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Old 08-04-2013, 01:35 PM   #1
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My New Short-Bus - Beginning Project - HELP!

Hello all. My name is Cy and I recently purchased a 1983 Chevy G30 Short-Bus (Blue Bird version.)

We have a very large family, and I am going to use it for light travelling here and there, to events, and such (and actually, probably something close to what it did originally - to and from school(s) with the pack!) I know most convert shuttle/school buses into RVs - but I am taking a gutted shuttle/school bus and turning it back into a passenger bus.

Here are the exterior pics:







The interior was basically gutted, but here it is as it stands now:





I purchased Freedman seats off of Craigslist (amazing!) that someone had taken out to make a party bus. The pic is from when they were installed in the prior bus:



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OK, here's the plan: To install the seats in some configuration (making it 12+1 capacity.) Additionally, the Bus doesn't have A/C (and I question the heat, but can't tell in the summer.)

So my questions - do I need to/should I insulate floor, sides, ceiling? Should I retrofit the Chevy for factory air or get a RV rooftop A/C unit (and if so, what do I do for powering it?) I also want to install DVD, flatscreen, speakers etc. Should I do this before I do the interior?

I'm not very handy, so any advice/instruction would be greatly appreciated!
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Old 08-05-2013, 10:49 AM   #2
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Re: My New Short-Bus - Beginning Project - HELP!

Welcome! Retrofitting an automotive air conditioning system will likely be expensive. An RV air conditioner on the roof would have to be powered by a generator while driving, but can be plugged in to a household outlet when parked. You could also get a standard window AC unit and mount it in a rear window spot, but that will need the same powering options as the RV air conditioner. Insulation helps, especially with condensation problems caused by temperature differential between inside and outside environments. Rigid foam insulation seems to be the most popular option for buses.
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Old 08-05-2013, 12:24 PM   #3
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Re: My New Short-Bus - Beginning Project - HELP!

welcome
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Old 08-05-2013, 04:10 PM   #4
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Re: My New Short-Bus - Beginning Project - HELP!

Thanks guys!

I found an Onan 6500 Watts generator - gas 2 Cyl/4-Cycle, 14.0 BHP at 1800 RPM - on Craigslist for an extremely reasonable price. It came off an 1989 Pace Arrow RV, and ran two rooftop A/C units.

Here's a pic:



I also found a Coleman rooftop A/C unit very cheap - so I was thinking of doing this mod.

Thoughts??
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Old 08-05-2013, 08:41 PM   #5
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Re: My New Short-Bus - Beginning Project - HELP!

I suppose it depends on how you plan to use it. An automotive AC system only works when the engine is running, while an RV type AC system works when stationary or moving but has the extra hassle of running a generator when in motion. If you never plan to be in the bus while stationary, it might make sense to at least price out an automotive AC system, but if you need AC when parked, and since you now have a generator, then the RV unit would make sense.
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Old 08-05-2013, 10:53 PM   #6
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Re: My New Short-Bus - Beginning Project - HELP!

Diesel Dan:

Based on what research I could do, the generator/rooftop a/c setup would be cheaper and probably much more effective. Basically, I think I can get the gene/air combo purchased, installed and running for less than $600 - AND have the ability to run outlets throughout the bus.

Additionally, I would like the ability to have A/C running while the bus is parked/off. It's not really going to be set up as an RV, but depending on the interior setup it will probably have a loft-style bed that could sleep 4 or so, and it might be used for light duty camping or "pull-over quick napping."

So I think that's the way to go?

I'll obviously post pics as we go along.

Next issue: handling the audio/video stuff (or at least getting the infrastructure set.) How have people done this? Battery banks? I don't believe the bus even has a 12v "lighter" outlet in the console ...

Oh - and speaking of the console - has anyone customized that? And if so, how?
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Old 08-10-2013, 09:28 PM   #7
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Re: My New Short-Bus - Beginning Project - HELP!

I took off my roof mounted AC cooling coil to make way for my conversion but that left us with no AC at all. Since the Ford e-450 had an engine mounted AC compressor I was able to retrofit a condenser coil and a new accumulator and get my dash AC back. Cost me about $500 including the refrigerant, gauges and vacuum pump to get it all charged properly. Sounds like you want AC when the engine's off so the generator/roof AC option seems to be the best for you.

Our bus had a switch panel attached to the motor cover and when I took that off was able to mount a new console I got from a place that does van conversions.

Here's the new console cover.

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Old 08-10-2013, 09:54 PM   #8
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Re: My New Short-Bus - Beginning Project - HELP!

Good find. I see both A/C and cruise control--next you'll be telling us it has power windows!
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Old 08-10-2013, 11:33 PM   #9
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Re: My New Short-Bus - Beginning Project - HELP!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ol trunt
Good find. I see both A/C and cruise control--next you'll be telling us it has power windows!
HEY JACK!!!

I've been following your build over on nomadicista but for some reason I can't post there. Very impressed with your progress!

No power windows but funny you should mention the cruise control. It didn't work when I bought the beast and just when I was getting around to checking it out Ford sent me a recall notice and the repair fixed the cruise - for FREE. I love free repairs.

CY - You're going about this all wrong. You're supposed to take the bus seats OUT, not put them BACK! Next you'll be painting the thing school bus yellow. This is not the way conversions are supposed to progress.
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Old 08-11-2013, 12:23 AM   #10
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Re: My New Short-Bus - Beginning Project - HELP!

Who else, besides me, just loves the Fatty Whompus sticker on the back? And the "fire putter outter" is just gold.
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Old 08-11-2013, 12:37 AM   #11
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Re: My New Short-Bus - Beginning Project - HELP!

That blue lightbar on the exterior roof might cause complications with law enforcement, in my state blue lights are only used by law enforcement.

I have a 1984 Chevy handicap bus on the same chassis and am only doing a "light" conversion on mine. It will have a bed, couch, a couple of cabinets and a place for a porta potty.
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Old 08-11-2013, 01:32 AM   #12
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Re: My New Short-Bus - Beginning Project - HELP!

Quote:
Originally Posted by schoolmarm
That blue lightbar on the exterior roof might cause complications with law enforcement, in my state blue lights are only used by law enforcement.
FYI, in NM almost every vehicle with flashing lights has blue lights! You never know if its a revenuer (only thing the cops here are interested in is writing a ticket) or a wrecker or a road maintenance truck. I 'm from states where it is illegal to have blue lights! And I find it downright creepy too.

In the early 70's (maybe late 60's) there was someone killing women around the NC/TN state lines. Turned out it was a plain vehicle with blue lights in the grill pretending to be an unmarked cop car. The guy would turn his lights on and pull over cars that had a single female in it. After raping and killing several women, they passed the blue light laws in both states. I believe GA and FL passed the same laws around the same time. I have always assumed all states were like that.
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Old 08-11-2013, 09:46 AM   #13
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Re: My New Short-Bus - Beginning Project - HELP!

Quote:
Originally Posted by lornaschinske
Quote:
Originally Posted by schoolmarm
That blue lightbar on the exterior roof might cause complications with law enforcement, in my state blue lights are only used by law enforcement.
FYI, in NM almost every vehicle with flashing lights has blue lights! You never know if its a revenuer (only thing the cops here are interested in is writing a ticket) or a wrecker or a road maintenance truck.
Oh, it gets better. I passed a State Trooper on the road heading home last night and it had no blue flashing lights. All yellow. I don't know if it had blown lights (the pattern suggested otherwise) or what.

Creep-o-meter just shot up to level 8.
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Old 08-11-2013, 11:18 AM   #14
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Re: My New Short-Bus - Beginning Project - HELP!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Das Mel
Who else, besides me, just loves the Fatty Whompus sticker on the back? And the "fire putter outter" is just gold.
Good catch Mel. I didn't notice those. "Fire putter outer" IS priceless.

Hey Cy - what does H.E.R.C stand for?
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Old 08-14-2013, 08:40 AM   #15
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Re: My New Short-Bus - Beginning Project - HELP!

Hey folks - sorry for the delay, life intervened.

I also love the "Fatty Whompus" sticker. It really gave me a chuckle when I saw it. It might actually survive, despite the name-change of the Bus. (I also like the "Fire Putter Outer" - obviously someone had a sense of humor!)

I have no idea what H.E.R.C. stands for. I did a bunch of research before I picked up the Bus - long story short, the seller had to repair a brake cable before I would even consider buying it, so I gave him $50 and told him to call me when it was really driveable and not just pretty much driveable - so I had time between seeing it and getting the VIN and when I actually "bought" it.

It turns out it started out as a school bus, and then it was converted to an ambulance (which explains the blue light bar) then some dude bought it for a work truck. I think it was the work truck guy who put on the H.E.R.C. labels and spray-painted it - best I can determine from my friend Google is H.E.R.C. could mean Higher Education Recruitment Consortium or Heathcare Environmental Resource Center or heck, it could mean Hello, Everyone! Random Camper!

The presumed-H.E.R.C. guy then traded the Bus to this farmer for some tractor parts. It sat on the farmer's property for seven years or so, before he decided he wanted a minivan and listed it on Craigslist. Which is where I came into the picture.

As for the light bar - oh heck yes, it's highly illegal here. I purchased the bus in Ohio, and had barely gotten five miles into Michigan before I got pulled over by a State Trooper and his partner in a special enforcement SUV. In an amazing stroke of luck it turned out the older, cooler cop had converted a school bus into an RV about fifteen years ago (small Skoolie world!!) and we spent like ten minutes inspecting the bus telling me what I had to change, remove, install or repaint.

I think the light bar is cool as heck (and works!) so I'm having a guy install a "cover" for it that can cover or uncover the light bar with a flip of a switch. I'm also having the guys at http://www.gaugeplates.com make a custom bus switch panel for me. I bought on Ebay a duplicate Blue Bird Mini Bird panel almost identical to mine that just happened to be on Ebay for $20.00, figuring that it might come in handy. So I'm shipping that over to the gauge guys, and they are going to use that as sort of a template - but adding switches for the light bar, the light bar cover, and some audio/video/lighting switches for stuff I haven't even begun to purchase yet, much less install.

I'll have more pictures soon - thanks for the encouragement, and @roach171 - I know I'm doing it wrong. But I love your console! I'm going to have to track down a van conversion place - would save me a ton of effort!

Thanks all!
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