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Old 03-31-2017, 12:11 PM   #1
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Join Date: Dec 2016
Location: St Petersburg, FL
Posts: 2,517
Year: 1997
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: TC2000 FE
Engine: Cummins 5.9
Rated Cap: 72
Sport bus the Short bus

Hey guys!

I'm not new any more but we never started our build thread!

Our bus is a 1996 Thomas Vista 3600. It is a 5 window bus and has the International t444e and the Allison 542 transmission. It's 10 feet tall and over 6 ft inside.

We bought our bus in December, by mid January we were sleeping in it, and we have been full time since February 1.

My approach for the inside is different than just it seems. A lot of people are kitting they're bus like a house, putting in a bunch of wood cabinets and such, running generators and AC power everywhere... For various reasons, that's not us.

In a nut shell, we have 400w worth of solar for our power source, a 200ah AGM deep cycle battery for storage, and we run as much as we can directly from DC power. The major exceptions are a chest freezer and our TV.

Insulation is reflectix, air conditioning provided by the engine driven dual ac system, heat and cooking are propane powered. We don't have a water system, we rely on planet fitness for showers, and I built a composting toilet.

Since we disconnected from an address, we have traveled a few thousand miles around Florida, and met some really cool folks. Starting tomorrow, we are leaving Florida for the summer with the most vague of plans possible. We have a buddy who built a box truck who will be travelling with us, at least at first.

This has been a pretty fun ride so far! Have some pics!


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Old 03-31-2017, 12:15 PM   #2
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Maybe we'll see you out west in June. We'll be all over.

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Old 04-01-2017, 07:04 AM   #3
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Join Date: Dec 2016
Location: St Petersburg, FL
Posts: 2,517
Year: 1997
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: TC2000 FE
Engine: Cummins 5.9
Rated Cap: 72
Let us know! We have family in California and Oregon and have some more places to see.
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Old 04-01-2017, 07:14 AM   #4
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Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Eustis FLORIDA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brokedown View Post
Let us know! We have family in California and Oregon and have some more places to see.


Safe and happy travels yall!
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Old 04-13-2017, 07:04 PM   #5
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Join Date: Dec 2016
Location: St Petersburg, FL
Posts: 2,517
Year: 1997
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: TC2000 FE
Engine: Cummins 5.9
Rated Cap: 72
Took the bus for a boat ride this morning!


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Old 04-13-2017, 08:38 PM   #6
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Sweet. Where are you?

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Old 04-13-2017, 08:40 PM   #7
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Join Date: Sep 2014
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Engine: Cat 3126
Rated Cap: 15
Where yall floatin to?
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Old 04-13-2017, 08:52 PM   #8
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Join Date: Dec 2016
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Year: 1997
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Chassis: TC2000 FE
Engine: Cummins 5.9
Rated Cap: 72
Galveston, but we already left. There was a nice spot along the road where we parked on the beach for a night, now we are nearly to Houston and they aren't very boondock friendly around here!



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Old 04-13-2017, 08:56 PM   #9
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Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Eustis FLORIDA
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Engine: Cat 3126
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If worse comes to worse there's always truck stops.
Cool to see yall on the road enjoying bus life!
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Old 04-14-2017, 12:46 PM   #10
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Join Date: Dec 2016
Location: St Petersburg, FL
Posts: 2,517
Year: 1997
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: TC2000 FE
Engine: Cummins 5.9
Rated Cap: 72
We ended up next to a home Depot, in a row of a couple dozen semi trucks. Close enough to a truck stop!

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Old 04-14-2017, 12:50 PM   #11
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I have a buddy of mine looking for a bus exactly like yours. Do you have any recommendations on where to find one? Thank! NGUYENBUS
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Old 04-14-2017, 12:53 PM   #12
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Join Date: Dec 2016
Location: St Petersburg, FL
Posts: 2,517
Year: 1997
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: TC2000 FE
Engine: Cummins 5.9
Rated Cap: 72
Honestly they are fairly rare... I got mine out of Miami and it was the only one they had. The 3800 series is way more popular. I don't take have anything negative to say about it other than the van style engine setup is a bit less mechanic friendly and it's harder to find info on it due to the being fewer.

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Old 04-17-2017, 08:09 AM   #13
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Join Date: Dec 2016
Location: St Petersburg, FL
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Year: 1997
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: TC2000 FE
Engine: Cummins 5.9
Rated Cap: 72
My lower AC compressor, the one that cools the front of the bus, has become kaput. Finding a replacement that can ship fast enough to get to me before I have moved along is a challenge! It's a 4663 compressor, which send to be commonly used, but hard to find.

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Old 04-17-2017, 09:05 AM   #14
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 11,946
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
is that the one which wasnt cooling right at ECCB's bus gathering?

a 4663 should be available at many auto parts stores.. its a really common unit...

are you sure the compressor is gone and you didnt just lose the Freon? (loss of freon will shut off the compressor)

one of your units seemed weak when we were running your bus at EC's.. I put my hand on both suction lines and one of them wasnt cold though the unit was running..

-Christopher
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Old 04-17-2017, 09:16 AM   #15
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Join Date: Dec 2016
Location: St Petersburg, FL
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Year: 1997
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: TC2000 FE
Engine: Cummins 5.9
Rated Cap: 72
They were both low at the meetup, I filled them back up and they worked great. The lower one, the pulleys had a good amount of movement and was making noise for a while. The clutch finally went out yesterday. It's physically broken. I haven't had any luck on the chain parts store web sites but I will stop in at a Napa or similar when I get to a "real" town.

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Old 04-17-2017, 09:48 AM   #16
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Join Date: Dec 2016
Location: St Petersburg, FL
Posts: 2,517
Year: 1997
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: TC2000 FE
Engine: Cummins 5.9
Rated Cap: 72
I could bring the compressor back to life by replacing the clutch assembly, but with the amount of back-to-front movement the pulleys had its a matter of time before it fails again. I'd rather just swap the compressor out now and be done with it

We're in the middle of Texas at the moment, and we have the read AC operating just fine.
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Old 04-17-2017, 09:51 AM   #17
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 11,946
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
a trick ive used when travelling and needed a part or item , was to ship to a UPS store in a town I was going to be in.. or if an address was required, you can provide about any near you, then get o nthe shipper website, like UPOS or FEDEX and redirect to be held at a store.. ie UOS store, or FEDEX Office location.. or sometimes you can even hold stuff at the depot to get it quicker..

be careful not to over-charge those or get air in the system.. that will wipe out a compressor... sounds like yours just wore out..
-Christopher
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Old 04-17-2017, 10:15 AM   #18
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Join Date: Dec 2016
Location: St Petersburg, FL
Posts: 2,517
Year: 1997
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: TC2000 FE
Engine: Cummins 5.9
Rated Cap: 72
I got the fancy gauge and filler kit, so no worry as far as keeping it at the right levels. Autozone will rent me all the specialty tools I need to do the compressor replacement, even if they can't get the compressor itself.
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Old 04-17-2017, 10:19 AM   #19
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 11,946
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
the big one to have is the Vacuum pump... thats the important one.. I dont know if they rent those or not.. ive never tried.. but thats the impoortant part is getting the air out of the system, moisture and air will cause lack of cooling and ruin a new compressor..
-Christopher
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Old 04-17-2017, 10:23 AM   #20
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Join Date: Dec 2016
Location: St Petersburg, FL
Posts: 2,517
Year: 1997
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: TC2000 FE
Engine: Cummins 5.9
Rated Cap: 72
Yep they rent the vacuum pump. The nice thing about autozone is their tool rentals are free, they have a deposit you get back when you bring the tool back.
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