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Old 04-12-2017, 10:58 PM   #1
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Has anyone had serious issues with not reinsulating the bus?

Hi guys, first post! Am in the middle of converting a 2002 Thomas, 40', front engine. It's a beautiful bus, in great condition, with no rust visible. I am almost done ripping out the seats, which means I need to decide soon on what to do about insulation!

Now I see people ripping out everything, the floor, the sides, and sometimes even the ceiling, and I know they're doing it because they want a perfect bus that is well insulated in all temps, but my question is:

Who here has not removed the subflooring and walls, and just put down flooring/paneling over them? For these people (and these people only please), how well were you able to control the temperature in your bus? Did you experience any moisture problems or other issues?

What I'm looking for with this question is to hopefully have someone say, "I didn't do all that and between my AC unit and my small space heaters, I was easily able to keep it cool and warm as needed, and I parked in 20 degree weather as well as 100." But in the end I want the truth. Thanks for your stories and advice! If I need to rip out everything I will. Just trying to save some time and money ya know!
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Old 04-13-2017, 12:01 AM   #2
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I didn't rip out my floor or my factory insulation. I also have a Thomas, and we've been in the high 30s and bounced off triple digits. You probably will want to add a layer of Reflectix over the metal interior and windows, that made a huge difference for me.
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Old 04-13-2017, 12:45 AM   #3
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We left our insulation stock. I cut up reflectix for each window, and that helps a lot. With 1 window unit AC in the back of the bus and the reflectix in the windows the bus is tolerable in 100 degree weather, but still not exactly comfortably cool. The plan is to install a second unit in the front and duct the air through the bus. The main problem with the window AC is that it only cools the space closest to it. Since our bus has three walls in it, we have to have ducts to move the air into the other rooms.

As far as heat goes, we generally chase the warmth into Arizona for the winter, but it still often gets close to or a little below freezing. We have a generator and a little ceramic heater, and alternatively the propane Buddy Heater. The bus won't really hold the heat once the heater isn't actively running, though. The reflectix definitely helps keep the windows from sucking out all the heat. Although usually unless it's actually close to freezing we never bother using the heat, we just cuddle up with the dogs and cats and some thick blankets. If you have quality comforters (especially real down feathers) you'll never actually get cold while you're in bed. Using the propane does make a lot more condensation. It's definitely an annoyance and could produce a mold problem if it's too frequent. If we find mold in the bus I just make sure to bleach it.

For our floors I left the original sheet metal floor and original black rubber and covered it with plastic moisture barrier and foam underlayment and then cheap laminate wood flooring. If I did it again I'd put 1/2" foam board under there just for easy insulation. You're gonna lose the most heat from the windows, but it would be nice to use the bathroom in the middle of the night without freezing your toes off.
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Old 04-13-2017, 04:22 AM   #4
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I spent a month in my bus in 20* weather with 3 heaters going and almost froze to death, it was in the 30's every morning inside. now 1 heater on low keeps it about 60.
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Old 04-13-2017, 08:02 AM   #5
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I didn't pull any inside skin or factory insulation. I took up the floor covering but not the plywood. My bus came from the southwest so I had no rust to deal with.
I have 2 inch styrofoam on the floor with 3/4 plywood on top of original floor. Walls have 1 inch styrofoam and eventually ceiling will have 1/2 inch. The roof is painted with Buskote reflective paint. Most of my windows are double pane insulated RV type.
I have in floor radiant heat and two 12,000 BTU mini split ACs. We don't often see triple digit temps but I have been quite comfortable sitting in the sun in the high 90s. I have also been quite comfy at ten below, walking around in bare feet. I have noticed that the snow melts quicker where the ribs are. When I get the ceiling insulated that will lessen but, probably not go away.
Occasionally in cold weather I get slight condensation on the non double pane windows.
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Old 04-13-2017, 10:11 AM   #6
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I don't own a bus yet, but have wondered about this question, alot.
Would this be a good place for folks to share what insulation came in their busses? It seems to me that different manufactures used different, and amounts of insulations. Where the bus came from is a major factor, too.
If you plan to spend most of your time in moderate climates I'm thinkin' that you can get by with less. I also think it's important to know what lurks under the plywood, and after getting to that point, you might as well insulate it.
Thanks
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Old 04-13-2017, 11:43 AM   #7
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Before you discount my build consider that I did spend one winter in this bus with only the factory insulation. I'm one that eventually took out all the wall and ceiling panels after the first winter so I could insulate properly. It's not that hard to hold heat inside while uninsulated, but the bus cools off very quickly when the heat is off. Snow didn't tend to gather on the roof very much that first year.

This year I had the spray foam insulation in, but only had 2/3rds of the interior ceiling completed, leaving some of the ribs exposed on the interior of the bus. The snow wasn't melting as much this winter as most of the ribs were covered by the partially completed interior. While completing my interior over the winter there was definitely less melting of the snow where the ribs are. Additionally I know I've used much less heat from any source this winter. No signs of condensation except on the windows.

I have always wanted to keep all my windows, but they suck heat like nobody's business. I cut 1/2" rigid insulation to fit inside each window frame which made a major difference in heat retention. Now I'm able to heat this bus with one 600 watt electric/ceramic heater most of the time. Occasionally I need supplemental heat on a cold morning to bring temperatures up quickly, but I've used less than 15 gallons of propane over the entire winter to supplement my electric heater.

Even with insulation and a partially completed interior any exposed ribs on the interior showed signs of condensation. I was cussing up a storm while trimming the spray foam insulation, but after seeing the difference I'll easily choose to strip the interior and insulate again if I get another bus. Worth it for this location, definitely!

I've been a little shocked to see people simply strip out the bus seats and then start framing up a 2x4 structure inside the bus. Perhaps that's an effort to retain the structural rigidity of the bus? That's kind of like building a room inside the bus, where the room is insulated but the bus isn't. I don't like the loss of space inside the bus from a stick built interior, but that's just my opinion.

I think it all depends on what part of the country you live in and how you intend to use your bus.
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Old 04-13-2017, 01:58 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1olfart View Post
I don't own a bus yet, but have wondered about this question, alot.
Would this be a good place for folks to share what insulation came in their busses? It seems to me that different manufactures used different, and amounts of insulations. Where the bus came from is a major factor, too.
If you plan to spend most of your time in moderate climates I'm thinkin' that you can get by with less. I also think it's important to know what lurks under the plywood, and after getting to that point, you might as well insulate it.
Thanks
I've not seen any regular school buses insulated with anything except fiberglass batting. My bus had a bunch of it. Even came with fiberglass IN the ribs!
Good riddance, the stuff is gross, imo.
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Old 04-13-2017, 02:37 PM   #9
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I noticed batting in the ribs too, as I was filling them with foam. The canned foam nozel fits right into the rivet holes. I know it's not practical to think I'm getting any insulating value from foaming the inside of the ribs, but it does block those ribs from allowing any air flow which might affect heating issues. Foaming the ribs blocks all those hundreds of rivet holes. Or possibly I was just bored during the winter.
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Old 04-13-2017, 03:27 PM   #10
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Eeek! Canned (single-part urethane Great Stuff and similar) may remain gooey and corrosive in a closed space like the inside of a rib. The stuff needs moisture to cure and it won't be getting much in there. What's done is done on yours, but I mention it lest others might come along and follow suit not realizing the risk. There may be foams that will properly cure in that usage, but there certainly are foams that won't so a person should determine whether their particular choice is or isn't suited to go inside the ribs.

A small squirt of foam at each hole, just enough to form a plug, likely would work out fine. In writing the paragraph above I was thinking about filling the entire rib cavity with foam.
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