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Old 10-06-2022, 08:54 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Sep 2022
Location: WNC
Posts: 45
Year: 2008
Coachwork: International
Chassis: CE300
Engine: DT466E
Interior Skin Structure

I was originally going to try and leave in as much of our interior metal skin as possible on our conversion - it's in good shape, clean etc.

One of the reasons I wanted to leave it was the assumption that a bus is engineered as a system, and that internal metal skin adds to the structure rigidity of the entire bus box - much like even the thinnest ply keeps a stud wall from rocking.

Any opinions here? Are we compromising the structural integrity (and safety) of these busses by removing that metal skin on the interior? I know "everybody does it", but that doesn't make it smart or correct... learned opinions welcome

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Old 10-06-2022, 10:17 AM   #2
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Year: 1990
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Originally Posted by AXett View Post
Any opinions here?
Haha, oh yes! Many strong opinions on this subject!

Here's mine: yeah, the skin adds some structure, but removing it doesn't suddenly turn your bus into a house of cards like some imply. I have a mechanical engineer in the family with many decades of experience that I trust completely. He's the type that will do pages and pages of calculations if he has the slightest doubt about something. When I asked him about removing my inner skin, he needed less than a minute to tell me that the inner skin was not worth worrying about. My bus is built differently than most, but I can't imagine it's THAT different.

My guess is that removing the seats is worse than removing the ceiling skin, but none of us question that since it would be awfully inconvenient to leave them. Even if you remove the seats and the ceiling skin, do a crappy roof raise, put a monstrous roof deck, etc..., your bus will still be 10x sturdier than a factory RV/Motorhome.

Edit: changed from 100x to 10x sturdier to be a bit less dramatic
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Old 10-06-2022, 12:06 PM   #3
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Are you not going to be adding insulation to the bus? Most find that interior wall and ceiling removal is a vital part of ensuring adequate insulation.
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Old 10-06-2022, 12:12 PM   #4
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Insulation is a consideration for sure, just not a requirement. I'd posit that the impact of a few R here or there in a vehicle whose walls are 50% glass is of questionable efficacy Thats a wholeeee nother fight though.

Tejon - thanks for the feedback here. I actually wondered about the seats preventing some body roll when I saw how robustly they were attached to the floor/wall. As I frame in interior walls in the future, I'll likely try and hit some ribs and make some of that 'webbing' effective again.
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Old 10-06-2022, 12:26 PM   #5
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True about the glass.

What are your plans for the bus? Keeping all the original windows? Roof raise or no? Full timing or occasional-use camper? I ask mostly out of curiosity, but the answers might also guide the conversation about keeping/removing the inner skin.
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Old 10-06-2022, 12:47 PM   #6
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Original windows are in good shape, couple small leaks. Will probably scrape and reseal where they seat against the metal. A few will get removed and I'll weld some sheet metal over the holes, but we want to keep as many as is reasonable.

No roof raise planned. We've got 78" interior height right now. With a new floor that'll add a net .5" or so, and then at worse we lose another .5" to ceiling covering, so it'll be alright for us. Keeping the overall height low is a big consideration so that we don't have to be as concerned about every overhang and traffic light we go under

Not planning to live in it, use will be as a traditional weekend/vacation RV. We go van-camping a lot now in our Chevy Express, but the kids are getting bigger and the dogs are multiplying. We looked at Class C RV's and the price about put me into cardiac arrest, not to mention how clearly poorly they are built... so here we are!
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Old 10-06-2022, 01:15 PM   #7
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Given that info, my personal recommendation would be to leave the ceiling skin in there. It is certainly stronger that way, but more importantly in my mind is that it's just not worth the weeks or months of effort to remove and replace if you'll be using it as a traditional camper. As a nights-and-weekends bus converter, removing my headliner, re-insulating, and replacing it added at least three months to my build. Three months could mean missing an entire camping season. If you plan to live in it or camp in extreme temps, then re-insulating the ceiling, walls, and most of the windows is a necessity. That kind of build takes years for most of us. If using for occasional camping, just make the bus reliable and cozy as quickly as possible, then get out there and have some fun!
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Old 10-06-2022, 01:29 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Tejon7 View Post
If using for occasional camping, just make the bus reliable and cozy as quickly as possible, then get out there and have some fun!
THIS! Exactly. I've been trying to strike the balance between doing it all "right" and thoroughly, and spending my kids entire childhood making it perfect.

What's your feeling on the galvanized side panels below the windows but above the chair rail? I was going to scrub, seal and paint them as is...
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Old 10-06-2022, 01:53 PM   #9
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I'm afraid I don't have enough experience to have a useful opinion on your walls. Hopefully somebody with a similar bus can chime in on that!

I hear you about getting it done while the kids are still kids. Our first bus conversion (if you could even call it that) was before kids, before "real" jobs, before any hint of acting like adults. We spent 1% of our time and money on conversion, and 99% on having fun. It was freezing cold in the winter and boiling hot in the summer. Bugs, bats, and mice were our frequent roommates. Despite any discomfort, those were the best times of our lives. If we weren't planning on living for long periods in the new bus then we would have done a much simpler conversion in one year tops. As it stands, we're 2.5 years in and finally starting to imagine the finish line. That's not an atypical timeline, so fight the urge to get carried away like the rest of us and just get it functional and get out there!

*I may or may not be saying this out of frustration with my own build timeline, hoping you'll finish quickly so I can live vicariously through you
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Old 10-06-2022, 03:16 PM   #10
Mini-Skoolie
 
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We're planning a Phase1/Phase2 approach to this whole circus.

Phase 1:
  • Remove seats
  • Overhaul/fix electric and safety items
  • Seal windows
  • Paint exterior
  • Paint Interior
  • Remediate underbody rust
  • Remove floor, fix rust, rebuild.
Then throw down some cheap carpet over the whole interior and take it out camping with some air mattresses. Idea being get as quickly to enjoyment as possible, while still keeping the project moving forward. And making it easy to bail out should it be a disaster (I've seen too many 50% done skoolie projects on craigslist)

If it ends up being a wild success then Phase 2 will be the "full" RV conversion, including re-titling it as an RV (which in NC is sort of a pain).
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Old 10-06-2022, 03:29 PM   #11
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Seems like a smart way to go.
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Old 10-06-2022, 05:45 PM   #12
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I left the inner, under the window skins in place. There is insulation from the factory in the walls. I did use 1" rigid foam board in those same walls...1" was the approximate depth of the chair rail which is structural. The insulation is mostly for sound dampening although I suppose it will ad a little bit to staying comfy.
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Old 10-12-2022, 10:00 PM   #13
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Though it might not apply to your planned use for your skoolie, I will say that while the ceiling panels might not add much in the way of structural strength, you are correct that it adds rigidity and I've experienced the consequences of removing those panels firsthand.

My plan is to do a roof deck that will become the new roof. It will give me a bigger gap for insulation between old roof and new, as well as more head room by removing the ceiling panels. I'll also stabilize between the ribs before all is said and done. I'm still in the process of my build, but knew what I wanted to do and removing the ceiling panels was one of the first things I did.

I assume that under normal circumstances this wouldn't be a problem, but I removed the panels and then attended an electronic music festival called bass coast. The bass from the speakers was resonating in the roof. One of me and my buddy's fondest memories was sitting in that dark, torn apart bus and while under some influence, jamming screwdrivers etc in between the ribs of the roof and the sheet metal. This offered only temporary relief from the vibrating roof as this would eventually pop the rivets holding the sheet metal and required adjustments of the screwdrivers/jamming a rag in between them finally.

In summary, you can have all the strength in the world and vibrations will still trump you ;)
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