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Old 09-12-2015, 06:09 PM   #1
Skoolie
 
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Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: The Lovely PNW
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Year: 1986
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Saf-T-Liner
Engine: Cat 3208
Rated Cap: 84 px
Skoolie House Rocks! 1986 Saf-T-Liner 84 px, from Big Bus to Tiny House

My goal is to take my recently purchased 1986 84 passenger Thomas Saf-T-Liner and turn it into a tiny house for full time living. It will rarely be moved (although I want to have the ability to move it when needed), so the functionality of the bus for living is more important to me than the quality of the mechanics. I explored 5th wheels and towable tiny houses on wheels, but I feel that a Skoolie was the way to go.

I've read many of the build threads and considered all of the advice therein carefully, and I have decided against attempting a roof raise.

As envisioned, the finished project will have a composting toilet (yes, I read the discussions on that as well) a shower, a propane range/oven and heater, an electric compressor fridge, a queen size murphy bed, and a wood stove. The power will be solar panels and a battery bank, with possibly a propane generator.

I will only be able to work on it a little at a time, and hopefully can complete the project before I am no longer physically able.

Here is the tabula rasa


Put in 4 hours today, went from this


to this


Spent the first two hours trying to figure out if I can get to the bolts under the carriage to take out the folding seat next to the emergency door. Nope. I did find a nifty patched hole in the floor there and was able to get a wrench on two of the 8 bolts, and now I know where the shower drain is going down below . But, I am going to have to grind the heck out of those leftover bolts! When I first got the bus, I bought an angle grinder at Harbor Freight (with a grinding wheel). I spent 2 hours grinding the bolts on one seat and used up the dang wheel . Got some cutting wheels for the grinder, when I get to that point I hope to make better progress.

Started on the other seats by trying to use a method Nat Ster posted on youtube. 1/2 the floor bolts come right out no problem, the other half have a nut on them that you can't get to. And although they are rusty as all get out, those bolts are tough! Turns out, when you manhandle the seats enough trying to get the bolt heads to come off, you find out that the bolts are stronger than the metal in the leg brackets, and far stronger than the welds on the legs. So the bolt heads stay and will be there until I use a cut off wheel on them.


The method I found works best just as I was pooping out for the day:

1- Unfasten the two bolts that come out from the floor and two of the three bolts that secure the seat to the wall (there are two bolts that go directly into the wall, and a vertical bolt that goes into the rail on the wall, I leave that one).

2- Use a cheap floor jack (the 2 ton I had around was $59 and came with a 12v impact wrench), put it under the welded seat tubing right at the corner by the bolt, and jack away until you hear that satisfying kablong as the metal floor bracket gives way. If the rail won't give up after you have reached the maximum height, use a wrecking bar wedged under the bracket by the bolt as an assist.

3- Once the seat is released from the floor, finish up removing that last bolt from the wall.

4- Repeat as necessary.

Oh, here's a bonus: DW removed all of the light fixtures from the ceiling, and out crawled several hornets. I'm not looking forward to removing the ceiling.

I have been working in desk jobs for the last 25 years, and have led a sedentary lifestyle. Alas, 4 hours today was as much as I could do. I'm sore, I'm tired, and I smell like a school bus floor.

Skoolie House costs so far

Bus Purchase $1900
Title, tabs and license plate $340
September space rental $100

Total $2340

Excelsior!
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Old 09-12-2015, 07:48 PM   #2
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Just wondering why you want to pay a outrages price for a piece of oversize plastic that rots your poop in your living space?

Every composting toilet I have seen is crazy big, and crazy expensive for what it is.

I feel it's hard to justify spending $1000 + for something that a $5 pail would do the same thing.

I feel composting should be done outside, not in your living space.

Looking forward to pics.

Nat
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Old 09-13-2015, 01:05 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nat_ster View Post
I feel it's hard to justify spending $1000 + for something that a $5 pail would do the same thing.

Nat
While I don't completely disagree with this, I will throw out that Prebuilt composting toilets do work well and use much lower maintenance. However I do feel like you are not getting your extra $900 worth. I do think that the urine diverter is important, but you can get those for about $60. I wish there was something in between the two, but there isn't.
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Old 09-19-2015, 07:02 PM   #4
Skoolie
 
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Location: The Lovely PNW
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Year: 1986
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Saf-T-Liner
Engine: Cat 3208
Rated Cap: 84 px
Week 2

Put in 5 hours of work on the bus today. All passenger side seats are removed plus the folding seat next to the emergency exit on the driver side (what a scurvy dog that seat was to get out!). With luck I should be able to finish the seats next week.

DW got some of the ceiling screws out with an impact driver, but stripped the heads on more than she removed.

No new pics, but here is an amusing video of me demonstrating probably the wrong way to use an angle grinder.

https://youtu.be/wd_snHvLuUM

Note to self: Do not try to pick up the bolt head you just cut off to admire your work, it will burn right through the thumb of your glove.

I think I'll buy a face mask. The safety glasses work great, but the bits of hot metal in my beard are a little uncomfortable.

Previous costs $2340
New costs
Wheel covers $100
3 Rapid Jacks $120

Total so far $2560

Excelsior!
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Old 09-19-2015, 07:12 PM   #5
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After a few months of having my face pelted with tiny bits of white hot metal I finally broke down and got a good quality face shied. I still often wear goggles under that.

Steel shards in eye = expensive not fun.
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Old 09-19-2015, 08:38 PM   #6
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Year: 1992
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I spent a few years as the "cleaner" for the plasma and saw dept's at a big fab shop. I don't even look at metal without a face shield any more!
Hell I double up and do glasses UNDER the face shield.
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Old 09-19-2015, 10:41 PM   #7
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Same, full face shield or don't use the tool.

However I do one better. I wear a wide view welding helmet with only a clear lens. It wraps around my face, down my chin, and up over my hair.

Far better than a simple face shield.

Nat
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Old 09-20-2015, 10:03 AM   #8
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Join Date: May 2015
Location: Washington
Posts: 25
Year: 1993
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: International
Engine: DT466
Looks like a great blank slate and a great deal on it! Yikes, hornets! Ours only had about a thousand big spiders living behind the window frames, roof panels, etc. I guess spiders are preferable to a hornet's nest.

The floor bolts are so difficult if you don't have somebody under the bus holding the nut. I am fortunate to have a very competent 7 year old who used a power drill with socket adapter to spin the bolts while I held the wrench underneath. Looks like your method is working out pretty well.

I had never used an angle grinder or done really any metal work at all before starting work on the bus. It was terrifying. After the first attempt I bought long welding gloves and a face shield. It got better

The C-Head is an "in between" option that goes for $550 I believe. However, I think the purveyor of C-Head is a little too honest for his own good, because after reading and watching all of the information about it, we realized there is nothing stopping us from building a perfectly good "composting" toilet ourselves and saving the $$$. Was going to start with the $200 Separett kit though, so info on a cheaper option would be wonderful; where can one buy this $60 diverter you speak of? (And yeah, none of these actually "compost" anything unless you leave it in there for > 6 months. It's a glorified bucket of poop. Still seems a lot less gross than a black tank.)
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Old 09-20-2015, 11:18 AM   #9
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Buying and learning how to use the tools is half the fun of the bus conversion process.
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Old 09-21-2015, 09:53 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OMGIBoughtABus View Post
I did find a nifty patched hole in the floor there and was able to get a wrench on two of the 8 bolts, and now I know where the shower drain is going down below .
Welcome to the best hobby that I know of

Was the fuel tank under that patch? If so, you might want to keep that hole accessible! It provides convenient access to the fuel fittings and sending unit. If you build over it and need to access those items then you'll need to drop the whole tank.. Those buggers are awkward and heavy!
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