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Old 12-22-2019, 10:37 PM   #1
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Which materials and techniques for bus interiors?

I have noticed that a lot of folks like to build with the same materials and methods they would use in the interior of a conventional residence. I suppose that is the path of least resistance, to go with the techniques and materials that we are most familiar with and which are cheap and easy to acquire. I see people building out their interiors with 2x framing lumber and drywall and basically recreating the design of homes built years ago when carpenters did what they knew best, turn a pile of lumber into finished dwelling.

Iím thinking that if weight matters, there may be lesions to be learned from examples of aircraft, and the trailer industry. I am looking for ideas for using metal channel like trailer walls are made with and finishing with pre-painted aluminum sheets or fiberglass reinforced panel (FRP) and accenting with strips of stainless steel or aluminum. Maybe even pop-riveting cheap Luan plywood ($14/sheet) to sheet metal studs. I am already leaning towards furring out my exterior walls with 2 x 2 (nominal) metal studs which would give me 3 1/2 inches total wall thickness. For insulation It looks like foam is the only choice for the climates where temperatures go sub-freezing. For days on end. I just canít see how anything else can work. Any kind of permeable insulation like mineral wool or fiberglass bats is going to be a problem. You cannot put a vapor barrier between the living space and the insulation because every insulated space has to have some way to dry, to rid it self of the moisture which will inevitably get in either from leaky windows, screw penetrations or whatever. The wall certainly are not going to dry towards the exterior. Moisture is not going to pass through the sheet metal outer panels and if you put a vapor barrier on the inner face of the wall you will be trapping that moisture in the wall where it is going to cause rust or grow mold. So itís either foam or spend winters in warm climates.

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Old 12-22-2019, 11:03 PM   #2
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I'm also interested in lightweight design as my build is more road trip oriented than living full time in the bus. Once I get my floor stripped down I want to remove the ceiling and hopefully the inner wall panels.
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Old 12-22-2019, 11:06 PM   #3
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These are some examples that have elements that I like. The modern kitchen example with the large horizontal drawers in the European style frameless cabinets, especially. Having a lot of white on wall surfaces and the ceiling seems to work well in busses, giving a feeling of spaciousness that would otherwise be in short supply. I think with enough white on those surfaces one might be able to get away with a dark countertop, which I might prefer. I can build the cabinets myself and laminate countertops are not too difficult to make either. They are relatively inexpensive to experiment with too.

In the image of the RV interior, I like the cabinets up high by the ceiling.



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Old 12-22-2019, 11:10 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Truthseeker4449 View Post
I'm also interested in lightweight design as my build is more road trip oriented than living full time in the bus. Once I get my floor stripped down I want to remove the ceiling and hopefully the inner wall panels.
When you say you're going to remove your ceiling on your inner wall panels, do you mean permanently? Are you going to be dealing with the whole insulating question, or are you just going to do without?

Nice bus by the way.
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Old 12-22-2019, 11:21 PM   #5
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When you say you're going to remove your ceiling on your inner wall panels, do you mean permanently? Are you going to be dealing with the whole insulating question, or are you just going to do without?

Nice bus by the way.
Delete permanently and replace with something lightweight as possible. The part with the chair rails will stay for attachment points. Perhaps a cardboard like material with a soft material on it for the ceiling and a thin plywood base for the walls? It is my intention to add foam board to the bus, an inch or two to the floor, perhaps cut it into strips and use that to fill the ceiling. I haven't really fleshed out my plans quite yet, been meaning to ask questions just yours.


Thank you, but still not as nice as yours. I would have loved to get my hands on a Transitliner if one had presented itself.
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Old 12-23-2019, 06:48 AM   #6
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Have you looked into interiors for the Marine industry? Kitchen's and bathrooms for sail boats, yachts, etx, would probably use the materials you are describing and you may find already made solutions instead of having to start from scratch in designing and building.
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Old 12-23-2019, 07:32 AM   #7
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I can't speak for everyone on here, but one of the reason I did a skoolie was so I could build out the bus like a home. I used 2x2 wall studs and 1x6 TG pine on the walls. I did not care about weight, fully loaded with water tools I am 26K on a 33K GVWR.

While going lightweight would be something pretty cool, however in my book lightweight means cheap non durable, and if you wanted that, there is plenty of 30K-300K styrofoam walled pretty shiny boxes on RV lots, that pretty much fall apart.

Also it's cheaper and easy to fix home grade stuff then RV stuff, stuff for homes it built to be used everyday, RV stuff is few months a year

I don't know who used drywall in a bus, that crap is heavy and cracks like crackers, they won't even use them in mobile homes that I know of.
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Old 12-23-2019, 10:20 AM   #8
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I think the RV industry has the weight factor down well. You can't get much lighter then wood paneling and 2x2s. One problem with light weight is it usually turns out to be rather flimsy.

You could get into carbon fiber, aluminum, titanium(rocket ship) and shave lbs and oz's here and there but it would get very expensive very fast. Reminds me of a school bus I saw that someone built from a airplane junk yard.
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Old 12-23-2019, 10:38 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wrenchtech View Post
These are some examples that have elements that I like. The modern kitchen example with the large horizontal drawers in the European style frameless cabinets, especially. Having a lot of white on wall surfaces and the ceiling seems to work well in busses, giving a feeling of spaciousness that would otherwise be in short supply. I think with enough white on those surfaces one might be able to get away with a dark countertop, which I might prefer. I can build the cabinets myself and laminate countertops are not too difficult to make either. They are relatively inexpensive to experiment with too.

In the image of the RV interior, I like the cabinets up high by the ceiling.



I am thinking along the same line as you as far as interior design. I'm planning on furring out my walls with thin wall steel tubing and the ceiling with metal tubing spacers and flat strap to make the bending easier. This frame can then be used as part of the frame for the bunks, interior walls and cabinets. Sprayfoam in the wall and ceiling. I would like to then sheet the inside with aluminum backed with a thin layer of sound deadener. You would probably like the new air stream campers designs for ideas. They are very modern.

https://cdn.airstream.com/wp-content...nterior-11.jpg

Ted
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Old 12-23-2019, 10:59 AM   #10
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I framed the bed platform and hanging cabinets with mild-steel angle-iron and square tubing in my bus.

In order of importance to me (most to least):

= less volume - so important to me since my bus is mid-sized

= stronger - just try to crack it...go ahead...just try!

= more durable joints (wooden joints often need additional, expensive !!! angle-brackets or binding strips, or become even more voluminous using wood)

= more flexible - who's the guy that just blew out a windshield by hitting "the mother of all potholes" just this week (as told on this site). Same bus as me. If my body flexes, so do my hanging cabinets.

= recycles better than wood into a usable material when the bus retires.

= lighter weight - better to climb hills with

= cheaper - a 20' stick of 1"◊1" angle iron is under $20 here (about $16.80).

Of course I had to learn to use a stick welder. Took a day of practice before I could weld a 1/4"-20 stainless steel nut to a steel bar without destroying the nut or bar. Not too hard.

Now I can install surfaces to the metal frames that have the look I want. Just waiting to find the right lightweight paneling that I like.

Originally I was going to frame it all with wood, but I needed the nuts mentioned above welded to finish my roof-hatch-skylight. Once I realized I could weld, that changed everything.

One 10-foot wooden 2◊4 plank: 1.5" ◊ 3.5" ◊ 120" = 630"≥
One 10-foot steel angle stick: 0.125" ◊ 0.125" ◊ 120" = 1.874"≥
EDIT (whoops, wrong formula):
One 10-foot steel angle stick: (0.125" + 0.125") ◊ 120" = 30"≥


One cubic foot is 12" ◊ 12" ◊ 12" = 1720"≥

If I framed my bed with wooden 2◊4s it would use:

(75" ◊ 4) + (33" ◊ 4) + (18" ◊ 4) = 504" (linear inches: length + width + height for 2◊4 planks)


plus additional 2◊2 braces:
(11" ◊ 4) = 44"



So:
1.5" ◊ 3.5" ◊ 504" = 2646"≥
1.5" ◊ 1.5" ◊ 44" = 24.75"≥
2646"≥ + 24.75"≥ = 2670"≥


That's more than 1.5 cubic feet of space I would take up with a wooden frame bed.....more volume than a milk-crate full of stuff. But sometimes all ya need is just that 1/2" of linear space to squeeze your junk into that storage space.


note in the pics, there is also a small sink framed with stainless steel angle iron. It is NOT cheaper at about $80 for 20'. I got a 20' stick for $60 with two slight bends in it. I cut the pieces for the sink avoiding the bends. Also the stainless steel welding sticks are pretty pricey. But all was worth it for a better end-product.
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Old 12-23-2019, 12:08 PM   #11
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I do not know of anyone using sheetrock in a bus. Just would not hold up.

As far as other materials, people use what they are comfortable working with, and what produces the style of interior they like. Wood is my choice for the interior, because it fits my style. Metal ceiling to brighten it up a bit.

I do not care for the modern look, and do not care for stainless either but do what suits you. That is the real neat thing about all this, build it your way.

Humidity can be a problem so materials used should be able to take some humidity.

I understand wanting to keep weight down. Thing is however you build it, it is not likely to make a big difference. Where the big weight comes in is water tanks, batteries for solar, solar panels, generator if built in. Add in fuel for cooking and heating.

I am at just under 18,000lbs
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Old 12-23-2019, 12:14 PM   #12
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One of the advantages we have with our school buses over RVs, is that our structures are already very strong. No wooden stick frames with light gauge metal skins and staples. To make a partition wall to close off my bedroom from the rest of the bus I am thinking of using 2 x 3 sheet metal studs, Which are widely available, relatively inexpensive, and easy to work with (no welding required). I could even install them on 1 foot centers instead of the usual 16 inches, to add strength and keep the walls from being wavy.

Thomas has a great point too, I will definitely look at materials available from the marine world, which is very well represented where I am located. They have some sheet products that are waterproof, attractive, and which would be very useful in constructing a bathroom or surfaces in the kitchen.

And more power to you mountain gnome for teaching you. I don’t know what I would do without welding capability. It really opens up opportunities to use a wider selection of materials to build great stuff.

They have a pretty good selection of metal studs and channels at a local big box store near me that I plan to take advantage of.

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Old 12-23-2019, 07:32 PM   #13
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Humidity can be a problem so materials used should be able to take some humidity.

I understand wanting to keep weight down. Thing is however you build it, it is not likely to make a big difference. Where the big weight comes in is water tanks, batteries for solar, solar panels, generator if built in. Add in fuel for cooking and heating.

I am at just under 18,000lbs
Yeah all of those are valid points. I'm surprised you're only 18,000. My bus empty is allegedly 19 and change per the title, outbound at the landfill scales after seat removal over 20,000.
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Old 12-23-2019, 08:29 PM   #14
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Yeah all of those are valid points. I'm surprised you're only 18,000. My bus empty is allegedly 19 and change per the title, outbound at the landfill scales after seat removal over 20,000.
For my part, I’m just hoping I can make an interior that does not look like a lumberyard special or a 19th century railroad car. So probably no wood stove or visible 2x lumber for this project.
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Old 12-23-2019, 09:35 PM   #15
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For my part, Iím just hoping I can make an interior that does not look like a lumberyard special or a 19th century railroad car. So probably no wood stove or visible 2x lumber for this project.

Oh neat Victorian splendor, like the Pullman palace cars. Is that what you mean by 19th century railroad cars?
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Old 12-23-2019, 10:42 PM   #16
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Instead of building conventional stud framed walls I built plywood cabinets and let them be the walls. The 3/4" plywood is plenty rigid when built into cabinets and you don't loose any floor space to the stud bays. My large cabs have a front, two sides and a bottom (no back or top) and the sides are scribed to the walls and attached with steel "L" brackets to the wall.

The kitchen cabinet has a front, a bottom and one end panel and attaches to one of the upright cabinets on one end. The upper cabinets are built the same way with plywood end panels left off where the cabinet butts up to another cab.

Also, remember that your bus is rated for a mess of kid flesh that you won't be hauling anymore. Our bus, converted with all our stuff and with tanks full is 2000 lbs under GVWR.
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Old 12-24-2019, 12:31 AM   #17
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No drywall! Works great when it doesnít move but not otherwise! As weight saving goes, 1/4Ē luan ply is used a lot in motor homes and whole it works, I loathe the stuff. Because it feels cheap. IDK what Iím doing yet, but itís not 1/4Ē ply or drywall. Iím partial to cabins and boats. Since I donít have a pile of teak and a cabinet shop itís probably going to be ďcabin modernĒ
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Old 12-24-2019, 02:22 AM   #18
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While going lightweight would be something pretty cool, however in my book lightweight means cheap non durable, and if you wanted that, there is plenty of 30K-300K styrofoam walled pretty shiny boxes on RV lots, that pretty much fall apart.

Have a look at the expedition overland and marine industries if you want to see high quality lightweight materials. They are anything but cheap or non-durable, they use premium well engineered products made for extreme conditions, but they are far from cheap. Nidacore, Carboncore, Total composites are a few names that come to mind.
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Old 12-28-2019, 03:33 PM   #19
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Just bought a bus and looking at various options. I'm interested in a natural interior like cedar paneling and other non-off gassing building materials (when baking my bus in the sun).

Future accessibility is something I want to consider. Upgrading wiring, ducting, etc will need side panels that can allow for removal and easy upgrades.

For insulation I'm mostly interested in Rock wool for its fire-protection, waterproofness and sound reduction. Its R value is higher than Fiberglass. I'm still doing some research on what is best, but don't like the idea of flammable foam lining my bus.



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Old 12-28-2019, 03:44 PM   #20
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Just throwing this out there. I swear I dreamed this. To keep insulation off your outer walls, could you use that plastic mesh used under cedar clapboards and shingles? I don't know how thick it is.
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