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Old 02-26-2013, 11:15 PM   #11
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Re: Skoolie Conversions ---- a great group!

Thanks guys. Sorry for the long post. I think everybody likes photos more than words, so here's a few of what my bus looked like when I went to pick it up. These aren't very good, but it's what I took at the time. I was trying to get out of there because I had a long drive back home from Orlando and it was starting to rain.






Yes, full wrap and all. At the time I was dreading taking that wrap off. Sometimes, if they've been on for too long, they are hard to remove. When you start pulling them, they tear because the sun has weakened the material. Fortunately, this one came off pretty easy. Took about an hour.

Here's one of my favorite photos ---- We drive a great bargin! I've had a lot of fun with that one, as friends of mine thought I was crazy for selling my last motorhome and converting this bus. When asked why on earth I'd do such a thing, I told them I wanted to drive a great bargin! You guys know what I mean!







The hole in the floor was where the fare box was mounted. I had to cover over it later so the floor would be flat. Believe it or not, the fare boxes don't mount/screw into the wood on the floor. At the bottom of that hole, is 1/4" steel plate that is welded to the frame of the bus.



There looks like a lot of room in there with everything out. You can see on the left hand side where the rear door has already been removed and insulation put in the wall. I removed the rear steps and closed in the space. I am putting a drop shower in the hole.







Here's where the rear door was originally. Except for the odd spacing of the window, it looks like there was never one there. The reflection you see is from the post of the shed.



By this point the rear door was closed in, the paint work done, and all the mechanicals were completed. One of the things that is sometimes overlooked, but really makes your bus "pop" is to replace all the external lights/lens,covers. Mine were corroding, had discolored lens, and just didn't look good up close, so I bought new ones to replace them. I still haven't done this to the rear tail lights yet. They are LED and not particularily cheap like the others. I'll probably do them when the weather warms up this spring.
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Old 02-27-2013, 10:42 PM   #12
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Re: Skoolie Conversions ---- a great group!

Quote:
Originally Posted by inkblots84
Luckychow,
Your Thomas was a beautiful bus! We are looking to pick up a Thomas as well, I can only hope it looks close to a nice as your old one. I really like how you fixed the dent in the front - it really changes the look of out in a great way. And your explanations are very much appreciated - knowing what you have built and what you use it for even helps those of use that will be using our conversions for the complete opposite! ... so when do we get to see your dogs??

Thank you for posting!
Inkblots84, thanks for the kind words. The large dent in the cap was pretty substantial. I actually fixed it by replacing the cap. The cap wasn't a lot of money, so I ordered one from Thomas and it worked out better. Additionally, I was able to order it without a front window, which was a nice plus.

I see you're looking for a Thomas. I think that's an excellent choice. I really like the Thomas line. Now that they're owned by Freightliner, they really have good support. I toured the factory 3 years ago and watched them make one. One really nice thing about the Thomas buses is that they have two roof heights to choose from. When you see pictures of a bus you're interested in, look at a side profile picture. The high profile roof will slope upwards right behind the front cap. The low profile roof will slpe down. Both models use the same cap, so one drops and the other rises. I believe the height difference between the two roofs is about 6 inches. Since I'm 6 feet tall, I only considered the high profile roof buses for myself. From past experience, I'd say that about 60% of the Thomas's I see are low roofs and 40% high roofs, so there's a good number of them out there.

You asked about the dogs. I don't have anything I'm showing right now. My dogs live with me and are considered family members, so I only keep a couple at a time. I don't breed and don't have a kennel. They still go with me to the shows in the bus. They love it and I love taking them. I don't know if it's allowed to post this kind of pic or not. If not, I apologize to the admin. I'll just throw a couple in here one time. Here's Savannah as a puppy and then later. She's 9 now and doesn't get around so well. She was born in a motorhome while at a dog show. She's my travelling buddy! Loves to ride.



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Old 02-27-2013, 11:42 PM   #13
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Re: Skoolie Conversions ---- a great group!

We don't really have any hard-core "rule nazis" on this forum - post whatever you want on your thread! There is however a "pet thread" in the "Everything Else" section that you might enjoy...
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Old 02-28-2013, 12:19 AM   #14
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Re: Skoolie Conversions ---- a great group!

When I was a kid I got chased up a tree by the neighborhood chow. I'll never forget him down there on the ground looking like a little bear.

On the first bus were the cabinets made out of plywood painted grey? It gives a nice finished look.

I think I could park my bus inside yours.
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Old 02-28-2013, 08:36 AM   #15
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Re: Skoolie Conversions ---- a great group!

Quote:
Originally Posted by LuckyChow

I see you're looking for a Thomas. I think that's an excellent choice. I really like the Thomas line. Now that they're owned by Freightliner, they really have good support. I toured the factory 3 years ago and watched them make one. One really nice thing about the Thomas buses is that they have two roof heights to choose from. When you see pictures of a bus you're interested in, look at a side profile picture. The high profile roof will slope upwards right behind the front cap. The low profile roof will slpe down. Both models use the same cap, so one drops and the other rises. I believe the height difference between the two roofs is about 6 inches. Since I'm 6 feet tall, I only considered the high profile roof buses for myself. From past experience, I'd say that about 60% of the Thomas's I see are low roofs and 40% high roofs, so there's a good number of them out there.
Thank you LuckyChow.. I believe you may have just saved me from climbing into many buses to measure! Tall body is definitely the way to go, they just feel much more spacious. I've heard good and bad about Thomas, but they are definitely the most common around here, and we really liked their buses when we went to look. We looked at one that has been sitting for more than a year but it has a bad water pump and no other known defects. Thankfully we have a little time to keep looking! I also didn't know they are owned by freightliner, your info is much appreciated.
And Savannah is a beautiful dog, she looks like a teddy bear!
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Old 02-28-2013, 11:48 AM   #16
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Re: Skoolie Conversions ---- a great group!

Quote:
Originally Posted by roach711
On the first bus were the cabinets made out of plywood painted grey? It gives a nice finished look.
I can't tell for sure, but it looks like laminated wall board (not sure what they actually call it, but it has a plastic laminate, like Formica, adhered to a backer, like plywood/OSB/MDF or something similar). I could be wrong though. Bottom line, you're right... it does have a nice clean look.

Quote:
Originally Posted by roach711
I think I could park my bus inside yours.
I agree, looks like a lot of room in there.
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Old 02-28-2013, 07:01 PM   #17
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Re: Skoolie Conversions ---- a great group!

Roach711, sorry that Chow tree'd you! LOL Like a lot of other breeds temperment is largely dependent upon their parents and how they were raised. Savannah might do the same thing, but only if you had a chicken leg in your pocket. She's got the best temperment of any Chow I've ever had. When she was younger, I used her at Girl Scout meetings to teach them you can't judge a book by its cover and how to meet a strange dog. The AKC has videos on dvd for this topic to go along with instruction with a real dog. She's great for "meet & greet" functions, which is part of our kennel clubs community functions.

Regarding the cabinet work, it is laminate over plywood. There are several brand names for it like Formica, Arborite, etc. I was thinking about doing a thread in the "Tutorial and How To" section of the board about it. I used a lot of laminate in my last two buses, so I've done a good bit of laminating. It's not hard, especially if you have just a few of the right tools, and it has a great appearance. It's very helpful if someone shows you what to do and how to go about it the first time. Do you think a few people here would be interested in a tutorial on "using laminate in your bus conversion"? And a companion piece might be about trim to compliment it.
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Old 02-28-2013, 07:58 PM   #18
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Re: Skoolie Conversions ---- a great group!

Bro' go for it vids and pics....I have had soso results with step by step books (before youtube )
If you got a skill.....post it.and thank you
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Old 02-28-2013, 09:36 PM   #19
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Re: Skoolie Conversions ---- a great group!

Hey LC...Definitely roger on the laminate tips! --- Gonna' be using it over sheet metal on my door and very likely a few other places. Hold up very well.
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Old 02-28-2013, 10:01 PM   #20
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Re: Skoolie Conversions ---- a great group!

Adding Roof Airconditioners

I thought I'd show what I did to add a roof air up front in the hole that originally contained the escape hatch. I think almost every bus has at least one of these somewhere in the roof. Longer buses typically have two. A lot of buses come spec'd with the Transpec roof hatch. It's the one that pops up on both ends and also has a lever to release one end so you can swing it out of the way if needed. The pop-up function is nice, because you can also pop up the end(s) to allow ventilation whether parked or driving down the road. I see a lot of local school buses using them in this fashion although when I was in school, none of our buses had these vents. But that was back in the stone ages. I also remember that you could open the hood of a bus and see ground on both sides of the engine. For the most part that has been gone a long time too.

Using the Transpec hatch for an A/C mounting location has a couple advantages. First, there's already a hole cut into your roof so you don't have to do that. Secondly, you don't have to tear out your ceiling to figure out where to put it. There's also a couple of disadvantages though, you're losing an escape hatch should you ever need it, and secondly, the hole is too big to mount an A/C unit over. Roof A/C's need a hole that is more or less 14" X 14". I can't remember the deminsions of the Transpec hatch, but it is several inches larger on all sides. Here was my hole after removing the hatch. At first glance it looks kinda weird until you recognize that you're seeing the rafters and sheet metal on the roof of my parking garage in the center of the hole. If you look around the perimeter of the hole, you can see where the interior trim panel was mounted. You can also see the steel framing around the edges of the hole as well.



Taking the Transpec unit out is easy, except for one part. That one part was on top of my bus roof. There were plenty of 3/16 rivets around the edges of the vent to hold it to the bus roof, but the factory also used a self-leveling sealant around the perimeter of the hatch to seal it. That stuff was T-O-U-G-H. I thought I'd never get it off. The rivets drilled out without any problems but the sealant was not budging. Long story short, I ended up using a long handle gasket scraper and ball ping hammer to get under the sealant and chisel if off the roof top. I think that job took at least three hours if not more. B sure to save the interior and exterior hatch parts for a template. You're going to need both an inside and outside cover to reduce the size of the original hole. If you make the covers the same size as the original hatch cover, you can use the hatch covers as templates to drill the holes in your new cover plates. That way all you have to do is put rivets back into the existing holes.

Here's a view from on top of the roof.



To reduce the size of the hole to one appropriate for a roof A/C unit, I had a local welding shop build framework and weld it to the existing roof braces. The new braces should be the same thickness as the existing ones so the top and bottom plates will be flush like the original vent. My new framework (in the picture below) is painted black. Blue sheet insulation is on either side of it. Don't forget to drill a hole for your electrical cord in one of the sides. Use a grommet in the hole to prevent chafing.



Once you get the new frame work in place, you still have two big holes that need to be reduced down to the 14 X 14 hole of the new framework. I used sheet aluminum for mine, since my roof is also aluminum.



You can see this panel is the one for the top of the roof, with holes already drilled in it by using the old hatch cover as a template. I'm about to spray it with self etching primer and have it painted at a nearby body shop. In the end, this turned out to be a mistake. It cost me twice as much to get it sprayed with 2 part paint as it did to get the interior one powder coated.

Here's the finished product. It turned out good so I was pleased with all the work. One of the things I was really happy about was that I didn't have to take down any ceiling. I really like the ceiling in my transit. It's flat, a laminate, and has a good appearance.



There was one issue I should mention though. Since I wasn't taking down my ceiling, this presented a problem with getting an electrical supply to the unit. The usual way of doing this is to drill through the roof bows and run it through the roof that way. This wasn't really an option for me, as there was more than one bow that I'd have to drill through and I couldn't get to the second one without taking down the ceiling. Since my coach A/C ductwork is down the side of my bus, I'd have to take it down too in order to get to the 2nd roof bow. After thinking about it for a while I came up with plan B. I ran the electrical on the outside of the roof in plastic "conduit" sold at Lowes and HD for "do-it-yourself" electical cords along a wall. Normally this sticks on the surface, but I used flat head screws to attach it permanently. I altered one of the 90 degree connectors by cutting off the elbow and it covers a hole in the new interior panel where the electrical romex goes back in. After painting to match the background, it came out pretty good.



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