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Old 01-09-2010, 11:22 PM   #1
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Newbie from Kansas

Hello,
I've been surfing this forum for a few days now. I've been thinking of getting a school bus for a few years now. I collect antique hit-n-miss engines and go to shows around Kansas. I've been thinking of the best way to go to shows with my engines, and I think a converted bus is the way to go. I've got a 1983 1ton chevy truck that will haul anything I want but it's horrendous on gas mileage (454 with granny-low 4sp)! Also with it's current setup I can't use my slide in camper because of a hoist in the bed. I have a 26' trailer to pull also. I've been thinking to set a bus up with the front half being a rv and the other half being for cargo with some fold up bunks for extra sleeping room. It would require a larger door to load some of my engines, but I think that's do-able. Also it could later be modified into a full rv and just haul all of the engines on the trailer.
I've seen some good ideas on the forum, gotten some ideas that I'd never would of thought of and some things to stay away from/look for. I'm looking and reading about different buses/chassis/engines/tranny and such.
My thoughts on what I want are as follows:
1985-1995
IHC chassis (collect IHC engines/used to drive a 1961 IHC 1/2 ton)
diesel
manual tranny (I've never had any luck with autos)
refrigerator
shower
toilet
stove
gen-set
hardwood floor
back-up camera
hitch
insulation
LED lights
AC
heater
back porch to store spare tire, loading ramps & fuel for my engines

I've got my slide in camper that I doubt would make too many more miles because of dry rot in the walls. I'm thinking of turning it into a donor. It has a gas light. 12v lights, sink, potable water tank (I also have another tank out of another camper) a ice box, table, roof vents, stove. I've also got a small 110v/propane refrig out of another camper.
My tax return should put a big dent in the cost of a used bus. I've got some time to look and work on it. My first engine show would be July 4 weekend. Plenty of time, right?

I'm looking forward to hearing any more ideas/thoughts and reading about other folks and their skoolie projects!

Thanks!
Richard Jensen
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Old 01-09-2010, 11:27 PM   #2
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Re: Newbie from Kansas

Welcome from one Kanasan to another!

Ben.
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Old 01-10-2010, 12:56 AM   #3
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Re: Newbie from Kansas

Sounds like you have a need a bus can provide. Welcome! It is nice to have a donor and it sound like you have a nice knowledge base to help you make a great buy as well. I look forward to reading about your journey in finding and building a bus to fit your needs.
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Old 01-10-2010, 01:19 AM   #4
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Re: Newbie from Kansas


Sounds like a plan!

The IH DT466 is the engine to have, and readily available in school buses.

Stick shifts are very hard to find in school buses. Some of us dream of doing swaps with stick shifts out of trucks.

Get a good quality RV toilet. I like my Thetford Aria Classic. The little plastic ones will tick your family off something awful. No house-type toilets in vehicles.

Trailer ball way up high at bumper level, so it does not scrape.

Avoid front engine flat nose -- lousy engine access.

Get busy!
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Old 01-10-2010, 02:06 AM   #5
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Re: Newbie from Kansas

Hello,
Thanks for the welcomes! One questions I have for the folks that have been involved in converting buses is:
What body lends itself to heavy mods? Roof raising, window removing/skinning, moving the doors.

I'm looking at:
AMTran
BlueBird
Thomas
Ward

I'm looking at all of the various mods and keeping my options open.

Thanks!
Richard
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Old 01-10-2010, 02:43 AM   #6
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Re: Newbie from Kansas


No big differences between the brands that I'm aware of. They seem to be all built along the same basic methods. You'll be doing a lot of inventing on any of them.

Some models of Carpenter had structural weaknesses in the roof, so some people avoid those.

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Millicent The Bus - roof raised two feet, toy-hauler tailgate.
http://www.skoolie.net/forums/f11/th...gate-1564.html
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Old 01-10-2010, 12:25 PM   #7
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Re: Newbie from Kansas

Ward,Amtran, IC-international is the ownership progression of those busses. As a lifelong mechanic/fabricator I've always thought that having the engine in the livingroom is a bad idea, but as I define my needs and desires closer and get ready to buy a bus the FE Amtran Genisis with a dt466 looks like the bus of choice for my needs(rv/toter). The modern engines are pretty much bullet proof when the recommended maintainence is performed as recommended, and most bus operaters know that with a 12 year expected usable life that the scheduled maintainence is cheap insurance against major repair costs and component failure. (sounds like a sales pitch to me) anyhow I've just about got all of the major homefront projects under control and need to start looking for the right bus

back to your origonal questions, all of the buses and drivelines are good, it's mostly a matter of preference and what is available at your price point.
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Old 01-10-2010, 03:44 PM   #8
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Re: Newbie from Kansas

Smitty,
I've never been there, but it's on my list of places I want to go and show engines. I've got about a dozen big shows across the US that I want to go to. I'm thinking of picking 1 a year and going to that one instead of one of my local ones. Here are some pictures of my display. I've since added some more, that I've not taken to any shows yet.




The corn shellers give the kids hands on experience. Kids these days have no idea what a corn sheller is, let alone how to use it! Also a lot of adults don't know either, even out here in farming territory! I also have a hand powered corn grinder, and a set up with a couple of brace and bits and a board so the kids can drill holes by hand! I also have a collection of jacks. I get a lot of comments about my display and the hands on aspect of it.

This is usually what I start with!

Here's a restored one I got at a auction.


Thanks!
Richard
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Old 01-10-2010, 03:54 PM   #9
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Re: Newbie from Kansas


I salute you, Meco3hp, for keeping these endangered Mechanical Arts alive and available for the new generations to learn from!
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Old 01-14-2010, 01:06 PM   #10
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Re: Newbie from Kansas

Welcome from another Kansan!!
If you ever make it to Wichita give me a shout!! I'd be proud to show off my bus. Shes ugly on the outside but well done on the inside.
The antique engines I think were part of the inspiration behind my dad building my bus. He used to be into the hit and miss old iron. I still have two of those IHC model LB? engines. A HUGE pile of Maytag stuff and even a Maytag lawnmower. And also there is a maytag twin cylinder light plant.
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