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Old 05-11-2009, 08:24 AM   #1
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NEW SCHOOL BUS CONVERSION - I'm a rookie!!

Hi gang,
Really glad to have found this site. I've been researching pretty heavily for the past month or so. Planning to buy a used school bus to convert into a home on wheels for myself and tour bus for my band. I have learned a lot from reading the posts on this site as well as others.
I am a complete rookie, and the most intimidating part of this whole process is the the actual hands on labor. I am dedicated and disciplined, and good at following through on things. I don't have a collection of power tools, and I don' have a place to work on the bus once I purchase it. So......my first two questions are this:

1. How would you recommend I combat the tool problem? Are there a few basic power tools I can purchase that will get the job done? I intend to fabricate most of the skeletal structure, cabinets, walls, barriers, etc. myself out of wood.

2. How should I go about finding a place to keep the bus while I work on it? I currently live in Las Vegas, NV. I have found a lot of craigslist offers to park your bus on property for a monthly fee, but some of them are not too keen on construction projects if ya know what I mean. Any creative solutions/ideas?

Thanks in advance for the help folks. I've already learned a ton from what I've read, and I'm so excited to get started on this!

Cheers.....
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Old 05-11-2009, 09:21 AM   #2
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Re: NEW SCHOOL BUS CONVERSION - I'm a rookie!!

Smitty, that post alone was worth it's wait in gold. Thank you so much for the info. That makes it much less intimidating already. I was worried I was going to have to invest in a huge arsenal of tools, but this is totally manageable. Great advice on the parking/storage as well.

Now, I would assume it's probably best to buy a few things to protect my body while working as well........goggles, gloves and the like? Anything major I'm missing there? I haven't done this kind of work since metal shop in highschool!

Thanks again, Smitty.

Cheers,
Blake
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Old 05-11-2009, 10:09 AM   #3
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Re: NEW SCHOOL BUS CONVERSION - I'm a rookie!!

So far the things I miss tool-wise are an angle grinder, goggles, breathing mask, and hearing protection.

My main tool arsenal at this point is a socket set, craftsman 19.2V cordless drill and trim saw, a couple air operated cutoff tools, a cheap harbor freight wire fed welder, and a pair of cheap leather gloves.

Drilling or grinding overhead results in the risk of getting things in your eyes/hair/nose/ears/mouth. This would be bad for most of those, so goggles and mask and hearing protection are useful.

The interior of the bus when cleared of seats is a huge echo chamber. Imagine working inside a bass drum while someone tunes it. Hearing protection is definitely helpful.

When grinding *anything* or drilling or cutting, there is a risk of something flying into your eyes. I wear glasses, and the lenses attest to how often this occurs. I've been lucky so far that nothing has headed for my eyes from an angle not protected by my glasses. I plan to rectify that situation soon.

Oh, and pick up a cheap multi-meter somewhere. Definitely helpful to have.

If you don't plan on doing a lot with your tools after your conversion, then don't waste money on air tools. Stick with cheap electric tools. Northern Tool and Harbor Freight are full of inexpensive (and cheap) tools that will generally be a good choice for a one-off job like this.

My bus has air brakes, meaning I have a source for air on the road, so I'm planning to use mostly air tools. I've gone cheap on them though, getting them from harbor freight and northern tool. When I finish my conversion and I'm living in my bus, I plan to have those tools with me for some time to come.

Don't feel intimidated. A basic conversion for a band can be done quite easily and in pretty short order. Depends on how fancy you want to get.

hope this helps,
jim
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Old 05-11-2009, 10:20 AM   #4
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Re: NEW SCHOOL BUS CONVERSION - I'm a rookie!!

Smitty summed up the tools pretty well. Not a whole lot more you would need. I've founnd my cordless driver/drill, indespencable. If you get one, get a good sized one with an extra battery or two.

Safety - Good question.. Wear safety glasses or goggles. You'll be doing a lot of grinding and drilling. A metal sliver hurts like hell in your eye. Good fitting leather gloves are also needed. Just always be aware of what your doing. Those little side grinders are wonderful, but the first time you let your guard down and relax your grip, it will bite you. There are a few injuries documented on this forum, from power tool mishaps. Hearing protection - Ear plugs or ear muffs. I don't know that you would really need a resperator, but some of the higher quality dust masks are useful.

By all means, where ever you park it to work on it, keep your mess cleaned up around it. Even if you have to load your trunk up every night and drop stuff off at a local dumpster. (Don't use the same one all the time )
Congrats on your new bus, good luck and have fun.
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Old 05-11-2009, 05:34 PM   #5
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Re: NEW SCHOOL BUS CONVERSION - I'm a rookie!!

Thanks for all the fantastic suggestions everyone. Joining this site was definitely the right thing to do. I can tell that all of you are going to help make my experience much easier. I will be sure to fully document the process with posts and pictures so you guys can check it out.

I'll keep you posted on what I find for parking. The other factor in Vegas of course, is the heat. Depending on when I get started, working on the bus outdoors during the day could be brutal. Vegas summers are ridiculous. Indoor parking might be a consideration. Or working at night as was suggested. I need to find an airplane hangar, heh, heh.

jimmyaustintx, the house sitting is a very creative idea I wouldn't have thought of. I will have to see what the possibilities are there.

And baadpuppy, thanks for all the practical advice on safety. Yeah, I'll pass on the metal slivers in the eye.

Tools tools tools.......so now I'll be compiling a list and checking craiglist and local hardware stores. Thanks for helping get me set up!

Blake
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Old 05-11-2009, 08:29 PM   #6
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Re: NEW SCHOOL BUS CONVERSION - I'm a rookie!!

i just bought a rigid tool set for $425. I know its a little pricey but its lithium ion, came with a circular saw, sawzall, x3 drill, and a impact driver. Not to mention they come with a lifetime warranty. Li-ion stuff runs wwwaaayyyy longer than a nicad per charge
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Old 05-12-2009, 08:33 AM   #7
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Re: NEW SCHOOL BUS CONVERSION - I'm a rookie!!

gotmuddy;
super find on the tools, rigid and milwaukee tools are made by the same parent company so I'm sure that their is some transfer of technology, fyi, milwaukee is and has been a premier industrial tool supplier forever.
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Old 05-12-2009, 05:35 PM   #8
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Re: NEW SCHOOL BUS CONVERSION - I'm a rookie!!

I was torn between the two when purchasing. The rigid tools sold me on the waranty
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Old 05-13-2009, 12:42 AM   #9
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Re: NEW SCHOOL BUS CONVERSION - I'm a rookie!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by gotmuddy
i just bought a rigid tool set for $425. I know its a little pricey but its lithium ion, came with a circular saw, sawzall, x3 drill, and a impact driver. Not to mention they come with a lifetime warranty. Li-ion stuff runs wwwaaayyyy longer than a nicad per charge
We had a tool liquidation auction come to town. I got a flyer in the mail. Took a friend of mine and he bought that rigid tool set with the carrying bag for ~$160. He also got the rigid stereo / battery charger. Its all refurbished but he has an auto repair shop and has used the tools daily and I use them to work on my bus and they work great and really do hold a charge for a long time.
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Old 05-13-2009, 08:36 AM   #10
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Re: NEW SCHOOL BUS CONVERSION - I'm a rookie!!

I'm a premium tool kind of guy, and I liked my rigid 3/8 vsr that replaced the old snapon drill that santa brought me a second rigid drill to keep in the house.

my experience with cutoff wheels has been that it is cheaper to buy premium wheels at the welding supply house, they outlast the cheap wheels and end up being more cost effective.
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