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Old 08-30-2015, 08:14 PM   #1
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 21
Dune Chaser

Been along while since I've been on here, glad to see the site is as good as ever!

So to bring you up to speed, I bought a bus in Alaska with 48K original miles, 33' Bluebird TC2000, 5.9 cummins, 545 Allison, 5.38 gears. Yes 50-55 mph max (Ugg).

Original plan was to convert it to a coach, then after some research I realized I bought the wrong bus. (Uggx2) Should have bought a larger flat nose, rear engine with the belly bays and a better tranny. I'm military and had an impending PCS move so I said what the hell. I got it registered as an RV, built a wall behind the drivers seat (swapped the seats to a chevy bucket) and loaded 17K pounds INSIDE the bus. The bus was 14860 EMPTY, all in I was pushing 32,000 pounds. Oh yea, did I mention that I was moving from Anchorage AK to Sacramento California? Came down the Cassiair Highway through Seattle, then down the 5. No AC, No radio, No nothing. Had a 3 vehicle convoy, took us a week because my POS truck kept breaking down. Anyway, the bus did FANTASTIC. Ran nearly on the governor the whole way, pulled most hills decently, some of the bad ones we were 15-20 mph though. Even working the whole way and running on the governor it got 9.56 to 10.13 miles per gallon. I checked it 4 times throughout the trip and is was always in that range. I used a 60 gallon main tank and 2-55 gallon saddle tanks. So I got here, got her unloaded and put her up for sale. I paid too much for her initially, then had to put 6 new tires on it last minute ($2K worth!) So no one was buying and it did so well on the trip I said to hell with it lets build it. I got 3 sand quads when I got here and a 16' car hauler, plan is to grow her a bit and get some basics in it so we can comfortably go to the dunes for up to a week. Will get higher spec eventually, for now, just trying to get it useable.

So heres what I started with:

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Old 08-30-2015, 08:45 PM   #2
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 21
Did a very simple roof raise, about 12.5" worth. A simple piece of angle iron welded to the top and bottom of the window frame, with a piece of 5/8th all thread in the center. Double nut the top and use a nut on the lower angle to "lift" the roof as you tighten the nut. Used four of them, worked like a champ.
Looked a lot like this:

Wasn't planning on documenting is as we were hell bent to get it done and not stopping to take progress pics. Here's a few though:

So the roof is up, luckily I stumbled across a bunch of aluminum sheet for a song on CL before I realized my folly on the bus initially. I bought 30+ sheets for $800, Also found a new RV door for $150. Brought all that down with us.
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Old 08-30-2015, 08:58 PM   #3
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Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Stony Plain Alberta Canada
Posts: 2,937
Year: 1992
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: TC2000 FE
Engine: 190hp 5.9 Cummins
Rated Cap: 72
I'm glad to see another roof raise.

How are you going to keep the aluminum from reacting with the steel the bus is made out of?

"Don't argue with stupid people. They will just drag you down to their level, and beat you up with experience."

Patently waiting for the apocalypses to level the playing field in this physiological game of life commonly known as Civilization
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Old 08-30-2015, 09:00 PM   #4
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 21
Picked up a bunch of RV windows where I got down here from a guy parting one out. Been working on the skinning. Using a air hammer to snip the rivet heads off work great once you make a cut across them with a cutting wheel on a 4.5" angle grinder. That's how I removed the interior roof and wall panels, as well as the 2 upper rub rails. My sheets are 4x10 so they lay right up under the window "eyebrows" and cover almost to the bottom of the second rub rail. Will be removing the lower 2 rub rails as well. Framed in the handicap door, the front buss door, and all the window openings as well as locating the roof with 1" square tubing. Will be going through and adding a second piece to all the uprights that don't have a window next to it in the coming days.

Inside looking out the door. Need to cut the hole for the steps yet. Also need some more tubing so I can build the steps!

Skinning away!

Where I left it today:

I got the other side all skinned, mostly riveted. Still need to make the cuts for the windows. Once I get those in I'm going to button up the front and back and start getting rid of the window "eye brows". Figure if I pie cut them on the ends, bend them flat and rivet them then weld the pie cut closed, hit it with a sanding disc and some primer she should be GTG. I'm trying my hardest to make this NOT look like a school bus.

Still need a roof air, and a good generator, get the cabinets build in the kitchen, find a shower, and a ton of other stuff. We are trying to go away next weekend but I dunno if it's gonna happen. Minimum we need to get the front and back closed up and the floor finished where the steps were/are now.
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Old 08-30-2015, 09:06 PM   #5
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 21
Hey Nat Ster, I was just looking at your BEAST last night. Man your brave for taking on all that rust! That's one thing I'm fortunate with, mine is completely rust free. Lived it's whole life in a heated garage attached to the school, drove 48K on dirt roads in the north slope borough of Alaska. I'm putting buytl tape between the ally and the 1x1 square. 1/16 x 3/4 wide. I'm using ally rivets into steel tubing so there is no way to get around the dissimilar metal issue but what I've found is as long as you don't add power to the situation they will likely never corrode. Just don't screw a CB antenna or similar to it then ground it directly through the ally body. Also, no need to go to Fastenal or similar and spend $25 for 100 frigin rivets, Harbor Freight sells a decent air riveter and 1/4 ally rivets that had a very similar head size to the stock rivets for $5.99 for 100. I'm around 800 rivets into this thing so far and I ain't done yet!
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Old 08-30-2015, 09:09 PM   #6
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Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Houston, Texas
Posts: 7,163
Year: 1946
Coachwork: Chevrolet/Wayne
Chassis: 1- 1/2 ton
Engine: Cummins 4BT
Rated Cap: 15
As Nat noted...did you isolate the aluminum from the steel? Hate sound bummer, but if not, you just built a battery that will oxidize at an accelerated rate.
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Old 08-30-2015, 09:09 PM   #7
Bus Geek
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Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Eustis FLORIDA
Posts: 13,844
Year: 2004
Coachwork: IC
Chassis: CE300
Engine: DT466E
Rated Cap: 32
Very cool. You've put some good hard work into it so far, for sure.
I agree with you on making em not look like school buses.
The only thing I really don't like about the bluebirds would be those eyebrows over the windows!

Thanks for posting all the pics, I look forward to watching this.
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Old 08-30-2015, 11:07 PM   #8
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 21
So I'm nearly ready to move into the interior. I'm planning on using the 2" 4x8 sheets of this for the floors and lower walls.
Thermasheath Rmax Thermasheath-3 2 in. x 4 ft. x 8 ft. R-13.1 Polyisocyanurate Rigid Foam Insulation Board-613010 - The Home Depot

It's twice the R value for $11 more a sheet than the Rtech crap. Planning on either several layers of the thinner Rmax on the ceiling (for the curve) or just angle cutting the rmax on a table saw to match the curve in prob 3 pieces. After looking around apparently I don't have spray foam budget! Planning on running 1"x2" furring strips perpendicular to the ribs and attaching white beadboard vertically on the side walls and wood on the ceiling. I'll prob fill in that 1" airspace with more rmax. Don't think the dead air space will help much when you only have beadboard covering it. Plus the extra thickness will give me room for my electrical.
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Old 08-31-2015, 08:29 AM   #9
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Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: MNT CITY TN
Posts: 5,118
looks good, what did you use to attach the upper and lower parts of the cut window channel?
Our build La Tortuga
Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory.
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Old 08-31-2015, 09:30 PM   #10
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 21
1" square tubing 36" long. Currently only on 1 side, will be adding the one on the other before I go much further.

Went to HD and bought a few sheets of Rmax today. Found a sheet that I think I can use for the roof, I'll get a part # next time I'm there. about 1/8 thick and SUPER flexible. Looks like maple veneer ply and was $9.98 a 4x8 sheet.
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