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Old 03-19-2007, 04:04 PM   #1
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"Big Gary" an '85 Intl Make over

Here's some starting pictures of "Big Gary" before the start of the make over.

He's a 30 foot '85 Intl Thomas Skoolie.







I got this bus about two years ago in a straight across swap for "Little Gary" (named after Sponge Bob Square Pants' pet snail fame and his blazing speed!) an '86 Toyota Sunrader self-contained mini-motor home that I had renovated. My buddy needed something smaller...and I needed something bigger. "Big Gary" was pretty limited in accommodations when I got him. He is basically just a shell with no conveniences. The previous owner had wired him up so that when he pulled into a RV park he could plug in for electrical power, but had no water, toilet (porta-potty) or any others systems were hooked up. I lived in this bus for six months in a KOA while house hunting when I moved to a new job in Southern Colorado and I have no complaints. What I’m now shooting for is the ability to do some extensive dry camping and be much more independent on the road. Since “Big Gary” is only a medium sized bus at 30 feet from bumper to bumper I’m a bit limited on what I can do. I need accommodations for myself, my wife, our 9 y/o daughter and probably a bring-along friend.

So what I’m planning on doing is a complete interior tear down and rebuild. Gary will be completely rewired for both 12 v and household current…solar panels and possibly a wind genny are in the plans. I also have a portable generator to add to the mix. He needs a complete plumbing job from scratch: potable water, grey water and black water systems. I would also what the ability to filter raw water for the system from live sources if necessary, propane stove/oven, inline on demand water heater and both internal and external shower hook ups and a multi-power sourced refer. I also want to install "basement" storage and a full length roof rack, AC, and repaint....Ok…the WHOLE WORKS. So please be patient with my really dumb questions.

I will be looking at every system from Engine to tail pipe. Gary is a really low geared automatic transmission diesel. 55 mph is REALLY HAULING – 65 if warp speed!! He’s originally from North Carolina where I guess by law school buses are limited to just 35 mph on the roads…..I NEED MORE SPEED!! Plus I really don’t like the automatic especially going down hill with air brakes (I live in the Rocky Mountains – we have a few hills out here). I will post all the specifics next time, but any help in locating electrical schematics, manuals, etc., would be greatly appreciated.

And THANKS for all the ideas I’ve gleaned from just my first couple of visits here.

Steve
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Old 03-19-2007, 10:43 PM   #2
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Why not sell it as is, and put the money into a larger bus that is newer. If you're going to all the work, put it into a newer unit. Also destroying a decent conversion seems to be throwing away money, when you may be able to sell it. Just my thoughts.

-Richard
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Old 03-19-2007, 10:55 PM   #3
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I like the way that conversion is set up although I'd miss all my windows and the light they allow. If it isn't what you want, it might be in your best interests to sell it.

My bus really was not bad in the Black Hills (which are not hills at all, let me tell you). We just had to put the tranny in 3rd and make sure we did a proper systems check on the air brakes in the morning. I sure wouldn't want hydraulic in that situation.

It sounds like you have everything planned out well. I look forward to seeing the progress.
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Old 03-19-2007, 11:51 PM   #4
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Hey man, I have to agree, shame to go to all the work tearing it down and it doesn't seem to be big enough anyway (for your needs). It looks pretty nice as it is (would be great for a young couple) and you could get a larger bus with better gearing and only have to remove the seats and sweep up and your ready to start! Good luck whatever you choose to do. I've seen many on the market at about $2000 - $3500 in the 35' flat nosed variety. That alone gives you about 7-8' more length in the interior.
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Old 03-20-2007, 01:49 PM   #5
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Thanks for the support and replies. Yes it looks nicer in the pictures than in real life. His original ideas were OK, but the workmanship was somewhat lacking and shoddy. My woodworking skills are much much better and I think I can really improve on what was originally done. I've thought of selling it as is, but just don't think there's a real market here in Southern Colorado. ($5,000-6,000)

Have a friend that is a heavy equipment/diesel mechanic. He and I are going to go over everything from top to bottom and then make a list of what needs to be done. The engine and tranny are very strong and about the only thing I don't like are the split-rim wheels, and the low top end speed.

I have thought to finish this off and then sell the improved version and using that seed money for a second larger build....but then I might just be CRAZY!
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Old 03-20-2007, 08:13 PM   #6
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personally, I like that size. I think it looks better than a 40 footer and I would think it's a lot easier to drive in congested areas.

What is the difference in fuel mileage/performance? I would think that it ought to get a mile or two per gallon better. Should also pull the hills better.

Bigger is definitely better for a live aboard, but, I would think that this would be a good size for shorter trips.

If room is an issue, has anyone ever thought of bumping up a section of the roof and making it into a loft sleeping area? It might look like hell, but, who knows?

As for drive trains, I would think that a cummins 5.9 and 5 speed would be pretty sweet. There are a bunch of these around in pickups. Shouldn't be that hard to find one.
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Old 03-20-2007, 08:51 PM   #7
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longer bus isn't a problem if you are used to it and even if you are not used to it it really isn't much harder to drive than a shorter version. The shorter ones are a bit easier to move in tight areas that some campgronds have. My issue wasn't that I couldn't handle it, I can and to drive the 40 foot buses about everyother week. My issue was where can I store a rv where I won't have to pay storage fees. I can park it in the back yard or on the driveway but it needs to be 32 feet or less in lengh. And since it is only two of us space isn't an issue for me. I have a 25 foot bus with about 19 feet interior space front firewall to back wall and believe it or not it looks like I will have a little extra space that may not get used. (knock on wood) If I was full timing in it a 40 foot conventional bus would have been my choice.
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Old 03-23-2007, 09:19 AM   #8
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Ok I've been crawling around getting Identification Numbers and I'm having a problem...where the heck are the Engine ID numbers and the Tranny ID numbers located??

Here's what I know so far.

International S1800
Engine Model: #165F
9.0 Liter Diesel (549.2 cuin V-

(Where's the ID number on these engines?)

Date MFG: 2/28/85
VIN: 1HVLPHXL8FHA38###
(what do these numbers/letters mean? Can't find anything on the internet to tell me?)


Transmission: Automatic, 2 spd?? (Reverse/Neutral/Drive)
(Where's the ID Number located on these big transmissions?)

Rear End: Spicer SN03285A Model F170S
Ratio: 6.5 (is this high?)

Vehicle Type: School Bus
Equiped Cap: 54
Chassis Identification Number: 22482
Body Identification Number: 58116-20217-25305

Where can I find a manual for this bus? Electrial Schematic? Engine maintenance/upkeep/repair manual?
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Old 03-23-2007, 01:18 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oakspring

Rear End: Spicer SN03285A Model F170S
Ratio: 6.5 (is this high?)
Numerically speaking, yes it is high, but when people refer to high gears they mean numberically low. For our buses something in the 4.11 range would be considered high gears and preferable for highway cruising. You 6.50 ratio would be considered low and excellent in hilly terrain, stop and go driving, or pulling the foundation out from under the house. Take it down the road and see what it tops out at. Your 6.50 ratio might be a pretty good ratio if your transmission is in fact only a two speed. Heck, that would even move torque multiplication downstream which theoretically could lead to longer driveshaft life.
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Old 03-23-2007, 04:34 PM   #10
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Ah Ha....go to the source! Talked with International this morning they referred me to the local rep and he looked up the VIN and faxed me the "Line Set Ticket" which is a list of all the original spec's for my bus when it was built. Boy am I a dummy! That was easy!!

Engine: 9.0L IH V8 Diesel, Model Code BA18535, Ser# 0000534

Transmission: AT545 Allison 4SPD T326 (well it does shift REALLY SMOOTH)

Rear End: Spicer Model F170S Ratio 6.50

Talked with the sales rep at the local place and he said that if I wanted a little higher highway speeds I might consider changing out the 6.5 rear end for 3.9 or 4.11, or perhaps so I wouldn't loose as much climbing power for hill driving 4.56 or 5.17's. Hmmm not sure what to think about that. Any suggestions. I would just like to be able to cruise at 65-70 on the flats rather than 55 mph with petal to the metal.
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