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Old 01-29-2017, 07:00 PM   #11
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Join Date: May 2015
Location: Oklahoma aka "God's blind spot"
Posts: 2,212
Year: 1989
Coachwork: 1853FC International/Navistar
Chassis: 35' Retired Air Force Ambulance
Engine: DT466, MT643
Rated Cap: 6 souls and a driver
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stu & Filo. T View Post
I'm about 2 yrs behind on my 2yr plan.
A wise man once told me.... "There's nothing wrong with getting a lil' behind"
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Old 01-29-2017, 07:00 PM   #12
Skoolie
 
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Join Date: Feb 2016
Location: Bemidji MN
Posts: 185
Year: 1998
Coachwork: Carpenter Body
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DT466
Rated Cap: 65 to Zero. Folding Chair
Elephant Pregnancy

Hello and welcome to the Forum.
First, this is the best site for your questions and research.
As far as buses, I am not an expert. I have the standard truck nose bus and I have been told the truck nose bus style are easier to maintain and work on when needed compared to the rear push.
Personally, I like the rear push style better but it is my first bus.
Now, storage space is critical and the extra under desk storage is good.
The best advise I have is to narrow down your desires.
Flushing toilet, normal sized anything, all the benefits of home are pretty hard to come by on a bus and they get pretty expensive in a hurry.
Composting toilets seem to be the way to go on a bus.
It removes a lot of plumbing and tank requirements as well as emptying duties and locations.
Luckily in Florida you can work year round so that is a huge benefit as far as actually fitting to your time table. I dont have that pleasure by any means in my location.
Naturally the first priority is finding the right bus for the right price and while we are on that subject, I hope you have a healthy budget set aside for such a fast project of this size.
There are typically four ways of converting a bus, the bare minimum - seats out, old furniture put in, newspapers over the windows and done. The average - Replaced flooring, sheeted windows, new wiring and 2x4s everywhere and I mean everywhere some of these folks think they are building a 7,000lb wall in the middle of their bus. Then you have the custom - reskin, building furniture and cabinets, welding, lifting the roof, new windows, doors, all of that. Then you have the Pro level - like my friend up above, they find a 1930s bus and rebuild the entire thing from the ground up and make an absolutely beautiful work of art to drive and live in.

That is your first step, deciding what you want to do. Scaling it back to a realistic level, fitting it within budget, collecting the right people to help or learning it yourself, then finding the bus, deconstructing it, prepping it, readying everything, finalizing a layout, buying materials, installing, insulating, wiring, plumbing, changing your plans ten times for each project, the building, finishing, conducting test runs, and then you are done. Hopefully all within two years.

Expect the unexpected, a simple one day project will take three days. A project that should take a week will take two days. You will find problems if you dig deep enough. You will have additional expenses and countless issues that frustrate you, boggle your mind and down right piss you off. It is afterall well it should be a labor of love and not a get away vehicle.

If, I am wrong please tell me guys.
Either way, good luck and have fun.
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Old 01-29-2017, 09:18 PM   #13
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jan 2017
Posts: 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by New2Skool View Post
Hello and welcome to the Forum.

First, this is the best site for your questions and research.

As far as buses, I am not an expert. I have the standard truck nose bus and I have been told the truck nose bus style are easier to maintain and work on when needed compared to the rear push.

Personally, I like the rear push style better but it is my first bus.

Now, storage space is critical and the extra under desk storage is good.

The best advise I have is to narrow down your desires.

Flushing toilet, normal sized anything, all the benefits of home are pretty hard to come by on a bus and they get pretty expensive in a hurry.

Composting toilets seem to be the way to go on a bus.

It removes a lot of plumbing and tank requirements as well as emptying duties and locations.

Luckily in Florida you can work year round so that is a huge benefit as far as actually fitting to your time table. I dont have that pleasure by any means in my location.

Naturally the first priority is finding the right bus for the right price and while we are on that subject, I hope you have a healthy budget set aside for such a fast project of this size.

There are typically four ways of converting a bus, the bare minimum - seats out, old furniture put in, newspapers over the windows and done. The average - Replaced flooring, sheeted windows, new wiring and 2x4s everywhere and I mean everywhere some of these folks think they are building a 7,000lb wall in the middle of their bus. Then you have the custom - reskin, building furniture and cabinets, welding, lifting the roof, new windows, doors, all of that. Then you have the Pro level - like my friend up above, they find a 1930s bus and rebuild the entire thing from the ground up and make an absolutely beautiful work of art to drive and live in.



That is your first step, deciding what you want to do. Scaling it back to a realistic level, fitting it within budget, collecting the right people to help or learning it yourself, then finding the bus, deconstructing it, prepping it, readying everything, finalizing a layout, buying materials, installing, insulating, wiring, plumbing, changing your plans ten times for each project, the building, finishing, conducting test runs, and then you are done. Hopefully all within two years.



Expect the unexpected, a simple one day project will take three days. A project that should take a week will take two days. You will find problems if you dig deep enough. You will have additional expenses and countless issues that frustrate you, boggle your mind and down right piss you off. It is afterall well it should be a labor of love and not a get away vehicle.



If, I am wrong please tell me guys.

Either way, good luck and have fun.


Oh how I love your honesty!! The goal is two years, this does mean however it could or could not be met. Hefty budget hahahahaha, I wish, I do however play lotto. We can work Year round, so I guess reality is, getting a bus.... as for all the other, stripping down insulating, sectioning off, I do have a builder French friend that loves patients and a damn good bargain free so I plan on brining him onboard of my idea, he'll be a paid enthusiast but an enthusiast none the less... I can do compost but if one can afford a flushing tier that would be so great... I guess I need the bus to strip down and rebuild, priory will be running with a good engine/transmission... I'd like it 90% finished before boarding it but I hear I may be aiming high, but, I am... international or bluebird ... price verse brand...??? I'm eyeing a few things... oh so excited!!!


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Old 01-29-2017, 09:20 PM   #14
Bus Crazy
 
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Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Vacaville, Ca
Posts: 1,474
Year: 1988
Coachwork: Crown / Pusher
Engine: 8.3 Cummins
Quote:
Originally Posted by milkmania View Post
A wise man once told me.... "There's nothing wrong with getting a lil' behind"
My daddy told me "If your getting a little behind take some precaution & get as much as you can".
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Old 01-29-2017, 09:51 PM   #15
Bus Crazy
 
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Join Date: May 2015
Location: Oklahoma aka "God's blind spot"
Posts: 2,212
Year: 1989
Coachwork: 1853FC International/Navistar
Chassis: 35' Retired Air Force Ambulance
Engine: DT466, MT643
Rated Cap: 6 souls and a driver
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stu & Filo. T View Post
My daddy told me "If your getting a little behind take some precaution & get as much as you can".
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Old 01-30-2017, 03:25 AM   #16
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Winlcok, WA
Posts: 1,546
You have accomplished one of the smartest things and that is asking questions.

Questions don't cost anything here and could possibly save you thousands down the road.

As far as purchasing a bus is concerned, you need to decide what you really want, what you might settle for, and what you really do not want. It sounds as if you have already determined you want a Type 'D' RE bus. As far as make is concerned, choosing between one of the three that are still in production is going to have as many opinions as to what is best as asking what is better--Ford vs. Chevy vs. Dodge. I personally do NOT like Blue Birds, some years of Ward/AmTrans/IC are really good and some are really bad, and Thomas has been consistent in building a quality product. When push comes to shove, there isn't a lot of difference between the different makes and it all comes down to personal preference.


Once you have narrowed your search within the category you need to determine what spe'c's you really want, what you might settle for, and what your really do not want.
  • For your purposes you will want the biggest HP engine and the OD transmission. The DT530/466 will have the most HP. Next will be the Cummins 8.3L/ISC. Cat and Mercedes-Benz also supplied a lot of engines over the years but for your purposes they are probably best left on the cutting floor. All of the other engines used in school buses will NOT have the HP and torque you will be wanting.
  • Non-OD transmissions were still used after model year 2000 so a newer vintage does not automatically mean it will have an OD transmission.
  • Whether it has an OD transmission or not, you will want to make sure the rear end is geared for highway use. I was in a bus recently that had a 250 HP engine and an OD transmission that was up against the governor at 60 MPH. It climbed hills like a scared rabbit but was stuck in the slow lane everywhere else.
  • You will also most probably want a bus with the 12" windows. Those buses have 4" more headroom than the 9" window buses. All IC RE buses have had 12" windows since about 1999.
  • Luggage compartments are nice, pass through under the floor luggage compartments are really nice. But not necessary.
  • All IC RE buses since about 1999 have rear air ride suspensions. Some even have front air suspensions. Air suspensions really smooth out a lot of the bumps out on the highway. Thomas and Blue Bird had air ride as an extra cost option that wasn't always spe'c'ed.
  • When tinted glass and white roof options were spe'c'ed it usually also meant the bus had extra insulation. It isn't that important if you are going to be taking down the ceiling and walls but can speed the process if you decide not to put in more ceiling and wall insulation.
  • Air brakes are a must if you are going to get one of the biggest school buses on the road. If you don't know anything about air brakes you will need to read up on them and learn the basics. Don't be intimidated. The air brake system is pretty simple in a school bus and should be very easy to master. There are a lot of real dummies out there that are carrying air brake repair certificates in their pockets.
  • If there are two buses that are basically identical and priced the same I would purchase the bus with the better tires. But if all things are not equal, don't worry about the tires. Sitting for two years while you work on your bus can ruin a set of tires if they are baking in the FL sunshine.
Good luck and keep us posted as to your progress.
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Old 01-30-2017, 06:07 AM   #17
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jan 2017
Posts: 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
You have accomplished one of the smartest things and that is asking questions.

Questions don't cost anything here and could possibly save you thousands down the road.

As far as purchasing a bus is concerned, you need to decide what you really want, what you might settle for, and what you really do not want. It sounds as if you have already determined you want a Type 'D' RE bus. As far as make is concerned, choosing between one of the three that are still in production is going to have as many opinions as to what is best as asking what is better--Ford vs. Chevy vs. Dodge. I personally do NOT like Blue Birds, some years of Ward/AmTrans/IC are really good and some are really bad, and Thomas has been consistent in building a quality product. When push comes to shove, there isn't a lot of difference between the different makes and it all comes down to personal preference.


Once you have narrowed your search within the category you need to determine what spe'c's you really want, what you might settle for, and what your really do not want.
  • For your purposes you will want the biggest HP engine and the OD transmission. The DT530/466 will have the most HP. Next will be the Cummins 8.3L/ISC. Cat and Mercedes-Benz also supplied a lot of engines over the years but for your purposes they are probably best left on the cutting floor. All of the other engines used in school buses will NOT have the HP and torque you will be wanting.
  • Non-OD transmissions were still used after model year 2000 so a newer vintage does not automatically mean it will have an OD transmission.
  • Whether it has an OD transmission or not, you will want to make sure the rear end is geared for highway use. I was in a bus recently that had a 250 HP engine and an OD transmission that was up against the governor at 60 MPH. It climbed hills like a scared rabbit but was stuck in the slow lane everywhere else.
  • You will also most probably want a bus with the 12" windows. Those buses have 4" more headroom than the 9" window buses. All IC RE buses have had 12" windows since about 1999.
  • Luggage compartments are nice, pass through under the floor luggage compartments are really nice. But not necessary.
  • All IC RE buses since about 1999 have rear air ride suspensions. Some even have front air suspensions. Air suspensions really smooth out a lot of the bumps out on the highway. Thomas and Blue Bird had air ride as an extra cost option that wasn't always spe'c'ed.
  • When tinted glass and white roof options were spe'c'ed it usually also meant the bus had extra insulation. It isn't that important if you are going to be taking down the ceiling and walls but can speed the process if you decide not to put in more ceiling and wall insulation.
  • Air brakes are a must if you are going to get one of the biggest school buses on the road. If you don't know anything about air brakes you will need to read up on them and learn the basics. Don't be intimidated. The air brake system is pretty simple in a school bus and should be very easy to master. There are a lot of real dummies out there that are carrying air brake repair certificates in their pockets.
  • If there are two buses that are basically identical and priced the same I would purchase the bus with the better tires. But if all things are not equal, don't worry about the tires. Sitting for two years while you work on your bus can ruin a set of tires if they are baking in the FL sunshine.
Good luck and keep us posted as to your progress.


OMG! I Thank you for this wealth of information!! I can not thank you enough for your time and the treasure trove of info! I'll begin that list, must, might, no way and go from there ...

My husband is not at all mechanically shy; he's an over the road trucker so air brakes and such don't make him a bit nervous, and now with your encouragement I'm beginning to not feel as nervous about learning as much as I can about all things DT530/466... and am looking forward to more then just my colorful floor plan! Geared for highway- who would have thought it... me now, thanks for that nugget, I don't want to be weighted down like his semi, crawling thru any traffic that would suck! Thank you Thank you Thank you, I will certainly keep ya posted!


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Old 01-30-2017, 06:25 AM   #18
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Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Eustis FLORIDA
Posts: 10,416
Year: 1992
Coachwork: Ward/AmTran
Chassis: International
Engine: dt466
Rated Cap: 78
Man I love when Cowlitz explains stuff. I could never be so concise.
What he said about tires is a great point. All I cared about with my bus' tires was getting home on them. I figured a fresh set after the conversion would be best for me once I realized I'd be working on this for more than a year or so.
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Old 01-30-2017, 06:51 AM   #19
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jan 2017
Posts: 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by EastCoastCB View Post
Man I love when Cowlitz explains stuff. I could never be so concise.
What he said about tires is a great point. All I cared about with my bus' tires was getting home on them. I figured a fresh set after the conversion would be best for me once I realized I'd be working on this for more than a year or so.


Feeling loved/welcomed/educated...

Oh sckoolie community I think I'm in love!!!


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Old 01-30-2017, 06:54 AM   #20
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Oh and I just learned how to reply without quoting, the morning is getting better with each moment lol!!!


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