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Old 07-16-2012, 09:39 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 49
Year: 1986
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: P30
Engine: Chev 350 gas-replacement
My new skoolie!

After several weeks of waiting, we finally made the 150-mile trip yesterday to pick up our bus. The seller had mislaid the title, so we had to wait while he got lost-title documents from the state of Washington.

The bus is a 1986 Bluebird Mini Bird. It has 151,000 miles, but the seller replaced the 6.2L diesel with a Chevy 350 gas engine. Most of the seats are out and there is no lift to deal with.

I'm trying to find operator's manuals for this, since I don't even know how big the gas tank is. I put 21 gallons in it, then got another 12 gallons about 90 miles later. The guage bobs around like crazy, it's pretty hard to guess whether you're 3/4 or half, etc.

I was pleasantly surprised at its top speed--when I test-drove it, the bus topped out at 50 miles an hour. The seller said it was actually 10 miles low, so topping out at 50 would mean I was actually going 60. I can live with 60, but hated the thought of going 45 mph on the freeway. When we measured speeds on the highway going home, it was keeping up with traffic, except for the long hills. Also, I took the downhills very cautiously, and probably went a little slower than everyone else.

It definitely handles like a truck. The driver's seat seemed a little wobbly, so maybe that made things feel odd. In its furthest-back position, the seat was still about 2-3" closer to the steering wheel than I prefer. Gas pedal was fine, but I had to hold my braking foot in the air, then tuck my left foot under the heel of my right foot to support it while braking. I started thinking about bolting a piece of 4x4 right where my heel would land. The weird way of braking made going through town and hitting every stoplight on the way a challenge.

Short term goals for this bus include getting insured and licensed by the end of August for a camping trip with friends. The electric door is cool, but I want to get an RV door with a lock. The emergency escape lever on the back door is tied to the handle with heavy rope so the back door can't be opened. I've got heavy webbing and all kinds of fastex buckles, so I'll make up a strap that locks the door but can be quickly unbucked in case of emergency.

I also want to get a locking gas cap but have no idea of which one to get. I didn't realize how many varieties there were until I tried to find one last night! I got one that looked like it would work, but the lock wasn't engaging.

I want to have bunks for 4, a basic kitchen, and space for a toilet or porta-potty. I'd like to figure out a way to have a shower, but that may need to be an outside setup. For the August trip, I'm hoping to get the beds and kitchen built, even if its nothing more than a countertop unit with sink and watercans for fresh and gray water storage. Coolers and a Coleman stove can take care of cooking/refrigeration needs. Eventually I want to get a battery bank set up, a refrigerator, generator, flushing toilet and black/gray/fresh water tanks. This is a really small bus (compared to some of the guys with 70-passenger full sized buses!) so I'm going to need to think small and be creative.

Does anyone know if I can take the windows out and turn them over?

Cheers,
TA

The gravel is for a parking pad for the bus--right now it gets way too wet and muddy to put the bus there.




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Old 07-16-2012, 10:22 PM   #2
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Re: My new skoolie!

You couldn't just flip the windows over on our Blue Bird. Even stripping the frames apart & putting them back together would have involved "problems". On our bus, the bottom of the window frame is the fixed glass. The top of the window frame has the gasket the keeps the top section dry while traveling. We would of had to completely rework the windows. And I figured I did enough to the windows. But I like the fact that I can leave the windows open 4" to 6" and the "eyebrows" over the windows keep the rain out. Even in a blowing rain, I can usually keep the blowing side open an inch and the lee side only half closed (6" open). I don't like being all shut up.
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Old 07-16-2012, 10:41 PM   #3
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 49
Year: 1986
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: P30
Engine: Chev 350 gas-replacement
Re: My new skoolie!

Bummer about the windows! Ah well, off to move gravel and plot the floorplan...
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Old 07-17-2012, 10:18 AM   #4
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Re: My new skoolie!

you could even put the windows in sideways ... that will take some metal fab work of course.. turning them upside down might not require much since the side channels are the same either way.. i should go outside and look at one. if the top and bottom rails on the windows are exactly the same also, it should fit either way. i think the ones i took out of my bus were the same.

best thing to do is just to get some nice rv windows and change the opening. that mostly requires getting the uprights and internal braces redone a bit, and some skin removal.
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Old 07-17-2012, 11:46 AM   #5
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Re: My new skoolie!

I looked at the windows I took out of my old Superior and they would work upside down by removing a stop on the sash and reinstalling it on the other track. BTW, the skin '49 is talking about is knuckle skin--not bus skin I think, at least that is how it worked with mine
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Old 07-17-2012, 12:44 PM   #6
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Re: My new skoolie!

u have an 86 chevy frame under that shell,so an 85 chevy 1 ton parts will fit it,why did he change from a diesel to a gas burner.hope he change the fuel tank too. that why every thing is out of wack.
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Old 07-17-2012, 03:00 PM   #7
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Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 49
Year: 1986
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: P30
Engine: Chev 350 gas-replacement
Re: My new skoolie!

Quote:
Originally Posted by keith
u have an 86 chevy frame under that shell,so an 85 chevy 1 ton parts will fit it,why did he change from a diesel to a gas burner.hope he change the fuel tank too. that why every thing is out of wack.
He didn't like the diesel engine, was planning to convert it, and apparently is a mechanic so getting an engine was no problem. The gas tank was drained has not been changed out, nor any of the guages. In fact, he told me I should get different temp and oil pressure guages since they are all calibrated for the diesel engine.

I definitely want to redo the dash, as it's original and pretty worn out. There are a lot of switches that do nothing, cut wires, etc. Time to find a spec book for this model and trace some of the wires down. I'd really like to put in white lamps where the red flashers were at at the very top of the bus--someone did this and I thought that would be really handy for setting up camp in the dark or if you're driving down a really dark road in the middle of nowhere. I'd guess that driving on the freeway with white lamps that high on the bus is a big no-no. Sure would light up the road though.

The ugly dash:
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Old 07-27-2012, 04:08 PM   #8
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 49
Year: 1986
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: P30
Engine: Chev 350 gas-replacement
Work in process--floor

Started working on the bus this week, about half of the rubber flooring is gone, leaving plywood behind. A roofing shovel works wonders on this stuff! The goal for this weekend is to remove the last two seats, get the rest of the rubber out, and lay out foamboard and 2x4's, then (ideally, I know) get the flooring in.

For now I'll leave the stairwell and driver's platform intact.

When I pulled the metal trim around the edges, I noticed a lot of rusted screws. The plywood itself seems sound, but I thought there would be a metal floor, not wood.

Some questions:

1. What should I use to fill the holes in the floor?

2. Should I use stainless screws to fasten the 2x4s to the plywood, and stainless nuts/bolts for through-the-floor things?

3. I was planning to glue and screw the 2x4s in place--any recommendations on brand/type?

4. Vapor barriers--seems like people use red paper (I've seen the stuff at Home Depot) but would heavy plastic work as well?
Won't this collect moisture under the floor and make the plywood and 2x4s rot out?

5. Is there metal under the plywood floor?

6. Is there a specific glue to use under the foam board, or will the stuff I use to glue the 2x4s in place work for the foamboard as well?

Here's a few pictures--my son is 11 and old enough to be a real help. We are both pretty stoked about our bus.
The quality is pretty bad, sorry, my phone takes really bad pictures at night and it was almost dark when I took these.

Cheers!
TA




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Old 07-27-2012, 04:23 PM   #9
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Re: My new skoolie!

I would guess there is steel under the plywood, but a quick inspection from underneath the bus should tell you for sure. If it's undercoated, you could try using a magnet to check.
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Old 07-30-2012, 07:53 PM   #10
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 49
Year: 1986
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: P30
Engine: Chev 350 gas-replacement
Re: My new skoolie!

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheRainbowBoxer
I would guess there is steel under the plywood, but a quick inspection from underneath the bus should tell you for sure. If it's undercoated, you could try using a magnet to check.
There's metal underneath--saw it yesterday when crawling under the bus to remove the remaining seats. There is thick black tar-like undercoating everywhere, but one spot near the stairs where you can see galvanized metal.

I'm considering skipping the insulation and just laying down another layer of 3/4" plywood, then flooring. We don't intend to full-time in this bus, it will be a 3-season road trip vehicle.
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