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Old 09-04-2019, 02:28 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2018
Location: Canada
Posts: 40
Year: 1994
Coachwork: International
Chassis: Thomas Vista
Engine: DT 408 6.7L
Rated Cap: 72
Scott and Giulia's 1994 International Thomas Vista - DT408

Here Goes! First, to be honest, I am about a little over 1 year into our complete gut and rebuild of our Thomas Vista. Currently, we have completed a ton of things, and I will detail them in this build to bring us up to our current point. From the beginning, I meant to keep a journal, but as many people can probably relate just the process of planning and building our bus was enough to keep me busy!

But after completing many jobs, and gaining a ton of knowledge I feel I can share my own unique build, and hopefully help, or offer inspiration, whether how to, or how not to! To someone else, as so many of you wonderful builders here have helped me.

We bought this bus from Richie Bro's Auction in BC. It was close to home and checked a bunch of boxes, we won it for $1600 taxes in and I picked it up that day. (Picture of the bus after purchase attached.) I drove it a hundred some odd KM that day to get it home in 30 plus degree's, man was that a ride! Could not get over 90KM on the highway, so cruised on looking eye to eye with the semi's, felt great! All in all, she drove great on the way home, and it was not until I started hitting hills I noticed a small issue.

The first issue, I was getting no reading on my coolant temp, the display is stock and common to having connection issues, I needed it home so risked it.

My transmission gauge was working, and when I started hitting good-sized hills I noticed the rise in temp immediately, I had to be careful not to attempt hills to quickly, and give it time to cool off without removing on the way back down the other side.

Regardless the temp would drop again, so I assumed the truck was doing its job somewhat and controlling temp, I kept it slow and on some hills actually pulled off halfway and idled to let the temp drop, I knew I did not want to overheat the transmission.

I completed the ride home with no other problems, she ran beautifully and to this day I have never had an issue with startup or running! (I have been working on her and maintenance obs, but thats for another day!)

Attached are some shots of her when I picked it up, and interior before we started the gut.
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Old 09-04-2019, 02:32 AM   #2
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2018
Location: Canada
Posts: 40
Year: 1994
Coachwork: International
Chassis: Thomas Vista
Engine: DT 408 6.7L
Rated Cap: 72
Pictures I forgot to add to the last post

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Old 09-06-2019, 12:48 AM   #3
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2018
Location: Canada
Posts: 40
Year: 1994
Coachwork: International
Chassis: Thomas Vista
Engine: DT 408 6.7L
Rated Cap: 72
Tear down to under floor.

We started pulling it apart ASAP, Pictures Attached. We Planned (and as you will see completed) a gut of the entire interior to the metal on all sides. I wanted to know what was hiding under the exterior of it and I am very glad we did.

A little side info, we are planning on living full time in this bus for the foreseeable future (hopefully 10 years, I am building it to last in driveable condition for touring at least 10 years and then to be parked as a tiny home. Looking at using shipping containers and prefab rafters to create a shelter over it with extra living space on either side after building out the containers...... but that's another idea of mine for the future.)

Ok so the strip, things to come out in order

1) storage racking over the seats, this was all screws, pretty easy.

2) stop sign came off. (yeah I drove it home full school bus style with markings and sign...... got a good deal on the ferry as well... I was going to cover the markings with tape but it was hot, I was tired, and had the aformentioned ferry to catch, had to hit the highway!)

3)started on the seats.... rusted bolts were hell yes (Not as bad as the ceiling) I used a combo of
-Lotta WD40 and Deep Creep seafoam
-Compressor with impact
-for the bitchy ones I did it with the help of Giulia on the inside and me under with some wrenches and sockets (this all depending on the plascment of the bolts and buts, some were in awful tight spots, enough trying you get em)

and I ground some off with the angle grinder, got rid off all the seats at the dump because I had no room, and the recycle place would only take them with everything stripped from the frame... I have a bus to build!)

Along with the seats, I pulled the rear heater, I chopped it off behind the driver side heater and used some galv fittings to connect the two hoses (all I had at the time, I know not good I later fixed this)

I also started pulling all the little side bits of metal tat cover wires, and various sections

Then we hit the floor, attacked it with the mini crowbar guys, a real crowbar, hammers whatever we had to strip the linoleum, Pulled as many screws as we could out of it (we got most) then used the crowbars to rip up the floor.

Honestly, it was gross under, but the floor came up easily, a few hours of hard work and it was done, a big trip to the dump getting rid of all that crap.

so there we had the floor gone to metal and we met our rust for the first time, Honestly? Pretty damn good.

The worst section was around the wheel wells in the rear it was through the floor, needed a patch and the front from drivers area in, I also revealed a good crack upfront from the doghouse, about 4 inches into the metal under the driver's feet. (Damn vistas engine placement really punches through all the front shocks travel and it causes a big bump if you hit something to fast.

We got this section of the tear out, from seats to floor done over 3 days of hard work and a day of planning it I believe, (this was a year ago, and the whole build is turning into a blur, I should have recorded this before! We spent the first-2 days removing seats and heater, and assorted interior crap, and the third on the floor and general dicking around.
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Old 09-06-2019, 01:27 AM   #4
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2018
Location: Canada
Posts: 40
Year: 1994
Coachwork: International
Chassis: Thomas Vista
Engine: DT 408 6.7L
Rated Cap: 72
Next step, walls and ceiling removal

A lot of screws, that's what this was screws in the wall panels, screws in the ceiling A LOT of screws.

I hit all the screws in the walls with the drill, tried to be as nice as possible. I used Roberston and Philips heads depending on how messed up they got and some of those speed out things, found them useless because of rust etc. The ones I couldn't get off I drilled our for a while, then I used an angle grinder on the rest of em that I couldn't get.

Honestly, it took forever, probably a whole day, and I had started removing some already during te strip, I filled a big container with screws and bolts.

After all that I found the siding was actually built into the frame of the window, kind of pressed between the two... I could only get up 3 sides of the wall panels...

Sooo I cut them all off as straight and high as I could with angle grinder.... it sucked and produced many sharp little edges sticking out of the windows under the sill..... I hammered these down to make it safe and continued my rip out to deal with that later. (I eventually used a Fein tool that had a flush cut blade attachment and vibrated and a high rate of speed to cut them flush to the window, then angle ground/sanded out what was left to flush so it was now safe)


I pulled all the insulation out and bagged it, SO GROSS

Then me and a friend started removing the ceiling, again it was a game off pull as many as you can, a little bit of drilling out then I said **** it and grabbed a big hammer, and a hammer crowbar and started bashing the bolts that wouldnt come out then hammering the bits back into the frame. I would get a little gap and smash the crowbar in hopefully breaking the screw or levering it up and out. Honestly? It was a good way to get the stubborn ones if you don't care about saving the ceiling We ripped that crap out, the front was especially bad, and took longer, we saved the front and rear bulkhead for later use, but didn't end up using them.

Ceiling insulation came out, way worse than the walls LOL so itchy and man it was over 30 degrees in that thing.

This process took a couple of days to complete, and a trip to the dump she was getting lighter by the day!

We're rushing because we wanted to get the ceiling sealed before the rain came and it was September, windows also needed to be resealed and rearranged.

We hit the rust on the inside with wire brushes on the angle grinder and I got rid of as much rust as I possibly could. In the front where it was bad I used rust converter I had that converted it to a hard grey surface. Ran out of that and ended up using another converter on the remaining floor that just killed off the rust and went black, but did not add a layer of paint like hard grey.

After this, we painted the inside floor with Rustoleum Galv Primer, and then Rustoleum paint came out well! Looked a lot cleaner inside.

Then I got outside, cleaning with the angle grinder and wire brush head all the old caulk and rust and crap from the roof, I removed some decals and cleaned it all up, scrubbed it with TSP and then sanded the crap out of the whole roof, yeah it took a long time and got yellow paint dust everywhere..... I was luckily in an old lot with nothing but sand.

After that, another dose of TSP and water to clean it all off and I took it through a car wash and power washed the whole thing..... Now that I'm thinking about this I did the sanding of the outside and the wire brushing of the interior at the same time before I painted the interior floor, I also cleaned the interior floor with TSP before I painted.

Then I caulked all seams and area's I thought needed extra protection on the roof with Polyurethane Caulk.

Then we pulled every window...... **** my life

This took an 18-20 hour day to pull and clean the old caulk off them holy crap maybe longer I was dieing at the end and so was Giulia. We needed to pull the windows, paint the roof and floor and between the windows in 3 days...... it was a blur of constant work.

After the windows came out we scraped and used rubbing alcohol, all sorts of cleaners on them and sprayed them down and left to dry.

Then we hit the window sills with the angle grinder and wire brush

We taped the bus and got started painting, we did Elastomeric Roof coating on the roof (White Knight brand from Canadian Tire.) Rolled it on the roof in thick coats, and brushed the edges. We did three coats on the roof of this.

Between all the windows and on the inside sills we used Rustoleum again, we met the two at the gutter above the windows and it worked great. Used little rollers and brushed for the rust paint.

It honestly came out looking great! and 1 year into it even after spending a lot of time working on the roof of the deck, skylight, fan, roof rack and solar array it has held up great, and the best part? no leaks at all with all the sealing I worked hard on that.

After it was done the drying, we get the windows back into it installed new screws and sealed them in with more polyurethane caulk (I use that stuff for everything, its polyurethane and butyl tape that I use to bed and seal everything on the bus.

Boom Looking fresh and clean! I also sprayed mould killer on the walls in various spots that smelt foul, cleaned those up real nice and sealed leaks around lights, holes for wiring and antennae etc.

This process dealt with all the leaks that had come with the bus, EXCEPT the windshield, it leaks in 2 spots, I still need to tackle this one.


Heres the pics of this process
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Old 09-06-2019, 10:40 AM   #5
Bus Nut
 
Drew Bru's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Minnehaha Co., SD
Posts: 626
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Amtran
Chassis: International
Engine: DT466
Rated Cap: 65
Hey, congrats your bus is looking GREAT! You've got all the hard grunt work done (this seems to be where a lot of people throw in the towel), now it's time for the fun stuff....building out the living space. What are your plans? What does the finished project look like in your imagination?
Looking good, so far
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Old 09-06-2019, 11:40 AM   #6
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2018
Location: Canada
Posts: 40
Year: 1994
Coachwork: International
Chassis: Thomas Vista
Engine: DT 408 6.7L
Rated Cap: 72
Thanks so much Drew! I have to say your build was an inspiration for me as I have been working on mine, thanks for all your posts on here!

This stage I'm at describing was around last September, So we are a long ways in now! I actually just started framing out my walls now and am getting ready to install my electrical and plumbing! I'll share pics of our Design ASAP along with more build shots
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Old 09-06-2019, 12:17 PM   #7
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2018
Location: Canada
Posts: 40
Year: 1994
Coachwork: International
Chassis: Thomas Vista
Engine: DT 408 6.7L
Rated Cap: 72
More tear out, and the Rooftop Deck, Roof Rack and assorted Roof items!

Ok so this was about the time we started designing our interior, we did this SO many times....... different layouts galore! I will attach a pic of our final layout set-up (This has changed again now but it's just where I placed outlets etc to bring down wiring costs and simplify my runs)

I had big plans for the roof, and wanted that done ASAP to seal it for rain and get the bolts through so I started with the Roof top Deck I intended to place over the rear.

I wanted a Deck, Roof Rack, and Large Solar Array.

I borrowed the roof rack idea from another schoolie build, I can find the link but he used Klee Clamps, and trex decking to build a massive deck over his entire build.

I went with the Kee Clamps (See images) to attach the outer supports to the sides of the bus, and ended up using treated wood, 4x4's for supports and standard decking for the top.

Loved the Kee clamps, I got them at a place in Vancouver, and then got steel tubing cut to size from Metal Mart, I used steel tubing to make my roof rack as well and another type of Kee Klamp.

The Deck supports went through the main supports on the rear of the bus, and also have wood supports under it to the roof.

The Roof rack will have 5 cross pieces from metal on them and used Kee clamps to attach, and another type of Klee Clamp to attach the cross beams, making them fully movable on the rack. I hope to have this for storage for kayaks, boards, and those rooftop storage containers.


The deck and roof rack were terrifying to instal LOL so many holes, so much caulk and measuring and drilling but we got it done! and it worked out very well, I am personally happy with it

Next, I got galv sheet metal, can't remember the gauge I want to say 16? had it cut to size, and I ripped out our escape hatches as they did nothing but leak. I tried to find marine hatches, but they cost an arm and a leg so I went with a Fantastic Fan and Skylight instead.

Sealed up the hatches with Butyl tape, and caulk and self-tapping screws on the roof and get them laid in. Then in the next few days, I installed one of the Fantastic Fans (The one that does not run in reverse, Cheaper) and a regular RV Skylight.

I positioned the skylight over the shower, to give me extra headroom (I am 6'2 and lucky the Vista is a slightly taller roof than standard Even after building out the floor and ceiling I can stand in the majority of the centre of the bus.

Boom that was the majority of the roof.

Now at this point, I ran into condensation..... it was winter and things got interesting.

So I used 1" EPS foam to do the ceiling, scoring and curving it into position throughout the roof to deal with that.

Found the rooftop deck actually eliminated condensation from the rear.... maybe it held in enough heat and normalized the temp changes? not sure.


Next, I tackled those rusted up area's around the wheel wells. I got plate steel and had it bent to the appox angle of the wheel wells at a local shop.

I installed it with lots of caulk and expanding foam and self-tapping screws.

First, we sealed all the screw holes in the floor, I used caulk and those drywall screw holder things and caulked them all over.

Next came subfloor and joists. I used 2x3's for joists, and 1.5" Durafoam EPS to insulate. On top of this went 7/16's OSB, I know it a little thinner than what most use but it was very cheap, I compensated by placing my joists at tighter intervals throughout and using A TON of screws. I also did a lot of support under my water Tank.

Oh yeah, the tanks! I picked these up and some point in here, found them at a plastic supplier. I went with a 115 Gallon fresh, and 55-gallon grey tank... I know weird right? here is the explanation. I wanted the fresh inside under the bed to prevent freezing, I needed it big because we want to be able to go for about 2 weeks between fill-ups. Now for grey, the biggest tank I could fit was a 55 based on the dimensions from this supplier, so I went with that planning to mount it under the bus. I figure I can eventually add another if needed, or just empty more often. No black tank here as we will use a composting toilet. I figured the smaller grey is good as it will warn us as we have used about half a tank of water and keep us from going crazy.

The end result was great, the good surface to screw into and very firm, no flexing of the flooring panels or creaking etc

Oh also at some point I finished tearing out the front bulkhead and rear panels and getting rid of the insulation, that was Gross! So the interior was totally stripped.

Getting tough to remember all the little things we did on this thing!

Next, I'll go into the hanging of the grey tank, ceiling furring strips, interior studs etc but thats all for now!

Pictures attached
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Old 09-06-2019, 12:20 PM   #8
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2018
Location: Canada
Posts: 40
Year: 1994
Coachwork: International
Chassis: Thomas Vista
Engine: DT 408 6.7L
Rated Cap: 72
Bus plan

Also here is one of the layouts we completed, this is close to the final with a few more changes still coming as we build. I have a whole PDF of appliances and wiring etc if anyone is interested
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Full Layout.pdf (93.6 KB, 29 views)
File Type: pdf ROOF SYSTEM_1.pdf (63.5 KB, 13 views)
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Old 09-06-2019, 12:21 PM   #9
Bus Geek
 
o1marc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: Dawsonville, Ga.
Posts: 7,424
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Genesis
Chassis: International
Engine: DT466/3060
Rated Cap: 77
Check with your insurance before adding a deck, many will not insure you with one.
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Old 09-06-2019, 01:13 PM   #10
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2018
Location: Canada
Posts: 40
Year: 1994
Coachwork: International
Chassis: Thomas Vista
Engine: DT 408 6.7L
Rated Cap: 72
Roof Top Deck

01 marc, oops too late here! that baby is definitely installed.

The saving grace is here in BC we just have ICBC, and they are very lax with these conversions..... so long as I can get it past the Vehicle inspection (Which is performed by a third party and receives very little oversight so entirely up to the inspector...) and it has 3 of 5 items as described they will insure it. We don't suffer from the same scrutiny that private insurance companies seem to give.

Having said that I am hoping it won't be an issue, I have tried calling ICBC and the local inspector, both were unhelpful and the inspector seemed mainly interested in seatbelts, operating lights etc. I have seen a few buses that are insured as commercial vehicles here in BC with similar racks, albeit made from all steel but the same kind of side supports.

I checked the laws we have here and am well under my max height, and I made the supports extend out from the bus only a few inches, well under the distance my mirrors travel out from the bus. which I am hoping is going to be ok, and to the best of my knowledge is... only one way to find out now haha

Unfortunately, I have to have a bed installed, some kitchen plumbing, grey plumbing etc before I can change my title, so am working towards that right now, and I needed the roof completed so I could seal everything up nicely.

I guess worst case..... I could remove the deck if need be, and reinstall it after the fact.... hope I don't need too but hell if its gotta be done I will do it.

I'm leaving out the wood fireplace and associated chimney until after I am certified and insured though, figured I have enough weird stuff on this baby already
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