with. We started with the cheap, $15 one from Harbor Freight and probably would have saved us 2 weeks of work if we spent an extra $100 from the get go.

I hear that some Thomas busses have screws instead of rivets. So that is definite a laborious section to consider.
I've had tremendous success even with the $12 air hammer with a chisel on it. The key is having a badass compressor, not a lil one.
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Old 08-31-2020, 11:19 AM   #16
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Both Thomas busses I have owned used screws for the inside ceiling panels and most of the covers in between windows on the outside, as well as most of the rub rail. There are some rivets though on this new one.

I can have my ceiling panels down in just a couple hours once I get started with a impact driver with an S2 Robertson bit. That includes picking up all the screws. It took me 5 hours on my first bus total because half the screws were painted in place/rusted in place, and I didn't have an impact driver.

I have a RE Thomas, and while I've scaled back my conversion significantly due to time constraints, I'm still leaning towards a partial roof raise just to get a little head room for the shower area at a minimum. I'll find out just how difficult it is I suppose.

I would personally rather deal with the taper than the rivets, but that's just me.

-jim

EDIT: wanted to point out that I haven't yet done a roof raise on any bus, so this will be a learning experience for me.
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Old 08-31-2020, 02:20 PM   #17
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I've had tremendous success even with the $12 air hammer with a chisel on it. The key is having a badass compressor, not a lil one.
Key points would be driving the mandrel out of the rivet before trying to shear the rivet and knowing how to sharpen the cheap chisels that come with cheap air hammers.

My Thomas roof and walls mostly has screws -- just a few rivets.
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Old 08-31-2020, 07:17 PM   #18
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Key points would be driving the mandrel out of the rivet before trying to shear the rivet and knowing how to sharpen the cheap chisels that come with cheap air hammers.

My Thomas roof and walls mostly has screws -- just a few rivets.
That works great for the blind rivets, but the solid rivets whooped me. They whooped me bad. It became a rolling joke how many times I said that we were working on the "last row of rivets".
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Old 09-05-2020, 03:56 PM   #19
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I found rivet removal fairly easy: used an air hammer with sharpened chisel bit from the inside to shave off backs of the rivets. After, use the punch bit to pop out them out from the inside. Only took a few seconds per rivet. I found this was faster /easier than drilling all the holes in the sheets.

For any screws that are stripped out, i figured out that cutting a groove with a cutoff disc (on an angle grinder) into the head of the screw, then use a flat tipped screwdriver bit will easily removed any blown-out screw... If i had figured this 'trick' out sooner, I could have saved myself days.
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Old 09-05-2020, 04:20 PM   #20
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that presents the problem of being able to stagger your cuts in the channels.2 rows of cuts in a horizontal line will be a weak point unless some type of square tubing is put behind each connection. welding shops like to stagger cuts when they can for the extra strength. this would be better if you had a rollover or a tree hitting from a angle.
All this talk of in line cuts being weaker. If splicing in tubing overlapped 6" on each I would suspect the structure is more more viable than before. It's much ado about nothing.
The problem I see with a Thomas is to do it right is to cut below the window. This requires removing more siding the make the overlap welds. School buses are overbuilt to protect our children. I would say by 100%, so if you lose 20% you're still 80% to the good. Lift an International, no problems.
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