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Old 01-23-2007, 11:52 PM   #1
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Bender AKA The Crispy Family Tour Bus

I've been lurking here for the last week and figure it's time to jump into discussions. We were just been given a 72 passenger '81 International Bus last week and now we're planning it's conversion. The plan is to convert it into a tour bus/traveling stage. Unfortunately it's gas not diesel the information I'm seeing on WVO/SVO conversion is really interesting.

One of the first things I'm having to do is undo some of the modifications done by the previous owner. Looks like he was trying to change the lever system on the door to an electric remote system that never worked, I've had to makeshift the hardware on the door to reattach the original lever. That's done but I'm left with three wires that go to a switch on the handle system and I'm not sure what their for and which wire plugs where on the switch, any ideas?

Any advice on how high of rpm's will be safe on this bus the engine is a 345 V8. Also how do you adjust it on a gas engine, I found a lot on adjusting diesel engines but not gas. Luckily it has a tachometer so I can try to keep from blowing up the engine.


I also think he may have disabled the throttle lock, from reading the board this sounds like a handy feature. I'm hoping to test it this weekend, i haven't been able to drive it since the first day because we've been buried in an ice storm for a week here in Oklahoma and I wanted to get the insurance taken care of anyway before learning to drive this thing.

Anyhow enough for now, I've got a million questions so I'll tackle a little at a time
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Old 01-24-2007, 12:35 AM   #2
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Hi, welcome aboard!

Don't know about your bus, but on my Blue Bird I believe the electrical switch on
the door mechanism does two things:
1: It turns the light in the stairwell on and off -- for sure.
2: I think it (used to) turn the school bus warning lights off when the door closed -- so
the driver wouldn't inadvertantly drive down the road with the signals on.
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Old 01-24-2007, 09:40 PM   #3
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Thanks for the info that's what I was guessing, anyone remember which wire is which lighting? I imagine I'll just fool around with it worst case might blow a fuse.

My next question is on the stage idea, has anyone done this? So far there are two ideas. A roof Deck that can swing down to work as a stage off the side of the bus probably mechanically assisted, or doing a slide out stage from under the bus similar to the loading ramps on Uhauls. We have access to lots of scrap fibergrate we'll be using for this as well as the ramps we have in mind for loading the show into the bus. This should keep it light weight yet extremely strong.
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Old 01-24-2007, 10:35 PM   #4
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Re: Bender AKA The Crispy Family Tour Bus

3800 rpm is the redline on the 345, this engine is bulletproof and can put up with running at that all day long. I have the indicator on my tach set to 3500 and try not to run above that but on a few trips I ran for hours with my foot to the floor.

Your engine should have a governor on it and on the interstate you probably wont even be able to reach the redline with such a big bus.
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Old 01-25-2007, 06:21 PM   #5
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I'd be careful how much weight you get swinging over one side. For as stiff as our suspensions are, they will flex. On top of that, I think that with enough weight on it, even a 6 foot deck off the side might put enough stress on the tires to overload them. While I wouldn't expect a static blowout, you certainly won't be doing them any favors. All that force on one frame member might not be great either. They are designed to be longitudinally strong, not laterally. The east and elegant solution? Some outriggers on the stage. That may complicate things in the design, but I think it's the best way.

I wish I had some pictures....at Country Fest two years ago, U9 (a campsite known as a sort of dance club after the show) had a bus that they hacked the back section off of. They then built their own compartment in which the back kind of folded open with the wall compartments housing their speakers. They then slid the actually mixing board forward onto the open space that was created and had the amp rack (and one heck of an amp rack it was) built into the side of the bus above the wheel wells. While it wasn't very functional as a camper, it sure was a cool rig.
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Old 01-25-2007, 07:38 PM   #6
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I if we do the slide out I plan to have some form of legs for the front of the stage and possibly the back to keep it stable and keep from putting too much force on the bus. With the top deck idea I'm thinking of having it railed in and measured out so when swung down it would actually be upside down on the ground useing the railing as the base/support of the stage.

I'd love to see that bus you're talking about. Actually another of my questions is about setting up a pa system, which is best, going with a traditional 120 volt pa system to just run off the generator, a 12 volt system running off the bus power, or a combination of the two?
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Old 01-25-2007, 09:30 PM   #7
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I've wondered the same question myself. The bus at C-Fest ran 120 volt stuff, but I'm not so sure that's what I would like to do. 12 volt automotive amplifiers are cheap. They also don't involve the losses associated with an inverter. Of course powering them off 120vac would be more convenient if you were "plugged in." Ultimately, I think I will end up using 120vac components such as the CD player, equalizer, FM receiver, etc, but I will power everything with automotive amplifiers. I just like them better for any number of reasons including a better tolerance for lower impedance speakers, a low price, and the ability to run an ultra efficient Class D amp for the woofers.
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Old 01-27-2007, 10:14 AM   #8
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It's alway there until you need it

Weather finally allowed me to get started on stripping the seats yesterday. Wouldn't you know it I've had an agle grinder lying around forever, now that I need it I can't find it. BTW a Dremel is no replacement!!

Is there even a market for these seats or am I best off just heading for a junk yard or dump?
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Old 01-27-2007, 10:53 AM   #9
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About the stage idea:
Cutting off the back of the bus-body was mentioned, but...
What about cutting away just a section of wall on one side, like from the wheel
well back? Then installing a sliding canvas to keep the wind and weather out,
like a "curtain-side" 18-wheeler trailer. All heavy equipment would have to be
bolted down, and instruments and other smaller things secured as well, but
then all you'd have to do to set up would be to open the curtain.
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Old 01-27-2007, 12:14 PM   #10
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That's an interesting idea, I may look into that. We do an old time sideshow and generally need a bit larger of a stage plus when doing fire acts it's better not to have a roof to worry about, but if we extended out from this opening just a little so we can step front stage for big fire it might work. It might also help for a wind block for our fire eating acts.
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