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Old 11-06-2019, 11:25 AM   #1
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: NorCal
Posts: 126
Year: 1995
Coachwork: Girardin
Chassis: E-350
Engine: 7.3L Powerstroke
Everything I've done wrong so far

I finally got the seats installed with seatbelts, and got some great cushions to sleep on, so we took Argo (1995 E-350 7.3L 4 windows) out for the first "real" outing and went to Half Moon Bay and then San Francisco. Although we were super excited to finally be using the bus, it became very clear that some things I thought were a good idea are actually not, so I'm compiling them here so everyone can learn from my mistakes and plan accordingly.


  • I made a skylight and showed my wife how to unlock and open it, but forgot to lock it closed. It flipped open when driving and the plexiglass cracked. After closing it, the springs (which I thought were oh so clever to hold it open at the right angle) started banging against the roof and making a hell of a racket. I need to replace the plexiglass, add some weather stripping to keep it from vibrating, and replace the springs with a hydraulic arm.
  • To optimize space in the bus, I opted to put the passenger seats all the way in the back, in the form of a dinette that faces inward. Well, I've always known that the back of a bus is always the bumpiest, but I never made the connection here--after we arrived at Half Moon Bay, she informed me that she is willing to pay thousands of dollars--whatever it takes--to replace the suspension and get something more comfortable because it just bounces all over back there. I never realized this because I'm always in the front. So now I'm shopping around suspension/spring shops to see if we can soften the ride at all, or install air suspension (also to lift it too if it's possible).
  • I purchased a 4" memory foam mattress topper (which I've used on my boat before, super comfortable) for the seat cushions, which then double as the mattress on the dinette. Well, when I had them on the boat, they were on top of 5" FIRM cushions--here on Argo, they were on top of plywood. When sitting, we just sank all the way down to the wood with very little cushion at all. Even for sleeping, it was unbearably uncomfortable, as my hips and shoulders just dug into the wood. So now I'm going to have the foam shop make custom cushions for this, probably 3" of regular seat cushion under 3" of memory foam.
  • I insulated the whole bus and thought maybe our body heat would keep it warm enough through the night (I've spent countless nights on a sailboat in San Fran with no need for a space heater), but that was far from the truth. The temps dropped to the mid 40's and I cannot believe how cold it got in the bus--and I'm talking about under the blankets. I thought I could get away without a cabin heater, but it's clear that I will have to install one of those small diesel air heaters.
  • My glow plugs (or the relay) are completely shot. It wouldn't start the next morning, even after the "Wait to Start" went out. Fortunately, my neighbor came over and ran an extension cord (from another neighbor) from his inverter to my block heater (didn't know i had one!) and that did the trick, but now I have to go get them replaced.
  • Then, just to round out the whole experience, the pin on the large fire extinguisher fell out, and it accidentally discharged. Great.
But it wasn't all bad. I'm really glad I got a smaller bus than I originally wanted, because it wasn't difficult at all to drive in San Francisco (I even parallel parked it like a boss). It also took those hills like a champ and I'm really glad I got the 7.3L and rebuilt the transmission. Also the RV park community was super friendly and helpful, and they also loved the fact that I'm converting a school bus (I heard one guy say "That son of a bitch actually did it!").


So overall, it was a great weekend, I'm really happy with everything, but there's definitely more work to be done and more importantly more dollars to be spent.
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Old 11-06-2019, 11:40 AM   #2
Bus Nut
 
PatrickBaptist's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2019
Location: Johnson City TN
Posts: 281
Year: 2004
Coachwork: IC/AMTRANS RE
Engine: T444E 7.3 w/ MD3060
Rated Cap: 36000lbs / 78pass / 39'
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheArgobus View Post
I finally got the seats installed with seatbelts, and got some great cushions to sleep on, so we took Argo (1995 E-350 7.3L 4 windows) out for the first "real" outing and went to Half Moon Bay and then San Francisco. Although we were super excited to finally be using the bus, it became very clear that some things I thought were a good idea are actually not, so I'm compiling them here so everyone can learn from my mistakes and plan accordingly.


  • I made a skylight and showed my wife how to unlock and open it, but forgot to lock it closed. It flipped open when driving and the plexiglass cracked. After closing it, the springs (which I thought were oh so clever to hold it open at the right angle) started banging against the roof and making a hell of a racket. I need to replace the plexiglass, add some weather stripping to keep it from vibrating, and replace the springs with a hydraulic arm.
  • To optimize space in the bus, I opted to put the passenger seats all the way in the back, in the form of a dinette that faces inward. Well, I've always known that the back of a bus is always the bumpiest, but I never made the connection here--after we arrived at Half Moon Bay, she informed me that she is willing to pay thousands of dollars--whatever it takes--to replace the suspension and get something more comfortable because it just bounces all over back there. I never realized this because I'm always in the front. So now I'm shopping around suspension/spring shops to see if we can soften the ride at all, or install air suspension (also to lift it too if it's possible).
  • I purchased a 4" memory foam mattress topper (which I've used on my boat before, super comfortable) for the seat cushions, which then double as the mattress on the dinette. Well, when I had them on the boat, they were on top of 5" FIRM cushions--here on Argo, they were on top of plywood. When sitting, we just sank all the way down to the wood with very little cushion at all. Even for sleeping, it was unbearably uncomfortable, as my hips and shoulders just dug into the wood. So now I'm going to have the foam shop make custom cushions for this, probably 3" of regular seat cushion under 3" of memory foam.
  • I insulated the whole bus and thought maybe our body heat would keep it warm enough through the night (I've spent countless nights on a sailboat in San Fran with no need for a space heater), but that was far from the truth. The temps dropped to the mid 40's and I cannot believe how cold it got in the bus--and I'm talking about under the blankets. I thought I could get away without a cabin heater, but it's clear that I will have to install one of those small diesel air heaters.
  • My glow plugs (or the relay) are completely shot. It wouldn't start the next morning, even after the "Wait to Start" went out. Fortunately, my neighbor came over and ran an extension cord (from another neighbor) from his inverter to my block heater (didn't know i had one!) and that did the trick, but now I have to go get them replaced.
  • Then, just to round out the whole experience, the pin on the large fire extinguisher fell out, and it accidentally discharged. Great.
But it wasn't all bad. I'm really glad I got a smaller bus than I originally wanted, because it wasn't difficult at all to drive in San Francisco (I even parallel parked it like a boss). It also took those hills like a champ and I'm really glad I got the 7.3L and rebuilt the transmission. Also the RV park community was super friendly and helpful, and they also loved the fact that I'm converting a school bus (I heard one guy say "That son of a bitch actually did it!").


So overall, it was a great weekend, I'm really happy with everything, but there's definitely more work to be done and more importantly more dollars to be spent.
Thanks for sharing! If you need any help with that 7.3 powerstroke, I've made several videos on YT that maybe useful for you including how to replace glowplugs.
__________________
If you would like to check out my website that has all sort of information especially for the T444E/7.3PSD engines check out www.PatrickTheSalvageGuy.com I've got helpful downloads and articles as well as a link to my YT for other how to videos mainly on the F series trucks.
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Old 11-06-2019, 12:35 PM   #3
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Salt Lake City Utah
Posts: 1,602
Year: 2000
Chassis: Blue Bird
Engine: ISC 8.3
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheArgobus View Post
I made a skylight and showed my wife how to unlock and open it, but forgot to lock it closed. It flipped open when driving and the plexiglass cracked. After closing it, the springs (which I thought were oh so clever to hold it open at the right angle) started banging against the roof and making a hell of a racket. I need to replace the plexiglass, add some weather stripping to keep it from vibrating, and replace the springs with a hydraulic arm.
While you're working on it, rotate the skylight cover. Put the hinge at the front/leading edge. That way if you should drive off again with it unlatched the wind will more or less push it closed rather than blowing it open.
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Old 11-06-2019, 03:53 PM   #4
Bus Geek
 
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Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: Dawsonville, Ga.
Posts: 8,212
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Genesis
Chassis: International
Engine: DT466/3060
Rated Cap: 77
I hope you didn't replace the plexi with more plexi, it is notorious for breaking and cracking. Lexan is far superior and won't break, if you had used it, you would still have it intact.
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