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Old 10-08-2013, 05:45 PM   #1
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Location: Denver, Co
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Year: 1999
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Bought my first bus! Have a few questions - help the new guy

Hi everyone - I've been a lurker for a while and finally got my first bus! I bought a 1999 BlueBird / International bus with a DT466e / 4-speed allison trans. I would like to put a modest amount of work into this bus to make it a simple and functional camper for my friends and family to take out on adventures.

I'm looking for a few pointers on the best way to secure things (bunk frames, kitchen cabinets, ect) to the walls. I dont want to go through the trouble of removing the inner skin (you can thank yourselves for that - i have seen waaayyy too many stories about the effort required to remove all those rivets. ). Is there a good way to secure the inner framework to the bus without removing the inner skin?

I've seen a lot of people build bunks in their bus, which is what i plan to do, so i want to make sure they are structurally sound enough to support two adults. What about securing the tops of the bunks to the ceiling? I haven't been able to get a good idea of the best way to handle this? How did you all do it?

Audio: my bus needs some boom! Can anyone give me some advice about replacing the head unit in the bus? Is it hard to get a wiring harness for a modern cd/am/fm unit? If i took it to my local car audio shop would they be able to help me out?

Also, does anyone have any good leads on where i can purchase a new driver's seat for the bus? The current one sucks, and i want something comfortable and commanding for when i drive. Any suggestions on where i could get one would be greatly appreciated. Many thanks to you all for the inspiration to make the leap into this very cool community!
http://i.imgur.com/ub2J2nx.jpg
http://i.imgur.com/rmcnTbj.jpg
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Old 10-08-2013, 10:06 PM   #2
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Re: Bought my first bus! Have a few questions - help the new

Welcome! The approach I took to securing stuff to the bus was to use Teks brand self tapping metal screws always into a frame member. As you may already know, the bus body is supported by these structural hoops that run crosswise the length of the bus. So I used the self-tapping screws to attach all walls, furniture, etc. to the bus body via these frame members. I often found it worked best to pre-drill the holes even though the screws are supposed to be "self-tapping".

EDIT: it occurs to me now that I probably didn't always screw into the frame members, because things needed to be located where they needed to be, and a frame member might not have been handy right there. Sorry, I don't know what I was thinking when I wrote my original post. I made most of my structures out of 2x4 wood and used metal angle brackets to attach these 2x4s to the ceiling, floor and walls. I used three of the self-tapping screws to attach each 2x4/bracket to the metal and then wood screws to attache the bracket to the 2x4. So far this has worked out fine. I have not seen any structural problems. For anything that is weight-bearing, like bunk beds, I made sure the weight always transferred directly to the floor. My upper cabinets are suspended from the ceiling and wall though, but they don't really hold that much weight - just pots and pans and such. Basically, I just tried to build as much cross-bracing and as many connections to metal parts of the bus as possible.
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Old 10-08-2013, 10:22 PM   #3
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Re: Bought my first bus! Have a few questions - help the new

Thanks!!! That is what i needed to know!
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Old 10-08-2013, 11:20 PM   #4
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Re: Bought my first bus! Have a few questions - help the new

Not sure where you're at but I have an extra flex-steel swivel seat out of a conversion van that I won't be using.
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Old 10-13-2013, 11:20 AM   #5
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Re: Bought my first bus! Have a few questions - help the new

As for your audio:

Yes your local audio shop should be able to help you out. There is not difference from a car to a bus in an electrical sense. They both run on 12volts so they can wire in a head unit... amps... and speakers. I would be a little concerned cause if you put a lot of boom in there its going to vibrate like a tin can. Yes there are ways to quiet it down but those need to be planned as you are modifying your bus.

As for your drivers seat.... couple of ways to go about. You can go to s truck (semi type) shop and look for air ride type seats. They are not cheap so be prepared for sticker shock. The other one would suggest is take it to an upholstery shop. A good shop can modify your current chair and make it how you want it.

Hope this helps
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Old 10-16-2013, 12:37 PM   #6
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Re: Bought my first bus! Have a few questions - help the new

Hey, I edited my original post about how to secure stuff to the bus. I actually did not always connect to frame members. Not sure what I was thinking when I wrote that...
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Old 11-26-2013, 12:08 AM   #7
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Re: Bought my first bus! Have a few questions - help the new

Bunk beds,
I got two metal shelving units from walmart, they are 5ft tall, 18in deep and 3ft long, 500lb capacity per shelf, I placed them about 4ft apart, I then put three 2x4's to connect the shelving units together and to hold up the half inch piece of plwood which acts as the base for the mattress. I used angle brackets to connect the 2x4's to the shelves with nuts/bolts. I used the same angle brackets to screw the legs of the shelving units to the metal floor of the bus. I screwed the shelves into the vertical supports of the bus frame.
I used an 18in long piece of 2x12 wood to secure the top of the shelf to the bus roof in the center of the bus, using those same type of angle brackets,
The brackets are an L shape, 1.5in wide, one part of the L is 1.5in long the other side is 2.5in long.
Since the shelving units are designed to be used in a building that is not moving they are not screwed together, so I put some 3/8in bolts through the preexisting corner holes of the shelf vertical frame where the shelves are connected to the vertical pieces of the shelf.
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Old 11-26-2013, 11:09 AM   #8
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Re: Bought my first bus! Have a few questions - help the new

A picture is worth a thousand words...
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Old 11-26-2013, 10:57 PM   #9
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Re: Bought my first bus! Have a few questions - help the new

This is a triple bunk bed, they stick out 36 inches from the wall,
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Old 11-27-2013, 10:35 AM   #10
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Re: Bought my first bus! Have a few questions - help the new

How thick will your mattresses be? Looks like those bunks will be rather claustrophobic. Everyone has their own comfort level, but I would never try to do a triple bunk in a bus. I've only seen one or maybe two other people do it, and it made my skin crawl just looking at it. I guess maybe I have "issues" with very small spaces.
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