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Old 03-23-2005, 12:53 AM   #1
Bus Nut
 
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Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Grundy, Virginia
Posts: 632
Year: 1985
Coachwork: ThomasBuilt
Chassis: International Harvester S-1700
Engine: 9L IHC V-8 Diesel 180HP
Rated Cap: 60
Going to take the plunge. Yikes!

I have narrowed my search down to a couple or three busses in the NC surplus system.

All of them are mid-'80s models, 60 passenger, AT545, IH 9.0 engines (I did pass on the '79 IH D170 engine bus...)

My top pick is the $2,500 bus with 40Kmiles on the rebuilt engine, but unless they come down $500 it's out of my range.

Next pick is a $2,000 ("the guy at the state said he'd take a good offer" -- maybe $1,800?) bus. 200Kmiles.

Third is a $1,500 bus that "runs fine" but it "might need king pins". 160Kmiles.

So...here are some questions:

If you were doing your rebuild knowing what you know now, what would you do differently?

What is the worst mistake you made during the process?

What could you have saved money on, or, in hindsight, eliminated and not spent money on at all?

What is the best thing you did during the process?

What was your best rebuilding "investment"?

My constraints:

My budget is fixed. Firmly. I will have about $2,000 to work with during the rebuild, at least to get the bus to the point where it is liveable.

I have the month of April (and whatever is left of March after I get the bus) to get the work done. Maybe a little of May. (Unless my wife throws me out when she sees it in the driveway...)

I have to make it not look like a used school bus RIGHT AWAY. Paint is an IMMEDIATE priority.

Here are my thoughts so far:

1. Paint the bus with a coat of primer (Zinsser 1-2-3), followed by two coats of cheap latex exterior house paint. I have a power roller, so the paint should go on quickly. (I can add lovely accent colors on the trim later, but first I have to make it NOT YELLOW.)

White will reflect South Carolina sun.

I want to put Kool-Seal on, but that is going to have to wait for a while.

2. (After cleaning the interior - oh, and removing the seats, - oh, and assuming the floor does not need repairs) Install my floor as the first step of the renovation, at least the underlayment but not the finished top part.

I plan on putting 2" x 3/4" furring strips in a one foot grid over the bus floor, and covering them with a 4-mil plastic sheet vapor barrier that will run up the walls 1' or so. The grid will be filled with 1' square pieces of 4' x 8' x 3/4" rigid foam board, with the shiny side down. I will screw 3/4" T&G OSB subflooring on top of that, and top it with a coat of latex paint. That will be the basis of my flooring system. The planned finished surface is (right now) 36 cent per square foot vinyl stick-on tile. I will not put it down until the construction process is complete.

Is 3/4" subflooring too heavy? It would be great if I could spend $14 on 1/2" CDX plywood (instead of $20 on the OSB) and use that instead, but I'm afraid it won't be sturdy enough. (Not to mention the weight savings.)

3. Run cheap gray PVC electrical conduit in the walls to the appropriate locations, and pull wire. Initially I only plan on using 12VDC in the bus, but I'm going to run 120VAC wiring at the same time, rather than have to undo things to install it later. The wire will run to the battery box location, which will be over one of the wheel humps. I'm going to use big, heavy electrical wires for the 12VDC, as big as I can afford.

What kind of 12VDC outlet should I install? The cigarette lighter plug kind? What do y'all use?

4. Work on insulating the walls. I will be using 3" Fiberglass insulation. I plan to sandwich it between the same 4-mil plastic sheeting that was used for the floor. I saw someone in the Gallery had done something like this, folding the sheet in half and putting the fold at the top of the fiberglass so that the sheeting drapes over it on both sides. It seems to me that would protect against vapor from the inside and leaks from above and outside.

I'm going to keep the metal interior panels in place for now. I will paint them with latex, maybe. I have a thought about covering them somehow with the vinyl from the seats, maybe, if I can make that look decent.

5. Work on insulating the ceiling. I will be using 3" Fiberglass insulation.

Here is where I have a big question: are the ceiling panels screwed into the ceiling, or riveted? Can I just unscrew them, insulate the ceiling, and screw them back into place with a nice vapor barrier covering the inside, or am I going to have to pull the fiberglass through the frame spaces from one side to the other?

Well, that's enough questioning for now. Back to the drawing board! Thanks in advance for any suggestions (particularly if they keep me from doing something really foolish.)
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Old 03-23-2005, 04:19 PM   #2
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might be more after I finish reading the rest..but..DO NOT USE LATEX PAINT..I bought my buss cheap ($500) because the LAST person did use house paint on it..needless to say it doesn't hold up on metel..I did see someone recomened useing tractor/heavey equipment paint (cheaper than car paint) and it does come in more than the basic colors you see...also from what I've seen it looks ok put on by roller as well.

(Love the edit function)

for wireing the 12v outlets it strikes me as a cheap/easy thing to use the basic cig outlets like you say...all I was going to use 12v for was lights and hardwire in things like the fridge and stuff...for TV/DVD/computer I was going with a inverter (110v)..stereo is going to be a 12v as well.
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Old 03-23-2005, 10:13 PM   #3
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Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: New England
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Coachwork: Ward Genesis
Chassis: International
Engine: DT466/MT643
Rated Cap: 77
I suggest avoiding the International 9.0 engine, even if the bus is free. I've heard plenty about it, nothing good. The AT545 is not a wonderful choice, either.
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Old 03-23-2005, 11:51 PM   #4
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Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Grundy, Virginia
Posts: 632
Year: 1985
Coachwork: ThomasBuilt
Chassis: International Harvester S-1700
Engine: 9L IHC V-8 Diesel 180HP
Rated Cap: 60
Thanks for the input!

Thanks for the input! I'm going to take your advice about the paint.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Demonknight
might be more after I finish reading the rest..but..DO NOT USE LATEX PAINT..I bought my buss cheap ($500) because the LAST person did use house paint on it..needless to say it doesn't hold up on metel..I did see someone recomened useing tractor/heavey equipment paint (cheaper than car paint) and it does come in more than the basic colors you see...also from what I've seen it looks ok put on by roller as well.
That's probably a good idea. The oil based barn and fence paint is only $5 per gallon more, so the total increase in cost would only be about $10 or $15. I won't use oil based paint in my power roller, but I wouldn't mind using it on a hand roller. For the minimal increase in cost, I think I will go ahead and use the barn paint.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Demonknight
for wireing the 12v outlets it strikes me as a cheap/easy thing to use the basic cig outlets like you say...all I was going to use 12v for was lights and hardwire in things like the fridge and stuff...for TV/DVD/computer I was going with a inverter (110v)..stereo is going to be a 12v as well.
I'm still not sure if there is a 12 volt outlet that is different than the cigarette lighter type. I really think the cigarette lighter outlets are not attractive, so I'd like to use something else. I'm also not sure if they can handle heavy duty use. I need to do more research.

I'm going to try to hook my computer up to run straight from 12 volts. I know it's possible, I just have to track down the "how" of it online. I've seen it done somewhere.

I really won't have enough juice available to run much 110 volt stuff. I may use a cheap inverter hooked up to a 110V marine hot water heater as a load dump for the solar panel, but I'm not sure about that yet.

I'm going to post more about my electrical thoughts in another post.
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Old 03-24-2005, 12:11 AM   #5
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Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Grundy, Virginia
Posts: 632
Year: 1985
Coachwork: ThomasBuilt
Chassis: International Harvester S-1700
Engine: 9L IHC V-8 Diesel 180HP
Rated Cap: 60
Thanks for the input!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jarlaxle
I suggest avoiding the International 9.0 engine, even if the bus is free. I've heard plenty about it, nothing good. The AT545 is not a wonderful choice, either.
Thanks for the warning. I've researched the engine, and found that about 1/2 of the people say, "boat anchor/rolling oil spill", and 1/2 of the people say, "runs forever". I know that the IHC 9.0 liter engine had bad problems with the cylinder head gaskets in its early iterations, but those were fixed (theoretically) in later models. This engine has been recently rebuilt, that would have been done with modern parts that should have taken care of the head gasket problem and other oil leak issues. Maybe. The other engines that are available to me in busses speced by the state (and within my budget) are the odd gas engine (I won't be buying a gas engine bus for various reasons), and the IHC 6.9 liter (underpowered), IHC 7.3 liter (also underpowered), and the Detroit Diesel 8.2 liter. Based on what's available, the 9.0 seems to be the best choice (or maybe, the lesser evil.)

Also, the other busses with the 9.0 liter that are available all have at least 150Kmiles or so on them, and are only $400 to $600 cheaper. The way I look at it, I'm paying the difference ($400 to $600) for an engine rebuild, which is pretty cheap, considering that I have the cash right now but might not (very likely will not) have the $1,500 or so for a rebuild six months down the road. I'd feel a lot less worry about being broke down and broke beside the road for the next 5 years or so while I'm in school.

The AT545 has some specific limitations. One of which is that it does not hold up well to being overpowered, but the IHC 9.0 liter is not too strong for it. Another limitation is that the torque converter does not lock up, and that impacts fuel economy. I don't plan to drive it that much, so I'm not extremely worried about fuel economy (plus I hope to fuel it with bio-diesel, so as long as the fuel is cheap - est $0.75/gallon - I would be glad to drive it a lot).

Plus, I'm going to put one of my patented Plywood Air Dams (TM) on it, and that should get me an additional 0.8 to 1.2 mpg on the highway!

Also, on the plus side, the AT545 is readily available used, and pretty doggone cheap, too. (Which doesn't make much difference if I'm a poor student and broke all the time....)

Eventually, "down the road", so to speak, I may put a lower gear ratio rear end on it, and also larger wheels. As money falls into my lap....
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Old 03-24-2005, 10:45 AM   #6
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Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: New England
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Chassis: International
Engine: DT466/MT643
Rated Cap: 77
I'd take a 6.9/7.3 IH, a 5.9 Cummins, or even a gas engine over a 9.0 IH every time. The 6.9/7.3 can easily be turned up with turbochargers.
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Old 03-24-2005, 04:44 PM   #7
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The only other outlet setup for a 12v system that I have seen is just a simple pair of studes with plastic screw down nuts (red and black colored) ..course there may be more ways out there than I have seen....guess if you don't plan on haveing a 110 system you could use basic wall outlets as you wouldn't have to worry about pluging into the wrong outlet.

As for the paint once I get mine out here (im in Co and its in WA) I plan on useing tractor paints on it as well...there was a link here someplace that had some nice colors to pick from.
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Old 03-28-2005, 05:55 PM   #8
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Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Grundy, Virginia
Posts: 632
Year: 1985
Coachwork: ThomasBuilt
Chassis: International Harvester S-1700
Engine: 9L IHC V-8 Diesel 180HP
Rated Cap: 60
Got Insurance Quote Today

Well, I managed to get one insurance quote today. GMAC wants $262.50 per six months to insure a bus conversion. That's about twice what I was expecting. I'm going to keep looking.

These companies said, "No way, Jose":

Aon Recreation Insurance (Formerly RV Alliance America)

Thum Agency.

I'm still going to try RV America Insurance

PPLMotorhomes (Their equipment/outfitting prices seem awfully high to me).

We'll see what comes up. My driving record is good for the last 3 years (maybe 5 years, but I'm not sure if I have one ticket less than 5 years ago, or not). The fact that I don't own a home may be the big negative.

I found an RV park relatively convenient to where I go to school. $330 per month, electric and utilities included. I'd just as soon have a farmer's field for $100 per month, though.

I should be sending a check for the bus out tomorrow. Boy am I uptight! LOL
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Old 03-28-2005, 09:23 PM   #9
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Location: Off-Grid
Posts: 740
Year: 1982
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Chassis: IH S1723
Engine: IH V345 Gas V8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Demonknight
The only other outlet setup for a 12v system that I have seen is just a simple pair of studes with plastic screw down nuts (red and black colored) ..course there may be more ways out there than I have seen....guess if you don't plan on haveing a 110 system you could use basic wall outlets as you wouldn't have to worry about pluging into the wrong outlet.
I don't know if it helps, but I used to have a 1964 Toyota Land Cruiser that came from the factory with a 12vdc drop light that had a standard plug on the end. Inside the glove box, Toyota had mounted an outlet to plug it into. I don't see any reason why you couldn't wire 12vdc to standard outlets. As far as identifying them from 120vdc, you could just use 2 different colors to differentiate between the two. Labelling them wouldn't hurt either.

I had given thought to wiring ac and dc to the same outlet pair, modifying the pair to have one black and one white outlet, with one being ac, one dc.
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Old 05-10-2005, 03:31 PM   #10
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I've always heard good things about the 9.0 litre. The downside that it is wimpy. It is however one of the most fuel efficient diesel engines commonly found in a skoolie according to people i've talked too, including Gregg who is a bus guru. He's spent a good portion of his life buying and selling buses.
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