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Old 03-12-2021, 08:29 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Roof construction question

What are "shuttlebus" roofs typically made of. I just dropped the fiberglass ceiling. Is there any structure in it? Steel or wood? I found rot up high and in the middle of remediation.

I have a 2009 C5500 el dorado aero elite. I don't know why I thought it was built like our old Born free

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Old 03-14-2021, 07:16 AM   #2
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What the ceiling without the fiberglass looks like. I am guess there is no structure. Only flat stringers laid parallel, in the ceiling to provide a nailer. I am just going to build a couple of bulkheads to stiffen things up
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Old 03-14-2021, 07:57 AM   #3
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Thank you so much for the photos.
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Old 03-14-2021, 01:41 PM   #4
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Thank you so much for the photos.
Your welcome!

If you look closely at the ceiling, you can kind of make out where thes three boards are laid in.
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Old 03-14-2021, 02:19 PM   #5
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... three boards are laid in.

Boards? As in Wood? I was hoping they were steel.
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Old 03-14-2021, 05:01 PM   #6
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They look like 2x4s. I am assuming they may be wood. I can't tell without peeling back the fiberglass. And they won't hold a magnet. I am limiting my exploratory surgery to only where leaks are.
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Old 03-14-2021, 07:40 PM   #7
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I have been pondering your question because I am considering an El Dorado Aero Elite for my build.

I am not sure that the fiberglass shell can sustain the weight of a conversion like a metal school bus.

Seems like an internal structure that can take the weight of solar panels and upper cabinets and transfer it directly to the vehicle chassis would be great.

I imagined adding 3 arched ribs to the structure. Connect opposing bulkheads with an arch for strength. The Romans used arches for a reason and they are pleasing to the eye.

The first would be at the entry behind the drivers seat, the second creates the wall to the bedroom and a third at the back of the bus.

Then I could connect stringers between the ribs above the windows. Hanging upper cabinets to the stringers would transfer the weight directly to the floor through the ribs/bulkheads and not stress the fiber shell. Lower stringers below the windows would give additional attachment for base cabinets too.

I imagine that I could drill through the roof directly into the arches to attach channels to support solar panels too. That way their weight isn’t relying on the structural integrity of the roof, but transferring the weight of the panels directly to the vehicle frame. They might even be useful for putting in a ceiling.

The arches could be created by laminating layers of thin plywood strips and attached to the bulkheads. The bulkheads could be incorporated into the base cabinets too.

Anyway, this is where my woodworking brain took me. I suppose metal could be used too…
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Old 03-14-2021, 07:51 PM   #8
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..I am not sure that the fiberglass shell can sustain the weight of a conversion like a metal school bus..
You can be sure after you watch about 100 youtube videos of fiberglass shuttle buses converted to motorhomes.
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Old 03-14-2021, 08:07 PM   #9
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I did see some videos where the ceiling collapsed... still digging into this before I buy something. Some of the vids had a metal frame inside supporting the shell. Thanks for you insight.
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Old 03-15-2021, 01:38 AM   #10
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I did see some videos where the ceiling collapsed...

That would be of importance to all! Please share links.
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Old 03-15-2021, 08:04 AM   #11
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Originally I had looked at converting a high roof transit van, but talked to a local bus company and they have a possible trade in of a 1998 V10 with 36k miles. He wants $2500 for it. That was 6 days ago.

Since then I have watched videos of many successful builds of shuttle buses. But I have no experience with fiberglass. Videos like showed me how much flex they have - especially if damaged in some way. Another one of the vids in their series showed the roof collapsing.

I want to put panels on the roof, and do not want to stress the structure beyond its design limits. Lots of wisdom and good experience here on skoolie.net. I have enjoyed following the threads and soaking into the creativity.
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Old 03-15-2021, 08:30 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by RedOak View Post
I have been pondering your question because I am considering an El Dorado Aero Elite for my build.

I am not sure that the fiberglass shell can sustain the weight of a conversion like a metal school bus.

Seems like an internal structure that can take the weight of solar panels and upper cabinets and transfer it directly to the vehicle chassis would be great.

I imagined adding 3 arched ribs to the structure. Connect opposing bulkheads with an arch for strength. The Romans used arches for a reason and they are pleasing to the eye.

The first would be at the entry behind the drivers seat, the second creates the wall to the bedroom and a third at the back of the bus.

Then I could connect stringers between the ribs above the windows. Hanging upper cabinets to the stringers would transfer the weight directly to the floor through the ribs/bulkheads and not stress the fiber shell. Lower stringers below the windows would give additional attachment for base cabinets too.

I imagine that I could drill through the roof directly into the arches to attach channels to support solar panels too. That way their weight isn’t relying on the structural integrity of the roof, but transferring the weight of the panels directly to the vehicle frame. They might even be useful for putting in a ceiling.

The arches could be created by laminating layers of thin plywood strips and attached to the bulkheads. The bulkheads could be incorporated into the base cabinets too.

Anyway, this is where my woodworking brain took me. I suppose metal could be used too…
Redoak, you literally spelled out most of my game plan, lol

I did walk on the roof last fall to check condition and store it for winter. it felt pretty solid. I am tempted to reach out to el Dorado (who is now owned by forest river) and see if they can provide a build sheet. I have called a couple of times before, and they were able to answer a couple of questions.
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Old 03-17-2021, 11:16 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by RedOak View Post
Originally I had looked at converting a high roof transit van, but talked to a local bus company and they have a possible trade in of a 1998 V10 with 36k miles. He wants $2500 for it. That was 6 days ago.

Since then I have watched videos of many successful builds of shuttle buses. But I have no experience with fiberglass. Videos like showed me how much flex they have - especially if damaged in some way. Another one of the vids in their series showed the roof collapsing.

I want to put panels on the roof, and do not want to stress the structure beyond its design limits. Lots of wisdom and good experience here on skoolie.net. I have enjoyed following the threads and soaking into the creativity.
I guess the rot was that bad in their roof. I hope that was the reason they removed all of the material in the roof. I am not planning to do that, but I don't have that much water penetration where the entire roof is compromised.
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Old 03-17-2021, 12:06 PM   #14
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--

Thank you for the link.
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Old 03-18-2021, 09:51 PM   #15
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I guess the rot was that bad in their roof. I hope that was the reason they removed all of the material in the roof. I am not planning to do that, but I don't have that much water penetration where the entire roof is compromised.
Yeah, they had problems, but it sounds like you have a pretty solid roof to work with. Looking forward to seeing your build!
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Old 03-19-2021, 07:55 AM   #16
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I'll keep you all posted, but it's going to be a slow crawl. Weather is still cold up here. Need 40's at night for glues
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