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Old 04-03-2009, 01:10 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 48
Victoria

Hi everyone,
I joined this board under a different username 5 years ago at 13. Since then, I have been through 8 or 9 cars (I like to change them every now and then, and some were really rough), graduated from high school with honors and a front page article in the local newspaper, lost my single mother to her battle with systemic lupus, started 2 businesses (one of which never did anything), and developed a 2 year relationship. If you did the math, I am now 18, and Saturday I will be driving from Michigan to Indiana pick up my first skoolie. I can't contain my excitement.

I picked up this lovely rig for $800. It is a 1987 66 Passenger International, with a 7.3l v8 diesel, 167k. I think this would be just breaking it in, most diesels of that size I've seen run 500k plus miles. I don't know about this particular model, if anyone does I'd appreciate your remarks.
I am not sure of the interior length in this bus, I have big plans for it, so I hope it can contain itself. I plan on using it for road trips through college, and eventually tour the country with it for at least 1 year. That being said, I would like it to be relatively upscale, including:
A full size Jetted Bathtub
A residential refrigerator (are these ok to put in coaches now, I see them all the time, but I read a long time ago that you couldn't do this)
An apartment size dishwasher
A roof raise (evil impending doom music plays)
A rooftop deck similar to Airstream's Skydeck, complete with barbecue grill and mini-fridge
A tankless water heater, or a large 40 gal or so water heater (what would you recommend?)
Tiled entryway and ambient lighting throughout
A plasma tv or projector and screen in the main living space, and a smaller flat panel in the bedroom
Satellite Tv
A generator (one should hope with all of this stuff)
100+ gallon freshwater tank
Stairs to the deck that can pull down from the ceiling (so that my grandmothers can access it)
I am trying to figure out a cheap way to do a composting toilet, so that I can avoid a blackwater tank altogether
An office space (glorified desk)
Storage Bays Underneath
A very nice rustoleum paint job reminiscent of those on high end rv's like Fleetwood's American Coach Line
I would like to put in a slide-out or two, but I don't know how much it would cost, and I would rather it be electric/mechanical than hydraulic
Air Conditioning and Heating (Michigan weather is anything but predictable), I am hoping to get away with just having a window A/C unit and using the existing heat system
I would like to put a queen size bed in back, but I don't know if it will be possible with all of the rest of the stuff taking up space, since I don't want the entire bedroom to just be a bed.

Being a 66 Passenger bus, I think I may have to compromise on some things, just because of the lack of space, but we'll see once I actually get it home. The nice part is that I already have most of this stuff, and craigslist is a very good resource otherwise. Despite it sounding like a lot, I don't anticipate this to cost too much because of that. I have my (carpenter) uncle and girlfriend to help me, and since it's spring break I will hopefully be getting a lot done. I wonder how many trips to harbor freight I will make.

I am also wondering if I ever decided to sell it, would I be able to break even or even make a profit. Usually the only ones I see making big profits are Coaches made from Prevost or MCI shells. I think I should be able to do this all for around $3-4k total.

Anyways, I will keep this updated with photos and ideas to bounce off of you all, and I would really appreciate any suggestions you have for what to do or what not to do that is or isn't in my plans. Oh, and if anyone knows the Michigan requirements to be titled as an rv I would appreciate that, last I knew it was 3 of a list of 4 things, but I can't find it anywhere.

PS: I am naming my Skoolie "Victoria" as of right now, I thought of "Crown Victoria", but it's not a crown and I didn't want to seem like I was copying ford. Let me know what you all think. Thanks for reading
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Nicholas Virgil
1987 International (66 passenger) 7.3l diesel
2002 Ford Explorer
1993 Saturn SL2
1988 Chevy C1500
Kmart Mountain Bike
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Old 04-03-2009, 01:18 AM   #2
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
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Re: Victoria

I was also going to say that I would title and insure it when it still looked rough, so that I don't get stuck with higher rates. I have state farm for auto and they said they could insure it once I convert it for probably around 200-300 a year, that is on average what they charge. I see GMAC brought up a lot here, and I wondered do you all think that would be a better route to take?
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Nicholas Virgil
1987 International (66 passenger) 7.3l diesel
2002 Ford Explorer
1993 Saturn SL2
1988 Chevy C1500
Kmart Mountain Bike
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Old 04-03-2009, 01:34 AM   #3
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Re: Victoria

The two insurance companies you mentioned are the ones you will see mentioned all over. All of my insurance is through State Farm so that was the obvious choice for me on the bus. My agent insured it for me no problem. I just have liability as I doubt I'm going to be on the losing end of any accident and if I am...well...I build again! My insurance comes in under $200 per year including towing insurance. The best part is that is for the whole year and I don't insure it for nearly that long since I don't use it during the winter. My agent goes so far as to backdate my insurance suspension so as to save me money. I think last year I paid maybe $75 for insurance all year. Coincidently the good student discount, age, and the Steer Clear driving discounts all mean essentially nothing on RV insurance because the actuarials show that it really doesn't matter for these vehicles so it's good that the rates are so cheap.
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Old 04-03-2009, 01:23 PM   #4
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
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Re: Victoria

Woohoo! It looks like I just got a tankless lp water heater for $85. That should save on space and be a bit more efficient than a 40 gallon. I am trying to decide on buying a rough trailer for $300 to use for parts, but most of the items I am using are going to be residential. What do you all think?
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1987 International (66 passenger) 7.3l diesel
2002 Ford Explorer
1993 Saturn SL2
1988 Chevy C1500
Kmart Mountain Bike
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Old 04-03-2009, 08:48 PM   #5
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Re: Victoria

Well what are your intentions? I know you want to take a long trip and some shorter trips, but are you going to be fulltiming it in this thing? Residential stuff is huge. It might not seem that way, but just wait until you cram it in there. An RV style range and oven is smaller, but there isn't much you can't do in them that you could do in a residential size unit, save for roasting a 20 lbs turkey. But let me tell you...the difference in size is immense. It doesn't take long for the interior of a bus to fill up. Measure some stuff you're looking at using and make cardboard replicas so you can get a feel for the size.
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Old 04-03-2009, 09:19 PM   #6
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Year: 1996
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Re: Victoria

A tankless water heater I think would take alot of energy to heat up the water, but Sounds interesting let me know how that works.
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Old 04-03-2009, 10:17 PM   #7
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Re: Victoria

Well I don't necessarily need to get the tankless unit, I just figured it would be more efficient than a 40gal model. I found a rough travel trailer for $300 which I could probably pull some parts from, but I plan on spending a lot of time in this bus. Even when it is parked, I think I'll use it as an office or possibly live in it. Right now I am living with my great grandmother, I help her pay her bills, and save a ton of money on rent which is how I could afford this.

Most likely the water heater from the trailer would be a 6gal; and I am concerned that if I can manage to fit that 5' long 32" wide jetted tub I want in, a 6 gallon water heater will mean I don't get to use the tub too comfortably. The tankless takes up far less room than a 40 gallon water heater, and it wouldn't be wasting energy heating 40 gallons when I do not need it. I would really like to know what you all would suggest. If I can't get that tub, I am planning on a shower something like this:



I went idea shopping at menards today, and fell in love with this tile "blue pearl." Too bad it is $9 per square foot, I was thinking of using it for counters though, and perhaps as an accent tile somewhere, I doubt I would buy more than 10 tiles, and that's only if I don't have time to talk myself out of it beforehand. I am worried about the tile cracking with the floor flexing down the road, but I see a lot of new conversions using hard tile on the floors. I know vinyl would work just fine, but I really prefer the look and feel of real stone. Any ideas here?

I also see residential refrigerators in newer rv's, and they seem to fit ok, I know it will take some careful planning, and maybe I could luck out and find a counter-depth fridge. For the range I was thinking of something like what these people did:



They said they originally had a standard rv range and oven, but it was just too small. I do plan on full-timing in this for at least a year or two within the next few years, so I want it to be comfortable. I think I forgot to also include that I wanted a washer and dryer or a combo unit sometime in the future, but it is not necessary right away. I know 13' 9" is the legal max height, but I don't know how tall this bus is to begin with. I'll check when I get it tomorrow. Ideally I would like at least 7' interior ceilings with some recessed lighting, and a rooftop deck with seats that flip up, my minifridge leftover from life in the dorms, and a small barbecue grill. I am trying not to get my hopes up about it too much, as I don't know how much of this will be possible in terms of finances and mainly in terms of space. So far it's not looking like it will cost too much more than other conversions, but we'll see.

I am considering fabricating slide-outs using electric actuators along with a system similar to "a bus with no name".



This would allow for a lot more space when parked, but I hate when I see rv's with slide-outs that are too cramped and basically unusable without the slide-outs extended (like when you're driving down the road).

I came up with an idea to use a significantly smaller (than 120+ gallon) grey water tank, and hook up a valve and garden hose to be able to empty it somewhere. The only time it wouldn't be able to handle the load would be when someone takes a bath instead of a shower. Perhaps I could use a smaller freshwater tank, but I would like to be able to boondock for several days up to 2 weeks at a time.

I am still trying to figure out the compost toilet situation, perhaps I will have to bite the bullet and set up a black water system. I notice that rv surplus salvage had faucets for rv's. Would there be any issues with me using a plain residential faucet?

Any other suggestions as to ideas for what to put in or what not to put in? Today I found out there are rv saunas available for $1k...I think I'll pass on that though But Please, anything you can suggest I would love to know!

I am still wondering if I will be able to break even should I ever want to sell it. I guess we'll see when the time comes.

For now I am off to bed, must get up early for the 4 hour drive (there, then another 4 back). Thanks for reading, and please comment.
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Nicholas Virgil
1987 International (66 passenger) 7.3l diesel
2002 Ford Explorer
1993 Saturn SL2
1988 Chevy C1500
Kmart Mountain Bike
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Old 04-04-2009, 06:57 AM   #8
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
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Re: Victoria

Well I am off today to pick up my new rig! Wish me luck...
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Nicholas Virgil
1987 International (66 passenger) 7.3l diesel
2002 Ford Explorer
1993 Saturn SL2
1988 Chevy C1500
Kmart Mountain Bike
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Old 04-04-2009, 11:31 PM   #9
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
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Re: Victoria

I haven't been this tired at this time in a very long time. I picked up the bus today and drove it home, my first drive in a vehicle of that stature, but there's a first time for everything I suppose. My girlfriend came along and I had to hear the "be careful what you buy" and "are you sure you want to do this?" talk. He was genuinely concerned and I appreciate it, but I have confidence in myself.

Now that I have been able to get some measurements I can more accurately create a floor plan.

After the very long drive back, I love the idea of sound deadening material. I never realized just how loud a diesel is when it finally hits 55 mph. The guy told me long before I got the bus that the back brakes were disconnected (broken caliper) and the front brakes didn't work too well. I had to drive close to 200 miles to get home, and while it certainly made a difference, it wasn't too bad. I will be replacing most of it anyway.

The chair was probably a little less comfortable than a milk crate, very hard and not adjustable, that will definitely need to go.

Although I am not sure, I think it has air brakes. Perhaps one of you could confirm it for me. When I hold the brake pedal down, it makes a sound like the air from a tire pump. When I first start up the bus, a red light comes on in the dash saying something about the brakes (I don't remember) and it makes a wining noise, after a few seconds, it goes off and the bus is ready to roll (or stop). If these are indeed air brakes, does anyone have suggestions on how to use them? I know you need an endorsement on top of a cdl for air brakes, unless they are on an "rv". Because of this I assume there is something extra to know about operating them.

The bus was pretty easy to handle once I got the hang of it, the only tough time I had was when I got to my street, because someone was having a birthday party and there were tons of cars parked along the road. At any rate I made it, and backed into the driveway of my grandma's home that sits on a total of 0.13 acres, it looks pretty big next to the house.

I must say the bus handles beautifully, even for a newbie like me. Do all buses take nearly a minute to get up to speed on the freeway? It seemed to cruise comfortably at 55-60mph @ 2700-2900 RPM. I only filled it up once, so I do not know the mpg yet either.

I kept having a problem with the battery. Whenever we would take a break from driving and shut off the bus, the battery would die. I must say I did leave the keys in the ignition switch, idk if that makes a difference. Fortunately my gf and family were following me in my explorer, so we simply jumped it, but I didn't think we should have to. Has anyone else experienced this? Is there something I'm doing wrong, or do I just need a new battery?

Beyond that I can't think of any other questions or comments I have. I would love feedback from everyone, along with any questions or ideas you may have. I will post some pics tomorrow before and after my uncle and I remove the seats with some angle grinders from harbor freight. Thanks for reading, and please write back!
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Nicholas Virgil
1987 International (66 passenger) 7.3l diesel
2002 Ford Explorer
1993 Saturn SL2
1988 Chevy C1500
Kmart Mountain Bike
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Old 04-04-2009, 11:40 PM   #10
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Re: Victoria

Also I forgot to add that the ride was kind of rough over the cheaply paved roads of Indiana and Michigan. It is making me question putting in a residential fridge and apartment range, among other fixtures. Does anyone have any experience with these in a skoolie? How do these products hold up over time? I figured for the fridge I would put it on carpet padding to absorb some of the vibration and bouncing. At worst I will have to go with typical rv fixtures, but I would really like the extra capacity of residential appliances.
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1987 International (66 passenger) 7.3l diesel
2002 Ford Explorer
1993 Saturn SL2
1988 Chevy C1500
Kmart Mountain Bike
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