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Old 01-03-2020, 12:13 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Oct 2019
Location: NE Oregon
Posts: 25
Year: 1998
Coachwork: Thomas
Engine: 8.3 Cummins
Albus Rumbledoor bus build

Hello Everyone. I have been lurking and reading threads for a few months and decided to finally start my own. I will hopefully be posting some updates on my build and progress, however, I have already discovered that I am not likely to stop and take pics or videos as I am working, so I don't foresee a lot of "action shots" of the build process, but maybe a few at the end of each day or project.

I am also planning to attach links that I find along the way to other threads or web pages for quick reference for future aspects of the build.

Enough about my thread plans, everyone want to know about the bus. After looking for not very long, we found a 1998 Thomas MVP RE with 8.3 Cummins and MD3060 trans for sale by school district auction about 3 hours away. It also has the factory high-roof option. The bus mechanic was very nice and knowledgeable, the bus fit our needs and appeared in good condition, and since we live in the middle of nowhere we figured that we couldn't do better. So we bid high enough to win the auction and went 7 days later to pick up our bus.

More to come later.
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Old 01-03-2020, 12:54 AM   #2
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Oct 2019
Location: NE Oregon
Posts: 25
Year: 1998
Coachwork: Thomas
Engine: 8.3 Cummins
For electrical system ideas:
https://www.rv-dreams.com/our-rv-electrical.html
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Old 01-04-2020, 03:27 PM   #3
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Eastern WA
Posts: 6,015
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: All American RE (A3RE)
Engine: Cummins ISC (8.3)
Rated Cap: 72
Sounds like you have scored a nice bus. We look forward to your build.
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Old 01-07-2020, 02:57 PM   #4
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Oct 2019
Location: NE Oregon
Posts: 25
Year: 1998
Coachwork: Thomas
Engine: 8.3 Cummins
Quote:
Originally Posted by PNW_Steve View Post
Sounds like you have scored a nice bus. We look forward to your build.
Thanks Steve. I have a full time job, a family, and a bunch of other responsibilities, so my free time for bus building is very limited = slow. But it is an exciting project and seems to pull me away from other projects more that it should.
If you're in Eastern WA, you might geographically be the closest member to me. I'm in Wallowa County, OR.
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Old 01-07-2020, 02:58 PM   #5
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Oct 2019
Location: NE Oregon
Posts: 25
Year: 1998
Coachwork: Thomas
Engine: 8.3 Cummins
Link reference for Handy Bob's solar puzzle page:

https://handybobsolar.wordpress.com/...ging-puzzle-2/
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Old 01-07-2020, 05:55 PM   #6
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Eastern WA
Posts: 6,015
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: All American RE (A3RE)
Engine: Cummins ISC (8.3)
Rated Cap: 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mountain Yawp View Post
Thanks Steve. I have a full time job, a family, and a bunch of other responsibilities, so my free time for bus building is very limited = slow. But it is an exciting project and seems to pull me away from other projects more that it should.
If you're in Eastern WA, you might geographically be the closest member to me. I'm in Wallowa County, OR.
I am 45 minutes from Milton-Freewater.

I have been trying to stir up some interest in a Northwest Skoolie get together in June. So far I have gotten a limited response.
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Old 01-07-2020, 09:07 PM   #7
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Oct 2019
Location: NE Oregon
Posts: 25
Year: 1998
Coachwork: Thomas
Engine: 8.3 Cummins
20191019_082954-1.jpg

Here is a picture of our bus in the driveway.

We bought the bus last fall in Oct. We found it on Publicsurplus.com, which was a pretty smooth process. Before bidding on the bus, we talked to the school district bus mechanic on the phone and then drove the the 3 hours to see the bus in person. The mechanic is a great guy and was very helpful in showing us the bus inside and out.
The day the auction ended was very exciting and the price came very close to our predetermined max amount, but stayed just under.
I was nervous about the legal aspect of driving the bus 3 hours and one state border home without a CDL or license plate on it, so I came up with a plan that I will explain in my next post.
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Old 01-07-2020, 10:39 PM   #8
Bus Crazy
 
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Join Date: Jan 2019
Location: Philadelphia
Posts: 1,801
Year: 2003
Coachwork: International
Chassis: CE 300
Engine: DT466e
Rated Cap: 65C-43A
Fantastic find. Nothing to complain about with that bus.
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Old 01-07-2020, 11:20 PM   #9
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Oct 2019
Location: NE Oregon
Posts: 25
Year: 1998
Coachwork: Thomas
Engine: 8.3 Cummins
What worked for us to legally drive our bus home.

First off, this is what worked for us with buying in Idaho and living in Oregon, but we know that we were blessed to have it all work out as it did, and it might not work for everyone.
1st: I read the General, School bus, and Air Brakes section of the Oregon CDL manual online. Most of it was basic stuff, but it helped build my confidence in driving the mountain passes between Idaho and my home.
2nd: I brought the tools I thought I needed to remove a few seats from the bus in the parking lot of the bus garage. The bus mechanic was great and had me pull the bus into the garage so he could use his air tools to remove some seats. He also gave me a quick class on driving the bus.
3rd: Previous to getting the bus I had found and arranged to buy a gas range from Craigslist, which is why I needed the first few rows of seats out. The stove barely fit through the bus door after taking the handle off, but it did fit.
4th: We headed just across the border into Oregon and straight to the DMV. I had a gas stove in the front of the bus and a foam pad in the back window area, which I was hoping would be enough to meet Oregon's requirement for converting to an RV, which reads something about a "permanent sleeping and eating area". We were blessed to walk up to the right lady at the DMV and tell her we wanted to convert our bus to an RV. She smiled and said, "Okay, let's go take a look". She walked into the bus and said, "This is still very much a school bus, what's your plan?"
We told her we were trying to get home 3 hours away and would be converting it to an RV over the next few months. She looked around at the bus and down at my 4 kids and said "Okay, let's go do the paper work". She did the paper work and gave us a 1 day trip permit to drive it home legally as an RV, no CDL required. She also had to measure the bus because Oregon charges by the foot for RV registration. 38 ft bumper to bumper.

At any point things could have gone a different directions and might not have worked out at all. Just after leaving the DMV and getting on the Interstate to drive home, I did have a State Trooper pass some cars to catch up to me. He stayed there for a minute, then backed off and pulled to the side of the road. I can only guess that he was going to pull me over until he saw my Temp License in the back window. The bus mechanic had painted black over all of the School Bus and School District markings on the outside of the bus, but the stop sign is still there. It is disconnected, as well as the flashing exterior lights.

The drive home was great. The mechanic had said he loved the bus and was sad to see it leave his fleet, and that it was his fastest bus (he also drove bus). He was correct about the speed. I don't have anything to compare it to, but it seemed plenty powerful, maybe because it didn't have the weight of 50 football players in it. The speed limit in Oregon is 70 mph and it seemed to hold that on the flats without working too hard. It was over 2,000 RPMs (2200 maybe?) at that speed and I wasn't sure how long to keep it there, but it was a cool day and all the temps looked fine.
After waiting 8 weeks without the new Oregon RV title showing up in the mail I was getting nervous that something had happened and our title was going to get denied, but then 3 days after Christmas the official Oregon title showed up. It lists it as Manufacturer: Thomas, Model: MH (motor home). That was a happy day.

Sorry for the long post, but maybe it will help someone else in their journey to RV title status and initial bus relocation.
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Old 01-07-2020, 11:36 PM   #10
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Oct 2019
Location: NE Oregon
Posts: 25
Year: 1998
Coachwork: Thomas
Engine: 8.3 Cummins
Quote:
Originally Posted by musigenesis View Post
Fantastic find. Nothing to complain about with that bus.
Thanks. We are excited for it. I was a little nervous about it having 200,000 miles, but it came with full service records, including oil sample testing from the engine and tranny. Hopefully it runs well for many more years.
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Old 01-07-2020, 11:43 PM   #11
Bus Crazy
 
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Join Date: Jan 2019
Location: Philadelphia
Posts: 1,801
Year: 2003
Coachwork: International
Chassis: CE 300
Engine: DT466e
Rated Cap: 65C-43A
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mountain Yawp View Post
... it came with full service records, including oil sample testing from the engine and tranny.
That's just ridiculous. The closest I came to full service records for my bus was a phone call with the mechanic who worked on the bus before it was sold five years ago, and who expressed shock that my bus was still in existence.
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Old 01-07-2020, 11:54 PM   #12
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Oct 2019
Location: NE Oregon
Posts: 25
Year: 1998
Coachwork: Thomas
Engine: 8.3 Cummins
Quote:
Originally Posted by PNW_Steve View Post
I am 45 minutes from Milton-Freewater.

I have been trying to stir up some interest in a Northwest Skoolie get together in June. So far I have gotten a limited response.
That's not too far from here. A skoolie get together might be fun, but I have a hard time committing to anything extra during the 3 warm months of the year that we have here in Wallowa County. If the meet up was planned for here, then I might be able to make an appearance, although I don't think I will have too much finished on my rig by June. Let me know if anything gets planned, or if you want me to look around for a place here in Wallowa County that can accommodate a bunch of buses.
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Old 01-08-2020, 12:08 AM   #13
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Oct 2019
Location: NE Oregon
Posts: 25
Year: 1998
Coachwork: Thomas
Engine: 8.3 Cummins
Quote:
Originally Posted by musigenesis View Post
who expressed shock that my bus was still in existence.
That is funny. I guess you proved him wrong.
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Old 01-09-2020, 12:07 AM   #14
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Oct 2019
Location: NE Oregon
Posts: 25
Year: 1998
Coachwork: Thomas
Engine: 8.3 Cummins
Advice on waterproof sealant from Rock My Soul build

"Used some solar seal 900 between the panel and the posts for a waterproof seal. I used to use this when I did metal roofing, owner swore by it and he is one the most recommended metal roofer in our area with 40+ years in business."
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Old 01-14-2020, 10:10 PM   #15
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Oct 2019
Location: NE Oregon
Posts: 25
Year: 1998
Coachwork: Thomas
Engine: 8.3 Cummins
Had a day off today, but not the best weather for working on the bus. It was a great day for playing in the snow, and it gave me a good idea of what the bus will look like after I paint the roof white.
20200114_083811_2.jpg
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Old 01-14-2020, 10:44 PM   #16
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Oct 2019
Location: NE Oregon
Posts: 25
Year: 1998
Coachwork: Thomas
Engine: 8.3 Cummins
Progress report

After getting the bus home it was near the start of elk season and I also needed to get my firewood in before the woods were covered in snow. Consequently, I made little progress of the bus the first month of ownership. I started getting a little more spare time and have:
-removed all of the passenger seats
-removed the cushioned side bar under the windows (I don't know the official name of them)
-started acquiring some new and used parts for the conversion, and I also decided that I was wasting too much time chasing after garbage used parts on Craig'slist.
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Old 01-14-2020, 11:06 PM   #17
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Oct 2019
Location: NE Oregon
Posts: 25
Year: 1998
Coachwork: Thomas
Engine: 8.3 Cummins
Seat removal

I was unsure about how the seat removal would go, but it wasn't too bad. My kids helped on the inside while I crawled under and held a wrench on the nuts. My 7 year old did a great job and had some fun using the small air impact wrench. He and his older sister worked together and removed most of the wall mounted seat bolts themselves. I would not want to attempt removing all of those bolts without power tools. There were only about 4 nuts that we couldn't get off with the wrenches and had to grind off.

It felt like a big accomplishment to see the bus empty of seats.
20191203_154951 - Edited.jpg
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Old 01-15-2020, 04:36 PM   #18
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Join Date: Jun 2019
Location: Oregon
Posts: 3
Year: 1998
Coachwork: AmTran
Engine: T444E
Rated Cap: 84
I'm in Eugene/Springfield. Spokane is definitely closer.
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