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Old 10-31-2017, 11:33 AM   #1
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Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 8
Year: 1996
Coachwork: N/A
Chassis: Thomas
Engine: Cat 3116
Rated Cap: 20
The Love Bus

Hello All,

Wish I could say I stumbled across this forum myself but believe it or not a friend just recently referred me here I wasn't going to make an official conversion thread since my build is close to the tail end at this point but this person has been insisting I do it and since I still have a ways to go with the interior I'm happy to oblige

So here we go...

It all started this time last year when I watched the Expedition Happiness video that went viral on Facebook. I was immediately intrigued to learn that a 40 ft. school bus could be had for a mere fraction of what they went for new. This got my gears turning and having grown up in North Carolina I immediately remembered hearing that Thomas Buses were manufactured in High Point.

After perusing the internet for some time I came across the state surplus website where I found countless Thomas buses that were selling anywhere from $2500-$4000. The next couple months were spent dilly-dallying and wondering where I was going to keep this monstrosity. During this time I was introduced very serendipitously to a group of hobbyists that worked out of a warehouse in Raleigh. Wouldn't you know it, a couple of these guys had already converted a bus themselves! (though not nearly to the extent you will soon see below). Having arranged a place to work on it, some skilled assistance, and narrowing my search to only a few buses, I decided to finally pull the trigger towards the end of January.

I bought a 1996 Thomas MVP with a Cat 3116 and an MT-643 for $3000 out of Greenville, NC. ODO read 168k and the bus had been decommissioned only the summer before so all service was relatively up to date.

Throughout the build the thought of documenting everything did come to mind, however busying myself with filming, editing, and posting seemed like a largely inefficient way to be spending my time when I could put that energy into the conversion. I took pictures when projects were completed or certain breakthroughs achieved but not for every step as I've seen many people do in these threads.
As I begin to tackle the interior over the coming months I will do a better job documenting the process and be sure to post more frequently on here.
For now, i've taken select shots from my instagram account to post on here but if you want to see more of the "in-between" as well as captions explaining the photos, please feel free to find me:

My goal with The Love Bus from the get-go was actually two fold. I wanted to create a fully functioning RV that retained all of its school bus essence but also had the capacity to turn into a party on wheels without needing any significant modification. I garnered most of my inspiration from music festivals like Burning Man but there were quite a few bus builds I found on youtube that influenced the design process as well.

I worked on this bus virtually every day for over 9 months and have spent far more than I initially set out to. I've always enjoyed projects/building things and while I can't say this has been a labour of love all the way through, it's definitely been a learning process and I couldn't be happier with the way everything's come together.

At this point you might be asking yourself, WHY The Love Bus?!?

Well, I wanted to name it something I felt would resonate with people no matter who they were. That way, no matter where the bus journeyed to, it would always be well received. Love is universal and everyone reading this is guilty of its embrace, so I chose the name early on and the color purple came later basically because I didn't want a red bus ...

So far it has managed a cross country trip, Oregon Eclipse, and my deadline which coincidentally enough was Burning Man. Its current home is Los Angeles and in the coming months I will be designing the interior so that it too compliments the name (hint: think fur). Stay tuned my friends...

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Old 11-01-2017, 07:07 AM   #2
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Location: MNT CITY TN
Posts: 5,158
Welcome, love the project great jobs...what does the future hold?
Our build La Tortuga
Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory.
George S. Patton
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Old 11-01-2017, 07:15 AM   #3
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Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Eustis FLORIDA
Posts: 16,536
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Freighliner FS65
Engine: Cat 3126
Rated Cap: 15
I dig it man. I love the color.
Roll Your Own Build Thread
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Old 11-01-2017, 01:55 PM   #4
New Member
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 8
Year: 1996
Coachwork: N/A
Chassis: Thomas
Engine: Cat 3116
Rated Cap: 20
Thanks! Priorities over the next couple months include: Building a detachable railing system, replacing gasoline generators (plural) to a single direct 7k RV unit, making the interior more comfortable (right now its all wood), installing floors based off the interior color scheme I choose, LED lighting and sound system for both inside and out.
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Old 11-01-2017, 07:01 PM   #5
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Join Date: Jan 2017
Location: IL
Posts: 195
Year: 2000
Coachwork: Never coached any teams, not even junior soccer
Chassis: I'm still figuring out what this means
Engine: CAT diesel
Rated Cap: No caps, only hats.
Love the bus and you're whole style/sensibility. Total roof-deck jealousy over here
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Old 11-04-2017, 12:24 AM   #6
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Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: Damascus, OR
Posts: 342
Year: 2004
Chassis: International
Engine: T444e w/ 2000 Allison Trans
Rated Cap: 35
cool build. how is all the additional weight affecting the ride and power? cheers
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Old 11-04-2017, 10:58 AM   #7
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Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Houston, Texas
Posts: 8,357
Year: 1946
Coachwork: Chevrolet/Wayne
Chassis: 1- 1/2 ton
Engine: Cummins 4BT
Rated Cap: 15
Nice putting green!
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Old 12-03-2017, 03:07 PM   #8
New Member
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 8
Year: 1996
Coachwork: N/A
Chassis: Thomas
Engine: Cat 3116
Rated Cap: 20
This past week we finally started making the benches. Went into Downtown LA and purchased quite a bit of foam and fabric as well as most of the fur we will be using to line the ceiling and bedroom. Even with only a few done at this point it already gives the bus a completely new feel when you walk in. Also had some professional shots taken of the interior finally. More benches and fur install coming in the next few weeks. For more updates follow me

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Old 12-03-2017, 03:15 PM   #9
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Midwest
Posts: 2,573
Year: 2003
Coachwork: BlueBird
Chassis: TC2000
Engine: 5.9L Cummins
Rated Cap: '00
Too much Style for one bus. Off the hook.

Those photos are so rich- they must have been taken with a good smartphone.
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Old 12-03-2017, 04:04 PM   #10
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Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: N.C.
Posts: 625
Year: 1997
Coachwork: Bluebird
Engine: DT466E
Rated Cap: 34
That is one killer shower......nice work.


The Busted Flush
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