Originally Posted by Jarlaxle
Who planted this seed? Who actuaklly suggested to Jason he needed a jacuzzi in a skoolie?!?!
(And what happened to JB I, II, III, and IV?
The original jacuzzi bus went to a bar owner in NYC
Jacuzzi bus II went to a fine gentleman's establishment in virginia (or WV, i can't remember)
Jacuzzi bus III went to a group of performers who travel with a circus.
Jacuzzi bus IV went to a limo company in texas.
This is going to be a really long post........perhaps more like a book....
How did it all begin? Back in about 2002 i submitted a bid on a bus at a local school district for $775.00 at a sealed bid auction and won. I wasn't even looking for a bus at the time. Now i had a perfectly good bus and didn't really know what to do with it. I started transforming it into an RV. One day at work while we were talking about what i should do with the bus someone suggested i put a jacuzzi inside. At least a dozen other people said "you can't put a jacuzzi in a bus!, that'll never work!" It was that challenge that drove me to make it happen. I put a lot of time, effort, money, and energy into the research and development stage...mostly by trial and error. I originally thought i could contain all of the water in a jacuzzi. I tried several methods of building and securing a water-tight cover to no avail. Then i tried building removable baffles into the jacuzzi, and i built a waterproof container to put the jacuzzi in so when the water sloshed out i could pump it back into the tub....but neither of those ideas worked out so well either. Eventually i realized the best method to keep water from sloshing out of the tub is to remove a significant amount of water before driving, so i added some 55 gallon containers all plumbed together. The shape of the jacuzzi is a big factor in how much water sloshes. Most larger jacuzzi's have walls that slope outward causing water to slosh out. JB IV had a different shaped jacuzzi with very square walls and a nice cover which together significantly reduced water sloshing on it's own. I also decided along my journey that it's not practical to think that water will never escape from the jacuzzi. It's ok if water sloshes all over the floor. Bus floors are made from marine grade plywood with slip resistant rubber on top. Holes in the floor from the original bus seats make good drains. In some buses i cut extra holes in the floor for drains.
In the original bus, i kept the stock jacuzzi pumps/heater and ran a large noisy 220 volt generator. This worked ok, but the generator was noisy and took lots of fuel. The biggest problem is that it took 8 hours or so to heat the jacuzzi water with the cover on. I did a couple of interesting things at this point. When i would go to a party at someone house, i would use a pair of 110 volt extension cords plugged into standard outlets to create 220 volts (required a volt meter to find outlets that were on alternating legs) This was cool, since 220 volts is normally only available behind someones stove or electric dryer and not easily accessible. Then i could run the jacuzzi without a generator while parked. Another big problem with the stock jacuzzi is that it had to be nearly full for the pump inlet to suck in water. If the jacuzzi was half full, or i lost too much water the pump wouldn't work. This is because the filter housing was built into a skimmer, and the skimmer was up high. Every time i refilled the jacuzzi i had to open vents on the pump to allow the air to escape. Setting all this up every time i parked was quite a procedure. Eventually, to make things more user friendly, i removed the stock electric pumps and added a honda powered gasoline water pump. This was cool, because you could run it at idle for hours and hours on a single gallon of fuel to filter water, or you could run it wide open and get some good jet action.
The new problem was heating the water. To heat the water on the original bus once i got rid of the electric system i used the heater core from the rear bus heater.
I simply set the heater core in the water when i drove around. The first time i experimented with this concept, i didn't know if it would even maintain the water at 102 degrees. To my surprise it would heat all 400 gallons of water from 55 to 105 degrees in less than an hour of driving. the other surprise is that left unchecked it would heat the water to well off the scale of the jacuzzi thermometer. I experimented with a couple ideas of heating the jacuzzi water by mounting the heater core in a separate container and pumping that hot water into the jacuzzi, but i never got that to work well and eventually returned to just manually placing the heater core in the jacuzzi for heat. In retrospect, this wasn't the safest method. The heater core itself had some really sharp edges, and having 200 degree engine coolant flowing so close to humans probably wasn't the best idea. I had this first bus for a couple/few years. I drove it 5K miles round trip to burningman and back. With the 6.6 liter ford motor and allison automatic this was the slowest vehicles on the road. I wanted to go to bm the following year, but i wanted a vehicle that had a top speed faster than 57mph on flat ground, and 21 mph going up an 8 % grade. So i totally remodeled the interior of the bus and sold her on ebay after i bought my 2nd bus.
The 2nd bus had a dt360. I turned up the rpms almost as soon as i bought it and found my speed was about 64 mph if i remember correctly. That allowed a way better cruising speed than jb 1 I drove this bus to burningman 3 more times, and to canada a couple dozen times, and all over the state of michigan.
To heat water with this bus, i stumbled upon the plate heat exchanger concept. This is the current (and best) method for heating jacuzzi water in a bus (that is running) i've found so far. IT allows engine coolant and jacuzzi water to exchange heat, but never actually mix. Coupled with it's own pump you can turn on/off the heat as necessary. This was a big improvement. One problem is keeping water hot while parked for long periods of time without the engine running. I went to lots of places where i'd park all day long. Running the bus engine is a good method to heat water, but the engine doesn't make a lot of heat at idle, and it's noisy and burns diesel fuel which costs money. Money was a bit of an issue because i didn't use the bus to make $$, it was just something i was doing for fun, plus i was in school and didn't have a lot of money to spend. I added a household fuel oil boiler, like this one:
A boiler is just a big hot water heater, and fuel oil is the same as diesel fuel. I plumbed it into my fuel tank, and i think it burned a max of 0.5 gallons per hour, but it never took anywhere near an hour to heat the jacuzzi. The boiler would heat water from 55 degrees to well over 100 degrees faster than you could pump it with a garden hose. I used the boiler in conjunction with a temperature controller (just a fancy name for a thermostat) to try and keep the water a constant temperature. The problem is that i was always circulating water through the boiler, and even when the heat shut off, say at 100 degrees, the jacuzzi may go up to 108 degrees or so just because there was so much heat energy stored in the boiler. Eventually i remodeled the bus and got rid of the boiler. I think a boiler is a great way to heat water, but there was just too much complexity involved and i never got it to work quite right. The plate heat exchanger is great because it's simple, reliable,rugged and engineered for exactly the application it's being used for. It wasn't engineered for heating a jacuzzi necessarily, but was designed for allowing separate liquids to exchange heat.
Another big change in jb II was the small 110 volt jacuzzi pump.
I removed the stock 220 volt pumps, and replaced them with a small approximately 5 amp 110 volt clear water pump. This allowed water to be filtered, and heated using a pump that will easily run off an inverter. The compromise is that the with the smaller pump the good massaging jet action is lost. I consider this an acceptable trade-off. Eliminating the need for a generator, or a gasoline powered pump and all the hassles that come with small internal combustion engines.
So, the features i am using in the current bus:
small 110 volt electric pump
plate heat exchanger
digital temperature controller
twin 55 gallon storage tanks that fill/empty utilizing the jacuzzi pump
Power for the entire bus is fed through a GFCI which will shut off power in 1/40,000th of a second if someone drops a toaster into the jacuzzi.
I forgot how much work it requires to mask flames! I did a bunch of masking yesterday, but never got around to painting. I start by laying fine line tape out by hand
In the image below the blue is masking tape. Once painted, the ceiling will be a mirror immage of what you see below. Black flames on a field of blue.
We're expecting up to 10 inches of snow tonight, so i suspect it'll be too cold to paint tomorrow unless i get creative