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Old 06-25-2008, 01:19 PM   #1
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1st Timer - Lots of Questions

Hi, I'm a 1st timer on this site and am hoping you all can help. I will be purchasing a used school bus and am interested in converting it into a mobile gym...the idea is to deliver a variety of fitness programs to local schools and daycares. The bus itself is my challenge.

I can remove the seats and install all the equipment that I'll need. But I need to get a generator installed so I can have heating and A/C during the programs (I do not want to keep it running while kids are on the bus). I've also been told that I need to have insulation added as well.

I haven't purchased the bus yet (don't know much about buses yet), so here are my questions:
Any makes/models better than others? Any to stay away from?
Which is better for this type of use, gas or diesel?
Any ideas on who could install the generator and heating and A/C systems?
Suggestions for insulation? Who could take care of that for me?
Are there any other major things that I'll need to do?

I greatly appreciate any advice/suggestions that you all have!!
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Old 06-25-2008, 02:02 PM   #2
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Re: 1st Timer - Lots of Questions

Personally I wouldn't waste your time with insulation, unless it's going to be parked for a long time in extreme temps. When you get your bus to wherever it's being used it'll already be warm inside, so you just need to keep it warm.

I don't think that electric heat off a generator is the best way to go, if it were me I'd look into having a built in generator that's cooled by the buses engine coolant. The stock rear heater in the bus puts out a lot of heat, and the generator could be used to keep the 12volt fans powered. This would also double as an engine block heater making cold starts much easier. Also being built in, means it's darn near theft proof.

As for the A/C probably one or 2 roof mounted RV types would work well. Find 2 of those and see what kind of power you need, then find the generator.

good luck!
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Old 08-04-2008, 11:06 AM   #3
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Re: 1st Timer - Lots of Questions

Maybe you have already bought your bus but I feel I should comment about head room. If your going to be working out in this thing I would imagine you want as much head room as possible. Look for the buses that came stock with the extra head room. Mine came with 6' and I had to go through the roof raise process and if you don't want a ton of work and several near death experiences then find an already adequate bus. I know they exist because when I bought mine up here in Canada at King Transportation in Winnipeg Manitoba they had about 50 retired school buses and about 4 of them were extra tall with about 6'6" of head room. Also if it were me I would go for the diesel version but try to get it with a turbo as they are fairly gutless without it and I now have to install one on my bus at a substantial cost. The Detroit Diesels are great motors so I hear but it may be opinion. The International Diesels are good too but I believe the inline motors are better than the V8 versions maybe some opinion sneeking in there too though. I would agree with phillbus914 about the insulation, heating and air conditioning. Good luck and have fun sounds like a neat idea.
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Old 08-04-2008, 07:25 PM   #4
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Re: 1st Timer - Lots of Questions

That, my friend, is a Webasto heater. It is an auxiliary diesel fired heater that ties into the stock heating system in the bus. They are used by truckers and buses the world over as a means of keeping the cab warm at night as well as providing heat to the engine to make cold starting problems a thing of the past. The catch is that they can be expensive.

Another option would be a hydronic boiler. Use it to heat the coolant for the heating system, but I would also use a water-to-water plate style heat exchanger to give you the ability to preheat the engine with it and vice versa.

For cooling I think the typical rooftop units are your best option.

As far as electrical power is concerned a gennie will be your best bet. I wouldn't mess with batteries and inverters for your goals. Get a good Onan or similar purpose built RV generator. I think any RV dealer should be able to install it for you. They are designed to be permanently mounted and run continuously so no fears about having the kids in there.
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Old 08-05-2008, 09:34 AM   #5
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Re: 1st Timer - Lots of Questions

I would look into air conditioning first, either 2 or 3 rooftop units or look into window shakers and mount them under the floor and duct them into the buss, iirc mitsubishi is marketing a household air unit that has several remote mounted evaporater units run off of a single remote condenser, anyhow choose your air conditioner firts and then size a generater to ru n the air and anything else that you will want or need, I would look for a liquid cooled genset with a gas or diesel engine whichever the bus has so that you can run off the bus fuel tank. Kubota, Yanmar,& Isuzu all make excellent small diesel engines and generater sets, that are marketed for standby/industrial power. Honda probably makes the best gas generators, including some specifically for RV use.
The main thing to know when sizing a genset is that it takes 3 times the power to start an electric moter than it takes to keep it running and that 1kw is needed to run a 1 hp motor.

good luck.

where are you located, it will help members to reference local sources for your required hardware,
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Old 08-05-2008, 02:45 PM   #6
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Re: 1st Timer - Lots of Questions

As far as busses. I would look at a front engine flat front. That would give you the most usable inside space. I have a rear engine Bluebird. It has plenty of space, but the only way to get anything inside is through the front door or the emergency door on the side and that is only 23" wide. Not a lot of room to work with. Mine has a Cummins 8.3 and I got a solid 10.5 mpg coming back from Arizona with 1700 rpm. A 5.9 Cummins seems to be good also. I have a preference for more cubes. The motor doesn't have to work as hard. Lots of choices. Others will be adding to this. One thing that has been mentioned already is room inside. I can't picture any of my busses as a mobile gym. You might consider a box truck.
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