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Old 09-04-2018, 05:21 PM   #1
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Hello from Los Angeles!

Hey guys! Gryphon here. I have had my bus Pixie (32í 1996 Bluebird CS-FE with Cummins 5.9) for about a year now. Unfortunately I have been working and traveling most of the time since bringing her home, and I only just now finally have the time home to give her the love she deserves. So I will be doing a lot of detective work around here gathering knowledge to get to work on a proper conversion project that I am sure will be ongoing for much of my life

My plans for her are to be a long term live-in vehicle, staying on the road for large chunks of the year working on music and art projects and visiting different cities and national parks. I would like to house a few people comfortably with proper insulation and eventually once my knowledge and budget allows, do some conversion to a solar powered off-grid home.

I do work in audio electronics with synthesizer design, which is pretty far from anything involved with a bus. I am coming from virtually no background in auto mechanics, electrical, or construction, so I am a total novice at this. I am however self employed, make my own hours, and work from anywhere, so I have a lot of time to invest into learning and labor for this project. I get obsessive whenever I take on any kind of project, and this is one that I am really excited about now that I can sink my teeth into it.

The most daunting thing to me about starting from ground zero is figuring out what I need to learn first. It seems that many threads and steps here require some prior knowledge to be able to follow along with, so a lot of it is Greek to me at this point. I was wondering if anyone has some advice on the utter fundamentals to study first so I can start understanding more specified topics, and so that I can properly care for this bus. Should I first research Diesel engines in their entirety? RV Electrical? Any specific things that are most important to understand first? I am willing to do the work - I just need to know where to begin!

Hopefully I am able to give back to the community and participate a bit more as time and experience wears on Really wanting to make this a huge part of my life!
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Old 09-04-2018, 05:42 PM   #2
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Year: 1996
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Engine: T444E 7.3L
Welcome aboard! That is a cute bus!
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Old 09-04-2018, 08:58 PM   #3
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Location: Eustis FLORIDA
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Cool lil bus.

I love synth music!

IDK if you're a fan but my wife and I got to meet Timecop1983 recently!
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Old 09-05-2018, 08:39 AM   #4
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Location: Houston, Texas
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Year: 1946
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Pretty sweet lookin lil Bird there! Gotta love all those "non-skoolie" windows. They very likely don't leak nearly as much if at all.
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Old 09-05-2018, 10:25 AM   #5
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Pretty sweet lookin lil Bird there! Gotta love all those "non-skoolie" windows. They very likely don't leak nearly as much if at all.
Thanks! Iím very happy with her. The windows donít leak at all except in the veeery front of the drivers window, front opening. Not a big issue at all.

There are definitely a few electrical issues left over from the previous owner which need to be addressed, but apart from that she purrs beautifully. Just finished a 1200 mile trip in the summer heat through the Sierra Nevadas and she did so well! Very proud.

Iím trying to plan my course of action right now. I would like to get to work on the conversion ASAP, but I donít want to jump the gun on planning. I am knocking tons of floor plans around right now. I guess no matter what, the first step would be gutting the interior and getting to work on insulation and hardwood, yeah? Is there anything that I should consider prior to this interior work?

I am thinking about using Rivnuts to attach wooden walls/ceiling so that they are easily removed for future electrical/AC additions. I have a friend who did this with his van conversion, and says it has made any work through the ceiling and walls a piece of cake over rivets.

I feel like the future expansions can be infinite! Just taking it one step at a time and planning on a lifelong friendship.
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Old 10-15-2018, 10:36 AM   #6
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Join Date: Sep 2018
Location: Unalakleet, Alaska
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Year: 2001
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Chassis: Bluebird
Engine: 6 Cyl Cummins ISC (8.3)
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Disney Land

I am actually here in the area picking up my bus... Taking my break before beginning the project and heading to Disney with family and friends!
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Old 09-19-2019, 09:20 PM   #7
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I was wondering if anybody in Southern California could recommend a good diesel mechanic who would work on a vehicle this size? I have some issues with my Turbo and my cooling system that I would like to have professionally addressed, and I have been having some major difficulty finding anyone to work on it .. I figure SoCal is a pretty resource-rich area, it seems unlikely that there aren't many skoolies around here who could give some advice!
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Old 09-20-2019, 08:59 AM   #8
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Year: 2007
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Engine: Chevy Express 3500 6.6l
Before you do anything to the inside aside from the demo work, I would take a good look at what all the components. The existing electrical, AC, heat come to mind and decide what you’re doing with that. Don’t Be too quick to start tearing things out. There’s a lot of posts full of panic because something got removed and the bus won’t start or A/C removed and lots of regret later. I was sure close and was glad I decided to keep the A/C.

Are you going to paint? You could almost get away with doing something to the band below the windows. If you paint then you are street legal in CA, though I’ve been driving mine around and haven’t had any problem, just a few glances from the LEOs. Make sure you have everything done to the outside that you want to do before paint.

Before you skin the inside you’ll want to get all your plumbing and electrical in place. Then insulate. Then the interior skin, then furniture.
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Old 09-20-2019, 11:36 AM   #9
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I am actually here in the area picking up my bus... Taking my break before beginning the project and heading to Disney with family and friends!
Small World amiright?
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