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Old 05-14-2015, 06:51 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 46
No idea what we're going to name it: Converting a 2000 Thomas MVP

Last July I ran across Hank Butitta's build (HankBoughtABus.com) and was massively inspired. I dug around on the internet that night and found a ton of stuff about Skoolies, including Skoolie.net, that I was previously completely unaware of. Two weeks later, I bought a bus. I tend to rush into things headlong.

I bought the bus from Montgomery County (Maryland) School District through an online auction. I was led to the auction by a post on here that someone made (thanks, whoever you were!).

The bus is a 2000 Thomas MVP Pusher, it has 138k miles on it and appears to be in great shape. I paid $3500 for it, which I believe was the most any bus went for in that round of auctions, but was worth it to me as it had the second lowest miles of any of the ones up for sale, and appeared to be in the best shape. Very happy with the bus overall.

I live on the Connecticut coast with my wife and four kids (our oldest child is nine). The bus has been parked at our part time homestead of sorts in Upstate NY (which is about five hours from our primary residence in CT), so work on it has been limited to the time we are in NY, which was not much last year. We're planning on taking it on a road trip around the US when we get it completed.

I cut the seats out last year, and we got some of the lettering off, and that was about as far as it got in 2014.

So far this year I have gotten the interior about 95% stripped down (ceiling panels down, all seats out and bolts in the floor ground out, floor mat 50% up etc..) and am looking forward to prepping the inside for construction.

I'll try to update this thread as I progress, hopefully it doesn't end up being one of those threads that dies after two pages.
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bustagator is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-14-2015, 07:06 PM   #2
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Winlcok, WA
Posts: 1,607
It sounds as if you found a pretty nice bus at a very reasonable price.

When it comes time to take your bus out for a drive the next time you need to do two things that will make life a lot easier for you.

First, drain some of the fuel from the bottom of the tank. After almost a year you are bound to have some water in the bottom. Excess water will make a mess of your filters and water separator. And if the water gets past your filters it will really mess up your pump and injectors.

And second, make sure the batteries are good and hot. The electronic engines are very particular about voltage. If they don't have at least 12.2 volts the fuel won't be turned on. You can crank and crank and crank with no fire. Even if you turned off the battery cut off switch the batteries are more than likely dead after all this time. Even with the battery cut of switch in the off position there is still a small parasitic load all the time from the engine management computers. It is only a few miliamps load but over several months that is enough to drain even a pair of 8D batteries.

I hope to see some pictures soon.

Good luck and happy trails!
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Old 05-14-2015, 07:28 PM   #3
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
It sounds as if you found a pretty nice bus at a very reasonable price.

When it comes time to take your bus out for a drive the next time you need to do two things that will make life a lot easier for you.

First, drain some of the fuel from the bottom of the tank. After almost a year you are bound to have some water in the bottom. Excess water will make a mess of your filters and water separator. And if the water gets past your filters it will really mess up your pump and injectors.

And second, make sure the batteries are good and hot. The electronic engines are very particular about voltage. If they don't have at least 12.2 volts the fuel won't be turned on. You can crank and crank and crank with no fire. Even if you turned off the battery cut off switch the batteries are more than likely dead after all this time. Even with the battery cut of switch in the off position there is still a small parasitic load all the time from the engine management computers. It is only a few miliamps load but over several months that is enough to drain even a pair of 8D batteries.

I hope to see some pictures soon.

Good luck and happy trails!
Thanks so much for the tips, that's the sort of thing that is insanely helpful right now. Also, I just added a few photos to the original post
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Old 05-14-2015, 08:15 PM   #4
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Maryland / Boulder
Posts: 342
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Thomas Built
Chassis: Saf-T-Liner MVP ER
Engine: CAT 3126b Rotella-Chugger
Rated Cap: 72
I second what cowlitzcoach said. Also, nice bus. Yours is newer than mine and I'm sure in better shape but essentially we have the same rig except mine is a 1999. They are great platforms to work off of and are built pretty well (except the wiring!). Check out my thread for how I demoed it, treated rust under rubber floor (there is bound to be some) and PM me if you have any rig-specific questions because I have laid my hands over pretty much every nook and cranny on these things by now.

Good luck!
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Old 05-18-2015, 06:20 PM   #5
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by porkchopsandwiches View Post
I second what cowlitzcoach said. Also, nice bus. Yours is newer than mine and I'm sure in better shape but essentially we have the same rig except mine is a 1999. They are great platforms to work off of and are built pretty well (except the wiring!). Check out my thread for how I demoed it, treated rust under rubber floor (there is bound to be some) and PM me if you have any rig-specific questions because I have laid my hands over pretty much every nook and cranny on these things by now.

Good luck!
Thanks! I read your thread religiously before I bought my bus. I've read it several times since as well. It's great to be able to see someone else's progress on what is pretty much an identical bus. I am dreading the wiring though...

Now I've just got to grind off the wall panels and get the flooring mat up on the steps and near the drivers seat and I'll be pretty much done with the interior demo.
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Old 05-19-2015, 05:32 PM   #6
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: Miami
Posts: 167
Year: 1998
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: MVP
Engine: CAT 3116
Rated Cap: 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by bustagator View Post
Thanks! I read your thread religiously before I bought my bus. I've read it several times since as well. It's great to be able to see someone else's progress on what is pretty much an identical bus. I am dreading the wiring though...

Now I've just got to grind off the wall panels and get the flooring mat up on the steps and near the drivers seat and I'll be pretty much done with the interior demo.
I have a 98 Thomas MVP pusher similar to yours and porkchops and am just slightly ahead of you in demo. I have the floor up except around the drivers seat, I cut the side panels off and I have 2 roof panels left to take down this weekend. I think the best tool so far has been the Ryobi cordless impact driver I got. That along with a #2 Robertson bit made taking the over 1100 screws out of the roof panels slightly less painful!

My next dilemma is what kind of insulation to put in there. I really want to spray foam it, but can't find a local contractor to even come out and give me an estimate. The Lowes near me has the DIY kits and I might resort to that in the end, we will see.

I can't wait to see how your bus turns out!
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Old 05-19-2015, 05:57 PM   #7
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Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: EHT New Jersey
Posts: 1,134
Year: 2003
Coachwork: AmTran
Chassis: International 3000RE
Engine: T444E/AT545
Rated Cap: 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by Piersg View Post
I think the best tool so far has been the Ryobi cordless impact driver I got. That along with a #2 Robertson bit made taking the over 1100 screws out of the roof panels slightly less painful!
I'll second that sentiment. I've been using it on my 03 Amtran for everything from seat demo to pulling roof and side panels, to fighting with the lights. Although for the seats, I did switch to a Rigid Jobmax 90 degree impact head for the Ryobi Jobtool (another great bit of kit, especially with a scraper head) for the chair rail bolts
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Old 05-22-2015, 07:11 PM   #8
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 46
I've been making good progress the past two weeks, about 50 hours of labor into it so far (mine and others). The interior demo is almost complete. The floor came up easily, it was much less rusted then I expected. No holes or weak spots at all, and surface rust on less then 50% of it. It was the worst in the aisles and front.



I was debating whether or not I was going to take up the stair mat (I liked the idea of leaving the drivers area untouched, sort of a "homage" to the original bus), but ended up pulling it up because I want to make sure to deal with any rust as thoroughly as possible.

Glad I did, as it has easily the worst rust in the interior, still no holes, but the metal underside of the stair mat was pretty disintegrated. Still pretty pleased overall with the general lack of rust on this bus.




Not sure why the decision was made to have the coolant lines be inside the bus. Definitely want to move them underneath.



View from the back looking forward.

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Old 05-22-2015, 07:13 PM   #9
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Piersg View Post
My next dilemma is what kind of insulation to put in there. I really want to spray foam it, but can't find a local contractor to even come out and give me an estimate. The Lowes near me has the DIY kits and I might resort to that in the end, we will see.
Yeah, the type of insulation to use is one of the things I have not yet decided on.
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Old 05-23-2015, 12:59 AM   #10
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: Currently in Appalachia.
Posts: 148
Coolant lines inside the bus- are you sure those aren't part of a heating system? Do you have an engine heater? Webasto or similar? I've seen builds were they not only are set up to warm the engine, but the lines also run to heater cores inside the bus for interior heat.
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