Using a Hydraulic Ram to Do Some Body Work

We had some pretty massive distortions in the lower body from a previous driver taking corners too tightly and denting the rub bars. I initially thought I could pull the dents out by clamping a 5′ square tube to the rub bar and using a clamp to bend it back into place. That wasn’t going to work, because as soon as I removed the clamp, the metal sprung back into its original distorted shape.

Then I looked under the bus and realized that I could push the metal out if I had something that I could brace against the steel bus frame. This is where my favorite tool shed, Harbor Freight came in. I don’t think their tools are necessarily the best, but if you need something for a one-time job, they’re hard to beat! For around $170 using a 20% off coupon and paying sales tax, I had a ram kit that can apply 20,000 lbs of pressure.

This did the trick because in about 30 minutes we had pushed out the dented in panels on both sides of the bus, creating a nice, smooth line that we’re happy with.

the ram is set up and ready to use underneath the bus
here you can see the side panels on the left, and the frame member on the right. We lined up the hydraulic ram between these, and pushed the body panels and rub bars back into their correct position.

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