VW Bus Grafted onto School Bus Roof - Smart or Stupid Idea?
Can anyone tell me their personal experience with raising the roof of their bus? I have seen, and like the idea of, adding a VW camper bus to the top of a dog nose style school bus. I have four kids and plan to use the addition as a group sleep/play area. They like the idea of having a space of their own and the Dr. Suessian asthetic. I have found images of the "Boogie Bus" with one VW grafted into the roof in the slide out posting elsewhere on this site, and the "Magic Bus" with two zebra striped VWs on the roof. The only opinion I have found on the subject was by Mr. Sharkey (can not recall the URL) who disliked the idea beacuse of raised center of gravity, increased need for dodging trees and powerlines, squeeks, rattles, leaks, and the amount of gained space for the effort, but his objective is to gain light and head room not gain sleeping space. His complete removal of his Crown bus roof is total overkill for my objective. Is this VW bus modification worth the effort, totally stupid, or somewhere in between?
this conversation we're having about police should probably be moved to the "everythign else" thread...
I've traveled all over the country, from new york to LA and lots of places in between. It's rare for me to get pulled over out of state, however in state i've had my share of traffic stopps. I've had very few poor expierences with police officers. I"ve been pulled over plenty of times. My observation is that police officers are mostly just interested in checking to make sure you have a valid liscense, proof of insurance, and are not driving a stolen vehicle. If those three are all in order i've found that in most police officers don't even bother giving a ticket for the original offense. I have been pulled over more than a dozen times since i was 20 years old, and only gotten one ticket. Nearly every time i get pulled over, i had done something wrong ie: speeding. All but one time, the officer let me go. (i got a 5 over ticket doing 47 in a 25 zone, which he later reduced to impeding traffic)
I have a method i use when i get pulled over......IF an officer is after you for speeding, you usually know he's after you long before he turns his lights on. I usually start looking for a good place to pull off the side of the road. In my car, i try to pull as far to the right as possible so the officer doesn't have to stand out in the road while talking to me. In the bus, I think i'd try to leave him room to walk on teh passenger side so he isn't getting his boots muddy walking in the ditch.
At nite, i turn on the dome light, roll down my window and have my lic reg ins ready to hand to the officer. Then i put my hands on the top of the steering wheel and leave them there till the officer gets to my vehicle.
I try to be completely honest and use use yes sir, no sir when answering questions.
I have an excellent driving record, and i'm a total straightedge as i don't smoke, drink, or do any drugs.
Hopefully some of this will indeed help you someday when you see the red and blue flashing lights in your mirror
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes (who will watch the watchmen?)
Cops aside - any other comments on the VW Bus topper idea?
Thanks for the info on the cops, good information, so I opened an new topic for this issue. In this thread I was looking for advice from those with real direct experience with construction, use, and life with a VW bus roof grafts?[/b]
I am a cop and I work the summers as a "traffic cop" on a Harley. You have nothing to worry about legally with adding the bus on the roof as long as you take a little time to look up the local traffic codes for vehicle height and weight, etc... A call to the local office of the State Patrol or their nearest weight scale/inspection station can yield you a ton of useful FREE information prior to doing something and finding out later it was not legal to do. I would agree that there might be leaks or wrattling going on, etc...
The one thing I didn't see mentioned on this thread was this...if you are not doing anything illegal you have nothing to worry about. It is true that some cops may give someone a ticket for no seatbelt (or littering) when they weren't doing so and it might be true that the fine might be higher, but you will find is that speeding goes on your driving record and causes your insurance to go up, thus costing much more than the extra fine. Littering and seatbelt violations do not go on a driving record. Sometimes what is interpreted as the actions of a jerk may not be as bad as they might seem. It all depends on the attitude we have going in. If I assume you are a jerk before I even know you than my behavior toward you will almost certainly cause you to be as such or I will come away from the situation thinking you were when you weren't. Every store has bad employees, every gas station has bad employees, every hotel I've ever stayed in has bad employees, but I certainly don't judge everyone by the bad people I have met just because they work in a store, gas station or hotel.
P.S. It's always a bad practice to get advice from anyone who will not be standing next to you when you find out the advice is wrong. They used to hand out wallet cards that told you "your rights" but those caused a lot of problems for a lot of people because they were very wrong. There are people out there right now telling me it's my constitutional right to not pay taxes. Maybe I should listen to them and see what happens.
I drive a tow truck for a living. As such, I deal with these arrogant, swaggering wanna-be stormtroopers daily. I average one pullover per day (cited twice in four years, both bogus, both tossed in court). 98% of cops I deal with are simply thugs who, with slightly different circumstances, might have wound up as mob leg-breakers or union enforcers.
The one thing I didn't see mentioned on this thread was this...if you are not doing anything illegal you have nothing to worry about.
That's because nothing could be further from the truth. If they don't seen anything to pull you over for, they'll simply invent something (like going 72MPH in a truck governed at 67).
Optimism is a mental disorder.
I thought my post was pretty nice and straight forward. Polite actually. To say that police officers will just make something up if they don't have anything is, for one thing, very insulting to me and, secondly, a very sad statement for you. I said there are bad people in every job and I believe this is true. We have a local wrecker operator who would put decoy cars in a bank lot marked "no parking or you will be towed" to make local bar-goers think that it wasn't being enforced. He would then wait and when the lot filled he would get several of his wreckers there and tow a ton of cars. When people came out of the bar their cars were gone, along with the decoy cars. If someone caught him towing their car he would make them pay the tow or he would take the car, even if he hadn't hooked the car up yet. He also charged cash only and way over charged what the city allowed for a tow. When we investigated this he had no record of dozens of the people who complained to us about this because he never issued receipts. Do I think all wrecker drivers are crooks like this guy? Of course not. Are there more wrecker operators in this area who are crooks? Of course. Should I assume that all will rip me off when I have a problem? Absolutely not.
So does anyone have any advice on how to secure a portion of a vehicle to the top of bus?? (I am aware that I have to keep everything under 13'6'')
I'm hoping that someone who has done it can offer insight/ how to.
I'm searching for an old VW body to put on top...but I know they can be hard to come by. I called a junk yard and they said if they had one they'd be stoked to cut it up for me. so that's hopeful...
Also I have heard of junk yards with cranes can also be stoked to hoist it on top of your bus.
Anyone have any suggestions on how to secure the van to the top of roof...Im guessing welding it would be ideal?? anyone done anything different??
My BIGGEST question, not being a structural engineer, is...what kind of support is needed to keep the roof up and support the extra weight of the add on?? We would like to remove the bus roof everywhere where the VW covers the existing roof so to act as a roof extension on the inside.
I thought about lining up the bus with the front windsheild or the back wall of bus hoping that it could support half the weight and then maybe two support poles on the other end of VW to support end of addition that is towards the middle of the Bus.....any ideas or suggestions of needed structural reinforcement would be greatly appreciated!!
Any possibility of keeping this thread on track. It started as an interesting question and now seems to drift into BS about individual problems with their local police depts.
I don't know the right or wrong answer to the VW roof expansion, but think that it wouldn't be any more of an issue than a roof raise. I'd think that if the metals are compatible, some decent welding, maybe some rivets, and good sealing should do it.
I wonder if Dphillips ever built his bus? It's been 12 years
To keep it from being too top heavy, just use the flip top from a VW, that would still get you the added headroom/sleeping area with out too much extra weight, as well as reduced drag.
As for the structural fabrication and attachment, that's probably up to your skill set or wallet to decide. I would add some temporary supports during construction until the structure of the VW van top is firmly attached. Also I would not cut the majority of roof of the bus out until the bus body/top is firmly attached. Getting the VW bus trimmed to match the bus roof line could take a few tries. If it were me, I'd probably make a perimeter frame from some 2"x2"x1/8" angle (or 2x2x.125 stitch welded to match the contours) that matches the contours of the bus roof and the vertical sides of the VW. This would reinforce the bus roof structure, allow for some "variation in the fitment" AKA "hide any hideous Sawzall work", and then with a combination of butyl tape/SikaFlex/3m 5200 and about 2,000 rivets and/or screws, make it whole, then make a hole and trim it out. Once you get it attached, remove the temporary supports.
That's just me spit balling, I've never build a bus nor raised a roof on one, but I did stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night.
Not grafted to a bus, but face timed with my brother in Seattle today and did a walk through of his $150k Tesla 72 VW Van. It's all wrapped in plastic right now after $50k in paint and body work on a relative perfect Van when he started.I would say less than 5% of the parts going on it are not new.
I Thank God That He Gifted Me with Common Sense
Pros: More vertical space for a limited area of the interior, more sunlight entry can be used for a greenhouse or solar heating for an off-grid build.
Cons: Lots of work, compromises center of gravity and roof watertightness, limits your travel options by increasing height. Most skoolies stand 10'0", and already present some challenges in certain areas. Doing this would likely take you over 13'6", which makes you overheight and may not be 100% legal. Do your research on the legality of traveling with such modifications.
Clarification on CDL. Buses retitled and registered as RV / MOTORHOME, do NOT require a CDL. However, I strongly advise taking a course or getting friendly with a CDL driver willing to teach. I am willing, and while experience is often the best teacher, you can learn a lot without ever moving it.
I realize that some CDL drivers have had bad experiences with law enforcement that either made up a violation or just decided they were the next contestant... However, I had no such experiences over 400,000 miles in four years in an 18-wheeler over-the-road.