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Old 07-20-2011, 03:56 PM   #1
Bus Nut
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Virginia
Posts: 536
Smitty's conversion - questions

I was following your build on "the other site" and love what you've done. Between your project and looking through this site,I've changed my direction from wanting an HDT and 5vr to building a former school bus into my ideal camper setup. I have a few questions about your project since I'm just learning about the school bus setups:
Awesome build and craftsmanship! I like the K.I.S.S. principle as well and your build fits the definition to a T! Hope you get many years of comfort and enjoyment out of it. Several questions as I ponder by future project:
1) What was the final cost to build and how long did it take? (To me this beats a million dollar coach because it's build to your needs at a reasonable price)
2)id you install a/c in it?
3 I assume the body sheet metal is aluminum. How did you fasten the steel roof racks to the sheet metal to ensure a water tight fit?
4 What's the top speed of the bus? (I assume it's geared low since it's a school bus made for city driving)
5 For the sheet metal panels covering the raised sides, what material are they (aluminum or steel) and how did you attach them to ensure they are weather tight?
6 This is just something I'm curious about - since the engine is a diesel, can a jake brake be installed on it to allow for safer driving in the mountains?

Once again, awesome work by a humble guy! Hope I get to see you passing by one day so I can see your awesome rig. Safe Travels!
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Old 07-20-2011, 06:04 PM   #2
Bus Nut
syke's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: from: Prescott, AZ currently: Denver, CO
Posts: 469
Year: 1992
Coachwork: BlueBird
Chassis: All American RE
Engine: 8.3 Cummins
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Re: Smitty's conversion - questions

Unfortunately Smitty has been MIA for a few months now. I am sure once he returns he will be able to answer a few of your questions.

I on the other hand can put my two cents in on the last question.... a jake brake as in an exhaust brake, yes it would work. A jake brake as in an engine retarder, I would venture to guess not. Two totally different systems both with the same street name.
I have a cummins 8.3 in my bus and I plan to install an exhaust brake.

Good luck on your skoolie hunt/build. You will be leaps ahead of any 5er you could ever buy. Stick around, you will find tons of useful info and very helpful people around this site.
Bluebird All American RE: Great White Buffalo (gone but not forgotten)
Our build thread: viewtopic.php?f=9&t=10065
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Old 07-20-2011, 08:49 PM   #3
Bus Nut
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Virginia
Posts: 536
Re: Smitty's conversion - questions

Thanks for the info. I have so many questions but I'm sure I'll find all the answers on this site. I was set on an HDT until I really started thinking about it and looking at skoolies. It's a no brainer of which one to pick due to the lower purchase price, endless configuration possibilities,durability and the huge safety factor built into these buses! I'm estimating that for less that $20,000 I can build my "dream" skoolie rig. I can't even get a decent, non-converted HDT for that.
I hope that Smitty pops back up. His project is awesome and he's a wealth of knowledge. Talk to you later.
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Old 07-21-2011, 11:23 AM   #4
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Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Houston, Texas
Posts: 8,462
Year: 1946
Coachwork: Chevrolet/Wayne
Chassis: 1- 1/2 ton
Engine: Cummins 4BT
Rated Cap: 15
Re: Smitty's conversion - questions

And one more thought regarding installing an "exhaust brake" onto a unit that did not come with one...

...they work very well, but only if the tranny is a standard...or if an auto...fully locks. A lot of older autos (like my Allison 545) do not lock up and simply "freewheel" on downgrades rendering the exhaust braking useless. Just something to keep in mind.
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