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Old 10-05-2009, 10:38 PM   #1
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Diesel Dan's Skoolie

Hey everyone, I just put down a deposit on a skoolie which I will be closing on in about 2 weeks! It's a 1996 International Thomas high top with a DT466 and AT545. Hydraulic brakes and wheelchair lift in the back. Most of the seats are already removed, except 4 which is all I would ever consider using. I'm buying it from a dealer in Kansas. I'll be flying out there and driving back home to Austin, TX. My criteria for a bus was very specific, and this one met them all. Mileage is a little higher than I would have liked (165,000), but really not bad for a diesel.

This will be a family travel machine for my 5-person family (3 small kids). The only way I could convince my wife to go along with it was to not get a "full size" bus. With 5 people a true "shortie" would just not have been enough space, so this 3/4 size (8 window) bus was the compromise. I plan to do a WVO conversion and probably solar panels. The back "garage" area will be large enough to accomodate a small dirtbike/motorcycle (to be loaded via the wheelchair lift) and a couple extra barrels of WVO for longer trips. I also plan to build a large deck on top for canoes, bikes, solar panels, enjoying the view, etc.

I have been lurking around this forum for several months now, and have come across so many great ideas! Thanks everyone!

Here are some pics:
Attached Images
File Type: jpg front driver side.jpg (27.8 KB, 13202 views)
File Type: jpg front pass side.jpg (17.0 KB, 13196 views)
File Type: jpg inside looking back.jpg (20.3 KB, 13195 views)
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Old 10-05-2009, 10:55 PM   #2
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Re: New skoolie for Diesel Dan

Quote:
Originally Posted by mightybus
Sweet, was it this one?
http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/1996-IHC ... 06.c0.m245

I was following this also. So it looks like you got the seller to end the auction early? Let us know how much it costs to fly to kansas.
Yes, I contacted him and made an offer. He has another similar bus, a 1990 that has been on his lot forever, so I figured he wasn't having luck selling this style bus. Anyway, the plane ticket was $150 with all the taxes, fees, etc. I figure less than $200 in fuel to drive it home. Not too bad considering I'm getting the bus of my dreams!
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Old 10-05-2009, 11:22 PM   #3
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Re: New skoolie for Diesel Dan

Nice find! High roof, too. If the 1990 was a twin, and I were ready to buy, I would really think about it. Long shakedown trip to the Northeast, though.
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Old 10-07-2009, 12:49 AM   #4
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Re: New skoolie for Diesel Dan

Congrats on the bus!
When your southbound through Wichita you should stop by and say HI!!
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Old 10-07-2009, 12:47 PM   #5
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Re: New skoolie for Diesel Dan

Quote:
Originally Posted by RiktorD
One comment and one question...

Comment:
First; there is SOOOO much room under the bus that you will never need to carry fuel (even WVO) inside the bus. You can nab 100+ gallon tanks for around $100 bucks. Or if you're a good welder you can fab up a storage tank underneath and coat the walls to prevent rust. We are doing that for ours since we want a net of 400 gallons of fuel.

Question:
Do you know how much he wants for the 1990? And what are the specs if you can recall?
The reason I am putting the WVO barrels inside the bus is these will be for collecting raw WVO on the road. I need vertical barrels so the water/sludge will settle to the bottom and stay there, and I will be able to pump the good WVO off the top during filtration, and visually see when I'm getting to the bad stuff towards the bottom, etc. Also they will be open top barrels with lids, so I can clean them out. My actual heated WVO supply tank to directly feed the engine will be underneath the bus just behind the driver. Do you have any ideas for where I can source a used tank? Preferably aluminum?

Regarding the 1990 bus: It's an 8 window International Thomas high top with conventional hood. 7.3 IDI international non-turbo engine. AT545 trans. 165,000 miles. Hydraulic brakes. Luggage racks down both sides of the interior. All seats installed. No rust. Tires less than 50%. Crack in windshield. Best price I negotiated with him was $2,500. His asking price on the website (google: "k-s bus") is considerably higher.
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Old 10-07-2009, 02:18 PM   #6
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Re: New skoolie for Diesel Dan

My original plan was to use steel 50 gallon barrels for all fuel/WVO applications, and plastic 50 gal drums for fresh and waste water tanks. But they do hang down fairly low when mounted underneath. I'll have to check and see if I have any RV junkyards in town and price some real water tanks. I think I'll take your advice and stick with a steel fuel tank. The only problem with steel is that I think the WVO is more prone to congeal (turn into that rubbery gunk) on steel as opposed to aluminum. Plus, it rusts.
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Old 10-07-2009, 02:26 PM   #7
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Re: New skoolie for Diesel Dan

Quote:
Originally Posted by RiktorD
He is definately asking too much for that bus.
His asking price is a little high, but I think the $2,500 bottom line price is fair for that bus, especially considering he is a dealer. You've got to expect to pay more from a dealer than a private individual. They've got to cover their overhead and make some profit or they won't be in business long. I've seen some crazy prices at other dealers - a bus like this one could easily list for $5,000.
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Old 10-07-2009, 03:21 PM   #8
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Re: New skoolie for Diesel Dan

Our school district out here in Goodland, KS has an identical bus to yours, but on a Ford chassis. It is a Thomas high top with the narrow seats on a track, so you can adjust the spacing of the seats, as well as the seat belt positions. One thing I noticed about ours is that although it's a high top, the floor inside was raised to allow for a 15' or so wheelchair escape ramp. In reality, the ceiling height was no higher on that bus than on a "standard" Thomas because of the wheelchair ramp. You had to open the back emergency door to even know the ramp was there. It would be way cool for loading bikes or 4-wheelers! Ours also came with AC from the factory...pretty cool bus. I can't wait until the district sells it. I think we'll hang on to it for two more years, then we have to sell it. It has 40K or something like that on it. Good luck with your new bus, Dan!

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Old 10-19-2009, 01:34 AM   #9
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Re: New skoolie for Diesel Dan

So I just got home from picking up my new bus near Kansas City. The drive back to Austin was uneventful, thankfully, and took me about a day and a half. A big THANKS goes out to COOLR for letting me camp out in his back yard and plug in to his shore power to keep warm on the first night of the journey. I got lots of great ideas from checking out his bus.

The bus started up instantly every time, and ran smoothly. There were a couple things that concerned me though. Firstly, it would start to make a sort of droning/howling noise every once in a while. It sounded like tires humming along on the pavement, except exaggerated. I'm pretty sure it was not the tires or hubs but rather the drivetrain. Not the engine, but perhaps the transmission or driveshaft or differential. It sounded like it was coming from right under the driver's area. It was sporadic, and only happened over 50mph and usually when going uphill. If I let off the accelerator the noise diminished, although sometimes it also did it when I completely let off the pedal to come to a stop from highway speed, like when taking an exit ramp. Is this normal? It wasn't a horrible noise, but it did cause me some concern.

The other thing that bothered me is the bus was running a bit hot. When I wasn't putting any load on it, it would run at 180 degrees, but once I'd been on the highway for a while it typically ran at 200, and when it got warmer outside and I was going up some big hills it crept up to 210. When it got up to 210 I stopped and turned on the rear heater and opened some windows so I wouldn't get too hot inside, and I kept my speed down to 55. That kept it at 200. The bus is running about 2500 rpms at 60 mph on a flat road. It's got a DT466 which I've heard has problems with overheating. I talked to some truckers at a rest stop who said 210 is fine for a diesel, but when I see my temp gauge at the 3/4 position, I don't like it. Oh, BTW, I was getting about 8mpg. I was hoping for 10. I'll have to check on my differential gear ratio, and see if perhaps I could improve that.

So basically, my questions are: What's up with that droning noise, and what's the deal with the hot engine?
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Old 10-19-2009, 08:53 PM   #10
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Re: New skoolie for Diesel Dan

I started doing a deeper assessment of the condition of the bus today and tomorrow will start in the driver's area tearing out all the consoles, heaters, driver's seat, etc. There is some bad rust in this area due to a leak I believe to be in the windshield and driver's window. Or perhaps the heaters were leaking coolant at one time. Anyway, I think by the time I get the the bottom of this I will find a hole clear through to the pavement. Hopefully tomorrow I will have time to tear up the flooring and see what is going on down there.

At first I was relieved that the bus was mainly devoid of seats since it was a handicap bus. But now I realize that this is actually more work. The metal slotted plates that were used to tie down the wheelchairs have 16 bolts each, and there are 8 of them I will have to remove. Man, that's a lot of holes in floor. And you know each hole will have a ring of rust around it. I can grind that off on the inside, but the underside will be harder to get at.

I'll get some pictures up once I make some more progress.
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