Kind of big-ish

posted Jul 20, 2008, 6:36 PM by Kevin Coughlin   [ updated Jul 20, 2008, 7:00 PM ]
Inside this metal contraption, it is looking larger and larger. With the last front seats out it has a tendency to make me just wander around inside. While it may appear aimless, it really is my style of planning. I am looking at the inside of the bus with my eyes, but what I am seeing is what it could be in the future. I'm playing with a few ideas - letting them ferment a bit in my head. One idea is to let the bed in the back (over the engine) actually extend PAST the back of the bus - building either a slide out or just an extended back. With the bus at 35 feet, it gives me some room. If I extend backwards 3 feet it can be built sturdy, permanent, and still be road legal as well as useful. I would probably also extend the bumper, and build a bit of storage space there for carrying things like bikes, barbecues, and the generator.
You can see in this picture that there are wheel wells. Two in front, two in back. I'm thinking that the best idea is to have the floor running at a level even with the chair rails (you can see them along the side of the bus - light colored, about 2 inches wide and running from front to back just over the wheel wells). The chair rail is actually connected to a rather thick steel plate that runs along the bottom 11 inches of the passenger compartment. This plate gives the bus body strength, and also is to protect the passengers inside if they get broadsided by a car or truck. It is not likely to rip and let the kids inside get hit. Try that with a typical Winnebago. They are made from 1x2 wood, aluminum skin, and maybe 1/4 inch plywood. There is a reason the term used (derogatively) by the skoolie folk for a normal RV is "stick and staple". The fact that my RV is riveted and welded together makes me happier - it only really hurts at the gas pump!
The tanks (fresh, black, and grey - or drinking, flushing, and washing) will go on the existing bus floor, under the "new" floor that is almost a foot higher. They should not freeze, and will be well supported. Of course, they will probably have to be custom built by me (wood, steel, and fiberglass) but this will also let me have a set of larger tanks than normally possible on a budget.  With a raised floor I have LOTS of insulation room down there (plus dead air space - a great insulator) and I have a totally flat floor. No wheel wells. In my current Bluebird I have just the rear wells..... I have to plan around them all the time, usually it means that a cabinet is built on top of them. With a transit style (flat front) bus, there are the wheel wells in the front as well. Since the front is going to be the living room (couch, comfy chair, tv) it helps not to have to engineer around these odd shaped round bumps. While I lose a foot of headroom by raising the floor - I am lifting the roof. If I take it 2 feet instead of a foot and a half, I will still have 7 foot ceilings inside. I could go as high as 4 feet and still be legal on the road (although a bit ungainly). So a 24 to 30" lift sounds like a good idea, when coupled with the raised floor.
I'm hoping to keep the side door, as well. Not in the configuration there (the actual door is warped) but in the same place. It corresponds to the kitchen area - and it might be good to have a door that lets into the kitchen, especially if I build some steps and park next to them. The actual door will have to be custom built - and taller. Once I raise the floor this one would be REALLY too small (it is less than 5 feet tall as it is.... move the floor up and it gets ugly to use the door). But..... I'm having fun!