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Old 04-01-2005, 10:22 AM   #1
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Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Grundy, Virginia
Posts: 632
Year: 1985
Coachwork: ThomasBuilt
Chassis: International Harvester S-1700
Engine: 9L IHC V-8 Diesel 180HP
Rated Cap: 60
"Paradigm Shift"

Oh, boy! I did it. I bought a bus. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! I'm calling it "Paradigm Shift", for now because to me it represents a complete re-structuring of not just my living quarters, but my approach to living, itself. To some degree, it also represents a rejection of dogmatic, unstudied, and unconsidered attitudes about *howand in what* people should live.

I realize, however, that a month from now, I may be calling it by the same miltary rank that my wife will call me when she wakes up this morning and sees it parked in her driveway: Major Screw-up.

60 Seat
Thomas body (6' ? headroom)
1985 IH S1800
9 Liter turbocharged IH diesel engine -- NOT TURBOCHARGED MY MISTAKE
AT545 Transmission
Air brakes
60 gallon diesel tank
20" Dayton split rim wheels (Daytons are the spoked ones, IIRC, right?)
200x20R tires
Outward opening door
Interior dome lights
Two good batteries in external battery box.


It took me about 10 hours (driving time) to drive it 300 miles yesterday. I had to take secondary roads the whole way, and got off track several times due to not sleeping for two days (at one point I had to tell a lady at a convienience store that I was so tired I didn't know how I had gotten to where I was, and could she please tell me what town I was in and what was the main road out front -- I really shouldn't have been driving.) The transmission apparently does NOT shift up to fourth. I should have test driven it on the interstate instead of on the service road by the school bus depot. Grrrrr. Max speed is 45mph, but most often reached speed is 40mph. Well, that's how it goes. For now it is okay because I just plan to move it to an RV park, and then back and forth to school (30 miles round trip) once or twice a week to keep the batteries charged.

I think the engine is set to a fairly low horsepower, as the tach never got above 2700 rpm. There is a dyno certification on one of the heads, but I can't quite make it out. I think it says 160 hp. Another reason why the bus wouldn't go fast last night is that I was towing my 3,500 pound Jeep Wrangler behind it.

The engine cranks strongly on the first try. That's a relief! The engine is the reason I was willing to pay $2,500 for it. It only has 30,000 or 40,000 miles on an in-frame rebuild.

I don't know what the rear end is geared, but when I find out, I would not be surprised to find that it is 8 or more to one. That would limit top-end speed too. Possible candidate for future improvement, but fuel is way cheaper than parts and labor.......especially since I don't plan on driving it much right now.

In spite of all that, I estimate that I got about 7.2 mpg. Unfortunately I was not making good notes on the trip. I'm reckoning that I drove at least 375 miles (with the backtracking and zig-zagging and all, *at least*, 375 miles), and I estimate that I burned 52 gallons in the process. If I had had fourth gear, I bet I would have made 10 mpg.

The brakes are in good shape. No cylinders leaking brake fluid out onto the wheels. They stopped without even noticing the 3,500 pound toad.

Steering is tight, with no slop or wandering. Somewhere between 8 and 12 degrees (est.) of steering wheel movement initiates a change in direction. It tracks well. I haven't examined the suspension closely, but it rode well on the trip. I don't think the suspension has been beaten to death.

The tires are at least 45%, and possibly closer to 60%. I probably won't wear them out in the next 5 years.

Very little body rust, even under the body. A tiny bit in a corner of the rear door frame, but that's about it (that I have found so far).

The paint is about completely dead. Very chalky and faded.

Not only is the underside not rusty, but it is relatively clean, too. Nuts do not *appear* to be rusted to bolts.

Floor appears is sound.

Glass is all good, although some of the rubber sealing strips, while not damaged, look pretty hardened and old, and a couple have become stretched across the corners of the windows instead of actually pressed down into the gasket channel.

Seats are dirty, but in fairly good physical condition otherwise. That's not really important to me as I plan to scrap most of them, but it is somewhat indicitative of the general condition of the bus.

Well, that's all for now. I have to get to class. I do have some pictures to post, but they are on my cellphone, and I'll have to wait until I get home from school to upload them to the Gallery.

Oh, boy!

[EDIT] Holy cow! That was my hundredth post, and my "handle" in went from "Almost There" to "Skoolie"! Yay!!! An omen!!!
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Old 04-01-2005, 01:51 PM   #2
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Location: Off-Grid
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Year: 1982
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Chassis: IH S1723
Engine: IH V345 Gas V8
Rated Cap: 66
CONGRATULATIONS! You may now be officially commited to the nearest asylum! Next step is jonesin' on which modification to do first. ENJOY THE MADNESS!
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Old 04-01-2005, 04:00 PM   #3
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Congratulations on the bus. Just curious about your 9.0 being turbo charged. Is this an aftermarket add-on ?

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Old 04-03-2005, 09:05 PM   #4
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Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Grundy, Virginia
Posts: 632
Year: 1985
Coachwork: ThomasBuilt
Chassis: International Harvester S-1700
Engine: 9L IHC V-8 Diesel 180HP
Rated Cap: 60
progress

Sorry, about that. It's not turbocharged. I was looking at the air-cleaner and thinking it was a turbo!

Well, grief is upon me. My wife's landlord called today, and he is NOT pleased. I'm trying to get this done in two weeks now. He hasn't specifically agreed to any timeframe. He has just said it has to go.

I got the roof and rear sanded with a little $8.99 palm sander from Harbor Freight. Then it burned up. I got a Black and Decker 1/3 sheet finish sander from K-Mart today, and then got the left side almost completely sanded. The right side is about 1/4 sanded. Getting between the rivet heads is the hardest part.

I've decided to use Rustoleum Primer. I'm going to use Rustoleum Paint or Tractor paint for the paint. The color scheme is going to be all white with International Harvester Red (or something approximating) for the bumpers, rub rails, and any other trim.

A tree limb fell on the front end and cracked the lens off the left turn signal.

I got all the inside bolts (wall-side) out of the seats last night, and am fixing to go work on the underside bolts in a minute. I was examining the underside and noticed that the 1/2 of the leg bolts on each seat are not bolts, but 1 1/4" LAG bolts. Yippee!! They can come out really easily. The cross members under the floor are all channel iron, and not closed box members, which means it will be easy (hopefully) for me to wedge a wrench to hold the nuts while I turn bolts from above. It also means that i will have an easy way to attach any hanging-down additions, since I can drill the channel and get a nut on top of it, something hard to do with box members.

And there is NO rust to speak of. Some few, tiny spots of surface rust on the body, but NONE underneath. It looks almost like new.

Given the time pressure that I have, I'm not going to take up the rubber floor. I'm just going to lay 1/2" CDX sheathng on it and then stick vinyl self-adhesive tile down on top of that. No insulation. I hate to bodge it like that, but I have to get it done, muy pronto. I have about 45 square feet of very nice tile left over from when I tiled my den in my old house, and I was going to use that for the bathroom area. I may still do it at some point, but not right away.

The only other things I am going to do are:

build a counter for the sink, stove, water heater (under), water tank (under) and water pump (under);

build a drop down table, and use 2 seats for a booth;

build an enclosed area for the toilet;

build a hanging locker/storage area;

install a shower/tub. I'm going to use a half whiskey barrel for the showerpan/tub. I'm going to put a 4" hole in the bottom, line it with black plastic, and then build a fiberglass liner inside it with mat and cloth.

I'm going to build some plywood/cedar panels to cover a few of the windows like Michael did on Latcho Drom, but I'm going to try to hinge them so that I can either take them off or raise them for ventilation if I want to. (Or paint a snake-oil medicine sign on the backs of them so that I can flip them down and hawk some patent nostrum for removing the enamel from teeth.)

Well, gotta go remove seats.

Oh! The front 5 seats (2.5 rows) have seat belts, but instead of having a 2 male and female part per seat, they have 4 female parts and no belts and no male parts. I noticed a bunch of baby seats in the school bus maintenance shed, so I think that they must use some kind of double ended strap to strap baby seats in the busses if some of the kids have babies or something. I couldn't think of anything else that would explain the weird seat belt arrangement. I'm going to save these seats for the booth because they have frames designed with attachment points for seat belts, and that way I can have seat belts for up to 4 passengers.


Back to work!
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Old 04-05-2005, 12:22 AM   #5
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Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Grundy, Virginia
Posts: 632
Year: 1985
Coachwork: ThomasBuilt
Chassis: International Harvester S-1700
Engine: 9L IHC V-8 Diesel 180HP
Rated Cap: 60
Progress Report 04/04/05

Busy day. School all day, and then off to the County Auditor's office to pay property taxes so that I could get a tax receipt to show the DMV so that I could get a temporary 45 day tag. Whew. Got to the Auditor's office at 3:30PM. Waited on line. Tax bill was a whopping $30.19. Whew! Got to DMV at 4:25PM. Waited on line. Talked to the local manager about getting a regular plate issued and a regular (bus) title. She said it would be harder to re-title it as an RV if I did that. I didn't feel like arguing, so I just got the 45 day temporary tag, and I'll worry about the titling when I get the work done, which should be (must be) well before the 45 day timeframe is up.

Got home and started sanding. I so wish I had started with the 1/3 sheet orbital sander from the very beginning. Much faster. Right side is 90% sanded. Left side is about 95% sanded. Rear is 100% sanded. Roof is 100% sanded. Now I just need to finish up the sides and the front, and I'm ready to prime. Ooops....better mask first, then prime.

After it got dark (8:30PM) I started removing the rest of the seat bolts. I swear, after all the horror stories I have heard, I am counting my blessings. These bolts came out very easily. The weren't even hard to turn. I had removed all the bolts from 8 seats last night, and I finished up all of the rest tonight. There are only 18 seats in the bus, and it is clear that they reorganized the front seating for some reason, possibly to leave more room in front of the emergency windows, and possibly to put in the seat belt equipped seats. Anyway, 2 seats were lost in the process. By 11:15, all of my seats were loose.

I had decided to leave in the barriers behind the driver's seat and at the step-well, but I just now realized that they will interfere with the laying of the floor, so I'll have to take them up, too. Same goes for the driver's seat. I can put them back down after the floor is in.

I'm cogitating on the interior design right now. I'm going for a rustic, open, minimalist look: I'm poor! :P I've decided to have three obvious areas in the bus, bath (rear), kitchen/dinette (center), living/sleeping (front).

I'm going to leave as many windows uncovered as possible: it costs less, and I'll need the windows for ventilation in the summer. I'm going to salvage the seat material for roll-up shades for the windows. The "rich Corinthian leather" tone of the seat material will face the inside of the bus, and I'll put some UV resistant white material (washable white material) on the back side of the shades. At the bottom of the shades, and maybe along the sides, I will put strip magnets to hold the shades tight against the window frames. If I have enough dough, I may put some of that bubble-wrap/aluminumfoil insulation in the middle of the shades.

I have decided to go ahead and put the nice tile down in the bathroom. It will take an extra day and cost a few extra dollars, but it will look nice, and that's as important in dealing with people about the bus as anything else, I reckon. I may put cedar siding or old, weathered pallet boards on the walls in the bath area, with 1/4" foam siding insulation behind it. I'm not going to do anything special to the ceiling right now. Still love the idea of a half whiskey barrel for a tub/shower, with a circular bent copper pipe shower rod above it for a shower curtain. The toilet area will have a door of plywood sandwiched between cedar or old weathered pallet boards in the fashion of an outhouse door, complete with moon cut out.

Partition wall between kitchen and bathroom will be cedar or pallet board /plywood sandwich.

Kitchen area: counter with cabinets above on one side, dinette and pantry or counter on other side. I'll leave the shiny metal walls in the kitchen for a utilitarian look (and because they are free like that). Trying to come up with a table design that will be collapsable to allow for the use of the the table as a bed. Also trying to figure out how to make one or both of the table seats easily moveable to the living area for use as passenger seats.

Living area. Again, recycling seat material (maybe). Wrap pallet boards in 1/4" foam insulation, and then in strips of seat material. Then screw them to plywood panels in a vertical pattern and mount them to the walls, framed in cedar. I need to build a futon for a bed.

The driver's area is a candidate for upholstering with seat material, too, depending on how I can swing it, also, the space above the driver's area.

Well, gotta hit the hay and do some planning in my sleep!

May your seat bolts come out easy!
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Old 04-05-2005, 08:37 AM   #6
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Location: near flint michigan
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sounds like you're a busy man!
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Old 04-05-2005, 08:57 AM   #7
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Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Grundy, Virginia
Posts: 632
Year: 1985
Coachwork: ThomasBuilt
Chassis: International Harvester S-1700
Engine: 9L IHC V-8 Diesel 180HP
Rated Cap: 60
busy

Desperation is a great motivator!
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Old 04-05-2005, 10:07 AM   #8
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Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Salt Lake City, UT
Posts: 138
Year: 1989
Coachwork: Wayne
Chassis: Ford
Engine: 370
Rated Cap: 44
Ya, I opted for the cheap bus, so the thing is so rusted. Suprisingly, grinding all the seat bolts off turned up to be an easy task though. It took a half day, but we got em all out. grinding the top heads off then tapping the rest through the bottom. so many holes....

Since I too am in the middle of construction, I think I will start a thred like this so that I can get some feedback on my plans as well.

Cant wait to hear more on your progress.
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Plotting the next project now. Looking for a clean diesel pusher with low rust/miles. Identical plans with plumming and biodiesel added :)
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Old 04-05-2005, 01:25 PM   #9
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Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Rossland BC, Canada
Posts: 433
Year: 1985
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: GMC
Engine: 366 propane
Rated Cap: 56
re: wiskey barrel bath

It sounds like you are an inspired man. I love the use of pallets!

I have used them for many things in the past and they are great. I refer to it as pallet craft.

One word of advice is the use of the half barrel as a bath. Those are essentially charcol on the inside. It is difficult to find barrels that have not had this treatment (essential for whiskey). The barrels will also dry out over time leaving large gaps between the seems and essentially falling apart. You may want to consult a winery. Their barrels may be in better shape. Anyways, good luck and I can't wait for some photo's of the progress. -Richard
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Old 04-05-2005, 09:11 PM   #10
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Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Grundy, Virginia
Posts: 632
Year: 1985
Coachwork: ThomasBuilt
Chassis: International Harvester S-1700
Engine: 9L IHC V-8 Diesel 180HP
Rated Cap: 60
Progress report 04/05/05

Whew! Sanding, sanding, sanding. It never ends! Actually, the end is in sight. Today I dismounted both of the pneumatic arm assemblies, which took a little time, and I dismounted the grill and the mirrors. One of the mirror mount assemblies is badly rusted and needs to be replaced. It looks as if water got into the pipe it is made of and rusted it out from the inside at the lowest point. No biggie. I could still use it, but if I can find another at a junkyard, I'll pick it up. I only have some detail sanding on the front, about 4 window frames, and half of two rub rails left to do. Actually, sanding by hand seems to take off the dead paint faster, but it takes a whole lot of elbow grease.



Quote:
One word of advice is the use of the half barrel as a bath. Those are essentially charcol on the inside. It is difficult to find barrels that have not had this treatment (essential for whiskey). The barrels will also dry out over time leaving large gaps between the seems and essentially falling apart. You may want to consult a winery. Their barrels may be in better shape. Anyways, good luck and I can't wait for some photo's of the progress.
Hee, hee! I know all about charcoal and whiskey... When I was living in a dorm at college 23 years ago we had a still in our bathroom. We made moonshine from cornmeal, and then we cut up a bunch of little 1/4" square cubes of white oak and charred them. We would fill a bottle about 3/4 full of moonshine and top it off with charred oak cubes. Then we would let it sit for a week, shaking it several times a day. At the end of the week we would filter it through a coffee filter, and it looked really pretty like regular whiskey. It tasted pretty darned good, too, better than the raw product.

Then the still blew up one night because it boiled over and cornmeal got clogged in the copper tubing and baked itself hard. I guess we should have used something other than a glass gallon jug...

I plan on getting some brass round-head screws and drilling through the bands on the barrel half to screw the boards in place. The barrel will be mostly for decoration, and the fiberglass liner will be more of the structural part. Kind of toying with the idea of using some sheet copper roofing for a rim around the top. Not sure yet.

I'll post pictures when I have something more than a bus full of loose seats. Hopefully that won't be too long.

What do y'all think about using 4 mil plastic film as an underlayment below the flooring? I'm going to leave in the rubber and the current floor because they are in good shape and I'm in a major hurry.

I got a kitchen sink faucet (with hose) and undersink fittings for free. The landlord had replaced the one in this house before we rented it, and had left the old one in the recycle bin. I didn't know there was a recycle bin until I came across it last week under the porch. It looks to be in good shape, so I just saved $30 or $40. Yippee!
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