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Old 03-29-2018, 02:52 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Roof Raise + Floor Drop

So I am looking at a 40ft 1998 Thomas school bus with a puller engine and a rear wheelchair lift which I may end up removing after all is said and done....

I need to optimize as much room in the rear as I can (who doesn't right?) I'm already looking at a roof raise to bring it to either 12.5 or 13 ft high (I plan to run solar plus a few antennas on the top that I would keep up front on the non raised area near the driver's cab) but that still only gives me around 9ft of internal clearance.

My question is... Why couldn't I lower the back floor after the wheel wells to the back bumper down to where the front stair case is or maybe a tad higher. Obviously it would need to support just as much weight as the original, but it would open nearly 8-12 inches of additional room which will help with my loft concept considerably.

Has anyone done this, or toyed around with the idea?

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Old 03-29-2018, 05:40 AM   #2
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Anything is possible! But.. no, I have not done it.

Nine feet inside the bus sounds like a huge amount to me but I'm not very tall.

Everyone and every build is different so I don't believe there are right and wrong answers to this type of thing. That said, there are typically a good number of heavy components (holding tanks, house batteries, etc.) that need to go somewhere - low and near the rear axle (under the floor) is a pretty good spot. If you've already taken care of that stuff and the space mentioned is empty, then it would seem like a possibility. Probably involves some frame rail modification but that is doable (not necessarily "easy").

You've probably already considered the effects of an "over-tall" bus but if not, give that some thought (tippy, sensitive to wind while driving, clearance issues (gas station canopies, tree branches, etc.).
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Old 03-29-2018, 07:01 AM   #3
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Dropping’s the rear would mean cutting the frame rails. Those are very important for keeping the back end from falling off.
I dropped frame rail can be made, but you had better be a damn fine fabricator to pull it off!
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Old 03-29-2018, 07:21 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SmartBusRob View Post
So I am looking at a 40ft 1998 Thomas school bus with a puller engine and a rear wheelchair lift which I may end up removing after all is said and done....

I need to optimize as much room in the rear as I can (who doesn't right?) I'm already looking at a roof raise to bring it to either 12.5 or 13 ft high (I plan to run solar plus a few antennas on the top that I would keep up front on the non raised area near the driver's cab) but that still only gives me around 9ft of internal clearance.

My question is... Why couldn't I lower the back floor after the wheel wells to the back bumper down to where the front stair case is or maybe a tad higher. Obviously it would need to support just as much weight as the original, but it would open nearly 8-12 inches of additional room which will help with my loft concept considerably.

Has anyone done this, or toyed around with the idea?

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As mentioned, it'd be some sweet fabrication...if outsourced it'd be expensive...if you take that leap be sure to post pics

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Old 03-29-2018, 07:43 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by jazty View Post
Dropping’s the rear would mean cutting the frame rails. Those are very important for keeping the back end from falling off.
I dropped frame rail can be made, but you had better be a damn fine fabricator to pull it off!
I saw another discussion on a YouTube comment that mentioned basically adding the drop to the frame vs cutting the frame which would give a sort of step down effect since the rails would remain in place. That made it seem doable but gave me so many questions lol. The sad part was the last activity on that particular thread was a few years ago.

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Old 03-29-2018, 08:03 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by JDOnTheGo View Post
Anything is possible! But.. no, I have not done it.

Nine feet inside the bus sounds like a huge amount to me but I'm not very tall.

Everyone and every build is different so I don't believe there are right and wrong answers to this type of thing. That said, there are typically a good number of heavy components (holding tanks, house batteries, etc.) that need to go somewhere - low and near the rear axle (under the floor) is a pretty good spot. If you've already taken care of that stuff and the space mentioned is empty, then it would seem like a possibility. Probably involves some frame rail modification but that is doable (not necessarily "easy").

You've probably already considered the effects of an "over-tall" bus but if not, give that some thought (tippy, sensitive to wind while driving, clearance issues (gas station canopies, tree branches, etc.).
I've been looking at adding storage cases to the center portion of the bus and hiding my fresh and grey water tanks inside the bus (still need to decide on a home for blackwater) as far as my over tall concerns I was basically thinking of like a roll cage concept to reinforce the roof raise. Creating a new rib structure in the rear, the center and at the front of the raise leading into. The dip into the original height untouched drivers cabin and connected in an X pattern along the sides where I don't intend to have windows.

I don't plan to stray too far from typical RV parks and traveling the major cities and highways and our home location will largely be the west coast and Las Vegas so I'm thinking size wise I'll be ok.

As far as the 9ft of internal space I'm finding myself having what appears to be a unique problem lol.

Most people in buses and vans are family's or couples that don't mind being cozy 24/7 with minimal privacy for the most part. In my situation I'm doing this with a friend of mine in a more roommate situation. We were looking at the outrageous prices of a super small barely 2 bedroom apartment in LA for well over 2k a month plus we both travel so much for work that is based from home this Bus Conversion is making the most sense, but it provides a few unique issues.

I'm 6ft 1in and a fairly larger fellow lol and he is 5ft 8in and Average Build. He wants a bedroom with a Full size bed and adequate storage for his clothes and items... And I need a bedroom with a queen size bed and adequate storage. A place where there can be true privacy especially if there happen to be guests over.

The best floor plan concept I've been able to come up with that still accommodates the other spaces we need is to stack those bedrooms in the back. Place both rooms at a horizontal orientation and build a stair walkway structure to the top room that let's Me also hide the washer/dryer combo under it and maybe a few other things.

I'm also trying to see if it's doable using the same floor plan concept to have a loft space over the Shower and maybe the residential fridge which would be our group sitting area with a couch and maybe our recliners as a living room area for guests.

I just need to make sure I have enough head room to make the concept work.

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Old 03-29-2018, 09:02 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SmartBusRob View Post
I've been looking at adding storage cases to the center portion of the bus and hiding my fresh and grey water tanks inside the bus (still need to decide on a home for blackwater) as far as my over tall concerns I was basically thinking of like a roll cage concept to reinforce the roof raise. Creating a new rib structure in the rear, the center and at the front of the raise leading into. The dip into the original height untouched drivers cabin and connected in an X pattern along the sides where I don't intend to have windows.

I don't plan to stray too far from typical RV parks and traveling the major cities and highways and our home location will largely be the west coast and Las Vegas so I'm thinking size wise I'll be ok.

As far as the 9ft of internal space I'm finding myself having what appears to be a unique problem lol.

Most people in buses and vans are family's or couples that don't mind being cozy 24/7 with minimal privacy for the most part. In my situation I'm doing this with a friend of mine in a more roommate situation. We were looking at the outrageous prices of a super small barely 2 bedroom apartment in LA for well over 2k a month plus we both travel so much for work that is based from home this Bus Conversion is making the most sense, but it provides a few unique issues.

I'm 6ft 1in and a fairly larger fellow lol and he is 5ft 8in and Average Build. He wants a bedroom with a Full size bed and adequate storage for his clothes and items... And I need a bedroom with a queen size bed and adequate storage. A place where there can be true privacy especially if there happen to be guests over.

The best floor plan concept I've been able to come up with that still accommodates the other spaces we need is to stack those bedrooms in the back. Place both rooms at a horizontal orientation and build a stair walkway structure to the top room that let's Me also hide the washer/dryer combo under it and maybe a few other things.

I'm also trying to see if it's doable using the same floor plan concept to have a loft space over the Shower and maybe the residential fridge which would be our group sitting area with a couch and maybe our recliners as a living room area for guests.

I just need to make sure I have enough head room to make the concept work.

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I understand your reasons for a conversion but you guys are gonna be miserable...a bus is a small space and you can do some incredible things with a bus...but before you sink a small fortune into this you need to acknowledge the limitations...my 2 bits...good luck

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Old 03-29-2018, 01:43 PM   #8
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Check out the Newmar Allstar motorhomes from about 10 years ago. They used a Sparatn mid-engine chassis that had dropped frame rails in the back. They built a variety of models that used the extra height in the back. Two story beds, bunks, other stuff. Offerings varied greatly by year. Not even clear if the ever built examples of the the varieties. Lots of ideas though.

https://www.rvroundtable.com/wp-cont...rMidDiesel.pdf

https://www.rvroundtable.com/wp-cont...rMidDiesel.pdf
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Old 03-29-2018, 01:56 PM   #9
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Heck a bus could fly if you throw enough coin at it. How many people will be living in it? You may have to change some priorities. There are families with 4 to 6 kids making do on conversions. If you must have more room you may have to look at road coach bus's.
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Old 03-29-2018, 02:12 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Miles O Roads View Post
Heck a bus could fly if you throw enough coin at it. How many people will be living in it? You may have to change some priorities. There are families with 4 to 6 kids making do on conversions. If you must have more room you may have to look at road coach bus's.
Just two people living in it full time with guests over from time to time.

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Old 03-29-2018, 02:51 PM   #11
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I would put a door in the middle and one bedroom in the front and one in the back. The middle could have kitchen and bathroom. Also the person in the front would have his own entry door.
You wouldn't have to go so tall and there would actually be more privacy being spread out rather than on top of each other. It's also better for dispursing the weight evenly.
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Old 03-29-2018, 03:24 PM   #12
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I would put a door in the middle and one bedroom in the front and one in the back. The middle could have kitchen and bathroom. Also the person in the front would have his own entry door.
You wouldn't have to go so tall and there would actually be more privacy being spread out rather than on top of each other. It's also better for dispursing the weight evenly.
I thought about that as well... But we also need to have a work space that can accommodate two Imacs and a work space, plus a living room area for guests. It's a traveling work/ living space basically. But one near the front is an idea I had not previously considered. Maybe a loft over the main driver cab area....

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Old 03-29-2018, 03:31 PM   #13
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Oh I see. Yea the front one could be a little smaller if you put the bed over the cab and maybe 5 feet of space behind the driver's seat before you make a partition might be enough?
A couch and kitchen table in the middle area would be easy to squeeze in for two computers.
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Old 03-30-2018, 04:38 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by SmartBusRob View Post
I thought about that as well... But we also need to have a work space that can accommodate two Imacs and a work space, plus a living room area for guests. It's a traveling work/ living space basically. But one near the front is an idea I had not previously considered. Maybe a loft over the main driver cab area....

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https://youtu.be/xeMT1d_L-hw



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Old 03-30-2018, 05:17 AM   #15
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https://youtu.be/xeMT1d_L-hw



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I'd love to use a double decker to start but all the ones I've seen (which the word All is a stretch because they seem RARE) have been wayyyy out of the budget for the starter vehicle... That's even if I include the projected cost of the roof raise and materials involved in the original shell purchase price.

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Old 03-30-2018, 05:57 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by SmartBusRob View Post
I'd love to use a double decker to start but all the ones I've seen (which the word All is a stretch because they seem RARE) have been wayyyy out of the budget for the starter vehicle... That's even if I include the projected cost of the roof raise and materials involved in the original shell purchase price.

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I am afraid that from your stated space requirements, you may not have many other options.

Look on this site for some of the mega-roof raise projects, some that are very close to the 13’6” interstate highway height limits.


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Old 03-30-2018, 06:01 AM   #17
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I am afraid that from your stated space requirements, you may not have many other options.

Look on this site for some of the mega-roof raise projects, some that are very close to the 13’6” interstate highway height limits.


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3 foot roof raise in Northern Arizona
https://r.tapatalk.com/shareLink?sha...3&share_type=t


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Old 04-01-2018, 06:49 PM   #18
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I have watched every video he has, I love that design and thank you! It has me reworking my original design concept. One thing I have been noticing on a lot of busses tho is that the additional steel pieces show dings and bangs really noticeably.

Would it be overkill or weird if after you rivet the body parts together if you go back and use larger pieces with less seams to rivet over the underlying body mods so you can have a more uniform rivet pattern and a flatter less dinged surface for painting?

It is my plan to paint the bus with either Plastidip or a Bedliner material for look and durability, would that cover the dings better or make them more noticeable since it clings to the material.

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