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Old 04-08-2018, 12:08 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2018
Location: SF Bay Area, California
Posts: 17
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Thomas Minotour
Chassis: Ford E450
Engine: 7.3l Diesel
Codename:Crystal Bat - 2002 Thomas Minotour (5 Window) - Ford 7.3 Diesel

Codename:Crystal Bat (Mostly I just needed something to call it, and I happened to be watching The Dark Crystal when I posted this.)

It's a 2002 Thomas Minotour body on a Ford 7.3l Diesel chassis.

We drove it home a couple weeks ago and parked it in the driveway. It runs strong, but needs a little work - one of the glow plugs (or possibly just the wiring harness) needs to be replaced, possibly one of the injectors as well. We're stuck in that chicken-and-egg position of "can't get it insured until it's built out, can't drive it to the mechanic unless it's insured." But it ran strong on the drive home, and we feel good about moving forward. Replacing the injectors on a 7.3 looks to be pretty straight forward, if the many videos are to be believed.

These photos are more or less the Before pics. We didn't snap any before we threw a little yellow paint over the Scho (Making it the 'ol Bus for purposes of getting it home), or before I moved one of the fisheye mirrors out of the way.

We're going for a fairly minimal, light build out. The Crystal Bat is being designed assuming we won't be in it for more than a week at a time, or far from services, or using it in sub-zero weather.

In We Go!
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Old 04-09-2018, 02:20 PM   #2
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2018
Location: SF Bay Area, California
Posts: 17
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Thomas Minotour
Chassis: Ford E450
Engine: 7.3l Diesel
Crystal Bat Design Principles & Buildout Philosophy

Before I start posting teardown/buildout updates, I wanted to articulate some of the guiding principles that are behind the decisions we're making as we go along. I don't know if that'll be helpful for anyone but me, but I wanted to capture it anyway. We welcome feedback, especially if it looks like "While you're doing this, you should", "You're really going to regret", "You should know:", or "If I had it to do again, I would save you this woe:"

The Crystal Bat is being designed as a long-haul, short term stay RV. It will primarily be used for simple camping near services, attending music festivals/Burning Man, and interstate road trips, sleeping 2 typically, with 1-2 multi-purpose guest berths (storage that converts to a sleeping tube, a couch that's big enough to sleep on, etc).

We're approaching this knowing that our first build will be a learning process. We're not intentionally building-to-replace, but I expect that after we take it on a couple journeys, we'll want to tear it out and reconfigure everything.

For house power, we want to go light - a small house power bank plus a small solar install on the roof. We intend to rely heavily on standard USB-recharging devices, with some 12v lighting and audio. That basically means the car stereo will be switchable to house power, and there will be some basic internal lighting, but we'll rely on phones, tablets, and rechargeable batteries for anything else.

House water will also run on the small side. We'll use a composting toilet, to avoid the need for handling blackwater. We'll rely on passive solar for hot water, setting up an external shower if we need one. This will limit the house water to hand washing and rinsing dishes. I'm on the fence about under-bus clean and grey water tanks versus using a pair of removable. The jury is out.

House propane will be in the 11 gallon range, running a fridge and the stove. We think that should be enough to cover cooking and the refrigerator for a week.

We want a roof rack, for stargazing, solar, and storage (in that order). This is the part we're least confident about handling. Everything I've seen here says we'll be drilling through the ribs and through-bolting, which makes me a little squirrely. But working backwards from the roof rack, the goal is to design it such that we can slot in standard conduit-fitting canopy, so we can do cheap and easy shade next to the bus.

Our intention is to configure storage areas and furniture positioning such that we can maximize allocation of a popular sized rugged storage bin. We generally transport a lot of gear for festivals, and we're helping someone move cross-country this summer, so we're particularly interested in designing a space that's easy to load and unload, and that we portion out easily (e.g. "The Crystal Bat safely has room for a driver and 3 passengers, 3 conduit bundles, and 24 Bins"). We'll rig it for light towing, for when we want to bring motorcycles, attach a cargo tray, or a bike rack.

With how much time we spend in dusty places, I'm hoping we can finish a build that looks nice and is fairly open, but that strips down easily to allow for thorough cleaning.

We'll be adding some external Oooooh and Ahhhhh, but that will be as time permits.
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Old 04-09-2018, 02:31 PM   #3
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2018
Location: SF Bay Area, California
Posts: 17
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Thomas Minotour
Chassis: Ford E450
Engine: 7.3l Diesel
Week 1 Update

We didn't get to spend much time this weekend working, but we managed to get a few hours in. We've got the seats and associated hardware out, the stop sign off, the fisheye mirrors off, removed all the Zonar RFID tags, and removed the front bumper gate hardware.

We picked up some paint supplies, and started cleanup. We removed two letters of the lettering by hand before I found out about the eraser discs. I think one just was delivered to the front porch.

I've gotten to know the underside of the bus fairly intimately, and I'm reminded this morning that I'm not in my 20s any longer.

I've started a punch list of things to followup on as we complete individual tasks. I have wiring to chase and cap, holes to plug, and I still need to demystify the relay box in the driver's compartment. But it's in a state now where if we did nothing else other than remove the front red lights and put a coat of primer over the yellow, we'd be externally street legal.

The seller indicated he wanted 4 of the seats, and we're asked him which ones. He owes us a window frame anyway, one of them was knocked out by a tree limb in a storm the day we went to pick it up.

All in all, it's immensely satisfying to have the seats out. It feels like we're 80% done. But we know we're barely even started.
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Old 04-13-2018, 09:17 PM   #4
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2018
Location: SF Bay Area, California
Posts: 17
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Thomas Minotour
Chassis: Ford E450
Engine: 7.3l Diesel
Heading into the weekend, prepping the exterior for a coat of primer, and working on ripping up some of the floor.


Whoever it was that recommended the eraser disc for removing the lettering, THANK YOU! Best money I've spent so far.


Pictures and updates as we get further on.
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Old 04-14-2018, 08:56 PM   #5
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2018
Location: SF Bay Area, California
Posts: 17
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Thomas Minotour
Chassis: Ford E450
Engine: 7.3l Diesel
Got the back heater removed, though it can't be driven until I construct a more stable bypass. We also had a window that was smashed when we picked the bus up. We picked up the replacement last night and got that installed today as well.


All the main lettering has been erased, and we're in the process of taping everything off for painting.


Took the angle grinder to a few lingering bits of bumper hardware, and started ripping off the rubber flooring.


We've again gone back and forth on tearing out the plywood. Today we're leaning toward pulling it all out. We're here already, we might as well.


Pictures after we wrap up tomorrow.
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Old 05-02-2018, 02:36 PM   #6
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Join Date: Nov 2017
Location: New Hampshire
Posts: 9
Year: 2007
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: GMC Savana
Nice bus,
Any pictures using the eraser disc and what and where to get one?
Hope you include lots of pictures!!!!!
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Old 05-04-2018, 02:26 AM   #7
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Apr 2018
Location: NorCal
Posts: 39
Year: 1995
Coachwork: Girardin
Chassis: E-350
Engine: 7.3L Powerstroke
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joyful View Post
We also had a window that was smashed when we picked the bus up. We picked up the replacement last night and got that installed today as well.
I have the same issue. Did you just go to an auto glass shop? Or something more specialized?
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Old 05-04-2018, 05:53 AM   #8
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Join Date: Jan 2018
Location: Brunswick, GA
Posts: 146
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: TC2000
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MovinOn View Post
Nice bus,
Any pictures using the eraser disc and what and where to get one?
Hope you include lots of pictures!!!!!
https://www.amazon.com/AES-Industrie...heel+for+drill

Lots of variants available.
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Old 05-04-2018, 06:07 AM   #9
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Yup. An invaluable tool. I got a couple for $8 each!!
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Old 05-18-2018, 11:09 PM   #10
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2018
Location: SF Bay Area, California
Posts: 17
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Thomas Minotour
Chassis: Ford E450
Engine: 7.3l Diesel
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheArgobus View Post
I have the same issue. Did you just go to an auto glass shop? Or something more specialized?

I'm not sure, actually. The window broke before we went to view the bus, and the seller had the glass replaced for us.
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