Raise the roof, put 'em up there

Raise the roof: A really dorky dance move performed by people who should probably not be attempting to tear it up on the dance floor. Or A creative way to add space to ones dwelling by adjusting the roof height (My definitions). 

 Don' t worry we decided to take the literal route by raising the roof on our bus. This was not in OUR(mine may have been different) original plan, the original plan was to just convert the bus into an RV for occasional camping trips and vacations. Raising the roof is a big undertaking for something that we would only use occasionally, but once we had the bus sitting in our back yard I began to hint at MY original plan of living on the bus. I told Vanessa things like "what if we lived on the bus for a month?" to which she would reply "yeah, I could maybe see us doing that" later I hinted "what if we lived on the bus for 2 months?" to which she would reply "yeah, I could maybe see us doing that" Well 2 months turned into 6 months and 6 into 12 months. So we agreed that we would move onto the bus for one year. Vanessa has even begun to use my own trick on me saying things like "What if we live on the bus for 2 years".

Well the decision to live in the bus changed our original needs and requirements for the bus. Living in the bus would mean that it would need to be well insulated, and any additional space would be very valuable. Adding 3 inches of insulation to the floor would take away the already very limited head room in the bus (I'm the only one this affects). Standing in the center of the bus before the roof raise there was about 2 inches between my head and the ceiling. Below are pictures of what it looked like and felt like prior to the roof raise.

Now your reaction to those picture might be something like " DUH it's a bus, not a house!" and we realize this, but what if there was a way to raise the roof. The good news is, bus roofs can be raised, the not so good news is that it requires someone who knows what they are doing. Finding someone to assist with a roof raise would probably be pretty difficult, but fortunately for us Vanessa's dad, George is an excellent fabricator and welder. We spoke to him about the project and he jumped aboard. I did a ton of research about roof raises on skoolie.net and showed George. I had already removed the seats, flooring and windows so we formulated a plan for the raise and began grinding, cutting and welding.

We raised the roof 20 inches which made a huge difference and will provide room to insulate properly, add storage and maybe even a reading loft. I am convinced that this decision will make bus living much more enjoyable for the year or or two we live in it. We are so thankful that George was willing to help. Below are pictures of the process with descriptions. 

 Removing rivets that hold the roof to the door frame

Removing rivets that hold the roof to the door frame

 1/2 inch all thread was used to keep the roof on straight and tight during the raise. the nuts on the  all thead allowed us to make small height adjustments once it was close to the desired height.  We did the same thing pictured here in 5 other spots on the bus. 

1/2 inch all thread was used to keep the roof on straight and tight during the raise. the nuts on the  all thead allowed us to make small height adjustments once it was close to the desired height.  We did the same thing pictured here in 5 other spots on the bus. 

 with the all thread and brackets welded into place it was time to start cutting the roof supports.

with the all thread and brackets welded into place it was time to start cutting the roof supports.

 Here you can see the function of the all thread. At this point the roof was held only by the all thread and 2 jacks . Jacks were placed towards the front and rear of the bus to assist with lifting.  the raise was done 2 inches at a time.  2" in the front, 2" in the back, over and over.

Here you can see the function of the all thread. At this point the roof was held only by the all thread and 2 jacks . Jacks were placed towards the front and rear of the bus to assist with lifting.  the raise was done 2 inches at a time.  2" in the front, 2" in the back, over and over.

 the custom made hat channel  supports welded over the existing roof supports. 

the custom made hat channel  supports welded over the existing roof supports. 

 The custom made inner channel welded into place.

The custom made inner channel welded into place.

 It was definitely a learning experience and we figured out a few things that we would have done differently (like using different jacks). George is now a roof raise expert and available for hire if you end up getting a bus of your own.

Material Cost: $450 Labor: Free, Hours: 30ish

The next step in the process is to add sheet metal to the supports down both sides of the bus, more about that in a future post. If you have any questions or thoughts we would love to hear them. 

In the meantime lets all practice our dance moves and raise the roof next time we hear that phrase. Go ahead you know you want to!



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