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Old 09-14-2015, 12:02 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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School or public trans. or other

I'm beginning my research on conversion to RV/ home on wheels.

Are there any reasons that particular stand out when choosing the type of bus ?

School, Public trans. bus or some other.

Durability ?
Overall wear and tear ?
Ease of registration ?
Type of registration ?
Type of license ?
I'm in CA but not opposed to registering out of state if beneficial ?
Price ?
Anything you can think of that would lean towards a particular type of bus.


With minimal knowledge i would assume a school bus is the optimal choice being high, probably well trained and engineered much better than other choices.

My only criteria so far is preferably 1. diesel 2. flat nose/ modern looking.
and 3. Probably the 5.9L cummings since its used in regular trucks but thats not set in stone at all just something that makes sense to me, lots of parts and mods.

Thanks for your input and please stay on topic. I know this isn't a direct question but i'm trying to get a broad view of buses to which i will choose from.
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Old 09-14-2015, 11:18 AM   #2
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Welcome --- What constitutes the best platform depends mostly on how you intend to use it. Some folks here only occasionally move their buses and use it primarily as a Tiny House. Others are on the road daily covering many thousands of miles. And there is everything in between. The use should dictate both the original choice as well as the design.

Best bet is to spend as much time as you have available reading through the build threads here and you'll come away with a solid overview of what works for what application based on real world experiences.

Then there is your skill set and budget. There too the build threads will provide an informed basis for a sound choice.

That said...diesel is far and away the best choice for nearly all applications. And for the same reasons virtually every over-the-road commercial vehicle runs them (cost to operate, endurance, torque, etc.). As for transmissions, there are a couple that should be avoided, namely the Allison AT545. A fine unit in it's day but despite the fact there are still tons of them available, not desirable due to the fact they are being phased out. Newer trans with more than 4 speeds, full lock up and often overdrive are far better choices. There again, reading the build threads will give you a idea of what is available and what the cost/benefit situation might be.

Happy reading & best of luck on your hunt.
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Old 09-14-2015, 02:10 PM   #3
Mini-Skoolie
 
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It would be used primarily for a tiny home and relocated a few times a year.

Skill level on a scale of 0-100 I'm about 115, no joke and not being conceited. I have worked hard to gain all my skills.

Thanks for the tip on the Allison trans. It might be better if I just ask what to avoid ? the list may be smaller.

Avoid:
1. Allison AT545
2. Rust bucket...
3. Old or worn out tires
4. Back registration
5. high mileage +200,000 ?
6. Caterpillar Vt365 not updated ?
7. Newer than 19xx ? avoid yearly smog.
8. Longer than 44' ? CDL required ?
9. front engine does not handle well.


I will add things to the list above if anything comes to mind from anyone. Future researchers my find it useful.
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Old 09-14-2015, 03:48 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davisdesigns View Post

Skill level on a scale of 0-100 I'm about 115, no joke and not being conceited. I have worked hard to gain all my skills.
I look forward to pics showing this said skill.

Nat
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Old 09-14-2015, 06:58 PM   #5
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We are ALL unique snowflakes here, or we would just go buy an RV. So every one here will have a different opinion on what is best, that said this is skoolie.net so you will probably hear most people tell you that a skoolie is best.

How are you going to use it? Once or twice a year? Once or twice a month? Once or twice a week? Once or twice a day? What do you want to do with it? What is your budget?

Don't worry about these things:
Ease of registration ? You do it once, who cares
Type of registration ? RV
Type of license ? normal
I'm in CA but not opposed to registering out of state if beneficial ? Not a question
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Old 09-14-2015, 08:09 PM   #6
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Just a quick note on registering out of state: registering a vehicle in another state usually requires having residency in that state. While every state has different residency requirements, this usually means that you have an address (many states require an actual physical address vs. a PO box), a drivers license, utility statements, and file taxes in that state.

This is an option for full-timers who need a domicile state (TX, FL, and SD are popular for this), but would pose some pretty significant hurdles for most of us.
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Old 09-18-2015, 01:06 PM   #7
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Hi All,

I am in a similar situation and appreciate all of the feedback. I still can't decide, but am leaning toward a longer unit, say 40', from which I can tow a trailer with my shop tools. Any suggestions?

Da budget is $3000 for the basic bus and well the remod can be expensive enough.

Plan to over the road much of the time, say 85%. So reliability is going to be an issue.

Wind me up and get me going.
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Old 09-18-2015, 05:55 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RoadRanger2015 View Post
Hi All,

I am in a similar situation and appreciate all of the feedback. I still can't decide, but am leaning toward a longer unit, say 40', from which I can tow a trailer with my shop tools. Any suggestions?

Da budget is $3000 for the basic bus and well the remod can be expensive enough.

Plan to over the road much of the time, say 85%. So reliability is going to be an issue.

Wind me up and get me going.
You need a DT466 or a 8.3 cummins. For a trans you need the MD3060.

Anything else your going to hate going on the highway.

I would chose a rear engine over a front engine bus for your needs.

Tools get heavy fast. Trailers also don't help.

Nat
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Old 09-18-2015, 06:00 PM   #9
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Sweet answers Nat.

Any info about Highway gearing? Most of the buses I have looked at are not, or do not seem to be geared for that.

As for the DT466 ... looks common enough.
There are many 8.2 diesels but I have not seen 8.3. Any suggestions?
The trans is where it all happens over the road. The MD 3060 is a bit different. Any thought about the Allison? They seem to flood the market.

How about turning up the power? or retarders? While I am at it ... Trailer configurations for a hitch?

Much appreciated.

Paul
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Old 09-18-2015, 06:25 PM   #10
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The 8.2 is not a Cummins. Stay away from it. It's a pile of crap disposable engine.

As long as you get a mechanical version of the DT466 or the 8.3 Cummins, turning up the power is the same as the dodge trucks starting in 96 with the P-pump. Many video's on you tube to help you with this.

Somewhere around 97 to 98 is where the engines changed to the electronic versions. I like the mechanical versions. Unlike pickup trucks, there are no electronic tuners for the electronic engines.

The MD 3060 is hard to find with a mechanical engine. They are one in a thousand.
However they are a double overdrive, with a .62 final drive when the 6th gear is unlocked. Many Thomas buses come from the factory with the 6th gear already unlocked, but I have never seen a Blue Bird with the 6th gear unlocked from factory. What really makes the MD3060 the best, is the torque converter locks in all gears. This means the retarder will really help slowing down.

Next best trans is the MT643. However it only has lockup in 4th gear.

When it comes to rear gear ratio's, it depends on the trans.
If you have the MD3060, 5.38 gears are common and will get you great freeway cruising at around 1800 RPM.

If you get a MT643, 5.38 gears will run the engine at around 2000 RPM. That is still fine. Some buses with the MT643 have 4.78 rear gears to get you back to the 1800RPM.

If you chose a bus with the MT643 for towing, I would try to get the 5.38 gears. It will make the engine stay in the power band longer when climbing hills and such.

Nat
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