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Old 09-10-2015, 09:49 PM   #1
Join Date: May 2015
Location: Kirkland, WA
Posts: 58
Cutaway section in back

Not sure how to articulate this correctly, so here I go:

Initially I was doing all my planning around a short bus. I don't need much space and I'm not putting in a bathroom or tanks or anything. I basically want a very sturdy, waterproof tent on wheels that can tow and has lots of storage instead of an RV. Moreover, my main purpose for a schoolie conversion is to camp (or camp at dog shows) with 4+ dogs so a 'traditional' rig has lots I don't need and not much of what I do need.

I've been looking at full-size busses and stroking my proverbial beard. I don't need the size as living space but here I am planning on towing a small trailer behind my short bus- why not try and make it work in one unit to increase safety and (likely) gas mileage? Plus there are a lot more full size busses in my price range than shorties for what you get.

So now I have technical questions. Is it feasible structurally and as a concept to truncate the living space of a bus and leave the back 1/3 as essentially a toy-hauler? Put in some sort of false back to the bus with an RV style door and create a covered porch in the rear? Aerodynamically what would that do to the bus? Would it leave it too front-heavy if not fully loaded?

I might try to whip up a design to illustrate what I'm thinking of. In the meantime, advice appreciated!

OK, this is sort of what I was thinking of. So clearly it has been done; although this rig is not likely meant for being driven across mountains and/or has little concern for structural integrity over time (at least that's my experience with tailgaiting vehicles!).

In my dream world/concept I would want to take down the walls similar to the photo above and replace the sidewalls with welded wire fence from floor to ceiling. I'd replace the floor with expanded wire mesh and (very securely) anchor high quality faux grass in the back- essentially a traveling dog run that can be hosed down as needed. The bus could absolutely have a solid back but it would have to be custom built so that the area usually occupied by the emergency door in the back would be converted into a ramp that could drop down for loading (and thus be weight bearing).

So essentially one third of the bus would be open-air and two thirds would be enclosed. It would have three sections, the cab and living quarters (largest section), a middle section with the windows removed that is essentially a mini-garage, and the tail section that is an enclosed dog run.

This not only adds thousands of dollars to my concept, it may also be technically impossible. I have spent no time poking around under a bus to know if there's business down there that shouldn't get wet from the top or even what sorts of supports are under the floor to know if I could get away with an expanded metal floor replacement. It basically changes a build from 'something I could mostly muddle through inexpertly in my garage with limited experience' to 'let's hire two welders, a machinist, and send it to a body shop'.

But I figure if I'm going to do a rig built for me I'd better just go ahead and do it the way I'd optimally use it. Not to mention I would NEVER have a boring day at a dog show again... I have never ever seen anything on the road or at a site like what I am dreaming up!
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Old 09-11-2015, 08:05 AM   #2
Bus Nut
Join Date: Aug 2015
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Rolling shutters would be cool on the sides.
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Old 09-11-2015, 10:46 AM   #3
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Instead of ripping out all the walls/ribs and removing the rear cap from the bus would it work to just leave the vertical support/ribs in place and just remove the inner and outer skin from the rear third of the bus,
The vertical supports/ribs are probably spaced about 30in on center, just leaving them there and then adding your screen walls would still leave lots of room for air circulation without needing to re-engineer the structural supports for the rear third of the bus.
my bus thread,
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Old 09-11-2015, 11:05 AM   #4
Join Date: May 2015
Location: Kirkland, WA
Posts: 58
Originally Posted by CaptainInsaneo View Post
Rolling shutters would be cool on the sides.
That was my initial thought but I wasn't sure if the roof could support the weight of the mechanism and retracted shutters without additional bracing. It would look really awesome, though!

I was noodling this over while I was supposed to be sleeping last night and it seems like such a huge modification for a first-time project. bubb, I agree that leaving in the vertical supports is a much better plan to avoid reframing. It's not like I need the clearspan space like the photo I posed above. Maybe I should just maintain the integrity of the bus and do a custom rack system to hold kennel panels instead- make the rear half of the bus a garage space w/out windows and ultra insulation, then do some sort of waterproof coating on the floor and halfway up the walls so the interior could be hosed out between shows.
It's not that my dogs have house training concerns, it's just that six german shepherds produce more fur tumbleweeds, kibble dust, and mud than you'd ever believe possible! Especially after hikes in the mountain lakes/streams in the PNW. It's just easier to hose out and scrub down a space than lug out the vacuum and mop and spot-clean.

Still not sure a full-size bus is the way to go and despite all evidence to the contrary I'm still hoping I can do this as a near-total DIY build.
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Old 09-11-2015, 11:47 AM   #5
Bus Nut
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 252
I recall another thread where the debate was concerning how essential the inner and/or outer may be to the overall integrity of the shell but on my mobile device its tough to crosslink. In any case, if I understand your goal my unqualified opinion would be to build your dividing wall at the 2/3 point, then remove the windows from the aft third and see how open air it feels before going any further. Especially if you intend it as a dog run I guess it seems a little redundant to my mind to remove the skin just to replace it with something else. Without windows there'll be plenty of open air and if you have dogs that likely jump that high then cover over the openings with mesh but I don't know if a dog's eye level view of the outside is really worth that much effort.
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Old 09-11-2015, 09:12 PM   #6
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I would leave the ribs on the sides for no other reason than to attach screen to it or use the perforated metal to keep bugs out and that way you had a screened porch that was just as strong as it was before.
You could weld up some really big strong squares made out of over engineered square tubing like you would for opening up a wall in a house.
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Old 09-11-2015, 10:31 PM   #7
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I'm with the Captain here. I'd leave the ribs. no reason to delete them except aesthetics.
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Old 09-11-2015, 10:50 PM   #8
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I would also not remove more than every second one.

Some buses with larger widows from factory cut out every second rib.

The ribs are just like studs in the wall of a house.

For everyone removed, one must be added at the ends under the header to bare the load.

"Don't argue with stupid people. They will just drag you down to their level, and beat you up with experience."

Patently waiting for the apocalypses to level the playing field in this physiological game of life commonly known as Civilization
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