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Old 01-30-2017, 11:46 AM   #1
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Take top off and build rv

I was wondering if anyone has ever taken the whole rear (where the seats are) off and used the "flatbed" to build a tiny house from.

I've been searching a lot and being 6' I need it to be taller. The roof raise is a very good idea but seems like out of my skill area. Trying to do this and save money.

I've seen a few schoolies where people have basically made a tiny house camper out of the whole rear by removing the roof and walls. I'm wondering if any of you have done this and how it went for you the legalities etc.
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Old 01-30-2017, 12:13 PM   #2
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I'm a little confused, a roof raise is beyond your skill level, so you want to take everything off and build a home from scratch on the flatbed?

A lot easier to raise the roof!
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Old 01-30-2017, 12:21 PM   #3
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I have a lot of experience in carpentry, plumbing and electrical. However, welding isn't one of my strong points. Then making a front and rear cap. My original plan was to buy a camper use the trailer to build fro s scratch. But after seeing all these schoolies, I'd like to do the camper to tiny house idea but with a bus.

I'd have to buy a welder, learn to use it etc. I'd like to just hacksaw the whole rear and build from the floor up.
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Old 01-30-2017, 12:25 PM   #4
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I wouldn't be so quick to discount the roof raise based on skill level. If you have the skills and determination needed to chop a bus down to a flatbed and build a house on it, then I propose you have the skills (or could easily acquire them) to raise a bus roof.

If you've looked at a few builds, then you've probably notice that there is no standard way to approach the roof issue. I've seen people lift it with floor jacks and 4x4 poles, some winch it up with chains, and at least a few people have made custom fabricated metal brackets that used threaded rod to allow fine adjustments. Some of the frames are welded back together. Some people just acquire metal tubing of the appropriate size and bolt everything. Some of the outer skins are welded, some riveted, and I think at least one person mostly used self tapping sheet metal screws.

There's a lot of variety in approaches based on individual skills and resources. If you like the roof raise concept, then don't discount it too quickly. Especially if your goal is to conserve funds, then you have to remember that using the resources you have (ie an already mostly weatherproof shell) is typically going to be cheaper than making changes which will require you to totally rebuild something.

On the other hand, if something just appeals to you about stripping down to the deck and working your way back up, then that's up to you. Still, I'd caution that you are unlikely to be able to recreate something which will have the structural integrity of the bus shell you lose in the process. One of the biggest appeals of skoolie builds is often the safety that comes from having a solid metal shell around your mobile dwelling vs a bunch of laminated pasteboard like many RVs are built out of.
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Old 01-30-2017, 12:45 PM   #5
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spend $500 on a welder friend to do the needed welding. hacksaw and raise the roof yourself. you cant learn to do great welds in the little welding a roof raise takes.

but, scrapping a sturdy steel frame for a stick and staple one, well that just aint right. if you are a skilled carpenter, what you screw your work to shouldn't matter.

isnt there a thomas with a 7' roof? i'd keep shopping for something that fits your needs.

oh, and saving money and owning a bus don't really go together.
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Old 01-30-2017, 02:06 PM   #6
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Maybe I will keep looking for a 7 ft. That will work great. I am just leaning more towards this bus project vs a camper trailer because my truck will probably not pull a 27 foot camper too well. 03 ram 4.7.

I am 23 years old and planning for this to be my full time home, ready to get out of my parents house, but lucky that I can stay here while I save more money. I have about 3000$ right now and a stable plumbing job.

I will look into getting a welder and look at more people doing this.
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Old 01-30-2017, 02:35 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by THC4 View Post
I have a lot of experience in carpentry, plumbing and electrical. However, welding isn't one of my strong points. Then making a front and rear cap. My original plan was to buy a camper use the trailer to build fro s scratch. But after seeing all these schoolies, I'd like to do the camper to tiny house idea but with a bus.

I'd have to buy a welder, learn to use it etc. I'd like to just hacksaw the whole rear and build from the floor up.
IF you cant weld or get someone to do it for you, you could always bolt or rivet. More than one way to skin a cat.
Great screen name, btw.

Raising the roof is gona save you a ton of hassle and will keep the integrity of the bus body more intact.
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Old 01-30-2017, 02:40 PM   #8
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That sounds like a good approach if you want to make something for yourself that will really last.

Now, if you need something quick, you can get used RVs that are in remarkably decent shape for just a few thousand. The caveat there is that I can tell you from experience they are made for intermittent use. Full time living introduces wear and tear they were not designed for and quickly causes issues unless you start replacing the lowest-bidder integrated equipment with better stuff. And the insulation/climate control usually sucks.
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Old 01-30-2017, 03:30 PM   #9
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everything they said !!!!!!!!
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Old 01-30-2017, 03:42 PM   #10
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You can also expand your search for high roof buses, IC Buses (Amtran, International) came with 78" roofs standard around the early 2000s. Mine's 02/03, and has the 78" roof. Easiest way to tell the bus has 12" tall windows is to see if the driver's window height lines up with the others. If they don't, its a 78" bus.
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Old 01-30-2017, 03:44 PM   #11
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I think your original idea is a great one - but many considerations will need to be made. The main one is that you'll need a very robust floor to avoid the torsion and twisting popping your wood framing when you articulate the bus on a bump, etc.

The advantages of building this way is that you can easily work with the wood, use 2x6 framing and spray foam the hell out of it - use double pane house windows, etc. Plus vinyl siding if you choose.

If you spend a lot of time thinking about it - it's not a bad idea. However - the longer the bus, the more issues you will face when the frame torques over on bumps, etc - forces that homes do not see all the time as you would when driving it.
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Old 01-30-2017, 03:47 PM   #12
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Actually you could even use SIP's (structural insulated panels)
Like from Kingspan or others. Basically commercial freezer wall panels.
Steel or aluminum clad inside and out with Styrofoam or polyiso in between.
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Old 01-30-2017, 10:49 PM   #13
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Sorry for the late reply. Not gonna be able to reply to everyone at this moment. I guess I've decided one of two options. Find a higher bus or perfect excuse for me to take up welding.

I've been looking into tiny houses on a camper for years and finally have been saving for one. My friend who is against my idea of this suggested a bus as a joke. Jokes on him, I love the idea. Besides, my 240hp gas burner wouldn't pull a camper decked out. I'm also mechanically inclined so that's a plus on the bus. I
23 years of age and I dabble in a bit of everything.

Hopefully I can source out a bus nearby for a good price. My max I'm wanting to spend is 2500-3k on the bus. Then as I make money and with taxes I can start to build it.

Here's to a hopefully debt free life.
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Old 01-31-2017, 01:19 AM   #14
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Next time I raise a roof, I will bolt it back together, instead of welding it.
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Old 01-31-2017, 01:22 AM   #15
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Quote:
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Next time I raise a roof, I will bolt it back together, instead of welding it.
Really? From what I saw of your build thread, you are pretty sharp with a welder. What leads you to decide in favor of bolting the verticals?

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Old 01-31-2017, 07:25 AM   #16
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Really? From what I saw of your build thread, you are pretty sharp with a welder. What leads you to decide in favor of bolting the verticals?
I second this....I'm curious as to why, Elliot?
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Old 01-31-2017, 09:00 AM   #17
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I second this....I'm curious as to why, Elliot?
If I had to guess, I'd say it's because it's galvanized. But I'm really interested to see what his reason is too...
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Old 01-31-2017, 09:50 AM   #18
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Frankly, I think a skoolie chassis would be a very poor choice for stripping down in that manner. They are an integrated shell that relies on the complete rib & body structure for integrity. Something like a flatbed logging truck would make a much better platform as they are far stiffer and designed to carry enormous loads. Plus...they have been popular as "tiny home" chassis for several decades and there are tons of such builds that could be studied/copied as far as the engineering goes.

See if you can find a copy of "Rolling Homes". This book came out back in the '60's as I recall and featured some pretty wonderful builds on similar platforms.
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