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Old 04-14-2022, 07:46 PM   #1
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Deleting Wheel Wells

I have a handicap bus and the wheels have a few inches of clearance to the floor even once they hit bump stops. They put 36in tires on a bus that can normally manage 42in tires. At some point, i would like to change back to 11r22.5 with a spacer lift. Anyway, I'm planning on cutting these out and welding or bolting new sheets over the hole. This will give me much more room on my dinette.



I'm going out to price out availability for my sheet metal order at a few places in town tomorrow. Think im good with the 18guage for windows and hatch delete.
How thick do you guys think this should be? can I get away with 1/16 or should i go 1/8?
What material would be best. Galvannealed or Galvanized?


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Old 04-14-2022, 09:19 PM   #2
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I'm not a fan of wheel well deletes. My factory wheel well on my lifted Thomas took a MAJOR beating on the curb side rear. enough that there's even a bit of a ripple in that piece of floor. That's with 10R's and like a foot of clearance. The factory did a double layer of what looks like 14ga I think. Maybe thicker.
Whatever you do - build it to withstand armageddon.
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Old 04-14-2022, 09:27 PM   #3
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I'm not a fan of wheel well deletes. My factory wheel well on my lifted Thomas took a MAJOR beating on the curb side rear. enough that there's even a bit of a ripple in that piece of floor. That's with 10R's and like a foot of clearance. The factory did a double layer of what looks like 14ga I think. Maybe thicker.
Whatever you do - build it to withstand armageddon.

Even with a foot of clearance, the tires would contact the floor when the driver hit a curb corner? Is there a bumpstop there? Originally I was thinking 3/16 welded to the topside, but thought that might be too much overkill. My current fenders look thinner, but they will get some strength from the curve. My rear came with no wheel wells from the factory and when I let the air out, they are almost touching the floor.
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Old 04-14-2022, 10:04 PM   #4
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No- they're a safety element. In the case of a tire blowout you need MASSIVE strength to withstand the force of all that weight coming apart spinning.
If my bus had less wheel well the damage would have been tremendous. But they build them safe so it took the brunt of that massive blowout.
If your bus came with no rear wheel wells then its reinforced in some way back there.
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Old 04-14-2022, 11:24 PM   #5
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You need strength and clearance.


Strength to take the massive energy of a failing tire that is spinning at about 630 RPM with a surface speed of about 60mph. How much energy would a 5 pound chunk of dense, reinforced, rubber have when it hits that thin piece of metal separating the chaos outside from the passenger compartment inside?


Clearance so that the rubber impacting the wheel well isnt trapped there causing more damage, potentially locked wheels, loss of control, etc..
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Old 04-15-2022, 09:45 AM   #6
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You need strength and clearance.


Strength to take the massive energy of a failing tire that is spinning at about 630 RPM with a surface speed of about 60mph. How much energy would a 5 pound chunk of dense, reinforced, rubber have when it hits that thin piece of metal separating the chaos outside from the passenger compartment inside?


Clearance so that the rubber impacting the wheel well isn't trapped there causing more damage, potentially locked wheels, loss of control, etc..
I too considered removing my wheel wells, especially since they were rusted out, but i remember what is was like while driving another bus years ago, the rear tire started peeling and slapping the under body really bad.
Two options, stop and replace the tire right there and then or keep driving to a tire shop but that tire will continue to slap the crap out of the underbody.

Oh yeah, I must mention this happened to me in the middle of Mexico while transporting busses to Honduras...no place to stop safely on those highways!

Decision made, I repaired the wheel wells and will live with making interior modifications!
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Old 04-15-2022, 11:29 AM   #7
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I experienced a massive blowout with the "old Crown" and the factory wheel well contained it. There is a lot of energy released when a catastrophic tire failure occurs. A curved structure is stronger than a flat one.
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Old 04-15-2022, 03:16 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HamSkoolie View Post
You need strength and clearance.


Strength to take the massive energy of a failing tire that is spinning at about 630 RPM with a surface speed of about 60mph. How much energy would a 5 pound chunk of dense, reinforced, rubber have when it hits that thin piece of metal separating the chaos outside from the passenger compartment inside?


Clearance so that the rubber impacting the wheel well isnt trapped there causing more damage, potentially locked wheels, loss of control, etc..
Looks like my bus suffered total tread separation aka an "alligator". When a 100 lbs strip of steel belted rubber goes flying at speed it really does a number on even some overbuilt steel!
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Old 04-15-2022, 04:36 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EastCoastCB View Post
No- they're a safety element. In the case of a tire blowout you need MASSIVE strength to withstand the force of all that weight coming apart spinning.
If my bus had less wheel well the damage would have been tremendous. But they build them safe so it took the brunt of that massive blowout.
If your bus came with no rear wheel wells then its reinforced in some way back there.

For like 2ft, it's just the floor metal. They don't even have the support channels in order to give tire clearance. What are the floors typically made of? It kind of looks like 16gauge to me.



I agree with the wheel wells being strong. I don't plan on running retreads, but I have run over an extension ladder in my truck before and there's some crazy stuff out there on the roads. I was thinking of just overlaying the whole sheet over both holes and then bolting it and welding it solid from the wheels. This should be as good as what bluebird did with the back wheels then.
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Old 04-15-2022, 07:27 PM   #10
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I drove my bus around a few times with a big eight foot square hole in the floor where my wheel wells used to be. It didn't occur to me until later what might have happened if I'd had a tire blow out during this.
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Old 04-15-2022, 08:10 PM   #11
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Consider having the wheelwells sprayed with Rhino Liner after modification. I couldn't find a link, but the Air Force did some testing using Rhino Liner. They tested a couple of identical bombs against identical concrete bunker walls, one with Rhino Liner on it and the other without. The plain concrete wall was blown down, the one with Rhino Liner didn't even crack. If it can survive a bomb, it should be able to survive a blown tire, and keep the wheel well from rusting to boot.
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Old 04-15-2022, 08:18 PM   #12
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Old 04-15-2022, 10:54 PM   #13
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I have never witnessed a truck or car tire explode, but I have on hi-pressure bicycle tires. Sounds like a 12 gauge was shot, and if you're close it almost feels like you were too.
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Old 04-16-2022, 10:44 AM   #14
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"Oh yeah, I must mention this happened to me in the middle of Mexico while transporting busses to Honduras...no place to stop safely on those highways!"



I used to pass those buses towing another bus. You pull out, and realize, Oh ****,, it's two buses long I have to pass.


I've seen buses on top of flatbeds, with ten feet hanging out the back? Are there no rules at all down there ?



Was that you ???

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Old 04-16-2022, 03:44 PM   #15
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Are there no rules at all down there ?
Just the laws of physics.
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Old 04-16-2022, 05:28 PM   #16
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We used to have split ring rims on some of our older rigs. Those will cut you in half when they go. We didn't have a fancy schmancy safety cage.....

the government can cut such corners because if a serviceman dies they just pay out the life insurance money and send another mechanic. God forbid a private shop does that though, people go to jail..... ANYWAY
Knowing the danger, we would but the assembled tire and wheel under the in arms of the hoist, connect a lock on air chuck to the stem, put another tire/wheel on top, lower the hoist onto the top tire, then evacuate the shop and flip the lever on the air feed to the line for the tire and watch the pressure gauge.
10 minutes after it was inflated, we'd go back to work.
Thankfully we only had a few rigs with those wheels
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Old 04-16-2022, 06:12 PM   #17
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split-rims
We just changed out a set of those on one of our forklifts.

Things went basically like you described.
We left the area for about ten minutes and prayed not to hear an explosion.
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Old 04-16-2022, 08:40 PM   #18
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I took 5” off the front passenger side to fabricate a seat mount that wouldn’t put my wife’s line of sight into the forward cap and 5” off the rear driver side to build a walkway down the side of the Queen size bed. Welded 1/8” galv then a welded steel cage bolted through the floors steel cross members to mount the seat. Still have 10” clearance to the tire, bump stop is at 3.5” so unlikely tire is going to contact yet still plenty of room for debris to fly in an explosion. Counting on the cage to contain it.Click image for larger version

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Old 04-16-2022, 09:03 PM   #19
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I took 5” off the front passenger side to fabricate a seat mount that wouldn’t put my wife’s line of sight into the forward cap and 5” off the rear driver side to build a walkway down the side of the Queen size bed. Welded 1/8” galv then a welded steel cage bolted through the floors steel cross members to mount the seat. Still have 10” clearance to the tire, bump stop is at 3.5” so unlikely tire is going to contact yet still plenty of room for debris to fly in an explosion. Counting on the cage to contain it.Attachment 64871
Do you have any more pics or documentation of how you did this project? I'm wanting to put a slider for my gal, with a drop down floor so that she can be up close to beside me.
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Old 04-16-2022, 11:59 PM   #20
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The seat and belt are from a 2018 Kenworth, as you can see here the base has a long slide and also rotates. The seat base location was determined so that I could use the hat channel to mount the seatbelt. The belt was mounted through the hat channel by removing the windows, the exterior channel cap and a section of crash rail to allow drilling through the channel without affecting the body skin. The location over the front wheel was selected to provide better collision safety, far enough back from the front corner and directly above the front axle should provide better protection from a front or side impact while still allowing good forward viewing and communication with the driver.
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