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Old 04-27-2009, 03:22 PM   #11
Bus Nut
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 362
Re: baadpuppy's bus... unleashed

Originally Posted by swinada
hey wish you good luck and lots of sunshine on your Roof raising project.
I looked through all your pictures and was wondering what the deal was with the motorhome, did you plan to rebuild that or just salvage for parts? What was wrong with it to begin with? I know in some of the pictures you mentionend water damage. So was this a very cheap buy of a motorhome that was drowned out, flooded or what?
Ahh.. When I first conceived the notion of full time mobile living, I was all gung-ho and clueless. I researched RVs and was still clueless. I decided I wanted a Class A motorhome approximately 30' in length. I didn't have much money. I jumped on the first one I found in the right price range and distance range. I went and looked at it and noticed some problems but figured I could deal with them. I got it for $5,500, which was $1,000 off the asking price.

Did I mention I was clueless?

That old motorhome had so many problems I didn't know anything about. First of all, it steers wherever it wants to. The frame has quite a bit of rust on it, as does anything else underneath the RV. The old 460 ford ran good and got OK gas mileage, and the C4 transmission also worked well. However, some belts kept slipping/breaking and I never was able to get the power steering belt and pump to work right. I put about $1,100 worth of new tires on it and started tearing out the water damaged areas I found after I had it a while. See, moving it after it sat for a few years caused a lot of leaks. Part way through that, I decided it would be better to just rebuild the entire interior. However, during deconstruction, I began to see what a piece of crap I had. The max GVWR was only 16,000 pounds, and it wasn't far from that empty.

This old RV would've been just fine for short term camping after having the leaks patched. I was wanting something for full time living, and it was the wrong choice.

After reading several conversion stories here, and von slatt's conversion, then the millicent chronicles, I became convinced I had made a mistake and it was time to stop compounding it by throwing more money at it.

I also figured if I was basically taking a big empty box and building a "home" for myself, it would be better to not be limited to the plumbing choices someone else made. Again, a big empty school bus made more sense.

With a skoolie, I have a stronger frame and body, a better driveline, 33,280 pound GVWR, air brakes (and horn), and a MUCH easier driving experience. I can modify it easily (a relative term). I can trust that the walls won't turn to mush due to rain.

So it has been an expensive path for me to get to this point. I'm actually reusing very little from the gutted RV in my conversion. Maybe some of the windows in the short term until I can afford double-pane ones.

We are actually planning to use the water tank, 12V lights, hot water heater, kitchen sink, and stove/oven in the summer kitchen we are building. This summer we'll be cooking outdoors keeping the heat out of the main house.

I don't think I've mentioned it before, but I'm currently living in an approx. 300 sq ft garage apartment in my parents back yard. I help them with things around the house and yard (like building the summer kitchen), and they are helping me with my bus conversion. It is "farm" country, so no problems with neighbors complaining about the bus (much).

Now that I've bought one RV, I know a LOT more about what I want and need, and about what NOT to do or buy.

I've decided I don't want a propane fridge. I don't think we'll use one in the summer kitchen either, so the one from the motorhome will likely go on the for sale page here soon.

The RV toilet and black water tank are going to go into a custom built outhouse on wheels to be kept near the pool, keeping people from tracking dirt and water into the house. We have a complete RV hookup available, so we can just pull the outhouse over to the dump station every so often.

So there's quite a bit of background there. I've learned a lot since deciding to minimize my life and live mobile (which was about 2 years ago now). I'm finally on the right path.

This summer we do plan to finish disassembling the old RV and selling off what we can and recycling what we can. I expect the frame will get some money at the salvage yard. Hopefully someone will want the entire driveline. I'm also hopeful that I can find someone wanting the wheels and tires.

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Old 04-27-2009, 03:51 PM   #12
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Re: baadpuppy's bus... unleashed

hey thanks for the informative reply. i would keep all the drawers, cabinet doors, mirrors etc. from that RV, and for sure the swivel chairs. keep us updated with lots of pictures of your progress.

edit: and of course the RV windows will be easy to fit in since you already lifting the roof.
Proud owner of a: 1996 Thomas Safe-T-Liner,Cummins 6CTA 8.3Lt diesel, Allison AT.
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Old 04-27-2009, 06:12 PM   #13
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Re: baadpuppy's bus... unleashed

Already kept all of those items. Planning to use them in the summer kitchen.

The doors and drawers and mirrors, etc don't match me, so I won't be installing them in the bus.

The windows are single pane. Long term, that won't be acceptible to me. However, if I happen to have a single pane window close to the size I need for a location, I'll use it planning to upgrade to double pane later when I can afford it.

The swivel chairs are all a mess. Sure, someone could rebuild them, and the mechanical bits are mostly ok. However, the bases are bolted into the RV and the bolts are rusted bad. I'm going to have to use an angle grinder and hope it works. I tried a cutoff wheel and eventually gave up after starting a few small fires.

Speaking of fires, the first chair I tried to remove was right over the propane tank. Another reason I gave up at that point. This RV did come with a half a tank of gasoline and a full tank of propane. We're still trying to use up all the propane. The fuel tank is currently down to about half, and we need to use that fuel up as well. That's about 45 gallons at $3+ per gallon. The fuel tank is rusted a lot on the outside, dunno about the inside.

The water tank and pump and accumulator will be used for the summer kitchen. We often have power outages here for no apparent cause (ie, drunk drivers), and the thought is that we could still cook and have potable water during outages. In the winter time, we'll move the tank to the basement and keep it stocked with fresh water every month, as winter outages are often caused by snow, ice, rain, wind, drunk drivers, etc.

That's not quite as handy as a generator, but still a far sight better than what we currently have.

Speaking of generator, the RV has an older onan 5500 gasoline generator that needs the carb cleaned/rebuilt and should work just fine. The disadvantage is that it is 110V only, no 220V. The pump for the house requires 220, so it won't be useful for that. On the other hand, it should do just fine maintaining a few other essential circuits in the house. So, it'll be going into a custom enclosure near the house to be used in power outages.

The RV also has 2 roof top 13,500 BTU A/C units that are in good shape (aged plastic, but still functional). I'm not going to use a rooftop A/C on my bus, but will instead go with a split air system with the compressor in the "basement" space. I'm hoping that when we finish my full-timer bus that my parents will be interested in building themselves a weekender/camper bus, and then we could use those A/C units on that. Or, they might get sold before then. Dunno yet.

The converter from the RV was a piece of crap. I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

The radio in the RV was cheap. The VCR and TV were toast and went to the dump over a year ago. Some of the countertops have been saved. The shower has been reused as a rinsing tub in one of our buildings. Something mom does with it with her wine making or something, I don't know for sure.

The roof of the RV is pitted aluminum. I'm hoping to recycle that (or use it somewhere). The sides are nice sheets of fiberglass, and we plan to use them on projects around the yard. The windshields are still in one piece, and might be worth something to someone, but I don't know how I'd find a person wanting them. Perhaps craigslist will help.

There is still a cabinet mountable microwave that hasn't found a home. We originally thought we'd use it in the summer kitchen, but decided to use a newer model that I had in storage instead.

All in all, it was an expensive lesson.

I hear all too often on the rv forum I hang out on that newbies don't know what to look for when buying their first RV, and I have to say I think that is always true unless you've had one for a while (rental, borrowing, etc). Once you are in one and find all the limitations that irritate you, you then know what to search for. In my case, the specs I want lead to either a provost or a skoolie. I don't have a provost budget... so I'll get the more budget-minded choice and have it MY way.

Ah well, I digress. Know anyone that wants 6 8x19.5" wheels and tires with wheel simulators with less than 500 miles on them and only a bit over a year old?

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Old 04-27-2009, 07:58 PM   #14
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Re: baadpuppy's bus... unleashed

Speaking of generator, the RV has an older onan 5500 gasoline generator that needs the carb cleaned/rebuilt and should work just fine. The disadvantage is that it is 110V only, no 220V.
You might be in luck. Try to find a manual on the genny. Some (most?) of the Onans, for example the 6 kW RV "Emerald," have dual windings that can be paralleled for high current at 120 volts, or "series-ed" in phase for 240-volt operation. It just requires switching a couple of wires on a terminal block, knowing which ones to switch, and maybe replacing the output breakers.
Someone said "Making good decisions comes from experience, experience comes from bad decisions." I say there are three kinds of people: those who learn from their mistakes, those who learn from the mistakes of others, and those who never learn.
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Old 04-27-2009, 08:18 PM   #15
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Re: baadpuppy's bus... unleashed

redbear, that's the hope. There's an authorized service center near work that I plan to take it to. He has a manual for this model and has offered to loan it to me. I ordered the official manual, but it was for a different model. Seems cummins-onan mixed up their documentation index.

Converting it to 220 would be awesome though.

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Old 05-01-2009, 06:11 PM   #16
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Re: baadpuppy's bus... unleashed

Originally Posted by baadpuppy
...this spring some birds decided to nest in the rear "school bus" window compartment. They have 4 eggs. So, I guess I won't be raising the roof before they have a chance to hatch and grow old enough to be evicted.
The eggs have hatched. Looks like 3 chicks.

can't wait till they're old enough to kick to the curb.

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Old 05-02-2009, 11:13 PM   #17
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Re: baadpuppy's bus... unleashed

Ahhh, there are the tenants outta their shells! So Jim, what are you doing with your propane fridge? How big (or small) is it?
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Old 05-03-2009, 01:02 PM   #18
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Re: baadpuppy's bus... unleashed

Yep, both sets of tenants are now out of their shells. 2 sets of 3 cheepers makes for a noisy bus.

I'm planning to sell the propane fridge. It is fully functional, on propane or 110 VAC. It requires +12 VDC for the control board either way. It is faster to get cold and more efficient when run off the propane though. If the AC goes out it auto-switches to gas if the valve is open. No pilot light to worry about either.

I have the manual to in the paperwork somewhere around here. Ahh, found the paperwork. It is a Norcold 662BK (had to look at the fridge). It stands about 53" high. It is 6.3 cu. ft. It has nice wood panel doors. The lower door panel has a crack from top to bottom, but that is a cosmetic issue not a functional issue.

Anyway, we used it quite a bit the summer before last and it was working great. It has been stored indoors since removal that fall. I'm planning to sell it, but haven't listed it on here yet. Soon.

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Old 05-03-2009, 02:10 PM   #19
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Re: baadpuppy's bus... unleashed

Well, this weekend's progress has been minimal.

Dad and I rearranged some of the stuff stored in the bus so that I can more easily get to the back, making an aisle down the drivers side.

I moved the 6 deep cycle UPS batteries into the storage bay underneath the passenger side. That was not fun.

I removed all the removable screws from 1 roof panel, and it just about killed my arms. That's going to take a while. There are a few screws left, and they'll have to be ground off with a grinder.

I checked on the little cheepers, and they seem to be thriving. Hopefully in about 2 to 3 weeks I'll be able to evict them all.

I also removed the service panel above the engine from the interior, and looked at the air throttle assembly. It appears to be a professional installation, and is fully functional where it is. Without any real incentive, I don't think I'll relocate it to the more normal location on the front of the engine block. Reminder: make sure it is easy to access that service panel after the conversion is finished.

I also checked, and my gear selector lever is a cable type, not air type. This might make relocating it to the dash a bit more work.

Today it is raining, so there isn't much to be done.

Sorry, no new pictures this time.

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Old 05-21-2009, 09:24 AM   #20
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Re: baadpuppy's bus... unleashed

Ack, I haven't updated in far too long.

Oh yeah, I haven't actually done any work on the bus other than dealing with the cursed tenants.

One day while in the bus to grab some tools, I realized I didn't hear them cheeping, so I thought I'd take a peek. About the time I got the screw out, I notice that there's something black all over the metal plate covering the nest area, and that it goes up over the ceiling towards the drivers seat. Then I realize that the black is a bunch of dots. moving dots. Oh yeah, they're also all down the wall, across the floor, crawling up my legs, all over my arms, on my head, and everywhere else!


These little cheepers have bird mites. Not good.

I cleaned myself up as best I could, but apparently missed some as I've been fighting the plague for the past 2 weeks. I think I've pretty much won this battle now though.

After doing research, I decided to move the bird nest out of the bus. What was I thinking? Moving a nest with 7 fledgling birds is NOT easy. During my research, I also learned the birds were starlings, and the recommendations seem to be that euthanizing them is best for everyone (except them I suspect). The recommended way was CO2 poisoning, as it is considered humane. However, I just didn't have it in me to kill mostly defenseless baby birds. That's why I tried moving the nest.

I managed to get 2 of the birds to stay in the nest long enough to get it out of the bus. That left 5 birds running around free inside the bus. grrrr.

One of the 2 that I got out of the bus decided to hide in the garage. My apartment is in the other half of that garage. So the next morning I was awakened at 6am by hungry cries. grrrr.

That night I managed to get the one from the garage evicted, and also managed to get one from the bus. It took me several more days and a lot of effort to finally get the rest of the birds out.

In the mean time, prior to trying to evict the birds, I had gone in with sevin dust. I wore gloves and a mask, and was quite liberal in applying the sevin dust, then went straight to a shower, leaving the clothes outside. The sevin dust did a great job of killing the mites. It didn't seem to have any effect on the birds.

At this point, the front 2 to 3 rows worth of my bus look like a cocaine deal gone bad. I can't leave windows or doors open without the starlings wanting to try to return. I'm a bit disheartened by the whole experience.

The birds in the back that I think might be robins are still there. The mites didn't appear to make it back there. I've done my best to just pretend they aren't there. This weekend, if they're old enough, I might start that eviction process too, using the skill I've gained from the other eviction to help. If they really are robins though, and haven't been evicted by their own parents, and there aren't any mites evident, I'll just leave them to their own course. After all, it should be less than a week until they are fully fledged.

I'm keeping an eye out for an inexpensive storage building or equivalent so I can move all the things currently stored in the bus out so I can start making some real progress again.

This weekend I also hope to start the cutdown of the old motorhome. I plan to practice with some of my tools on that junkpile before doing anything on the bus itself.

Hopefully there will be some form of progress this weekend.

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