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Old 07-26-2018, 06:40 AM   #1
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Location: Palm City, FL
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Year: 2003
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Lil Bus on the Prairie - '03 Int'l RE3000 - Build Thread

So, its official! My wife (Danielle) and I took the plunge. On April 24, 2018 we purchased our 2003 International Navistar RE3000 w/ 204,893 miles. 40' of awesomeness.

Allow me to introduce: Lil' Bus on the Prairie



Chassis is in great shape, no rust. Wheels are in decent shape for being built on and be replaced later. Both built in A/Cs work, but will be taken out later to replace with either minisplit or roof top exterior.

We won't be full timing. This is more of a weekender/week long trip deal.

We live in South Florida (2 hours North of Miami) and will stay East of the Mississippi I imagine and try to make it up the Eastern coast.

We plan a pretty standard build. Living area up/dining area up front, kitchen behind, then a toilet room (shower undecided), storage/closet, set of bunk beds and then a room in the rear.

Bus has underbody storage (large compartment w/ 2 doors on either side). I plan to build a cage and house 2 propane tanks. One for use, one for spare. Will power stove inside, and have hookup for an outdoor Blackstone griddle I can break out and cook on.

Would love to build a deck on top as well.

I work as a program manager for a company that builds seats and divans for VVIP jets (think Air Force One, but for Kings/Presidents all over the globe). Boeing and Airbus jets, not small things.. So we're constantly developing unique solutions, so that experience gives me the ability to imagine and adapt to solutions Im hoping! Also have a lot of resources to get input on at work for electric, cabinetry, etc.

Our house is on 2 acres, but its mostly wooded. Going to clear out a spot in the back and drop in some crushed stone to park her on. I have a nice 10kW gas generator I can fire up to use, or I can just pull next to my house and use an extension. I'll try to limit that just so I dont piss off the neighbors, but theres no HOA so really its just me trying to be cordial.

Parked out next to house


My favorite captain

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Old 07-26-2018, 07:48 AM   #2
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Nice bus! 40 foot is a huge space and that basement storage is a huge bonus.

Especially in Florida you couldn't pay me enough to remove my bus' AC system. Road air is at the top of our needs list and those mini-splits won't do much for you when you're driving.

Are you planning on using solar or just shore power?
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Old 07-26-2018, 07:51 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by brokedown View Post
Nice bus! 40 foot is a huge space and that basement storage is a huge bonus.

Especially in Florida you couldn't pay me enough to remove my bus' AC system. Road air is at the top of our needs list and those mini-splits won't do much for you when you're driving.

Are you planning on using solar or just shore power?
Going to keep the built in air for now just while I gut the bus. Then I'll pull it all out, and maybe buy a little roll around portable. Be good to have for hurricane season, anyway, for the house... my generator didnt want to run my house unit so.. that would at least give comfort

Less, I digress.

I thought about solar, but I refuse to not have A/C, and I am not sure I can bank enough power to run the units, lights, etc, so I am thinking of just getting a nice Onan or Honda quiet generator and running my power needs via that or shore power. If I do go the generator route, I'll add another tank for fuel so I dont really have to worry about it.

Why dont you think minisplits would do much while driving? I havent heard that so just curious
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Old 07-26-2018, 08:11 AM   #4
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It's a combination of things. First, even with insulation, the bus is more like a solar oven than an igloo. Florida sun beating down on that much surface area, you're gonna need a lot of BTUs. Add in the amount of surface are that's just glass and that's a ton of heat coming through. The AC systems that came with your bus are likely double the cooling capacity of a minisplit (usually around 12k for a minisplit) and while some people do run their generator while they drive that's not my thing for sure. EVen with the road air keeping things chilly behind the driver (my GF throws on a hoodie, etc) the driver's area has so much incoming heat I have to use the driver's fan to keep from sweating while I drive.

Of course, that's a season thing, but the closer you get to Miami the longer that season is. I was in a word of hurt last summer when I lost an AC compressor in Washington State!

A solar power system for running an air conditioner is something I usually recommend against. It's much more straightforward to run that sort of load from a generator. I'm getting by fine with a 400W 12v system that runs everything behind the driver's seat, but I'd want more like 1600W at 48v to even think about running an AC!
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Old 07-26-2018, 09:20 AM   #5
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+1 on keep at least 1 bus air conditioner for the road.. sure you wont need it off-the-road.. mini splots are great for that... but on that long trip headed westbound into the summer sun.. that huge windshield, a roll-around A/C, and a minisplit or 2 might be enough to evaporate the sweat off your forehead..



insulation is great.. you;'ll need / want it.. but at 65 MPH down the highway you are sucking in hot air and blowing it out as well... think of your house in a 70 MPH wind.. thats what your bus is driving down the highway...



another member here talked about just barely staying bearable on his summer trip with 2 minisplits running.. and he built a heck of a nicely insulated rig..


theres a reason a full size bus has 120,000+ BTU of air-conditioning..



I own probably the most advanced roll-around A/C made and it doesnt do crap... its 2 hose and variable speed wit ha water slinger and all.. srtill doesnt cool worth anything ..



minisplits are awesome parked-A/C units and in my opinion the BEST for that purpose..



Engine-driven A/C's are the BEST for driving down the road..

school busses are Hot-boxes.. ive driven the florida highways in summer enough to know you need a great system.



over-working minisplits is what cuses their premature failure and they are very inefficient when run at 100-110% (yes they go over) their rated capacity..



I have 3 of them in my house for close to 10 years now... ive hacked, modified, etc these units and have seen what happens to them in the field being asked to do more than they can handle.. when asked to do what the yare designed to do then they are long-lasting and very efficient.
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Old 07-26-2018, 09:37 AM   #6
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That bus driver looks very shady, beware... lol
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Old 07-26-2018, 10:23 AM   #7
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That bus driver looks very shady, beware... lol
she lured me on with candy
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Old 07-27-2018, 05:41 PM   #8
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NICE BUS CHRIS! But, you look a lot younger than I thought

I have been wondering about the whole AC thing as well. I did not have AC to remove only the heater. I plan on minisplits, but these guys got me worried about driving. Oh well, I guess I will sweat it out.
I didnt try the portables, but I will say the cheap temporary window box AC I got just to help a tiny bit during construction, did absolutely nothing in my bus. You have to stand right in front of it to even feel it. I took it out to paint the roof and I think Im going to leave it out.

Have you ripped up the floor yet? Pulled any panels? Post more pics I want to see what you do.
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Old 07-30-2018, 10:33 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by fadderall View Post
NICE BUS CHRIS! But, you look a lot younger than I thought

I have been wondering about the whole AC thing as well. I did not have AC to remove only the heater. I plan on minisplits, but these guys got me worried about driving. Oh well, I guess I will sweat it out.
I didnt try the portables, but I will say the cheap temporary window box AC I got just to help a tiny bit during construction, did absolutely nothing in my bus. You have to stand right in front of it to even feel it. I took it out to paint the roof and I think Im going to leave it out.

Have you ripped up the floor yet? Pulled any panels? Post more pics I want to see what you do.
Hey man, I'll be posting some photos today. Did some work this weekend with my wife and father in law. We got the right hand side seats almost all broken free. The left hand I need a shorter driver adapter for my impact.. cant get to the bottom nuts on the sidewall w/ my current one, as theres a conduit that runs along the floor.
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Old 07-30-2018, 11:40 AM   #10
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0C3D4B7B-AA17-4DFA-8E3F-C4071E4AF4F2-1006-0000012BB2DD3D95.jpeg
If you are worried about the AC being in your way. You can always move it. The blue is the floor in this pic.
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