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Author Topic: baadpuppy's schoolbus conversion... unleashed  (Read 27686 times)

baadpuppy

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baadpuppy's schoolbus conversion... unleashed
« on: April 20, 2009, 12:44:36 PM »
Well, it has taken me some time, but I'm finally getting started on converting my old schoolbus.  I've also come up with a good name for my bus: 'unleashed'.  It has multiple levels of meaning for me.   :)

The vehicle is a 1985 Thomas Saf-T-Liner rear engine diesel pusher school bus.  The chassis is freightliner, and the body is Thomas.  The engine is a CAT 3208 naturally aspirated model, and the transmission is an Allison MT-643 4 speed automatic with lockup torque converter.  The bus is equipped with air brakes and air activated automatic chains.  It also has air controlled throttle and an air horn.  The bus is approximately 39' long with a flat nose and the driver forward of the front axle.  The GVWR is 33,280.  The bus is already titled as a motorhome in VA, and no special license endorsements are required.

It has taken me a while to get most of the tools I'll need together.  Also, there was a colder winter this year, which seemed to conspire to put the bad weather on the weekends.  This summer I plan to make up for it.

Right now the bus is being used as a temporary shed to hold some belongings from my uncle's estate (he passed away this march) while they get sold.  However, that hasn't stopped me from getting to work.

I initially thought that my roof raise was going to be the first major thing and would hold everything up.  However, I now realize I have to deal with the wiring before I can raise the roof.  Additionally, I have to allow time for my uninvited guests to raise their little ones before I evict them.

This bus had an interesting control panel above the driver's seat with a lot of switched and indicators.  There's a picture of that here.  This panel flips down revealing a bunch of wiring harness connectors as well as the controls for the 8-way warning flashers that school busses have.  There is also the main power cutoff solenoid for the body electrical system.

I found that one of the harnesses shows signs of overheating in the past.  It appears to be the one that ran all those flashing lights.  I'm still working on untangling the mess and cutting out the school bus specific circuits.  It appears as though I'll be able to relocate all those circuits to a different control panel, eliminating most of the wiring from consideration during the roof raising.

I already have 1 friend that is committed to coming and helping with the roof raise.  My dad will also be helping.  I suspect I can get an uncle and cousin to help as well.  The process has been well documented by others, and I intend to follow their plan quite closely.  After it is raised, there will be some fun welding work to do.   :D  Still, that is several months off.

Once the roof is raised, I intend to skin both sides of the bus eliminating the school bus windows.  I want to put in some RV windows, but I want to make sure that they are dual paned as well as being emergency egress capable.

Another part of my plan is to build a raised secondary floor in the main living area and put the tanks between that floor and the school bus floor.  I also am planning to have radiant hydronic heating.  I plan to have a split unit air conditioner with the air handler inside and the compressor in the basement area.  Batteries will also live in the basement area.  The space between the floors and the remaining basement space will be storage.

I'm also planning to put in a small loft bedroom above the cockpit if there ends up being enough space after the raise.  I can raise the roof about 3' without any legal issues.

Keeping the tanks and storage low will help me keep the center of gravity low, compensating for the raising of the roof.

I'll try to keep this thread updated at least once a week with some kind of progress.  Now that I've started the thread, I have motivation to keep working so I can keep it updated.   ;D

more to come later,
jim

Luca1369

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Re: baadpuppy's schoolbus conversion... unleashed
« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2009, 01:00:31 PM »
Being someone who loves busses, I'd enjoy seeing some photos.

Steve
Steve
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baadpuppy

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Re: baadpuppy's schoolbus conversion... unleashed
« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2009, 01:32:44 PM »
Being someone who loves busses, I'd enjoy seeing some photos.

Steve

Oops, I forgot to link to my photo gallery.  Check here.

jim

Luca1369

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Re: baadpuppy's schoolbus conversion... unleashed
« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2009, 02:34:30 PM »
Thanks for the link to the photos.  Wow, what a project!  I bet you're having all kinds of fun!!!

Steve
Steve
1990 Fleetwood Southwind 36'
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A good traveller has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.
Lao Tsu (570-490 BC)

baadpuppy

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Re: baadpuppy's schoolbus conversion... unleashed
« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2009, 03:01:52 PM »
I've just barely scratched the surface.  I just wish I had considered a skoolie before spending $5,500 on an old rusted motorhome and another $1,100 on tires for it, and another $1,000 building a "tent" to renovate the old RV within.  When I think what I could do with $7,600 on the skoolie conversion, it makes me sick.  On the other hand, I got a lot of experience from the first 2 projects.

The old RV was fine as a short term camping RV, and I now regret trying to renovate it.  If I had left it as it was, my parents could be enjoying it for camping.  What I want is a long term durable full timing rig, and that RV just wasn't it.  I rushed into the purchase not knowing anywhere near what I needed to know.  The ford 460 engine ate belts often.  The frame had a lot of rust from northern winters.  The electrical system was monkeyed beyond belief under the hood.  And the tv/vcr had hosted a family of chipmunks at some point in its life.  Still, it only leaked a little, the bed was comfy, and the accessories all worked aside from the vcr and tv.

The old RV has made an excellent donor of accessories for the summer kitchen we started building last summer and plan to finish this spring.  We'll be able to keep the cooking heat outdoors and out of the house, making it more bearable to be inside without A/C.

On the bus, I will be insulating hopefully good enough to winter in Alaska or Canada.   :o

If anyone wants to stop by and have some "fun" of their own working on the bus I doubt I'll say no.   ;)

jim

Luca1369

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Re: baadpuppy's schoolbus conversion... unleashed
« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2009, 03:35:24 PM »
If anyone wants to stop by and have some "fun" of their own working on the bus I doubt I'll say no.   ;)

Thank you Tom Sawyer!

Steve
Steve
1990 Fleetwood Southwind 36'
http://seaworthy.com

For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go.
I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move.
Robert Louis Stevenson

A good traveller has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.
Lao Tsu (570-490 BC)

baadpuppy

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Re: baadpuppy's schoolbus conversion... unleashed
« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2009, 06:28:45 PM »
Well, today I finished getting the overhead control panel removed. I labeled each wire that I pulled from a switch, and I labeled all the connectors with a letter so I would make sure A went to A etc, even though they were all keyed differently. I just wanted to be absolutely sure I got them back correctly.

I disconnected the heavy gauge wire from the main fuse panel that fed the solenoid for the body circuits. It makes me less uncomfortable working in the tight space knowing I won't accidentally short that sucker to ground.

The entire wiring harness is now removed from the overhead forward section, and is currently hanging down behind the driver's seat. There is only 1 hot wire in the whole bundle, and I haven't tracked down what is feeding it yet.

I removed the wiring chase cover down the drivers side and some of it on the passenger side. Unfortunately, there is a lot of "stuff" being stored in the bus, so I can't get to all of them yet.

I discovered little birds are living in the empty space above the door. Do all school buses have a dead space there? I've been surprised at how much dead space I keep finding.

It is nice to finally be seeing some progress.

Some pics of the roof raising prep work can be found at: http://gallery.giffords.net/v/thomas/raiseprep/. I'll be updating that gallery as I go along with the prep work.

jim

Just Lou

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Re: baadpuppy's schoolbus conversion... unleashed
« Reply #7 on: April 25, 2009, 07:20:03 PM »
I haven't decided yet whether I'm the laziest and most pessimistic person in the world (and that you are the most energetic and optimistic) - or - that we both have some serious problems ahead.

I am absolutely blown away by the scope of your project.  I wish you luck and Godspeed.
'97 Bounder 34V (F53 w/tag), '99 Honda Accord EX

baadpuppy

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Re: baadpuppy's schoolbus conversion... unleashed
« Reply #8 on: April 26, 2009, 08:34:56 PM »
today was at least as hot as yesterday. ugh.

Yesterday evening I decided to not risk having birds flying around the interior of the bus, so I taped off 2 of the 4 flasher holes in the front and but a piece of pink foam insulation in the sign window area to block the other two from the interior of the vehicle. The mother bird can still get in and out to feed her chicks. And listening to them cheeping, I think she needs to get hustling.

I worked on the wiring harnesses some more today. I cut the wires for the radio and speakers out completely. When I finish my conversion, that old crappy radio won't be there nor will those old crappy speakers. So, one thing off the list. Additionally, I removed one harness that was only associated with the 8-way flashers. I cut the electrical tape off of all 30+ feet of the wiring running thru the wire chase above the driver side windows. The ones associated with the 8-ways have been pulled to the back. I identified the rest of them, and cleaned them up. Turns out that harness has the following 6 wires: tail, stop, left, right, reverse, clearance. Someone must not have realized how to turn on the clearance lights because they had tied tail to clearance so the clearance lights came on with the running lights.

I took out most of the speakers and overhead interior lights today. Left a few because I couldn't get to them for the stuff being stored in my bus.  :-\  I pulled off the rest of the passenger side wire chase cover except for one bit which has two screws with stripped heads. My T-20 torx bit is also getting a bit stripped. I'll have to pick some up this week.

I pulled the front panel off to get access to additional radio wiring and pulled and cut out all of that as well. Just have about 6 feet worth of speaker wire left in an area that is currently not accessible.

Even with all the circuit butchery that I've done, the bus still cranks up and moves. All the normal lights work too except the clearance lights, which are currently completely disconnected.

I took more pictures today and added them to the ones from yesterday. They can be found at http://gallery.giffords.net/v/thomas/raiseprep/ starting on page 2.

I'm running out of things to do for roof raise prep while stuff is stored inside the bus. So, I have to figure out other things I can do to the bus without disturbing the contents or the birds and without interfering with the future roof raising.

jim

baadpuppy

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Re: baadpuppy's schoolbus conversion... unleashed
« Reply #9 on: April 26, 2009, 08:46:56 PM »
I haven't decided yet whether I'm the laziest and most pessimistic person in the world (and that you are the most energetic and optimistic) - or - that we both have some serious problems ahead.

I am absolutely blown away by the scope of your project.  I wish you luck and Godspeed.

I can't speak to your laziness and pessimism.  My own laziness on the other hand is almost legendary.   :D   I can say categorically that I'm far from the most energetic and optimistic person in the world.

... and I know for a fact that I have some serious problems ahead.   ;D

I've always been a more do-it-yourself kind of guy, and this is one of the ultimate do-it-yourself types of projects.  I know that it will end up costing a lot of money, even doing things economy minded.  On the other hand, I look to be living full time in the finished product for 10+ years, assuming the chassis doesn't rot out from under me.  lol  Even if the driveline croaks, the design of a rear engine bus is such that it is relatively easy to swap out the driveline.  That's not to say it would be cheap.

I've had the bus since June.  I kept having reasons not to work on it.  "It's too blasted hot this summer", "it's too cold this winter", "it's too windy", "I don't have the tools I need", "I don't have the parts I need", etc etc.  I don't want to get to June of this year and have no progress being made.  So, with good weather finally gracing us a bit, I've been pushing myself to do *something*.

I'm not looking forward to paying the bill for the steel I'm going to have to purchase within the next month or so.  I still need a good rivet tool and some good steel rivets of various sizes.  I need more T-20 torx bits.  I need an angle grinder to deal with the screws with stripped heads.  I have to wait for little birdies to get old enough to fly so I can evict them.  The ones in the rear might not notice a roof raise, but the ones over the door definitely would notice when I cut thru their compartment.  But, I intend to keep on making progress.

Posting here (and at the skoolie.net forum and in my blog) helps keep my progress more public, which helps motivate me to show more progress instead of slacking off watching TV.

This spring we also have to get the pool opened back up, finish the summer kitchen we started last year, finish disassembly of the old RV that I started in august of 2007, and build some decks near the pool.

Oh well, I just have to keep on keeping on.  I really appreciate the encouragement and support I get from the kind folks here on the rv forum.

jim

Ray D

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Re: baadpuppy's schoolbus conversion... unleashed
« Reply #10 on: April 26, 2009, 08:57:35 PM »
baadpuppy, I followed your previous adventure, start to finish. Glad to see you back. I expect many exciting posts as this project develops.  ;D

I am wishing you luck, energy, and a mind full of ideas as you go along. Can't help, as I have no experience or knowledge that would be useful to you. But, I can sit on the sidelines, enjoy your dream, and be awed at the scope of your project. I'd love to see it, when it is done!  :o

Keep up the good work!  ;D

Ray D  ;D
Boise, Idaho. U.S.A.F. Vet. Damon Challenger, Workhorse/Vortec, 2005 towing a Suzuki XL-7, 2003.

ArdraF

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Re: baadpuppy's schoolbus conversion... unleashed
« Reply #11 on: April 26, 2009, 09:00:41 PM »
Baadpuppy,

Like Ray D I followed your previous project and wish you success.

ArdraF
ArdraF
:D :D

baadpuppy

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Re: baadpuppy's schoolbus conversion... unleashed
« Reply #12 on: May 03, 2009, 02:13:54 PM »
Well, this weekend's progress has been minimal.

Dad and I rearranged some of the stuff stored in the bus so that I can more easily get to the back, making an aisle down the drivers side.

I moved the 6 deep cycle UPS batteries into the storage bay underneath the passenger side. That was not fun.

I removed all the removable screws from 1 roof panel, and it just about killed my arms. That's going to take a while. There are a few screws left, and they'll have to be ground off with a grinder.

I checked on the little cheepers, and they seem to be thriving. Hopefully in about 2 to 3 weeks I'll be able to evict them all.

I also removed the service panel above the engine from the interior, and looked at the air throttle assembly. It appears to be a professional installation, and is fully functional where it is. Without any real incentive, I don't think I'll relocate it to the more normal location on the front of the engine block. Reminder: make sure it is easy to access that service panel after the conversion is finished.   

I also checked, and my gear selector lever is a cable type, not air type. This might make relocating it to the dash a bit more work.

Today it is raining, so there isn't much to be done.

Sorry, no new pictures this time.

baadpuppy

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Re: baadpuppy's schoolbus conversion... unleashed
« Reply #13 on: May 26, 2009, 08:48:56 AM »
The conversion has been on hold for a while for a variety of reasons.  These include the infestation of the bus with birds and mites as well as the use of the bus for storage.

This weekend I dealt with 2 of those 3 issues.

I bought a second bus to deal with the storage issue.  This second bus is about 35' long, conventional style, 366 ci tall block chevy gas engine, 5 speed manual transmission, 25,500 pound GVWR.

I plan to remove all but 3 rows of seats, the 2 behind the driver and one somewhere near the middle.  This will divide the bus into two main storage areas and also allow me to carry a few passengers if need be.

I will then move all of my belongings and conversion stuff into the forward most storage area in this bus.  I want to keep the rearward storage area clear for going to the store to buy materials for the conversion.

Once all of my stuff is out of the sheds on the property, I'll then have room to move the stuff that is in my conversion bus into the sheds, freeing the conversion bus for being converted.

The second problem, that of mites, was dealt with with pesticides.  The new "shed" bus as I'm calling it had some weird looking creepy crawlies in it, so I bought some foggers and set one off in each bus.  Each fogger is rated for 7000 square feet, so should be more than enough for a bus.

As for the new bus, I do plan to title it, however I'm considering going the "farm use only" route with it, as I should only need it on the road for going to get materials for the conversion.

This week I hope I can get out there with some help to get the seats out.  And of course, I'll need help shuffling all the "stuff" around between sheds and busses.

Some basic pics of the new "shed" bus can be found here.

jim

pineknot4657

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Re: baadpuppy's schoolbus conversion... unleashed
« Reply #14 on: May 27, 2009, 03:51:28 PM »
Wow. I bought a motorhome about 2 years ago and I am still fixing things like the rubber roof and other stuff. I never heard of a bus to rv conversion. If I had known about this, I would have bought a school bus in a heartbeat. Buses are built like tanks. What a cool and fun project. I will never buy another motorhome again. They are not made to last like a bus. Good luck. ;D

baadpuppy

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Re: baadpuppy's schoolbus conversion... unleashed
« Reply #15 on: June 14, 2009, 07:05:40 PM »
yay, some progress today!

I bought a new battery for the shed bus (I really need a better name for that one), to the tune of $117 and change.  But, she cranks right up now, so I'm happy about that.

Moved the busses around in the yard a bit, so that the two emergency doors were aligned mostly. Put the headboard from an old waterbed between the two busses as a ramp/drawbridge. Then dad and I moved a lot of the stuff from 'unleashed' into the shed bus.

Originally I planned to store my conversion stuff in the shed bus, but it turns out the volume of the conversion stuff is less than the volume of the stuff currently being stored in 'unleashed', so we changed the plan.

The next clear evening that we get, I plan to move more of the stuff out of 'unleashed' into the shed bus. Hrm, perhaps 'shedbus' should be its name.

Anyway, once all that stuff is out, I get to have fun cleaning up the mess from the birds and the poisoning with sevin dust. After that, it'll be time to take up the floor and start pulling out the windows in preparation for the roof raise. Raising the roof won't happen before the last part of july though. Still haven't lined up a supplier for steel. 

so... progress is progress as they say. 

jim

baadpuppy

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Re: baadpuppy's schoolbus conversion... unleashed
« Reply #16 on: June 14, 2009, 07:12:52 PM »
Wow. I bought a motorhome about 2 years ago and I am still fixing things like the rubber roof and other stuff. I never heard of a bus to rv conversion. If I had known about this, I would have bought a school bus in a heartbeat. Buses are built like tanks. What a cool and fun project. I will never buy another motorhome again. They are not made to last like a bus. Good luck. ;D

I agree that busses are built like tanks.  School busses seem to be some of the toughest built vehicles ever made (not counting military vehicles).  They are designed to withstand abuse from the single most destructive force on this planet: kids.  They're also designed to keep those little terrors alive as much as possible in the case of an accident.

I agree that many motorhomes and rvs are built to poor standards.  However, I believe there are a lot built to high standards as well.  The sad fact is that a motorhome built to last for 20+ years of full time living is way outside my budget, but a school bus conversion won't be.

When you add the fact that I'm never content with a stock design of anything, a conversion makes a lot of sense for me.

Another thing to consider if your pockets are deep enough is the medium duty and heavy duty truck conversions that are becoming increasingly popular.  There are also transit busses (like city busses), as well as long haul busses (such as greyhounds), ambulances, fire trucks, box trucks, refrigerated trucks, etc.  Basically, if it has wheels, chances are someone somewhere has thought about how to convert it.

Thanks again,
jim

Hit The Road Jack

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Re: baadpuppy's schoolbus conversion... unleashed
« Reply #17 on: June 23, 2009, 03:00:49 PM »
Hi Jim!

I congratulate your efforts and fortify your will to complete this project successfully.

FTR, what is the interior height from floor to ceiling in your stock bus prior to the roof-raising?

Regards,
Jack
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Name?... 'Roadhouse' Navigated By 'Maggie' Our 7200 Street Pilot GPS.

baadpuppy

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Re: baadpuppy's schoolbus conversion... unleashed
« Reply #18 on: June 23, 2009, 03:08:35 PM »
Thanks.

The interior height in my bus is 6'0" at the center.  The sides are considerably less.

Thomas basically makes 3 interior heights.  If you look at one in profile, you'll see at the front that the roof might be different than it is over the passenger area.  That roof height is 6'3".  Mine is one where the roofline drops over the passenger area.  Another design is no rise or fall, giving 6'3" front to back.  The 3rd option has a rise giving 6'6" headroom in the passenger area.  Those are rather rare though.

Thomas also built a lot of transit busses on the same basic chassis.  Typically, those are a 6'3" or 6'6" interior height, and also the floor is above the wheels so no wheel humps to deal with.  That makes them higher outside as well.  My bus is almost exactly 10' tall (minus a bit) at the tallest point, leaving me plenty of room for growth.   ;D

jim

baadpuppy

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Re: baadpuppy's schoolbus conversion... unleashed
« Reply #19 on: June 23, 2009, 03:12:10 PM »
still slow progress.  It alternates between hot and wet, with lots of hot and muggy in between.

The shed bus was christened "The StowAway" by a member of the skoolie forum.  Perfect name.

Although, vampire would've been a good name, as it likes to suck all the juice out of the battery in about 18 hours.  yikes!  One day I'll have to track that down.  In the mean time, disconnecting the cable is easy enough.

This weekend in between bouts of rain, we managed to move all the vehicles and busses (except the old rv) to get the grass cut.  I also got some more things moved from unleashed into the stowaway.

Slow progress is still progress... barely.   :-\

more later,
jim

Hit The Road Jack

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Re: baadpuppy's schoolbus conversion... unleashed
« Reply #20 on: June 23, 2009, 03:31:00 PM »
Thanks for the prompt reply Jim!

I can now see why a 5' 8" or taller person would require a higher ceiling.

BTW, I really respect the fact you care for the safety of the bird family...I'd do the same... ;)
2015 Thor Challenger 37 GT

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baadpuppy

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Re: baadpuppy's schoolbus conversion... unleashed
« Reply #21 on: July 19, 2009, 10:40:48 PM »
No real update on the bus.

It is about halfway cleaned out now.  Still have to finish that.

I've been sidetracked by the need to help out my family with things and also with getting engaged.

My parents recently purchased an old 1979 (I think) Apache pop-up with hard sides.  We've been doing a lot of work getting it ship shape, and mom took it on the first camping trip last weekend.  She says it tows great, and is wonderful compared to tent camping.  It is very basic, with just 1 light, 1 battery, and only a sink for plumbing, and a gas stove that we need to get tested before it gets used.

I've also managed to get the old cobra malibu motorhome cranked up and moved for the first time in over a year.  The original battery is toast, as are the original house batteries (which were boiled by the converter before I bought it).

The front windows of the old motorhome are about to pop out, and the window seals on most of the other windows are shrunk and dry.  I plan to pull them all and hope to find a buyer for the windows that are still in good shape.

I have a buyer lined up for the two 13,500 btu A/C units.  Mom wants one of the skylight vents (the one with electric fan and lights inside it) installed in the pop-up if it will fit.  Dad and I will do our best to accomplish that.  That leaves 2 skylights needing a new home.

My uncle is interested in the chassis and driveline to put under an old farm truck he is restoring.  So that is good news.

On the bus side of things, I was given 6 UPS deep cycle batteries, but it turns out they're all seriously sulfated, and desulfation didn't work.  Add to those the chassis battery from the motorhome and the 2 house batteries from the motorhome, and I have 9 batteries to use for core when it comes time to build a good battery bank in the bus.

This week we'll be focusing on stripping the old motorhome down as far as we can.  That might take several weeks depending on weather, etc.  Most of the stuff that was stored in the old motorhome has been removed, so it shouldn't take too much effort.

The good news is that the admiral-to-be is fully supportive of the bus conversion plan.  The bad news is that she is on the opposite side of the country from me.    :(  I was just out in Oregon last week visiting her.  Beautiful area.  Even made it up to Walla Walla, Wa one day.  I really liked the cool weather, low humidity, and lack of mosquitos.

Anyway, not much else to say about the bus conversion.

jim

Tom

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Re: baadpuppy's schoolbus conversion... unleashed
« Reply #22 on: July 19, 2009, 11:23:57 PM »
Congratulations on the engagement Jim!
Tom.  Need help? Click the Help button in the toolbar above.

Ray D

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Re: baadpuppy's schoolbus conversion... unleashed
« Reply #23 on: July 19, 2009, 11:30:04 PM »
I have followed all of your posts, as you've moved along.  ;D

I'm trying to think of some project you could take on, in your spare time.  :D :D

I'll think of something.  ::)

Ray D  ;)
Boise, Idaho. U.S.A.F. Vet. Damon Challenger, Workhorse/Vortec, 2005 towing a Suzuki XL-7, 2003.

baadpuppy

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Re: baadpuppy's schoolbus conversion... unleashed
« Reply #24 on: July 19, 2009, 11:46:00 PM »
Congratulations on the engagement Jim!

Thanks Tom.

It has been a long time coming.  Still trying to figure out how we'll get her moved out here.  No matter how I look at it, it won't be cheap.

I have followed all of your posts, as you've moved along.  ;D

I'm trying to think of some project you could take on, in your spare time.  :D :D

I'll think of something.  ::)

Ray D  ;)

Ray, I don't know if I have any spare time.  I spend all of my time doing research these days when I'm not busy with something else.  Thanks though!

I suspect that once my fiance is out here, there'll be even less time available to me.

jim

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Re: baadpuppy's schoolbus conversion... unleashed
« Reply #25 on: July 21, 2009, 07:04:41 PM »
Being someone who loves busses, I'd enjoy seeing some photos.

Steve

Hi Steve! Take a look at the "conversion" we did back in the early 80's.
1962, 32' WAYNE International w/ 550 Ci gas V-8 and a 5-spd manual.
Converted it to use as a bicycle racing team RV. Traveled all around the USA going to BMX races. Slept 12 kids on bunks with my private "quarters" over the engine at the rear. Had 100 gal water tank, blk & grey tanks, full fiberglass shower/can combo. 3 burner stove and a large 2-door fridge. Of course killer stereo and CB.
Painted it desert camo and built a 1" square tube roof rack the whole length of bus. THE STORIES!!!!!!! LOL......  :o
04 Meridian 32T
05 Honda Pilot

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Re: baadpuppy's schoolbus conversion... unleashed
« Reply #26 on: August 08, 2009, 06:35:07 PM »
Finally, some more progress. Today was entirely a cleanup day, and I still have plenty left to do. 

Today I needed to move the 2 busses so that the grass underneath them could get cut. So, while they were out in the large parking area of the yard, I backed The Stowaway up to the side of unleashed, put the ramp between the two emergency exits, and finished moving the last of the extra stuff that was stored in unleashed into The Stowaway. My 12yr old niece helped me with this, which is impressive given the weight of some of the UPS battery backup units.

Once everything that needed to go into The Stowaway was loaded into it, I parked it in its new home behind the pool. I then backed unleashed in between the back of The Stowaway and my apartment, leaving just enough room to pull my pickup truck around to the emergency exit of unleashed.

While I've had the bus, I've been collecting miscellaneous metal, with an eye to perhaps being able to reuse some of it. I figured anything I couldn't use would sell as scrap. Of course, this started when the price of scrap was higher, so really I should've cashed it out back then. In any case, most of the metal was in the form of computers, and I finally decided I wouldn't use any of them at all in this project. Also, things like an old ironing board, part of a vacuum cleaner, and some other misc metal junk.

I kept all the aluminum separate. I'm still hanging onto my aluminum for now.

So, I pitched all the non-aluminum metal junk into the back of the pickup truck:
(http://gallery.giffords.net/d/2779-5/IMG_0473.JPG)
(http://gallery.giffords.net/d/2783-5/IMG_0474.JPG)

All ready for a trip to the scrap yard next week.

After that, there was still some misc stuff that needed to be unloaded and put up. I got all that done, then took a few pics of the interior of the bus:
(http://gallery.giffords.net/d/2786-5/IMG_0475.JPG)
(http://gallery.giffords.net/d/2792-5/IMG_0476.JPG)
(http://gallery.giffords.net/d/2795-5/IMG_0477.JPG)
(http://gallery.giffords.net/d/2798-5/IMG_0478.JPG)
(http://gallery.giffords.net/d/2804-5/IMG_0479.JPG)
(http://gallery.giffords.net/d/2807-5/IMG_0480.JPG)
(http://gallery.giffords.net/d/2810-5/IMG_0481.JPG)
(http://gallery.giffords.net/d/2813-4/IMG_0482.JPG)


Still left for me to do is to toss the old RV chairs which really aren't worth saving, get all the tools out, remove the sleeping back that is on the driver's seat, and remove the rest of the junk. After that, I can pressure wash the interior to get rid of all the bird poop and sevin dust and the traces of bird mites.

Hopefully tomorrow will be a nice enough day and I can get all of that done.

jim

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Re: baadpuppy's schoolbus conversion... unleashed
« Reply #27 on: August 09, 2009, 08:02:09 PM »
Another day of cleanup progress. Yay!

In spite of the heat and humidity, I did manage to make some progress today. Eventually the heat faded a bit, then the mosquitos woke up hungry. Later this evening it cooled off enough to get up most of what was tossed out of the bus today.

I got all the tools together, put into the toolbox, ready to be cleaned up. I still haven't figured out what approach to take to get all the caked on bird poop and sevin dust off the tools without making them rusty, but I'm sure I'll figure something out.

Now that there's nothing of value to get ruined by rain, I decided to leave the windows open and let the bus air out and stay cooler.

I had 3 RV seats I had tried to mount in a jury rigged fashion last summer that needed to go. The fabric and padding is rotten and disgusting. The mechanisms are in bad shape. Rather than try to recover them, I'm just going to toss it all.

The wood I had used to build their bases also went out the side door.

I have some heavy gauge metal strapping that is often used to anchor mobile homes that I decided to hang on to. Combined with good brackets, it can make great tank mounting straps. I still have the slotted bolts and nuts for tightening them as well.

There's still some misc trash in the bus, as well as a lot of junk wiring. I'm probably going to throw out most of the wiring (speaker wiring) and save the good stuff.

I still need to scoop out the nest from the back window, and remove the cover over that area.

The exterior trim for the bus as well as all the original lights got moved over to The Stowaway.

There's a pile of junk that needs to be taken to the dump, including the RV seats.

It doesn't sound like much, and really, it isn't much. However, considering the heat and humidity, I'm pleased with the progress. Almost ready for washing.

Pictures:
(http://gallery.giffords.net/d/2820-5/IMG_0483.JPG)
(http://gallery.giffords.net/d/2823-5/IMG_0484.JPG)
(http://gallery.giffords.net/d/2826-5/IMG_0485.JPG)
(http://gallery.giffords.net/d/2829-5/IMG_0486.JPG)
(http://gallery.giffords.net/d/2836-5/IMG_0487.JPG)
(http://gallery.giffords.net/d/2839-5/IMG_0488.JPG)
(http://gallery.giffords.net/d/2842-5/IMG_0489.JPG)

jim

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Re: baadpuppy's schoolbus conversion... unleashed
« Reply #28 on: August 09, 2009, 08:59:37 PM »
Tonight I drew up some extremely rough before and after sketches for what my bus currently is and what I plan.

The funky stair step area in the bottom left corner of the photos is the engine compartment, just left as a void in these sketches.

Thought everyone here might enjoy these.

Before

After

I hope this makes sense,
jim

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Re: baadpuppy's schoolbus conversion... unleashed
« Reply #29 on: August 15, 2009, 07:04:01 PM »
Well, today I managed to motivate myself to finish cleaning the interior of the bus. Mostly. After having swept everything to the front last weekend, it was quite a pile of stuff to sort through. It was an unpleasant job considering there was stuff that needed to be salvaged from the trash, a lot of trash, sevin dust poison, and a lot of bird poop.

After cleaning all that up, I dug out the pressure washer and attacked the interior. I avoided the engine compartment cover and anything aft of the rear floor heater, as the access cover to the engine is still not screwed down. I didn't want a lot of water on top of my engine.

The seat and dash are no longer looking like they got in the way of a flour explosion. The bird poop is almost completely gone. Some places the pressure washer just couldn't get it to come clean, but since the rubber floor is going to be ripped up in the near future, I didn't let that stress me too much. The worst of the mess is cleaned up.

There's still some stuff around the driver's foot area that I need to go through. The water is still draining/evaporating, so hopefully that'll finish by the time I get ready to work on it tomorrow. I'll need to make sure the dash still works after the bath it got today.

Also, I hope to start taking up the rubber and plywood floor tomorrow.

No pics tonight.

jim

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Re: baadpuppy's schoolbus conversion... unleashed
« Reply #30 on: January 26, 2010, 02:29:18 PM »
wow, no update since august.

Let's see... last we saw, I had pressure washed the interior of the bus, and left the windows down prior to trying to remove them, with plans to remove the floor.

september...

october...

november...

december...

january...

The bus still sits there, with the pressure washer still inside, windows still down, leaves everywhere.

RL got in the way for a while there. Also, we've had some bad weather, and pretty much non stop wind.

This spring, I really want to get the roof raise done. However, I have serious reservations about accomplishing that with the near constant wind we have around here. I have a vision of doing the final cut, and a gust of wind picking up the roof and flipping it over on top of all the cars...

Right now, I'm shopping around for an inexpensive garage to be able to get the bus inside to work on it. Ideally, said garage would include attached living quarters, so I could just move there and work on it without having to schedule the work. I have a line on a place that might not open up until june or july for a decent price, but I want to get started prior to then.

Anyway, still refining the plan in my head and on paper, and just trying to work out logistics. Also trying to find a new (to me) commuter vehicle by the end of feb.

so, I'll post more as there is more to post...

jim

PS, the engagement ended, taking with it a bit of financial drain, making the budget for the conversion get back on track.

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Re: baadpuppy's schoolbus conversion... unleashed
« Reply #31 on: March 13, 2010, 06:35:38 PM »
So we've had a lot of snow (blizzards even) here this winter, and now we're getting tons of rain. This has been an unusually wet winter, and most of the roads have standing water. The ground is beyond saturated.

During the blizzards, we started to store trash (in bags) in my bus. We also did some major housecleaning, and that went into the bus as well. Today, when the rain stopped and the sun came out, we decided to haul off the trash, and since the gas station and the trash transfer station are across the street from each other, I decided to take the opportunity to fill up the tank.

Before I could move the main bus out of the yard though, I had to get the shed bus (the stowaway) out of the way. I had mom drive it so she could get some experience with it. Well, about 10 feet from it's final parking spot, the left rear wheels sunk into mud, and we lost all traction. It sits there now, with the wheel sunk into the mud, waiting for a dry day to get moving again.

pictures: shed bus stuck in the mud

Now some of you might see where this story is heading already. I admit it is tragically funny.

Our driveway is carved into the ground quite a bit due to years of people driving in and out. It is also a bit narrow. Getting the bus in and out of the driveway has been a chore in the past, and I decided to try going out differently this trip. I didn't swing quite wide enough, and took out the mailbox. That's the second time in a month the mailbox got taken out, once by the snow plow. So, after killing the mailbox, I figure we've had our excitement for the day.

After getting onto the street, I started to worry, as I couldn't seem to get the bus up to 2nd gear, and it finally did it when the engine got around 2200rpm. Then, it didn't seem to want to hit 3rd. It took me a while to get the bus all the way up to 4th gear and lockup. After that though, it seemed to be smooth driving. I think I need a front end alignment unfortunately. I got up to 55mph, at 2500rpm, with only a small amount of diesel smoking. The ride was fairly smooth (for a mostly empty bus). Getting into and out of the transfer station was fairly easy. Unloading all the trash was also easy.

As luck would have it, the gas station was mostly empty, so it was trivial to swing in and get pulled up to a pump. Unlike when I took my trip from GA to VA in the bus, the diesel pump at this station had a really nice automatic shutoff when the tank was close to full. I put 20 gallons of fuel into my bus in less time than it takes to put 10 gallons into my little corolla. I really like that fuel pump.   

As I tried to figure the best way back home from the fuel station, I realized it would be all left turns, with no spots really adequate for swinging such a large vehicle around. So, I took a right, and took the long way home. This gave me an opportunity to run up to 55mph for a while on several different roads, and to get a feel for her again. It was enjoyable.

Then, I arrived at home. Here's where the fun really began.

I missed the mailbox this time. I swung wide, but not quite wide enough... The left front wheel went up over the ditch bank on the far side of the driveway, but I should have gone another 3 feet out. The right rear wheels ended up coming into the shallow part of the ditch before hitting the right side ditch bank... And the storage box is on the right side. The storage box dug into the ditch bank, then the wheels started spinning on that side. You can't hear that from inside the bus like you can in a car.

Mom got out and looked to see what the problem was. She says the storage box was barely touching the ground. I sent her to get the 4x4 (5000 pound vehicle... but all we had to try with), while I sat there trying to think of a better answer. By the time she got the 4x4 pulled up in front of the bus, the bus had sunk into the mud up to the axle, and the box was definitely in the ground.

pictures: main bus stuck in the mud

We used the 4x4 to go down to the neighbor's house, and got them to bring their small tractor (not small, just the smallest one they have), and they pulled me out of the mud. I don't have pictures of that, as I was operating the bus at the time.

After he got me unstuck, we talked for a bit about the situation, and I asked him what he would recommend for us to do to get the driveway widened at the end and shaped properly for decent ingress/egress. He said legally we are supposed to get the state to do it, but that it takes many months to get them to do anything, and costs a lot, and even then, it won't be how you want it. He then offered to do the work for us, as well as install a 21' culvert, and make sure everything would drain properly. So, when the area dries out, he'll be fixing our driveway for us.

All in all, it has been an interesting day.

I have to say, I definitely liked getting the bus moving again. It's been too long. I definitely need some new tires on the back. I think if the right rear tires weren't pretty much slick, I might not have gotten stuck, as I probably could have kept moving enough. I also learned that hydroplaning isn't a concern in a big bus. I had to hit a large area of flooding faster than I would have liked, and the water just parted (leaving a huge wake) and the bus just drove right on.

Anyway, I'm hoping that in mid april to early may I'll be able to do the roof raise. I can't wait. Then I can fix my clearance lights, and actually be mostly legal on the road.

Anyway, I'll post more if I ever make any progress.
jim

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Re: baadpuppy's schoolbus conversion... unleashed
« Reply #32 on: April 09, 2010, 12:04:56 PM »
I just realized my picture links didn't paste correctly.  Oops.

shed bus stuck in mud: http://gallery.giffords.net/v/shedbus/stuckinmud/

main bus stuck in mud: http://gallery.giffords.net/v/thomas/stuckinmud/

Sorry,
jim

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Re: baadpuppy's schoolbus conversion... unleashed
« Reply #33 on: April 09, 2010, 12:16:42 PM »
In just over a week, I will be starting on the roof raise on my bus.  I'm taking a week off of work to focus on this project.  Everything else on the bus conversion is waiting for the roof raise, and I'll finally get to work on that roadblock.

The basic construction method of a school bus is that there are a bunch of tubular "bows" or ribs that run from one side of the body to the other, up through the window pillars and back down the other side.  On a Thomas built bus, the ceiling is constructed with steel panels that over lap at each rib.  The exterior is similar, with a slight difference (which I can't remember off the top of my head).

My plan is to remove all the windows down each side, as well as the inner and outer skin panels for the front most and rear most sections, causing the main strip of the roof to be separated from the front and rear caps of the bus.  I will then secure a set of 4 jacks at the four corner ribs of the remaining section, making sure it can't come apart.  I will then use a cutting blade to separate the top section from the bottom section with a cut made within the window pillar region of the ribs on each side.  The jacks will then be carrying all the weight of the ceiling.

I will jack the roof up being careful at every step.  Once the desired height is attained, I will insert steel tubing in 4 of the window pillars and tack weld them in place.  I will then work on making sure that everything remains square and plumb and true, and once that is verified, I'll tack weld in steel tubes in all the other window pillars.  I will then go back and weld up the seams that are left after the tack welds.  Once I'm certain I have enough support from the new steel tubes, I'll carefully unload the weight from the jacks, and remove them.

I plan to put in some Z bracing between the window pillars.  I want to maintain structural integrity, and this will be the most cost effective way to do so.

Eventually, I will re-skin the outside, and mount windows, etc.  That will be planned for during the week that I'm off, and I hope to be able to finalize the floor plan and know where the windows will end up being by that time.

I will eventually also have to deal with re-attaching the front and rear caps to the roof proper.  I plan to do a sculpted front so that I'm not stuck with a huge wall up front, but I want to maintain as much interior space as possible.  Basically, I want a less brick-like brick when I finish.  I haven't determined how I'll deal with the rear cap yet, but I have several ideas.  I will need to play it by ear as I go along.

I'll post as I make progress.

I really appreciate all the support I've had from everyone here.

jim

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Re: baadpuppy's schoolbus conversion... unleashed
« Reply #34 on: April 10, 2010, 09:15:00 AM »
Good luck with your project, one day I want to do a conversion. I wiil be following you along the way.
How doe's the gas bus perform compared to the DP?
J
1988 Pace Arrow, 34 feet, Chevy 454
                       So Cal

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Re: baadpuppy's schoolbus conversion... unleashed
« Reply #35 on: April 12, 2010, 10:45:23 AM »
Good luck with your project, one day I want to do a conversion. I wiil be following you along the way.
How doe's the gas bus perform compared to the DP?
J

Thanks.  I'm looking forward to finally getting moving on this project.

The gas powered bus is a smaller unit, and lower weight bus.  It has a manual transmission.  It has a 366ci throttle body injected engine known as a "tall block" engine.  It has plenty of torque, and a reasonable amount of horsepower, and is actually a little peppy (for such a large vehicle).  It isn't a speed demon by any stretch though.

The vehicle is governed at 55mph, and I haven't found the governor to disable it.  It has a shorter wheel base than the pusher, so is easier to turn, but the tail swings wider than the pusher does as it has a larger amount of body behind the rear wheels.  Driving/riding in the gasser is about what you remember from going to school... rough.  Think farm truck with slightly better suspension.

The pusher is slow and plodding to get up to speed, but tops out around 65mph.  It takes longer to get there, but can hold it for hours.  The ride is nice and gentle.

The gas bus, being lighter, is affected somewhat more by wind when driving it.  The pusher is a dream to drive in wind.  I can't speak about severe wind though.

Making turns while sitting in front of the turn wheels does take some getting used to, but after you do, it is wonderful.

The diesel is averaging 8.5mpg.  I don't think the gas does that well, but I haven't paid for any fuel for it yet, so I can't say for sure.  I basically siphoned out all the gas from the old RV tank and from the secondary tank on my old pickup truck I sold, and that's what is in the tank of the gas bus.  The diesel bus has a fresh tank of fuel, as well as a fuel stabilizer, and algicide, and some sea foam.

Having driven both, I'm very glad I decided on a pusher.  Next week before I start the roof raise, I'll be getting the bus weighed empty at the local farmer's market (for free).  Then I'll know how much wiggle room I have for my conversion and cargo.

jim

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Re: baadpuppy's schoolbus conversion... unleashed
« Reply #36 on: April 12, 2010, 11:20:27 AM »
If you were going to convert the gasser, would you need to raise the roof. (just wondering, I'm 6'3' tall)
J
1988 Pace Arrow, 34 feet, Chevy 454
                       So Cal

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Re: baadpuppy's schoolbus conversion... unleashed
« Reply #37 on: April 12, 2010, 11:29:58 AM »
If you were going to convert the gasser, would you need to raise the roof. (just wondering, I'm 6'3' tall)
J

You probably would.  I'm definitely raising the roof in my diesel.  The ceiling height (in both busses) is right around 6'0" or so in the center, and much lower at the sides.  After you add insulation, etc, you lose more.

A roof raise on a school bus isn't really all that bad from what I've read.  In a week or two, I should be able to relate my own experience with it.  There have been 3 or 4 really well documented roof raises on the skoolie.net forum, which all came out quite nicely.  And once you make the decision to raise the roof, 6" vs 36" is just a matter of scale.

hope this helps,
jim

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Re: baadpuppy's schoolbus conversion... unleashed
« Reply #38 on: April 20, 2010, 10:33:30 AM »
Friday, I got started early on the roof raise prep.

I removed 2 windows, and managed to get one of the window pillars fully exposed.  I need to put together a steel order, then go pick up the steel.  I've managed to have some fun with the angle grinder.  I did break one of the windows getting it out.  The window frames are aluminum, so I'll have a nice pile for the scrap yard.

Yesterday, I took the bus to the farmer's market to get it weighed.  It's 21,560 pounds, leaving me 11,720 pounds for the conversion and cargo.  I hope I can keep it under the limit.   ;D

I've also figured out the trick to getting the bus in and out of the driveway without casualties.  I didn't get it stuck, and no mailboxes were damaged.  woohoo.  It'll be easier once the mailbox has been moved and the driveway end widened, but until then, I can at least not cause more damage.

I hope to get the steel ordered today, and hopefully even get it picked up either today or early tomorrow.  I'm waiting for the truck to get out of the shop to see how much money is left in the roof raise budget, so I know how much of the steel I can get.

The weather is improving.  It's nice and sunny, temps in the 60s, with a very slight chill to the breeze.  Nearly perfect.

jim

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Re: baadpuppy's schoolbus conversion... unleashed
« Reply #39 on: April 20, 2010, 05:41:46 PM »
If I'm going to do a project like that I'd better take a welding class. Are your welding skills top notch?
J
1988 Pace Arrow, 34 feet, Chevy 454
                       So Cal

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Re: baadpuppy's schoolbus conversion... unleashed
« Reply #40 on: April 20, 2010, 05:51:31 PM »
If I'm going to do a project like that I'd better take a welding class. Are your welding skills top notch?
J

I'm learning on the fly.  My cousin has been taught how to weld and will be giving me pointers as I get started.

jim

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Re: baadpuppy's schoolbus conversion... unleashed
« Reply #41 on: April 26, 2010, 10:11:17 AM »
Unfortunately, no progress to report.  :(

My budget fell apart before I bought the steel.  So, I spent my vacation doing nothing, which was a refreshing change.

jim

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Re: baadpuppy's schoolbus conversion... unleashed
« Reply #42 on: May 21, 2010, 10:35:24 AM »
Exterior LED Lights have been ordered.

unleashed is missing some of the exterior lights that are required to make it legal to operate it on the road. Since those were incandescent lights, and my intention has been to replace them all eventually with LED lights, I finally broke down and figured out what I would need.

I decided to stick with simplicity. I'm only replacing existing lights with new lights in the same exact location as the original lighting. Sure, I could have taken the opportunity to try to improve on the aesthetics of the light layout on the rear. However, I finally decided to just stick with what was proven to be good, which was the original layout.

I ordered 4 red 4" round LED tail/stop lights, which will replace the existing 2 4" round and 2 7" round tail/stop lights.

I ordered 4 amber 4" round LED marker/turn lights, which will replace the 2 7" round marker/turn lights on the front, and the 2 on the rear.

I ordered 2 white 4" round LED reverse lights, to replace the 2 that were there previously.

I ordered a single unit 3 lamp LED clearance lamp fixture, a red for the rear, and an amber for the front.

I ordered 4 amber clearance lamps (2 outside edges at the front, and 2 at the midpoint), and 2 red clearance lamps (2 outside edges at the rear).

I also ordered 2 amber marker/turn signal lamps that go on the sides, above the front wheels, so that someone beside the bus can see when I activate my turn signals.

I'll be doing some minor rewiring as I install these, removing the wiring harness for these functions from the interior of the vehicle and relocating it under the vehicle. The midpoint clearance and marker/turn signal lamps will still be wired via the interior for now. Once the roof raise is complete, they will be rewired differently, but still within the shell walls somehow.

Hopefully the LED lights will arrive before Memorial day, so I'll have a fun project to do.

Jim

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Re: baadpuppy's schoolbus conversion... unleashed
« Reply #43 on: May 28, 2010, 09:54:52 AM »
The new LED lamps arrived Wednesday. I didn't realize when I ordered them that only the upper clearance lamps were surface mount. The rest of them are flush mount. This means I need to put some really big holes in metal.

I managed to get a 4.5" hole saw from Lowes for just under $45 w/tax. This should take care of the mounting flanges for the 4" LED lamps (stop/tail, turn, reverse).

The side turn signal lamps are 2" x 6" oval, and those holes will be a bit more fun to cut. However, I have a plan for that.

One thing though is that since the new lamps have to be flush mounted, some of them can't go into the original locations. So, it looks like I'll be redesigning the lamp layout on the rear of the bus after all.

Thursday I picked up a box of stainless steel sheet metal screws for mounting the various surface mount lamps. I also picked up a box of stainless steel bolts and stainless steel nylon lock nuts for mounting the flanges for the 4" lamps.

Dad and I tested some of the lamps Wednesday afternoon with a 12V power supply. I pity anyone riding behind that looks directly at one when it is on high (stop or turn). These things are really bright!

This weekend I hope to get many of the lamps mounted and hopefully even wired, weather permitting.

Jim

baadpuppy

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Re: baadpuppy's schoolbus conversion... unleashed
« Reply #44 on: May 29, 2010, 08:18:49 PM »
Today, I installed the front turn signal lamps, and the rear turn signal, tail/brake, and reverse lamps, as well as the license plate illuminator.

It takes a lot of batteries and a lot of time to drill 10 4.5" diameter holes in the skin of a skoolie. That metal looks really thin, but it's much stronger than it looks. I ended up dulling my hole saw before I finished, and used a jig saw to make the last 2 holes, so they aren't perfectly round. Fortunately, the bezel covers them nicely.

A few minor issues remain. Firstly, I haven't installed the new wiring yet, so things are just tied into the original wiring. I forgot to tie in the license plate illuminator today. Also, the front turn signals can be parking lights, but I don't have the wiring to it yet.

The right front turn signal has a straight power connector, and I should have gotten a right angle one. It pushes against the air handler, so isn't mounted properly yet.

pics:

Front:
click for image

Rear:
click for image

Front turn signals lit:
click for image

Rear turn signals lit:
click for image

Rear brake lights lit:
click for image

Reverse lights lit:
click for image

Tomorrow I get to work on the upper clearance lamps, weather permitting. Oh joy.

Jim

Fixer58

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Re: baadpuppy's schoolbus conversion... unleashed
« Reply #45 on: June 16, 2010, 11:27:27 PM »
Exterior LED Lights have been ordered.



Jim

Jim,
How have you done with the inside?

Have you ever shopped with these guys?

www.led4rv.com

I had some good luck with them.

Fix

baadpuppy

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Re: baadpuppy's schoolbus conversion... unleashed
« Reply #46 on: March 15, 2011, 05:55:37 PM »
With the weather warming finally, and the days getting longer, I can actually find some time to work on this project again.

Over the winter, I made the decision that this bus needs to be habitable by the end of the calendar year (dec 31, 2011), so that I can move to SC to be closer to my fiancee.  This decision was not made lightly, but was given a lot of thought and planning.

So, as of the end of this year, I'm quitting my job and becoming a fulltimer.  I plan to find a rv or mobile home park near her and whatever employment I can find and live there while continuing to finish the conversion.  While I'll probably be earning less money once moved, I'll be spending less of it on supporting a long distance relationship, so more should be available to finish the conversion.

Yes, eventually we'll actually hit the road.  I still hope to find a good source of income that fits me that will let me work from the road, and this move might make that easier.

So, with all that said.. progress!

This weekend, I got most of the junk moved back out of unleashed and into the stowaway (the storage bus).  The last two days after work I've managed to get 2 of the ceiling panels removed.  I've documented this in my blog in more detail.

My fiancee and I have been spending many hours per week for the past few months working on measurements and planning the details.  She has done some great work with sketchup modeling our plans in 3D, and helping us to see what will and won't work.

There are some parts of the conversion plan that aren't yet determined, and I'm not ready to discuss them much yet.  However, if they do work out, it'll turn out quite nicely.  I'm optimistic that it will work out though, and can't wait to share more details as I can.

I'll try not to spam this thread with daily "got another panel down" posts... that's what the blog is for.   ;D  However, I will try to post status updates more regularly.

Next week I'll be in SC, and we'll be touring some RV lots, looking for good parks for my move later in the year, and of course spending quality time together.  We'll also be refining the digital plans.

Thanks everyone for all the well wishes and encouragement I've gotten here.
jim

ArdraF

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Re: baadpuppy's schoolbus conversion... unleashed
« Reply #47 on: March 15, 2011, 06:12:28 PM »
Jim,

If your lady has never done any RVing, she needs to be aware of something for that modeling she's doing.  Just 0.25 of an inch can make putting stuff in cabinets a real hassle.  As many of us long-time RVers know, if you have to replace something like a toaster or a blender or even a type of canned good the new one may not fit.  Traveling to Canada, for example, generally presents pantry issues because their canned foods are in different sizes of cans - usually larger which means the same product doesn't fit into the allotted space.  What I'm getting at is that she needs to be sure the "must take with" items actually will fit into the cabinets she's designing.  Most fulltimers have the "buy new item, discard old item" rule so they don't get overrun with too much stuff, the collection of which can cause overweight issues for the RV.

 ArdraF
ArdraF
:D :D

baadpuppy

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Re: baadpuppy's schoolbus conversion... unleashed
« Reply #48 on: March 15, 2011, 06:37:51 PM »
Thank you Ardra, we will keep that in mind.

We haven't yet gotten down to the cabinet level of detail, but we're working on it.

jim

baadpuppy

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Re: baadpuppy's schoolbus conversion... unleashed
« Reply #49 on: March 17, 2011, 07:00:42 PM »
Yay, another update!

Long story short, I have all the interior ceiling panels down.  Those sheets of steel can easily get away from you if you don't pay attention.

More information is in the blog post (link in signature).

I still have the final joint sections at the front and rear end caps, but they're fairly minor I think.

Then there's the insulation... I'll need some kind of protection before pulling that stuff down and bagging it for disposal.  It's in pretty good shape for 25+ year old insulation and steel.

jim

baadpuppy

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Re: baadpuppy's schoolbus conversion... unleashed
« Reply #50 on: March 31, 2011, 10:12:22 AM »
Ah, another lack of progress...

Towards the end of February, I did some work in the drop ceiling space at work over the course of 3 days, and on the 3rd day came down with something that I thought was a cold or flu. I was sick for 6 days total, with fever, cough, congestion, aches, etc. After returning to work, I had a lingering cough that was annoying, but didn't seem to cause much problem.

The week before my vacation, I started having difficulty breathing and the coughing got a bit worse. This was during the time I was taking down the interior panels, so I just chalked it up to irritation from that.

During the week of my vacation, it got worse. I took cough suppression medicine the whole week, and munched on halls, and it kept me going.

Monday of this week, I finally gave in and went to the doctor. He believes I got into something in the ceiling at work (not surprising really), and that that is what triggered my bronchitis. So this week, I've been on some serious antibiotics and other drugs to help get my breathing back to normal. So far, things seem to be getting better.

I want to get as cleared up as possible before I attack the insulation, and I'll definitely be using lots of protection.

I poked my head in the bus the other night, and saw many of the pieces of insulation had already fallen on their own. I suspect if I just keep out for a while, it'll all eventually fall... however, that doesn't fit my schedule.

I must have this bus habitable by the end of the calendar year. I intend to be living within it by then. The plan we've come up with is aggressive and grand, and will take a lot of time and money to complete. I need to stay focused on this project. I definitely need to make sure I don't impede my progress by neglecting my health.

Anyway, there'll be more progress reported as soon as I have any to report. Or something like that.

jim

 

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