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Old 10-16-2013, 05:39 AM   #1
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Sojourner

Hello All,
Another newbie to the forum. I recently purchased our skoolie from Plainview, TX school system. It's a 1995 Amtran Genesis 15 window unit, DT408/210Hp with a MT643 Trans that I'm planning on driving from there to my home in SC in mid October, but first a bit about what brought on this whole thing in the first place. My wife Lori and I (31 years!) are looking at the empty nest thing in a couple years and realized we in no way wanted or needed the utilities, taxes and upkeep of the size house we're in with the kids soon moving out. We've been considering building a smaller alternative construction type house (earthbag, strawbale, papercrete, etc...) for several years now but nothing really stuck. We have a travel trailer that we bought about 14 years ago, used it a good bit with the kids (lots of good memories), but honestly the quality of that thing is so bad it's now falling down around itself. I've kicked around using it as a donor and will probably do that to some extent (did I mention, it's mostly expensive junk). We've taken a hard look at our needs, not a lot of room required for just the two of us, (I have a large shop), desire to live simply and off grid as much as possible and have settled on converting a skoolie and full timing in it to facilitate this as we really like the idea of boondocking as well as living aboard at our remote property in SC where we currently reside. We're both really excited to get into this project. The plan is to make this unit as off grid as possible, do a Clerestory (over galley and salon) instead of a total roof raise, and custom build the interior using woods (wild cherry, cypress, etc.) I've collected over the years, move the entry door, etc but quality throughout. We're, of course not opposed to reusing to accomplish this but don't want it to be some haphazardly put together thing either. We're very much into the whole sustainable living thing (I'm the inventor of the aquaponics system called Barrel-Ponics) and spent most of my career in the trades in both metal fabrication and marine mechanic not to mention I'm an avid woodworker and love furniture and cabinet making. It's almost as if I been trained to do this!! Been reading some of the others journeys on this forum and am inspired and looking forward to sharing our experience as well. Our bus name? Well, as, according to Genesis 17:8, Abraham was a sojourner in this life looking forward to the promise to come, we believe we are as well. The name is “Sojourner”. A suitable name for a skoolie I think.

Shalom,
Travis

P.S. I wrote the above earlier but am now sitting in the airport getting ready to board my plane to TX. Can't wait to get there and start the journey!!
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I am an sojourner in the earth; hide not Your Commandments from me. Psalm 119:19

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Old 10-16-2013, 06:37 AM   #2
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Re: Sojourner

Welcome
And safe journeys back to SC
.
.
.oh and we all like pictures
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Old 10-16-2013, 08:58 AM   #3
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Re: Sojourner

Quote:
Originally Posted by bansil
Welcome
And safe journeys back to SC
.
.
.oh and we all like pictures
Dito, you can talk the talk, but we need pictures.

Hopefully you will have a fun and safe journey.
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Old 10-16-2013, 10:45 AM   #4
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Re: Sojourner

welcome
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Old 10-16-2013, 11:09 AM   #5
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Re: Sojourner

Quote:
Originally Posted by sojourner
The name is “Sojourner”. A suitable name for a skoolie I think
Any name that makes it yours is suitable
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Old 10-16-2013, 11:19 AM   #6
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Re: Sojourner

Welcome! I love the idea of a clerestory. I think you would be the first on this forum to do that (in my memory). I'm really looking forward to watching your progress. And yes, please, post lots of pictures!
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Old 10-16-2013, 08:24 PM   #7
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Re: Sojourner

Made it in to Lubbock on time this morning, got the rental and went straight to Sams Club to get an 8D battery and cleaning supplies, oil, road food and such. I then drove to Plainville to get he paperwork done and go over to the bus to see it for the first time. It was exactly as the photo's in the auction ad which showed an oil leak up front and a lot of red dust on everything inside. I'm not talkin' a little dust either, I'm talkin' Texas style dust!! The people at the maintenance yard where it has been stored for over a year offered to charge the battery to see if it would work before simply replacing it. The very nice fellow George topped off the water and set the charger up. I began cleaning a bit so I would even have a place to sit and put my bags and the supplies. We tried to crank the engine up but when I cranked on it I asked if there was any smoke coming out of the tailpipe. George said no. This told me we were not getting any fuel. He said when this unit sat for a long time it would take some starting fluid to get it going so I crawled under and pulled the breather cover and filter off. George cranked it while I gave it a shot and it fired right up. I kept it going until it picked up fuel and it was good to go. The engine sounded very good, oil pressure warm at idle 40lbs and throttled up jumped right to 60 lbs. no problem. Air pressure went to over 100 and everything seems to work after checking lights and such. Tried to turn the wheel and found the source of the oil spot on the pavement. The power steering system has a leak somewhere. We filled it with 3 quarts of fluid and it now works beautifully. I'll take a closer look at that one when I get to my dad's later in the trip and service the engine. For now, I'll just add as needed. The engine oil seems very clean as does the trans fluid and air filter looked new. It had 1/2 tank of fuel as well so tomorrow we're off to my first stop at a friends house about 450 miles away. I did take the bus out of the fenced parking area so I could work on it after hours and parked it in the lot right next door. Driving this thing is much easier than I thought and I went out the drive and did a u-turn right in the street and came back into the drive right next to where I left. Sweet!! So far, no rust underneath I can see anywhere. Even the back door has no rust. There are a couple small dents and such but all in all this bus appears to be in decent structural condition although the seats show a lot of wear and cuts. The hubometer shows a little over 127,000 miles. I'll record it tomorrow before leaving to see if it's still working. The speedo reads the same. If this is correct, this engine is not even broke in good yet. I'll start getting pics tomorrow before leaving and on the way. Today was a bit hectic and I'm gonna get some sleep. Gonna be another long one tomorrow. Thanks for all the encouragement. Yea, Lori and I have been talking about the clerestory for quite a while and I think I have figured out a cool way to pull it off using the top piece cut out on the top of the clerestory and having windows all around for additional light. Fortunately my son works at a metal fab company and has access to some serious sheet metal breaks and such. My wife and I have not been as excited about a project like this in a long time.
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I am an sojourner in the earth; hide not Your Commandments from me. Psalm 119:19

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Old 10-18-2013, 10:22 AM   #8
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Re: Sojourner

Welcome Travis --- sounds like a great find and a great plan. Best of luck on the road trip and please do keep us informed as you progress (we like pix!). It also sounds like you have the perfect skill set to assemble something really sweet BTW.
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Old 11-08-2013, 09:51 AM   #9
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Re: Sojourner

You asked for pics so here goes (hopefully, this is the first time I've tried this).
When I got to Plainview I got to see the bus for the first time. The inside was covered with dust from sitting in west TX for over a year.


Also had some damage to the roof at the rear. Nothing I can't fix though


All stocked up with water, snacks and Ramen noodles for a road trip.


When I left Plainview the bus seems to run fine but does not like hills. When I floor the accelerator I hear a lot more noise in the engine compartment. It sounds a lot like air rushing. Maybe the fan clutch? I spent a lot to time contemplating a propane injection system as part of the conversion. Turns out not. South of Chattanooga, TN I find a split in the rubber boot connecting the pipe from the intercooler to the intake. I got a new boot in Atlanta and now Sojourner accelerates up hills!! Whoopee!!

I found that Sojourner has a "mysterious" gravitation to exits with Braum's Ice cream. Good Bus!! My wife Lori is really going to enjoy this bus (especially after she discovers chocolate mocha fudge chunk )!!


I drove to a friends house in Okmulgee OK. While there ran into the whole fuel system losing prime thing when I backed down an incline a bit to wash out the interior. Had a river of red mud and "kid droppings" running out the back door. as I hosed out the entire inside. When restarting it died. Had to reprime the fuel system and moved to a level place. I also removed all but three rows of seats while there. Only took me 3 hours.


After leaving OK I drove to a friends house in AR. There I almost fell off "an edge on the world". Got in late at night and was unsuccessful at climbing his driveway. When we tried to back down (in the dark) we almost went off the side of the hill.


Thankfully a neighbor owned a dozer and pulled me to safety for only $100.00. I ran into the whole fuel system issue again and had to plumb in a 5 gallon jerry can to get it to run to back off the hill.

Once back on level ground I got to troubleshooting this fuel issue.

I found the fuel lines feeding the pump form the filter unit to be leaking. I removed them and replaced the crimped lines with new hoses and clamps. I also found that the filter was less than hand tight. I put on a new filter properly and have had no issues with losing prime since. It was then off to my dad's house for a couple days and then off heading back home. On the way I stopped off at a rest area to have some lunch cooked on the dog house.



After having dinner with a friend in TN I made it to south of Chattanooga and slept in the bus overnight in a truck stop. It was while checking the fluids and such that I noticed the oil spray pattern on the valve cover which led me to the discovery of the split rubber boot leaking my boost pressure to atmosphere. Once the boot was replaced ($85.00!!) the drive was a breeze!! The overall mileage for this trip even with the split boot was over 11 mpg. I think I really like this engine.
I stopped off at Columbia SC to get some doors from a place that sells overstock building supplies. Scored doors for the interior. Prehung raised panel beadboard doors for $25.00 each!! It was then off to the Farmers market to get bulk veggies for Lori to can at home. I'm thinking I might need to rename this bus Marco Polo since it seems I'm bringing things from afar home. I made it home just fine and everyone is excited about getting into this conversion. I did notice a rear left wheel bearing seal leaking and will replace all seals when replacing the brake linings. Now, to get some things finished here on the farm so I can get to this project!!
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I am an sojourner in the earth; hide not Your Commandments from me. Psalm 119:19

Here is the patience of the saints; here are the ones keeping the commandments of YAHWEH, and the faith of Yahshua. Rev. 14:12
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Old 11-08-2013, 10:04 AM   #10
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Re: Sojourner

Scary pic of the bus on the edge, looking forward to more on this one.
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Old 11-08-2013, 10:26 AM   #11
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Re: Sojourner

That is one BIG BUS! The edge of the world pic is terrifying! I'm glad you successfully made it home - sounds like you know what's really up with the bus. Looking forward to your conversion
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Old 11-09-2013, 06:02 AM   #12
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Re: Sojourner

Quote:
Originally Posted by eyedeal.ink
Scary pic of the bus on the edge, looking forward to more on this one.
Here is scary.



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Old 11-09-2013, 10:36 AM   #13
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Re: Sojourner

Total bummer!! I know the feeling. I had a hard time sleeping that night for me. I was concerned I might be able to see the differential while looking from above in the morning. These type things are never a comforting moment!!
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I am an sojourner in the earth; hide not Your Commandments from me. Psalm 119:19

Here is the patience of the saints; here are the ones keeping the commandments of YAHWEH, and the faith of Yahshua. Rev. 14:12
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Old 11-10-2013, 11:30 PM   #14
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Re: Sojourner

What's the overall length on that thing? It's massive! Very very cool.
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Old 11-11-2013, 07:25 AM   #15
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Re: Sojourner

great pics and wow mine is 34 foot bumper to bumper....your's must be 45 feet!!
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Old 11-12-2013, 10:44 PM   #16
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Re: Sojourner

What's the overall length on that thing? It's massive! Very very cool.

It's 40ft. Since it's going to be a full time liveaboard we wanted to go as big as we could get. Since it's a front engine, the wheelbase is short enough to drive quite nicely. Even with no mods to the engine cover the engine is surprisingly quiet. When I took Lori for a spin when arriving home we were able to hold a conversation even while she was sitting in the row across from me. Once we get the cover re-insulated and sealed properly it should be nice and quiet. I also took a look around things yesterday to see what could be moved to gain better access to the engine and get hoses and such re-routed to allow better ground clearance (I hate things hanging and dangling (carryover from working on boats)). I think I can move the power steering reservoir to the inside of the electrical access once most of that is removed. This will shorten the hose to it and get it from out of the engine compartment. I'm also looking at removing the entire skirt around the bus and remaking a new one that will have storage compartments and better fuel fill access (the bus fuel door thing is way to funky for my taste). I'm looking at adding an additional fuel tank to the other side of the frame. It looks like there are holes to mount another fuel tank cage. The battery will be moved to the area that is now the step well once the new door is framed in. Needless to say, once I get to working on this, it's gonna take a while. Gonna be fun, but take a while.
.
Trav
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I am an sojourner in the earth; hide not Your Commandments from me. Psalm 119:19

Here is the patience of the saints; here are the ones keeping the commandments of YAHWEH, and the faith of Yahshua. Rev. 14:12
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Old 11-15-2013, 12:44 PM   #17
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Re: Sojourner

Went to the DMV today. WHen I walked up to the counter I told the lady I wanted to title my bus as an RV. She asked if I had it inspected and I asked where do I get that done and how do I do it without a tag of some sort? She began writing down a phone number for the state DMV office and I told her I had already talked to them before the purchase to find out if it was possible. at that she went to talk with her supervisor. When she got back she said no problem. She just needed my license, a receipt for the sale, the title and a form 400. She gave me a form 400, a pen and directed me to the counter to fill out my paperwork. Once done I returned to the counter and things went pretty smoothly. There was one thing a bit different on the original title though in that the title says the make was Genesis. I had always thought the model was a Genesis and the Make was AmTrans. The title will read Genesis make and model. So it will be titled a Genesis, Genesis Motorhome in the state of SC. $148.75 later and in 2 weeks the title should be mailed to me. Gonna wait until I put it on the road to get the tags for it. Anyhow, pretty painless after a few strange looks from the people at the counter. That hurdle is now over with!!
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I am an sojourner in the earth; hide not Your Commandments from me. Psalm 119:19

Here is the patience of the saints; here are the ones keeping the commandments of YAHWEH, and the faith of Yahshua. Rev. 14:12
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Old 11-15-2013, 05:18 PM   #18
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Re: Sojourner

Congrates...now you can drive to the home improvement store to pick up that 1 2x4 you forgot
I alwaysfind "excuses" to drive.....Lisa says "you can fit that 2x4x96 board in your truck"

But honey I need a 10 foot one and it might rain so the bus makes more sence....that is always an awesome $50 pc of wood!

She just rolls her eyes and says your childish...I just bring up the fire truck I want...she says take the bus...wooowwoooo
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Old 11-16-2013, 01:34 AM   #19
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Re: Sojourner

My wife is so into this project that. other than the fuel cost to do so, she'd have me drive her to the store to get groceries in it. She can't wait until we get this conversion done nd start living full time in it. Right now though we don't have tags on it and won't until we actually get it on the road. I'm always finding excuses to crawl under it though and ly there looking at things I want to change.
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I am an sojourner in the earth; hide not Your Commandments from me. Psalm 119:19

Here is the patience of the saints; here are the ones keeping the commandments of YAHWEH, and the faith of Yahshua. Rev. 14:12
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Old 12-08-2013, 07:44 AM   #20
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Re: Sojourner

I've got this crazy idea. While going over this bus and looking at things I want to change. One of the things we've come to consider is using Semi truck doors and install them on each side of what will become the cab. I'm thinking it will be much easier to enter and exit the cab without having to crawl over the engine cover. Has anyone here done anything like that? Any ideas? I'm thinking of trying to purchase a Peterbilt cab and salvage the doors and sides and integrate them into the bus cab. I'm also wanting to replace the totally lame dash cluster with a more complete Semi truck style with a greater compliment of gauges to monitor the mechanics of the bus.
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I am an sojourner in the earth; hide not Your Commandments from me. Psalm 119:19

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