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Old 11-18-2006, 03:51 AM   #1
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1985 GMC Blue Bird (Bob)

Hello everyone! We are new to the forum. We just purchased our bus for $200 from our local school district. It runs but needs a little work. I brought it home November 15th, 2006. Tomorrow my (almost) 11 year old son is going to help me take out the seats. We have yet to decide on a floor plan, but it needs to accomodate me, my wife and our five children (11 and under). Fold down hammocks or bunkbeds come to mind. Simple, clean and practical is the goal, as well as maximizing storage space. Hopefully our neighbors will put up with the eyesore until it is completed. I have the tools and the skill to work metal and wood, yet I hope to learn a few things about electrical work from the forum. I will update as things progress. Wish us success.
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Old 11-18-2006, 10:12 PM   #2
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hey sam w, waving a hand to you from a fellow oregon skooly. i live about 80 miles from you over by astoria on hiway 30. i got 4 buses. 2 run -2 are parts rigs. 1964 international/wayne 20 footer. 1974 international 25 footer- parts rig for the 64. a 1984 34 foot crown bus and a 1981 international/wayne 21 foot s-series. so welcome to the forum. westport-wayne
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Old 11-19-2006, 10:28 AM   #3
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Thank you for the welcome, I sometimes find myself in Astoria for work. I'll keep an eye out for your skoolies as I drive through Clatskanie.

My son Aaron, and my daughters Aloera, and Leah helped me take the seats out yesterday. We found enough broken pencils and color crayons to outfit my kids in school supplies for the next year. Two garbage bags of junk/dirt/bubble gum has been removed. Now it is time to decide on a floor plan. There is so much on this web page it is going to take me a long time to just to get up to speed on what has been discused already. I realy like the simple floor plan of http://www.jesperskoolie.tk/. It has convinced me to build my own benches for the dinning area instead of reusing some of the bus seats.
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Old 11-22-2006, 01:18 AM   #4
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Hi SamW:

Welcome to the gang!

I'm kind'a new myself, but learning fast. And I'm on the West Coast too, and bought both my buses in Northern Oregon.

What I want to say is just to try to save you some time. Converting a bus is good fun, and I love inventing and building stuff, but I find that everything takes longer than expected. So shortcuts are often a good thing. You say you want to build your dinette benches from scratch. I used the bus seats in my first bus, and it worked so nicely that I'll do it again on the new bus. I just put a left seat backwards on the right and a right seat backwards on the left. Instant Denny's booth! I used the same kind of table supports as Jespersen -- they are not expensive. But I also fastened the table to the wall -- with a wing nut for easy removal.

Keep us posted on your progress, and I'll try to do the same when I accomplish something worthwhile.
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Old 11-22-2006, 03:43 PM   #5
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Hello Elliot,

I was going to do the same thing with the seats. As a matter of fact, I have the Denny's booth set up right now just to see how it would go. Then I saw the usable storage space of the make-it-yourself benches. I would also like to lower the table and use the dinettes as beds for my kids. I have masking tape for out lines of tables, seats, bathroom, etc all over the floor in the bus to get an idea of how it will be. Each idea leads to another and another and so on..... Still working on a floor plan.
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Old 11-22-2006, 04:45 PM   #6
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That's it, Sam. Sounds like you are planning well. And you should indeed do it your own way.

As I worked on my layout (first bus), I found that the bus was too small. But then, all the space behind the wheel wells was dedicated to "toy" parking. So, yes, plan your use of space as efficiently as you can. On our last journey there were four of us for the first time, and we found that we desperately needed more storage for everything from food to clothes.

Oh yes, a custom built dinette could be long enough for children to sleep -- I hadn't thought of that. I think in terms of 80" long bunks!
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Old 11-22-2006, 10:04 PM   #7
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The floor plan was my favorite part of building mine. We spent a lot of time sitting in the bus visualizing, measuring various furniture, etc all in preparations. I even took a piece of my engineer's paper and drew out a scale model. Of course things changed slightly when it actually came time to build it. Be prepared for that. There is always something unforseen, but that's what makes it interesting.

My recommendations would be to really take time to seriously assess your needs. You really need to figure out how many people you want to sleep, what kind of ammenities you will NEED, what you want, what you may add later, etc as well as what the primary usage will be.

Mine is something of a cross between a weekender and a party bus. As such I have a master suite of sorts, 4 long bunks (we're almost all 6'2"+), a cassette toilet, running cold (will have solar hot by nest summer) water, a small kitchen sink, and a 3 burner stove with oven. Nothing is overly expensive and everything is practical for our needs. The vast majority of time is spent in the living room so there is a nice couch, a TV, PS2, etc etc etc.

I get jealous of a lot of these rigs on these pages and wish mine looked as nice as theirs do. The craftsmanship is absolutely amazing. At the same time, I know mine is practical for my needs and really couldn't better fit them. It's comfortable for 6 people to stay in for a 4 day outdoor music festival and 4 people can easily live in it for 10 days without hookups even (campground showers are great) as proven in this last summer. The paint isn't pretty....it's splotchy, runny, and just generally looks like $hit, but at the same time, everywhere we go we bring a handful of sharpies and people sign and doodle on the bus.

My point? Make it practical and make it yours! Welcome aboard and keep us updated on your progress. I still haven't uploaded my conversion pics.....
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Old 11-23-2006, 04:03 AM   #8
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I've been doing custom metal/wood work for 20 years and I can't remember more than a couple of projects where every detail ended up just like the blueprint. With that said, my wife and I have had the best time dreaming what this bus will bring to our family's enjoyment. She asked me the other day, "If you had unlimited funds would you still build this bus, or buy a motorhome to suit our requirements?" I said "Yes, I would still build the bus." But man can you imagine the tool collection I would have? I'm sure the tool bill would dwarf the materials list for the bus. Doing things on a budget is half the fun and usually brings unexpected results (often better results than originaly planned). Dumpster diving has never failed to surprise me when doing a project.
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Old 11-23-2006, 03:04 PM   #9
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hey samw,you say you go to astoria from time to time for work, what is your trade ? metal/ wood work. i actually live in westport. its a little town 10 miles east of clatskanie on old hyway 30. good luck with your bus. talk later john
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Old 11-23-2006, 03:25 PM   #10
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hey samw, if you or anybody you know is looking for another project i got a 1964 international/wayne 20 foot bus. last year of the round back. its got a good body on it. it does run but would need trailered for it has no brakes. and it IS a project. somebody put a olds 455 motor in it. i was going to fix it up but got to many other projects. so it just sits. any how, just thought id mention it. later john
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