How To Remove School Bus Side Panels

Removing the side panels of your skoolie is a good idea.  Standard school bus insulation isn’t so great, plus you’ll want access to check for leaks and rust.

Tools Required:

  • Angle grinder
  • Impact driver
  • A sharpie marker and a yardstick
  • Safety gloves and glasses
  • An old metal clothes hanger
  • A friend (or girlfriend, in this case)
Step 1 – Remove Screws

We were lucky that our panels were secured with screws.  Any screws that are tough to remove can be wacked with a hammer a few times to help.  If yours are secured with rivets…we don’t know what to tell you to do this quickly and easily.  Every time we had rivets, we would shear them off with the angle grinder, or make a notch with the angle grinder (essentially making it resemble a screw) that could then be removed with a phillips head attachment on the impact driver.  Best bet would be to google how other skoolies removed rivets; some people have developed nifty tricks for that!

Step 2 – Remove Metal Covering

There is a little section of metal covering a small square just below and in-between each window.  Remove this by shearing off its securing rivet with the angle grinder.

Step 3 – Mark Where to Cut

The metal panels on our bus fold and went underneath the window frame.  Rather than try to completely remove them, we cut them off 1 inch below the window frame.  To make the cut nice and even, we marked 1 inch down and used a sharpie and a yardstick to mark an even line.

Step 4 – Cut Off Panels

With a good friend holding the panel slightly at an angle, cut along your sharpie line with the angle grinder.  Wear safety goggles and gloves!

Step 5 – Remove the Old Insulation
  • Remove and dispose of the old insulation.  The insulation tucked into the lower panel is hard to get out.  A good tool for this is an old clothes hanger, or the prying end of a hammer.
  • Use this opportunity to check for rust.  This will lead help you determine where you have any leaks that need to be addressed.  It’s also a nice time to write sweet nothings to each other on the inside of the walls 🙂

Next, putting down the floor insulation and subfloor!