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Old 02-02-2010, 01:19 PM   #21
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Bob and volvoman, You guys are right. Stretching the frame on the Pete is the way to go. Turns out that the frame rails on the old Wanderlodge are only 7 1/2" tall and are 36" apart (outside to outside) and the Pete's rails are 10" tall and 34" apart. There's about ten feet of frame behind the drive axle on the coach though, so stretching the frame of the Pete is going to be a little different than just cutting it in the middle, putting a section in and double framing for a ways.
I think the best solution is to find a junk yard that handles school buses and take the rear 16' or so from the frame from a school bus and use it for the stretch since they already have the frame behind the rear axle as I require. Then install the rear drive axle from the Pete with the air leaf suspension.
I've been off here for awhile. I thought the site was broken, but it turns out it is taking about four minutes for each page to open. So does using the rear part of the frame from a school bus seem good? I could go a long ways to get pieces and haul them cheap on a trailer behind my pickup.
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Old 02-03-2010, 07:42 AM   #22
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I don't know. There are lots of shops that stretch class8 frames. I'd call some of them and pic their brains for advice. Call Ralph too. I don't know if he did his frame stretches in house or had them done by somebody else. He'd tell you for sure. I'm also thinking you should do some figuring about the length and where the drives should be in relation to the whole thing. I wouldn't just assume they should be in the same spot that Bluebird put their drives. I kind of think they had too much overhang off the back on their buses. Especially if you want to have a good size trailer hitched back there. With all that overhang I think it gives the trailer too much leverage against the coach. I used to have a 32' Allegro class A gas coach. It had a huge super long overhang on the back behind the drives. Pulling my trailer that think could really torque the rig. I think there's some engineering to do. Blizz? Any thoughts? (that guy's got some engineering smarts)
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Old 02-03-2010, 02:19 PM   #23
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Thanks Bob, I need to call Ralph. I'm kind of stuck with a single drive axle on account of all the space not used by the current drive axle configuration is taken up by things that can't be relocated. The space behind the drive is all potable water tanks under the beds and kitchen dining area things that can't be moved. The space in front of the drive is kitchen and bathroom on one side and entrance door, propane tank on the other. Also, I'm light on the drive axle already, even with the long overhang and need the weight aft to keep it off the steers. I'm hoping Ralph can put my mind at ease on that one. I'm thinking it will be close and don't want to be over on the steers. Removing the nose, engine, transmisssion, axle and steering sector from the coach and the sleeper and fifth wheel from the tractor will drop a lot of weight, but I don't know if it will be enough. I'm sure Ralph will know right off the top of his head if I give him a drawing. I'm collaborating with a man in R.I., who thinking along the same lines as I am with a '94 Pete and a little longer Wanderlodge and he's working on some good CAD drawings. I'll only be pulling a 16' car trailer behind it and have pulled this trailer with the coach before on cross country trips and had no problems (except on hills.lol.).
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Old 02-03-2010, 04:46 PM   #24
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Ray, you are not in the woods by yourself, we might lurk and read, but if ya need something that I can help with just post, I get by here 'bout once a day. I cut my frame rails with a Dewalt saw-zall and 3 $2.00 each metal blades, it took around one song on the radio per cut, but 3 beers to gather the courage, and 1 afterwards to look at what I did and comment "what did you just do?"




I'm going out on a limb but looking at your weight numbers, I may get time to play with them soon, but you should be all right as long as you keep those water tanks full. You might think about relocating your fuel tanks further back, perhaps right in front of the drivers. The bus was designed to haul a load of people, and the over hang was to offset the steering axle. If you look at some of the truck conversions, they have very little overhang. this makes them ft axle heavy UNLESS they are pulling the nose heavy stacker trailer that most were designed to pull. You might be close with that big block diesel. But if you make sure the water is full to teeter totter the weight back (if you ever have to scale it)

Personally, I'd run her nearly out of fuel, fill the water, have the wife and kids to the back and get a certified scale ticket. Keep it with you if anyone ever asks you about the ft axle weight.

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Old 02-03-2010, 06:28 PM   #25
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Thanks blizz. Of course you are right about the overhang's purpose. I had never thought of that and figured it was just to keep the wheelbase short to make getting around corners easier. I'm not used to thinking of people as cargo having weight to be distributed(DUH!). I guess in defense, I can only say that I've been pulling a spread axle for so long, I forgot what it was like sliding the trailer tandems back and forth. The coach only has a 60 gallon gas tank in the rear on the drivers side. I'm probably going to remove the fuel tanks from the tractor as they are behind the cab under the sleeper and look for a place to put more fuel, but like I said, space under the coach is pretty well used up. I may be able to put a larger tank in the rear in place of the one that's there since there's nothing under the rear of the coach in that area, but the gas tank on one side, a tool compartment on the other and the exhaust running through there somewhere. The truck has stacks, so the exhaust pipe on the coach won't be there. I'll know better when I get back down to where the coach is in May and start the job.
When I had my other truck's frame altered, they used a 3/4" drill and gradually larger bits to drill the holes in the frame. It was a horrible amount of work. Recently a guy told me that he uses a step drill and drills the holes easily. I remembered that and when I went to put some new chicken lights on my bumper I bought a set of step drills. Cut 3/4" holes like butter in that heavy steel bumper. Ever tried using those on a frame?
Doing much with numbers would only be a guess right now for me, but you might have a better idea of the weight involved with the things I'm removing and how it will distribute. The coach weighs 21,000+/-, with about 11,000 on the drive axle and about ten on the steers. I'm not sure how much of a factor it is, but the steering axle is set back quite a ways. I'll be removing the face of the bus and the engine, MT40 Cast Iron transmission, axle and steering sector; and the sleeper, drives and fifth wheel from the tractor. The tractor weighs about 17,500 now. It's gonna be scary close I think.
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Old 02-03-2010, 09:25 PM   #26
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Step bits? never tried them, I did borrow a home built frame drill, you could if you had all your holes marked and possibly piloted rent a magnetic drill for a half day and drill all the holes. A hand held 1/2 drill will require a few extra bits as you will break them long before the dull.
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Old 02-28-2010, 09:20 AM   #27
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Thanks. Great photos. Nice clean work. The last time I had a frame altered about 9 yrs ago it only cost around $1,100.00 +/-. The frame was shortened, so I didn't have to pay for much or any frame rail material. Since then the same shop did some work on a trailer for me and really gouged me. I'm pretty capable, have all the tools and time now that I'm retired and I'm thinking of doing the stretch myself. I believe some of you on here will be able to coach me on the fine points as I go along should I decide to go this route. I'll go by the shop that does it down in the Rio Grande Valley where the coach is and see what they want to do it. If it's too crazy expensive, I'll do it myself. How much does the material for the frame rails cost and where do you get it from? With this information, I'll have a better idea of the comparative costs of doing it myself or farming it out.
I'm also having some nightmares about building the new front wall for the coach and integrating it. I think I'll use a lot of the sheet metal from the sleeper to do this and pretty much mimic the way the face of the coach merges with the sides now.
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Old 02-28-2010, 04:54 PM   #28
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Just did a est. for a tractor frame strech. customer supplying frame rails. $1500.00 for labor, driveshaft, electrical and air lines. we drill a small hole and use tapered reemers to drill frames. use lots of oil to keep cool. we have to cut frame rails off 2nd truck as part of job.
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Old 02-28-2010, 09:10 PM   #29
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And if you take it to somebody to do that make sure they will stand by their work and make it right if they do something wrong. I know a guy that had a shop stretch the frame and take off one axle. The truck then had some bad vibrations in the driveline. They messed up the pinion angles or something and it was a bit of a problem getting it fixed.
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Old 02-28-2010, 09:53 PM   #30
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....that was probably that old Larry Ziegler....I'm still waiting for him to show his face around here.....I did call the federal tax and state tax boys on him...also the dealers association in Kansas and Mo....they were interested in talking to him....seems his interpretation of the vehicle and tax codes was a delusion of sorts....and I'm just waiting for a face to face meet.....they called his operation "shade treeing": and were very interested in little chat about tax implications and the usual forms and required paperwork.... .........geofkaye and the Rivercity Group...
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Old 02-28-2010, 09:58 PM   #31
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.....vintageray: you sure have an intereisting project going for you....wish you/I were closer so I could watch in person you pulling this off.....you got bigger"stones" than I have to even try this one.....in all seriousness-BEST OF LUCK....and I sure wish I was closer to help.....geofkaye and the Rivercity Group....
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Old 03-02-2010, 10:51 AM   #32
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Hopefully it won't get too crazy. Actually, the more I firm up my plans the simpler it's becomming. Good that I'm not starting the project until May and have time to think about it, realize my mistakes and rethink them now rather than jump into it and three or four days after doing something, think of a better way, as is frequent with me. I have a KW sitting in the yard that I'll probably use the frame from for the stretch. It's a double frame most of the way though. It has 40K Rockwells on KW 8 bag air ride. So I'm not sure whether to use the Eaton or Rockwell axle. The Rockwells are 3.70's though and would probably be better with the 13 double over. Right now with the 3.36's it goes into eighth over at 105mph @1700rpm.
I've been thinking a lot about how to integrate the front of the coach with the cab and it popped into my head that I don't have to. I'll be building the new front wall for the coach using the front wall from the sleeper I'm taking off the Pete with the entryway and boot, so will just leave the 2" gap between the cab and the coach as it is with the cab and the sleeper. Thinking of it as a stretched tractor with a thirty-one foot sleeper.
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Old 05-15-2010, 09:49 AM   #33
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Okay Ray, have you got an update for us? Did you make it to the Bird yet and start tearing it apart? Inquiring minds want to know.
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Old 12-09-2010, 09:50 AM   #34
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Oh no, where is Vintage Ray? Are you cutting the trucks apart and putting them together yet? I've been hoping to hear good news about this project.
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