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Old 10-13-2016, 11:37 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: Hesperia, CA
Posts: 15
Year: 1982
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: Ford B600
Engine: 8.2l Detroit diesel
Rated Cap: 28
No Name Yet Project

Okay, so I've been trying to figure out how to post pictures here for a couple weeks, so i could share the fun as I go along. I'm not yet conceding defeat, but I have to start documenting as I go, or I'll never remember. Pics will show up when they show up.

To start with, I picked up this 1982 Carpenter 7 row bus with a 8.2L Detroit diesel/Allison 4 speed auto at an auction here in So Cal. $700! With auction fees, tax, license, etc...out the door for under $1000. The odometer shows 83,000, but who knows how many times it's spun around? I am guessing, based on some old paperwork I found, that it's only 283,000...but it could be 3.

The auction yard is in Riverside, about 45 miles from my house, and 3000' lower (this becomes relevant in a minute). I went down two days after the auction, paid the bill and picked that bad boy up.

After checking all the fluids, etc, I fired her up with no problem. One of the things you'll hear about the 8.2 Detroit Fuel Pincher is they blow head gaskets if they overheat. Coming, as I do, from a marine background, it's a pretty popular engine, because with an endless supply of 60 degree water, overheating isn't generally an issue on a boat, unless a raw water pump breaks or the intakes clog. This bus has two temperature gauges, the factory, which I gather is an idiot gauge (it only indicates too hot, or not too hot), and an after market actual temperature gauge.

I jumped on the freeway headed home, nervously watching both gauges. The first thing I discovered is, she is definitely governed at 63mph. I had already decided if it got over 205 or so I would take a roundabout, but flatter route home, as I was a little worried about getting over the Cajon Pass (for those who don't know, the Cajon climbs as high as the Grapevine, but in half the distance, from 1500' to just over 4000' in a few miles). While I dropped in to 3rd gear, and was barely making 40mph at the top of the pass, the needle never moved off 200 degrees. So the cooling system is sound.

Made it home just fine and spent 30 minutes tearing up the front yard in order to back her up to the garage. I have a 1/2 acre, so when complete, I'll park her in the back, but I want to be close to my tools and power for the conversion, and be able to access the back door easily.

So, chapter one was done.
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Old 10-13-2016, 11:42 PM   #2
Bus Nut
 
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Join Date: May 2016
Location: Richmond Virginia
Posts: 693
Year: 1984
Engine: 366 Big block Chevy! :) w/ Stick shift
Right on right on!
Looking forward to the next chapter
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Old 10-13-2016, 11:51 PM   #3
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: Hesperia, CA
Posts: 15
Year: 1982
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: Ford B600
Engine: 8.2l Detroit diesel
Rated Cap: 28
Chapter 2 - What the H*** Was I Thinking?

Before I bought this bus, I spent a solid two months researching, deciding what I wanted to do, what kind of power train, size, etc...I spent a lot of that time lurking here, reading what successes and mistakes others made, shopping online, checking auction sites and used bus dealers across the land, etc.

And still, for two days after I got her home, I just stared, immobilized. All of a sudden, I started doubting my own sanity, and mechanical skills. My main motivation for the project is I have acquired 3 kids, 12, 14 and 16, in the last year (because who wouldn't want to be a single father at the age of 55?). I also have my mother, 84, living with me, and my brother who is a full time wheelchair user. Currently I have a Nissan I bought when the kids came to me, so I could drive them, but my brother can't get in it, and it wouldn't hold 6 either; and a Sprinter van with a lift for my brother. I hastily installed a bench seat in the back of that for the kids, but honestly, it's just not comfortable for all 6 of us for any long trips. So I thought a small bus, tricked out as a semi-RV, semi-Party Bus would be just the thing. Comfortable (with a TV, micro and fridge) for day trips, and also with a couple of beds or futons if someone wants to take a nap on a multi-day trip. We'll still hotel it at night for showers and full hot meals. So THAT was the goal.

Finally, I shook off the lethargy (or intimidation), and decided "I got this", and went to work. The first order of business was getting the seats out. I tried a wrench. I tried power. I did manage to loosen a few, but then the nuts were just free spinning underneath. I tried holding the nuts while one of the kids torqued the bolts. Finally, I gave in, and busted out the angle grinder. I went thru a wheel in a couple rows before I decided to get the diamond cutting wheel and just cut them off instead of grinding them down. That worked great, and the last 1/2 of the job was done in an hour. Then I had the boys help me take the seats out and put them in the front of the house with a "FREE" sign. 8 of the 14 were gone in two days.

And I had a seatless bus.
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Old 10-14-2016, 12:05 AM   #4
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: Hesperia, CA
Posts: 15
Year: 1982
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: Ford B600
Engine: 8.2l Detroit diesel
Rated Cap: 28
Cutting Metal

The next big order of business was to remove a hatch that had been welded in to place where a wheelchair lift had been at one time. That was one of the selling points of this particular bus, as removing a cover from hatch seemed a damn sight easier than cutting out and making my own.

Since I had the diamond wheel on my grinder anyway, I went that way first. O.M.G. 1/4" steel! 18' around! Literally a week of grinding. I bought a diamond wheel for my circular saw, but it just doesn't have the RPM's. Plus, it was only ever going to be good for the two sides, anyway, as the top and bottom don't have room. So, grind, grind, grind. It's a good thing the angle grinder is my favorite tool. I wore out a 5" Lennox diamond wheel, and the second one is almost dead now, too. Cutting the mild steel plate wasn't too bad, except a few spots that had work-hardened. But the welds! Good lord, it was like cutting stainless steel.

In between bouts of grinding, I began to prep the floor for removal. Took out the floor heater, punched thru the bolts that didn't fall thru, etc.

Finally I made the last cut on the hatch, yelled "All Clear" and pushed it out. At 10lbs/sf, it's about 200 pounds of steel. Dragged it alongside the garage, as I might cut some pieces off for other stuff. Definitely sell the rest for scrap, when I take in the 3 miles of copper wire I'm also removing. lol

But, after another couple hours deburring the edges, I have a nice, shiny new hole in the side of my bus!
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Old 10-14-2016, 12:34 AM   #5
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: Hesperia, CA
Posts: 15
Year: 1982
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: Ford B600
Engine: 8.2l Detroit diesel
Rated Cap: 28
Out With The Floor!

I took out the rear heat, as it wasn't working, anyway (fans spun, but no heat). I had heard others spilling coolant all over their buses, so i left the hoses attached, shut the valves in the engine compartment, and worked my way forward removing the metal cover. When I got to the drivers area, I removed the side of the drivers heater base, hoping to detach the hoses, hold them up and drag the whole thing out the side, minimizing any spillage. But, lo and behold...they weren't attached to anything. A previous owner had already disabled the rear heat, and put a "U" hose just where these should connect to the forward heating element. Which totally explained why the drivers heat and defroster worked fine, but the back one didn't.

So, I am leaving that as is.

After the heater, I had to cut and remove the plastic over the wheel humps. Amazingly, a mere screwdriver worked to get those trim pieces out. Then I cut the floor behind the drivers seat, as I am leaving that area alone for now. Everything is secure, and the wood is sound. At most I'm going to add a layer of mass loaded vinyl or something, as well as insulate the doghouse, thermally and acoustically. One of the things I found on the drive home is that any insulation that was once under the hood, firewall or doghouse is gone. Not just noisy, but heat coming off in waves. So, that's on the list of things to do.

So, now it's ready to rip the floor out. I took a big metal scraper and started at the back. The first foot just crumbled. Some serious water has gotten in, either from underneath, or from the back door. I think the latter, because the undercarriage looks pretty good. I'll have to figure that out before winter. After that first foot, though, the plywood came up pretty nice, except around the side hatch, which was also pretty crumbly and waterlogged.

Of course, the scraper found every bolt and screw I missed. But with 3 of us working, it only took an hour or so to remove, basically, 4 intact plywood sheets. The only serious rust is around the back door and the side hatch. I'll be welding some plate in both those areas, but other than that, a little surface rust around the bolt holes is all there was. I wire brushed the bad and not-so-bad areas, and sprayed on 2 cans of 3M rust converter. Now, I am deciding how best to cover/fill all the holes...silicone, metal tape or epoxy.

Suggestions?

oh, yeah...while I left the drivers area floor alone, I did take out the rubber and edging on the stairs. Again, the bottom step is a little "soft" from rusting out, and I'll have to weld in some new steel...but the other two were in pretty good shape with just a tad bit of surface rust.
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Old 10-14-2016, 12:59 AM   #6
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: Hesperia, CA
Posts: 15
Year: 1982
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: Ford B600
Engine: 8.2l Detroit diesel
Rated Cap: 28
And Today, The Air Conditioner(s)

The last bit of demolition was taking out the air conditioning evaporators. Two. One on each side. 10 feet from the battery, but with 75,156,486 feet of wiring. Seriously, I don't know what the installer was thinking, or how the electricity actually traveled that far. Two evaporator fans, each wired separately from the control panel up front, with both of those cables doubled over 3 times under the unit, before going back thru the floor, under the bus by a weirdly circuitous route (I get that you want to make sure they are hung high over the drive shaft, but the rest of the twists and turns were just crazy), then back up thru the floor and over to the passenger side evaporator, again with two separate fans wired separately and multiple loops under the unit.

I am pretty sure the recycling value of this copper will pay for the bus.

I got the passenger side unit hoses off and wires unplugged. That mess I managed to push thru the hole in the floor just find. On the drivers side unit, I got the hoses off and out, but finally gave up and cut the electrical spaghetti. I was hoping to leave the whole thing, including condenser, as complete as possible, as I think there must be some resale value. The fans on the evaporators work, all the wires and hoses are in good shape. It's just that the hoses end up under the hood, attached to nothing. I can't even see a compressor where they used to connect.

I am guessing the compressor went bad, and they just took it off and left 5 or 6 hundred pounds of condenser, evaporators, hoses and wires laying there. The bus was in Northern California last, and A/C isn't really a big deal there.

Right now, I am leaning towards a mini-split A/C. There is room for the condensor and an inverter where this condensor was, which is 4 feet from the batteries, and a single 10,000 BTU evaporator really should be sufficient for the volume inside the bus, which is less that 1000 cubic feet.

Anyway...that wraps it up for tonite. I think I have everything stripped away, and she's ready for rebuilding. Which should be the fun (and expensive) part.

I'm thinking a new subfloor is the next order of business...
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Old 10-14-2016, 09:15 AM   #7
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 3,113
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International S3800
Engine: DT360
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
nice build!!!but surely i wouldnt have destroyed those air conditioners... you are going tofind unless parked in a well insulated well tinted bus.. that driving down the road a minisplit will just blow the sweat off your brow on ah ot summer day..

for being parked you'll be fine.. when driving you need much more BTU esp in the 100 degree weather.. you WILL have lots of engine heat trust e.. heater valves off or not.. old busses had engine heat..

likely thats why the comoressor went bad on the old A/C... those big monsters run hard to combat the engine heat...the compressors run constantly and die.. they are a cheap fix.. only a couple hundred bucks a pop,

you probably had 60,000 + BTU of A/C in that bus if there were 2 evaporators...

if you dont mind being hot while driving your mini split will work great for when you are parked somewhere since you are gutting and insulating...

my new 6 row bluebird.. (year 2000 with a V-8 diesel so no doghouse heat).. has a 50,000 BTU system in it.. white insulated roof, tinted windows.. and driving down the road i stay OK cool in it but im not frozen... I could insulate it a little more but shooting my temperature gun at the ceiling I have close to room temp ceilings when driving..

and I just got it a couple weeks ago so I havent driven it in the peak sun-angle of june-july-august yet...

-Christopher
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Old 10-14-2016, 09:28 AM   #8
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: Hesperia, CA
Posts: 15
Year: 1982
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: Ford B600
Engine: 8.2l Detroit diesel
Rated Cap: 28
I will keep that in mind while sizing the new a/c.
I do intend on insulating the floor,walls and ceiling, as well as blocking half the windows.
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Old 10-14-2016, 09:30 AM   #9
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 3,113
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International S3800
Engine: DT360
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
take some seious time to take out and redo the driver area too... that area is a source of a lot of heat... on my carpenter the seal between the engine compartment and the floor was non existent.. so i had engine heated air being blown through every crack in the floor it could find!
-Christopher
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Old 10-14-2016, 09:38 AM   #10
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: Hesperia, CA
Posts: 15
Year: 1982
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: Ford B600
Engine: 8.2l Detroit diesel
Rated Cap: 28
Yeah. The plan is to insulate under the hood, a serious radiant barrier on the the firewall, (filling covering the dozen holes) snd the doghouse I might just build a new one out of something better than the thin sheet steel they used. Amazing how much heat you get with a transmission on your right and the engine literally 2 feet in front of you.
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