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Old 10-13-2015, 11:20 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: Belgrade, MT
Posts: 65
Year: 1999
Coachwork: AmTran
Chassis: International
Engine: DT466E International
Rated Cap: 72
Velda the Wonderbus' Makeover

Hello from central Wisconsin!

We just bought a 1999 International Genesis, and we love her already. Not that there aren't a few...issues...for us to deal with.

I've been finding all of your posts tremendously helpful, and hope to add my own insights as I gain them. In the meantime, I'm freaking terrified of the prospect of dealing with several of the existing systems. The first two I'll ask the great skoolie network for assistance with are the wiring/buss panel and the compressed air system.

The photo below shows the existing fuse panels, buss panel, the brains of the KLAM electromagnetic brake retarder (I'll have plenty more to ask about this doozy, but that can wait), the coolant port, and the compressed air connection for the stop arm. It's a terrifying spectre:



So, what the heck am I supposed to do about this mess? My best plan so far is to chase the numerous unnecessary wires from wherever they are now back to the panel and to remove as many of them as possible, thus cleaning up the box as much as possible. But ultimately, it's still going to be one heck of a mess, and I am unlikely to be able to figure out what every wire even goes to. I should add that there are numerous unlabeled wires hanging loose NEAR various unused connections in the bus panel...I suspect that they have come loose from the adjacent connections (fuses are in place, and what I presume is the hot side is still connected).

The batteries are currently dead, the result of a faulty coolant heater thermostat that ran continually and drained all ability to hold a charge from the battery bank. The thermostat was removed (and needs to be replaced still), so that problem is taken care of. I'll be replacing the batteries today, but am hesitant to do so before I have things connected as well as possible, since this will energize a questionable system. I suppose, however, that I'll at least be able to test circuits after they are energized...

So any words of advice would be appreciated

My other immediate concern is in regards to the compressed air system. I removed the stop arm, but that leaves a compressed air hose hanging loose with no way to pressurize the system. As far as I know, there may be a valve in the system that prevents air from escaping out the hose, but there may not be...and I'm going to have to deal with the connection at the front doors, too, as I'm going to remove the original doors. Do I just cap each hose and call it good, or do I need to do anything else to the system once I've removed these fixtures? I tried searching for other discussions on compressed air systems (and removing them), but wasn't able to come up with anything. Again, any help would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance!
Ben
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Old 10-13-2015, 04:53 PM   #2
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Do not remove any wiring.. Ya may need it later

Before doing any removal, learn all ya can about your type bus. The stop arm air is usually controlled via some electric switch that operates a solenoid. No air should leak out.. Look around where you are located and discover the bus type used. Get connected with a bus mechanic. He could guide you, when off work at a low cost. Look for any net information about your bus. Buses are not difficult to own and care for. Batteries, buy some high amp car batteries. Better warranty, easier to handle. To determine if there is any battery voltage loss, disconnect the negative or ground cable and connect a old head lite, trouble lite or horn on ground and battery post. If the lite comes on or the horn makes noise,,, there is a leak out of the battery. To keep batteries ready for use.. Connect a 20-30 amp charger to a 24 hour time clock. Set the clock to 6 hours on, 6 hours off, 6 hours on, 6 hours off. My batteries usually last 6-7 years. Constantly check battery voltage with a digital multimeter. A reading of 12.0 means the battery is 75% discharged. A fully charged battery will indicate 12.6 volts.............. Frank
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Old 10-14-2015, 10:17 AM   #3
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Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: Belgrade, MT
Posts: 65
Year: 1999
Coachwork: AmTran
Chassis: International
Engine: DT466E International
Rated Cap: 72
Thanks Frank - I'm definitely in the "learn first, remove second" camp already, but your advice is appreciated. Unfortunately, the previous owners, Adams 12 Five Star School District in Thornton, CO, made all sorts of after-market modifications, additions, and (before they sold it to me) removals, so I haven't had any luck finding a comprehensive "guide" to it. That said, I've been devouring literature about the various components - it's just the utter basics that nobody bothers to write up which continue to confound me.

I only plan on removing the wires which are hanging loose elsewhere on the bus - it appears that at least a portion of the PA system, the fleet tracking equipment, and who-knows-what-else were simply removed, with the wires snipped and left in place. Where I can, I'll chase these wires back to the buss panel and remove them to make space and clear up my view of what's left.

Picked up three new batteries from Batteries + Bulbs yesterday, just showed him a photo of the existing batteries and he grabbed the appropriate replacements. I was pretty happy when I found out they were only $99/ea, and that I didn't need the $200+ type I'd been fearing I'd need.

The stop arm appears to be controlled by two different switches, but I'll re-connect the air hose and make sure I know for sure (I avoided touching the switches I thought might control it like the plague on my drive to Wisconsin from Colorado; last thing I wanted was to inadvertently throw the arm and trigger the lights while driving down I-80) before I remove the arm for good.

We had Diesel Services of Northern Colorado (Fort Collins) look over the bus right after we bought it, and they helped orient us to her and her systems; again, because of all the modifications made by Adams School District, they were pretty confounded on a couple systems. So I continue to pick up what information I can. And we found a diesel shop with numerous other school buses outside it yesterday, so I'll give them a call or stop by next week to see what they do/what they know. Until then, I've gotta focus on getting her painted before the weather turns to winter. Hence wanting to get the stop arm removed

Thanks again!
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Old 10-14-2015, 10:23 AM   #4
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: Belgrade, MT
Posts: 65
Year: 1999
Coachwork: AmTran
Chassis: International
Engine: DT466E International
Rated Cap: 72
I should add that I resoundingly endorse the mechanics and staff at Diesel Services of Northern Colorado. They were professional, friendly, patient, and eager to help. They generally work on fire trucks, well drilling rigs, ambulances, and wild fire equipment, so Velda was pretty new to most of them, but a couple mechanics there used to drive school buses, so it wasn't entirely Greek to them. But unfamiliar systems or not, they did their research and got us on the road for way less money than I expected/feared. So if you're in the area and need someone to work on your bus, they're a great place to go.
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Old 10-14-2015, 09:36 PM   #5
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Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Picton,Ont, Can.
Posts: 542
Year: 1997
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: GMC
Engine: Cat 3116
Rated Cap: 72
That sure is a dog's breakfast from the pic. Completely doable though and a great way to know what is what.
So take better pictures of each quarter of that cabinet as it is now.
Assemble all your tools that you will need light, screw drivers, electrical tape, book to make notes of as and any changes you may make. Find some wire markers at an electrical supplier, numbers and letters preferred. Small set of diagonals and wire stripper and knife. Wire termination devices, splices, eye connectors in all sizes you might need. Better looking at them than for them.
Leave all batteries out of the bus.
Get some sort of ohmeter and understand how it works so you know what it will tell you.
Forget the air issues for now. take a deep breathe, Have a few beers, stare at the mess for a few days to get it in your head how to make that mess look better.

lesson 2 to follow with further suggestions when you get this organized as above
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Question everything!
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Old 10-16-2015, 11:08 AM   #6
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: Belgrade, MT
Posts: 65
Year: 1999
Coachwork: AmTran
Chassis: International
Engine: DT466E International
Rated Cap: 72
Thanks, BlackJohn. Head down, one step at a time, pushing forward. With notes, labels, photos, and a little luck I'll get it figured out
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Old 10-16-2015, 01:32 PM   #7
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I'd close the door and weld it shut.
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Old 10-16-2015, 07:45 PM   #8
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: Belgrade, MT
Posts: 65
Year: 1999
Coachwork: AmTran
Chassis: International
Engine: DT466E International
Rated Cap: 72
Yeah, I thought about that opus ;)
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Old 02-01-2016, 11:49 PM   #9
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: Belgrade, MT
Posts: 65
Year: 1999
Coachwork: AmTran
Chassis: International
Engine: DT466E International
Rated Cap: 72
So much progress! More details at The Adventures of Velda the Wonderbus, but we're cranking along...we have a couple more RV windows to install (we weren't quite sure where we wanted a couple of them when we put the rest in), and I'm still working on building a box for the generator (that'll be a post of its own), but most of the insulation and new sub-floor is in, and all the new exterior lights are installed - just not wired in (still figuring that out). We also had a really fantastic talk with Inspector S-- at the local Wisconsin State Patrol about the upcoming inspection to verify that Velda is now an RV and not a bus. Inspector S-- informed us that although we're welcome to have a wood stove in our RV, it might raise some inspector's eyebrows, so if we could hold off on installing it the inspection might be easier. Furthermore, we don't have to have the conversion complete, or anywhere close! She just can't be yellow any more, the stop arm has to be removed, and her red/amber flashers have to be removed (even here he encouraged us to re-use the lights as additional turn and driving lights, they just can't be school bus flashers any more). So our final hurdle before registration is getting the lights wired, and we hope to have her street legal as an RV within a week! (SO EXCITED!!!)

We also received our custom-made captain's and co-pilot's chairs from seats4less.com, and although we haven't ridden in them yet (they're not installed), they were made in the US and arrived right on time, 7 weeks after we ordered them.

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Old 02-02-2016, 07:54 AM   #10
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Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Eustis FLORIDA
Posts: 12,163
Year: 1992
Coachwork: Ward/AmTran
Chassis: International
Engine: dt466
Rated Cap: 78
You got a great bus, keep up the work! Nice to see another gutting the gross fiberglass out!
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