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Old 09-15-2008, 06:22 PM   #1
Skoolie
 
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The Bookmobile

Ok, here's an exterior shot of what it looked like when I picked it up (except the generator cover's hinge is broke, but the cover is shown in the pic):



First thing we did was paint it white. Used three cans of rustoleum automobile primer and just over two gallons of Rustoleum white (didn't paint the roof yet). No pics yet, sorry. I did get some pics when we went to look at it though, so here we go.

Here's the driver's area:



Here's the breakers for the 12volt and the household current. The one for the AC also has some diagnostics, a running counter for the generator hours, and main breakers for the generator and shore power (and it's made so both can't be on at the same time):



This is just behind the passenger seat, the box with wires hanging out is the front A/C thermostat (which just seems loose, A/C works great) and the top box thing is for the heart system. It'll show me the battery voltage, I can turn the inverter on and off, and probably a dozen other things which I haven't figured out (there is a manual though):




Here's the inverter, just under the table in the pic above. Looks beefy, but I wish it was a tad bit beefier. It can run the lights and fridge no problem, but the front A/C is a bit much for it (it'll run for a couple minutes then trip the built-in breaker). The A/C does draw a lot of power though, the battery voltage will drop from about 12.5volts to 11.3volts in the blink of an eye, then hover there until the breaker trips.



Here's a view from the front of the bus looking back:



Here's a view from the back looking forward:



Here's the front door (there's a rear one too which most likely won't be used):



Battery compartment:



Built-in Martin generator (4-cylinder, runs off diesel tank, and provides around 62amps I think):



Bus cost $3,830. I haven't figured the paint cost though, but it'll end up being a couple hundred dollars I'm sure (once you figure in the extra diesel to drive it to the in-laws since they had a paint gun). I've also bought a used Washer/dryer combo (all-in-one, not a stacker) for $250, and an 18cubic foot fridge with ice maker for $330 ($300 plus tax at Sears outlet center).

The front door which will be used most often is bent a little at the bottom (more like warped, whole thing seems off). Since we won't be using the rear door, I'll just swap doors then screw the bottom of the bad door into the side, making it seat good. Then caulk all around it for good measure. It also has a door in the middle for a wheelchair lift. The lift will be coming out, but not until I'm done moving in and out the heavy stuff (loading a fridge is soooo easy with this thing).

The plumbing will most likely end up on the passenger side, since all I have to do is move the generator exhaust pipe a little bit and I'll have lots of room to put the tanks (quick question, if the box is right next to the main exhaust pipe and the tanks are put in that box area, is that too close heat-wise?). The toilet and sink will most likely go right where the middle door is, so that could be an emergency exit (I'll caulk around it, but keep it where you could bust out). Shower or bath will be just behind that in a separate room (basically open the door and you're in the shower). In front of the bathroom will be the kitchen sink, then you have the front door, and just past that is a hump where the generator sits below. I plan on moving the table over 4 inches, giving me enough room to put the washer between it and the rails for the doorway.

The layout for the other side depends on how I decide to do the walls. This thing apparently was built from the start to be a bookmobile. Every 3 1/2 feet or so, there's a metal strip that I think is part of the frame. Between these metal strips are the paneling you can see, with some insulation attached. The paneling isn't screwed into the side anywhere. What they did is cut a groove into the sides of the bookshelves you see, and that goes into the metal strip (like tongue and groove). You then put a screw in the side of the bookshelf next to the wall and it goes through the metal strip. Took me a while to figure out how to remove it, even a sledgehammer wouldn't take it out. Figured out I had to remove each of the tiny screws (they came right out so I thought they were there for no reason), pull the board out, tip it over, then get it out. Anyways...the most efficient use of space dictated that the walls end up in the middle of many of these bookshelves. The walls would be much sturdier though if they were built right where the metal strips were. Just get some 1x2s or 2x4s, cut a groove, screw it in, and it ain't going anywhere! I'll lose about 20 inches of space though, since the rear bedroom would have to be extended in this case. It'll make the kitchen area much more cramped, but may still be doable.

Wheel wells aren't that big inside. On the driver's side they'll end up being where the bunk beds go (regardless of where the wall ends up), and on the other side it'll be where the shower/tub needs to be. We'll just have to end up stepping up into the shower, but we'll still have standing room.

Washer takes 220, but I do have a heater up front that's wired for 220. Will probably take it out, if not I'll at least tap into the wiring and run it to the other side. May test and see if the washer part will work on just 110, if so then I know it'll work fine even if we're somewhere that only has 110 service, and we'll either hang dry or run the generator for the dryer cycle. If not, then we'll run the generator for the whole wash/dry cycle I suppose.

That's it for now, I'll try to update later with more pics.
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Old 09-17-2008, 04:47 PM   #2
Skoolie
 
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Re: The Bookmobile

Quick update, I've ordered a convection microwave and a Dometic Traveler Lite china toilet off ebay. Trying to figure out a way to cram more stuff in a smaller space, so we can have a bigger living area. I'm thinking about turning the queen bed sideways, that will allow us to use less back-to-front space. It also means I must take out the bookcases on both sides. Was going to use them for storage, plus there's a small area I assume was to be a coat rack which could be used to hang up a few outfits. Would mean a bit more work and less storage space. I'd be able to squeeze in the bunk beds on the passenger side, and start the kitchen area on the opposite side (so the fridge and countertop with microwave would be opposite the bunk beds). Instead of separate rooms for the toilet and shower, they'll be combined into one area about 49 1/2 inches long. One side would have the toilet with the sink above it, the other side would have the shower. Once I get the wheelchair lift out and the toilet comes in, I can measure better and make sure there's enough leg room to do this.

As far as tanks, I'm thinking of just having one for freshwater and one for black water. At locations that have full hook-ups including sewer, I can just leave the hose connected and let the grey water drain straight out, and the black water tank will just be for the toilet. At locations that have a separate dump station and allow grey water dumping, same thing. If we're somewhere that doesn't have hook-ups or allow for grey dumping, then just divert the grey water to the black water tank. The one downside I see is that the sewer hose won't get flushed out with grey water. Thoughts?
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Old 09-17-2008, 05:04 PM   #3
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Re: The Bookmobile

Cool bus to start with; looks like a good amount of headroom. Sounds like you've got good plans so far. Be sure to keep us updated!
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Old 09-17-2008, 10:34 PM   #4
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Re: The Bookmobile

Beautiful machine, great price, lots of potential!

It's usually not a good idea to run A/C off an inverter, though. Even if the inverter had the capacity, it would kill the usual-sized battery bank in no time. Make sure you figure the capacities before you do this much.

Have fun.
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Old 09-25-2008, 09:18 PM   #5
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Re: The Bookmobile

No more pics yet, been too busy taking out stuff, measuring, figuring, re-figuring, ordering stuff, realizing my figures were off after said stuff arrives, etc. Here's what I've got though:

Back bedroom will take up three of the 3ft sections, so 9ft total. It was a hard decision, but I think it'll work out ok. Working our way to the front, on the passenger side the shower and bathroom will take up the next three 3ft sections, so another 9ft total. There's an area just past that that's a little under 3ft, I'll put the kitchen sink there with some cabinets above (the cabinet for it is 36" wide, I'll have to take out the end of another bookcase that also has the mechanism for the outside stair, which is fine because I have to take out that step anyways, just keep reading). Then we have the door. Past the door is a hump where the generator is. The fridge will rest on it. Right next to it will be a table with a washer on it (washer can't sit directly on the floor there, the inverter's in the way). On the driver's side, just up from the master bedroom will be two bunk beds taking up two 3ft sections. A kitchen cabinet with some hot-plates will take up the next 3ft section, along with a convection microwave and hopefully some cabinet space above. The next two 3ft sections are for seating (maybe a love seat and then a bench seat, I dunno, we'll see). The dining table is right in front of that. I have a table section that used to attach to the other side with a hinge to make one long table. I can use it to rig up something to extend the table that's still there (the table on the other side was moved forward and will have a washer on it).

Other things I've run into:

Measured, remeasured, measured again...rinse and repeat a dozen or so times...and I got two water tanks that would fit perfectly on the passenger side. Problem is, I measured from where the wheel well started. If I actually put it there, the tire will rub against it (I should have measured down at the same spot I measured across, then I wouldn't have made that silly mistake). The two tanks will just barely fit where they have to go, but the connectors for the fresh water tank will hit the mechanism for the outside step. So now that's got to go.

The black/gray water tank I bought will stick down below the side of the bus, but not lower than the generator. I did factor that into my calculations. I did not however factor in the extra space taken up by the drain I have to install. The tank is designed to drain from the bottom. I can flip it to drain on the side, but that will cause multiple problems (bad placement for the drain, plus due to indentations for tank straps it would not fully drain in this position).

I think the driver's side chair used to swivel around. There's a lever that does absolutely nothing, in fact it's welded in place. I can see where it used to rub against the bracket before it was welded down. There's a hole where one can assume some metal piece would drop down and keep it from swiveling around. The whole thing's been spot welded though. I plan on removing the chair and see if someone can unweld it (chisel it, cut it, whatever). I can simply use a bolt with a nut to keep it from swiveling while on the go, and when stationary remove it so I can swing around and use it as a dining table chair.

Whatever's connected to the inverter will run off the inverter full-time, not just when we're not hooked to electric. Apparently when hooked to electric (or running the generator) it simply charges up the battery, which supplies power to the inverter. The florescent lights buzz pretty loudly and make the inverter buzz loudly too, so I will probably move them to a separate circuit. Only thing I should have to keep on the inverter is the fridge, as I would want that to stay on whether hooked up to shore power or running down the road. Lights aren't an issue, there's a separate row of florescent lights that run directly off of 12v.

I also found out that the wheelchair lift could not be used to lift a set of concrete house steps. Just wouldn't fit on it without damaging it, didn't get to test if it would actually handle the weight. An odd piece of trivia, but figured I'd throw it out there in case someone else decides to try it. Seemed like a good idea at the time.
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Old 09-26-2008, 10:21 PM   #6
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Re: The Bookmobile

You mentioned putting all the plumbing on the passenger side, which in itself is not a problem. Just keep in mind that at all campgrounds the hook-up's are ALLWAY on the drivers side of the unit. Also, fresh tanks generally speaking are better situated inside the main cabin where they will not freeze, usually under a dinette seat or under the sofa.

Most RV'ers run their roof air units while driving down the road, but use them with the generator running, the inverter is for smaller stuff...
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Old 09-27-2008, 01:27 AM   #7
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Re: The Bookmobile

Quote:
Originally Posted by GoneCamping
You mentioned putting all the plumbing on the passenger side, which in itself is not a problem. Just keep in mind that at all campgrounds the hook-up's are ALLWAY on the drivers side of the unit. Also, fresh tanks generally speaking are better situated inside the main cabin where they will not freeze, usually under a dinette seat or under the sofa.

Most RV'ers run their roof air units while driving down the road, but use them with the generator running, the inverter is for smaller stuff...
I know that all the hookups are usually on the driver's side. Unfortunately I have a big 40-gallon fuel tank on that side, right in the middle of where I'd want to put some tanks. I'd basically either end up putting the toilet in the master bedroom, or put it in place of the driver's seat (at least I'd be able to go whenever I needed, and everyone else would just have to wait until a rest stop).

I'm not entirely sure how to handle the fresh water tank. I think that as long as it's not completely full, and the lines that are used exclusively for water from the tank are empty, I could survive freezing weather (don't plan on much boondocking, will be hooked up to water most of the time). There's just not a whole lot of room inside for it to go. I will keep it in mind though.
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Old 09-27-2008, 10:42 PM   #8
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Re: The Bookmobile

I have a large fresh tank that was suppose to go in under the bed....but since I do not boondock I decided to do without it, and use the room under the bed for tool storage. My toilet is NOT directly over the tank, it's actually about 3 feet aft of the tank. I also built an undercarriage storage bay and mounted the waste tanks to the bottom of that, so placement of the tanks was independant of existing coach systems...I still have 12" clearance under the lowest part of the tanks.

I probably have close to 1,000 images of my bus conversion posted online, you can go to MY SITE and look through them if you like...
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Old 02-07-2009, 12:02 PM   #9
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Re: The Bookmobile

Still nowhere near complete, but it's good enough to actually use a bit.

First off, the way we attacked it wasn't the usual back-to-front or front-to-back. Instead it was "what do we need to do to get it to the next stage of usability?" After gutting it, I pretty much put up a few walls, the shower, chair, couch, fridge (moved it a few times), removed some lights, stuff like that. Took out the navigator's chair and put the washer/dryer in its place. Got the frame for the master bed in place. Put in the cabinets (loose), put the microwave on top of the fridge (nothing was secured yet), loaded up all that I could and took off to my dad's (would have had more done, but family emergency dictated I leave when I did). Less than halfway there I decided I should at least take the microwave down from the fridge. Anyways, once there here's basically what we did.

Gave my dad some electrical stuff I was going to use to wire up a receptacle for the rv (it came with a 50amp plug-in and the cord). When I got there it was ready, I just had to move some stuff around and put the mattress in place. My son and I had another first camp-out (we also camped out when it was still a bookmobile, had an air mattress). At least now we had some power (and much needed heat). Even had the fridge ready to go. The next thing we installed was the 32" TV (gotta have something to watch, especially with a 2 1/2 year old). It has a built-in dvd player and can read movie files from memory cards and usb drives, so it's ready to go even without a satellite receiver or anything else. Then we tackled the waste tank.

Oh, forgot to mention about the waste tank. Since it was too large, I had to cut it smaller. Basically made two very uneven cuts, and used a plastic welder to patch it back together. Turned it upside down and used some kool-aid (for coloring) to discover leaks. Only found two, redid those spots and a few others for good measure, and it seems to hold well.

Anyways, we finally manage to get the waste tank installed. Now we work on installing the toilet. It takes a standard flange no problem, but the gasket...that's an almost $20 part that is specific to that toilet (or at least, to an rv toilet). Now we can keep some gallon jugs of water around to flush the toilet (now we can use the bathroom, and use baby wipes to clean up, we've reached the next stage of usability).

Next we work on plumbing. The waste vent goes out the side, just above the middle door (that used to be for the wheelchair lift). I'm just a bit too leery about cutting a hole in the roof. If anyone asks, I'll say it's for the dryer (as there's no other dryer vent, the dryer we have is ventless). Can always put a cover over it that's made for dryer vents, if it poses a problem. Oh, and somewhere during all this we also do some wiring for the lights, basically makes it easier to see when working in the bathroom. Anyways we get 1 1/2" run for the drains, and 1/2" PEX for the water lines. Outside water connector is put on the old wheelchair door, so now that can't be used for emergencies (we still have the main door, the window from the other door, another window, and the driver's door, we're ok). We turn on the water and there's leaks everywhere. A certain fitting we got just isn't working right. After quite a bit of tightening (had to keep going till there was nothing left, then tighten some more, and then come back after a few minutes to try again) everything stopped leaking. We have running water and have reached the next stage of usability (then it freezes, but it thaws out later, no worries).

Forgot to mention how the drains work. Basically, there's two shut-off valves for the gray water, and of course the big shut-off for the waste tank. I can open a shut-off valve inside to let the gray water run into the waste tank, and close a shut-off outside near the tank to keep the gray water from bypassing the tank. I can reverse it (close the shut-off valve inside and open the one that's near the tank) and it keeps water from going in the tank and lets it bypass. When it bypasses, it goes in the main waste drain just after the valve for the waste tank. This way I can keep it hooked up permanently, let the gray water drain constantly, and when the waste tank is full just close the bypass (don't want black water getting in the grey lines) and open the main valve to dump the tank. When I don't have a full-time hookup, everything dumps into one tank that's about 65-70 gallons big (instead of having two tanks, and possibly filling one but not the other). One side note, the washer with it's ventless dryer uses a lot of water to go through a cycle, and if the waste tank fills up, it won't dry so well. Found out the hard way.

Not in any particular order, but we also secured a lot of the stuff, made a small co-sleeper for our baby on the driver's side of our master bed, had a cabinet put in (need more though), installed an accordion door for the bathroom, put in the frame for the two bunk beds, fix the part of the table that folds down so we can use it again, and fix the door hinges where they were wore down and making the door sag (basically we used some washers for spacers, not a permanent solution but it works for now). Oh, also put on a trailer hitch, but haven't wired it up yet. Looking for a cheap ($300-$400) car dolly. If you got one and are near either Chattanooga or Nashville, TN, let me know.

To-do list includes putting in some shelves to house a satellite receiver and maybe a game system, install more shelves, actually putting mattresses on the two bunk beds and the co-sleeper, putting paneling up around the bathroom, securing more things (like the water heater), finish hooking up the fresh water tank, stuff like that. But, it is usable in its current state.

Ok, enough boring stuff, next post will contain some pics. Speaking of boring, I still need to come up with an actual name. Sad, but it was easier to name our kids.
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Old 02-07-2009, 02:41 PM   #10
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Re: The Bookmobile

My program that resizes pictures crashed, so while I was waiting for the laptop to reboot I went ahead and cut the mattresses to size and put them in. I bought one king foam mattress, so I just cut out the two bunk beds plus the small co-sleeper out of it, and still have plenty left over (pillows maybe?).

Ok, this picture is mainly to show off the new paint job. It's boring, but much better than pink.



This just shows how I fixed the hinges using small washers as spacers. Might want to click the picture for the larger version.


The master bedroom all the way in the back. There's a light switch on each side that control's the light on that side. The main door is on the left of the bed (the passenger side). A little inconvenient, but not too bad.



This is a shot from the bedroom looking forward. Bunk beds are to your left, bathroom to the right. Mattresses weren't installed yet in the bunk beds, they are now though.



This is of the top bunk. I had the generator cover up there at the moment.



Here's the bottom bunk, had a lot of junk on it.



Here's the shower. Couldn't get a shot of the whole thing, but this shows you the size. I think it's about 32".



I'm standing in the shower here taking a picture of the sink and toilet. That's a 10 gallon 110 water heater under the sink, and the toilet is turned so you have more leg room.



Here's a shot of the fridge with the microwave on top. Had I thought it through I would have gotten a side-by-side, as you need to have the bathroom door open to fully open the fridge (luckily this only affects opening up one drawer).



Here's a bad shot of the couch and captain's chair (we're just using it as a regular chair, and it's the only passenger seat with a seat belt right now). The couch will fold down into a bed. If you keep the right armrest up on the chair, you can stretch your feet out on it, making it almost bearable to sleep on.



Here's a shot of the kitchen counter.



Here's the 32" tv that's just above the kitchen counter, along with a cabinet.



Here's a shot just forward of the chairs and countertop, you can see the edge of the pink table on each side (and a part flips up in the middle to go all the way across).



And here's the washer/dryer, where the passenger/navigator seat used to be.



Quick funny story, I was pulled over not long ago by a cop thinking I had the wrong plates on. Had the registration and insurance ready, and registration showed it was a motorhome. I explained that we had converted it, and he said he knew, it just didn't look like it from the outside. Since he didn't get a good look in I was curious how he knew. Later I figured that having a washer/dryer as a passenger might have tipped him off.
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