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Old 06-21-2018, 10:09 PM   #1
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Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: Oakland, CA
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Year: 2006
Coachwork: Collins
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Engine: 6.6 LLY Duramax
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Sweet As - The 2006 Chevy Collins Makeover

Hello! I just purchased a 2006 Chevrolet Collins 5 window bus. As in drove it home today. Many props to the terrifically knowledgeable folks here who have my mind running overtime on what is to be.

Wouldn't you know that Jay, who drove me to the yard in the morning, has done several bus conversions himself! And used them commercially too. A real, living and breathing pro. He had plenty of useful suggestions and stories which made the drive super quick. His confidence in the project was calming and appreciated.

My experiance at Midwest Transit was great overall. The test driver spoke plainly about a steering squerm and the bus' imperfections were detailed in their inspection. Note the inspection didn't include driving the bus, which I can see was an assumption on my part. Well, I signed some papers, watched the 100s be penned, received the temp tags and title, shook some hands and away I went. Just like that.

Every mile closer was great news. It was an extra long 2.25 hour trip back due to highway tragedy that kept me on mostly county roads, an expanse of opportunity to have a situation. One time, approaching a bridge and about midway (meaning close to nothing), my heart sank when I smelled something not good. Thankfully whatever it was dissipated and I drove on.

The only awful thing I noticed on the maiden voyage is the driver's chair. Horrible. A torture device. That has to go. Next, in order, is wow the bus is loud. First there is the road noise, by that I mean how much the thing rattles and booms at even the slightest imperfection. Then there is the engine. To the point where I could not always hear the directions on my phone even at max volume. There's a protrusion at my feet making for an awkward foot move when having to brake. Did I say loud? That's really it for the problems.

Steering is great. Easy with one hand even in the world's most uncomfortable seat. I didn't notice any shimmying. My new friend Jay told me that he's seen vehicles not driven for a bit have sticky pistons and we both agreed that'd be a splendid resolution. As far as I can tell, he's right. Stopping in of itself is good too. OMG is that engine powerful: just to see what would happen, I pressed down the gas going uphill on a freeway already at 65 and wham! the bus downshifted and motored; I really left behind those loser slowpokes.

It turns out there is diesel and biodiesel. Are they different? Yes that is how new I am to all this. Does the bus care? I don't know and, at the gas station which sold the latter and desperately searching for answers on my phone, acquiesced to simply not fill up until I had attained certainty.

Here is a photo after the drive back.



Tomorrow I register and start the tear-out. The goal is to be able to carry 11 people, their things and perhaps 2 days of food and water comfortably and safely during a 2 1/2 month trip. Once the building process starts, I plan to apply soundproofing mat, dynamat or something, all over the floor and to the area below the windows. Then closed call foam. Then painted plywood to which the to be built wood benches will be attached. I also am going to paint the thing to cover the "school bus yellow." To either side of the rear emergency exit will be shelving, though I don't plan on blocking the windows which I think are awesome. Maybe shelves across the back except I am leery of lowering the ceiling height. For sure a full length shelf on the driver's side up above the windows. Plus of course my mountain bike has to fit in there. There will be 3 benches: two shorties and one full width which will also convert into a bed. The walkway will be on the passenger's side (if there was one). And, obviously, that tragedy of a driver's chair needs replacing pronto. I have a couple of weeks.

Next are on the hopefuls. This includes adding a battery in a box accessed from the outside of the bus and charged by the alternator with all the circuit breakers and other needed gizmos, a water tank underneath with some kind of pump action happening, and of course bug screens would be nice right? If there is a toilet, it'll be a simple all in one that some unlucky person gets to dump from time to time. I'll add the 110 plugs and stuff before the walls are put up for sure; I'm not sure if the second battery is going to happen prior to departure. Lastly, there is some under carriage rust to ameliorate.

I sincerely hope to get advice and suggestions along the way. Please hold no punches!
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Old 06-21-2018, 10:31 PM   #2
Skoolie
 
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Welcome! Sounds like you've got plans for a fun rig! Looking forward to the project.
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Old 06-22-2018, 04:16 AM   #3
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11 people with food, water, and a bike? In a 5 window shortie? I'd like to see your proposed floor plan.
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Old 06-22-2018, 11:36 AM   #4
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Cycle, thank you for checking in.

DJ, the goal is just to move the 11 people and their things. Like the bus always has done except comfortable for larger folks. The one bench of the three that goes across is planned to turn into a bed. That's it though for RV-ing it until after the trip, meaning no shower, kitchen or anything like that. Sound more plausible?
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Old 06-22-2018, 11:57 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Epomethius View Post
Cycle, thank you for checking in.

DJ, the goal is just to move the 11 people and their things. Like the bus always has done except comfortable for larger folks. The one bench of the three that goes across is planned to turn into a bed. That's it though for RV-ing it until after the trip, meaning no shower, kitchen or anything like that. Sound more plausible?
Gotcha, so really more for transport. That's much more plausible. I was trying to picture any way to have 11 people sleeping comfortable in a 5 window bus.
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Old 06-22-2018, 12:22 PM   #6
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I just got off the phone with the nice people in South Dakota, where I plan on registering, and emailed copies of the required documents to get the fees. So far so good! I read the "Register in Vermont" thread and it seems someone did the same out of state by mail registration in SD too. Heads up that not all SD counties register by mail. Brule does though and their number is 605-234-4436 if you're interested.

The rain here is nuts. The river's flood plains are engaged! Time to measure for soundproofing materials order and get to work on the demo.
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Old 06-22-2018, 07:17 PM   #7
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I ordered a bunch of that Noico soundproofing Dynamat copycat stuff for the box, that mini me hood and probably the ceiling and high area by the back door. I want to do the firewall too. However, it will take too much time I think alas. Plus the roller. I had to go back and make a second order because the lowes here where I got a grinder since I can't fix the broken one didn't have one small enough and who likes playing Let's Look For It? Not me.

Also got the stuff together to mail hooray!

There is a spot here by the garage with close, outside power. Hopefully it'll be dry enough tomorrow to weed wack and make a parking place.
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Old 06-23-2018, 07:35 PM   #8
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Removed the seats and started on the rubber.



I'm going to take the advice of the lift removal threads and see if the scrap place or some yard will get it out for its value.
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Old 06-23-2018, 08:15 PM   #9
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And what's wrong with SBY for a color? It does render one invisible.

I got my beastie at Northwest Transit, too. What shop? Mine came from Kankakee. I had a wonderful time with them, although anything after a 34 hour Greyound/Jefferson ride would be a ball. They got Brunhilde up to 65 (her max) over county roads without a hitch. Mind you, I've got a LOT more room in mine.
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Old 06-23-2018, 08:19 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Epomethius View Post
Removed the seats and started on the rubber.

I'm going to take the advice of the lift removal threads and see if the scrap place or some yard will get it out for its value.

You should check with your local VFW, VA, and DAV to see if any vets want them if you were just planning on junking it.
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Old 06-24-2018, 10:10 PM   #11
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djdalfaro, good idea.

It took some hours to get off the seat belts I wanted. They are sets of 3 different colors so we have no fighting. Also got up a third of that rubber and I had to read about taking off rivets. Now I have my punches and chisel and tomorrow is hammer time. The dangley starboard headlight is resecured. The spring wasn't sprung was all. I broke a screw tab off the surround though. Today saw 3 trips to Home Depot. I don't see a need to insulate that bus. With a still yellow top and in the midday 80s it was plenty great. I'm so stoked to be in the shade, like, always now.

The clearance is low for where we go. Like the driver's step and bottom step of the doors are going to be crushed. The tires are the little guys that come with the bus and I do want to have that Quigley 4x4 add on. I'm not talking hard core jeep roads. Just the forest service ones to nice places to camp. Any suggestions?
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Old 06-25-2018, 10:01 PM   #12
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Year: 2006
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Derivetted the seat bar things with the help of some YouTube videos, removed the walls up to the window bottoms and started some rust removal.

Do vehicles this size go to any old garage for a fluid change? I need em all.
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Old 06-28-2018, 02:11 PM   #13
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Grinding under the bus sucks. Sparks all over, I’m 6’2” which makes fitting tough, etc. And then the grinding wheel broke and thankfully didn’t whack my head.

Found a garage to do all the fluids. Referred by the first who couldn’t manage the height. They’re going to disconnect the signs and lift too. And take off those pesky under carriage rusted bolts.

The garage guy said the rust doesn’t need treatment. Damage is done and if ok structurally then ok. Hmm. I know the crossbar is strong because the bus sunk in all the rain and needed help getting out. That thing made the Ford bronco wheels spin.

For those who don’t know, major gas stations may blend bio diesel into their diesel. Not the backyard veggie oil home brew.

About halfway on scraping off the left behind caulk from the under window metal removal. Heat Gun and razor blades. Sounds like a pogues follow up to Rum, Sodomy and the Lash.
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Old 06-30-2018, 04:53 PM   #14
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Register as a RV. It will be much cheaper.
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Old 06-30-2018, 04:56 PM   #15
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Post track and double check the rear ended ratio before you start changing to taller rims and rubber.
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Old 06-30-2018, 10:45 PM   #16
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Regarding registration, hopefully that is happening. The form didn’t ask one way or another.

Regarding the gearing, is that for the transmission or the differential? I’ve read the transmission would need to be reprogrammed due to speed increase.

I’ve sanded the bus except the 2 parts which only partly say School Bus and painted on a layer of Henry Tropi-Cool on the roof. A second coat goes on tomorrow AM.

The heat is stunning. It’d be nuts to be using the heat gun on the caulk removal.

The garage can’t work on the van because the computer is down and an estimate can’t be created. BUNK
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Old 06-30-2018, 11:53 PM   #17
Skoolie
 
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Taller tires will give you better ground clearance- but you might have to change the rear end ratio. IE. my flatbed has 7:11 rear end- 3000rpm to get to 50mph. I put taller tires on it 12r22.5’s. Now I can hit 60mph at 3000rpm. (V8 diesel). But the speed increase is good but when I hit a hill I’m dogged down pulling 2 gear at 2500rpm.
So check your gearing
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Old 07-01-2018, 10:26 PM   #18
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bus lifts repurposed

There are probably people that could use those repurposed in homes where a ramp would be difficult to install. Converting from 110volts to 12 volts is not difficult for an electritcian or creative person that knows what they are doing. I would expect that services for low income handicapped have a list of people needing help with this sort of thing.

william
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Old 07-02-2018, 08:47 PM   #19
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Almost done sanding. Like 97% kind of done. That 320 grit makes for silky smooth. The fact is that I didn’t need to start with 80 except on the crappy sections. Even 150 was too aggressive for where the paint was in fine shape. So I have more priming to do.

The bottom of the back door is pretty rusty. Especially the corners. Otherwise ok. It already is leaky there and the very weak stuff broke off as I was prodding, leaving me with what is essentially a weapon.

I’m planning on grinding off the corner to make it square and shoving in some pressure treated wood. Ta da!
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Old 07-03-2018, 09:22 PM   #20
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Two coats of primer done and metallic gold paint ordered. Lessons learned: use finer sandpaper to start; and the rivet's paint gets sanded off effortlessly.

I got a number of the underside bolts off and even one 3 foot piece out. That leaves 49 linear feet? Enough happened with the what I thought were good safety glasses that I hopped in the car and acquired glasses safe for chemicals. They're much better. Hopefully the nadir of the project.

If you look closely at the back door's brown, latch side corner, you'll see the surgery done thus far.



Happy 4th Of July.
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