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Old 03-28-2018, 07:21 AM   #1
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Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: HI, CA, OR, PU (Parts Unknown)
Posts: 81
Coachwork: Ward Vanguard
Chassis: GMC Vandura 3500
Engine: 350 Chevy V8
Meet Skoolio the 1990 GMC Vandura Short Bus



More images and a vlog can be seen on my website:

http://www.chongolio.com/skoolio-the...00-school-bus/

http://www.chongolio.com/reunited-wi...-skoolie-vlog/


A few weeks ago I spotted a new listing for a short bus on Craigslist that looked promising.

After an inquisitive phone call, Skidog and I made plans to drive up to Shady Grove, Oregon to have a look at the 1990 GMC Vandura 3500 short bus.

The following day we met up with Phil who had put a considerable amount of mechanical work into this retired school bus before deciding to go a different route with his travel plans.

We all loaded up and went for a test drive through a beautiful stretch of highway that runs along the winding Rogue River.

The bus handled like a van as we hugged curves and charged up a steep mountain grade with ease.

A few hours later I was a bus driver cruising back to California in the perfect replacement for my ill fated Clubwagon.

This spring/summer I plan to hit the road for a few months with a motorcycle in tow and have a go at bus life while I also refine my living needs and skoolie set up.

For now, Skoolio needs a few minor repairs some which I have already completed with the help and knowledge of Skidog.

The list of desired upgrades continue to grow and build ideas morph and change.

Skoolio will be an ongoing project that will be see many revisions, tweaks and mods.

Adding the living essentials are the current focus, along with any inexpensive DIY projects that add comfort and can be done with relative ease.

With a GVWR of 10,000 lbs and dualy axles, Skoolio should be able to handle my future towing needs with ease once I install a tow hitch and purchase a cargo trailer.

This one ton bus was purchased with a fuel injected 350 Chevy engine that was completely rebuilt and has a mere 300 miles on it!

A Gear Vender overdrive unit and a new aluminum radiator were installed.

The drive shaft, power steering unit, all 4 wheel bearings, shocks and brakes have been replaced along with new hoses, belts and tires all around.

The entire under carriage was steam cleaned and under coated. There is absolutely no rust to be found anywhere!

Lastly, the head lights were replaced with truck style LED lights.

As you can well imagine, I am absolutely stoked on my new rig!

My nomad adventure is back in gear, I have another project to focus creative impulses upon and my dream of a traveling lifestyle is back on the horizon.


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Old 03-28-2018, 10:15 AM   #2
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Sounds like a clean slate! Nice find.

Looking forward to the progress!
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Old 03-28-2018, 11:01 AM   #3
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Chassis: GMC Vandura 3500
Engine: 350 Chevy V8
^^^^^^

The tough part is prioritizing whats needed and not just going out and dropping a bunch of cheddar then calling that progress.


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Old 03-28-2018, 12:04 PM   #4
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Looks like a great deal. If your tranny has a lockup converter you may want to use a cut out switch on it when you are using the gear vender to ease the load while shifting into the driveshaft OD. Jack
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Old 03-28-2018, 12:14 PM   #5
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Join Date: Dec 2017
Posts: 973
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chongolio View Post


More images and a vlog can be seen on my website:

http://www.chongolio.com/skoolio-the...00-school-bus/

http://www.chongolio.com/reunited-wi...-skoolie-vlog/


A few weeks ago I spotted a new listing for a short bus on Craigslist that looked promising.

After an inquisitive phone call, Skidog and I made plans to drive up to Shady Grove, Oregon to have a look at the 1990 GMC Vandura 3500 short bus.

The following day we met up with Phil who had put a considerable amount of mechanical work into this retired school bus before deciding to go a different route with his travel plans.

We all loaded up and went for a test drive through a beautiful stretch of highway that runs along the winding Rogue River.

The bus handled like a van as we hugged curves and charged up a steep mountain grade with ease.

A few hours later I was a bus driver cruising back to California in the perfect replacement for my ill fated Clubwagon.

This spring/summer I plan to hit the road for a few months with a motorcycle in tow and have a go at bus life while I also refine my living needs and skoolie set up.

For now, Skoolio needs a few minor repairs some which I have already completed with the help and knowledge of Skidog.

The list of desired upgrades continue to grow and build ideas morph and change.

Skoolio will be an ongoing project that will be see many revisions, tweaks and mods.

Adding the living essentials are the current focus, along with any inexpensive DIY projects that add comfort and can be done with relative ease.

With a GVWR of 10,000 lbs and dualy axles, Skoolio should be able to handle my future towing needs with ease once I install a tow hitch and purchase a cargo trailer.

This one ton bus was purchased with a fuel injected 350 Chevy engine that was completely rebuilt and has a mere 300 miles on it!

A Gear Vender overdrive unit and a new aluminum radiator were installed.

The drive shaft, power steering unit, all 4 wheel bearings, shocks and brakes have been replaced along with new hoses, belts and tires all around.

The entire under carriage was steam cleaned and under coated. There is absolutely no rust to be found anywhere!

Lastly, the head lights were replaced with truck style LED lights.

As you can well imagine, I am absolutely stoked on my new rig!

My nomad adventure is back in gear, I have another project to focus creative impulses upon and my dream of a traveling lifestyle is back on the horizon.


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Dude! Damn, so glad you survived your argument with old man winter...yep, it appears you scuffed that beast up a bit...good luck with this new adventure...umm...vehicles tend to roll better than slide...

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Old 03-28-2018, 12:37 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chongolio View Post
^^^^^^

The tough part is prioritizing whats needed and not just going out and dropping a bunch of cheddar then calling that progress.


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Absolutely. It's easy to do but at least the mechanicals and such appear to be sound.

Good luck with your build!
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Old 03-28-2018, 12:46 PM   #7
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Meet Skoolio the 1990 GMC Vandura Short Bus

Quote:
Originally Posted by ol trunt View Post
If your tranny has a lockup converter you may want to use a cut out switch on it when you are using the gear vender to ease the load while shifting into the driveshaft OD. Jack
I would think the would mechanic who did the engine rebuild and Gear Vender install would have done that. How does one check to see if there is a lock up converter?




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Old 03-28-2018, 12:48 PM   #8
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Meet Skoolio the 1990 GMC Vandura Short Bus

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jdawgsfanasty View Post
vehicles tend to roll better than slide...
Yes they do! My new mantra is “keep the rubber side down.” So happy to have warm weather on the way and ice and snow on the melt




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Old 03-28-2018, 03:05 PM   #9
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Yes they do! My new mantra is “keep the rubber side down.” So happy to have warm weather on the way and ice and snow on the melt




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Glad you replied...

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Old 03-28-2018, 07:02 PM   #10
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Location: Fayetteville Arkansas
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Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: GMC G3500 Vandura
Engine: V-8 5.7L Gas
I'll be watching. The bus I'm currently building is the same as yours just one year newer. It'll be pretty awesome at only 18 feet long to fit in regular parking spots again.
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Old 03-28-2018, 07:25 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas1985 View Post
It'll be pretty awesome at only 18 feet long to fit in regular parking spots again.
I still can’t believe how easy this rig is too drive and park. One of the many virtues of the short bus.

I have lots of ideas for Skoo but gonna do my best to excercise patience and not get ahead of myself.

I look forward to following your build too
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Old 03-29-2018, 10:27 PM   #12
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Chassis: GMC Vandura 3500
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Meet Skoolio the 1990 GMC Vandura Short Bus



The very first few repairs, tweaks and mods done on Skoo have been minor and fairly simple.

New shorter windshield wipers seems to have helped the sluggish motor do it’s job better. As did a few squirts of lubricant which also quieted the squeaking.

The wiper fluid pump is shot and still needs replacing, but that is a low priority for now.

Bolts and screws were tightened to keep all the rear view mirrors in place and stop the rattling.

Small holes in the body were plugged with rivets while larger ones fitted with bolts.

Skidog had bought a couple fancy buffing wheel sorta things to use on his Airstream project.

They were attached to a drill for a test run and we used them to remove the lettering on the body.



RTV was used to fill holes where the seats were bolted into the floor. It was also used to stop a few leaks coming in from through the windshield’s seal.

I disconnected the back up beeper as well as the emergency buzzers for the back door.

We took a look at the wires that are left over from the disconnected flashers, associated control panels and safety gizmos.

There won’t be much done with that rat nest for now, but maybe later I can figure out how to use the existing wires and switches for outside work lights or something.

Some of the work mentioned can be seen in this vlog: https://wp.me/p3cOO5-2o8.


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Old 04-04-2018, 07:36 PM   #13
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Posts: 81
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Chassis: GMC Vandura 3500
Engine: 350 Chevy V8
Meet Skoolio the 1990 GMC Vandura Short Bus



After getting most of the simple fixes on my bus accomplished, I am now working on the cabinets, shelves and counter tops.

The idea I am running with is to keep things simple, modular and built out in sectional units.

Reasons being that this will keep each area bitesized and easy to install and remove if needed.

Also, if I screw up a section or want to modify any single part, I won’t have to deconstruct an entire gigantic structure.

The starting point was the shelf unit shown above, which is mounted behind the driver’s seat. From here I am working my way back.



Plywood was used for the most of the build with some repurposed radiused bed frame pieces donated bt Skidog which were used for trim.

Left over paint from Camp Sasquatch was also donated to spiffy it all up.



The angle of the cabin wall was traced onto a sheet of plywood so that the side of the shelves would follow the wall’s edge upward.



The left side was attached to wall using the existing brackets left from the padded board that was originally mounted there.



The bottom of the shelves are mounted to a flat bar which runs the length of the passenger area.

This is the same rock solid anchor point that the kid’s seats were attached to.

The shelves will hold my clothes with the help of some soon to be added netting.

A five gallon water containers with a hose will sit on top and act as a gravity fed source of water.

The hose will drop down to a kitchen counter which is the next on my build list.

What do you think thus far. Your comments and feedback are welcomed and encouraged!


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Old 04-12-2018, 04:02 PM   #14
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Location: HI, CA, OR, PU (Parts Unknown)
Posts: 81
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Chassis: GMC Vandura 3500
Engine: 350 Chevy V8
Meet Skoolio the 1990 GMC Vandura Short Bus

IMG_8952.JPG
Everyday another rabbit hole opens up that leads to an array of shiny new gadgets and gizmos.

There is no shortage of devices and items that would be super cool to add to my bus right now.

Buying things is not being productive!

I find myself continuously having to grab my own collar and throw water on the flames of impulsive consumerism.

Then I get back to the sometimes redundant and tiring work in that sits right in front of me now.

However, I did allow the luxury purchase of Skoo’s first rear window sticker; the classic Harley-Davidson shield.

IMG_9077.JPG

The tedious job of removing the vinyl lettering is not sexy or glamorous but it needs to get done.

A heat gun, razor blade and a spray bottle of Goo Be Gone makes this job a tad bit easier.

At this point, all of the lettering has been removed from the exterior and only faint traces of the lettering can be read.

IMG_8970.JPG

One of the brake light lens had a hole melted through it and the other was not in much better shape from having improper bulbs.

Both brake light bulbs were replaced with red LEDs that Skidog happened to have on hand.

Several abandoned wasp’s nests were discovered inside the lens.

The nests were removed and the damaged lenses were then swapped out with the unused upper flasher lenses.

IMG_9092.JPG

More shelves, counters and cabinets have been made at Camp Sasquatch with the help of Skidog and his amazing collection of power tools.

Shelves will be used for storage of bins and boxes and netting will be attached over the openings to keep things in place.

A large tote box fits below the large shelf with room to spare for more goodies and storage containers.

IMG_9093.JPG

The area beneath the split doors will be a stash spot around the wheel well for small things and whatnots.

In the upper compartment, I will store a Coleman propane stove and other kitchen utensils.

IMG_9094.JPG

Aunty Mew had picked up a two burner stove for me from an auction site for only $20.00! In fact, all of the wood with the yellow laminate used for my cabinets has been donated by her.

This has saved me a bundle of dough.
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Old 04-12-2018, 09:08 PM   #15
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Location: Fayetteville Arkansas
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Year: 1991
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Chassis: GMC G3500 Vandura
Engine: V-8 5.7L Gas
It's coming along nicely. You're moving quicker than I am. It seems like the last three weeks I had four days without rain. Here's to more sunny skies!
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Old 04-12-2018, 09:40 PM   #16
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^^^^
I took today off like a slacker lol.

I saved a lot of time by not doing a complete gutting of the inside and not going the whole insulation and sub floor route.
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Old 04-20-2018, 09:10 PM   #17
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Posts: 81
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Chassis: GMC Vandura 3500
Engine: 350 Chevy V8
Meet Skoolio the 1990 GMC Vandura Short Bus

331C40EF-A938-4C81-AF50-69A0E569C92A.jpg
Made with 2x4s for extra stability, this bed platform is super stout. It will also have a few stash spots for bits and boops.

At the moment this thing is heavy! But as the fresh wet wood drys out it will lighten up.

It may have been over built, but I am confident it’s gonna support quite a bit of weight and hold plenty of snacks.

My original plan envisioned something smaller and lower to the floor. But them 2x4s start taking up precious space fast once you get to building.

Also, after realizing the Honda generator I am eyeballing stands around 17” tall, I added another 2” to the legs for more clearence.

This will allow the genny and 15” tall bins to slide easily beneath the platform.

IMG_9167.JPG

I wanted to use up all of the yellow laminate left over from the counters, but doing so would make for an even more bulky and heavy dealio.

So I went with 1/4” paneling to skin the frame and box it all up.

It was a time consuming process since there were several areas to enclose with the splinter rich paneling.

Head scratching moments were plentiful despite this being a simple construction concept, but maximizing all of my cubby hole space around the wheel wells was worth the extra effort.

IMG_9166.JPG

One thing I learned, was that I should have used pilot holes for the long wood screws before fastenings the 2x4s together.

Skidog shared that helpful tip after I had stripped plenty of screws and split a few pieces of wood.

With the panels all in place, protruding punk screws grinded down and wood sanded, I am ready to caulk then paint.

Painting is being done before the installation and hinged doors are attached to the top and center compartment.
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Old 04-26-2018, 11:36 AM   #18
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Location: HI, CA, OR, PU (Parts Unknown)
Posts: 81
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Chassis: GMC Vandura 3500
Engine: 350 Chevy V8
A new Skoolio vlog update is up on my Youtube channel!

Get a free tour and a build update by clicking on the link:

https://youtu.be/kWCJljuDqs8
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Old 05-01-2018, 01:14 PM   #19
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Location: HI, CA, OR, PU (Parts Unknown)
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Chassis: GMC Vandura 3500
Engine: 350 Chevy V8
Meet Skoolio the 1990 GMC Vandura Short Bus

891CCEFC-2D0A-42B1-9791-3BB426A2F22C.jpg
After doing hours of research on the internet regarding all the various propane tank options for Skoolio, I decided to go with a permanently mounted horizontal ASME tank. (American Society of Mechanical Engineers)

I met Al, a dude here in Red Bluff who makes a living tearing down old RVs and selling the parts, via his Craigslist post. He’s a nice guy who has a huge piece of land filled with gutted RVs, trailers and parts that he sells for a reasonable price.

I had paid $100 for the 5 gallon tank, a regulator and a beat up old battery box.

However, in all my excitement of finding a local parts gold mine, I subsequently managed to purchase the wrong tank.

It was a horizontal tank alright, but it was an older DOT tank (Department of Transportation) with an outdated valve. The “DOT” stamped on the collar should of tipped me off right away had I been paying closer attention.

The internet has way too much confusing and contradictory info with many a cautionary tales of fine folks being unable to get their tanks filled by uneducated propane slingers out in the sticks.

So I decided to go out and get first hand intel. I took the tank over to Uhaul to see if they could enlighten me on what I was dealing with and if they would fill the tank. Not a chance.

Despite this tank technically being exempt from NFPA regulations because it cannot be retrofitted with a newer OPD valves, the dude at Uhaul emphatically stated they will not fill any tank that does not have an OPD valve.

Next, I took the tank to a local propane dealer who would be more on top of current regulations since they deal strictly with propane and not rental swag, trucks and trailers.

Suburban Propane was very helpful and friendly. They said that they would fill the tank, but it would need to be re-certified first for $25.00 since it had been over ten years since the last certification.

Also, I would have to remove the tank from the bus each time I needed it filled and it could not be permanently mounted.

This was not anywhere near what I had in mind when I bought the tank and contradicted what Al had unknowingly told me about this particular style of tank.

Fortunately, Al was cool with me returning the tank and exchanging for a horizontal 12 Gallon ASME tank which I was originally looking for.

I am still not sure why he did not offer up this tanks the first time I had told him what I was looking for?!

IMG_9280.JPG

And so for another $65 bucks I now have the tank I wanted with the added bonus of it already being filled with propane.

The older ASME tanks have the advantage of being filled while mounted and not needing to be certified every 10 years. They are also suppose to be exempt from the OPD valve regulations.

However, after reading all the aforementioned forum horror stories and talking with the folks at Uhaul and Suburban Propane I am certain at one point I will come across someone out in Podunk, Merica that will refuse to fill my tank.

My plan is to have it topped off whenever I am near a propane dealer who knows current laws and excemptions.

The next task is to get under the bus, take some measurements and figure out the best way to get this puppy mounted safely beneath it’s new school bus home.
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Old 05-01-2018, 05:24 PM   #20
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Make sure you take MANY pictures, for us "slower" old farts.
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