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Old 06-27-2018, 11:30 AM   #1
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Join Date: Apr 2016
Location: Godfrey ON
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Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: TCF
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How much can I cut?

So my Blue Bird TCF is a basket case. Not easy to find a clean bus in the rust belt.

The steel floor is toast, as well two of every three floor support crossmembers.

Every third - gusseted to the body - is quite thick, and so still sound.

My intention is to gut it from the inside out and replace all of the rotted members (2 x 0.100 square structural tube), and steel floor.

Ambitious I know.

I'm worried about removing too much structure though, and having the coach fold up or sag.

Are the lower inner longitudinal wall channels (where the ouboard side of the seats mount) structural??

I only have to worry about static loads - the bus will not move once the work is started.

Has anyone here ever gone this deep?

In your opinion, will the bus support itself on those "every third" crossmembers?

Does anyone have an exploded view of the coachwork?

I'm not far enough in yet to have even determined how the steel floor is secured to the walls.

Jim.
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Old 06-27-2018, 11:57 AM   #2
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Yes, the chair rail boxes are structural. 3rd cross member should hold it fine while you make repairs on the others. I would use outside supports under the bus also.
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Old 06-27-2018, 12:59 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Vicious View Post
Are the lower inner longitudinal wall channels (where the ouboard side of the seats mount) structural??

Does anyone have an exploded view of the coachwork?
I've done a roof raise on my 2000 Blue Bird. I went into it much deeper than any other I've seen here on skoolie; some of the pictures starting here might count as "exploded view." The skins are fully removed from both sides of the wall (only the exterior roof metal was left intact). You'll be able to see how the horizontal C channels in the wall fit into the hat channel wall/roof structure, and how these attach to the Z-shape "chair rail" which then sits on the floor.
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Old 06-27-2018, 06:25 PM   #4
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Thank you Gents.

She's worse than I thought!

A bit of exploratory poking after removing the sub reveals what you refer to as the z angle also toast.

Pic of rotted Z rail (upper), full length x member (left), and 2'3 x member.looking down through floor.
http://www.skoolie.net/forums/attach...1&d=1530141547

Another view:
http://www.skoolie.net/forums/attach...1&d=1530141802

How it appears the body is assembled:
http://www.skoolie.net/forums/attach...1&d=1530141881

A possible solution?
http://www.skoolie.net/forums/attach...1&d=1530141881

Perhaps the last photo more of my thought process as I tear into her and find things worse and worse. Still trying to come up with an inside out fix rather than disassembling an entire bus from the skin inward.

One issue I'm going to have here is shoring to the ground for any length of period - I'm on Shield muskeg, and the seasons will heave and sink the ground. Any support will have to be in relation to the chassis.
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File Type: jpg IMG_2400.jpg (203.3 KB, 20 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_2401.jpg (222.4 KB, 19 views)
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Old 06-28-2018, 10:50 AM   #5
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Bluebird has a great vid on YT about how their buses are built. That's how I learned about chair rails and why they shouldn't be cut out. It may answer some of your questions.
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Old 06-28-2018, 12:16 PM   #6
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Just watched it - ugh .. perhaps answers that I didn't want to hear.

Well, at the end of the day I have a bus - It's not sound enough to run, and not like I can send it back. I'm either going to learn (To quote Mark Twain - A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.) or end up with a Cummins powered go cart and a whole lot of extra scrap metal.

Jim.
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Old 06-28-2018, 12:36 PM   #7
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Maybe time to cut losses and start over?
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Old 06-28-2018, 01:32 PM   #8
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Maybe time to cut losses and start over?
Not without a couple of swings at the ball first .. at worst, experience gained if i have to start with another body.
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Old 06-28-2018, 02:06 PM   #9
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Notice that I did not say quit. You have a great attitude!
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Old 06-28-2018, 02:32 PM   #10
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Thank you.

Been around the bench long enough to know that I'm in for 15 rounds with Sonny Liston, but i've got some left in me yet.

My first order of business will be logistics if you will.

Set aside space, build some A frames to store tarped body panels, lots of pictures and annotations so things go back where they were and I'm not scratching my heat in the summer of 2020, lol.

52 weekends in a year, 1040 working hours. Stubborn like a mule.

Jim.
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Old 08-04-2018, 10:59 PM   #11
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So .. I was thinking Friday that I haven't really accomplished much this last month - until I realized that I'm actually only 5 days in on the project - full time job and all.

Thinking and rethinking strategy as I tear her down and see both the level of corrosion and how she was put together, the final plan is as follows:

I am in fact going to work from the inside out - no skinning.

I'm going to systematically (starting oddly enough from just in front of the rear axle) cut out and restore 4 foot sections - including the chair rails - which will be replaced by 2 x .20 cross members, upon which will sit (and welded) 2 x 4 x 0.1 rectangular tube to replace the chair rails which will be stagger riveted through the coachwork as well as supporting the roof bows (shortened to accommodate the longitudinal SST).

No plans for the floor plating yet, as it will no longer be an integral structural member anyway.

Rolling the die that the coachwork will support itself with (any) 2 adjacent cross members missing - tonight's final cut with only 1/16" deflection after bifurcating the member.

Oh good .. I didn't just end up wit 8 tons of scrap metal.

http://www.skoolie.net/forums/attach...1&d=1533440735

http://www.skoolie.net/forums/attach...1&d=1533440968

I'm figuring 20 weeks to complete the structural refurb - though i'm a bit of an odd duck, and will likely get more done when it turns cold.

I'm on my way folks
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File Type: jpg IMG_2675.jpg (135.1 KB, 16 views)
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Old 08-06-2018, 05:30 PM   #12
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So, given that this is going to end up being a somewhat long term outdoor resto .. any advice on metal protection?

Although a two part hardener spray gun rig may happen in the future, it's not in the budget right now.

My experience with off shelf rattle cans - with the exception of a specific caliper paint which surprised me - well .. you know.

the bus will be exposed to the elements the next 20-30 weeks (which will include a Canadian winter). Bucket of brush on auto primer? Tremclad?

Oil it up and clean it off before I paint in the distant future?

What products have you all had success with?

it's not a show resto .. either product (even if it's cat poo brown) that will work as a 'permanent' protection, or something temporary, robust, and easy to remove for a future shot of epoxy paint.
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Old 08-06-2018, 05:44 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Vicious View Post
So, given that this is going to end up being a somewhat long term outdoor resto .. any advice on metal protection?

Although a two part hardener spray gun rig may happen in the future, it's not in the budget right now.

My experience with off shelf rattle cans - with the exception of a specific caliper paint which surprised me - well .. you know.

the bus will be exposed to the elements the next 20-30 weeks (which will include a Canadian winter). Bucket of brush on auto primer? Tremclad?

Oil it up and clean it off before I paint in the distant future?

What products have you all had success with?

it's not a show resto .. either product (even if it's cat poo brown) that will work as a 'permanent' protection, or something temporary, robust, and easy to remove for a future shot of epoxy paint.
Rustoleum rusty metal primer will do. You can add some enamel hardener from tractor supply if you want it to last a bit longer.
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Old 08-06-2018, 06:02 PM   #14
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Just looked it up .. and Canadian Tire stocks it no less.

To be honest brother .. after a clown show "show" resto (epic) failure in my wet behind the ears 20's - I loath to trust anything that comes in a rattle can.

Especially magic things .. spray directly into 35 year old Ontario fender well and will produce a bag of nickels every subsequent bump.

Maybe too old now: if it doesn't require blood, sweat, or sutures .. it can't possibly work.

I assume you've used this product at some length? (Not just a 6" square patch)

Please .. don't take my reply as being an ***hole! Never friend!! I appreciate any advice. More just (Okay, and might have gotten into the bourbon) old and crotchety and tired of things that don't quite do what they say on the tin.

This, plus odd things that I can't quite reckon: decades ago cheap-o rattle canned a piece of equip currently sitting in my field looking pristine, others ponying for top of the line etching primer that didn't hold a winter.

...

Will eventually spray an epoxy prime and coat - but that's a way down the line. Need to make certain the interim product doesn't bugger this eventuality.
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Old 08-06-2018, 07:41 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Vicious View Post
Just looked it up .. and Canadian Tire stocks it no less.

To be honest brother .. after a clown show "show" resto (epic) failure in my wet behind the ears 20's - I loath to trust anything that comes in a rattle can.

Especially magic things .. spray directly into 35 year old Ontario fender well and will produce a bag of nickels every subsequent bump.

Maybe too old now: if it doesn't require blood, sweat, or sutures .. it can't possibly work.

I assume you've used this product at some length? (Not just a 6" square patch)

Please .. don't take my reply as being an ***hole! Never friend!! I appreciate any advice. More just (Okay, and might have gotten into the bourbon) old and crotchety and tired of things that don't quite do what they say on the tin.

This, plus odd things that I can't quite reckon: decades ago cheap-o rattle canned a piece of equip currently sitting in my field looking pristine, others ponying for top of the line etching primer that didn't hold a winter.

...

Will eventually spray an epoxy prime and coat - but that's a way down the line. Need to make certain the interim product doesn't bugger this eventuality.
I spray or roll it. For $25 a gallon and $15 for a bottle of hardener it holds up pretty well for what it is.
Other than that I guess go get some automotive grade primer from your favorite supplier?
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Old 08-06-2018, 10:24 PM   #16
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my best to you

You have bitten a large bite, we are rooting for you......

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Old 08-07-2018, 08:19 AM   #17
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Hope you got that bus cheap. POR 15 is a great product and will protect wonderfully, especially if you use the metal prep rust remover first, check it out. The only thing holding you back is your imagination and fear, both can be overcome with education and experience, Sportyrick.
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Old 08-07-2018, 10:52 AM   #18
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Old 10-27-2018, 02:01 PM   #19
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Hey guys (and gals), just thought I'd stop in again and say hi. It's been a few months.

Still going strong. Although it's been 4 months or so, I have to keep reminding myself that I'm only home 2 days per week.

The March Hare is finally seeing metal go in rather than come out, and after initial concerns that I was building too heavy, by my calculations the redesign will come out lighter than the original construction even with quarter inch thick square tube supports.

The "blocks" under the roof bows will eventually be replaced with 2x4x1/8" tube the entire length of the body.

The crossmembers are mounted using the factory spacers and clamps, with 1/2" grade 8 fasteners and flat washers.

This weekend I'm framing her in with old roofing tin skirts to the ground and stapled plastic over the windows so that I'll be able to work through the winter. Found an old wood stove in the barn that should keep things toasty enough.

Sometimes I just sit with a cup and look her over, sure she's still a mess for now .. but after a decade lurking here and having always wanted a bus - I'm just finally happy to be one of *you* now.

IMG_3693.jpg

IMG_3694.jpg

IMG_3695.jpg
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Old 10-27-2018, 06:20 PM   #20
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Wow, a project from this size, what a courage. Not sure what your final plans are but now that almost everything is loose it would not take much effort to weld 6" to the bottom of roof bows and raise the whole shell up. It would allow you to get more insulation in the roof and floor and at the same time get the windows higher and on eye level.


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