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Old 06-08-2016, 03:06 PM   #11
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: Southern Ohio
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You should read this. I think this will answer your questions and show you what you need to build. He makes it look so easy. ..
http://www.skoolie.net/forums/f11/qu...r-et-9561.html
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Old 06-08-2016, 04:16 PM   #12
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The roof raise and fabrication is a daunting task that I'm not sure I want to tackle. And he has hardly any windows in it. I get why, but just saying it must be dark inside at most times.
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Old 06-08-2016, 04:33 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JHands View Post
The roof raise and fabrication is a daunting task that I'm not sure I want to tackle. And he has hardly any windows in it. I get why, but just saying it must be dark inside at most times.

thats the part I struggle with is wanting the bright light... since im not living in mine im keeping all the bus windows.. but school windows definitely leak... if you look at the size of the coils in the original school bus heaters.. then think back to the days of freezing on the school bus in -10f weather, its easy to see busses are not insulated well..

from the factory they dont have to be... the design of a school bus is to be heated only when driven.. most dont have air-conditioning.. so they figure you have an unlimited source of energy to blow heat... the BTU ratings of school bus heaters are Huge.. for one they are designed to heat up quickly but also designed to overcome low insulation / wind leakage..

ive driven some pretty fancy commercial RV's from ford E-chassis.., fleetwoods, and even a custom coach on a Prevost... I have to say all but the Prevost just seemed like they were flimsy and not solidly built.. the Prevost was built by a custom builder... that RV also was in the multiple 100s of 1000s $$$.. they started out by ordering a brand new bus shell and then building on it... but thats pricey!!!!

-Christopher
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Old 06-09-2016, 11:28 AM   #14
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Join Date: Aug 2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JHands View Post
The roof raise and fabrication is a daunting task that I'm not sure I want to tackle. And he has hardly any windows in it. I get why, but just saying it must be dark inside at most times.
There are hardly any windows because they are the cause of most of your heat loss in the cold weather. Good windows are very expensive when compared to an insulated wall. Whatever you do for insulation will only be as good as the windows that you install. I would not say that a roof raise is absolutely necessary for you, but you will notice that he paid someoneto do it. You asked about how to build for cold and be comfortable. This is it. Buy 1 or 2 very nice very expensive very well placed windows where you can enjoy the view. Then insulate the bus top and bottom and sides.
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Old 06-09-2016, 12:42 PM   #15
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Join Date: Jan 2015
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I have roughly the same amount of windows in my bus as the "queen of peace" build. It is surprisingly a lot brighter inside than you would think. The windshield lets in beau-coup light. I did my roof raise totally by myself. I used 16ga sheet metal and the total cost for all the sheeting plus the tools and everything to do the lift was right around a grand. It will be worth it to raise the roof.
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Old 06-09-2016, 12:51 PM   #16
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Year: 1998
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On our vehicle, the two escape roof hatches when opened let massive amounts of light into the living space. I am replacing the plastic opaque roof hatches with double insulated skylight style (they still open, and provide ventilation), so we have constant natural illumination.

The vehicle itself has an 18" roof raise, and 3" of foam insulation on the walls/ceiling and 2" on the floor. The underbay is insulated, and has heating elements for the tanks, as well as ducting for heat system in that area to keep things warmer than outside.

There are six primary viewing windows, approximately 16"x30" cut in the kitchen and passenger area that are double pane. The windshield, two escape door windows, and rear windows are original school bus single pane glass.

As the vehicle sits right now, when ambient temperature is in the 20 degree F range overnight, I am able to keep the interior ambient temperature as measured from 3' off the ground to the ceiling at 70 degrees with a single 1200 watt forced air space heater.

Below the 3' mark, the temperature drops to about 60 degrees, and the driver area up front stays consistently around the 60 degree mark. Any opening of the door for entry and exit with that tiny space heater takes about 20 minutes to recover the temperature at those outside temps.

If I had an actual heater in place with higher capacity air exchange, I would expect the entire vehicle to have far less gradient and stay comfortable with a 5-7k btu heater at those temperatures.

Since a 10-20k btu heater is easy to come by, I have few concerns regarding keeping the bus warm in temperatures below freezing. I DO have concerns with ensuring the air systems and engine are operational and work safely at low temperatures.

I feel that a wood stove is only useful if you plan on parking for periods of time where wood can be had easily. The energy density of wood makes for a cumbersome process if you're on the move more often.

For stationary heating, diesel fuel (heating oil) or propane would be my heating energy of choice. The vehicle itself generates plentiful amounts of waste heat when underway, so heaters from the coolant loop work fine when driving.

I don't remember who built it up, but someone had cut the grooves into the floor of their bus for heated water lines for radiant floor heat. If I had more budget, I would install twin coolant heaters connected to a valve manifold that allows me to select regions for heat, including the engine block if desired.

The plumbing may be mildly complex, but the idea of choice of heating the vehicle from engine heat or coolant heater, and the choice of dispersing the heat through radiant floor, heater core, or hot water seems ideal.



Quote:
Originally Posted by JHands View Post
The roof raise and fabrication is a daunting task that I'm not sure I want to tackle. And he has hardly any windows in it. I get why, but just saying it must be dark inside at most times.
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Old 06-09-2016, 11:04 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slaughridge85 View Post
I have roughly the same amount of windows in my bus as the "queen of peace" build. It is surprisingly a lot brighter inside than you would think. The windshield lets in beau-coup light. I did my roof raise totally by myself. I used 16ga sheet metal and the total cost for all the sheeting plus the tools and everything to do the lift was right around a grand. It will be worth it to raise the roof.
I'm assuming that you have some welding experience? The raising of the roof itself is something I could probably do, as my engineering and physics portion of my brain works extremely well. However, I have no idea how to weld.

Do the Blue Bird All Americans come with 78 inches of headroom? Is the roof raise required on buses with 78 inch of headroom? I'm 5'11, my partner is 5'5. Think it's possible to insulate floor and ceiling and keep it around 73? Some people insulate the floor under the bus, no?

If a roof raise is not completed, and the windows are removed and sheeted, is it possible to remove some of the window framing for some more spacy RV windows instead of the little windows? Or does the window framing double as support for the roof as well?
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Old 06-10-2016, 08:47 AM   #18
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Location: Oakland
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Year: 1998
Coachwork: BlueBird
Engine: Cummins 5.9
Rated Cap: 48
Hello,
I'm in the process of removing the ceiling and siding to re insulate my 98 BlueBird. I've been researching all possible spray foam applications, DIY and Professional. I'd really like to do it ourselves since it will save us money. Did you Spray Foam yourself? I'm interested in s product called Foam it Green, I wonder if you've heard of it before? I also watched this interesting? show on spray foam nightmares where people had there attics spray foamed and it was causing them distress... I've read good and bad stories, just want to make sure we do the best job we can. Thank you for any thoughts you may have.
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Old 06-10-2016, 09:09 AM   #19
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Kansas
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Engine: T444E
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JHands View Post
I'm assuming that you have some welding experience? The raising of the roof itself is something I could probably do, as my engineering and physics portion of my brain works extremely well. However, I have no idea how to weld.

If a roof raise is not completed, and the windows are removed and sheeted, is it possible to remove some of the window framing for some more spacy RV windows instead of the little windows? Or does the window framing double as support for the roof as well?
Yes, I have welding experience. But that said. The only thing I welded on mine were the jack brakcets that actually did the lifting. The extension pieces were bolted through with several sets of grade 8 bolts. Welds hold up great over-time but I was worried about the weight of the roof hammering down vertically on each weld at every bump in the road. So I went ahead and used bolts, washers, and nylock nuts. Then I peened the threads of the bolts after the nuts were installed so theres no way they can back out.

And yes if you opt to just yank the windows and re-skin you can totally cut out a rib here and there. Just don't get too crazy with it, and make sure you box in the new window opening for structural integrity.
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Old 06-10-2016, 09:51 AM   #20
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Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Oakland
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Year: 1998
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlueBirdman View Post
Welcome!

What you want to do is very feasible. I have been involved in three businesses that are key to your idea - first in the wood stove/solar business and now in the spray foam insulation business.

Full-timing in that climate will make you aware of ALL the deficiencies in your bus in very short order. In order to produce a conversion you'll be happy with over time, I recommend the following:

1) Remove all the school bus windows, raise the roof and re-skin.

2) Install a limited number of double pane RV windows

3) After figuring out wiring and framing, insulate the whole thing with 2 lb. closed cell polyurethane spray foam. I'd suggest 5-6 inches in the roof and 3 in the walls. (Raising the roof allows you to put in adequate insulation and still stand up...)

4) Insulate the floor. For that kind of climate, I'd seriously consider spraying 4-5" of foam underneath the floor and protecting it with spray-on bedliner.

5) To help offset short winter days, put AT LEAST 1000 watts of PV on the roof, with charge controller and batteries sized accordingly. Needing shore power will really narrow parking options and running a generator is both cost prohibitive and offensive. My goal would be completely off-grid.

6) There's a lot less oxygen at elevation, so remember to de-rate the output of any combustion device (including wood stoves) by 3% per 1000 ft. elevation.

7) As with everything else at ski areas, firewood is usually rather expensive. Get a new EPA approved wood stove with "secondary burn". This, together with proper insulation and minimal window area, makes comfort possible/affordable.

Finally, install all tanks and plumbing INSIDE the thermal envelope created by the spray foam insulation. No plumbing in the exterior walls. Strongly consider a composting toilet to eliminate the entire issue of black water.

If you do these things, you will be VERY comfortable living at elevation in the winter. If you skimp on anything on this list, you'll probably have regrets every evening when you come home to it.

This should be a very cool build. I'll be watching!
Hello,
I'm in the process of removing the ceiling and siding to re insulate my 98 BlueBird. I've been researching all possible spray foam applications, DIY and Professional. I'd really like to do it ourselves since it will save us money. Did you Spray Foam yourself? I'm interested in s product called Foam it Green, I wonder if you've heard of it before? I also watched this interesting? show on spray foam nightmares where people had there attics spray foamed and it was causing them distress... I've read good and bad stories, just want to make sure we do the best job we can. Thank you for any thoughts you may have.
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