Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 06-04-2016, 12:12 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: Montague
Posts: 32
Year: 1997
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DT466e
Rated Cap: 77
Gettin weird... A bus to tiny house conversion (97' BlueBird)

Hello everyone, my name is Seth and this is a thread to document and obtain constructive feedback on my conversion project. (I'm a little behind on documentation) This is similar to many builds on this wonderful site, but different in a couple aspects. Here she is the day I brought her home:

1997 Blue Bird International 77 passenger DT466E AT545 (not what I wanted but price was right and will work for the one road trip)


1. I'm building a tiny house, not an RV. I was originally going to start with a trailer base as most "tiny houses" do but after pricing trailers I found a bus was a less expensive foundation, self powered and found this great community as a knowledge resource to make it happen.

2. This bus is going to make ONE road trip! When construction is complete it will make its one and only trip from Montague MI to Pagosa Springs Colorado and rest there for the rest of it's days, maybe moving around on the lot, if at all.

Final resting place: After months of online searching I headed out on one huge road trip to check out the property 12 finalists. I wanted 2+ acres in the mountains. I visited lots in the Rockies and Appalachians. In the end my little slice of heaven didn't even pop up for sale until I was en-route to the rockies and I jumped on it. I ended up with 15.25 acres. Its mostly sloping, only about 2+ acres are level, but this is PERFECT for my dream of having my own personal mountain bike trail on my own property. That and it's only 38 minutes from one of my favorite ski resorts. It's an off grid community so I'll be solar and propane powered. Here's the view from where the bus will be parked :


Me: I'm in my mid 30s with two fur-kids. After 10+ years in corporate America I couldn't take it any more. I made a plan to "retire" early and made it happen. I lived simply, saved and after renovating a couple houses to rent out was able to live off of the excess cash flow (while living in my Toyota RV or family cabin in Montague MI). Its been a drastic change but I now love my life. I haven't "worked" in over a year and I have no idea how I used to do it or how any of you guys do these conversions WHILE working full time, KUDOS to you!

Since brining home to-be-named-bus I've followed the path of many on here: remove seats, gut bus, ospho/prime/paint under carriage and raise the roof (custom hat channel method). After that it gets a little weird... Pictures speak louder than words, right?







Yep, I put French doors in.
Yep, I put residential windows in (of the High altitude variety)
Yep, I wrapped the entire bus in house wrap.
Yep, I put siding right over the fuel fill hole! Will be remedied shortly.


Next up is the metal roof. I already have the steel roof panels and plan on installing it perpendicular to normal installs, that is, running the length of the bus so it can conform to the curve in the roof.
Question for those of you who haven't written me off yet: Would it be wise to put furring strips over the existing bus roof to attach the steel roof to? This would allow more airflow beneath the panels to dissipate condensate. I coated the existing roof with fiberized aluminum roofing and will be putting down self adhesive ice & water barrier as an underlayment for the steel roof. The local construction supply house was split on this question when I asked. I know I will have condensation on the underside of the steel roof, but if its butted up against the ice&water barrier will it be minimized enough to be mitigated by the air space provided by the ribbing in the panels? Was thinking I could set the bus a couple degrees off level as to not be noticeable yet provide drainage.

Luckily, where the bus will sit is an arid/desert climate and rarely sees humidity over 30% (usually 10-20%) and with over 300 days of sunshine per year water evaporates QUICKLY!

After the roof comes all the trim, cedar shake siding on the upper end caps I added and painting the visible yellow portions (just can't pick a color till I see how the rest of the exterior turns out)


I've got some pics of progress along the way, just ask if you'd like to see how the heck I got down this wayward path.

Lets see how flamed I get...
Shef is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-04-2016, 12:21 AM   #2
Bus Crazy
 
roach711's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Farmington Hills, Mi (Detroit area)
Posts: 1,572
Year: 2000
Coachwork: Eldorado Aerotech 24'
Chassis: Ford E-450 Cutaway Bus
Engine: 7.3L Powerstroke
Rated Cap: 19
Neat idea. We need pics of the inside.
__________________
The Roach Motel
roach711 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-04-2016, 12:29 AM   #3
Bus Geek
 
Tango's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Houston, Texas
Posts: 6,170
Year: 1946
Coachwork: Chevrolet/Wayne
Chassis: 1- 1/2 ton
Engine: Cummins 4BT
Rated Cap: 15
Welcome! --- great to see your progress on a very interesting project. Keep the pix coming!
Tango is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-04-2016, 06:51 AM   #4
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: Montague
Posts: 32
Year: 1997
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DT466e
Rated Cap: 77
Thanks Roach and Tango!

Here's a few pics of the inside:






I'm sure you'll notice I did not remove the ceiling panels, there were a couple reasons for this (besides being lazy). The roof didn't leak and all the insulation I took out/can see is in great shape so why bother it? I'll be adding 6" more of insulation and another ceiling on top of (or underneath actually) the existing one. I know the existing riveted steel panels are adding strength to the structure that I probably couldn't repeat if I were to tear it all out.


I used 2x4's to frame out the windows and sides of the door. 2x6s for the door header and footer. The 2x6 door header spans 1 rib past the door opening on both sides to help distribute the load that was supported by the rib I had to cut to install the door. I also cut 2x6s to fit tightly inside the C-channel behind the 2x6 header you can see.

Roof was raised 26.5" so I could install a standard 80" high door and not disturb the original C-channel sections running the length of the bus, directly above the windows, these look important. I was also able to put in 48" tall windows without cutting the original window "sills".
And this is what's underneath the siding and house wrap. I used 3/4" thick OSB as sheathing and to tie the hat channel ribs together laterally. Straps were put on the lower 1/3 every 2 feet so I had a place to attach the siding that would result in a flat exterior wall.
Shef is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-04-2016, 07:02 AM   #5
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: Montague
Posts: 32
Year: 1997
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DT466e
Rated Cap: 77
For fun, here's a time-lapse/slide show of the roof raise (should work if you click on it):
Shef is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-04-2016, 08:38 AM   #6
Bus Crazy
 
somewhereinusa's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Andrews,Indiana
Posts: 1,636
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: AARE
Engine: 3116 Cat 250hp
Rated Cap: Her, me and Molly
I like the way the chair moves.
somewhereinusa is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-04-2016, 09:44 AM   #7
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 7,950
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International S3800
Engine: DT360
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
cool project! neat idea reskinning the whole bus.. are you going to drive it and park it or will it be mobile and driven on trips?

-Christopher
cadillackid is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-04-2016, 10:21 AM   #8
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Winlcok, WA
Posts: 1,607
I assume that since you say it is only going on one road trip you are not going to be installing any tanks.

I would suggest however that you utilize the underfloor area to accommodate mechanicals so they are not inside your bus using up valuable square feet. Building a weather tight insulated compartment to house your furnace, hot water heater, and electrical service will free up space inside. Yes it would require a trip outside if you should trip a breaker but when you consider how often that would occur compared to how much space it would take I would definitely consider under the floor.

You roof raise looks like it went really well for you.

Why did you leave a portion in place above the driver's compartment?

As far as a second roof is concerned, That is a great idea for keeping things cool in the hot weather and keeping things warm in the cold weather.

I think you need to have venting at the bottom of the roof along the drip rail on both sides. Yes you may live in a relatively dry climate but every time your roof heats up and then cools it will sweat. Not a lot. But over time it will accumulate and cause problems.

I can see a lot of really interesting additions once you are in your permanent location.

Since you are from MI I am sure you are well aware of the outside wood furnaces that are available. With something like that you would eliminate the mess a wood stove inside would leave, it would free up more living space, and would lend itself to radiant heat built into the floor. Welcome | Central Boiler

You have come up with some really nice ideas and I hope it all works out for you.

Mind the overheads as you go down the road!

Good luck and happy trails!
cowlitzcoach is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-04-2016, 11:50 AM   #9
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Salt Lake City Utah
Posts: 1,328
Year: 2000
Chassis: Blue Bird
Engine: ISC 8.3
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shef View Post
Yep, I put siding right over the fuel fill hole! Will be remedied shortly.

Question for those of you who haven't written me off yet: Would it be wise to put furring strips over the existing bus roof to attach the steel roof to? This would allow more airflow beneath the panels to dissipate condensate. I coated the existing roof with fiberized aluminum roofing and will be putting down self adhesive ice & water barrier as an underlayment for the steel roof. The local construction supply house was split on this question when I asked. I know I will have condensation on the underside of the steel roof, but if its butted up against the ice&water barrier will it be minimized enough to be mitigated by the air space provided by the ribbing in the panels? Was thinking I could set the bus a couple degrees off level as to not be noticeable yet provide drainage.

Luckily, where the bus will sit is an arid/desert climate and rarely sees humidity over 30% (usually 10-20%) and with over 300 days of sunshine per year water evaporates QUICKLY!
My bus comfortably travels 800 miles on a full tank of fuel. Depending on how long your single trip is, maybe you won't be needing that fuel filler even once!

Definitely make a plan for draining water liquid or vapor from between the ice & water barrier and the metal roof. It'll condense in there one way or another, and no matter how sunny it gets in Colorado, water that finds its way inside that sandwich isn't going to evaporate out. No amount of heat is going to drive water through either of those barriers; sideways is the only way out. I'm not certain how large a gap to recommend -- surface tension will allow a droplet of water to span some amount of gap, maybe 1/8 inch or so, and the gap should be bigger than this. Larger still will allow air to circulate more freely which might help your summertime cooling efforts, though Colorado is a heating-dominated climate so maybe great circulation isn't so great. Also since we're anticipating some kind of drainage from the roof assembly, plan for where it's going to run down. Otherwise you may end up with constantly re-appearing streaks down the wall exterior.
family wagon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-04-2016, 07:20 PM   #10
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: Montague
Posts: 32
Year: 1997
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DT466e
Rated Cap: 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by somewhereinusa View Post
I like the way the chair moves.
So glad someone appreciated that!

Quote:
Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
cool project! neat idea reskinning the whole bus.. are you going to drive it and park it or will it be mobile and driven on trips?

-Christopher
Gracias! It's going to drive and then park for good (might move to a slightly different spot on my lot but that's it)


Quote:
Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
I assume that since you say it is only going on one road trip you are not going to be installing any tanks.

I would suggest however that you utilize the underfloor area to accommodate mechanicals so they are not inside your bus using up valuable square feet. Building a weather tight insulated compartment to house your furnace, hot water heater, and electrical service will free up space inside. Yes it would require a trip outside if you should trip a breaker but when you consider how often that would occur compared to how much space it would take I would definitely consider under the floor.

You roof raise looks like it went really well for you.

Why did you leave a portion in place above the driver's compartment?

As far as a second roof is concerned, That is a great idea for keeping things cool in the hot weather and keeping things warm in the cold weather.

I think you need to have venting at the bottom of the roof along the drip rail on both sides. Yes you may live in a relatively dry climate but every time your roof heats up and then cools it will sweat. Not a lot. But over time it will accumulate and cause problems.

I can see a lot of really interesting additions once you are in your permanent location.

Since you are from MI I am sure you are well aware of the outside wood furnaces that are available. With something like that you would eliminate the mess a wood stove inside would leave, it would free up more living space, and would lend itself to radiant heat built into the floor. Welcome | Central Boiler

You have come up with some really nice ideas and I hope it all works out for you.

Mind the overheads as you go down the road!

Good luck and happy trails!
Great advice Cowlitz, its appreciated. Yeah, planning on an on-site large holding tank for grey water, I've got an electric incinerating toilet for human waste.

I was planning on having to use area inside for the mechanicals you listed, honestly hadn't occurred to me to put them underneath for whatever reason... Good advice, you've got the hamster turning the wheels inside my head! I've already got an LP furnace but it's made to be mounted on an interior wall but the other mechanicals could work underneath.

Right again! an outside wood stove is somewhere in my future, but those up front cost just isn't in the budget right now. the 2nd project on the property is a tree house, thinking an outdoor wood boiler could potentially heat the bus and the tree house. I considered an inside unit but was concerned with space when I found a smoking deal on my LP unit.

Roof raise went much easier than anticipated, a rarity for my projects.

As for the area above he driver, originally I was not going to roof over it. After revising and revising my layout I didn't like how much interior room my storage was taking up so I decided to enclose it and use for storage and a closet area (bedroom is right as you come in the original doors). But as you pointed out, I could achieve some of this with "basement" storage. I'm paring down but will most likely need storage in the basement as well.


You and Family wagon are right, I was fooling myself to think I didn't need an air gap under the roof. I wa/am planning for one along the drip edge, glad that seems like a good idea.

And thank you for the kind words!

Quote:
Originally Posted by family wagon View Post
My bus comfortably travels 800 miles on a full tank of fuel. Depending on how long your single trip is, maybe you won't be needing that fuel filler even once!

Definitely make a plan for draining water liquid or vapor from between the ice & water barrier and the metal roof. It'll condense in there one way or another, and no matter how sunny it gets in Colorado, water that finds its way inside that sandwich isn't going to evaporate out. No amount of heat is going to drive water through either of those barriers; sideways is the only way out. I'm not certain how large a gap to recommend -- surface tension will allow a droplet of water to span some amount of gap, maybe 1/8 inch or so, and the gap should be bigger than this. Larger still will allow air to circulate more freely which might help your summertime cooling efforts, though Colorado is a heating-dominated climate so maybe great circulation isn't so great. Also since we're anticipating some kind of drainage from the roof assembly, plan for where it's going to run down. Otherwise you may end up with constantly re-appearing streaks down the wall exterior.

Holy cow, 800 miles! How big is your tank?

I see what you're saying about the condensate, great explanation, just what I was looking for!
Such a constructive community here, like it. Really wishing I would've started this thread sooner.

Here's an idea after the helpful feedback on the roof: Maybe use trex (or a plastic or ??) to get the steel roof up off the ice & water barrier yet withstand condensate sitting on it till it evaporates. I could make the gap a few inches at one end of the bus and taper down to <1" on the other end to get the drainage I also need.

Thanks for the feedback and comments!
Shef is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


» Virginia Campgrounds

Reviews provided by

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 11:30 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.