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Old 08-23-2017, 06:12 PM   #1
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Question Roof-raising costs

How much does it typically cost to get the roof raised on a school bus so that it's a height that makes sense for adults to walk around inside?

I'm not planning to do the work myself; a chronic illness makes it hard for me to do a lot of physical stuff even if I had the skills (don't ask how I work as a massage therapist that way... it's a different type of physical that can mostly be done from a stool, and I stick to part time, is the quick answer). So I'll need to hire someone to do the work, but right now I'm looking at the choices between more expensive transit or coach buses, and cheaper school buses but which would need the roof lifted, and trying to balance out HOW MUCH more expensive a coach has to get before the school bus is the better deal.

Thank you!
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Old 08-23-2017, 06:22 PM   #2
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Ideally, you find a bus that already has a tall roof! ours is 78 inches (came that way from the factory), and even my tall brother-in-law doesn't get close to hitting his head...

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Old 08-23-2017, 06:36 PM   #3
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Theres a place that does roof raises, but they charge TEN GRAND, and to me that's just crazy money for something that essentially takes a couple weekends.
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Old 08-23-2017, 08:38 PM   #4
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Hat channel. $420
Farm jacks. $320
Jack guides $100
Tack welding. $300

Total. $1140

That was for our full size school bus. Our local welder made guides to bolt to our farm jack (similar to Millicent's roof raise) and welded them into place after I cut and jacked. I had another fabricator make me some hat channel to fit over the existing channel. I screwed the hat channel and drove to town and got the welder to tack it all into place. I also got an estimate around 10 grand as well and that's when I decided to do as much as I could myself. Around here welder/fabricators get anywhere from 60-100 an hour.

I understand you may not be able to do this yourself, but I'm just providing my experience as a general guideline. Our main issue around here (southern Oregon) is finding a welder/fab shop that has time for such shinanigans.

Also I heard from a bird 13'6" is the max or maybe it's 14' I don't really know, but we did 12' total, from the ground (2' roof raise)
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Old 08-23-2017, 08:53 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skipoffools View Post
Hat channel. $420
Farm jacks. $320
Jack guides $100
Tack welding. $300

Total. $1140

That was for our full size school bus. Our local welder made guides to bolt to our farm jack (similar to Millicent's roof raise) and welded them into place after I cut and jacked. I had another fabricator make me some hat channel to fit over the existing channel. I screwed the hat channel and drove to town and got the welder to tack it all into place. I also got an estimate around 10 grand as well and that's when I decided to do as much as I could myself. Around here welder/fabricators get anywhere from 60-100 an hour.

I understand you may not be able to do this yourself, but I'm just providing my experience as a general guideline. Our main issue around here (southern Oregon) is finding a welder/fab shop that has time for such shinanigans.

Also I heard from a bird 13'6" is the max or maybe it's 14' I don't really know, but we did 12' total, from the ground (2' roof raise)
Thank you! This is all REALLY helpful. I've been fortunate enough to find a general contractor with really good contacts among other trades, and who likes me a lot. They reduce their own rates for me, and find me people who can do what they cannot. Dunno if they do their own welding, but it's something to find out!
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Old 08-23-2017, 11:27 PM   #6
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Since you cannot do the work, maybe a coach bus would be much easier since the roof is already high, and second... there is large compartments already done under the floor for tanks, generator, etc.

Roof raise costs will vary of course depending on how you do it, the cost per hour.. (like 75) steel costs, etc. u be lucky if someone will do it for 1k, and is why if coach costs like 3 k more, it is worth it to start off with so much done, not to mention the much better drivetrains with like series 60 detroits.

Personally, next time i do another roof raise, i am going toss the entire roof and make the roof flat with channel iron and steel sheets, as i am tired of cutting curved interior wood pieces. Example is flat roof same as the box trucks that i have taken the boxes off for storage sheds.
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Old 08-23-2017, 11:42 PM   #7
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I'd love to just buy a coach. Problem is, the coaches aren't $3K more... they are $10-20K more. That's why I'm trying to figure out whether I can afford to raise a roof instead of buying a coach... I'd prefer a coach, but there is a serious expense difference.
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Old 08-24-2017, 02:07 AM   #8
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I'd love to just buy a coach. Problem is, the coaches aren't $3K more... they are $10-20K more. That's why I'm trying to figure out whether I can afford to raise a roof instead of buying a coach... I'd prefer a coach, but there is a serious expense difference.
Sorry, you are wrong. many coach busses are very close to the same cost as a RE school bus. Use govt auctions, ebay, craigslist for verification. A RE bus will cost at least 3K min, and often times coach bus is like 6k and sometimes even less. Just do your homework unless u want to be overcharged. I have done conversions for over 30 yrs so I have an idea of what I am talking about.
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Old 08-24-2017, 02:19 AM   #9
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Sorry, you are wrong. many coach busses are very close to the same cost as a RE school bus. Use govt auctions, ebay, craigslist for verification. A RE bus will cost at least 3K min, and often times coach bus is like 6k and sometimes even less. Just do your homework unless u want to be overcharged. I have done conversions for over 30 yrs so I have an idea of what I am talking about.
I believe you, but out here I've only seen two diesel coaches under $10K. One of them was *definitely* a scam, and the other may or may not have been real but stopped answering my messages when I tried to set a firm date to see the thing.

So, if they exist in the Pacific Northwest, I don't know where to find them, and I've looked in the places you suggested except auctions because I'm afraid I'd get something with bad mechanics if I don't bring a professional mechanic with me to examine the bus, which I'm told that there's no opportunity to do at auctions. Maybe they're cheaper further east, or there are more of them there? Maybe they are just so few and spread out throughout the continent that anyone has to either have plain blind luck or be prepared to buy sight unseen and then fly over to drive their new bus back? Maybe a lot of things, but the upshot is that I an not finding buses which are simultaneously local, inexpensive, coach, diesel, automatic transmission, and in halfway decent condition. If they exist and anyone knows where they are, please point them my way.
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Old 08-24-2017, 10:50 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Skipoffools View Post
Hat channel. $420
Farm jacks. $320
Jack guides $100
Tack welding. $300

Total. $1140
Am I missing something here, or are you? I don't see a line item for sheet metal.
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Old 08-24-2017, 11:37 AM   #11
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Am I missing something here, or are you? I don't see a line item for sheet metal.
That's when you say " Sheet, I forgot the metal".
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Old 08-24-2017, 12:01 PM   #12
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chicka-boom.
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Old 08-29-2017, 04:33 PM   #13
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That's when you say " Sheet, I forgot the metal".
As an incorrigible punster myself, I like the way you think. ;)
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Old 12-19-2018, 10:00 PM   #14
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I think that it will run you a lot more. 'tack welds?', We were welding for days.
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Old 10-07-2019, 08:19 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by johnbloem1974 View Post
Ideally, you find a bus that already has a tall roof! ours is 78 inches (came that way from the factory), and even my tall brother-in-law doesn't get close to hitting his head...

John
What bus did you buy?? Year? Make & model? I'm 6'1 looking for a bus I dont have to raise.

Thanks!
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Old 10-08-2019, 04:05 AM   #16
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I am also 6'1"" and own a "tall roof" 2002 Thomas Built Bus built on a Freightliner FS-65 chassis. I have clearance (headroom) down the aisle and out to about 18" from the windows (barring the wheel wells).
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Old 10-08-2019, 07:56 AM   #17
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What bus did you buy?? Year? Make & model? I'm 6'1 looking for a bus I dont have to raise.

Thanks!
My bus (2003 International) with the plywood flooring out is 6'7" down the center (to the bottoms of the exposed ribs where the original ceiling was). I'm going to be losing 3" on the floor (2" of insulation + 3/4" plywood + vinyl sheeting) and possibly just 1/2" off the ceiling (to also allow 2" of insulation there), so as a six-footer I should still have 3.5" of headroom down the middle, without doing a roof raise.

My bus is a high-roofed one, though, which it seems most Internationals of that vintage aren't (my windows are 29" high but most ICs appear to have 23" high windows and much less headroom).
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Old 10-08-2019, 10:29 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by chev49 View Post
Sorry, you are wrong. many coach busses are very close to the same cost as a RE school bus. Use govt auctions, ebay, craigslist for verification. A RE bus will cost at least 3K min, and often times coach bus is like 6k and sometimes even less. Just do your homework unless u want to be overcharged. I have done conversions for over 30 yrs so I have an idea of what I am talking about.
Correct. I paid $3450 for my RE Bluebird with what I considered a near ideal drive train and 170k miles.

I looked around this morning and found a handful of coaches in the same price range. Unfortunately they all had 800k, or more, miles on them. The bright side, one of them ran.


Seriously,

a coach, when compared with a school bus in similar condition, will likely cost notably more than the school bus.

Maintenance can be quite a bit more expensive on a coach as well.
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Old 05-20-2020, 12:57 PM   #19
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Too tall in a skoolie; help!

Hello everyone, I am in the market for a skoolie and need some insight on roof raises... I am 6'6 and have been researching buses along with conversions and realized most buses are only about 72"-78" down the middle. I would be comfortable with a solid 12"-16" raise. I am not opposed to contracting welders (friends and family) to help, but I have seen that companies charge around 10 grand to convert this raise... any insight on raising a 47-54 passenger bus' roof on my own?

Thanks in advance,
Cheers.
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Old 05-20-2020, 01:00 PM   #20
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If you have a friend or relative who can weld and has a welder then you should do it yourself. Dig around and think on it and you'll see its really not too bad. Skinning it is harder than raising.

Some all-thread and a few pieces of scrap and you've got the lifters. Have some channel made up at a local fab shop and you're good to go. With the all-thred method you can really fine tune your height at each corner independently. YOu can crank it up in increments. I found 8" to feel perfect. So I went another 2". Ten inches doesn't sound like much but it goes a long way.
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