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Old 10-18-2015, 09:45 AM   #1
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The Newman Skoolie!

We haven't come up with a name for her yet, but the conversion is started!

I bought this bus in Iowa two weeks ago and drove her home successfully to Virginia - 24hrs. of driving in 2.5 days! She's a 1998 65 seat, Freightliner/Thomas with a Cummins 6BT 5.9L, Allison 2500 tranny and 102K miles. This must have been among the last all-mechanical 12v 6BTs installed since the 24v ISBs became available in mid-1998. She was built to the tough Iowa spec and was well maintained in her district.

This is a family RV conversion which will have the typical bedroom aft, composting toilet, shower stall, galley kitchen, 2 way refrigerator, convertible seating up front, propane cooking and heating (+ fridge), and a roof raise to make room for the loft up front and more storage throughout. I also plan to add the WVO option, solar and wind supplemental power.

We have 18 of the 24 seats out and we're starting to take on the interior panels. The current floor plan calls for removing and skinning over six windows and moving the left emergency widow next to the one on the right. I thought it would be nice to have those next to each other at the galley kitchen so that when we're in camp and have the outside canopy up (simple homemade oilcloth canvas) and dining, entertaining, etc., the emergency windows can be held up and open for pass-throughs, discussion, etc. It just seems more inviting that way.

I also plan to reinstall the six removed windows above six of the existing windows after the roof raise to let more light in and allow fellow travelers to better see the sights. I haven't seen this done in any of the other conversion projects. Am I missing something? Would anyone advise me not to?

Other than that the adventure has officially begun! Thanks for looking, come back soon!

About to drive off the lot in Marshalltown, Iowa:



One of my earth-dog daughters loving the grinder (we burned this little 4.4amp one out pretty quickly on the case-hardened bolts, "allowing" me to get the choice 11amp Dewalt - WooHoo!)!



Half the seats out with the help of some neighborhood friends:



All but four seats remain:



Being the family project that it is we want to reuse and recycle whatever we can. I hoped we'd get more out of the seating parts and pieces but it just wasn't possible. We disassembled them, kept all the plywood that was usable, trashed the upholstery and recycled the steel framing at the landfill.

If anybody has a suggestion on how to reuse the steel framing please let me know. It's tubular, so even cut up and refabricated I don't see much of a use for it but I'll be kicking myself if I do end up needing some. I have half the seats left so if anyone has any suggestions it would be greatly appreciated - thanks in advance!

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Old 10-18-2015, 09:59 AM   #2
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Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Houston, Texas
Posts: 5,850
Year: 1946
Coachwork: Chevrolet/Wayne
Chassis: 1- 1/2 ton
Engine: Cummins 4BT
Rated Cap: 15
Welcome Guys & Gals! --- Man, what a great combo you found there. Between the mechanical 5.9 and a newer 2000 series Allison, that's about as good as it gets in my book. And it appears to be pretty rust free as well.

And it looks like you have a solid handle on the build too. A shared family project like this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Best of luck on the build and please do keep the pix coming.
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Old 10-18-2015, 10:01 AM   #3
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Location: Eustis FLORIDA
Posts: 11,150
Year: 1992
Coachwork: Ward/AmTran
Chassis: International
Engine: dt466
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How about Johnny 5

My bus is number 50.

Although after getting a copy of the classic piece of literature known as Roll Your Own, I've sorta started calling it that.
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Old 10-18-2015, 10:11 AM   #4
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Wow! Thanks a lot you guys, that was quick! I didn't really know about skoolies four short weeks ago. The only reason I found such a great platform and have any kind of handle on the design is because of the great people on this site!

I didn't intend to buy a bus that day, it really was just for research so I could step onto and off of the 2+ dozen they had just to get a feel for them. But when I saw this one and its spec and configuration I knew it was a really good match and I'm so glad I pulled the trigger.

Thanks for the kind words already!
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Old 10-18-2015, 10:15 AM   #5
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Location: Eustis FLORIDA
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Year: 1992
Coachwork: Ward/AmTran
Chassis: International
Engine: dt466
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Old 10-18-2015, 10:23 AM   #6
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EastCoastCB - BRILLIANT!
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Old 10-18-2015, 10:28 AM   #7
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Location: Eustis FLORIDA
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Year: 1992
Coachwork: Ward/AmTran
Chassis: International
Engine: dt466
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LOL some don't think so but that's fine! Glad you liked it. Made me chuckle... But I'm a clown apparently!
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Old 10-18-2015, 10:38 AM   #8
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Well I've LOVED the connection forever so it's fine with me. My first job out of college was at a microbrewery and the guys would holler it from the bottom of the tanks they were cleaning and it sounded so spooky!
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Old 10-18-2015, 11:07 AM   #9
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...and I've got some light reading to do...

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Old 10-25-2015, 09:33 PM   #10
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Milestone! Seats are out, first panels removed. We got the seats out with lots of fanfare and even knocked out the first few lower interior panels. I am delighted to find very little rust, so far...She looks really solid all the way to the floor.

I can't get the lowest pieces of fiberglass insulation out, the stuff behind the chair rail at the very bottom. The remnants of the screws are holding it in plus it's pretty much out of reach and all I can get are bits and piece and not much of it either. Any "major" issue with just leaving it?

My kids love the sparks...and who can blame them!



I love this shot, my daughter Madeline hard at work at the chair rail...very eerie....



A nice clean panel, and thankfully, the rest were similar.



Not a lot of rust to go after, thankfully...



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