Journey with Confidence RV GPS App RV Trip Planner RV LIFE Campground Reviews RV Maintenance Take a Speed Test Free 7 Day Trial ×


Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 01-20-2022, 09:42 PM   #1
New Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2020
Posts: 7
The Holy Roller

I have wanted to have an adventure bus for several years now, for snowboarding, dirtbiking, general travel etc. I have been looking for busses for a while but never found anything. In September 2020 I came across this bad boy.



I went to go see it and it looked in great shape, only 53,000 miles. It belonged to a church. Hence, the Holy Roller.









It did have some rust though, the Ford frame components are all fine, but the bus frame looked pretty rusted, I figured I would have to replace some crossmembers, but the bus was very straight so I wasn't too worried about it. Especially since I got it for only $2500. Here is some of the rust.





Drove the bus home and it drove flawlessly, all the shocks have been re-done, brakes replaced, tires are new, it has a new gas tank, fluids were all fresh. Little tight in the driveway.





Removed the seats, my gf helped out, she'd kill me if she sees these pics.





The B side for this story is one of a bus getting slowly thrown into the trash. All the seats in the driveway where they sat for a bit.



Empty.



Pulling the floor up.



I couldn't get it registered until I took all the seats out because I had to change the registration type to commercial vehicle. Took a signed affidavit and a picture of an empty bus for the RMV in MA to do it. Once it has a bed and things I will get it registered as an RV.

My brother Noah has helped me a ton with the bus so far, we have spent many days pulling this thing apart. Here he is removing windows to pull the interior walls off. The shelving, interior lights and headliner have all been removed.



The interior walls of the bus are fiberglass bonded to wood that is glued to the frame and there is spray foam bonding it all together to the outer walls. Once apart the rust damage became more apparent. I was going to have to repair a decent amount of frame, and I needed to remove all the foam and separate the outer walls from the frame in order to cut and weld it.

Here is Noah scraping foam, we spent hours and hours and hours scraping foam.





Bus almost free of foam.



Pulled all the windows out to reseal them as well as remove the outer walls. I have a tarp over the bus.



I also got the chance to strip a trailer camper for some parts, I got an AC unit, stove/oven, propane setup, tons of latching hinges, and some fold out bed hinges and a buncha other stuff.





I got distracted for a while but I'm back working on it. I removed the skirt panels and trim.



There was a lot of foam to remove where the skirts, frame, and floor meet.

Remove a bunch more trim, cut away some wood floor and you end up with this.



Lot of rust to replace, I got a bunch of metal, but for the main beams I got 3"x2" 1/8" thick rectangular steel tubing. The original beams are 5" x 2" C channel, so I will space the frame off the cross beams with 2"x1" square tubing to make up for it, which will give me 2" more of headroom too.

I made these jack stands out of the bus's seat frames to help support the rear end while repairing it.



Here they are supporting the rear end while I cut out the rotted metal and weld in new metal. A lot of the metal around the wheel is rotted, I will need to make a good system to prevent the rear wheels from destroying the frame.



I left the angle iron underneath the square tubing so I could line everything up good, but I will be fully removing all that angle iron, it is too rusty and the beams that need to be removed are welded to it. The 2"x1" square tubing will be going under the 1" square tubing as a spacer and frame stiffener.



Cut out a few more pieces and mocked them up into place. I have extended the top square tubing to go from one hoop to the other. It seemed like a weak area for flex in the frame.



Got them partly welded up.



Added the angled bits and this side is done. Angle iron has been trimmed below the repair. I have to figure out a good way to remove it in larger sections.



Starting on the other side and then will support the frame and remove the floor and start figuring out how exactly I want to mount the new crossmembers to the Ford frame.

zkhennings is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-20-2022, 10:03 PM   #2
Bus Nut
 
Rwnielsen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2020
Location: Long Beach, CA
Posts: 701
Year: 1998
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: TC1000, 40' MPV
Engine: 5.9 Cummins/B300 trans
Rated Cap: U/K
Wow, you're reallly going for it. Keep posting, this should be fun to follow, great job so far!
Rwnielsen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-21-2022, 10:03 AM   #3
Bus Nut
 
Meathead's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: New Orleans
Posts: 431
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Thomas
Engine: 3126b 210hp
Rated Cap: 48
Welcome!

I have gained an appreciation for shuttle busses since I made my first big trip around the country.

My bus is white. I can (at a glance) pass for an activity bus. I park over with other shuttle type vehicles at festivals, resorts, etc. I planned on having a mural painted on the sides but after traveling around some, Iím sticking with the white.

Church/shuttle busses are everywhere. It seems there are 1-2 at every roadside hotel, and public attraction. Look around town.
Your ride is the stealthiest bus around.

Meathead is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-21-2022, 10:27 AM   #4
New Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2020
Posts: 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rwnielsen View Post
Wow, you're reallly going for it. Keep posting, this should be fun to follow, great job so far!
Thanks! I will be updating regularly for sure, it is hard to work outside below 20* so when I work on it is a little weather dependent.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Meathead View Post
Welcome!

I have gained an appreciation for shuttle busses since I made my first big trip around the country.

My bus is white. I can (at a glance) pass for an activity bus. I park over with other shuttle type vehicles at festivals, resorts, etc. I planned on having a mural painted on the sides but after traveling around some, Iím sticking with the white.

Church/shuttle busses are everywhere. It seems there are 1-2 at every roadside hotel, and public attraction. Look around town.
Your ride is the stealthiest bus around.

I originally wanted to do a short school bus, especially with how strong they are, but they stick out like a sore thumb wherever they are. Shuttle busses like you said are absolutely everywhere and I decided that would be a better choice for my needs. I will definitely be keeping it stealth white while keeping exterior mods low key. I definitely want some underbody storage boxes but I think I can make them look factory or hide them behind the skirts. I may have a livery made for it to pretend it is owned by a fake shuttle service, but only if I find I have issues with stealth. "Holy Roller Transport" is kinda catchy.
zkhennings is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-21-2022, 01:21 PM   #5
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Feb 2019
Location: New Hampshire
Posts: 1,321
Year: 1990
Coachwork: Thomas 4 window w/lift
Chassis: G30~Chevy cutaway
Engine: 5.7/350 Chevy Vortec
Rated Cap: Just me and my "stuff"?
When I saw the NH plates in your first pic, I cringed.
Rust was the reason.

Looks like you're tackling it though. Anything can be fixed. It's just how much time and money one has at their disposal, that makes or breaks such a project.

Keep up the good work, and post pics of your progress...
peteg59 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-21-2022, 03:04 PM   #6
New Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2020
Posts: 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by peteg59 View Post
When I saw the NH plates in your first pic, I cringed.
Rust was the reason.

Looks like you're tackling it though. Anything can be fixed. It's just how much time and money one has at their disposal, that makes or breaks such a project.

Keep up the good work, and post pics of your progress...
Oh yes, I am used to it though, I have done extensive rust repair on my 287,000 mile 02 WRX multiple times, but re-doing the same repairs over and over has made me learn how to make them last. Luckily the bus is simple compared to repairing the WRX, I don't need to bend sheet metal into various shapes and weld in cramped spaces. The difficulty with the bus is just the sheer distance required to cut, grind, weld, and paint. But cutting square tubing or angle iron etc with a chop saw is simple. Also managing to support the rear of a massive vehicle while doing it all is somewhat of a challenge as well.

I am going to be putting access holes and plugs into as much of the steel tubing in the bus as possible, and I will regularly pour lanolin oil into them. That is my plan to help keep this beast rust free going forwards. Also regular re-sealing as well, and access panels to verify no moisture in the walls.

I knew it would be a little bit of money to fix the frame, but I got the bus cheap and it gives me a lot of benefits at the same time:
  • I can know for sure there is no rust left and that everything is freshly protected
  • The floor of the bus will be 2" lower so I can insulate the floor really well and not miss out on headroom
  • The floor of the bus is going to be extremely robust and it will be a lot stronger in the event of a roll over
  • I am able to create mounting points in the walls and floor for things since I am remaking everything
  • I am able to build in a propane storage setup and mounting points for underbody storage however I want them to be
  • I will be able to make an access panel in the floor the length of the bus that I can remove to help with bus maintenance
  • Working on trucks in the past I understand how much parts cost on them, so getting one that is very well sorted mechanically with 53,000 miles will hopefully save me a lot of cost

I probably have 2K into all the repairs, but I bought sealants, tapes, metal, paints, epoxy and fiberglass galore. I probably have another $500 of metal to buy but then hopefully that is it as far as cost to repair it, the remaining costs will be necessary no matter what. That would bring the cost of the bus to 5K and it will be mint.
zkhennings is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-18-2022, 02:22 PM   #7
New Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2020
Posts: 7
Continued Frame Repair

Ran out of welding gas and welding wire simultaneously. Had to go get more before doing any more work. I go to Tolman in Boston for welding gasses and supplies, much better than trying to get a bottle filled at Airgas. Have been chipping away at things bit by bit, got the other side repaired.

Finished some more jack stands for supporting the frame, bought some shorter bolts so I could flip the upper half of the jackstands around. The original ones used the original bolts from the bus that were too long and not fully threaded, so the upper portion of the jack stand (which is U channel) had the open side of the U against the closed side of the other U channel of the lower section. Now it is closed side to closed side and there is no risk of the channel opening up causing the bolts to get loose.

Here is my brother welding the frame guides to one of the jack stands.



Got the other side of the bus supported on a jackstand on the jack and raised it to the same height as the other side. Then started to cut out the wood floor around the frame areas that needed repair. Note how gross all the metal is.





Then I cleaned up some of the metal that was not getting cut out and marked where I want to cut with tape and marker. Note how rusted away the frame is on this side above the wheel.



Then I cut out the metal, here is one of the sections being removed.



Cleaned up a bit.



Got the vertical 7.5" pieces cut as well as the horizontal section and put it in place to measure how long the lower horizontal supports need to be.



Lower horizontal supports in place. Note the jack and jackstand supporting the frame to stop it from sagging.



Metal cleaned up and beveled for welding, the angle iron supporting the new metal got a little bent out of shape so to make sure I was welding the new pieces in nice and straight I broke out the magnets.



Added in the angled supports which I cut out all four at once when I did the other side. Tacked everything together.



Had some slight warpage on the other side from welding beads, the heat is not hot enough to go fast with the weld since I am on 110V, and that actually transfers more heat into the parts. The hotter you can run it and the faster you can move the torch to complete the weld, the more localized the heat stays to the weld joint. So I started stacking tacks instead of running beads. Will be just as strong, just more time consuming.



And here it is complete for now. I just picked up some 2"x1" rectangular tubing, got it in 14g thickness just to add a little strength. I will use it to fix the vertical supports that I cut rusty sections out of on both sides of the bus, they are 2"x1" C channel so it will work. I also got enough tubing to run the entire length of the bus right under the 1"x1" tubing. This will space it up 2" to make up for the difference in height between the original beams which were 5" x2" C channel, and the new beams which are 3"x2" Rectangular tubing. I also picked up some new angle iron to replace the rusted angle iron currently below the 1" tubing. The original angle iron is 14g 2"x1", the 2" side being horizontal and giving the wood floor a lip to rest on. The angle iron goes over the edge of the cross beams and is welded to them. The new angle iron is 2"x2", and 1/8" thick. Now it will be 2" on the vertical side as well which will seal up 2/3 of the open cross brace cut face (a 2"x3" opening). I can make plates to seal up the remaining 1"x2" opening. This solution drops my floor 2" so I can add some insulation and still gain headroom.



Once I finish the vertical portions I will remove the wood floor in the rear and start to weld in the 2"x1" tubing along the length of the bus starting in the rear of the bus. Then I will slip the new cross beams in and the angle iron and weld that in place before moving to the front section of the bus. I have some ideas for what I will do for bushings between the main frame rails of the bus and the new cross beams. Have been scheming to find a cost effective solution.
zkhennings is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-18-2022, 11:41 PM   #8
Bus Nut
 
Rwnielsen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2020
Location: Long Beach, CA
Posts: 701
Year: 1998
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: TC1000, 40' MPV
Engine: 5.9 Cummins/B300 trans
Rated Cap: U/K
Very impressive.
Rwnielsen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-19-2022, 10:43 AM   #9
Bus Geek
 
musigenesis's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2019
Location: Philadelphia
Posts: 6,296
Year: 2003
Coachwork: International
Chassis: CE 300
Engine: DT466e
Rated Cap: 65C-43A
Looking good. Way to show the rust what for.
__________________
Rusty 87 build thread
musigenesis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-28-2022, 04:36 PM   #10
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2021
Posts: 19
excited to see where this goes. good luck with the build. crazy to see that much rust on a vehicle with only 50K miles
Switch3d is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-28-2022, 05:58 PM   #11
New Member
 
maman.cat's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2022
Posts: 1
What year is it ?
This has me terrified about the shuttle bus we are looking at this week that has twice as many miles.
maman.cat is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-01-2022, 09:05 PM   #12
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Nov 2020
Location: Long Island, NY
Posts: 164
Year: 2009
Coachwork: Girardin
Chassis: Chevy
Engine: 6.6 turbo diesel
Rated Cap: ?
Amazing work. You are truly doing a "build". God Bless your talents and good luck with this project!
Buster Junior is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


» Featured Campgrounds

Reviews provided by

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 04:41 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2022, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.