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Old 08-27-2020, 12:33 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2020
Location: Washington State
Posts: 14
Year: 2006
Coachwork: El Dorado Aerotech
Chassis: Ford E-450
Engine: 6.0 L Powerstroke
Wheelchair Restraint Removal Issue

Hello everyone!

I am new to the conversion community and of course already running into problems (with my bus not the community), so I'm posting here to jump right into it. I'll give the full intro in a separate thread, but for now, I'm here to to discuss the flooring in my E450 shuttle bus, which was outfitted by El Dorado, specifically an ADA Aerobus 14 passenger.

I have been doing lot of research, reading as many threads and watching as many videos as I have time for. I decided to go with a full rebuild of the floor so I could put insulation in. I have begun taking out the seats and the linoleum, but have run into a problem with the "Q straints", which are the metal rails bolted in to the flooring for the wheelchair seatbelts. My model seems to have a ton of these and today after applying WD40 and taking the impact driver to them, I realized they are bolted all the way through the metal frame. The Q straints go all the way down the bus and I cannot access the bottom bolts on many of them even if I go under the bus, because they are above the fuel tank etc..

I have seen videos where folks use a recip saw to cut the bolts, but in my case I fear the bottom bolts would fall onto the fuel tank etc. and I wouldn't be able to get them out. I don't want my bus to be randomly spilling out bolts from time to time.

Originally i was planning to take out the subfloor plywood and install R max sheeting and perhaps some rock wool before relaying the subfloor and doing a cork/luxury vinyl top.

Now I am considering two different options but would like to hear if anyone has other ideas about what to do.

Option 1: Try to cut the plywood around the Q straints and pull it up in sections, leaving the restraints in place. Fitting the R max around the restraints and building the subfloor above them.

Option 2, the easy route: Just putting in a cork layer directly on top of the existing sub floor, perhaps using some foam or rock wool to fill in the gaps in the restraint rails.

I don't plan on living in the bus full time or trying to survive brutal winter weather in my bus, but things can change and I figured I would rather just "do it right" from the beginning with the flooring since that would be tough to change later. These Q straints are putting a bit of a kink in that plan at the moment.

Open to all suggestions and ideas. Please see the attached photos.

Thanks!
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File Type: jpg 20200823_173128.jpg (270.3 KB, 9 views)
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Old 08-27-2020, 07:52 AM   #2
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I can't find the video for this, but somebody recently came up with a good technique for removing these rails. Buy whatever size hole saw (with no pilot bit) that just fits inside those indentations (and around the bolt heads) and drill down around the bolt heads and through the track. Then you can peel the track up and get to work on the individual bolts, which will now be sticking up from the floor and easier to get to.
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Old 08-27-2020, 10:37 AM   #3
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I cut most of the T-rail bolts from underneath the bus with a metal cutting disk on an angle grinder. I recommend safety goggles and full face mask for this. The bolts I couldn’t reach were cut from the top
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Old 08-27-2020, 01:32 PM   #4
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2020
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Took me a second to understand this, but yes this is brilliant. Any recommendations on the type of bit? I have both an impact driver and a corded drill. Will bi-metal work or do I need a carbide or diamond bit? Also curious what will happen to the bolt once I cut them. Seems like quite a few will land on the fuel tank. Perhaps I can get to them with an extendable magnet of some kind?
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Old 08-27-2020, 02:06 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Champagne View Post
Took me a second to understand this, but yes this is brilliant. Any recommendations on the type of bit? I have both an impact driver and a corded drill. Will bi-metal work or do I need a carbide or diamond bit? Also curious what will happen to the bolt once I cut them. Seems like quite a few will land on the fuel tank. Perhaps I can get to them with an extendable magnet of some kind?
A bi-metal should work fine. I think these tracks are aluminum?

You shouldn't need to worry about your fuel tank, even if the hot cut end of a bolt falls on top of it. You probably wouldn't want to weld above it and drop molten steel onto it. Most likely the bolt ends will stay rusted to the floor and will only drop out when you hammer them out with a hammer and a screwdriver or something.
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Old 08-27-2020, 02:13 PM   #6
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2020
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Chassis: Ford E-450
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Thanks! This is super helpful. As far as the fuel tank, the only thing I was worried about was the bolts just falling into places I cannot reach under the bus. Maybe that doesn't matter too much, but I don't want a bolt to randomly fly out on the highway or something. That's why I was thinking maybe something long and magnetic to reach them and pull them out, I suppose after they are hammered out as you suggested... or do folks just leave them rusted in like that and then build the flooring around it?
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Old 08-27-2020, 03:53 PM   #7
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The fasteners are grade 8 or 10 and frustratingly hard so they will dull drill bits and saws super fast. If you can reach them from underneath, the angle grinder with a cutting disk is by far the fastest.

The ones that I could not ge to from below, I used the angle grinder with the same cutting disk to cut down through the top of the bolt which eventually cuts the head off the shank
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Old 08-27-2020, 05:07 PM   #8
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There is no quick and easy way to remove them, unfortunately.
The guys above have offered the best suggestions/solutions for the removal of the hold down hardware.

If you don't remove them, it might be difficult to fully assess the condition of the metal flooring below the plywood layer.

IF your bus was used primarily in the nations "Rust Belt", you probably should try to get as many as you can removed, to be able to tell if the base/metal flooring needs repair(s) before sinking good money into a bus that might not last too long.

This can seem challenging, and it is, but don't give up as the end results will be rewarding when the time comes.

Good luck, and post pics of your conversion as you work your way through it...

.
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Old 08-27-2020, 10:20 PM   #9
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Fortunately, the bus I have was only used for a few years as transit bus in WA State where we don't salt the roads much. It is a 2006 with 140K miles, and spent most of it's life sitting around at the airport but not being used because they ended up contracting a private company to run their shuttles. There is a section of the metal, which I have revealed at the front of the bus, which looks like it is in good shape and also looks like they applied a rustoleum spray on top of.

That being said, I would still like to put in the insulation layer if possible. I really appreciate the tips and tricks. I picked up a Bi-metal bit for the drill and it was pretty affordable so if I wreck it, it is not the worse case, but I am thinking to go get an angle grinder tomorrow before heading over to the bus. It seems one will come in handy for many of the bus projects.

Unfortunately, about half of the bolts cannot be accessed from the bottom due to the fuel tank and other mechanical parts, which must have been installed after the restraints.
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Old 08-28-2020, 12:03 AM   #10
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You’ll use that angle grinder a lot. Don’t forget to pick up a stack of cutting blades and at least goggles. The wrap around safety glasses with the foam gasket are pretty good. Ear protection is a good thing to have too. If you cut down through the bolt heads, bisecting them and then tilting the grinder a little to either side, you’ll cut the head off. After a few of these you’ll be able to get a pry bar between the rail and the floor, putting an upward pressure on the remaining bolts. Just wedge it in and then grind the next screw. You’ll know you’re through when it pops. It takes 3-5 minutes per bolt
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Old 09-09-2020, 01:31 PM   #11
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Chassis: Ford E-450
Engine: 6.0 L Powerstroke
Update

So a little update. After several tries, I have finally found the toolkit that is working for the job. At first I went with a Riggid battery powered angle grinder and diamond coated cut-off blades. This simply didn't cut it (literally). I tried both diablo cut-off blades (2 for $15) and Riggid cut-off blades ($15 ea!). The Riggid blade worked slightly better but the angle grinder kept stalling and the auto shutoff kicked in every few cuts, even with the Octane battery.

I ended up returning everything and buying a Milwaukee 11 amp powered grinder. This worked straight away and was able to get one of the small rails out, but the blade wore out super fast. I know this is common, but spending $15 a blade for that is going to break my budget.

I went back to home depot and they recommended these kinda crappy looking Avanti blades, because at least they were cheap and I was gonna wear em out anyway. Definitely a good price at less than $2 a piece.

Turns out they work better than the expensive blades.

So that was my saga. I'm sure it's a bit more of a read than the seasoned veterans need, but hopefully it can help someone with a similar problem not make the same purchasing mistakes I made at first.

I have taken out some of the big rails in the front already, just grinding away, replacing the blades when necessary, using a pry bar to pop em off and a hammered punch to push the bolt out.

Thank you everyone for the recommendations.

Now I am about to work on the ones above the fuel tank. It was mentioned that there should be no worry here, but I looked in some other forums and folks mentioned to fill up the fuel tank (less fumes) and cover the tank with a wet towel. I do have the metal frame on the bottom and most of the time I'm not even reaching the plywood subfloor, but I guess im overly cautious having not done this before. Thoughts?



https://www.homedepot.com/p/Avanti-Pro-4-1-2-in-x-1-16-in-x-7-8-in-Thin-Kerf-Metal-Cut-Off-Disc-15-Pack-PBD045063115F/301454110?source=shoppingads&locale=en-US&mtc=Shopping-B-F_D25T-G-D25T-25_7_POWER_TOOL_ACCESSORIES-Multi-NA-Feed-LIA-NA-NA-PowerToolAccessories_LIA&cm_mmc=Shopping-B-F_D25T-G-D25T-25_7_POWER_TOOL_ACCESSORIES-Multi-NA-Feed-LIA-NA-NA-PowerToolAccessories_LIA-71700000043746545-58700004596952413-92700049573927185&gclsrc=aw.ds&&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI nf2pncvc6wIVchatBh05sQkMEAQYAiABEgL57_D_BwE
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Old 09-09-2020, 04:54 PM   #12
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if you would have just cut across and through the rails at the bolt heads then a flat bar and hammer would have popped the rails right up.
there was no need to cut them length wise?
but hey thats how we learn and you didnt get hurt.
have fun
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Old 09-09-2020, 09:42 PM   #13
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2020
Location: Washington State
Posts: 14
Year: 2006
Coachwork: El Dorado Aerotech
Chassis: Ford E-450
Engine: 6.0 L Powerstroke
It's easiest to cut them lengthwise because of the groove. This one was the first one I did and I definitely cut too much because I was trying all the different blades. In the end when I pried it up, it just split in half. For the other longer ones I just cut lengthwise on the bolt and was able to pop them up over the cut bolt head. I'll post a photo soon. I'm not sure if i understand the cutting across method you mention. Maybe I am missing something but it seems like that would just be adding more of the steel rail itself to cut through rather than the bolt.
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Old 09-16-2020, 11:31 AM   #14
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"I did it my waaaay!"
Freaking angle grinder and 10 pack of metal cutting disks. 20 bucks. HF
Essential. Indespensable. Django know.
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Old 09-16-2020, 01:02 PM   #15
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2020
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Chassis: Ford E-450
Engine: 6.0 L Powerstroke
Quote:
Originally Posted by MountainJeff View Post
"I did it my waaaay!"
Freaking angle grinder and 10 pack of metal cutting disks. 20 bucks. HF
Essential. Indespensable. Django know.
Yep. This is what I have been doing. Slow and steady Thanks guys
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