Okay, hello all,
I've been creeping the forum since discovering it a few weeks back and today came across a banner that read: "dont lurk around the forum, get registered and join the party" (or something to this effect). So here I am.
My gal and I have been test driving new 4x4s, shopping motorhomes and travel trailers, scouring the web for home on wheels that will take us on our planned journey to Patagonia and beyond. We decided on a bus for a few reasons. First of and most persuasively, we found one here in my hometown of Whitehorse, Yukon (beside Alaska on the Kanada side
that has been sitting with a for sale sign in the window for the better part of 3 yrs. Two: buses seem to be a lot cheaper than already put together motorhomes or trailers. Thirdly, and the final deciding factor, these prefabbed units are cheaply made, characterless boxes. Flimsy, ugly and representative of a lifestyle that we are trying to escape from. Nothing against the folks who choose to live outta these units, everyone has differing needs and capabilities, but for us the idea of customizing a one of a kind is like building your own house instead of renting in an apartment building.
Visiting this bus numerous times over the past few weeks and letting her warm up to us we finally went and picked her up on Friday after work. The old man had fed her a shiny new battery before we came and she growled contentedly as she pulled out onto the highway and waved goodbye to her lonely parking spot where she sat deserted for how many years.
Now me, ive never had a bus.....nor have I ever posted in a forum.....now I do both. Ive never owned a GMC, or an automatic, or a diesel.....now I do. Let the games begin. She is a 92, 20head Thomas Minotour GMC 3500 6.2L Diesel.
This little Minotour has been converted. What I mean by that is that someone has pulled the seats and screwed a kids ikea bunk bed to the wall. A counter from top to tail houses a cooler that plugs into the lighter, a sink that drains into a bucket and a two burner propane camp stove screwed to the top. A very old and horribly uncomfortable government office type chair has had its legs chewed on by a shark and throughbolted to the floor using washers to make up the difference in length where the shark has shortened legs. Yup it has a seatbelt. Im not sure if this seat was supposed to be for a real human or not but my back was sore just looking at it. But she's registered as a motorhome....ideal that that bureaucracy has been bypassed.
There is a battery directly behind the drivers seat whos cables lead into the floor and Im guessing(and hoping) that this battery charges off the alternator. There is a hose hanger attached to the back of the bus which has extension cord coiled around it and leading into the bus for electrical. She has been spray canned blue, all her windows are intact and she has about 190K on her.
Looking underneath I found a leak/spray outta the hose on the engine side of the fuel pump and thinking I should replace the gasket round the oil pan. She had been undercoated at some point and in spots where the undercoat has chipped I can see clean shiny galvalume floor. The motor sounds really nice and the drive home produced no smoke whatsoever. She has two chips in her windshield and on the way home I couldn't ID a sound coming from the passenger side wheel well and wonder if it is only road noise that I can hear more predominantly from that side due to the uninsulated step well. Im no mechanic but all in all she feels, sounds and looks clean and tight......
All the crap has been pulled out and the dump trailer is loaded for tomorrow. She's an empty box.....did I mention she's clean?
The plan is to build a bunk 4' off the floor directly behind the cockpit. I will level the stairwell to accommodate a proper passenger seat and the bunk will have closet storage on the cabin side and shelving/cubbies in the cockpit with a passthrough doghouse down the center. This will allow the dog to freely guard both ends of our home as well as be sanctioned into the cabin at the drop of the center console table.....this is to cause less problems at border crossings. We can also very easily jump the bed and be in the cabin anytime to make a snack.
We would like to mount a roof extension down most of the length of the bus and would probably choose a "windows all around" motif. I'm a sheetmetal journeyman and have done plenty of steel fab but any relevant pointers would be great. Id like a small roof storage rack but moreso a deck off the back big enough set up a couple folding chairs and maybe a railing mount BBQ.
We want to keep the original double doors but need to remove, relocate or modify the lock bar that passes through the passenger area. Or come up with another system altogether which will hold the doors shut and be useable and lockable from both inside and out. Any ideas?
The switch panel above the drivers seat, which operates fans and lights is lit up but none of the switches work. Ive peeked at the fuse panel and closed the door again. Wires and I dont get a long at the best of times....like I said, sheetmetal. Anyhow this is like no fuse panel Ive ever seen so I wonder if Thomas publishes a user manual with their buses? Any idea where I might find a wiring diagram? Guess all I really need is to make the fan on the rear heater work cause if I cant....I want that space!
I read some postings about pulling the rubber mat flooring out and how it would be great as a diagnosis of the subfloor etc, and I wouldn't mind gettin it gone so as to use the wood underneath as a base for my own flooring but do tell, how is this rubber attached to this wood and is this a major scrape job to get this crap up? A little tiger heat and blade peel it up like butter?
This will be our full time home for the next few years and Im sure we'll discover some growing pains but all in all we're totally exited to be self contained and on the road......now if someone would just buy this damn house we could be on our way.......any takers?
Hey thanks in advance for any tips and feedback and thanks to the creators for this #1 resource and community....it's all here.
Cheers all, will keep ya posted with pics as they come.
PS-I know she's just a Chevy van with duallies, but she is only just a beginning