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Old 10-11-2006, 01:25 PM   #1
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Picking the Bus and winter living

I am looking to buy a bus and have been reading and thinking about it for years.

I like a flat nose but was wondering about the flat noses with the rear engine any pros or cons to this?

How about the 3108 i think it is a cat engine how it the reliability as that would be my major concern?

Also i live in minnesota and would like to either full time or at least be able to use it in the winter what are the concerns with the black and grey tanks. Do u need to find a spot in the bus to keep them warm enough so they wont freeze? Is there an anti freeze solution that can be used? How do the million dollar motor coaches do it ?


Thanks
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Old 10-12-2006, 10:34 PM   #2
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3108? Ummm, I think you mean 3208. I have a 3208 in mine, it's definately a Cat and a great motor. It's a beast of a motor, this is what they put in bull dozers for years. The only reason they are not still putting them under the hood is they couldn't get this motor under the EPA limits, so they moved to a newer design.... The 3208 should provide you with more miles than you can ever put on it, we're talking about a quarter to half million miles between rebuilds...

The big bucks coaches use hiway buses (Greyhound type of things) and they locate the waste tanks in the big compartments below which can be heated.

I'm building a compartment below the floor boards on my bus, it's certainly not nearly as big as those greyhound buses, only about a foot tall at it's lowest point (frame rail to frame rail) but is about 19" on each side of the frame rail to the outside of the bus. It's 4' x 8' and is pently big enough for my needs. I didn't put my waste tanks inside of there, I put them underneath of the cargo deck...but I live in a mile climate and didn't feel I need to heat the tanks. If I do I'll use an external heater and some insulation....I don't move the unit in the winter months anyway....
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Old 10-13-2006, 12:04 AM   #3
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Another common skoolie motor from Cat is the 3116. It is argueably better than the 3208. 3208's seem to have as much of a love/hate reputation as the 8.2. I knowa few guys that dislike them because they they are sleeveless and it takes a special kind of Cat mechanic to get the running just right. Of course my 6.6 is sleeveless too and the "Ford Certified" diesel mechanics at my local stealership argued with me that I don't have a 6.6 Ford, but rather a 6.9 or 7.3 IHC.
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Old 10-13-2006, 08:04 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the_experience03
Of course my 6.6 is sleeveless too and the "Ford Certified" diesel mechanics at my local stealership argued with me that I don't have a 6.6 Ford, but rather a 6.9 or 7.3 IHC.
Probably because that's all they see in the pick up trucks.
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Old 10-13-2006, 09:39 AM   #5
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3208 Cat

I talked to the mechanics at First Student before I bought my bus and they told me to stay away from 3208 cats, they said they have to rebuild them every 70-80,000 miles. They should know, they have a bunch of them in their busses. I know another mechanic/friend and he said the same thing, if you use them every day that you have to put head gaskets and bearings in them every couple of years. I just went with a gas motor, I can fix them. sportyrick
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Old 10-13-2006, 09:52 AM   #6
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The only thing that makes me want to shy away from a gas engine is that most used busses have alot of miles and a diesel is expected to have a longer life before a rebuild. I am also a little worried about having the power to pull hills and such. The fuel milage is also a concern but i think it evens out considering maintanance costs on a deisel. Also most gas engines are found in older dog nose busses.


I was guessing that heating the tanks is the only option but that would require alot of energy to do as electric heat would be the easiast to do.

What if the tanks were installed under the master bed in the back and had a little air flow down there? It would be weird to sleep over a tank of $#% but it might make keeping them from freezing alot easier.
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Old 10-13-2006, 01:18 PM   #7
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The decomposition of the...er..contents of the tank...is an exothermic reaction so it will naturally be warm to some degree. I really don't think you should need to add much heat. I nfact, I really don't think you want to add much heat. Yhe idea of boiling the........contents.....makes my stomach just a little quesy. Build a box, insulate it, and put a floor register over it that you can close or open. The natural flow of air should be more than suffiecient. It will also encourage you to make things leak free if you have to breath the air from around the tank.

As for gas versus diesel...I originally wanted a gasser with a stick, but ended up with a diesel with an auto. Price made the decision for me, but I'm not the least bit sorry now. Gassers are the hotrods of the bus world and will all too often out accelerate and have better top end than a diesel, but the mileage does decrease. In theory a diesel should last longer, but they do require proper operating procedure to do so and I know a lot of bus drivers around here like to shoot 5 seconds worth of ether in the thing, stomp the pedal to the floor, and crank rather than use the block heater oir Webasto.....

Rebuild cost is certainly lower on a gasser, but you don't hear of many of us having to repower, gas or diesel. 250,000 miles just isn't that much on an industrial engine, gas or diesel.

I know there were atleast some older TC2000's with gas engines because I have seen one with a tall deck 427 Chevy mated to an MT643. I think you'd obviously have to hunt a little, but they're out there.
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Old 10-13-2006, 01:52 PM   #8
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Are you suggesting to build a box under the bus that is well insulated and have a register that simple goes through the floor? That would probably work i would just hate to have it freeze and crack or somthing that would be a terrible mess. Could prolly locate the fresh water tank somwhere in the bus then so it would stay warm enough.

So a bus in good shape that appears to be well taking care with a gas and say 100 to 150 thousand is not that bad of an investment. I know the 366 is a very popular motor, what else out there is a good choice for a gas burner?
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Old 10-14-2006, 09:36 PM   #9
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The 3208 is not all that bad a motor, it is a big 10 liter that actually gets good mileage. It is a sleveless engine so it has to be rebuilt like a reagualr car engine.

In school bus service it did not hold up as well as many other engines. It did not like the stop and go. Bluebird put these engines in the older Wonderlodges for years. They held up find in that application. As long as the engine does not have over 100k miles it will probably be fine.
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Old 10-15-2006, 01:43 AM   #10
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My freshwater tank is under my bed. The idea behind the register is that you could close it to try and slow down the smell if you had a failure....

As for gassers...Chevy used the 350 small block and 366, 427, and 454 big blocks. Ford commonly used the 370, 429, 460, and 512 big blocks. Intertrashinal used the 304, 345, MV404, and 393 commonly. Beyond that, I'm drawing a blank.

As for the 3208...I don't claim to know much about them personally...just passing on what people I know have said about them.
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Old 10-29-2006, 01:55 AM   #11
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You could insulate the tank under the bus and use some heat tape. I use it to keep my pet snakes warm under their tanks. You can buy a roll of it and cut it to whatever length you like. Make small sections or whatever. If you can solder, it's simple to do. You can buy a rheostat switch at Wal-Mart like you would use for dimming lights in your house. The heat tape doesn't use much power at all. You could stick it on the tank. You don't need to heat the water up. Just enough heat to keep it from freezing. If you could use some 3/4" pink styrofoam to insulate your tank and then the heat tape, it will keep it warm enough.
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Old 10-29-2006, 07:10 AM   #12
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Headface….to answer your question what do the folks living in the million dollar motorhomes do….
First off these people hardly ever stay in an area where its very cold , they migrate to warmer climes .
The folks who live fulltime in their big 5th Wheel trailers and monster RV’s who think they might stay in an area for the winter …tend to go for Heated & insulated Bays where their Holding and water tanks are usually kept from freezing.
They run duct work off their 12-volt LP forced air gas furnaces for this.

Unfortunately School buses don’t have very much room underneath them for building in realistic insulated bays…. Realistic is the key word there. Anyone who hasn’t lived fulltime in a Bus in a very cold place like Alaska or Minnesota just doesn’t get , how fast a tank will freeze after a few days of 30 below temps.
So…In our last bus Home I located the tanks under our bed where they were mostly kept from freezing. The ‘natural Flow of air ‘certainly does not keep the tanks from freezing in a very cold place so we used a couple of 12-volt fans to force heated air under our bed.
Even so , when it got down to 20-30 below and stayed that way we had ice chunks floating around in the tanks.





If I was to do another Bus conversion …instead of locating the tanks ‘As is’ under our bed . I’d cut out a section on the side of the bus. Like I did for the steel boxes I installed in our latest Bus.


And build in a seriously well-insulated box to hold the tanks . I’d heat in with a combination of forced air off our woodstove and a 12-volt holding tank heating pad.
Here’s the link to the folks who make them.
http://www.ultraheat.com/tank_heaters.html
They cost around $120.00
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Old 10-29-2006, 08:41 AM   #13
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I forgot this bit….
You could also heat up the area where you locate the tank with homemade “radiator” that would pull hot water from your LP Gas water heater ( or even a wood stove type of hot water heating system )…and circulate it through the ‘Radiators’ piping system with a hot water circulator pump.
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Old 10-29-2006, 07:03 PM   #14
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$15 submersible stock tank heaters anyone?

What about blackwater tanks? This is one thing I've always thought about a little. Being that heat is a byproduct of the decomposition, will they stay warm assuming that decomposition is always taking place? I want to say yes, but the enzymes that are responsible for the decomposition don't do cold real well. Anyone want to test it for us?
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Old 10-29-2006, 10:04 PM   #15
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The last two years in a row I have used simple rope lights to heat the holding tanks under my travel trailer. It has worked well, doesn't create a lot of heat or use much electicity....an 18' section of rope lights uses only 54watts of power. I wrapped it around the dump valves, and back & forth across the bottom of the tanks. Used some duct tape to hold it up initically, then took a water heater blanket and put that underneath of it all, then used some bungee cords for support to hold it all up in place. I also ran some rope lights along with the freshwater hose and enclosed that in a foam pipe insulation... it all worked well, could get down into the teens for several days but my water would run freely and the tanks never froze!!

This year I'm using heat tape on the hose & tanks which might be slightly hotter than the rope lights. We'll see how it all works out! I just got done wrapping the fresh water hose last weekend...still gotta work on the tanks though...
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You just might be a Redneck if...
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...Your living room has a steering wheel!
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Old 10-29-2006, 10:59 PM   #16
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Black tanks will still freeze solid. Ever use an outhouse in the winter?
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Old 10-30-2006, 06:26 AM   #17
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No need to test anything….this kind of stuff has been known by Composting Toilet folks for years.
For decomposition to take place you need a minimum of 55 degrees Fahrenheit , That means the whole mass within the holding tank needs to be at and stay at that temp to start the break-down process.
At that minimum ‘start-up’ temp the decomposition process is very sluggish, and it produces very little excess’ heat’.
In the winter …If the tank is slung under the bus it’s never going to produce enough of its own heat to keep itself from freezing solid.

Some of the newer RV’s that come with Cold weather packages have really thought out their systems well.
Here’s a pic of an 5th wheels heated ‘port’ …where everything is kept in one place for efficiency.



One of the great things about this setup is they worked out the freezing issue with the dump valves.
Since they’re inside the rig and are kept warm they won’t build up ice, like they do when they’re slung under a rig.
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Old 10-30-2006, 07:41 AM   #18
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Looking at those tank heaters they remind me very much of the heater you use with a waterbed. Those can often times be had for free bed and all. Of course they're AC not DC but free is alway good and you could always use the inverter. Think it would work?
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