Sheet metal

9 sheets of 4’x10′ 20 gauge sheet metal. They’re cheaper when you buy a bunch at once.


Picture of the first sheet hung on the side. It’s just held with two rivets, but tucked under the proper roof parts for further fastening.

To be honest, adding the sheet metal was pretty straight forward stuff. Measure, cut, hang square. One of the decisions I had to make was seam welding some of the sheets to the frames of the emergency exits.

Originally, the body sheet metal was riveted via short little panels that went between the windows. Since I wasn’t using those any more, and I didn’t really have the ability to make nice brake edged panels, I sort of reverted to old techniques that I’ve used for assembling body panels on more conventional vehicle chassis.


Here’s a picture of the panels hung on the chassis. In this photo all of the mating surface seams are coated with zinc cold galvanizing compound, and the surfaces themselves have VHB tape strips between the sheet metal and the ribs to keep things relatively in place, and provide a sealing material once more rivets are driven into the panels.


Detail of the rear right exit door frame. The original frame of course has moved upwards 18 inches, so a new square tube section replaces it.


Detail view of the paint seam coating, as well as the small trim metal pieces that close the gap from the outside “eyelids” on the original roof. These small angle parts are galvanized roof flashing (re-purposed here of course) and the very ends have small gaps to allow a bit of air exchange, much like soffet vents in a house roof would work.


Detail of the panel on the outside. The crusty appearance is the terrible primer that I tried spraying on and then later wiped off. Plug welds across the original door frame on the right fix it to the square tube backing.

View of the door as it fits, before adding the small header sheet.

Overall view of the bus as it starts to gain it’s paneling. A lot of this went up in some crappy August weather.


Still some panels missing, but getting there quickly.


Interior glory shot of all the panels “hung” onto the chassis. At this point all the sheet metal is in place, and the remainder of the riveting just needs to take place.


Exterior shot of the panels in place. They are positioned, but still need hundreds of rivets to be installed.



Rear roof cap

Ready to rivet the last cap panels in after dinner.

Making some endcaps. Very high tech, fence boards and vice grips.

Here is the outside of the endcap as it is mostly done. It seems to take a long time, but really I have only worked on it a few hours here and there.

Left curved side is fixed with vhb tape and is ready for rivets right side is sort of flapping in the breeze before I pinned it into location.

Welder is up on the step to reach some of the framework structure that’s in place, on the left and right panels (where the engine intake is at for example).

Roof Transition

It’s a straightforward translation from high to low, but the patch for the corner gets a little strange shaped. I made a template with cardboard which is way more low tech and easy to do. The drawing below wasn’t something I actually used but illustrates the effort nicely.

Blue tape lines “sketch” in the transition surface.

Welding a bit up high.


Once the curves were patched in, the center sections were easy to work out.

Patched in sections. I will admit that now that I’ve seen how this goes together, a really slick thing to have done would be to integrate the glass from a rear hatch of some sort of minivan or suv. Another guy, Wes Lewis, did such a thing.

It was a challenge to weld up that high. I ended up balancing the welder on a cooler on the dash, and running the lead out through one of the old upper flasher light holes.



I was happy how this turned out. It’s strong, efficient, and didn’t leak.

I wasn’t sure at first how much deconstruction needed to happen before adding the caps. It turns out I removed that whole section of the roof except for a 2″ strip to weld to. If someone was crazy enough to do so they could chisel all the rivets off and pull that whole transition cap. I tried to be faithful as possible with what I am capable of to the way the bus is constructed.


I got the bits seam sealed and riveted. Now I need to get the rear cap done. Pretty sure that’s just a bunch of rivets, sheet metal, and sealer so we’ll see.

The Rocket Surgeon

I also stayed at a Holiday Inn Express one time.soNPxw2

Here’s a detail of how I inserted the rectangular tubing into the existing body hoops. The technique was to have the rectangular tubing extend as much as possible into the old structure, then set the flat bar shims in flush to keep everything snug. Once flatbar and square tubes are clamped on upper and lower, it tends to force all the assemblies back into square.

After they are all pressed I to place, I welded .125 inch angle iron “ears” onto the rectangular tube between the upper and lower original structure. I figured it would help with fore and aft flex,as well as providing an easy flush surface to rivet the body sheets to.

One thing I did was attach VHB tape strips to each flat surface then stick the sheet metal to it. With that technique I was able to press and hold the metal in the right position, then peel and stick the second side of theVHB tape. The panels just hung there for the most part until I could drill a hole or two for clecos.

Skoolie roof raise

Got the roof jacked up. Lots of welding to do. If you want to visit, bring hot dogs we can cook them on the new metal.



I think this view from the outside is pretty telling about how much taller a roof raise makes the bus. I think it looks great.


Skoolie roof raise cab jacks

I built some roof jacks today. They are designed to be used in conjunction with a high cut on the column that the jack is attached to, and the next inner columns from the ones they’re attached to will have the reinforcement inserts attached to one side probably the lowers. Those will keep the whole roof centered during the lift and prevent it from paralleling sideways.

They’re made to attach to the two bolts on the rib at the top, and a middle bolt lower on the rib.


Slight modification, because that first idea was sort of half baked.


Bus structure recalibration modules mostly installed. I just need to verify they’re set in the right starting point to give me enough lift.


Cleaner wiring

Electrical buttoned up. That looks better!

There are so many empty terminals and breakers for goodies! I can’t wait to hook up a gps and rear view mirror, for example. I’m not sure what I will do with my two air solenoids yet. Also, since my control panel is greatly simplified, I may make a newer more modern one.