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Old 07-07-2014, 03:05 PM   #1
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1994 Bounder Diesel schematics for wheelchair lift

Hi All;

I have purchased a 36 foot Bounder with Cummins diesel and am embarking on some modifications to suit my disability. The largest project is to install a wheelchair lift. This means cutting a large hole in the side between the dashboard and side entry door and fitting in a door or doors to accommodate the lift.

There is a service center willing to do the work and I have acquired the lift used. In order to select the best option for the door(s), I need to decide between having one custom made, which is expensive or purchasing a set of double doors with frame out of a bus equiped with a wheelchair lift.

I have attempted to find information or schematics on the structure of the walls. All I've found is a description of a 'steel cage vacubond' sidewall. I phoned Fleetwood with hopes of getting schematics but all they told me was that there was an aluminum frame, no indication of schematics or dimensions.

Does this even make sense for it to be called a steel cage but be manufactured of aluminum?

Does anyone out there have a schematic or a clue where to find such?
Or has anyone got experience taking one apart and can tell me what to expect?

Assistance greatly appreciated.
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Old 07-08-2014, 04:57 AM   #2
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Old 07-08-2014, 08:01 AM   #3
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I worked on coaches for a long time, and have never seen a sidewall plan specific enough, that included the dimensions and so on that you are looking for/need.

I can tell you that a lot of time when you go out on a cool morning you can see exactly where that frame work is? Dew will form on the spaces between, and the outline of the frame work can be easily seen. Seeing that may give you some guidance early in the planning stages. If nothing else, you might be able to get a couple of pics for reference later on.

Fleetwoods used to be steel framed, but that might have changed. I stopped working on them around 91. A strong magnet may be of some help to determine?

A "stud" finder might also be of some help?

Where does the lift get/need it's strength? Is it dependent on the floor or the wall, or maybe both?

To clarify, this door will be accessing the area where the passenger seat is located, or just in back of that? I ask as I'm pretty sure you'll find a pretty heavy "roll" bar structure, in the area right in back of that seat. Usually the upper seat belt is fastened to it.

Without guidance, this sounds like a scary project. Thinking about it, the floor is also going to have a metal "grid" built into it to. About the only thing you can find for sure will be fairly heavy metal around the perimeter of the floor, and a corresponding component in the wall, used to secure the wall and floor together. There's often a molding on the outside to cover those fasteners.

If I were doing it, I'd be tempted to remove the interior cabinets, then the paneling in the area you want the door placed. That should expose the framework well enough to let you see what's going to be involved. From there you'll need to cut and reinforce as required would be my guess?
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Old 07-08-2014, 09:18 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Timjwilson View Post
Hi All;

I have purchased a 36 foot Bounder with Cummins diesel and am embarking on some modifications to suit my disability. The largest project is to install a wheelchair lift. This means cutting a large hole in the side between the dashboard and side entry door and fitting in a door or doors to accommodate the lift.

There is a service center willing to do the work and I have acquired the lift used. In order to select the best option for the door(s), I need to decide between having one custom made, which is expensive or purchasing a set of double doors with frame out of a bus equiped with a wheelchair lift.

I have attempted to find information or schematics on the structure of the walls. All I've found is a description of a 'steel cage vacubond' sidewall. I phoned Fleetwood with hopes of getting schematics but all they told me was that there was an aluminum frame, no indication of schematics or dimensions.

Does this even make sense for it to be called a steel cage but be manufactured of aluminum?

Does anyone out there have a schematic or a clue where to find such?
Or has anyone got experience taking one apart and can tell me what to expect?

Assistance greatly appreciated.
You might try calling an RV salvage place and ask if they have any of these units that have been wrecked and could give you any information on what the frame is made of what kind of centering. Maybe one that is in very bad shape they might go into the interior and take off the paneling to get measurements if you paid them for that service.
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Old 07-08-2014, 09:19 AM   #5
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I've had two class A motorhomes with wheelchair lifts. My first one was a 2003 Winnebago Brave on a GM chassis. My current one is a 2013 Newmar Canyon Star 3911 on a Ford chassis. I bought the '03 used (2nd owner), '13 was new. Both were factory modified or built with lifts installed. Had many mechanical/electronic problems with the GM/Workhorse chassis, although never any with the lift. When we were trying to find a replacement for the Winnie, we found a Bounder diesel we liked, but we would have had to modify it for a lift. Couldn't find anyone we were comfortable with to install a door. I had nightmares of someone cutting into the wall, then saying something like "Oops"! That's why (after much research) we bit the bullet and bought new. Newmar builds the Canyon Star 3911 from scratch as an accessible unit, not as a modification like Winnebago. Their 2015 line includes a diesel unit (Dutch Star 4311), thereby satisfying both gas and diesel demands. We've owned our Canyon Star for almost a year and, like ALL new coaches, have had some issues with OEM equipment. All have been promptly and graciously attended to by Newmar Customer Service. VERY PLEASED! If you're not already too far committed to change direction, I recommend that you look at either Newmar's Canyon Star 3911or Dutch Star 4311 for your accessibilities requirements.


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Old 07-08-2014, 12:51 PM   #6
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Thank you for the great replies;

Ahicks:
Quote:
I can tell you that a lot of time when you go out on a cool morning you can see exactly where that frame work is?
Good idea. I do have a wood stud finder. I could try that first and assuming it is a steel frame the magnet is a great idea.

Quote:
Where does the lift get/need it's strength? Is it dependent on the floor or the wall, or maybe both?
Entirely the floor. The folks I am hiring to do the job have just completed one on a newer rig of a different make. They had to put in steel plate for the floor but the bus I got the lift from looks like they just use some heavy duty synthetic 1" flooring material with the tracks for tiedowns built in. I can get some of this instead of using steel plate or on top of, if as you say there is already plate there. My concern is whether the wall structure will support double aluminum skin doors with windows built in. I'd post a photo but I'm not sure how.

The folks doing the work think it best that they make a single super light door like they did on the rig they are working on. They said this because they believe the sidewall to be constructed with only wood and layered fiberglass, like the one they did. One advantage to a single door is that only one actuator is required to open and close it. The double doors need to close one before the other.

I presently use 2 electric actuators for the doors for my wheelchair lift into my little bus. I would much rather use a single air actuator and searched everywhere for bifold doors (used) with a 46+ inch width but could find none. They once were everwhere in bone yards.

I can buy the double doors with a frame, removed, for $500. The cost to have the door made is likely over $2000. I do believe that the double doors are better quality but definitely heavier. If I put my mind to it I might think of a way to close the doors with one actuator, copying bifold doors
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Quote:
To clarify, this door will be accessing the area where the passenger seat is located, or just in back of that? I ask as I'm pretty sure you'll find a pretty heavy "roll" bar structure, in the area right in back of that seat. Usually the upper seat belt is fastened to it.
Yes, I plan on removing the passenger seat and lounge seat. The wheelchair when loaded will serve as the passenger seat. This is good to know about the roll bar. I need to keep behind the area where the ceiling slopes to the windshield so there is sufficient height if I use the double doors.

I will also be removing the couch and one bench seat at the table. I will be putting in a table for work behind the driver's seat so will have an office type chair between that and the kitchen table. I will be putting a microscope on the new table. I work at soil science.

gemini;

Quote:
You might try calling an RV salvage place and ask if they have any of these units
Very good point.

Jim T;

Quote:
I recommend that you look at either Newmar's Canyon Star 3911or Dutch Star 4311 for your accessibilities requirements.
I wish, however I am on a tight budget. I paid $16K for the coach (66,000 miles) and $500 for the wheelchair lift.
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Old 07-08-2014, 01:25 PM   #7
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Here are the double doors I am talking about
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Old 07-08-2014, 02:00 PM   #8
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I understand "tight budget"! Will be paying for my Canyon Star for a few years. Everything is so expensive when it says "accessible" or "barrier free". And especially so, if you must hire people to do the physical things you cannot do.


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Old 07-09-2014, 11:06 AM   #9
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ahicks;

Here's a kicker. We went over the outside with a magnet which we use to pick up loose nails, etc. Over the entire body from the floor up to the top of the windows, the magnet stuck. At the front, there were a couple of spots above the windows where it did not stick. There was a short space like a foot or so near the back of the wall where the magnet did not stick.

What does this mean? Steel mesh in the fiberglass? A steel sheet 3/4 up the sidewall?

We tried using the wood stud finder but it was too confused by the metal, although it did confirm one steel stud behind the driver's seat between the 2 windows.

I guess the only way is to begin tearing down from the inside.
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Old 07-09-2014, 11:48 AM   #10
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I'm afraid to give you a lot more info for fear I'll steer you wrong. Bad info is worse than none where I come from.

Just want to add that if the floor is providing the majority of the strength for this lift, there's concern on my part about it's ability to do that without reinforcement. I would have the guys doing this job confirm this - or plan on adding reinforcement under the floor. The reason I suggest this is that I feel it's a safe assumption Fleetwood isn't going to build this coach one pound heavier than that required for the service it's intended for. Walking around on that floor isn't going to take a lot of support. Most of what is there is for the purpose of supporting the sidewall and roof?

Very best of luck! -Al
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Old 07-09-2014, 03:58 PM   #11
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I used Creative Mobile Interiors in Grove City, OH to install my Braun lift. I have the one with the furthest extension and the lift deck just BARELY makes it down to the ground after dumping the air out of the bags. Be very sure your lift will meet the ground or you could really end up in a fix looking for another lift or worse. Even after my own attempts at getting a precise drop measurement for the lift deck, I was off by a couple inches. Thank God I took the time and got the lift with the greatest extension. I think it was 48"...

In any case, you will need a dedicated circuit, breaker and a sufficient support structure to accommodate the lift and precious cargo.

The cost of the doors for me was about $2k for double swing out style. I had to sacrifice the white couch for the lift. You can see it on it's side in the picture.

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The whole job cost around $8600 or so. The lift I already had...





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Old 07-09-2014, 04:16 PM   #12
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I'm afraid to give you a lot more info for fear I'll steer you wrong. Bad info is worse than none where I come from.

Just want to add that if the floor is providing the majority of the strength for this lift, there's concern on my part about it's ability to do that without reinforcement. I would have the guys doing this job confirm this - or plan on adding reinforcement under the floor. The reason I suggest this is that I feel it's a safe assumption Fleetwood isn't going to build this coach one pound heavier than that required for the service it's intended for. Walking around on that floor isn't going to take a lot of support. Most of what is there is for the purpose of supporting the sidewall and roof?

Very best of luck! -Al
I'm not worried about the floor nor the lift. That is the simple part. We are running steel tube gussets and using either plate steel or the 1 inch flooring such as used in the handidart buses. I've done things like that over and over. My only question was in relation to the sidewall and ability to support the doors, so I can make a $1500+ decision quickly before commencing the job.

It looks like I'll have to commit to the manufactured door, as I cannot begin tearing things down right away. What does surprise me is that the plans are not available from Fleetwood.
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Old 07-09-2014, 04:28 PM   #13
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Bad Bolt; I have 2 of those lifts
Millenniun; Model # L917IB3750 is the one with the 48" travel and the other model is L915**** with less travel
I need a lift of 44.7 inches so I've got that covered.

Are your doors automatically activated? If so, what actuators did you use?
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Old 07-09-2014, 04:35 PM   #14
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Anyone got ideas why the magnet stuck everywhere?
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