Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 06-01-2015, 12:40 AM   #1
Skoolie
 
RHOMBUS's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: South Dakota
Posts: 196
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Freightliner HDX
Engine: CAT 3126B250
Rated Cap: 84
Serenity - 2002 Thomas HDX

Yes, I'm a Firefly fan. Yes, the name "Serenity" has probably already been used before for a skoolie project, but she IS held together by love (hahaha). And rust.

After a painful acquisition taking 2 months and 2,000 dollars over the purchase price, she is finally in my shop in South Dakota.

Model year: 2002
Engine: CAT 3126B @250hp
Transmission: Allison MD3060
Capacity: 84 passengers
Length: 38 feet

Anybody with a similar bus, please let me know!
__________________
My project: The Cruel Bus
RHOMBUS is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-02-2015, 03:42 PM   #2
Skoolie
 
RHOMBUS's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: South Dakota
Posts: 196
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Freightliner HDX
Engine: CAT 3126B250
Rated Cap: 84
Now that I have internet at the shop, time to show you all what's going on:

Here she is, after making the the trip successfully to South Dakota. The wind ripped most of the "face slapper" (stop sign) off, so I saved what I could.



However, at that time, I was living in my buddy's ongoing skoolie project, so his took priority for labor, leaving mine to be a mobile storage room.


After a couple of weeks, I decided to get a 25x50 shop space to both live in and work on my bus (snazzy paintjob courtesy of my friend for the trip across town - South Dakota does not permit privately owned school buses to be "National School Bus Yelow")


With a place to unload, time to get busy.

I have unravelled the harness that goes along the driver's side to check continuity and remove unnecessary wires, such as the safety switch wires for the rear window, side door, roof exits and emergency windows. Also, I am chasing a grounding problem that was causing strange things to happen with the rear lights. Ultimately, the cause was a completely rust-welded bulb on one of the brake lights. All exterior illumination is working now, except for a single light in the triple set at the top front. I still haven't located the cause of the erratic dash gauges.

After that adventure, it was time to get rid of the "Silent Witness" wiring chaos that seemed to run everywhere. I reduced it all down to this strange item behind fuse panel 3:

The wires from this box go under the bus and tie into the main engine harness. Sigh. At least I managed to clean out some useless wiring.
RHOMBUS is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-02-2015, 04:15 PM   #3
Skoolie
 
RHOMBUS's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: South Dakota
Posts: 196
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Freightliner HDX
Engine: CAT 3126B250
Rated Cap: 84
In the spirit of Mad Max (just saw the new movie), a new paint job for the trip through town to dump off the stripped seats at the scrap yard, along with the various other metal pieces, with the cushions and insulation going to the landfill, unfortunately. WARNING!! Some bus cabin heater systems have TWO valves that must be closed to prevent coolant from flowing through the heaters. I closed the only one I saw and was spared only by my cushions from the hot coolant blasting the stopper free at the rear of the bus. I also had about 2 hours of downtime, requiring a rescue from my friend, in the form of coolant and water. I wonder if that counts as a radiator flush?


For those that don't know, this is what lurks under the padding of the bus seats:


Now that I have some room to work, time to figure out why my dash is acting up. Just about everyone says is a ground issue, so time to chase wires. First, I'd like to get rid of that last piece of the "Silent Witness" system. The harness it disappears into leads to fuse panel 4 under the dash by the entry door.


WOW! There's a lot of junk in here. Dead end wires, a plastic spider (yeah, I jumped back for a second) a melted wire I need to see what's going on here. It looks like all of the computers are here except for a couple in the engine bay. The gauges run on data, and the Allison code 16600 means the transmission controller is not getting a good feed either. That confirms that the ground affecting the gauges also affects the transmission shifting smoothly. This must be the place to look. Hmm. All of the plugs in the back of fuse panel 4 are really limiting my visibility.


Okay, I can see the computers now but can't get to them. The dashboard itself is in the way. I'm sure a few screws is all it'll take to see what I need to see.


Yes. That looks much simpler So, I pretty much took the dash out with a hammer, a saw, a dremel, a grinder and more than a couple of swear words. The dash is literally now in pieces, along with the front ventilation system. I'm okay with that though, since I wanted to make my own dashboard, to include a defrost system. I'm glad I took the dash out as well, since the floor under fuse panel 4 and the heater core is just completely destroyed.

I hadn't really expected this since the rest of the floor was in pretty good shape. For me, the only solution is to get as far into this area of the bus as I can, strip and treat rust, plate and fiberglass as necessary, and while I'm at it, reorganize the wiring harnesses to all 4 fuse panels. That way, I not only learn A LOT about my bus, but it will be simpler in the end, and maybe, just maybe I'll find that ground wire problem. For now, the front end reminds me a bit of Zoidberg from Futurama.


All of the wiring will be completely removed from the front so that I can prep, build, prime and paint this area so this issue won't show up for a long time. That's where I am as of June 2, 2015. I have some electrical component questions that I will ask in a different post.
RHOMBUS is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-02-2015, 05:28 PM   #4
Skoolie
 
RHOMBUS's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: South Dakota
Posts: 196
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Freightliner HDX
Engine: CAT 3126B250
Rated Cap: 84
Taking a little break to clear my head. So, here's what my plans are, and aren't:

No popouts - I'm just not that skilled
No roof lift - Too lazy

Uses: 1-2 year fixed residence, cross country RV, mostly cold weather and mountains, a trip to burning man

Style: I have gone back and forth with it and so far, the best I can describe it is a Mad Max cyber punk industrial deiselpunk bus. Basically, lots of heavy looking metal, exposed conduit, bolted on panels, brushed metal, etc. A clean dirty look if that makes any sense.

Amenities:
- Full XL master bed (I don't need a queen, I'm skinny)
- Full XL couch conversion @ front
- Gas range and stove
- Double sink
- On demand hot water (unless a better option grows on me)
- Full size fridge
- Modest television
- Decent sound system
- All LED lighting, inside and out
- Under bus storage
- Safari-type roof rack
- Possible small roof deck
- Composting toilet
- Shower
- Up to 100 gal fresh water
- Up to 80 gal grey water
- Up to 600w solar array
- Up to 850Ah battery array
- Up to 80 pounds propane (debating 35pound cylinders)
- Aluminum wheels
- External shower nozzle, charging ports, etc.
- A place for the cat to hide

I know some of these wishes will be trimmed, but I believe in dreaming big first. When trying to settle on a style to go with, I have had much difficulty in making the exterior match the interior, while being both "asthetically pleasing" to privately owned RV parks, and still having the industrial feel I want. In the end, I have decided that if I have to plug in at a barn or a Walmart because no RV campsite will have me, then fine. My bus, the way I want it.
RHOMBUS is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-02-2015, 06:19 PM   #5
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Stony Plain Alberta Canada
Posts: 2,939
Year: 1992
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: TC2000 FE
Engine: 190hp 5.9 Cummins
Rated Cap: 72
Wow on the rust.

Is the frame rail still strong enough to support the bus?

Nat
__________________
"Don't argue with stupid people. They will just drag you down to their level, and beat you up with experience."

Patently waiting for the apocalypses to level the playing field in this physiological game of life commonly known as Civilization
nat_ster is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-02-2015, 06:30 PM   #6
Bus Geek
 
Tango's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Houston, Texas
Posts: 5,867
Year: 1946
Coachwork: Chevrolet/Wayne
Chassis: 1- 1/2 ton
Engine: Cummins 4BT
Rated Cap: 15
WOW! My thought too! Really surprising damage on such an otherwise clean looking rig.

Can't wait to see the Diesel Punk/Mad Max look come together.
Tango is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-02-2015, 06:40 PM   #7
Skoolie
 
RHOMBUS's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: South Dakota
Posts: 196
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Freightliner HDX
Engine: CAT 3126B250
Rated Cap: 84
The frame rail is still pretty solid in that area but gets chewed up as it approaches the door. I'll be looking to remedy that. Unless someone stood there with a firehose of salt water, I don't know how this kind of damage isolated to this one area could have happened.

By "frame rail" I'm assuming you mean the ladder portions that rest on the main channel.
RHOMBUS is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-02-2015, 07:30 PM   #8
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 266
Well it is a Chicago bus like you said so there's going to be rust, I was just surprised at how bad it was.
WIbluebird is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-02-2015, 07:42 PM   #9
Skoolie
 
RHOMBUS's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: South Dakota
Posts: 196
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Freightliner HDX
Engine: CAT 3126B250
Rated Cap: 84
A little bit of paint and it should be fine ;) I'm thinking I will have to cut out 1 or 2 rails at most. First I will strip it down and see what has any strength, then weld in an angle or 2 unless it's worse than I've seen. Would be a shame for the windshield to become a snowplow.

The bottom support of the stairway has been consumed as well, so if that area turns out to be worse, I get to build the stairwell I want anyway. I'm just glad to have her in my shop. I probably need to learn how to weld.
RHOMBUS is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-03-2015, 06:59 PM   #10
Skoolie
 
RHOMBUS's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: South Dakota
Posts: 196
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Freightliner HDX
Engine: CAT 3126B250
Rated Cap: 84
I've been spending a lot of time reading the electrical portion of the Saf-T-Liner ER/HD service manual found at:

http://tbbwebx.thomasbusonline.com/W...0servmanNL.pdf

There is plenty that I need to know here and was such a great find! While it's not a 100% perfect match, the Thomas customer service rep I talked with had the same information. He was very friendly. He did say that private owners can NOT get an online account to access their schematics, which is reserved for authorized service centers. He recommended contacting the nearest Thomas center, which for me is in Bismark, ND.

I am still going through the bulkhead connectors for the wiring harness to make sure I have everything secured, protected, labeled and removing what is not needed. Since I have already removed the front body pieces, I might as well do the bumper so I have a nice view and space to work. I also need it off to remove the "shin bruiser" (crossing arm) driver mechanism. I will probably find a way to turn both the face-slapper and shin-bruiser into something crazy... like air-brake flaps that pop out from the sides of the bus. Anyway, photo time:

What you can't see is that the last bolt holding the bumper sheared in half. Great. The head of that bolt is behind a plate that is welded to the back of the bumper so it's either:

1 - reattach it using only 3 bolts (not safe or sturdy enough for me)
2 - buy a new/used replacement bumper (may run the risk of worn bolts)

3 - OR






from some folks nearby at:
Bus Motorhome & RV Aluminum Truck Bumper - Truck Defender - Dakota Hills Bumpers and Accessories

How's that for a meaner of a look! It will weigh a bit more than the original steel bumper that now sits on the shop floor, but the added protection will be worth it AND it fits a more Mad Max like theme. I will be getting a straight bolt-on version instead of the one that folds down for several reasons: the hinge assembly adds a lot more weight, the cost is more if it's hinged and if I happen to hit something, I don't want any slack action in the front. The guy I talked to was very nice and will be contacting the fabricators to get me a price and whatnot. I haven't thought about what shipping would be, but maybe my Saturn can bring it to the shop.
RHOMBUS is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


» Virginia Campgrounds

Reviews provided by

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 08:33 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.