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Old 12-15-2012, 02:34 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: North Dakota
Posts: 26
Year: 1986
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: International S1800
Engine: DT466
Rated Cap: 77
1986 Intl/Thomas Conventional, DT466 5speed, "Big Blue Bus"

Hey all. Realized I never did any kind of writeup here on what I've done and why I've done it. I was posting photos and writeups to facebook this summer when I was neck-deep in the build, but I never set anything up here.

Rather than have lots of info trapped all over different places, I just decided to do a website of my own that talks about my conversion. You can see it here:

http://www.mattevans.org/~matt/bus/

An excerpt from the site about the why we decided to do a skoolie:

===
We have 3 children, all young enough to be in car seats. In 2011 we took a 3 week road trip. We had a few required stops on our trip, but generally we were very flexible on where we stayed on a given night and what we did on a given day.

This was a great trip; to most people the idea of being stuck in a van with 3 small children for thousands of miles sounds terrible. But we really enjoyed it. There were, however, some logistical issues that we felt could be improved.

Firstly, children need to get up and run around. And this requires space, for the kids, but security, for the parents. A fun part of the trip was pulling into small towns and finding city parks on our GPS, then taking short breaks at parks where kids would run around and be kids and adults would discuss the day's progress and goals.

But sometimes, there isn't a nearby park when its time for a break. The weather can turn on you, or the rest areas at the interstates can have a creepy vibe. And there's a fixed amount of space for toys and familiar things for the kids. So there was a general notion of needing more secure, inside space when we made stops along our journey.

One thing that added to the stress level of the trip was needing to eat at restaurants so frequently. We hate being "those parents" -- the ones with loud, unruly children. Managing 3 hungry children, who are all still developing their sense of "inside voices" and "frustration management" can suck the fun right out of a trip. Having a credible option to eat privately instead of publicly would save both money and stress.

Our youngest two were in pack-and-plays that summer, and any parent understands that kids need a lot of stuff. In the van, every night after a long day of driving, we needed to cart piles of stuff into a hotel room, set it up, and get kids to bed. The setup and acclimation had to happen while kids were getting into things that hadn't been kid-proofed yet, and when it was finally bedtime, the adults were stuck having to be elsewhere and silent. We eventually figured out that suites or adjoining room pairs made the hotel aspect of the trip much better, but of course, much more expensive, and much harder to find hotels along the route without prior reservations.

Finally, there is the issue of going to a bathroom. It's never fun to use somebody else's bathroom. Finding bathrooms on the road can also be... stressful.

So by the end of our trip, we knew that we wanted some kind of RV.
===

The majority of the conversion work was done in July, and we took a 3 week, very long trip (5000 miles?) in August. Here is a pic of us crossing Tioga pass in our skoolie



The interesting things about our build are

- we have real seats up front for our kids to sit in, in their car seats.
- I used "L-Track" to hang our basement systems. This stuff is the bees knees. I'll be writing up more about it soon.
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Old 12-15-2012, 03:52 PM   #2
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Re: 1986 Intl/Thomas Conventional, DT466 5speed, "Big Blue B

Very cool. We just finished a 4248 mile trip with 4 kids and a dog.

I just went to your site and noticed a few of the links at the bottom of you page are broken. I look forward to following your progress and future trips.
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Old 12-15-2012, 03:58 PM   #3
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: North Dakota
Posts: 26
Year: 1986
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: International S1800
Engine: DT466
Rated Cap: 77
Re: 1986 Intl/Thomas Conventional, DT466 5speed, "Big Blue B

Links should be fixed.

Here's a youtube video that has a walk-through just a few days from us taking it on the maiden voyage.



I apologize for my sniffyness in the video
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Old 08-18-2013, 12:13 AM   #4
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Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: North Dakota
Posts: 26
Year: 1986
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: International S1800
Engine: DT466
Rated Cap: 77
Re: 1986 Intl/Thomas Conventional, DT466 5speed, "Big Blue B

I'm building bunk beds for the kids and I'm doing something a bit different that some of you might get a kick out of.

Instead of being reasonable and using wood, I'm building the beds out of aluminum extrusions. These things are very light, very strong, and cannot rust, warp, rot, etc.

Plus, they look awesome, and they go with my sort-of-theme of industrial/aerospace aluminum



Here's more words and some pics:

http://www.mattevans.org/~matt/bus/beds.html
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Old 08-18-2013, 01:21 AM   #5
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Year: 2000
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Chassis: Gillig
Engine: Series 50
Re: 1986 Intl/Thomas Conventional, DT466 5speed, "Big Blue B

I like - - - - - - a lot!
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Old 08-18-2013, 10:04 AM   #6
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Re: 1986 Intl/Thomas Conventional, DT466 5speed, "Big Blue B

Quote:
Originally Posted by LuckyChow
I like - - - - - - a lot!
Ditto!
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Old 08-18-2013, 11:13 AM   #7
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Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Roswell, NM
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Year: 1986
Coachwork: BlueBird
Chassis: 40 ft All American FE
Engine: 8.2LTA Fuel Pincher DD V8
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Re: 1986 Intl/Thomas Conventional, DT466 5speed, "Big Blue B

Quote:
Originally Posted by thrash
Instead of being reasonable and using wood, I'm building the beds out of aluminum extrusions. These things are very light, very strong, and cannot rust, warp, rot, etc.
Sounds reasonable to me. Most folks just have more experience using wood. And metal tends to be higher priced when you are buying it from big box stores.

David and I have worked with wood for several decades snd just tend to start out thinking in terms of wood. Then we sometimes redesign using other materials. Money has been a guiding force in much of our decisions.
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Old 08-18-2013, 04:48 PM   #8
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Re: 1986 Intl/Thomas Conventional, DT466 5speed, "Big Blue B

A friend of mine started a company years ago using "duraframe" until other people saw the use for extruded alum. For quick assy with nut plates and just tapping the ends....looks good and will be plenty strong
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Old 08-25-2013, 12:57 PM   #9
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: North Dakota
Posts: 26
Year: 1986
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: International S1800
Engine: DT466
Rated Cap: 77
Re: 1986 Intl/Thomas Conventional, DT466 5speed, "Big Blue B

Here's a short video I made of me bouncing on the bed frames to see how strong they are



There are more details and writeup now at

http://www.mattevans.org/~matt/bus/beds.html
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