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Old 07-20-2016, 09:47 AM   #11
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Orange County, CA
Posts: 385
Year: 1990
Coachwork: integral
Chassis: Crown Supercoach II pusher
Engine: Detroit 6V92TAC, DDEC 2, Jake brake, Allison HT740
Rated Cap: 37,400 lbs GVWR
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Originally Posted by BusFiend View Post
Thanks! I'm actually in discussions with a custom coach company near me about doing a 10-12" roof-raise, gutting, insulating, under-belly storage, exterior skinning and new window framing. I will add the suspension work to the discussion. I will want full RV coverage for my conversion. It appears the only (?!?) way to obtain this is with a "professional conversion". From the way the discussions are currently heading, it should cost me $15-20k, plus the cost of the donor bus. I have a $40k budget to play with. Not sure yet if this is the path I'll take.
With that budget and those needs, why are you reinventing the wheel? How about a 30' or 35' transit bus - plenty of headroom, enough underfloor space for bins or lockers there, air suspension. Or an older 35' road bus such as a MC5 or a 41xx GM - huge underfloor storage lockers, highway gearing, good windows. MCI even had a more recent 35' bus that was a rebadged Dina from Mexico. There's plenty of interesting options out there. Spending up to $40k on a skoolie, albeit a heavily-converted skoolie, makes little sense to me. Heck, how much do first-gen 35' Temsa tour buses go for?

If you really want to go the skoolie route, maybe think about a Blue Bird TC1000 - short, high roof, available air suspension, and a totally flat floor.

John
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Old 07-20-2016, 10:23 AM   #12
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Colorado
Posts: 1,369
Year: 1993
Coachwork: bluebird
Engine: 5.9 Cummins, Allison 545
Rated Cap: 2
buy what you want in the first place. endless changes that cost more than the value of the vehicle just aren't worth it.

Do a good job on the conversion and ask your insurance agent about an "agreed value" policy and save your receipts.
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Old 07-20-2016, 10:59 AM   #13
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Garden State (rural NJ)
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Don't have a bus yet. Trying to put a design together first and purchase a donor to best fit the design.

Interesting thought on modifying the kneeling valve. First thought is school buses with front air seem to be rare. Retrofitting a complete front air suspension may be beyond my budget. What does it take to add a kneeling valve to the rear? Collapsing the air bags for kneeling has to lower the spring rate of the system. How would spring rate be calculated?
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Old 07-20-2016, 11:11 AM   #14
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Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Vacaville, Ca
Posts: 1,510
Year: 1988
Coachwork: Crown / Pusher
Engine: 8.3 Cummins
Quote:
Originally Posted by BusFiend View Post
Thanks! I'm actually in discussions with a custom coach company near me about doing a 10-12" roof-raise, gutting, insulating, under-belly storage, exterior skinning and new window framing. I will add the suspension work to the discussion. I will want full RV coverage for my conversion. It appears the only (?!?) way to obtain this is with a "professional conversion". From the way the discussions are currently heading, it should cost me $15-20k, plus the cost of the donor bus. I have a $40k budget to play with. Not sure yet if this is the path I'll take.
That seems way underestimated for having a company perform the work, I know a fellow Skoolie who had his done professionally & he is in over 100 Grand.
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Old 07-20-2016, 11:33 AM   #15
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
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Originally Posted by Stu & Filo. T View Post
That seems way underestimated for having a company perform the work, I know a fellow Skoolie who had his done professionally & he is in over 100 Grand.
That's what I thought too. Apparently the big things are the least time consuming. The interior and detail work soak up the labor. I'm told they should be able to turn over the things I listed above in 80 hours of shop time. Materials are fairly inexpensive. I don't know. They've been putting out nice coaches for a few decades. I have no doubt they would want close to $100k to do the entire project.
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Old 07-20-2016, 11:39 AM   #16
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Kentwood, MI
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Hi Gang,

I'm still in the planning stages for my skoolie project. The end result will be full-time lived, 30ish foot, diesel pusher. The rig will have either a stock or added "basement".

I'm thinking suspension now. Currently thinking about having it re-sprung for finished, wet, conversion weight. This should give me a good ride and height for over-the-road use. I'm also thinking about adding pairs of 5000 lb "helper" air bags front and rear that would allow an additional 4-5" of ride height, to slowly navigate rutted fire roads in national parks/forests.

Any thoughts and advice, regarding drivetrain angle/length and any other issues that I might be missing, are greatly appreciated.

Thanks!

~Alden
Been thinking along those lines too, but might go with a dog nose with limited under belly storage, especially in the center sections. We won't be full time, so storage isn't a critical factor.
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Old 07-20-2016, 11:46 AM   #17
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Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Andrews,Indiana
Posts: 1,611
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: AARE
Engine: 3116 Cat 250hp
Rated Cap: Her, me and Molly
Care to share name of conversion company?
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Old 07-20-2016, 12:09 PM   #18
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Garden State (rural NJ)
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Originally Posted by Iceni John View Post
With that budget and those needs, why are you reinventing the wheel? How about a 30' or 35' transit bus - plenty of headroom, enough underfloor space for bins or lockers there, air suspension. Or an older 35' road bus such as a MC5 or a 41xx GM - huge underfloor storage lockers, highway gearing, good windows. MCI even had a more recent 35' bus that was a rebadged Dina from Mexico. There's plenty of interesting options out there. Spending up to $40k on a skoolie, albeit a heavily-converted skoolie, makes little sense to me. Heck, how much do first-gen 35' Temsa tour buses go for?

If you really want to go the skoolie route, maybe think about a Blue Bird TC1000 - short, high roof, available air suspension, and a totally flat floor.

John
Thanks, John!

If I was staying on pavement, I'd have purchased a converted MC7, Buffalo or first gen Le Mirage already. The big problem with coaches is the low ground clearance. I plan on traveling rutted fire roads. I want 8-10". I can get that with a skoolie. I'm 6'3" barefoot. With insulation, almost any bus would need at least a 10" roof raise. I can keep the raised skoolie to 11'6" or less. A raised coach is pushing 12'6" to 13'.

The TC/1000 is not a good candidate. First of all no RE version. Deal breaker for me. There are other issues with the 1000.

Remember, this will be my full-time home and office for the foreseeable future.
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Old 07-20-2016, 12:10 PM   #19
Bus Nut
 
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Care to share name of conversion company?
Walker Coach. They only do custom work. They've never done a skoolie before and are intrigued.
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Old 07-20-2016, 12:13 PM   #20
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Garden State (rural NJ)
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Originally Posted by turf View Post
buy what you want in the first place. endless changes that cost more than the value of the vehicle just aren't worth it.

Do a good job on the conversion and ask your insurance agent about an "agreed value" policy and save your receipts.
Thanks, turf! That's why I want a fairly clear plan and budget before I buy a bus.
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