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Old 09-05-2016, 09:49 AM   #1
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Location: Chapel Hill, NC
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Hello from Chapel Hill, NC...

Hi, everybody. My name's John.

First and foremost, thank you all for this amazing resource/wealth of valuable information you have here. It's always nice to find a place this helpful, both in content, and the quality of people that're here. To the forum admin, top-notch job on creating a friendly, welcoming atmosphere that is so pleasantly devoid of the rubbish behavior which seems to find it's way, all too often, into forums on this wasteland we call the internet. Kudos!


My wife and I started kicking around the idea of converting a school bus a while back. It looks like her job could possibly be re-locating us to some yet-to-be-determined region of the country in a few years. So, we're thinking about heading out in a bus when the time comes, and taking our time finding a house after we get there. She's a little more hesitant than I am about diving into projects like this though, so I was very excited when she was the one who suggested we actually pull the trigger on it. (I think watching Captain Fantastic might've helped her decide it was something that was worth doing. haha)

After pouring through seemingly endless listings on Craigslist, eBay, several other auction sites, and bus dealers inventory lists, I've found a couple buses that meet our criteria. I have one more stop to make before deciding which is the right one to go with. I'll be going to look at the surplus offerings of a local school district later this week, but I'm not getting my hopes up. Their online listing offers very little information on the units for sale (they don't even say whether they're conventionals or flat-fronts). Unfortunately, everything I've found so far is a long ways away, but that's the price I pay for being as picky as I am.

I'll post up here with what I find, and once we buy one, I'll start a new thread over in the projects section. I've picked through several build threads here, also, and think I have a pretty good idea of the direction we want to go with our conversion. I'm really eager to get started on it!

Thanks again, everybody!
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Old 09-05-2016, 12:00 PM   #2
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Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: Statesville, North Carolina
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Engine: International Navistar DT360
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We bought our bus surplus from Alamance-Burlington county school bus garage. What are your specifics for your search? The Piedmont has some great and cheap buses with no rust, although make sure to get the oil analysis records because the garage director lied to me about my bus and it turned out to have coolant in the oil. If you vet the bus well, though, you should come out with a nice one. Mine had recent retreads on the back and new tires on front, and a full tank of diesel. There are lots of IH DT466 and DT360s in NC, and the pug nose is great for easy repairs. (We even did and in-chassis overhaul.)
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A gal, a guy, three cats, two dogs, one rabbit, and one goat, traveling the country together.
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Old 09-05-2016, 12:29 PM   #3
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Location: North carolina
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Welcome, make sure you pick one with the motor,tranny and gearing that you need for your intentions?
I bought in my local county and the price was right but ended up with a stop and go bus power wise but in very good condition body wise.
I have been able to salvage 90% of my build but now I need money and time to work on getting above 49 mph? I know my 8.2 can do better without changing factory setting, I know that my at545 can do a little better without adding a fluid cooler but my rear gears were made for pulling tree stumps (6.50) Which was an old reliable gear that the district didn't have to worry about hurting on there normal routes.
My biggest problem is changing the rear gears in an outdated 86 eaton rearend.
Just saying you need to make sure your power train can do what you want it to do?
I mucked that one up and all I can do is spend more money on my power train than I did on my buy and build?
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Old 09-05-2016, 01:21 PM   #4
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Location: Chapel Hill, NC
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Year: 2002
Coachwork: Blue Bird
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Rated Cap: 84
Yeah, the drivetrain is the biggest reason it's taking me so long to find the right bus for us.

We'll be using it for a lot of long distance travel, so I'm looking for a rear engine setup with either a Cummins 8.3 or a DT466 and an MD3060. It's looking like I'll probably end up flying halfway across the country and driving it back to get that combination. I'll definitely be unlocking 6th gear before I hit the road back home with it.
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Old 09-05-2016, 02:39 PM   #5
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I am down on the beach in swansboro and I bought an onslow county bus.
I did and do plan on road time but for now it's back roads only for me which is fine cause the stuff you see and run across on the back roads is the true America and not the interstates that blow by everything and I am quicker than a tractor/combine or whatever some of them are?
Texan by birth,Texan by heart and right now it looks like I am driving 49-45 from NC to HOME. But when we get there we have our bus/home/palace to live in while we build our home?
We tent camp as a family all of the time and am in scouts with my children so backpack rustic style was not an issue but building to live in while building a house and my commercial construction salvage ability were/are our reasons for our build.
I don't know your budget but have you looked into coaches? Or some older wander lodges? Don't know your abilities or expertise.
I have seen a huge bus barn north of you around MEBANE/GRAHAM around I 40/85 exit 145-150 on the left heading out.
I worked weekends around there so never got to talk to them.
Good luck
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Old 09-05-2016, 05:47 PM   #6
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Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: Chapel Hill, NC
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Year: 2002
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Chassis: All American
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I know the place you're talking about. I just assumed it was the Alamance County Schools bus garage, but I'm not 100% sure on that.

As far as a coach or Wanderlodge, I briefly considered those options too, but decided against them.

I've never really had much interest in anything with a Detroit in it, which is what I've seen in almost all of the old coaches I've ever looked at. And as for the Wanderlodges, while they're nice, the inside still looks like a motorhome, which I'm going to try to stay away from. I really like the idea of us designing the interior layout ourselves and making it truly "ours".
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Old 09-06-2016, 12:10 AM   #7
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I think it would be worth your time to spend a week making phone calls to the school districts that are selling DT466's, and asking if any of them are the white activity buses. If it's an activity bus it will probably have better gearing and transmission. Those are the ones you'll want to check out in person. I visited four or five school bus garages before I picked mine. They keep the for sale buses in the same place as the actual fleet because they use the for sale buses for field trips occasionally.
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A gal, a guy, three cats, two dogs, one rabbit, and one goat, traveling the country together.
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Old 09-06-2016, 04:36 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by onenationundergoat View Post
We bought our bus surplus from Alamance-Burlington county school bus garage. What are your specifics for your search? The Piedmont has some great and cheap buses with no rust, although make sure to get the oil analysis records because the garage director lied to me about my bus and it turned out to have coolant in the oil. If you vet the bus well, though, you should come out with a nice one. Mine had recent retreads on the back and new tires on front, and a full tank of diesel. There are lots of IH DT466 and DT360s in NC, and the pug nose is great for easy repairs. (We even did and in-chassis overhaul.)

Off the wall question.. is the rear main oil seal on the DT-360 replaceable without removing the flywheel? (I saw where you in-framed yours) mine is starting to leak a bit.. nothing too crazy but I notice some oil in my flywheel area and some drops on the ground when it sits over-night..

howd you get the head off with that pug-nose? seems it would have been tricky to get a hoist in there..

-Christopher
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Old 09-06-2016, 04:38 PM   #9
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 6,727
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International S3800
Engine: DT360
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rameses View Post
Yeah, the drivetrain is the biggest reason it's taking me so long to find the right bus for us.

We'll be using it for a lot of long distance travel, so I'm looking for a rear engine setup with either a Cummins 8.3 or a DT466 and an MD3060. It's looking like I'll probably end up flying halfway across the country and driving it back to get that combination. I'll definitely be unlocking 6th gear before I hit the road back home with it.
I have a mechanical DT-360 / AT545 trans.. and ive put 8000 miles on my bus in the 4 months ive owned it....

perhaps not the most "desired" drive-train but I drive it everywhere..

-Christopher
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Old 09-07-2016, 12:17 PM   #10
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Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: Statesville, North Carolina
Posts: 458
Year: 1993
Chassis: Thomas
Engine: International Navistar DT360
Rated Cap: 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
Off the wall question.. is the rear main oil seal on the DT-360 replaceable without removing the flywheel? (I saw where you in-framed yours) mine is starting to leak a bit.. nothing too crazy but I notice some oil in my flywheel area and some drops on the ground when it sits over-night..

howd you get the head off with that pug-nose? seems it would have been tricky to get a hoist in there..

-Christopher
We didn't touch the oil seals, and we actually have a leak on a main seal right now. But it's only a few drops (even when it sits for a few months). I usually go with the "don't worry about it" approach for oil leaks unless it's causing a large problem. Had a Mitsubishi 3000gt with oil leaking onto a belt that would cause smoke. People would stop me all the time to tell me my car was on fire. I just carried an extra quart around and put it in once a month or two. Did that same approach for the bus when the turbo oil pressure pipe was leaking, but that was 1 gallon every 1000 miles and we were going 300-500 miles a day.

As far as the in chassis overhaul on the pug nose, it was super easy because almost all of the work was done from inside the cab. Pulling the head was a little awkward, but with a rope and two people it just took a minute. I'd guess it weighs about 80 lbs, but two people are needed because it's really long and hard to maneuver. Getting it back on was a little tricky for lining up the head gasket, but a third person standing by to eyeball and push the gasket and head pins where it lines up made it easy.

Really the biggest headache was the literal one you get from bending over the engine with your head down while reaching in to work. I think the only thing we had to reach from the front was the bottom of the metal fuel lines going into the injectors.

It also helps to have tiny hands for some parts and someone else with some strength for torquing everything down.

OH YEAH. Since we have the same bus, be aware that the manual is wrong about the torque for the piston rod bolts. (In case you ever change your bearings.) Read back through my thread or Google it to get the right specs. Costly mistake in the manual.
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A gal, a guy, three cats, two dogs, one rabbit, and one goat, traveling the country together.
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