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Old 06-21-2016, 04:53 AM   #11
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 252
FWIW it seems in my experience like Blue Birds have all the relevant information on the build tags making it easy to know what's what. Thomas/Freightliner you just have to crawl around underneath and look for markings to decipher. Not sure about IC or AmTran.
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Old 06-21-2016, 06:18 AM   #12
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 7,169
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International S3800
Engine: DT360
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
Quote:
Originally Posted by BusFiend View Post
Thanks for this!

I hadn't really thought about road AC. Almost all the buses I've ever driven had that from the factory. Doh! But a skoolie may likely NOT have it. On my list of things to watch out for when purchasing.

I was thinking more of a cooling solution when parked as a home base for a while. If I have shore power, a heat pump/split may be an option. I'm certainly not installing chillers and exchangers in a skoolie!

Like others have mentioned Coach or engine driven A/C is expensive to install and maintain unless you know how to do it yourself.. Minisplits are a great solution if you have a bus which has enough "basement" area to mount the large outdoor unit and get good airflow..

I love coach / road A/C but installed a brand new system on my bus so I didnt have to deal with a worn out ill maintained solution.. as well as the road A/C on school busses does NOT favor the driver.. plus the indoor units typically get in the way of most conversions.. (dividing the bus into rooms will impede it)..

if I were making a camper and wanted road A/C I would do one of 2 things..

1. install a Dash air unit with a single fan remote condenser, and a small ducted evaporator and run some Vents to the driver compartment.. Much Less maintenance and likiliehood of failure down the road.. it Just cools the driver compartment...

2. if you want to use rooftop camper units... buy good quality units and make sure one of them is near the front of the bus and blows its cool air into the driver area.. run your generator on the road and your rooftop units and keep you and your bus cool... with this solution you have an "extra" rooftop unit for those really hot days when parked (since it is concentrated in the driver area you may never use it other than driving normaslly)... plus you dont have an engine-driven system to maintain...NOTE! dont buiy dometic!! they are JUNK.. I fix at least one or two of those darned things every year for my neighbors with camper trailers...

I LOVE minisplit units oither than for mobile use they are not designed... your mileage may vary and some use them successfully in a mobile environment but I imagine they arent run when driving.. compressors for mobile units are deisgned to be run while under high vibration and have anti gyroscopic properties on the rotating assembly.. ie heavier bearings and an oil sump not susceptible to "slosh".. I use 3 mini splits (Highly modified) in my house as stationary units.. ducted into my home;s ductwork and they cool / heat great and are VERY generator friendly as they dont start / stop with heavy current like standard A/C... on a bus the biggest hurdle is finding a place for the outdoor unit where you can work on it if it breaks and get good airflow.. Ive seen some installs on here where they did a nice job of tucking them up underneath the bus...

the advantage to them on the inside it they only require a small hole be cut into the bus for the indoor unit.. which keeps potential for water / air/ heat / cool leaks down... plus they are very quiet running.. (esp compared to window units or rooftop units)...

if I were building a full out camper of my bus I WOULD go the route of offgrid and install chillers and unit coils for heating / cooling... it makes the most sense to zone... for my purposes I didnt need that as my Bus spends more time on the road than it does parked.. (I use it as work-space and brainstorm space.. and still sleep in Hotels at night)..

alot depends on your skill level... if you know A/C and how to work with mobile A/C properly you can EASILY find Take-offs from this forum.. refurbish and then install in your bus... there are a lot of people here who buy busses that had Bus A/C and then throw away a lot of perfectly good parts or sell them cheap.. condenser fans are nothing special... the yare usually SPAL style radiator fans from cars..(Cheap and everywhere) the coils usually dont go bad they just get dirty.. a bottle of coil-bright and a hose and they are clean... compressors you always install brand new... Selttec / sanden compressors are everywhere.. as are the bracket kits to mount them... Burga-flex Lines and Clips allow ANYONE to make solid refrigerant line connections EASILY... they are the go-to for even Pro-shop installs these days... evaporators come in about every shape and size imaginable these days... and they all use the same size hose.. add your fittings and go... size your condenser and evaporator together (btu-wise).. use a TxV, and have a shop evacuate and charge your system (if you sont have the tools or knowledge).. and you have road A/C...

-Christopher
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Old 06-21-2016, 08:41 PM   #13
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Garden State (rural NJ)
Posts: 383
Thanks, Christopher!

My HVAC skills are above average but far from professional. I installed the forced-air system in my house. I've replaced compressors in four-wheelers. I've never installed an entire mobile system before though. Chillers would be great in a skoolie. The only drawbacks I see are energy requirements, cost and installation time. Air-conditioning is just an energy hog no matter how you look at it.

My goal is to find a donor with factory road AC, hopefully with driver's service. My skoolie will be for me. It's a one-man show; maybe the occasional guest. Can I keep any driver's road air and remove everything else?



Quote:
Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
Like others have mentioned Coach or engine driven A/C is expensive to install and maintain unless you know how to do it yourself.. Minisplits are a great solution if you have a bus which has enough "basement" area to mount the large outdoor unit and get good airflow..

I love coach / road A/C but installed a brand new system on my bus so I didnt have to deal with a worn out ill maintained solution.. as well as the road A/C on school busses does NOT favor the driver.. plus the indoor units typically get in the way of most conversions.. (dividing the bus into rooms will impede it)..

if I were making a camper and wanted road A/C I would do one of 2 things..

1. install a Dash air unit with a single fan remote condenser, and a small ducted evaporator and run some Vents to the driver compartment.. Much Less maintenance and likiliehood of failure down the road.. it Just cools the driver compartment...

2. if you want to use rooftop camper units... buy good quality units and make sure one of them is near the front of the bus and blows its cool air into the driver area.. run your generator on the road and your rooftop units and keep you and your bus cool... with this solution you have an "extra" rooftop unit for those really hot days when parked (since it is concentrated in the driver area you may never use it other than driving normaslly)... plus you dont have an engine-driven system to maintain...NOTE! dont buiy dometic!! they are JUNK.. I fix at least one or two of those darned things every year for my neighbors with camper trailers...

I LOVE minisplit units oither than for mobile use they are not designed... your mileage may vary and some use them successfully in a mobile environment but I imagine they arent run when driving.. compressors for mobile units are deisgned to be run while under high vibration and have anti gyroscopic properties on the rotating assembly.. ie heavier bearings and an oil sump not susceptible to "slosh".. I use 3 mini splits (Highly modified) in my house as stationary units.. ducted into my home;s ductwork and they cool / heat great and are VERY generator friendly as they dont start / stop with heavy current like standard A/C... on a bus the biggest hurdle is finding a place for the outdoor unit where you can work on it if it breaks and get good airflow.. Ive seen some installs on here where they did a nice job of tucking them up underneath the bus...

the advantage to them on the inside it they only require a small hole be cut into the bus for the indoor unit.. which keeps potential for water / air/ heat / cool leaks down... plus they are very quiet running.. (esp compared to window units or rooftop units)...

if I were building a full out camper of my bus I WOULD go the route of offgrid and install chillers and unit coils for heating / cooling... it makes the most sense to zone... for my purposes I didnt need that as my Bus spends more time on the road than it does parked.. (I use it as work-space and brainstorm space.. and still sleep in Hotels at night)..

alot depends on your skill level... if you know A/C and how to work with mobile A/C properly you can EASILY find Take-offs from this forum.. refurbish and then install in your bus... there are a lot of people here who buy busses that had Bus A/C and then throw away a lot of perfectly good parts or sell them cheap.. condenser fans are nothing special... the yare usually SPAL style radiator fans from cars..(Cheap and everywhere) the coils usually dont go bad they just get dirty.. a bottle of coil-bright and a hose and they are clean... compressors you always install brand new... Selttec / sanden compressors are everywhere.. as are the bracket kits to mount them... Burga-flex Lines and Clips allow ANYONE to make solid refrigerant line connections EASILY... they are the go-to for even Pro-shop installs these days... evaporators come in about every shape and size imaginable these days... and they all use the same size hose.. add your fittings and go... size your condenser and evaporator together (btu-wise).. use a TxV, and have a shop evacuate and charge your system (if you sont have the tools or knowledge).. and you have road A/C...

-Christopher
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Old 07-23-2016, 08:50 AM   #14
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: Oklahoma
Posts: 237
Year: 2002
Chassis: international
Engine: T444E
Rated Cap: 71
Quote:
Originally Posted by BusFiend View Post
Hi Gang!

I've been lurking here for quite some time now. The posters here are a wealth of knowledge. I'm very thankful for you pioneers. Any wisdom you can share is greatly appreciated!

A little of my story... I'm 47 yo and just sold a business that I started a little over 15 years ago. I've always wanted to explore "the world". So I am going to live full-time on the road for a year or three. (Mid-life crisis? Mid-life? Who am I kidding? I'll be darned lucky to see 94! )

After finishing my undergrad, I had no idea what I really wanted to do with my life. I started driving chartered coaches and did so for six years, the last two while attaining a master's degree. In those six years, I logged well over 300k miles in buses like GMC Water Buffaloes and MCI MC7s but spent most of my time in Prevost Le Mirages (40 & 45' and 96 & 102"). Let's just say I used to be able to double-clutch with the best. I also spent a far bit of time in skoolie/trip/commuter buses simply helping my employer out. He's a good guy and has promised to pass on any leads on good used buses.

I've pretty much ruled out a coach/conversion. I like the ground clearance of a skoolie as I plan to be doing some out-of-the-way boondocking. Besides, I'm no senior citizen/rock star.

I've decided on a 36ish foot diesel pusher. I'm not looking to do a Newell or Marathon build here. I've tried to find answers to these questions. My GoogleFu is failing me.

Questions...

How do people generally deal with gearing issues? Trip/commuter models are much more rare than your typical route buses. They also tend not to be licensed as "school buses" and are usually really tired when sold. Decent units seem to be selling close to coach prices. Is swapping gears in the diff a real possibility? How about swapping in a 6spd gearbox? I definitely want a solid highway bus. Pushing 10 mpg would be an amazing (unrealistic?) benefit. Rough cost of turning a skoolie into an OTR monster?

How much does it roughly cost to contract a pro to raise the roof? I'm 6'3" and tend to bang my head on things as it is. A 7' interior height is sufficient. I don't think I want to tackle that by myself or I'm likely to end up with a convertible. Is this something a good general welding/sheet metal shop can handle? Will I have to source a coach builder? I'm just trying to put a budget together here.

Roof-top platform? I'm considering a half-length rear platform. Downsides? Other thoughts?

Air conditioning? Why are roof-top units so popular? Who needs 13k btu to cool 200 sq ft? A 5000 btu household window unit, fit into the wall of the bus, should be plenty to cool at least the sleeping area (if not the entire bus). I don't care if I'm a bit sweaty during the day. That 5000 btu unit will pull <500w besides. Am I missing something here?

Air Suspension? I know, I know. I might as well just get a coach, right? Hear me out. My thinking is the ability to drop the bus on the highway but gain clearance while in national parks and rougher areas. Besides, an air suspension will ride a whole lot nicer than leaf springs. Would it make leveling easier? I've seen RV air suspension kits listed online. Anyone play with air on a skoolie before? Am I out of my mind?

Off-grid Power? I may be off-grid for as long as 2 weeks at a time. Anyone successfully mix solar AND a wind turbine? A primary component of this adventure will be my photography. I'll want to spend a bunch of time cataloging and editing my work. I plan on taking a genset with me but would like to stay as green as possible.

Mobile Internet Access? Anyone have any luck/experience with a satellite ISP? I'll want to be uploading my photography and maybe a video blog while on the road. I'll also have to video conference occasionally. Technically, I'll still be consulting during this adventure.

Wow! This has turned into War & Peace. Sorry it's so long!

Thanks in advance for any help/insight you can give!

~Alden
You have some questions I do not know the answers to (sorry no help) but I wanted to say welcome good luck and look forward to see what you do
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