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Old 08-07-2014, 09:21 AM   #1
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I could use some help choosing a bus

I've been reading about conversions for a while but sometimes I get differing opinions on certain topics.

I've heard some people say to stay away from International engines and to stick with Cummins. I've heard others say that both international and Cummins are fine but to stay away from Cats (not easily rebuilt).

For bodies I think that I've seen most people say Bluebirds are best since they use a single piece from floor to ceiling instead of joining multiple pieces like Thomas does.

Then there's the other stuff like gear ratio, dognose vs. flatnose, front vs. rear engine, air brakes vs hydraulics (air seeming to be preferred).


In my area it seems like there are lots of buses with international engines available and not much else.


Can you guys help a newbie out with a few pointers? I've heard dognose buses are easier to work on when it comes to engine repairs but I don't really have a preference. I think I would prefer to have air brakes especially since I can run air tools off the system.
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Old 08-07-2014, 12:47 PM   #2
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Re: I could use some help choosing a bus

You're not going to run much in the way of air tools though.
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Old 08-07-2014, 02:00 PM   #3
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Re: I could use some help choosing a bus

Quote:
Originally Posted by opus
You're not going to run much in the way of air tools though.
Oh? I've never seen the air brake systems before but I heard the compressor and tanks are usually large enough to run some basic things like for pumping up tires, etc.
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Old 08-07-2014, 03:15 PM   #4
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Re: I could use some help choosing a bus

Sure, you can do that. You can use a gun to take tires off too. You might have to stop midstream for a build up. To use one in place of a shop air compressor wont work though. Everything would take twice as long to do.
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Old 08-08-2014, 04:53 AM   #5
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Re: I could use some help choosing a bus

Quote:
Originally Posted by opus
Sure, you can do that. You can use a gun to take tires off too. You might have to stop midstream for a build up. To use one in place of a shop air compressor wont work though. Everything would take twice as long to do.
not intended hijack........ but what do yall recommend for breaking loose lug nuts on dayton wheels? a 1/2 breaker aint happening for me.
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Old 08-08-2014, 08:21 AM   #6
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Re: I could use some help choosing a bus

Maybe some PB Blaster and an impact?
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Old 08-08-2014, 11:45 AM   #7
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Re: I could use some help choosing a bus

Although I haven't used one, a torque multiplying wrench might be your answer. The ones I have looked at have a 60-70 to 1 crank ratio and range from about $50 to $300--as usual you probably get the quality you pay for. As to the 1/2" bar, after adding a 6' section of drive shaft tube to the handle of the bar and jumping up and down on the tube, the lugs came right off. I only broke one bar getting all my wheels off.
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Old 08-08-2014, 11:47 AM   #8
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Re: I could use some help choosing a bus

Makes me nervous when I hear people wanting to pull off Dayton wheels. You are familiar with the safe pull procedure I hope?
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Old 08-08-2014, 03:17 PM   #9
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Re: I could use some help choosing a bus

Quote:
Originally Posted by dean
... Can you guys help a newbie out with a few pointers? I've heard dognose buses are easier to work on when it comes to engine repairs but I don't really have a preference. I think I would prefer to have air brakes especially since I can run air tools off the system.
You could do what we did.

We had a vague idea of what we wanted (I wanted a flat nosed diesel Blue Bird because I love the older Wanderlodges). We thought a 30-35 ft bus would be a good size based on living fulltime in a 22 ft Class C (we just needed a couple more feet). At the time, we had just junked a 40 ft Eagle 05 that David had bought because he loved the look of an Eagle 05. Eagles are notorious rust buckets and the leading cause of deafness among Eagle coach owners. And since David got to choose the first bus, I got to choose the second bus (that was the deal when he bought the Eagle). I found several via online and in local for sale ads. I found the bus we ended up with in a local IWANNA paper. It was at the top end of our budget plus we were still looking at cube vans as a potential moving/conversion. As the months went by, we still hadn't found the right vehicle. I kept seeing the Blue Bird relisted in the paper, then the price dropped to below our budget. So we called and set up a meeting to look at it. We took the cash to buy it with (in a backpack) and a new starter battery, just in case. We really didn't expect to get it. We didn't know how big it was. It looked huge but it was sitting in a pasture with nothing else around it except a huge tree and it was white. A huge white bus. The guy selling it wasn't sure how big it was. He thought it might be 35 ft. So, after David drove it out to the road and back, he dickered a deal for less than what the guy was asking (David likes to dicker... they had a bit of fun wrangling over price). Paid out the cash and drove the bus home (about 20 miles) all on rural backroads. When we got it home and measured it, it was 40 ft, so it didn't just look huge... it was huge. It ran great and tended to overheat. We stripped seats out, loaded all our junk it in as it was bought to use as a moving van and promptly made a 1700+ mile trip from NC to NM. Along the way the radiator had to be repaired at East Texas Radiator in TX (they dumped about a pound of solder and a pile of river gravel out of the radiator... they probably still tell stories about the gravel in the radiator... very nice people). We didn't really care about if it was an automatic (it was). We didn't care what kind of tranny or what the rear end ratio was since we prefer to putter on the rural US highways rather than blasting down the interstate (the bus kept up with the loaded semi's on the interstate just fine and they were puttering at about 55 - 60 mph). The Blue Bird was dry and rust free. Since we plan on parking more than running, we are just fine with our choice. The whole time we were looking, we both kept telling our daughter (Das Mel) that the right thing will show up at the right time, at the right price, we just have to recognize it and be ready to buy it and have a spot cleared to park it. And the right thing, the Blue Bird, turned up at the right time, about 1 month before we planned to leave NC, at the right price, $1400. We were meant to have this bus... the Blue Bird is a 1986. My twins were born in 1986. Coincidence? I think not!

WARNING! Metaphysical Zen Time....
Calm down, be at peace, be ready and the right things will come to you at the right time. You just need to recognize the right thing even if you don't think it's the right thing. It's all part of the journey of life.

Metaphysical Zen time is over... it works for us and when we fight against it, really bad things happen and we have to fight to get back on track.
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Old 08-08-2014, 05:09 PM   #10
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Re: I could use some help choosing a bus

Lorna,

Thanks for that. My wife and I are going through the "can't afford it but want it NOW" blues. Seriously needed that.
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Old 08-09-2014, 06:20 PM   #11
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Re: I could use some help choosing a bus

Well,

...you already made the 1st decision:
TO GET A BUS!!

Now down to details:

Question 01: WHAT do you want to do? Go places and STAY for extended time periods (4-5 days minimum) or TRAVEL (lot's of driving and staying in location for a 1-2 days max....?

Question 02: You want to MOVE into the bus or use it for a few weeks a year??

Question 03: How many are you???

Question 04: How handy are you???? What is your skill level and at what?

Question 05: What's your budget?????


Cheers,

thjakits
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Old 08-10-2014, 01:39 PM   #12
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Re: I could use some help choosing a bus

Thanks for the replies, guys.

thjakits,

I'm planning to mostly stay for extended time periods. I don't plan on doing a whole lot of traveling but a cross-country road trip isn't out of the question.

I'm planning to move into the bus full-time.

It's just going to be me living there but I'm sure I'll have guests sometimes.

I'm not extremely handy but what I don't know how to do I can learn. I have access to many tools.

I'm hoping to not spend more than $3,000 on the bus. The improvements I'm not that worried about. I can tackle them one at a time.


I want something that's going to be reliable that's easy to maintain and repair that will last a long time.
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Old 08-10-2014, 09:51 PM   #13
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Re: I could use some help choosing a bus

Alright!

Question 01: WHAT do you want to do? Go places and STAY for extended time periods (4-5 days minimum) or TRAVEL (lot's of driving and staying in location for a 1-2 days max....?
- I'm planning to mostly stay for extended time periods. I don't plan on doing a whole lot of traveling but a cross-country road trip isn't out of the question.
# Alright - then your drivetrain doesn't matter that much - as long as it is reliable and gets you there. So, more emphasis can be devoted to optimize for "in place comodity" - you don't have to worry too much about quick "clear up and lock down for travel" - if it takes a while, so what, you are not going to do it every day.....


Question 02: You want to MOVE into the bus or use it for a few weeks a year??
- I'm planning to move into the bus full-time.
# That is another HUGE decision and you will want to get the bus ready for it: SOLID installations, insulation, water (fresh, grey, black), heating, power (solar, generator, etc...) - you want to do it only once and make it so, that your are COMFORTABLE and SAVE no matter the weather.....
[How tall are you? A roof raise might be a worthwile investment and not to expensive,even if you are on a budget, IF you can get your hands on the right tools and some "metal" - Although it would be a major consideration for space-comforT, I guess slide-outs are NOT "on a budget"-items]


Question 03: How many are you???
- It's just going to be me living there but I'm sure I'll have guests sometimes.
# Okay, need to dig deeper - you are sure you will be ALONE with an occasional visit or MIGHT there be a 2nd half at some time?
The difference in building your ship will depend a lot on to make it COMFORTABLE for your partner too....
[In case you are the Lone Ranger, check through this build: viewtopic.php?f=9&t=4885 - though it seems like Smitty removed all his posts - Smitty built his bus for 1 person only: Smitty and now he is lost somewher in the Wild West!]
STILL buy the biggest bus you can get - especially if you plan on staying for long periods, you will run out of space soon enough!


Question 04: How handy are you???? What is your skill level and at what?
- I'm not extremely handy but what I don't know how to do I can learn. I have access to many tools.
# That will save you a TON of money - however, see question 02 - if there is tasks coming up you are not comfortable with yet - practise first or get a friend with the skills involved ......


Question 05: What's your budget?????
- I'm hoping to not spend more than $3,000 on the bus. The improvements I'm not that worried about. I can tackle them one at a time.
- I want something that's going to be reliable that's easy to maintain and repair that will last a long time.

# Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but unless you already have the bus, you CERTAINLY will be short even just get the VERY basics to the SOLID level:
Mechanics:
- Absolute minimum: Check the wheels, brakes - tires, brakes, airlines, etc... - there is no way around this one
- About as important: Check all fluid and gas lines, hoses: Brakes, fuel, hydraulics, air intake, turbo, etc...
- Check on the engine and trans before you buy - Try to get at least a lock-up trans, especially if it is a small engine (alltohugh that might be a very rare combination).....

Basics: The absolute really basic is to make the bus a very well insulated box with all the conduits you want in there for EVERY possible item you might want some day.... !! ALL the rest you can do as you go - water, gas, electrics, etc....
If you are totally out of money by now - go camping! You just finished your mother of a tent!!

Advanced Basics: Try to think of anything you want to put in later, but possibly need to prep the bus already - ....anything on the frame/body (storage tank supports, luggage compartments, battery logistics box for solar)? Whatever you envision and can't do right away, but would need major mods later - do the mods now as far as needed!

Okay - keep on narrowing down what you want! Make a lot of plans and alternatives - sleep over them and come back - ....and little by little you will sort away what is not essential to you and you end up with YOUR BUS PLAN!!

Cheers,

thjakits
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Old 08-11-2014, 10:01 AM   #14
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Re: I could use some help choosing a bus

Quote:
Originally Posted by opus
Makes me nervous when I hear people wanting to pull off Dayton wheels. You are familiar with the safe pull procedure I hope?
Would you care to elaborate? The logical way seems to be to loosen the nuts a bit then break the rim free from the spokes by giving it a whack while standing aside. Afterwards continue removing the nuts and rim. That's how I went about it, anyhow. Seemed to work well. I understand split-rims are dangerous, but I'd be surprised if many people have those anymore...
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Old 08-11-2014, 10:43 AM   #15
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Re: I could use some help choosing a bus

Yep...you did it right. Gotta break loose the wedges before you take the nuts totally off. Good job!
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