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Old 07-23-2011, 11:28 PM   #41
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 11
Year: 1993
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: Blue Bird
Engine: Cummins
Rated Cap: 77
Re: The Albatross


Thanks for asking. We were delayed a couple of months because I ended up having to do some additional maintenance. I replaced the entire rear brake system, along with a couple u-joints, steady bearing, every filter on the bus, and I also switch all of the oil in the transmission and diff over to synthetic. I also need to buy new tires on the front. Anyway, total cost will be around $7000 once I get the tires replaced. So, we had to wait to depart.

If you are interested I just posted a full tour of the bus a couple weeks ago. Check it out:

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Old 07-24-2011, 10:50 AM   #42
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Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Roswell, NM
Posts: 3,587
Year: 1986
Coachwork: BlueBird
Chassis: 40 ft All American FE
Engine: 8.2LTA Fuel Pincher DD V8
Rated Cap: 89
Re: The Albatross

Nice video. I think your conversion looks great. But I would like to point out a few things (based mostly on personal experiences) that OTHER folks (not you) planning on converting may want to take into consideration....

Marble floors: Marble does not hold up well to flexing. Travertine is like installing eggshells on your floor... Don't use it or that tumbled marble crap. All the pretty veining are just little fault lines for the stuff to crack along. It really depends on the marble you have. You might go a thousand of miles with few cracks or you may drive to the closest gas station and end up with a shattered floor. You can get a nice porcelain tile with a marble print on it that looks very close to the real thing (Natura brand, I think). Try to keep tiles 10X10 and under (6X6 is better). I understand the desire to use 12X12... we could add up our pay simply by counting tiles as we laid them! Goes fast but they are too large an area to handle the movement well. Use a flexible setting adhesive and flexible grout. They will say if it is on the package. Look for a product that says it can be used over wood subfloors. That's code for "if your floor doesn't bounce like a trampoline when your dog walks across it, this product is your best bet to hold your tile to the floor. Would I install marble in our bus... no. I've installed enough marble tile to know how fragile it is in houses. No way would I put large pieces in a bus. Now that small mosaic marble tile on the 12X12 sheets would be a different matter. If you must have marble tile (so that you can say "I have marble tile floors" in my RV), then use the small stuff. Of course you can always buy a tile saw and slice the 12x12 tiles into 6X6. And based on our last trip down the tile aisle at Home Depot/Lowes, that may be your only recourse for a tile floor. Either that or Special Order.

Wood on metal around windows: A word of caution. This may not be a problem in low humidity places but since I am used to living/RVing in the South Eastern US where we have high humidity levels, I thought I might point this out. These windows are framed in Aluminum (mine on the BB are). Aluminum transfers heat (and cold) extremely well. What that means is, when it is warm inside and cold outside, the metal will condense moisture. Sometimes/some places that means LOTS of moisture. You will have lots of interior moisture to condense from normal breathing, steam from showers (get a vent for the shower area) and cooking with propane (propane gives off lots of water vapour when it burns). A dehumidifier helps but the metal will sweat on the wood. The wood will soak it up, become discoloured and may start to rot. If you plan on wrapping your windows in trim, you might want to look at the PVC "wood" trim that are in many lumber stores now. You can paint it if you want as it comes in white and is paintable. I don't know how it takes stain. Glue joints together with PVC pipe glue. The windows on the Class C are trimmed in painted wood. The bus will be trimmed out in PVC.

Smoke detectors & co/propane detectors: You can't have too many smoke detectors! And if you have any LP, especially if you are using a CAT, Blue flame or similar LP heater PLEASE get a CO/LP detector. They aren't that expensive, they operate on batteries that you change once a year and you can just stick them up anywhere. It may save your life! If you have a generator under your sleeping area, put a CO detector in that area too. I have seen far too many reports of RVers going to sleep with the heaters on or the generator running and they never wake up.

Access to the house batteries: You need to be able to EASILY access the batteries. All batteries need to be tended... even the the fancy expensive "you never got to touch them" batteries.

CARPET: Think carefully about carpet before you install it. Public campgrounds (where skoolies are welcome no matter what they look like or what stage they are at in the conversion process) tend to have dirt/gravel areas more than paved areas. Carpet will hold the dirt. Yes, carpet will hold the road noise down, but so will insulation (you can install insulation user the bus floor rather than on top if you need the room). Carpet will hold moisture and smells too. Unless someone in your family simply loves to vacuum all the time, you might want to put down a hard surface floor and use "throw rugs" (when they get dirty, you throw them away).

INSULATE YOUR HOLDING TANKS! You would be amazed at how hot your fresh water will get from driving down the roads during the summer. We didn't have to dump the Class C's uninsulated waste tanks when we came out west (in July) as often as we thought we should have. The "water" was cooking off. We took showers without turning on the water heater. And my daughter and I take HOT showers.
This post is my opinion. It is not intended to influence anyone's judgment nor do I advocate anyone do what I propose.
Fulltime since 2006
The goal of life is living in agreement with nature. Zeno (335BC-264BC)
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Old 07-24-2011, 12:03 PM   #43
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 11
Year: 1993
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: Blue Bird
Engine: Cummins
Rated Cap: 77
Re: The Albatross

Hey thanks for the comments.

I am flattered you think the floors are genuine marble... Alas they are laminate that I got on sale for $.89 a foot, regularly $6.00. Total cost was less than $60 for the laminate.

The wood around the metal windows is a concern. I have sealed them well and hope that is enough. Half our time will be spent in arizona which is very low humidity but the other half is in BC Canada and it is wet.

We have a CO/LP detector. It is in the video

The house batteries are actually not to bad to access, I just was being lazy. I agree though I should switch it from the 10 screws, to a couple latches and hinges. I didn't want them to accessible so that there was less chance of them being stolen.

The carpet was chosen because I already had it. It was just reused.

That is super interesting about the water tanks. You almost make it seem like an advantage to not have them insulated though.

Awesome comments all around!
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Old 07-24-2011, 03:17 PM   #44
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Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Bakersfield, California
Posts: 1,013
Year: 1976
Coachwork: Crown
Chassis: Supercoach
Engine: Detroit 6-71 Mid-Ship Mounted
Rated Cap: 79 at Birth
Re: The Albatross

Really enjoyed your video. The bus turned out great and your craftsmanship is impressive.
My Conversion Thread:
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Old 09-21-2011, 10:26 PM   #45
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 11
Year: 1993
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: Blue Bird
Engine: Cummins
Rated Cap: 77
Re: The Albatross is FOR SALE

This will be our last update on The Albatross. Even though we finished the conversion completely not too long ago, we have been living in her for over a year (two parents and three kids) and it's time for us to move on to new things. We have decided to sell her and so I thought I would let people know here since you all love skoolies.

We spent $47,000 total on the bus and we are selling her for $21,500. Here's the ad:
We are selling our amazing 40' Blue Bird bus conversion. We are a family of 6 that lived in her for over a year and now it is time for us to move on to other things. We are located in NANAIMO, BC.

Bus details:

40' feet long, the bus was formerly a ski bus for Heavenly Ski Resort. It was originally this blue, and we just went with it.

Cummins 5.9 Liter diesel engine
The odometer reads 150,000, but at some point during its time as a ski bus we know the engine was replaced, although we don't know when. The engine runs GREAT. We have driven her around 3,000 miles and the engine has always been amazing. The engine gets around 10-11 MPG.

Allison Transmission
The transmission is great, shifts really smoothly, and was checked over by a mechanic three months ago. It was switched, along with the differential, to synthetic and the oil will never have to be changed again.

It took us two years to convert this bus, and we can confidently say that it is one of the best school bus conversions in North America. It is unique, and a work of art.

3 burner propane cooktop, BRAND NEW and never used
4.5 cubic foot Magic Chef electric fridge, less than a year old.
6 gallon propane or electric hot water tank, less than a year old.
12V Separett high tech composting toilet, less than a year old. ( - value of $2000)
40 gallon graywater tank
50 gallon freshwater tank
40,000 BTU propane furnace BRAND NEW and never used
Power panel and inverter are new
Fire alarms, gas detectors and fire extinguishers throughout (BRAND NEW)
Electronics and wiring BRAND NEW
4 deep cycle batteries with computer to manage load - Less than 6 months old.
Pull down window shades BRAND NEW - value of $1000

The bus is very well insulated with a value of R-12 with all of the sealing and insulation added to the floors and walls, equivalent to a mobile home. If you are interested in traveling with children you should also note that the back bedroom is insulated and soundproof from the rest of the bus. The intermediary walls are insulated.

7 max sleeping capacity (3 bunks, double bed, two couches)

All six filters were replaced, some of the u-joints, and the steady bearing was replaced. The bus has air brakes, and the automatic slack adjuster, rear brake shoes, rear drums and maxis were all replaced. This was done three months ago for a total cost of $5000. I have records to prove it.

It cost us $35,000 to do the conversion, plus $7000 for the bus itself, plus the brake work and mechanical upgrades for a total of $47,000. Considering that this vehicle is absolutely no different from a regular RV (with additional upgrades like insulation and the composting toilet), it was a bargain for how much space it has. If you don't need the bunks, they could easily be removed and that space could be turned into anything you see fit. Possibly a bigger office, or a sewing room, or you could add a washer and dryer in the space. We chose a school bus for its safety value versus a motorhome, which is basically made of cardboard. School buses are one of the safest vehicles on the road. This vehicle feels like a tank when compared to RV's.

It needs new front tires, which have become worn, (which cost $1100). We can do that from the sale income or you can do them yourself and we will drop the price. We also have not hooked up the propane system. The fridge, hot water tank, toilet and water pump are electric and can run off the batteries for a few days if television, lights and computers are not running. The furnace and cooktop are propane, and the hot water tank can run on propane as well. We have been using a portable electric cooktop. We designed this bus to boondock, which is why the composting toilet is so great. We can go 4 weeks (with 6 people) before emptying the toilet, and four days before emptying the graywater tank. This is mainly due to doing dishes and the occasional shower. We just haven't needed to use the furnace yet so we haven't bothered with hiring a gas man, but the appliances are there and everything is ready for it.

You can check out a video tour of the bus here:

This vehicle is properly registered as an RV so you will not have to worry about any odd insurance issues.

Note: the computer and throw pillows in the photos and video are not included.

Don't hesitate to ask questions! Send an email and we can chat on the phone as well.
We have the bus on eBay but if you know anyone that is interested please let us know. Thanks!
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Old 09-21-2011, 11:27 PM   #46
Bus Nut
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Virginia
Posts: 446
Re: The Albatross

Nice setup! Looks like a ready to roll setup for a great price!
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Old 09-23-2011, 03:15 PM   #47
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Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 784
Year: 1995
Coachwork: Genesis
Engine: Detroit
Rated Cap: 14
Re: The Albatross

You guys have done such an awesome job... why not just add a top level to your bus for the kids to live/sleep/play in? It wouldn't have to be very tall, just enough for them to be in when you guys need privacy downstairs.

Just a thought.
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