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Old 06-17-2011, 08:56 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 63
Chassis: Chevy Van G30
Engine: 6.2L
Green Energy Project

My girlfriend Angie and I (Daniel) are *hopefully* 2 months away from embarking on a cross country road trip researching how different cities are implementing green technology. The research will culminate in a comprehensive documentary of our findings. Our method of travel and living space for the next year will be a 1991 Chevy G30 Diesel Short Bus. Fuel will primarily be used veg. oil supplemented by diesel in a dual tank system. Electrical power generated by solar panels. Whatever money we will need on the road for food and other expenses we hope to raise by selling art and picking up side jobs doing construction/murals/whatever we can find. As the research project details are finalized I will post more info.. but for now here is the status of our bus:

1991 Chevy G30 6.2L Diesel. 285kmiles @ purchase.
rebuilt engine/trans. new exhaust. passed inspection 1/11
around 8mpg and got up to 75 easily on the way home (Richmond, VA) from Charlottesville, VA.
All plastic window latches broken. Interior lights/fan/aux not working, no radio.
$2500 off craigslist.







So far bus progress has been slow, but in the next couple months I will be switching to a part-time work schedule and should have plenty of time for the bus. First thing of course was pulling the benches out, they made great seats for our porch out back! Then I jumped on the door. I wanted to keep the bus door mostly so I could still look out while driving. I removed the door opening assembly and (regrettably) I welded the hinge shut so it would swing open like a regular door and installed a deadbolt. The next day I saw how Lily had used the garage door mechanism on her Leap of Faith thread and kicked myself for jumping the gun with the welding... but whats done is done. It works so no big deal, just a few cosmetic touches left on that.



Next I started fooling around with the electrical problems inside. Sorting through the jungle of wires around the pedals was a giant pain in the butt, and its still not fixed entirely. By trial and error I found the wires that are suppose to power the interior lights, fan, radio, and a few other things.. but I'm still not sure where they are suppose to get power from. Right now I have them spliced to their own fuses and stuck in the ignition fuse spots on the fuse box. So they only have power when you turn the ignition (not all the way to start the bus), and when you turn the key something in the panel above the driver seat clicks pretty loudly but I can't figure out what exactly is making that sound and it doesn't seem to be sparking or anything so for now I'm ignoring it. The horn is also not working which is curious since it passed inspection shortly before I bought it... not sure if that's something I did or what. I know the previous owner said he clipped some wires underneath the bus by the driver seat to make the rear door alarm turn off, maybe he clipped the wrong wires? Haven't investigated that yet. Electrical stuff is not my cup of tea. I did manage to swap the stock radio back into my truck and put my aftermarket in the bus without too much hassle tho.




While investigating the wires I decided to leave the panels covering the exterior lights off for storage room, same with the bin above the driver seat. That one I had to extend a bunch of wires so I could hide them behind the plexi I put up. Still need to cover some holes, shield some wires off, and finish off the edges, maybe with wood trim or scrap leather/rubber.



As for the living space.. I had a really small pull out couch I wanted use instead of a permanent bed structure, you can see from the photo it fits perfectly (if not just a little too snuggly) when opened. It will sit on a carpeted platform that will house a fresh water tank (possibly the battery bank for the solar too) with a hinged door for access. Next I found a metal kitchen sink cabinet in a house we were fixing up at work that also fit perfectly (and very snuggly) between the couch and the edge by the driver seat. I have this bullet proof glass I shot up with some friends I really want to use for the top and pour a nice table top resin finish on it. Shelving bins will go above the windows on both sides, probably the back too. Found the roof ladder @ a scrap yard, $5.




The shower compartment will be the first spot on the left as you get on the bus, we'r going to use a detached shower wand type thing that has a good pressure setting to hopefully wash dishes with as well. We'v decided for now we'r going with an emergency only toilet consisting of a 5gal. bucket and sawdust (similar to this but without the fancy wood box: http://home.earthlink.net/~tabletophomestead/potty.html). Its the cheapest and easiest solution till I have money to drop on something nicer, and that will be stored in the shower compartment. The 30gal. fresh water tank has come in, still need to get a $40 water pump from harbor freight and start hooking that up and build the shower...



I ordered new $1 plastic bus latches from here: http://www.schoolbuspartsco.com/WebPage ... talog.html I couldn't figure out how to get the springs loose like all the websites and blogs I went to said you were suppose to do... so I gave up, got my dremel out and cut a little bit of the metal away till I could pull the broken pieces out and slide the new ones in. They all work now

I salvaged the driver seat off a van we were scrapping @ work for my copilot... Still need to bolt a lap belt on. I'm going to remove the little dash cup holder piece, but as you can see from the picture Angie will have to straddle the engine cover. Probably not the safest spot but there's no where else to put it and she says wants it so..



Second major purchase for the trip was the dual tank kit to run waste veg. oil. I bought mine from http://www.greasecar.com for about $1,700. 40gal. aluminum tank, manual controller, upgraded SV200 valves, and a bunch of other stuff. A few coworkers have kits from greasecar and have been running veg.oil for years with no problems so I'm pretty optimistic. I already have a filter station I bought off craigslist for $200, but I'll have to rework it for the road. My plan is to keep 2 50gal. blue rain drums on a small trailer, probably will need to get some biocide given that I wont be able to keep the drums cool and bacteria is likely otherwise. When we get to a city we will try to refill on veg. oil from restaurants asap so it will have as long as possible to settle out before we move to the next city. I'm going to prefilter with jeans, then probably run it through these filter housings on my set up to get it down to 5microns. This is all in theory so far.. the tank kit just came in this week so we'll see how it all pans out. Here is a useful diagram I couldn't find online till I bought the kit to explain how it works..





SO.. thats where I'm at. I still need to find a cheap trailer (maybe 5x8?) for the barrels and my tools, art supplies.. The barrels don't need to be enclosed I suppose but the rest will, so unless I find a really good deal on an enclosed trailer I'll have to fabricate the enclosure myself. I also need to find a cheap 50cc scooter we can go around on in the cities so we won't have to move the bus all the time. AND I want to fabricate a deck on the roof kind of like Smittys to hang out on and mount the solar panel to. Probably going to buy the solar panel from this local business called Abakus Solar USA Inc., they have 220Watt Panels for $550. ...sigh... if only I had majored in a field that made money, except with the way things are now that may not have helped anyway =/
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Old 06-22-2011, 10:36 AM   #2
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 63
Chassis: Chevy Van G30
Engine: 6.2L
Re: Green Energy Project

Fridge came in today. EdgeStar Portable Freezer. $500 with the Fathers Day special I like this fridge because its 12v and has a temp control with a freeze capability. Thermoelectric coolers are cheaper but the whole 40below outside temp isn't going to work for a trip of this length, plus I'm not sure they would last a year plugged in constantly. This fridge is solid!

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Old 06-23-2011, 08:03 AM   #3
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 63
Chassis: Chevy Van G30
Engine: 6.2L
Re: Green Energy Project

Picked up a 4x8 open trailer off craigslist for $350. At that price I can build my own enclosure for less than buying a premade one for sure


Oh and I forgot to mention I insured the bus through GMAC, liability only $307/6months. Never used them before but I couldn't find anyone else in VA that would insure the bus as a noncommercial vehicle. Hopefully I'll never have to deal with them anyway.
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Old 06-23-2011, 12:58 PM   #4
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 63
Chassis: Chevy Van G30
Engine: 6.2L
Re: Green Energy Project

We will be filming everything ourselves. We're looking at buying a Panasonic TM700 camcord like this one from amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Panasonic-HDC-TM7 ... 872&sr=8-2
We'v talked to friends who are in the film industry and they recommended this camera as the next best thing to a professional grade video camera that would cost thousands. It has a slot for an external microphone which is essential, and the reviews seem to be pretty possitive. We'r still shopping around though so if anyone has any film experience feel free to share!
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Old 06-26-2011, 07:56 PM   #5
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 63
Chassis: Chevy Van G30
Engine: 6.2L
Re: Green Energy Project

Built the platform for the bed today, so now the pullout sits flat. Still need to find some carpet for it. Also got the fresh water system hooked up, which is housed under the bed platform near the rear door. This way I don't have to cut a hole in the bus for a fill hole. I can easily slide the whole tank from under the platform if I needed to. There's also plenty of room underneath for a battery bank and other storage space as well.




Heres a better shot of my fresh water system. 30gal tank connects to 1/2" sink supply valve, supply hose connects 1/2" to 1" adapter into water pump ($35 harborfreight, which i hadn't realized those don't come wired. annoying...), 1" to 3/4" adapter out, 15' garden hose to the sprayer nozzle. We are only using this setup for showers and cleaning dishes. We thought a garden hose sprayer would help conserve water given you have to squeeze the handle to use it, plus it has a jet setting for cleaning pots and pans.
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Old 07-01-2011, 05:46 PM   #6
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 63
Chassis: Chevy Van G30
Engine: 6.2L
Re: Green Energy Project

Started framing in the shower area. I found a shower base on craigslist for $35 which I cut just past the drain. It will butt up against a single wall with a U shape curtain rod attached for our other walls. I'll post pictures when its further along. I know most people have greywater systems for their sink and stuff but I'm not convinced I need one. I think I may just have it drain out into a 5 gallon bucket that we can toss when no ones looking and save the space under the bus for more storage. If we save showers for night time I doubt anyone will notice anyway. We're only talking about shower water and maybe bits of food from cleaning pots&pans, no black water stuff so I don't see what the big deal is. Thoughts?

I've also started framing shelving from metal stud 2x4s which are really easy to contour to the curve of the bus roof. The steel for the roof deck and frame of the trailer enclosure was delivered and cut to length today. Ordered from BMG Metals ( http://www.bmgmetals.com): 1 24ft. length of 2"x2"x1/8" square tube, 4 24ft. lengths of 1.5"x1.5"x1/8" square tube, 2 20ft. lengths of 2" flat bar, 2 20ft. lengths of 2"x2" angle bar totaled $389. The flat bar will be welded flat to the edge of the roof, 17.5" risers made from the 2x2 will be cut to rest level then welded evenly spaced on the flat bar. The angle bar will cap the 2x2s and provide a stop for the 2x4wood joists. I'm hoping my dad has enough left over deck board I can scrounge so I don't have to buy any. Final measurements on the deck should be 12'x7.5'

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Old 07-01-2011, 07:35 PM   #7
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Location: Roswell, NM
Posts: 3,587
Year: 1986
Coachwork: BlueBird
Chassis: 40 ft All American FE
Engine: 8.2LTA Fuel Pincher DD V8
Rated Cap: 89
Re: Green Energy Project

Quote:
Originally Posted by dangie
... I know most people have greywater systems for their sink and stuff but I'm not convinced I need one. I think I may just have it drain out into a 5 gallon bucket that we can toss when no ones looking and save the space under the bus for more storage. If we save showers for night time I doubt anyone will notice anyway. We're only talking about shower water and maybe bits of food from cleaning pots&pans, no black water stuff so I don't see what the big deal is. Thoughts?
You can and will be kicked out and/or fined in Southeastern public campgrounds if you go around dumping your grey water ANYWHERE except in an approved disposal area. Someone will see you and they will report you. I certainly would! Sure you and your one little bucket isn't much but start multiplying that by the hundreds of campers dumping their grey water and you can see the problem. Besides, how would you like to set up in a site were the previous camper dumped their grey water tank just before leaving a few hours earlier.... and the tank they dumped was 50 to 100 gallons. It's okay, after all YOU are dumping your grey water.....

Besides grey water is NASTY. If you don't want to have a waste water system, then buy a tote tank, drain your water in it and hook to your car and haul it to the dump station. That is what we did with our Apache Pop-up. I have a two wheeled 30 gallon tote... still. We will carry it with the bus even though we have holding tanks. I have used it in state parks with the Class C when we were staying for several months at a time with no sewer hookups. Buy a 4 wheeler as once you hit 20 gallons, the water really starts getting heavy. And the "bobber kit" so you know when the tote is getting full (I had to drill a tiny hole in the top of my bobber tube to get it to work right).
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Old 07-02-2011, 01:38 AM   #8
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 63
Chassis: Chevy Van G30
Engine: 6.2L
Re: Green Energy Project

I agree with you, I would not want to camp somewhere that was covered in the previous visitors greywater waste. I suppose I should have clarified that we will be staying in cities, not at campgrounds. And by tossing it I meant pouring it down a street sewer drain or somewhere people don't walk/camp/etc. In the end I guess this 5gal bucket idea is really the same thing as a greywater tank, I can put the lid on and store it if necessary but I just thought it would be easier and take up less space. I would like to point out that greywater systems for households are often designed to reuse water for washing cars, watering the lawn, and even washing clothes. I certainly wouldn't drink it but I don't think I would label it nasty either.
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Old 07-02-2011, 09:40 AM   #9
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Chassis: 40 ft All American FE
Engine: 8.2LTA Fuel Pincher DD V8
Rated Cap: 89
Re: Green Energy Project

Quote:
Originally Posted by dangie
...I would like to point out that greywater systems for households are often designed to reuse water for washing cars, watering the lawn, and even washing clothes. I certainly wouldn't drink it but I don't think I would label it nasty either.
I know all about greywater systems. I was planning one for our house in TN so that it would water my non-food garden plants. But a house greywater system is diferent than what you can put on a moving vehicle. But yes, grey water sitting in a container IS nasty. Let a bucket of bathroom sink water sit around for several days (or one or two hot summer days). Beside a 5 gallon bucket just won't cut it. I don't know what your water usage is like but a sink full of dirty dishes will fill up a 5 gallon waste container in one use. Like I said previously, we had a popup. Neat little thing, all hard sides, no holding tanks. We remodeled the poor thing repeatedly. I ended up with a double bar sink sized bowl sink set up. Since we ended up fulltiming in the popup for about 1 1/2 years, I know that washing dishes generated 5 gallons if water for a family of 4. That's not even taking into account a shower or two. We USED to use a 5 gallon jug to hold our grey waste water from the popup. We had a portipotti and used the campground bathhouses for showers. And then I bought our tote while staying in a public campground in Chattanooga. Get a 4 wheeled/side discharge tote if you are not going to install tanks and write in HUGE letters "GREY WATER ONLY" on your tote otherwise you will have someone calling the cops on you for dumping your raw sewage.... and then you have to put pneumatic wheels on the thing (plastic wheels are very noisy and the silly things sit so close to the ground the bottoms get scraped up) and decide how you are going to haul the tote around...

I need to turn mu two wheeled tote into a 4 wheeled tote.... that thing gets heavy.

This subject has been covered before. For some good info read this thread... http://www.skoolie.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=6568 and that way I won't have to repeat myself.

Oh, and don't forget you could run into problems dumping "waste water" of any kind into a storm sewer. Many storm sewer systems do not treat the water and it will just run directly into streams, river, oceans.
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The goal of life is living in agreement with nature. Zeno (335BC-264BC)
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Old 07-02-2011, 12:23 PM   #10
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 63
Chassis: Chevy Van G30
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Re: Green Energy Project

Thanks for your input. I think we will contact the Richmond Waste Management and find out what VA state law says about this matter and where our city sewer drains end up. Although looking at the James I think I have a pretty good idea
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