Bus Conversions dot Com Bulletin Board
October 02, 2014, 03:45:43 AM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
News: If you had an E-Mag Subscription: By clicking on any ad, a hotlink takes you directly to the advertiserís website.
   Home   Help Forum Rules Search Calendar Login Register BCM Home Page Contact BCM  
Pages: [1]   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: Working under the bus - on the road? (Portable ramps, or....)  (Read 1393 times)
technomadia
Hero Member
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 580


Zephyr - 1961 GM PD-4106-446


WWW

Ignore
« on: September 08, 2011, 11:58:06 PM »

Life in our bus has been going great - we had an awesome trip to Burning Man, and are now down in Vegas for a bit before heading off to our next adventure.

We've been taking on a lot of bus projects (particularly electrical lately), but we have been accumulating projects that we are unable to take on until we find a way to work under the bus - such as tracking down some air leaks and curing our 4106 of its tendency to lean to the right every night.

Considering the fact that we don't have a bus barn, a shop of any sort, or even a home base at all - what is the best way that previous full-timing nuts have figured out for working under their buses while living on the road?

I've heard that I should make run-up ramps out of lumber - but I'd love to know more details.  Do the ramps have to be wide enough for both rear tires?  What sort of wood works best?  Any other tips?  How large should the ramps be?

Are there any other small and portable ways to allow us to get under the bus safely, without giving up too much bay space in the process?

Advice always appreciated.  Thanks!

   - Chris
Logged

Cherie and Chris / www.technomadia.com
Full-time 'Technomads' since 2006 (technology enabled nomads)
zubzub
Hero Member
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1164


'53 4104. Roadworthy but rough around the edges.


WWW

Ignore
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2011, 04:14:59 AM »

people make ramps from 2x12 stock, layering as they go....I made some but they are heavy.  I just drive up on to a bunch of stacked blocking that I keep in a bay ( 2x4, 4x4, 6x6) peices all about 16" long, placed perpendicular to the length of the bus.  Also if you can fit hardwood blocks between the bump stops and the axle at the area you are working under this stops the suspension from lowering.  Be careful with blocking the suspension though,  the bus will crush soft wood blocks, I use cross laminated hardwood blocks I made, especially in the back,  very heavy there.
Logged

robertglines1
steam nut
Hero Member
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 4015





Ignore
« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2011, 05:27:09 AM »

narrow road ditch.  works in a pinch.    if you can straddle it at a driveway or just back your rear end over it.  or block it up and take wheels off .     remember  the saying   Don't put yourself between a rock and a hard spot!   block it up.    Bob
Logged

Bob@Judy  98 XLE prevost with 3 slides --Home done---last one! SW INdiana
oldmansax
Tom & Phyllis
Hero Member
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 995


'82 Bluebird Wanderlodge PT40




Ignore
« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2011, 05:57:33 AM »

Chris,

I know I will take some heat for this answer but this is what I do. I am not necessarily recommending it, you make your own decisions.

First, I carry a number of hardwood 2"x4" and 4"x4" blocks, 12" to 24" long. I carry this size because they can be stored in nooks & crannies separately much easier than one large ramp or 4"x 12".

Secondly, I am usually on the lookout for secluded parking lots with dips, ditch banks, overhangs, curbing or other landscaping irregularities that I can drive the bus up on to give me clearance underneath. Even if I don't need it now, I may need it later.

You will be surprised how little you need to get under the bus.

For engine work, I usually look for a drop off. I can back the rear wheels to the edge & fit under the back very nicely.

For under body work I look for a dip, or, if I don't need the bus level, a curbing to drive one side of the bus up on. That gives me enough clearance to work. You can increase your clearance by using a dip AND driving the wheels up on blocks.

I also carry a large sheet of cardboard, such as a refrigerator carton, cut so it will open up the whole way.  I call it portable concrete. Makes it a lot easier to slide under the bus & keeps you semi-clean. You can fold it up & put it on the bottom of the bay for storage.

I use the blocks as ramps to get up on the curbing if needed. Then use them to block the BODY of the bus up in case of rapid loss of air or a tire blow out. Think in terms of "If I blow an air bag AND a tire at the same time, how much clearance will I have?" If you still have enough for safety, fine. If not, block the body.

I have found the back lots at Walmarts, shopping centers, & truck stops usually afford the best candidates for this type of work. While most of those places frown on your working on your bus in front of the building, most don't care about a little maintenance  in the back lot, AS LONG AS YOU DON'T LEAVE ANY TRASH!!!!!!!!!!!

Keep it neat and discrete!

TOM
Logged

'82 BlueBird WanderLodge PT40 being rebuilt
Delaware

DON'T STEAL! The government hates competition!
Busted Knuckle
Hero Member
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 6447


6 Setras, 2 MCIs, and 1 Dina. Just buses ;D


WWW

Ignore
« Reply #4 on: September 09, 2011, 06:02:48 AM »

I agree with all said here.
I've also used tall curbs where I could start up on one side @ a cross walk/drive etc.

I also have a set of wooden ramps I made out of lumber (2X12's) too. (actually I've had to build several sets over the years) But as said they are heavy but safe.

The set I have now I built on the road I was in FL an needed under the bus so I went to Home Depot and bought 3 8' 2x12's and had them cut them for me. I had the cut 1 in 1/2 =2 4'ers, 1-into 2 3'ers and 2 1'ers and the last one into 4 2'ers

Then I nailed a 1' on a 2' (nails down thru the top to protect tires)
an then flipped it and nailed the 3' on and then the 4'. With 2 2'ers left over for misc use.  you could get fancy and narrow those down to 8" difference in the length, and go higher than 8". But remember the more ya go up, the heavier they get. Also when storing flip one over on top of the other and it saves a little space.  (also I recommend using screws if possible over nails they will stay tighter longer.)

Bob's idea of straddling a ditch is also a  good one. Just be sure it's solid, hard dry ground your driving on. These things tend to get stuck in soft terrain!
Grin  BK  Grin

OK so I see Tom also posted while I was typing and great minds do think a like! Wink
« Last Edit: September 09, 2011, 06:06:39 AM by Busted Knuckle » Logged

Busted Knuckle aka Bryce Gaston
KY Lakeside Travel's Busted Knuckle Garage
Huntingdon, TN 12 minutes N of I-40 @ exit 108
www.kylakesidetravel.net

Grin Keep SMILING it makes people wonder what yer up to! Grin (at least thats what momma always told me! Grin)
Ed Hackenbruch
Hero Member
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 2416




Ignore
« Reply #5 on: September 09, 2011, 06:25:36 AM »

I made a bunch of ramps out of 4x4 lumber,  3 pieces wide, 41 inches long, easy to handle and store. I used all thread rod to hold them together and to be able to tighten them up if the wood shrinks a little. (Which it did).  To get more height i made another set that will fit on top of the bigger ones and using the same angle for the ramp part. When traveling i only carry two of the longer ramps but also carry lots of shorter oddball sizes for blocking. I don't like to just have one of the wheels on the dual supporting all of the weight so when i run it up on the ramp i just place one of the shorter pieces beside the ramp so the other tire has something to sit on. I also made a couple of steel pipe pieces to place between the frame bumpers and the support, i don't trust wood for that. Grin
Logged

1968 MCI 5A with 8V71 and Allison MT644 transmission.  Western USA
Joe Camper
Hero Member
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 666



WWW

Ignore
« Reply #6 on: September 09, 2011, 06:32:12 AM »

I would do a few things.

First find a good shop and pay them an hour or two to SAFLEY help identify locations.

 Identify your body support points, that should be available from  any number of sources. Then I would Identify the Ride height valves and their linkages. Then I would disconnect those ride height valve linkages and manually raise the buss all the way up.

There is probably about 8 inches of full travel in the suspension and ride height is in the middle of that figure so by raising it your getting another 4 inches or so of clearance while your under it.

After you have raised it all the way up take a measurement at those support points. Then go to a scrap yard and find some 4in square stock or thick walled pipe will do and cut up some stands 1 inch shorter than that figure and weld a foot and cap for them. Slide them in and then manually dump the air at the height valves till it comes to rest. Now you can crawl under with confidence AND room.

Another thing I have done but may not be appealing to folks fulltiming due to restraints on space is this. I also jacked the rear-end housing up till the tires just clear the ground and measured from the bottom of the rear-end housing to the ground and made a second set of 4 stands for that. With these second set of 4 stands under the front and rear axles it allows me to safely air up suspensions and check for leaks and get the ride height set perfect BEFORE reinstalling the tires.  This has proven to be very convienient ans safe and a real time saver as well. It also makes getting the tires and rims back on a breeze when you only have to lift 1/2 inch or so to do it.  
« Last Edit: September 09, 2011, 06:37:47 AM by Joe Camper » Logged

Signing off from Cook County Ill. where the dead vote, frequently.
oldmansax
Tom & Phyllis
Hero Member
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 995


'82 Bluebird Wanderlodge PT40




Ignore
« Reply #7 on: September 09, 2011, 08:20:16 AM »

OK so I see Tom also posted while I was typing and great minds do think a like! Wink

So do idiots!!!   Grin Grin Grin Grin

Sorry, the Debil made me say it!   Grin Grin

TOM
Logged

'82 BlueBird WanderLodge PT40 being rebuilt
Delaware

DON'T STEAL! The government hates competition!
Lin
Hero Member
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 4566

1965 MC-5a




Ignore
« Reply #8 on: September 09, 2011, 08:27:27 AM »

I made some ramps bolting two 4x8 by 4 foot pieces together and cutting one end to be an 18 inch long incline.  I don't carry them though.  I read something about making blocks out of stall mats for leveling (similar to this http://www.thegreathardwarestore.com/R-B-Rubber-4-x6-x3-4-Stall-Mat-40030400004640-p/621746.htm?click=2744).  It would seem that one could cut a bunch of 12 to 18 inch lengths and use them for on the spot ramps as well as for leveling.  Obviously, it is the same as using blocks, but could be easier to handle and would be less likely to slip as you roll up.
Logged

You don't have to believe everything you think.
pvcces
Hero Member
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 754





Ignore
« Reply #9 on: September 09, 2011, 10:05:49 PM »

For a slightly different approach to runup blocks, you might look at Yahoo GM and MCI groups. There has been a set of directions for making them posted there.

They are 5' long, 18" on the top, so the 7.5" high ramp is 42" long and 9" wide. The difference is that the ramps are made of 6-2 x 8s set on edge. Using polyurethane adhesive, liberally coat the facing sides and through bolt the six pieces. Made out of Douglas fir, the dry ramps run 40 pounds or so.

We carry ours everywhere, and use them to level the coach on sloping parking areas. As long as you only lift the front or one side of the rears, the standard shift can get up on the blocks very easily. If you use both blocks under one set of duals, you will get the best lift.

I can grease the chassis by running up the nose, then the right rear. I can usually get away without having to run up the left rear.

It works for us. Then runup blocks work on many vehicles, too.

Tom Caffrey
Logged

Tom Caffrey PD4106-2576
Suncatcher
Ketchikan, Alaska
pvcces
Hero Member
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 754





Ignore
« Reply #10 on: September 09, 2011, 10:07:55 PM »

For a slightly different approach to runup blocks, you might look at Yahoo GM and MCI groups. There has been a set of directions for making them posted there.

They are 5' long, 18" on the top, so the 7.5" high ramp is 42" long and 9" wide. The difference is that the ramps are made of 6-2 x 8s set on edge. Using polyurethane adhesive, liberally coat the facing sides and through bolt the six pieces. Made out of Douglas fir, the dry ramps run 40 pounds or so.

We carry ours everywhere, and use them to level the coach on sloping parking areas. As long as you only lift the front or one side of the rears, the standard shift can get up on the blocks very easily. If you use both blocks under one set of duals, you will get the best lift.

I can grease the chassis by running up the nose, then the right rear. I can usually get away without having to run up the left rear.

It works for us. Then runup blocks work on many vehicles, too.

Tom Caffrey
Logged

Tom Caffrey PD4106-2576
Suncatcher
Ketchikan, Alaska
buswarrior
Hero Member
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 3571


'75 MC8 8V71 HT740




Ignore
« Reply #11 on: September 12, 2011, 04:50:11 PM »

Ease of use and storage needs to be the goal for anything we carry along for the ride.

Multiple use must also be a goal, everything on board needs more than one job.

Which piece of camp furniture, overbuilt with heavier lumber and disassembled, can double for props?

Keeping your ramp pieces modular, so you can hide the smaller pieces, as well as using them for leveling and all manner of other uses around the campsite, and then fastening them together in a time of crisis or maintenance might be a design goal.

Props for safety don't need to be snug, they just need to be in position to catch the coach if the suspension or tires let go.

A careful pile of 2x boards positioned under the axle, piled to the closest one that will fit easily will stop it lowering on you from a flattening tire, and a 4x4 in the bump stop does the same for the suspension.

Some of these pieces would benefit from an eye screwed into the end and a short length of rope attached to make retrieval and carrying easier.

Gluing layers of plywood together is also a route to take for strong larger pieces.

happy coaching!
buswarrior
Logged

Frozen North, Greater Toronto Area
technomadia
Hero Member
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 580


Zephyr - 1961 GM PD-4106-446


WWW

Ignore
« Reply #12 on: September 14, 2011, 02:22:52 PM »

Thanks everyone for all the great suggestions on this thread. 

This one leaves me puzzled though:
Then I would Identify the Ride height valves and their linkages. Then I would disconnect those ride height valve linkages and manually raise the buss all the way up.

There is probably about 8 inches of full travel in the suspension and ride height is in the middle of that figure so by raising it your getting another 4 inches or so of clearance while your under it.

... Slide them in and then manually dump the air at the height valves till it comes to rest. Now you can crawl under with confidence AND room.

I tracked down the ride height valves the other day when we were camped and leaning hard to the right.  I was hoping to be able to dump the air in the air from the other two valves to bring everything fully down and level.  But...  To get at the ride height valves, it seems as if you already need to be under the bus.

Is there a way to get at these valves without needing to be underneath?

I felt stuck - I couldn't get under the bus to dump the air, so instead we started up the engine every other day or so and aired back up to level.

Most oddly, this leaning doesn't seem to happen consistently.  I wonder if the check valve is going bad and has become intermittent?

Thanks everyone!

   - Chris
Logged

Cherie and Chris / www.technomadia.com
Full-time 'Technomads' since 2006 (technology enabled nomads)
Pages: [1]   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.18 | SMF © 2013, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!