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Old 12-31-2016, 05:57 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: South Carolina
Posts: 14
Coachwork: AmTran
Chassis: International 3300
Engine: T-444E
2002 International T-444E Shorty

Been looking for a skoolie to convert into a mobile apartment for a while. I knew generally what I was looking for, but was frustrated with not finding anything in my area (South Carolina).

I thought I was going to have to be moving out of my current residence pretty soon, but I didn't want to commit to a year lease on an apartment. So I kind of jumped the gun and paid a little too much for this beauty, in the hopes of getting it in shape to live in quickly.







AmTran coachwork:



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Old 12-31-2016, 06:02 PM   #2
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: South Carolina
Posts: 14
Coachwork: AmTran
Chassis: International 3300
Engine: T-444E
Things calmed down a little, and I have some more time to do a more thorough job on the conversion. Which is good, because it's got a lot more rust than I was hoping for. It was a Northern rust-belt bus in its former life.













The things that got me to commit were that it has a T444E (one of the engines I felt were acceptible) with only 127k miles, and it purrs like a kitten. It's also got a 6 speed Allison - but I'm not sure which model. Also, it was already partially converted, which would put me ahead on taking out seats and getting it legal to drive. The tires are in great shape as well.

Turns out, titling and insurance were a snap. I was prepared to deal with a lot of rejection getting it insured. But my State Farm agent's assistant is a true pro, and she had recent experience insuring other skoolies. Since it was only a partial conversion, I had to get "commercial vehicle for private use" for 6 months until I finish it up. But it's only costing me about $60/mo.!

The rust is the only real issue. It's mostly just surface rust, but the back of the wheel wells are nearly gone. The undercarriage has a good bit of surface rust, but the metal is very solid. I don't see any deep set rot anywhere other than the back of the wheel wells. I'll post some more photos of the rust underneath in the next post.
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Old 12-31-2016, 06:11 PM   #3
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: South Carolina
Posts: 14
Coachwork: AmTran
Chassis: International 3300
Engine: T-444E
Seller may have been wrong, this may be an AT545? I'll try to get a better picture soon.



More rusty undercarriage:





Some of this scares me a bit:



Looks like the rear axle was replaced recently, as it looks new and pretty:

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Old 12-31-2016, 08:16 PM   #4
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 8,569
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International S3800
Engine: DT360
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
nice lookin rig.. one of mine is a T-444E.. im a fan of it.! much more than a VT-365!.

the rust doesnt look bad ot me... some places to hit with rust converter, paint and be done..

my bluebird appears to have fiberglass wheel wells unless im mistaken.. maybe a route to go..
-Christopher
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Old 12-31-2016, 08:45 PM   #5
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: South Carolina
Posts: 14
Coachwork: AmTran
Chassis: International 3300
Engine: T-444E
I pulled out the bench seats and table over the past couple of weeks. I don't have power where it's parked right now, so I just bought myself a Ryobi cordless 4.5" angle grinder. I used a cordless impact driver to get some screws out of places that weren't too rusty, but mostly I had to grind them off.







Tore out the plywood, some of which was damp but mostly it was in surprisingly good condition. I threw it out anyway, because I don't want to try to reuse any of it if moisture or mold is in it. I did keep most of the rubber flooring, just in case I need to cut up some pieces for random padding or something.

The floor has the expected rust, but isn't really as bad as I was afraid it would be. There are some areas that are still quite clean and rust free. I guess it's galvanized steel. I'll be cleaning rust for a while, though.

I haven't decided if I want to try taking out the driver's seat or not. There's a good bit of rust on the mounting plate and around the floor boards, but that would mean having to remount the seat, and I don't know how easy it will be to get the nuts tightened down below - I'll have to take a look before I decide.





Pretty sure I'm going to pull up everything in the stairwell, though. It looks like there's a good bit of rust in the corners. The paint looks to have protected a lot of it, though.

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Old 12-31-2016, 08:51 PM   #6
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: South Carolina
Posts: 14
Coachwork: AmTran
Chassis: International 3300
Engine: T-444E
Quote:
Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
nice lookin rig.. one of mine is a T-444E.. im a fan of it.! much more than a VT-365!.

the rust doesnt look bad ot me... some places to hit with rust converter, paint and be done..

my bluebird appears to have fiberglass wheel wells unless im mistaken.. maybe a route to go..
-Christopher
Thaks, cadillackid. I'm excited about it for sure!

I doubt I'll replace the entire wheel wells. The front and top parts are in very good shape, just that back joint. I was hoping to be able to cut off the bad part and just put a patch over it.

I don't have a welder, and I've never welded anything before though! I've also never worked with fiberglass - did you mean that you can make a fiberglass patch? That I may be able to handle.

I'm learning that it's intimidating to look at everything that needs to be done all at once, but each job is not too hard on its own. Just takes the right tools, a good online tutorial, and some elbow grease. I've learned a lot by lurking here and reading posts by you and other regulars!
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Old 01-08-2017, 10:50 PM   #7
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: Beech Grove, IN
Posts: 56
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Amtran
Chassis: International
Engine: T444e
Rated Cap: 35
I just picked up this same model down in Memphis, TN and will be keeping an eye on how your conversion goes. I really like the size of these buses and the only things I would have preferred is a DT466 and a OD transmission.
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Old 01-08-2017, 11:10 PM   #8
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: Fayetteville Arkansas
Posts: 224
Scary looking underneath indeed!
Casey Jones you better watch your speed
Trouble ahead, trouble behind
And you know that notion just crossed my mind

-Thomas
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Old 01-09-2017, 09:46 AM   #9
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Cuyahoga Falls Ohio
Posts: 390
Year: 1997
Coachwork: Startrans
Chassis: Ford e-350 single wheel
Engine: 5.4 litre
Rated Cap: 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas1985 View Post
Scary looking underneath indeed!
Casey Jones you better watch your speed
Trouble ahead, trouble behind
And you know that notion just crossed my mind

-Thomas
That's normal up here in the rust belt. I would have no problem driving that for 10 more years.
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Old 01-09-2017, 04:36 PM   #10
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: South Carolina
Posts: 14
Coachwork: AmTran
Chassis: International 3300
Engine: T-444E
Quote:
Originally Posted by leadsled01 View Post
That's normal up here in the rust belt. I would have no problem driving that for 10 more years.
I keep hearing folks say that. The metal is mostly very solid. The only real bad spots I've found are the corners of the wheel wells. I'm using a knotted wire cup brush on the floor inside to remove rust right now, and found that there are holes rusted through by both wheel wells, when I thought it was just one. I'm going to have to patch them somehow, haven't decided quite how I'm going to do that. Right now I'm still just focusing on the demolition.

I think I am going to try to treat the undercarriage somehow. I feel confident it is structurally fine, I just feel better if I can slow down any further rust. I'm leaning towards doing a pressure wash, then OSPHO, and paint over that. We'll see - I'm going to finish the inside demo before I tackle that. Trying to take things one step at a time!
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