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Old 09-17-2007, 03:13 PM   #1
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Extreme Noob with questions.

Greetings all.

WARNING: This email is in no particular order....

My wife and I each own a 1995 BMW M3 (for a total of TWO cars), and in the past few years have gotten into the hobby of taking them to the race track and letting the throttle fly. We enjoy taking them to race tracks around the Northwest (Idaho/Washington/Oregon/Northern California)....

The more and more we have worked on these cars, getting them better and better equipped for running around the track, (racing seats, roll cage, harnesses, suspension mods, etc etc), the more of a pain in the rear it is to drive them TO the tracks. Compound this with the idea that we have TWO cars that we take, and it makes it even more difficult.

We came up with the idea a few weeks ago of converting a school bus to become a "dual car-hauler". We figured that we could take out the seats, mod the back door, and come up with some ramps and load both of the cars in there. The school bus then doubles as a sort of "portable garage"... we could throw in our tires, and a tool chest that we have to cart around all the time.

I am putting out this post as sort of a "feeler" to see what the feasibility is.

First off, I need some ideas of dimensions for what's available. A 1995 BMW M3 is about 16' long, and about 6' wide. It has a curb weight of 3200 lbs. I would be looking for a bus that has the LENGTH to handle two cars.

Second, I would be looking for a bus that has the ability to LOAD the cars from the back with as LOW A PROFILE as possible. This means that a diesel pusher is probably out of the question, as the engine will most likely block the back access area.

Third, I would be looking for a DIESEL bus... preferably one with a Ford (International)? Engine.... I have already converted my 2002 Ford Excursion 7.3L Diesel to run on WVO over a year ago (WORKS FANTASTICALLY!) and would hope to do the same with the bus.

Fourth, I would be hopefully looking for a "flat fronted" bus, not the "traditional looking" school bus. (I am sorry... vanity plays a role... and as good as you make it, a "traditional looking" school bus will always look like a school bus, no matter what color you paint it.

I guess I am looking for some folks to offer up some posts like, "based upon the criteria you have listed, you need to stay away from ________, and steer more towards a bus like ___________, since it has the _______________ that will be required for you to _______________.

I am looking forward to any helpful hints/suggestions that people have on this topic.... my wife and I didn't know quite where else to turn until we stumbled across this forum.

Thanks in advance for your comments...

Halitosis
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Old 09-17-2007, 03:26 PM   #2
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Re: Extreme Noob with questions.

IMO fitting two cars into a bus is going to be too much of a pain. If it were me I would get a bus that would allow you living space in front, space for a car in back and then pull the other car on a trailer behind the bus. I race several cars in SCCA, SAAC, MCCI, and NASA club events and I recently did body damage the upper fenders of my Sunbeam Tiger while loading it and a friends broken down Sunbeam Imp into the trailer together. Also tying down two cars like that is a huge pain.



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Old 09-17-2007, 04:49 PM   #3
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Re: Extreme Noob with questions.

i think that is good advice. One in the bus, one in the trailer.

Most skoolies i've seen are not exactly low profile. Might thing about making the rear portion a beaver tail to make loading/unloading easier. If you are trying to squeeze them both into a small space, having ramps to park the cars on that angle the front end up would effectively decrease the length of the car (but sounds like a pita)

A lot of skoolies are only about 72 inches across inside making for a REALLY tight fit for your car. Transit buses tend to be wider @ 102" outside, but they are rear engine which won't really work.

Widening the rear portion of the bus isn't out of the question, but sounds like a lot of work and would be difficult to make it look nice when finished.

might think about getting a really long trailer to fit both cars into and using a skoolie to pull the trailer. you could also live inside teh skoolie during the weekend.
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Old 09-18-2007, 02:30 AM   #4
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Re: Extreme Noob with questions.

I'd suggest the same thing. Cut the back body off the bus and make it like a flat bed. You'd have trouble getting the first car over the wheel wells in the bus! Then, tow the other car on a trailer. Also, I wouldn't let image be a concern here. It's going to look ghetto no matter how you do it. So, you might as well redneck it up. I have the 7.3L engine in my bus. It's a dog. If I were going to be hauling a couple cars, I'd look for a DT466 or maybe even a 5.9L Cummins. You can find a ton of 5.9's in TC2000 style buses which are flat fronted. So.... Cut the back of the bus off and move the rear part with the emergency door forward. Have the back be a flatbed for car #1. Tow car #2. Turn inside of bus you have remaining into a camper of sorts. Or a garage. Whatever you want to do. IF you don't want something that looks "redneck", then I might suggest something else. Also, it would be a really tight squeeze getting your car in a bus. Mine is about 7.5' wide inside as are most buses. If you got it in there perfectly, that leaves 9" on either side of your car. How are you going to get out? I'm not sure if that M3 has a sunroof or not. But what you want to do is definitely feasible and it has been done numerous times before. I wouldn't be worried about your image. I've found that most people are more interested in my old bus than a half a million dollar motor home. I'm sure your racing buddies would appreciate your ingenuity unless they are just total stuck up snobs.
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Old 09-18-2007, 12:44 PM   #5
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Re: Extreme Noob with questions.

Here is a link to a converted bus I looked at purchasing some time ago. The rear of the bus hinged down with the assistance of a winch and a car was moved inside, then folded back together. I am sorry I don't have good pics of the mechanism, but it gives you an idea. It is an older bluebird front nose gasser.

http://www.skoolie.net/gallery2/v/Skooli ... 4.jpg.html

Just keep scrolling through the pictures. It was tight, but the wheels of the car ramped up over the rear wheel wells. I seemed pretty secure. However I don't see two cars fitting very easily. Put one inside, buy a cargo trailer for the second. You could turn the front into a swank travelling pad or a garage.

Good luck on your project and keep us posted.

-Richard
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Old 09-18-2007, 01:00 PM   #6
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Re: Extreme Noob with questions.

Dan has a very nice bus to be a car hauler with living space in front and being able to pull the other car in a trailer. Here is what it looks like. The rear hinges down just like the door on a trailer and there is even a side door back there if you wanted to separate the toys from the living area.



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Old 09-20-2007, 09:21 PM   #7
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Re: Extreme Noob with questions.


Welcome aboard, Halitosis! (pewwww! )

I'll chime in and join the chorus about putting one car on a trailer. You will probably wish you had some living space. I pull a car sized trailer behind my bus, and I hardly know it's there.

That said, you could indeed put 32 feet worth of cars inside a 40 foot "Forward Control" (front engine, flat nose) bus like... oh... like mine. I have 34 feet of space to the back of the driver seat; 32 to the back of the navigator seat. You might have to rig a winch system to get the cars in and out, unless you are skinny enough to slither thru a rather tight door opening -- or the window.

I "beaver-tailed" the last three or four feet of floor in mine, lowering the loading height a little. The ramp, I built from scratch.



A 40 foot bus of this type will probably be referred to as an 84 passenger bus. The Blue Bird TC2000 is very common and often has the Cummins 5.9 -- same engine as in the Dodge Diesel pickups, so hop up parts are plentiful.

That help?

See also The MIllicent Chronicles under Conversion Projects.
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Old 04-26-2009, 11:51 AM   #8
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Re: Extreme Noob with questions.

I am sorry to dig up this thread again... but I now after the 2008 track season... rolling into the 2009 track season.... I am once again looking at converting a school bus to haul my cars.

BTW: I spent too much time late last night reading the "Millicent Chronicles".

A few things I should have stated before:

1) I currently have a 25' camping trailer that we use to go camping with. My (original) thought was to use the bus to transport the cars, and pull the trailer behind as living quarters.

2) I have hopes to convert the bus to run on WVO, as I have my Ford Excursion. (I have the experience... 70k on my 7.3L, and have saved over $12k in fuel costs over the past 4 seasons pulling my trailer around!).

I have some more questions now:

My cars are 14.5' in length, and 5.6 feet wide.... (so the internet tells me... if ONLY there was SOME TOOL I could obtain that would TELL ME the dimensions.... like a long piece of paper with numbers on it.....)

Can anyone throw out some numbers as to the space "between the rear wheel wells" on the inside of their bus? If the average skoolie is 7.5' wide, I am wondering if there is enough room BETWEEN the wheels wells to squeak by, or whether I have to go up and over.

I know the fit will be tight... I like the idea about the winch.

I have a ton of questions about engines, but I'll scout around the discussion forums like a good poster before I open my mouth again.

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Old 04-26-2009, 11:56 AM   #9
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Re: Extreme Noob with questions.

I'm far from an expert on this. However, based on my own bus, there isn't enough room for a car axle between the wheel humps.

Every conversion I've seen done as a vehicle hauler has the people building ramps up and over their wheel humps.

Good luck with your conversion,
jim
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Old 04-26-2009, 01:32 PM   #10
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Re: Extreme Noob with questions.


Welcome back, Hal! I was afraid we had frightened you off.

Sorry about the Millicent Chronicles -- way too much chatter, yes. I ought to edit it down a bit, but when to find time?!

As for measuring your race cars, some of us use a clever invention called a Tape Measure for such tasks. The difficulty is in stringing the tape right thru the car, which is made of steel and such stuff, so we go around instead. Wrap the car with the tape and divide by 3.14... just kidding. Rig up two vertical Things on the floor and make sure they are plumb. Saw horses, maybe. Or roll-around tool boxes. Your wife may have a couple of precious antique upright dining chairs. Set them against the sides of the car and run the tape under the car. Same front to rear. Or how about just laying the tape measure on the floor, secure it with duct tape, and hold a carpenter bubble level against the car? If you hit the tape at five inches on one side and 6' 8" on the other, then the car is 6' 3".

Millicent only has 3' 5" between the wheel wells.
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