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Old 03-04-2007, 08:01 PM   #1
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20-25 folks? 20 motorbikes? 10K mile road trip?

Lemme guess. You are the leader of a nomadic shriner gang?
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Old 03-04-2007, 08:43 PM   #2
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lots of info on veggie in the wvo section.

for a skoolie with that much weight you're probably gonna want at least a DT466 and a manual trans would be a nice bonus.

i've driven my bus loaded to the gills with almost 15K pounds of people and cargo on top of the 20K pounds the bus weighs empty. Drove from michigan to nevada and back. it's about a 5K mile roadtrip. I have the DT360 and that was not nearly enough motor for the 35K pounds, especially in the mountians. I figure the bus ran full throttle for well over 100 hours.

If there are a few people working on the project, you can convert a bus before may. I converted my current bus starting in July and took it to burningman 2005 at the end of august. I did most of the work myself, however i did have a good deal of help from a buddy of mine.

20 people are a lot for a road trip in a skoolie, but you can do anything you put your mind too.
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Old 03-04-2007, 11:40 PM   #3
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Five of us working our asses off got my bus converted in 2.5 weeks so it's very doable before May.

Personally, I think a trailer behind you is the best bet. An enclosed trailer isn't going to hurt your aerodynamics much like a bunch of stuff on the roof might given the fact that the bus with the same profile as a two story shithouse has already cut through the air. It will also most certainly be easier to load and unload. Just climbing up on my roof without a bunch of stuff in my hands takes a little effort.

I'm thinking you must have a pretty good handle on what engines and transmissions are the best for your application. I will suggest that you get a conventional if you plan to do a WVO conversion just because everything will be soooooo much easier.
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Old 03-04-2007, 11:57 PM   #4
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Motorbikes on the roof -- are ya daft, man!
Just the thought of getting the silly things up and down on and off the roof....

I'm thinking 40 foot bus and 25 foot trailer.

The DT466 is an International Harvester. I suppose you will find them most easily in
buses on IH chassis, but they could be in anything.

One problem with a conventional (engine out front under a hood) is that I have never
seen a 40 foot conventional. They seem to stop at 35 feet, minus the hood. Rear
engine buses, on the other hand, are often 40 feet long, so you get about eight or ten
more feet usable space. Sounds like this is what you need -- often called a "pusher".

Forget the "Forward Control" buses (flat front, engine in front) -- small engine in
tight engine compartment.
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Old 03-05-2007, 12:28 AM   #5
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My 36 foot tip to tail (65/66 passenger) sleeps 6 comfortably without messing with a dinette or anything. I have seen 84 passenger conventionals. I can't imagine what I would do with the additional 8-9 feet of space.

Pushers are quiet and spacious with tighter turning radius, etc. They are also generally more expensive to buy and while I will agree they are probably easier to work on than a front engine transit, there is no doubt in my mind that a conventional is easier to work on, a huge selling point for me in terms of converting to WVO. The choice is yours.
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Old 03-05-2007, 12:49 AM   #6
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What kind of budget are you stuck with if you don't mind my asking?

I was looking at your trip and I hope you mean 4400 miles done over two 3 day periods. Otherwise you will need to average over 60 mph for the whole trip! That means no stopping for food, fuel, anything. With the trips you are looking at, rear axle ratio and a lockup or overdrive transmission is going to be of the utmost importance. School buses are not rocketships as a general rule. Many will do 75 mph, but they're working at those speeds and getting thirsty. Given the speeds you are looking for, I think a transit style bus would probably be your best bet.

I know there is a Thomas THRE for sale locally with an 8.3 Cummins, MT64s, air brakes, air ride most likely though I don't know, and 84 passenger capacity. I actually looked at it before I bought my bus, but it was just too much. They list the price as $10,000, but I think there is probably some room there. I recognize it as an activity bus from when I was in high school. That means it routinely did the 1 hour+ trips for games so I would imagine it goes down the highway just fine.
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Old 03-05-2007, 01:46 AM   #7
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Well that first one sounds pretty doable. In August of 2005, a friend and myself piled into my truck. We had laid the last bead of the solid axle swap on on Monday. It was now Wednesday evening (after work). We drove from Eveleth, Minnesota to Sutherlin, Oregon and back taking Hwy 101, Hwy 2 to Glacier National Park, etc. All told the round-trip mileage was well over 4500 miles. I was back for work on Thursday morning. The truck has similar characteristics to a bus with a top speed of 60-70 mph depending on how it's feeling35-40 mph mountain climbs, etc. The advantage you will have is that you will have multiple drivers. I drove the whole way. After 24 hours of straight driving you start to see that damn shadow man.

With your budget, I think some concessions will need to be made, but isn't that the way it is with everything? To get a roadworthy transit bus with good tires in that price range, I would suspect you're going to get running a 6BT 5.9 liter Cummins. This isn't all bad though. There is TONS of power to be had with the engine for relatively cheap. Parts are everywhere thanks to the Dodge guys. I have also seen a rather large number of these backed by the MT643. I think this might be due in part to the extra weight of a transit.
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Old 03-05-2007, 05:15 AM   #8
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and the 5.9 has the capability of getting over 10 mpg......and the 5.9 in phills bus beats the crap out of my dt360 in every aspect. makes more hp, has higher top end speed, climbs hills better, gets double the fuel economy of my bus.....the 5.9 cummins is exactly the same displacement as the dt360.

let me know when you're gonna be in kzoo and i'll try to stop by and say hello. Phill lives pretty close to there, i'm about 1.5 hours away.

it's worth paying extra $$ for a good gear ratio. paying $1,000 up front for a better ratio would pay for itself on that one trip. i think phill has about a 4.44, i have 5.56. I think that is one of the major factors affecting the difference in fuel econoy between our two buses. 1 round trip from here to texas costs more in fuel than our buses are worth. (we won't even mention the tow truck bill for an unrelated ocean incident)
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Old 03-09-2007, 12:33 AM   #9
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That is the first bus on that chassis that I have EVER seen. I've seen some of the Thomas Vistas that are similar, but never a Ward body. I've always been interested if they offer the benefits of a transit with the convenience of a conventional or the hassle of a transit with the flaws of a conventional.
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Old 03-09-2007, 09:35 AM   #10
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How are you going to liscense the bus? If you register it as an RV there are often restrictions on how many passengers are able to ride in the vehicle. For mine it is a max of 15 persons. If it needs commercial insurance your drivers will need cdl DL's, much more expensive insurance and to stop at vehicle inspections.

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Old 03-09-2007, 01:43 PM   #11
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You beeter not be planning on using the interstate with 30 people on board an RV.....

The Federal standard requires States to issue a CDL to drivers according to the following license classifications:

Class A -- Any combination of vehicles with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds provided the GVWR of the vehicle(s) being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.

Class B -- Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing a vehicle not in excess of 10,000 pounds GVWR.

Class C -- Any single vehicle, or combination of vehicles, that does not meet the definition of Class A or Class B, but is either designed to transport 16 or more passengers, including the driver, or is placarded for hazardous materials.

Because of the weight (and you will probably be using every ounce of the GVWR) and the number of passengers, you will need a Class B license.

In my state I don't need an air brake endorsement because they are only required for commercial vehicles as defined by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. I could even pull (I have seen it done several times) my truck behind my bus and my boat attached to the hitch of the truck. It is downright scary what you can get away with here without proper training, but there seems to be surprisingly few RV related accidents.

Ok...by now you're probably confused. I can get away with just about anything with my bus because it has RV plates it would seem. I can't though. I cannot get away from the 15+1 passenger limit. It seems the state thinks that there is nothing recreational about 20 people crammed in a Finnabago.

Call and verify with your DMV. Your state might interpret things differently. Law pertaining to CDLs are as clear as mud. I will recommend that when you go to Michigan you avoid Minnesota though. Being legal in your home state doesn't mean you'll be legal in other states. Someone posted a video of various party bus operations getting busted down in Minneapolis/St. Paul not too long ago. Yes, they do check vehicles in this state.
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Old 03-13-2007, 10:55 AM   #12
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This is the definition of a CMV from the U.S. DOT; the folks that regulate the CDL process:

Commercial Motor Vehicle. For purposes of this regulation a motor vehicle designed or regularly used to carry freight, merchandise, or more than ten passengers, whether loaded or empty, including buses, but not including vehicles used for vanpools, or vehicles built and operated as recreational vehicles.

This next to are from the Interpretation section of part 383 that establishes the licensing rules:

Question 3: Does part 383 apply to drivers of recreational vehicles?

Guidance: No, if the vehicle is used strictly for non-business purposes.

Question 9: May a State require persons operating recreational vehicles or other CMVs used by family members for non-business purposes to have a CDL?

Guidance: Yes. States may extend the CDL requirements to recreational vehicles.


So? I wonder if the second question (#9 on their list) was supposed to be "for business purposes" rather than non-business? However, the answer seems to be in direct conflict with the answer to the first question (#2). I couldn't find anywhere else on the Fenderal site where they resolve the seeming conflict. Still clear as mud.

However...they do seem to be pretty adamant about the 16-person rule although they never specifically mention it in regard to Recreational Vehicles. Here are a few snips:

Question 1: Are school and church bus drivers required to obtain a CDL?

Guidance: Yes, if they drive vehicles designed to transport 16 or more people.

Question 4: Does part 383 apply to drivers of vehicles used in "van pools"?
This is sort of significant since they're specifically exempted in the CMV definition...as are our Recreational Vehicles.

Guidance: Yes, if the vehicle is designed to transport 16 or more people.

Question 13: Do the regulations require that a person driving an empty school bus from the manufacturer to the local distributor obtain a CDL?

Guidance: Yes. Any driver of a bus that is designed to transport 16 or more persons, or that has a GVWR of 26,001 pounds or more, is required to obtain a CDL in the applicable class with a passenger endorsement.

Question 16: Are non-military amphibious landing craft that are usually used in water but occasionally used on a public highway CMVs?

Guidance: Yes, if they are designed to transport 16 or more people.

Question 21: Are police officers who operate buses and vans which are designed to carry 16 or more persons and are used to transport police officers during demonstrations and other crowd control activities required to obtain a CDL?

Guidance: Yes. The CMVSA applies to anyone who operates a CMV, including employees of Federal, State and local governments. Crowd control activities do not meet the conditions for a waiver of operators of firefighting and other emergency vehicles in §383.3(d).

Question 32: Do the regulations require that a person driving an empty school bus from the manufacturer to the local distributor obtain a CDL?

Guidance: Yes. Any driver of a bus that is designed to transport 16 or more passengers , or that has a GVWR of 11,794 kilograms (26,001 pounds) is required to obtain a CDL in the applicable class. However, a passenger endorsement is not required.


No mention of RVs in particular but they don't seem to expempt almost anything from the 16-passenger limit including non-commercial Van Pools.

Hmmm?
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Old 03-13-2007, 11:28 AM   #13
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I wasn't clear about one thing. If I will be transporting 17 people to a football game, will I need a CDL. I didn't see anything about football games. Also #13 and #32 are the same question with different answers. #13 says passenger endorsement required and #32 says not required. This is what is wrong with our government. We need to take it back from these A-holes.
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Old 03-13-2007, 04:45 PM   #14
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Remember, we are not dealing with buses. We are dealing with recreational vehicles assuming that it what you choose to register it as. If you register it as a private bus, atleast in Minnesota, it is now subject to all laws applicable to CMVs.

The rules are as clear as mud, but excellent post, Les. I actually called the DMV just a few minutes ago because I was curious. Basically what I was told is technically it would be ok to have more than 15 passengers plus the driver in the RV. However, I would most likely get pulled over. The officer would be FULL of questions that I would have to answer. Given the fact that it is shaped like a school bus, I would have even more problems. Eventually backup would arrive along with a commercial vehicle inspector. At that point things could go either way. The CVI could just laugh and say be on your way....or more than likely they would nail me for operating an unlicensed commercial vehicle. I would get a full vehicle inspection right there on the side of the road that would make an alien "probing" seem tame. I would end up with an inch thick stack of citations, we would be deboarded, and the bus would be towed.

Then we would go to court....all charges would be dismissed as soon as the police were removed and the lawyers introduced into the equation at the pre-trial hearing.

This would be all fine and good, but I still would have missed the game, spent money on a lawyer and a tow truck, and just plain been inconvenienced.


That's what the guy at the DMV counter said...It almost sounds like they may have run into this problem before. I guess I can't disagree with any of his points. It all sounds very possible. If your RV has spots for 16 passengers plus the driver, you might run into problems with it "being designed to carry" too many people. If you don't have those seats, your passengers will be miffed.

Call your local DMV and Troopers office and explain exactly what you're doing and get their opinion. Better now than before a game sometime...
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Old 03-13-2007, 05:55 PM   #15
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I was kidding about the game thing. I don't even like 17 people enough to be in the same bus with them for a whole day. I was poking fun at the list of questions and answers. Basically they are saying no exceptions period. My humor takes a little while to get used to.
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Old 03-13-2007, 10:57 PM   #16
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But you know there are people out there that would try it....heck....just for to Minneapolis/St. Paul and look at all the party bus operators. There was a video posted not too long ago showcasing the problems they had.
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Old 03-14-2007, 12:08 AM   #17
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One point most of you have miss, and I'm not trying to be unreasonable, but ANYTIME you deal with laws, you need a law dictionary. Case in point, a PASSENGER is a PAYING customer, period.

When you and your family or friends are riding somewhere, They are merely 'fellow travelers'.

Now this may not stop you from getting a ticket, but it is the ammo you need to fight and win on that ticket. Any reasonable cop that takes the personal time to read and understand the laws they are enforcing, will know this. The laws are never written in everyday English, and it could cost you dearly, if you think they are. Judges know the difference, but they aren't going to tell you that. Letting you ASSUME, keeps them rolling with your hard earned cash.

GET A LAW DICTIONARY BEFORE YOU EVER GO TO FIGHT A TICKET!
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Old 03-14-2007, 01:24 AM   #18
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I'd just rather avoid the ticket in the first place.

School bus riders are not paying customers. You will need a CDL for that purpose. A church bus full of parish members is not loaded with paying customers, but you need a CDL there too. Like I said...I'd just rather avoid any confrontation in the first place.
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Old 03-14-2007, 03:50 AM   #19
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That is very true about school bus drivers, they are paid to drive, and your property taxes paid the fares.

What I'm speaking of is when your driving family and friends and even hitchhikers, and no one pays a fare and the driver is not getting PAID (read commerce) to transport PASSENGERS.

For example, you've got you conversion at a family reunion and you don't have a CDL. Just say 32 family members wants a ride over to the community center where dinner is being served and the parking is limited, and you won't be over your GVW. No fares, no driver pay, no commerce- no CDL required.

No one wants to deal with cops or courts, but not everyone wants or needs a CDL either.

Remember- show me your papers, then, show me your drivers papers and insurance. - next it will be, show me your travel papers. All b/c we don't want the hassles, easier to: pay the fine, or get the CDL, or give up our dreams, or let our children and grand children fight those freedom battles b/c we're too scared to make the courts follow the written laws.

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