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Old 02-20-2018, 09:23 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Feb 2018
Location: White, Georgia
Posts: 28
Year: 2012
Coachwork: Goshen
Chassis: E450
Engine: V10
Rated Cap: 1 1/2 ton
E-450 Goshen With Wheel Chair Lift

I bought an E-450 with a wheel chair lift and working on converting it to a motor home. I took most of the seats out and put a small 120v refrigerator in. I came across a new inductive range cheap (dented) and likely will use just the cook top, abandoning the oven for weight and space. I bought a futon for a bed and sitting space. Ordered a 30 AMP switch to switch from inverter to, "electric tree" power (commercial power).
Due to the wheel chair lift, the real reason for buying this bus, space is very tight.
I've been researching power centers and haven't settled on one because I would like get a 120v and 12v center that also has an integrated inverter to 120v. I am planning not to use propane gas and only use it in camping areas.
I'd like to put black and grey tanks underneath but haven't yet figured out where to put them and get some that fit.
Another challenge is the shower. I saw a fold down shower on the internet, and adding the handicap problem I'm mulling over if I can do that. Last in plumbing but not least a toilet.
I am trying to figure out what others have tried, adding compartments for multiple batteries. It may be crazy but I'd like to run an air conditioner for a few hours, maybe 4 to 6, using the batteries. Has anyone found a non-lead acid battery solution that doesn't cost a fortune?
It's a pretty long road ahead to get the whole thing converted.
Currently adding a hitch, the near term use is a step to get in the rear emergency door to fasten and remove the wheel chair safety straps. It's gonna be a long project, likely the first of two bus conversions.
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Old 02-20-2018, 10:11 PM   #2
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Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: Fayetteville Arkansas
Posts: 415
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: GMC G3500 Vandura
Engine: V-8 5.7L Gas
Sounds cool. I'm in a wheelchair doing one as well. My second actually.
It's really worth insulating. Tearing down and building backup.
We have been very hot in the summertime even with fans going. You will most likely need a generator for the air conditioner.
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Old 02-20-2018, 10:40 PM   #3
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Feb 2018
Location: White, Georgia
Posts: 28
Year: 2012
Coachwork: Goshen
Chassis: E450
Engine: V10
Rated Cap: 1 1/2 ton
insulation and air

I was thinking of using velcro, hook and loop to hold some insulation filled, quilt like insulation to the walls. That way it's flexible and I could wash the, "walls" easy. Even considering them for the ceiling. Trying to decide if I want to sew those myself or find someone who can do that for me.
I already bought carpet for the floor.
I do have a generator that is big enough to run the air conditioner. I could easily put it on one of those hitch mounted carriers.
I'm considering one of the newer through the wall type heat pumps, likely not going to happen. They're supposed to be efficient and it could take care of both heating and cooling. I have multiple different purposes for keeping the air running without the engine, two of which have regular power access, two that will need a generator or a power source of some type.
I do have a few hundred watts of solar panels but that won't power the air conditioner. Not sure if I'm using the panels but may later.
Another thought is to see if I can use an electric motor to run the bus compressor when the engine isn't running.
I think the shower is going to be the most difficult to solve.
My other bus is a full sized, Freightliner touring type bus also with a wheel chair lift. Engine problems need to be fixed first, and it's not the pressing need like the E-450 is. That likely will be a retirement project about 6 years from now unless I discover it's easier to fix than I think it is.
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Old 02-21-2018, 12:51 AM   #4
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Location: Willamina, Oregon
Posts: 6,409
Coachwork: 97 Bluebird TC1000 5.9
I like that idea of running the bus air from an electric motor. Some kind of fancy clutch maybe?
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Old 02-21-2018, 12:58 AM   #5
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Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: Fayetteville Arkansas
Posts: 415
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: GMC G3500 Vandura
Engine: V-8 5.7L Gas
So the new one is smaller? Easier to take around from day to day? That's the exact situation I'm in.
Well if you can't tear it apart covering all those big windows in any way should help. If you park in the shade and run an Air conditioner it will be alright.
If someone could build a rack on top with a little air space between the roof and the rack that shade will help a lot.
I found that commercial truck shops will work on your wheelchair lift if need be. They will rebuild the hydraulic cylinders a lot cheaper than any company associated with the lift.
I use solar batteries for lights and charging and the water pump. Everything is easier if you're able to camp with electric ofcourse.
I haven't made a shower yet. I won't be doing that until I have a 40 foot bus.
The hitch mounted carriers wobble a lot and I don't like them. Get a local metal fabrication shop to build a custom platform for you. If they are reasonable it won't cost you very much.
If you pull the bumper off there are two channels that hold the bumper on you can use to hold your new rack. That's what I did. It's a lot more stable.
Mine bolts into the two square tubing channels. I made it the width of the bus and three feet deep with a railing around it.
I also did carpet for the floor which definitely helps keep my chair from sliding around. After a few years mine needs replaced from getting wet too many times.
On my new bus I think I want to rhino line it like a truck bed.
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Old 02-21-2018, 07:53 AM   #6
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Feb 2018
Location: White, Georgia
Posts: 28
Year: 2012
Coachwork: Goshen
Chassis: E450
Engine: V10
Rated Cap: 1 1/2 ton
Many good suggestions from your experiences

The original intent when I looked for the bus was a short bus with a wheel chair lift for my wife. We went out three times as much with the lift, to the emergency room once, and next week to a doctor office. Life changer to take her shopping with me and know we can easily go places now.
The long, Freightliner showed up on govdeals.com, had a Cummins I like, and a wheel chair lift. None of us met the minimum bid but I was the highest and a few days later they offered it to me for my bid and I bought it. Sweet, nice looking bus for a conversion. Touring bus look instead of school bus look.
I've shaded things before with a fabric sun screen and conduit for a frame and was thinking of doing that. I will keep in mind a roof rack.
Wonderful hint about the truck stops sometimes helping with the lift. Cylinders I expect to get fixed at the same place I get my tractor cylinder fixed if not on the road. If I'm on the road far from home now I know a truck stop might consider helping.
I weld, though not perfect welds, and fabricate metal things. I left long stainless steel bolts when mounting the hitch brackets I could fasten a very stable platform to. The emergency door is there so can't block that.
I'm real happy you mentioned carpeting the floor where the wheel chair is because that's one of the things I wasn't sure about.
Now I'm considering LineX on the floor, which I have in my truck bed. A bit concerned they can avoid the wheel chair track in the floor. I wouldn't mind LineX on the whole floor and part way up the walls. Will have to think about doing that before I put the carpet down. Probably have to remove the black, rubber like floor if I did that, which I was just going to carpet over.
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Old 06-07-2018, 01:27 PM   #7
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Feb 2018
Location: White, Georgia
Posts: 28
Year: 2012
Coachwork: Goshen
Chassis: E450
Engine: V10
Rated Cap: 1 1/2 ton
Post Conversion Progress

I've made a little progress on my conversion since the last post.
Most importantly to me, and a relief about being legal to drive it as well as cheaper insurance, is it is now titled and registered as a motor home in Georgia.
I've added a stainless steel table with the intent on mounting a sink from an old camper I have into the stainless steel top, using the tabletop for a counter.
I bought some threaded rod, overpriced I think, so I can bolt 2x3 wood to the seat tracks on the wall and might need some threaded segments for the floor tracks. The wood is bolted up and temporary eyelets to bungee the stove and table from moving around. The refrigerator is similarly bungeed down. Eventually I expect to fasten the cabinetry to the 2x3 wood, likely utilizing both the wall and floor tracks.
Right now I'm concentrating on how to put air and heat in for use in a camping area. I have three possibilities: 1. use a split-mini heat pump 2. figure out how to mechanically swap out the current air conditioner air compressor to a 120v electric motor when camping 3. If I can get a PTO on this transmission/engine maybe I can power a generator on the road and remove the original air conditioner, replacing it with the split-mini heat pump.
I'm also wondering if instead of adding insulation under the roof I can add maybe 4 inches on top of the roof and adding fiberglass over it, making a second roof. Does anyone know if I will run into a height problem?
I'm planning on adding cabinetry around and under the tabletop, the stove, and the refrigerator.
My most urgent and difficult to solve problem is adding a shower/bathroom. It's a requirement with my handicapped wife; I have to figure out how to do that. I do have an old camper with a bathroom/shower but think it would be difficult to fit and be generally awful.
My current plan is all electric with no propane. Having used propane all these years in camping trailers I might change my mind but so far doubt it.
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