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Old 11-18-2012, 02:37 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Year: 1997
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Tourtech Bus - 1997 International 3800

Hey Everyone,

I'm new here, but I've been lurking for a little bit now.

A few months back I bought a 1997 International D3800 72 Passenger School Bus. The bus was purchased from a school board which was the second owner, and it has a new (less than a year old) tranny, and new brakes springs and shocks. The body has some rust around the rub rails and the battery box door, but overall it's not in bad shape at all.

My plans for the bus is to make it into a Tour Bus, not the kind for tourists, but the type that entertainers use when travelling on the road. I work in that field, and I have allways wanted to have my own traveling accoms so I've finally gotten around to putting it together. My plans are to make something that more resembles a limo bus than a camper, with lots of seating that converts into sleeping quarters. The bus will be dry, but it will contain things like a big screen TV, surround sound system, computers, WiFi,, cell phone extenders and all kinds of that electronic goop to make traveling more enjoyable. Ideally, I would like to be able to take on passengers, but I am also designing it for my family's personal use as well. The back three window sections will be sectioned off, and used to haul gear in, so the passenger space will be somewhat limited by this, but the bus will be replacing a 14' cube van and this needs to be done to keep the project viable.

There are a few things that I need to figure out, and I will put them in different posts within this thread. I will post links to Youtube Videos as well, as I've allready started making a log, allthough I haven't even gotten the seats out of my bus yet. Since winter is just around the corner here in Southern Ontario, Canada, I'm not sure that progress will be very intense over the next 4-5 months so gathering parts and info is what I figured is my short term game plan.

Thanks for the site, I've been reading all kinds of threads here and find it extreamly informative.
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Old 11-18-2012, 05:12 PM   #2
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Re: Tourtech Bus - 1997 International 3800

You need refrideration ...either coolers or a fridge...that makes a big difference at the end off a day.
Good luck,welcome aboard and....oh...post pics
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Old 11-18-2012, 06:34 PM   #3
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Nov 2012
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Year: 1997
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Engine: T444E
Rated Cap: 72
Door Opener.

There will be pics, but ATM it's still just a school bus.

The first little project I need to tackle is opening the front door of the bus. In order to do this, I have purchased a surplus power door lock actuator, and I am going to attach that to to drivers door opener thingy. Hopefully, it will have enough force to lift the metal plate so that the doors spring open, and the whole thing will be controlled by a simple surplus ignition switch (with a key of course). Has anyone tried this, or is there a simpler solution to locking the bus up?

I don't want to do a simple padlock on the doors because I want it to look clean and don't want some joker locking me inside the bus.....
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Old 11-18-2012, 06:47 PM   #4
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Re: Tourtech Bus - 1997 International 3800

Welcome, looking forward to seeing your project come together.
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Old 11-18-2012, 10:05 PM   #5
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Re: Tourtech Bus - 1997 International 3800

Welcome to Skoolie! Lookin forward to some pix of your build. Just take your time, do some homework (most of which can be done here) and have fun.
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Old 11-19-2012, 11:53 AM   #6
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Aerodynamics

Thanks for the welcomes everyone,

Another kind of ambitious idea I have for my bus is improving the aerodynamics of it. This might be a little foolish, as I am just going to do it without any sort of before and after testing, so I really won't know how much the efforts actually pay off.

May plans are the following:
  • -Section the front bumper horizontally to make it larger to block air from going under the bus.
    -Add a half Kammback to the roof on the rear of the bus. This part I will make removable, because it has the potential to make things worse if I don't get it right.
    -Lower the sides of the Bus even with the front door
    -Add basement storage and flatten out the underbelly as much as possible
    - Add a bubble to the front top of the bus
    - Add some sort of fairing/deflector to reduce the drag created by the windshield
    - Add covers to the rear wheel wells
    - Add smooth caps to the front wheels

Has anyone else tried doing anything about the highway fuel consumption, and if so what seemed to work the best?
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Old 11-19-2012, 12:43 PM   #7
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Re: Tourtech Bus - 1997 International 3800

Really cool idea. I've played keyboards with a number of local bands and thought of building a similar bus many times. What always discouraged me was the fact that I would end up paying for everything and doing all the work. Also there were very few out of town gigs where a bus would have been useful.

FWIW I'll share a few ideas I had. In the very back, where the last two rows of seats were, I had planned to build some racks on either side of the aisle where guitars, keyboards, and maybe a few other expensive pieces of gear could be strapped down. In that same area, with very minimal partitions and a curtain for a door would be a restroom of sorts that was just a porta-potty on the floor. That would be for emergency use only, but having a potty on board is a requirement for getting the bus titled as a motorhome. Likewise there was going to be a very tiny galley somewhere on board.

I thought that building stacked tour bus bunks on either side of the aisle near the back would be cool, but for all of my local gigs I questioned how much use they would really get. The rest of the interior would be as you planned, limo/party bus style, and no serious modifications.

I'm glad to see that someone is able to live this dream. Post some pics when you get 'em.

Christopher
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Old 11-19-2012, 02:14 PM   #8
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Re: Tourtech Bus - 1997 International 3800

The MPG improvements on a diesel engine would be only minimal by changing the shape on the load. It's still going to weight x amount of lb's no matter what you do to your bus. I cannot see improvements big enough to pay for the cost of the mods unless you travel a lot. A whole lot....... Kinda like a generator...... It takes x amount of fuel to just run the engine at x number of rpm's and it's going to cost that before any mods are made.... and after.
The biggest improvements can come from lowering your Gross Vehicle Weight and lowering your RPM's at which you move said load.....
Just food for thought
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Old 11-19-2012, 03:47 PM   #9
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Re: Tourtech Bus - 1997 International 3800

Quote:
Originally Posted by skoolz out
Really cool idea. I've played keyboards with a number of local bands and thought of building a similar bus many times. What always discouraged me was the fact that I would end up paying for everything and doing all the work. Also there were very few out of town gigs where a bus would have been useful.

FWIW I'll share a few ideas I had. In the very back, where the last two rows of seats were, I had planned to build some racks on either side of the aisle where guitars, keyboards, and maybe a few other expensive pieces of gear could be strapped down. In that same area, with very minimal partitions and a curtain for a door would be a restroom of sorts that was just a porta-potty on the floor. That would be for emergency use only, but having a potty on board is a requirement for getting the bus titled as a motorhome. Likewise there was going to be a very tiny galley somewhere on board.

I thought that building stacked tour bus bunks on either side of the aisle near the back would be cool, but for all of my local gigs I questioned how much use they would really get. The rest of the interior would be as you planned, limo/party bus style, and no serious modifications.

I'm glad to see that someone is able to live this dream. Post some pics when you get 'em.

Christopher
Hey Christopher,

I'm an Audio Tech, and myself and a few of my friends that also work in the same industry tour quite a bit. I also work for a few SoundCos that have connections to more work for a project like this, so it is basically a way to get more touring work than anything, kind of an added bonus sort of thing. I'm an AZ Driver as well, getting that was also a way into getting more touring work.

The gear hold in the back is for backline gear and maybe a small PA/Monitor rig, as most places I am walking into an environment where production (and sometimes back line) is provided. However, things being as they are, sometimes what is provided doesn't meet what is specified, so it's good to have everything I might need on hand, just in case. I'm not too big on the potty idea, I figured we would just do what we currently do now which is stop at a rest stop, or on the side of the road when someone has to go. I'm not sure that I will register the bus as an RV as it will be used for business use, so I will likely need a CVOR in any case.

I don't think the ceiling height is high enough for bunks, so I'm going with the giant sofas everywhere approach. I will have a small kitchen type counter, with a fridge, microwave, bottled water and coffee machine, it will be extreamly small though.

Basically, I'm looking to travel with a small PA, backline and 12-14 people. If I can do that it will cover 95% of the shows we do. We currently rent a cube van and three mini vans to move everyone, so I figure the bus should pay for itself in a year or two.

I'll post some pics as things progress, so far it's just been peeling stickers and measuring stuff.
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Old 11-19-2012, 04:01 PM   #10
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Nov 2012
Posts: 24
Year: 1997
Coachwork: Corbeil
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: T444E
Rated Cap: 72
Re: Tourtech Bus - 1997 International 3800

Quote:
Originally Posted by GreyEagle
The MPG improvements on a diesel engine would be only minimal by changing the shape on the load. It's still going to weight x amount of lb's no matter what you do to your bus. I cannot see improvements big enough to pay for the cost of the mods unless you travel a lot. A whole lot....... Kinda like a generator...... It takes x amount of fuel to just run the engine at x number of rpm's and it's going to cost that before any mods are made.... and after.
The biggest improvements can come from lowering your Gross Vehicle Weight and lowering your RPM's at which you move said load.....
Just food for thought
Hey Grey,

I was going on the assumption that resistance is the same as a static load, so reducing the wind resistance increases fuel economy when you are rolling down the road. I'm also an AZ Driver, and all of the newer trucks have side skirts on the trailers and aero kits on the cabs including a fairing for the trailer, so I figure there has to be some sort of benifit to making the bus a little less brick-like.

Like I said, I won't have any idea if the changes I make are benificial or not becuase I won't really have any sort of baseline to compare with, other than other people's busses maybe, but as you mentioned, mine could be heavier or lighter than theirs which could attribute to a difference in fuel economy in itself.

At any rate, this is the basic config, without the kammback , bubble or fairing, so this is the first stage that I am shooting for. The side skirts make sense just because I'll be adding the basement storage compartments, so to get the bus to this point, there really isn't too much time, money or effort waisted.

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