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Old 12-05-2016, 01:22 PM   #1
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Rated Cap: 84 pax or 1 RV; 33,000lbs
Buses gone wrong...

You're supposed to learn from your mistakes but screw that, I'd rather learn by someone else's mistakes!! It's cheaper that way.

Long time Skoolie members, is there a thread and/or sticky covering "I shoulda", "I coulda", or "I woulda" from people who've already done a conversion?

Such a thread would certainly help newbies like me dodge stepping in a pile of ____. It might also be good for the old timers too. See you weren't the only one to put a glass toilet on the roof.

So how about sharing some of your blunders?
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Old 12-05-2016, 03:24 PM   #2
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I shoulda bought new mudder tires instead of used highway! Spent $1500 for 7 tires and 3 wheels (to replace some split rims still on the bus and a spare), ended up with two really good front tires, but the 4 in the rear are more than half gone on tread. Justified buying used on the grounds of low yearly mileage... but I drive it on pastures far from home and get stuck on wet grass! Not enough meat on the rubber
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Old 12-05-2016, 03:38 PM   #3
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Engine: 8.3L Cummins ISC 260hp, MT643, 4.44 rear
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dalez View Post
... but I drive it on pastures far from home and get stuck on wet grass! Not enough meat on the rubber
I did that a couple of times in my 4x2 pickup. Once in clay that was only 1/4" deep but slicker than snail snot another time in mud that was maybe an 1" deep. Wasn't even a ground clearance problem.
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Old 12-05-2016, 04:09 PM   #4
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Ok... I bought the wrong charge controller for my "home size" solar panels. I'm using two 48vdc 240 watt panels in parallel and charging a four battery 12 volt bank.

I bought a Tristar PWM controller.

WRONG!

PWM throws away anything above your charge voltage so if I'm charging a 12 volt bank with 14.8 volts, I'm throwing away about 60% of my solar power.

I had to buy an MPPT charge controller which is basically a DC to DC converter. Much more efficient. Sitting on the Tristar PWM charge controller for a future project.

Regards!

Ross
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Old 12-05-2016, 04:20 PM   #5
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Ok... another one.

My bus has the "fuel pincher" 8.2 Detroit Diesel motor. It runs great and made the 400 mile trip back to my home without problems. But this engine has a bad reputation and I'm worried that if it does give me trouble, I'll have trouble finding a mechanic that can work on it, trouble finding parts to repair it and spend a fortune on the repairs.

I've rolled the dice. I'm spending probably $12000 above the cost of the bus to convert it. And if the engine dies on the road I'm in trouble. That's the simple fact.

...or it could last another 100,000 miles without so much as a burp! I prefer that scenario!

Lesson learned... buy a bus with a proven, reliable, long production engine. It may be a dog when you get it, but everyone knows how to repair it and parts are available everywhere.

Ross
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Old 12-05-2016, 04:47 PM   #6
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^^^^^^ DT466 for the win!! Everyone has one!
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Old 12-05-2016, 05:08 PM   #7
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Ford V10 gasser----EVERYBODY has fixed that one!
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Old 12-05-2016, 05:24 PM   #8
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Yes, great topic!

I shoulda bought a bus ten years ago!


and truth me told i was discouraged about insulating because i read about removing rivets to spray foam (not interested in that project) and someone say that without doing the roof and adding new windows it didn't change much, but now i am aware that floor and half way up the walls would be beneficial. Maybe not perfect but good. Also at the time i didn't know about a local craigslist company that has 3" rigid foam for like $5 a board. So i may insulate next summer, only time will tell. For now a propane fireplace and a wood stove, with a smidge insulated beedroom area, and a winter coat and hat, make it good enough. Progress, not perfection. I keep reminding myself "it's NOT a piano!"

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Old 12-05-2016, 05:42 PM   #9
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I love this !

Oh boy, am I ever gonna learn alot!
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Old 12-05-2016, 06:07 PM   #10
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My biggest shoulda would have to be less rust.
My bus was a rusty messy, replaced the entire exterior skin, rear end, wheel well and about a quarter of the floor.

The best thing about my bus is what has been said already. I have a DT466 with 140,000 miles and it runs great. It was a reserve bus with limited use. Plus, there are at least four other DT466s within ten miles of my house, three of those four are junkers but, great for parts. I bought a water pump, starter, extra parts for steering controls, brakes and other often repaired parts for cheap cheap. I will carry them under the body of my bus just incase I break down on the road, I wont get dry humped buying parts.

Another huge thing for me was insurance. I got very lucky with my insurance American Family the primary provider in the region. They had no idea how to insure my skoolie as a bus or as an rv. So they based my rate on the value and at the time within the first year, it has been $300 a year for full coverage, glass and roadside towing for free without a deductible! Amazing, I just incase the value when I like and the rate goes up slightly. I got an estimate for 50,000 coverage of my modified fleet vehicle rv status vehicle and it hit 1,800 a year for the same coverage.

My biggest suggestion is, research and don't go cheap. Get down to the frame and work your way up. Cough up the extra money and take your time, if you have $3,000 to convert your bus don't try. If you have four months to convert your bus, don't try. This is a long term expensive project that will require much more than you plan. It is a labor of love.

Have Fun
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Old 12-05-2016, 06:47 PM   #11
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Engine: 8.3L Cummins ISC 260hp, MT643, 4.44 rear
Rated Cap: 84 pax or 1 RV; 33,000lbs
Quote:
Originally Posted by dalez View Post
^^^^^^ DT466 for the win!! Everyone has one!
As a newblette, I have no idea how this is NOT a sticky. What buses come in what lengths, engines, trannies, and engine configuration. The second post in that thread should be engines types and known issues. Third, trannies and known issues. Rear end ... Make it a locked sticky that only admins, super users, and gurus have posting permissions.

Somewhere either in a separate sticky or at near the top of ^ sticky should be a "How to buy a bus"... again sorted by body, style, or whatever makes sense. All buses need good tires but the 1998 Blue Bird 53 ft bus with 6x6 drive (fictional on purpose so as to not insult anyone) is known to have bad tie rods on the driver's side, have rust in whatever location the others brands don't, and have an emergency shut up wire that chaffs and shuts the bus down when it shorts out on the side exit window.

Come on guys, I've only been here a month and I know there are guys on here that know this shi..stuff. You guys are some pretty cool kids. Spread that knowledge!!

:/soapbox:
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Old 12-05-2016, 06:50 PM   #12
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Level you bus before you start on the interior.
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Old 12-05-2016, 06:56 PM   #13
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Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: Blue Bird TC RE 3904, Flat Nose, 40', 277" wh base
Engine: 8.3L Cummins ISC 260hp, MT643, 4.44 rear
Rated Cap: 84 pax or 1 RV; 33,000lbs
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carytowncat View Post
Yes, great topic!

I shoulda bought a bus ten years ago!


and truth me told i was discouraged about insulating because i read about removing rivets to spray foam (not interested in that project) and someone say that without doing the roof and adding new windows it didn't change much, but now i am aware that floor and half way up the walls would be beneficial. Maybe not perfect but good. Also at the time i didn't know about a local craigslist company that has 3" rigid foam for like $5 a board. So i may insulate next summer, only time will tell. For now a propane fireplace and a wood stove, with a smidge insulated beedroom area, and a winter coat and hat, make it good enough. Progress, not perfection. I keep reminding myself "it's NOT a piano!"

Another great newblette question. Where are the math/physics/bus geeks? Round this stuff up!! Someone somewhere on this forum wrapped their bus in R-7 ridged foam board and parked it overnight in 32 weather. In the morning their thermometer read an interior temp of 52 Someone else used sprayed insulation that was 2" thick and woke up to 57.

Sure it make be making some inconclusive data... what was the wind speed, previous temp of the bus, humidity, etc. but there's data out there. Even if faulty, it's better than no data.
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Old 12-05-2016, 07:11 PM   #14
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Year: 1999
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: Blue Bird TC RE 3904, Flat Nose, 40', 277" wh base
Engine: 8.3L Cummins ISC 260hp, MT643, 4.44 rear
Rated Cap: 84 pax or 1 RV; 33,000lbs
Quote:
Originally Posted by New2Skool View Post
My biggest shoulda would have to be less rust.
My bus was a rusty messy, replaced the entire exterior skin, rear end, wheel well and about a quarter of the floor.

The best thing about my bus is what has been said already. I have a DT466 with 140,000 miles and it runs great. It was a reserve bus with limited use. Plus, there are at least four other DT466s within ten miles of my house, three of those four are junkers but, great for parts. I bought a water pump, starter, extra parts for steering controls, brakes and other often repaired parts for cheap cheap. I will carry them under the body of my bus just incase I break down on the road, I wont get dry humped buying parts.

Another huge thing for me was insurance. I got very lucky with my insurance American Family the primary provider in the region. They had no idea how to insure my skoolie as a bus or as an rv. So they based my rate on the value and at the time within the first year, it has been $300 a year for full coverage, glass and roadside towing for free without a deductible! Amazing, I just incase the value when I like and the rate goes up slightly. I got an estimate for 50,000 coverage of my modified fleet vehicle rv status vehicle and it hit 1,800 a year for the same coverage.

My biggest suggestion is, research and don't go cheap. Get down to the frame and work your way up. Cough up the extra money and take your time, if you have $3,000 to convert your bus don't try. If you have four months to convert your bus, don't try. This is a long term expensive project that will require much more than you plan. It is a labor of love.

Have Fun
Great start and yet another (almost) question I have. Listing insurance companies like Progressive and Geico is great. I know they are big into boats, RVs, and bikes. I know I've seen someone here say Progressive covered them.

More to the point in the question I have is for the full timer's that are either self employed or unemployed. What do you do for MEDICAL insurance? My gf needs it. I don't trust quacks much. My grandfather was one so don't go feeling all insulted if you or a family member is a quack. Anywho, politics and theology aside, I would love nothing more than to tell the boss "You can take this job and shove it" (bonus points to you hipster kids if you can name the musician w/o cheating, no points to anyone over 40 yrs old). But with no work insurance and not a medicaid/medicare participate, how do you cover yourself without driving to a Central/South American country?

New2,
I don't understand the rust issue. Rust in the auto world likes to hide. How is it you had to replace the entire exterior skin but only a quarter of the floor? Is your bus from the rust belt? Those little booger eating snot lickers don't wipe their feet coming in the house. They damn sure don't (and can't) wipe their feet before stomping onto the bus. I would have thought the stairs, floor, and wheel wells would be long gone before the skin. Like literally just a rusty shell sitting on the ground where there had once been a bus parked. Flooring completely GONE!!
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Old 12-05-2016, 08:08 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Brewerbob View Post
. . .

New2,
I don't understand the rust issue. Rust in the auto world likes to hide. How is it you had to replace the entire exterior skin but only a quarter of the floor? Is your bus from the rust belt? Those little booger eating snot lickers don't wipe their feet coming in the house. They damn sure don't (and can't) wipe their feet before stomping onto the bus. I would have thought the stairs, floor, and wheel wells would be long gone before the skin. Like literally just a rusty shell sitting on the ground where there had once been a bus parked. Flooring completely GONE!!
It's simple, really. Kids don't run through road salt at 60 MPH, nor do they track it into the bus (much). Often the stairs are galvanized steel, helping to prolong the life and prevent rust. The tires do kick up the overspray and it coats the entire underside, building up the most around the wheel wells.
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Old 12-05-2016, 08:20 PM   #16
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Location: Essex, MD
Posts: 3,627
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: Blue Bird TC RE 3904, Flat Nose, 40', 277" wh base
Engine: 8.3L Cummins ISC 260hp, MT643, 4.44 rear
Rated Cap: 84 pax or 1 RV; 33,000lbs
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad_SwiftFur View Post
It's simple, really. Kids don't run through road salt at 60 MPH, nor do they track it into the bus (much). Often the stairs are galvanized steel, helping to prolong the life and prevent rust. The tires do kick up the overspray and it coats the entire underside, building up the most around the wheel wells.
Wheel wells and frames I totally understand and fully expect. Without seeing his bus, I'm picturing "entire skin" = 10ft off the ground. Granted there's a point where it's easier to replace everything than patch existing but still.
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Old 12-06-2016, 04:05 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by New2Skool View Post

My biggest suggestion is, research and don't go cheap. Get down to the frame and work your way up. Cough up the extra money and take your time, if you have $3,000 to convert your bus don't try. If you have four months to convert your bus, don't try. This is a long term expensive project that will require much more than you plan. It is a labor of love.

Have Fun
Amen brother! This is not a two months and hit the road project. You can just stick a bunch of house furniture and appliances in it and call it done (and some have)... but picture where it will be in a sudden stop. Not likely to find an insurance company that will insure that.


Some of us are doing works of art, others, with basic carpentry skills are knocking out a descent vehicle with a bed and bath. Even the basics take time... and money. This is a journey. Dig in and enjoy it!

Regards,

Ross
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Old 12-06-2016, 04:09 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sdwarf36 View Post
Level you bus before you start on the interior.
LOL Yes! Do THAT! LOL

I didn't... and my bath walls lean to the drivers side! LOL

It's just a bit.

Couple degrees.

Know one will notice.

Much.

But dangit! I know!

LOL
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Old 12-06-2016, 09:01 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brewerbob View Post
I don't understand the rust issue. Rust in the auto world likes to hide. How is it you had to replace the entire exterior skin but only a quarter of the floor? Is your bus from the rust belt?

Did those little booger eating snot lickers...
The next time it rains, follow a school bus closely and watch how the spray evolves and is deposited on/around the bus and surroundings. All will be revealed. Its kinda of a "oh, wow!"'moment.

As to the suggestion of making many new stickies, its a good and rational proposal, but I also want you to consider the value of doing the research yourself.

FWIW, I thought EXACTLY the same thing when I joined the board. And I waded through THOUSANDS of "useless" posts. And boy am I glad I did, because I went from merely being "informed" on the basics, to having an actual depth of knowledge in the subject. Many of the things I learned I wasnt actually looking for, but they stuck in my head and I'm grateful (very grateful!) for the inconvenience I endured to find them.

And I'll also share something that likely needs to be said, unpopular though it may be: there is no "right" answer. Busses are like wives/girlfriends: what works great for one guy would completely break another. Its all about preference and compromise. And the only way to know what is ideal is to "date". Heavily. After all, if this were a dating site and I told you the *only* woman worth having is 5'8", 34D-24-34, strawberry blonde, 26 years old, wears stilletto heels and is a super-model from wealthy stock, would I be doing you any favors? No. You have to find what fits your personal situation, tastes, and conjugal preferences. (-ducking-)

BTW: Elliot Naess did a *wonderful* series of posts on his build thread about various engines and transmissions and their pros/cons. You might pour yourself several fingers of Scotch, settle-in for a long night and read about his musings in the Millicent Chronicles. Its a really good read for many reasons and would be the perfect place to start this journey.
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Old 12-06-2016, 09:19 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by GreyCoyote View Post
And I'll also share something that likely needs to be said, unpopular though it may be: there is no "right" answer. Busses are like wives/girlfriends: what works great for one guy would completely break another. ey.
Amen brother, amen!
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