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Old 05-16-2018, 01:08 PM   #1
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removing walls and ceiling?

Hi folks! I know many people on this forum advise removing the wall panels (and ceiling panels too?) and taking out the existing (fiberglass, presumably) insulation.

I am not worried about the fact that the existing insulation is terrible as insulation, because we intend to add insulation inside of the bus (Iím fine with the lost space from doing so).

I am mainly worried about whether removing all those interior panels will compromise the busís structural integrity (and thus safety, and comfort in driving). The person selling us our bus tells me that a bus will feel different to drive with the ceiling panels out, it doesnít feel like itís holding together as well. She seems very concerned about the structural integrity if we take those panels out.

So should I remove everything? If you remove all those panels, how do you deal with the structural issues (if any)? Is there any way to remove the existing insulation and/or check for mold/rust without pulling out the whole panel? How important is it to remove those parts altogether?

Also, how long / how much work does it take to remove all those panels (please mention how long your bus is, for reference).

Basically, it seems like if so many people put in so much work to get the wall and ceiling panels out, it must be very important to do this. But what about structural stability? Other considerations? (Besides that I donít need them out in order to insulate better because I will add insulation inside.) Please share your wisdom!

For reference, we intend to live in our bus full time and drive it around, mostly in the Northeast. We are trying to get our bus done quickly so time is of essence.

Thank you!
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Old 05-16-2018, 01:18 PM   #2
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I pulled three panels down, inspected and put them back up. Yes, ceiling panels are structural.
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Old 05-16-2018, 01:27 PM   #3
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I pulled three panels down, inspected and put them back up. Yes, ceiling panels are structural.
How were they attached? How was it to put them back? - the person selling us the bus says once ceiling panels come out they won't really go back in.

Did you remove the fiberglass to inspect, and then put that back in too?

Also, any idea whether wall panels are structural too (or how to tell)?

Thanks!!
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Old 05-16-2018, 01:35 PM   #4
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If you read around a bit, there are people who have talked to bus company reps, and they always hear the same thing: ceiling panels are structural. So to answer your question, yes, yes they are. Even though this is the case, the majority of builds i have seen have made the choice to remove them. I'm pretty sure that the event of any sort of catastrophic event (crash, etc) there is enough structural material left over in the other placed to prevent anything bad from happening. Unless there is some sort of horrible structural compromise, you should be alright.

I know the most commonly said reason for removing the panels is for insulation, but you also want them out for a few other reasons. Checking for rust on the inner side of the outer skin, checking for leaks, removing mold, checking for critters, the list goes on and on...

My bus has screws in the ceiling panels, and has about 60 screws per row. This means its 120 screws for the first panel, and 60 for each after that, give or take a few in the middle of each panel for added support. I am taking my ceiling panels out, and have removed 3 panels so far. About 15 minutes per panel if you work quickly I guess? It really does get tiring holding your arms up that high though...
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Old 05-16-2018, 02:03 PM   #5
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While it is important to remove the ceiling panels for insulation I would not worry about structural deficiency because we done leave it bare, it is replaced or replaced with something else, bringing the structural integrity back. I would bet you would find, that while it is structural, it is probably not an important feature of the structural integrity. Remember that most things like this are build to 150% of what is needed. If removing walls and ceiling for insulation you shouldn't lose any interior space as you can add up to 2" of rigid and still be below the finish level of the wall and ceiling.
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Old 05-16-2018, 02:06 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by olives View Post
How were they attached? How was it to put them back? - the person selling us the bus says once ceiling panels come out they won't really go back in.

Did you remove the fiberglass to inspect, and then put that back in too?

Also, any idea whether wall panels are structural too (or how to tell)?

Thanks!!
I was very careful removing my panels. I pulled some insulation back to inspect for mold, rust,etc. I put them back up. I built my new walls over the existing walls and insulated them. I also insulated my floor.
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Old 05-16-2018, 02:09 PM   #7
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The panels aren't structural. My roof raise bus was sold as a raised skeleton with only the roof on. No sides, ceilings, or walls. Went from Sorrento FL to Del Rio Texas without a problem. No deformation, no shifting, no anything. Solid as a rock.
Others will disagree but this has been my real world experience with panel removal.
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Old 05-16-2018, 02:14 PM   #8
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The panels aren't structural. My roof raise bus was sold as a raised skeleton with only the roof on. No sides, ceilings, or walls. Went from Sorrento FL to Del Rio Texas without a problem. No deformation, no shifting, no anything. Solid as a rock.
Others will disagree but this has been my real world experience with panel removal.
You can't believe that there wouldn't be added damage in a rollover as opposed to one complete paneled? With no stress on anything just driving I
m not surprised you didn't notice anything.
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Old 05-16-2018, 02:21 PM   #9
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If anyone thought about adding some rigidity you could always add flat metal strips between panels using the existing screw\rivet holes. That may work.
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Old 05-16-2018, 03:22 PM   #10
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You can't believe that there wouldn't be added damage in a rollover as opposed to one complete paneled? With no stress on anything just driving I
m not surprised you didn't notice anything.
I don't think it makes a bit of difference. The ribs and chair rail are the main structure of the body. RV's and Coach buses don't all come with metal headliners and metal interiors- why should I have to settle for a tin can?
In any SERIOUS rollover I highly doubt a layer of 20 something gauge headliner is going to be much of a factor.
But to each their own... ROLL YOUR OWN!
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Old 05-16-2018, 03:39 PM   #11
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Depending on how hard\easy i can get the riveted ceiling panels out of mine i may just insulate and put them back up with nice screws. I would prefer not to damage them so i at least have that option. I have the perforated kind so i am not sure if i lose any R value keeping them. Structurally the inside panels do create a box.
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Old 05-16-2018, 03:55 PM   #12
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Depending on how hard\easy i can get the riveted ceiling panels out of mine i may just insulate and put them back up with nice screws. I would prefer not to damage them so i at least have that option. I have the perforated kind so i am not sure if i lose any R value keeping them. Structurally the inside panels do create a box.
The frame and ribs create the real "box".
Buses aren't unibody, they're body on frame.
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Old 05-16-2018, 04:16 PM   #13
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The frame and ribs create the real "box".
Buses aren't unibody, they're body on frame.
Correct, i just meant it boxed in the ceiling so to speak to tie the ribs together top and bottom vs just the outer skin.
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Old 05-16-2018, 04:21 PM   #14
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I don't think it makes a bit of difference. The ribs and chair rail are the main structure of the body. RV's and Coach buses don't all come with metal headliners and metal interiors- why should I have to settle for a tin can?
In any SERIOUS rollover I highly doubt a layer of 20 something gauge headliner is going to be much of a factor.
But to each their own... ROLL YOUR OWN!
I would argue with you that the ceiling panels add substantial structural integrity. But it is structural integrity that is not required to operate safely.
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Old 05-16-2018, 04:24 PM   #15
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I would argue with you that the ceiling panels add substantial structural integrity. But it is structural integrity that is not required to operate safely.
If the ceilings are structural- its to an insignificant amount that I'd gladly sacrifice for comfort etc.
I mean, if we're gonna get down to it- the seats are structural, too. As are the front bolsters. And every single part of the bus.

But you gotta crack at least a few eggs to make an omelette.
Some folks seem to dig the metal headliner, I don't. I'm fine with it though.
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Old 05-16-2018, 04:27 PM   #16
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If the ceilings are structural- its to an insignificant amount that I'd gladly sacrifice for comfort etc.
I mean, if we're gonna get down to it- the seats are structural, too. As are the front bolsters. And every single part of the bus.

But you gotta crack at least a few eggs to make an omelette.
Some folks seem to dig the metal headliner, I don't. I'm fine with it though.
Isn't that what I just said?
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Old 05-16-2018, 04:48 PM   #17
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We pulled all of the interior paneling out of ours except for the chair rail. I was concerned by structural issues at first but decided the ability to put in extra insulation was worth it.

I think that, of course, it will be strongest with the interior panels, less so without the interior panels. A couple of important things to think about are that in either configuration, it is going to be wayyyy better than a fiberglass RV, and lots of people own and drive RVs without worry.

Also, something that I don't see mentioned on this site often is that if you do get into a rollover in your bus you have other, bigger, problems...mainly, everything you've put into the bus (framing lumber, plywood, water tanks, appliances, pots and pans, silverware, tools) flying at 55mph.

All of this to say you're spending time worrying about interior panels when you should probably put more worrying into routine maintenance when thinking about safety.

Disclaimer...it's your bus, do what you want!
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Old 05-16-2018, 04:59 PM   #18
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In my opinion, all the rows of my 8ft furring strips running the length of the bus, connecting the ribs, and then the wood sheets that will be screwed and and secured will add to the integrity, so I'm not worried in the least bit. They were thin sheets of metal that I could roll up and the wood isn't.
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Old 05-16-2018, 06:06 PM   #19
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It's not really arguable that the ceiling panels, and walls, add to the structural strength of the body ... They do.

The question is what kind of compromise are you making by removing them, and balance that with the benefits of doing so in terms of liveability.

My thought would be that you are reducing the strength minimally for a large benefit. The only real concern would be the reduction in strength in a roll-over. That is an exceptionally rare event, and one certainly not covered by the makers of Class A Motorhomes.

Even with those panels out the bus will retain much of its shape in a roll-over, where you will, in any event, be at much greater risk from all the fixtures and fittings you add to the interior.

Is it a factor? Yes.

Is it worth worrying about? No, but that's a decision you have to make for yourself.
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Old 05-16-2018, 09:27 PM   #20
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Well said mate.
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