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Old 07-17-2013, 10:04 AM   #1
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A hippie with a not-so-minivan

OK, I am going to start my Conversion thread!!
We bought this bus last week and I had a pretty intense drive home with it...

Our plans are to live in it full time with our four kids once we sell the house (which will go up for sale near when the conversion is done)

Here is our bus:

92 Bluebird Coach, 6 cyl, 8.3 Cummins diesel automatic 298000 km. Air brakes. Single rear axel, tinted side windows, air conditioning, basement storages, #5 towing rig 7 and 4 hook-up wire, trailer brake leaver by steering , air seat suspension.




This here is a repeat from another post that I wrote but it would be best here I guess to start the conversion thread...

"I live in an extreme hot and cold climate so I really want to insulate as much as I can. Now, we are starting this build as two people who do not have much experience. I do learn quickly though.

So first... we have to stock AC units in the bus at the moment. 1 works, 1 doesn't but it might be just a fuse I was told... we don't know though.
Second, there are the stock heaters.

So what would you do? I am thinking though they take up space etc to keep the heaters. I am not sure about the AC units... Could they all be run off shore power instead of just the bus? if so how does that work? or not? I told you I was a beginner!! If not... are they more for only when driving? Are there any other reasons to keep them?

I have read many conversions here that just built on top of the floors and didn't rip anything out and then many more that of course ripped out the ceiling and the walls to redo insulation and ideally that is what we want to do but the rivets scare me... so many!! I guess my question here is about how you do it. I have seen drill the middle then use a dry chisel and hammer. What drill bit works best? What tools are needed? There also seems to be two types of rivets."




For the floors... do you start by un screwing the center isle? Are there any tricks? the floor looks really thick and I a bit miffed by what to do around the engine (we have a front engine inside)

Here is what we are starting with...








A few other Questions that were asked... I don't know if I have an inverter already. I know I have two very big battery banks and I can turn those off to keep power... There was a Webasto heater at one point but it was taken out before the previous owner got the bus.

I do have to say that though we have a 40ft bus, we also have a big family and we want to full-time so we need all of the space we can get to make our own strorage. The overhead bins are great but they take up SO much room and it just doesn't feel like it can fit into our plans. I guess I am looking at this in my driveway,still a bit on edge from my trip home, and I am wondering how we are going to do this!
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Old 07-17-2013, 10:56 AM   #2
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Re: A hippie with a not-so-minivan

MAN! What a nasty drive home!!! Looking on the bright side, you got the crash course on your bus's innards. I vividly remember driving my bus home - every nerve was on high alert.

If you're full-timing in one place (basically a house that happens to have an engine), all the engine mounted stuff is useless to you and you only care about the engine if you're moving to another semi-permanent location. If you're full-timing all over the place (basically an RV) good running gear is essential. Totally different approaches.

Since you'll likely be mostly parked, the engine-fed heaters won't be much use to you. The air conditioner in the picture looks like an engine driven unit also so that wouldn't be very useful either. Given what you want to do I think you'll ultimately strip the interior and start fresh.

For a bus that drives a little and parks a lot you'd want electric AC units (window units are cheap and work well) powered by shore power, and for heat, propane and/or electric units. Catalytic propane heaters work well. Just be aware that propane can and will kill you if you do something stupid.

I'm thinking the two AC units are actually one unit with two evaporator (cooling) coils and fans.

Those belly bins will be VERY useful!

My advice is to spend a lot of time reading the builds here, especially the full timers like Accordian and Lorna. There's a lot to learn and the more you know BEFORE you start the better.
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Old 07-17-2013, 11:05 AM   #3
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Re: A hippie with a not-so-minivan

Welcome! That looks like a great bus. If you get rid of the on-board AC, which runs off the bus engine, and install an RV style or household AC unit, you will have to run it off a generator while traveling. I understand those units take up space, but I think I'd leave them if it was my bus. Of course, I live in Texas.
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Old 07-17-2013, 11:10 AM   #4
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Re: A hippie with a not-so-minivan

Just take it one step at a time and then you will be done, that easy.

I was lucky and my ceiling was all screws, about 800 of them. One screw at a time and I'm almost done, just a few stubborn ones I need to work on.
When I first decided to remove the inner sheet metal, I was planning for rivets. A lot of people cut them with an X with a grinder using a cutoff wheel. These are thin abrasive wheels good at cutting through metal. Then either using a hammer and chisel or an air chisel to knock them off.
Like Re: The Good Ship Anne Marie:
viewtopic.php?f=9&t=392717&p=573800&hilit=air+chis el#p573800

Your AC is driven off a compressor in the engine. It will not run unless the engine is running. Lorna has an AC thread under Tutorials and How-to's\Keeping Your Bus Interior Cool

viewtopic.php?f=8&t=464309

There is a lot of great info on this site.
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Old 07-17-2013, 11:43 AM   #5
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Re: A hippie with a not-so-minivan

So, first things first.

Is your bus an RV which moves often or a house which stays put? The RV is more self contained and is more flexible. The house is cheaper since you don't spend much time on engines, brakes and transmissions, and simpler in that you may not need a DC electrical system at all.

Where will your water & electricity come from? (campground, a friend's house, solar)

How will you get rid of your black water (sewage) and grey water (shower and sink)? We've all found that plumbing is the most troublesome part of our design. Placement of holding tanks and drain pipes will effect your design from the beginning.

As you begin the demolition process think about where you want to go with this.
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Old 07-17-2013, 12:50 PM   #6
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Re: A hippie with a not-so-minivan

one thing you need to buy a cheap $20 4-1/2 grinder from northern tools or harbor freight the kind that has a 5/8-11 threaded stud

if you buy a combo pack that has all the wheels and such...please,please throw away the grinding wheels that came with the kit!!!
they are crap and can hurt you!!also don't buy grinding wheels at the "tool shows" from china they are crap period.

I wont argue with anyone on this...period

the cut off wheels you can get at Lowes /home depot will be fine go with a .045 reinforced wheel (always protect your eyes)

I prefer the dewalt cutoff wheels they are tuff

The over head bins....no easy way to do this

cut off the vertical support at roof; flush with where the rivets go into the ceiling this will let you get a drill into rivet's then

I also recommend buying cordless drill 18v or so (B&D have been good for me) as well as a 3/8 corded drill

if you can swing two cordless drills you will be a happy women when you can keep a Phillips #2 bit in one, and drill to pre-drill in the corded and in the other cordless a counter sink...speeds up the work from swapping bits


++++++++++++++++++++++++


when using cut off wheels and grinding wheels be aware of this!!!!!!!!!!!

the sparks coming off are hot, they can catch shiat on fire and worst is the "carbon" from the steel you cut will melt into safety glass and then rust as well as being rough, ugly and possibly cracking window....always have a "fire person" around when grinding

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

so enuf lecture now
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Old 07-17-2013, 01:06 PM   #7
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Re: A hippie with a not-so-minivan

We want to be on the road especially at first though we might settle down a bit after a few years. I do want it to be an RV though.

We want to be as self sufficient as possible and have Solar but be able to pull off of a campground/friends house or eventually a land of our own in the future if we need that. Our goal basically is to be able to travel for a bit and live for as long as we can on the road, boondock as much as we can and then for the bus to be our home while we settle down in a new area (most likely on the west coast).

Ideally, I want a compostable toilet. But we might need to have a back water tank to meet the standards of an RV in our province... I don't like the idea though. I need to talk to some local people around here that have done conversions so see how they met the conditions.

I "think" we would like to strip down and start fresh but I get the benefits of designing our space without the heaters and Air Conditioning which would only work when driving but I can see the benefits of having them also. Are there other options to use heat etc when driving?

If we do take things out, I remember seeing a video or thread about taking out the heaters etc.. but I can't seem to find it. (It explained the fluids in the tubes etc)
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Old 07-17-2013, 01:11 PM   #8
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Re: A hippie with a not-so-minivan

Bansil Thanks for the input!

The Angle Grinder I have is a Mastercraft bought at Canadian Tire... hopefully that will work?
I have an old and reliable heavy duty corded drill and and new cordless... Great idea of using different bits in each one!

I am in need of some gloves, safety goggles and a new fire extinguisher I believe!
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Old 07-17-2013, 01:35 PM   #9
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Re: A hippie with a not-so-minivan

it will be fine

I meant to say just buy the $20 ones they can and will be abused as much as a $80 one

I normally have 1 new one at all times so when the old one dies(every couple years)I get the new one and then buy another for reserve

for drilling keep the bit you want in the corded one and screw bit in cordless

for eye protection a full face shield with a hat or if hot at least a "bill" thingy over the top of the shield will keep chips from coming down, over your eye brows into your eyes

Keep a fan moving air behind you to keep cool and shield clear

gloves are hit and miss mechanics type if you can find some to fit are good, only issue is if they are synthetic sparks will melt them

so leather gloves for grinding and mechanics breathable type working works good.

if you work with a lot of wood it can dry your hands out as it "wicks" away the oils so leather gloves work good for my wife...I have leather hands
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Old 07-17-2013, 01:56 PM   #10
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Re: A hippie with a not-so-minivan

The coolant hoses going to your heaters will come off the engine at some point and go back in at another. The school buses I've seen have valves on the heater lines (near the engine) that you can close off before removing the heaters. I hear that propane furnaces will work while driving and the catalytic's definitely will.

The coolant is propylene glycol which is sweet and poisonous if drunk by kids or critters. You can recycle it or pour it on the ground; just make sure it doesn't puddle where it could be consumed.

If you have the space, save the equipment you remove. It often comes in real handy down the road.

Depending on how picky the local inspectors are, you might be able to borrow and temporarily install the "required" equipment then pull it out after you've been certified as an RV then put in what you really want. The composting toilet will simplify your plumbing enormously - no black tank and no plumbing to or from it. Down here in Sunny Michigan we just have to sign a paper that says we have the required stuff. I signed mine before I'd even begun demoing. I hear the Canadian inspectors are a bit more thorough.
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