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Old 12-19-2017, 01:50 PM   #1
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General questions for a newbie

Hello all my name is Greg,

After 12 years of military service, I decided to get out and explore the world. Iíve traveled all over the world, too often this was not on my terms and a lot of the times I didn't take the time to soak in the different scenery of the beautiful world we live in. I have decided to build a skoolie. Iím new to the skoolie world. I have many questions. I do have a general idea of what I want in the bus. Iím not sure how to go about listing things so Iíll just dive into everything. I apologize in advance for the long post.

List:
Wet bath (shower and toilet)
Fridge
Washer/dryer combo (Can I have enough power? Is it even possible)

One I looked at:
Power & Performance:
Kilowatt Hrs. per Year: 96 Minimum Circuit Rating: 15 amps Voltage: 110/120V
Sears.com

Raising the roof Ė This is optional. I would prefer it done however I called my local welder and was told it would cost $20,000 to just raise the roof and weld the side panels. No way Iím going to do this at this price. I donít have the equipment or tools to do this myself.

Solar Ė I would love to have a solar power bus. Iíd be willing to even do a combination of solar and battery if possible.

Plumbing: I would like something so I can be completely off the grid if I wanted to.

As for busÖ

I would like a bus on the larger side. How big can I go?

From reading the different forums and from the response to my first post, Iím told that for what I want the best bus for me would be buses with DT466, DT530 or Cummins 8.3. Transmission with MD3060 or 2000 Series. The body of a Thomas bus because of the success of getting the 6th gear unlocked.

1.Buses with the flat nose, can they come with the engine in the front or back? (I always assumed the engine was automatically in front.)
2.What are the benefits of getting a bus flat nose compared to a bus that isnít flat?

Bus Iím looking at:
Mileage:140,193/Passengers:78/Engine:7.6/Transmission/Fuel Type: Diesel/Brake Type: AIR

*I canít seem to find any Thomas makes or models*

When searching for a bus is the make and model the same. Iím browsing different sites and see a category for make and model, both have Thomas.

I apologize in advance if I have any terminology jacked up or sound like I have no idea what Iím talking about (I donít). Any advice or guidance would be greatly appreciated! I hope I posted in the right area!


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Old 12-19-2017, 02:38 PM   #2
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Howdy and Welcome Home!--- Always good to have another Vet here. I'm no expert but will try and address a few things on your list.

First and foremost...read all the "Build Threads" you can stand. They are jam packed with real-world info and experience regarding nearly every aspect of choosing, buying and building. From those you can get an idea of what might be right for you. And that is all that really matters. Making it right for you and your needs.

$20K for a roof raise is nuts. The tools and skills are commonly available. My ex-wife and I raised a 40' Blue Bird 19" in a weekend with nothing more than a 4-1/2 grinder with a cut off wheel and a couple of rented barn jacks. Lots of ways to go about it here in many threads. Closing it in can also be as simple as using rivets or finding a friend with a welder. Don't recommend nuts & bolts though, they can wiggle loose.

Solar I know nothing about but is heavily covered here.

Plumbing is very basic and can include anything from a hand poured Jerry Jug & Home Depot bucket to exotic shower massage and bidet. Here again, time spent reading up on this site will help provide both direction and details.

Bus particulars are like everything else, they depend on how you plan on using it. My short bus is all I need but other folks require more space. Skoolies are found in Small, medium & Large. Small, aka; "Shorties", (including cutaway vans) can be found starting around 20 feet...Mid size buses range from around 28 to 36 or so...and the largest are 40 feet long. Each has it's own benefits and limits.

Most will come with a diesel engine but there are some gas guzzlers around. Personally, if I ever planned on anything but occasional trips to a neighborhood Starbucks, I would never consider a gas burner. Diesels have the torque and longevity you'd expect from a big commercial truck (what most Skoolie chassis actually are underneath all that yellow). Much better MPG's too.

As for specific engine/tranny choices..you will no doubt get a range of opinions very quickly so I'll leave that for the group.

Yes.."Flat Nose" rigs can have the engine front (FE) or rear (RE). More opinions there will come but maybe the biggest advantage of an RE is that nearly the whole underbelly is available to hang tanks & storage & such.

Dognoses have the advantage of having more mass out front if a head on collision occurs. But unless they have a tilt up hood, they can be tricky to service and work on.

All Skoolies should be ID'd by Make & Model. They are not the same. Just like Plymouth Dart tells you who and what it is, a Skoolie description should include a manufacturer and the specific model. Not sure about Thomas models but Blue Bird has made quite a number...TC-2000, All American, Micro-Bird, Vision and so on. With many Thomas owners here they can likely fill in those blanks.

Also be advised that as you search for a rig, you will no doubt encounter sellers that do NOT have a clue what they are selling as regards model, engine, tranny or much of anything else. So the better educated you become on your short list of targets...the better you can negotiate.

Best of luck and once again...Welcome Home.
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Old 12-19-2017, 02:39 PM   #3
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Welcome Greg

Your terminology may be a little off at times, but you're doing great. You have a good idea what you want, and that's a good start.

Yes, flatnose buses come in both front engine (FE) and rear engine (RE). The main advantage to this type of bus is there is more floorspace in comparison to overall length. A conventional dognose bus of the same overall length will have less floor space.

Nearly all your choices are a tradeoff. The dognose bus will give the most normal feeling driving experience. The FE and RE buses have their own advantages. It all comes down to what you plan to use it for.

Most RE buses come in one length, while FE buses come in medium length as well as the 40'er. You've got lots of choices to make about the right bus.

I needed something that could turn around in tight areas. That would lead you to believe I chose a shorty, but I'm in a medium size bus that turns sharper than a shorty. It's all about choices.
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Old 12-19-2017, 03:04 PM   #4
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And I thought ten grand was too much for a roof raise!

Welcome to the forum!
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Old 12-19-2017, 03:30 PM   #5
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I thought $5k would be a reasonable price for a roof raise. We're in the wrong business.
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Old 12-19-2017, 03:40 PM   #6
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I thought $5k would be a reasonable price for a roof raise. We're in the wrong business.
5k is, IMO a reasonable price.
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Old 12-19-2017, 04:02 PM   #7
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Thomas bus names are pretty consistent.

The Saf-T-Liner and F65 are probably the versions that would interest you.

I have a Saf-T-Liner MVP, it was also available as a beefed up, West Coast edition just called the ER instead of MVP. Both are fine but the ER has a build quality similar to Crown, and with prices to match if you can find one.

Bus came in a variety of lengths, conventional or flat front, front or rear engine.

It's the equivalent of the Blue Bird TC2000 and All American range.

One difference is that many of the Saf-T-Liners left the factory with a 78" ceiling height. This is a major plus because for many that would mean it would be comfortable without a roof-raise. Thomas's are a little more complex because they slope in from the window line.

A variety of engines are available, but many have the bigger engines and transmissions to match.
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Old 12-19-2017, 04:02 PM   #8
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The legal side of my brain says there would be a lot of liability issues with raising someone else's roof.

Yes, most people have left and right brain. I have legal and illegal.
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Old 12-19-2017, 04:20 PM   #9
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The legal side of my brain says there would be a lot of liability issues with raising someone else's roof.

Yes, most people have left and right brain. I have legal and illegal.
If there were a standard for structural integrity, then there might be issues. As these vehicles are no longer certified as School Buses, then I doubt any standard exists. U-Haul box trucks are pretty flimsy.
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Old 12-19-2017, 04:23 PM   #10
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Hey, I'm basically doing the same thing. ECCB did the roof raise for me, but everything else I'm doing myself. Its overall not that much if you take your time and break the tasks up. That's how I'm attacking it. A roof raise is highly recommended and it is entirely possible to do by yourself as evidenced by a number of posters in this forum. I had the opportunity to buy one from someone I trusted, knowing that the time saved was invaluable. I'm located in Del Rio TX, which isn't the most resource-friendly place in the country, but I'm sourcing a lot of things locally somehow. I have faith in you too!

Let me know if you have any questions. I'm about a month in and just put walls up on the exterior.
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