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Old 12-05-2016, 12:22 PM   #1
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Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: Essex, MD
Posts: 3,434
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
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, 02:24 PM   #2
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Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: Oklahoma
Posts: 85
Year: 1984
Coachwork: Ward/Amtram
Chassis: International 36ft
Engine: DT466 w/ Allison MT643
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, 02:38 PM   #3
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Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: Essex, MD
Posts: 3,434
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 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, 03:09 PM   #4
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Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: Fairfield Bay, Arkansas
Posts: 149
Year: 1990
Coachwork: Chevy
Chassis: Ward?
Engine: 8.2 liter ?
Rated Cap: 24 Passenger
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, 03:20 PM   #5
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Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: Fairfield Bay, Arkansas
Posts: 149
Year: 1990
Coachwork: Chevy
Chassis: Ward?
Engine: 8.2 liter ?
Rated Cap: 24 Passenger
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, 03:47 PM   #6
Almost There
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: Oklahoma
Posts: 85
Year: 1984
Coachwork: Ward/Amtram
Chassis: International 36ft
Engine: DT466 w/ Allison MT643
^^^^^^ DT466 for the win!! Everyone has one!
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Old 12-05-2016, 04:08 PM   #7
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Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: So Cal
Posts: 2,327
Year: 1935
Coachwork: Superior
Chassis: Chevy
Engine: 317 ci/tid / Isuzu
Ford V10 gasser----EVERYBODY has fixed that one!
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Old 12-05-2016, 04:24 PM   #8
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Join Date: May 2016
Location: Richmond Virginia
Posts: 932
Year: 1984
Engine: 366 Big block Chevy! :) w/ Stick shift
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, 04:42 PM   #9
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Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: NY
Posts: 730
Year: 2002
Coachwork: International
Engine: dt466
Rated Cap: 65C-43A
I love this !

Oh boy, am I ever gonna learn alot!
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Old 12-05-2016, 05:07 PM   #10
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Join Date: Feb 2016
Location: Bemidji MN
Posts: 209
Year: 1998
Coachwork: Carpenter Body
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DT466
Rated Cap: 65 to Zero. Folding Chair
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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