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Old 06-25-2017, 12:44 PM   #1
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Hello from McMinnville Oregon.

So.....

Where to begin...

I'm Valerie. My wife Isabel and I set out from the DFW area of Texas in search of a new life. .... it's been an adventure, to say the least.

We have a 1996 Amtran, RE, 444e, 40 footer.

We haven't had water, electricity, heat or much of anything else except hard luck for the last couple of months. I saved for almost 2 years, then quit my job and started the bus build..... I love this bus and what it has the potential to offer, but truck companies, bus companies and people in general have been pretty terrible to us.

International truck in Eugene was an awful experience. Though after ranting at the shop foreman's boss, I at least received an apology and an offer to make things right, but the quote for repairing a drag link, diagnostic (no repairs), and tracking down an air-line problem was still well over $5000. I had previously sat in their parking lot for repairs for 2 full weeks.... still without even a quote, despite the fact that we traveled 3 hours to get there. They gave us a clean bill of health when we left the first time, but right after, my gauges *still* didn't function properly, we have developed a mysterious issue with starting the bus and I found out yesterday that the air filter hasn't been changed since 2012. How can you do that to people and still have the audacity to call them with another bill?

I finally began hunting for things on my own and put on new tires all the way around and a trailer hitch. I inquired several places for water tanks, propane tanks, air tanks, levellers, chains and such, but everyone was either booked months in advance or wouldn't work on a school bus. I *thought* things would be much more easily accomplished with so many school districts and truck repair places around. That has definitely NOT been the case.

We've been run off of every lot or sidestreet we've been on... including places we had permission to be on.

Walmart, which was supposedly good about allowing rv's..... isn't.

So... while waiting for people to call us back and spending money for food and places to stay ... our resources have dwindled to almost nothing.

I'd love to find a hippie community to hang out with and talk about buses and make music with.... we've been told Ashland is nice.... but we can't really afford anymore exploratory travels.

I'm a dental technician by trade, so I can hopefully find some work in Salem or Portland, but I'd rather start my art business back up, though my computer just died.... so that might make things difficult.

An additional problem is we moved here in a van with a travel trailer and my wife needed a car for a bit, so now we're stuck with 3 vehicles and 2 drivers. We're still trying to sell the 2 vehicles, and that makes relocating difficult.

My advice to anyone starting a bus build is make sure you have a place to work and a *lot* of cash, first. I started with $12,000.... I'm down to $2000, which barely covers a diagnostic.

Sorry to rant as an intro.... but its been a bit rough. I'm crossing my fingers and hope things get better moving forward.

Nice to meet y'all. *uncertain smile*

My build timeline (with video).

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLyAqQK3ai2qYTDIIq8uN4D7rdERXrOJFh
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Old 06-26-2017, 11:43 AM   #2
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Well, hell! Sorry you all are having such a rocky start to your adventure. You're welcome here; you can't park on the internet, but we'll never kick you out either.

Standard advice: read all the build threads you possibly can; lots and lots of good info in there as to what to do, what not to do, best practices, etc.

I hope that a) your floor wasn't rusty, or b) you used some sort of rust passivator like Ospho or similar before you painted the floor. Any rust you just painted over will keep rusting. Any places where it rusted through?

Screwing your sleepers to the sheet metal floor is OK.

Keep asking questions.

It had to be lavender!
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Old 06-26-2017, 04:25 PM   #3
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Location: Columbus Ohio
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ive heard the west coast is tough.. sorry to hear of all the crappy people.. I guess its different out here in the midwest... perhaps because this area used to be home to many bus factories.. ive had good luck at the small independent shops.. and even at the navistar dealer.. maybe have to try and roll wheels away from oregon to someplace more country-style and friendly...
-Christopher
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Old 06-26-2017, 04:47 PM   #4
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Join Date: May 2016
Location: Eastern WA
Posts: 5,266
Year: 2002
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Chassis: All American RE (A3RE)
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If you have further need, I have used Southern Oregon Diesel Service in Roseburg. Good folks! The owner took great pride when showing me his bus
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Old 06-27-2017, 08:58 AM   #5
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I meant to link this timeline earlier (which included my videos).... but i wasn't able to edit my post. It has pictures of my sealed floor.

https://goo.gl/photos/pNb9GgLkUSndgAwL6
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Old 06-27-2017, 09:02 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PNW_Steve View Post
If you have further need, I have used Southern Oregon Diesel Service in Roseburg. Good folks! The owner took great pride when showing me his bus
I might just do that. Thank you for the tip.
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Old 06-27-2017, 10:45 AM   #7
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Location: Midwest
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Year: 2003
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Engine: 5.9L Cummins
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Sorry to hear about your terrible string of bad luck. Hopefully, things will turn-around for you.

I can't help notice you haven't posted much- did you ask the community about your vehicle issues? There are some sharp people here and they may save you a few bucks. It sounds like that shop was taking you for a ride.

Start a build thread with all the bus details, then document all the fix-it items. Mechanical work- making bus move from A to B is priority. Sounds like parking is an issue, as well.
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Old 06-27-2017, 11:21 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rusty View Post
Sorry to hear about your terrible string of bad luck. Hopefully, things will turn-around for you.

I can't help notice you haven't posted much- did you ask the community about your vehicle issues? There are some sharp people here and they may save you a few bucks. It sounds like that shop was taking you for a ride.

Start a build thread with all the bus details, then document all the fix-it items. Mechanical work- making bus move from A to B is priority. Sounds like parking is an issue, as well.
I've been a member awhile, but I've only had the bus for the past few months and i have no electricity or water or anything, so my replies take time. Sorry.

Ya, someone stole my roof hatches (wtf?... seriously) and International quoted be almost $800... I found them at Western Bus Sales in Gresham for $230 (complete).
I also listed my build in an earlier reply here.... maybe it hasn't posted yet, it keeps telling me it must be "approved" first. Be sure to check that out.

I'll be looking through the forum a bit more when I'm not struggling to simply exist.

I appreciate everyone's input. I look forward to being a member here.
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Old 06-28-2017, 05:55 AM   #9
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Welcome,
new members posts with link,pictures etc are "held hostage"

mostly as a deterrent to SPAM

So give a day or two and your posts will show up

The only problem with finding a west coast hippy community is that they are located in areas with way too many stupid laws...try parking you bus in S.F. or Portland, Seattle and you will be harassed for days

Good luck you two, hang in there and you will find a place to live

until then OUR community can help you with diagnosis and plans of attack from installing sinks to un-sticking brake shoes rusted to drums....
We won't run you off

cheers
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Old 07-03-2017, 09:08 AM   #10
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Location: Shedd, Oregon
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Engine: 7.3 liter turbo
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Want to make music with hippies on buses?!

You need to hit the Oregon Country Fair! July 7 -9, Veneta, Oregon. There are always some fantastic busses there. I've never overnight parked there (I live a half hour away), but just going for the day might be rejuvenating for you.
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Old 07-03-2017, 11:27 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oregon shortie View Post
You need to hit the Oregon Country Fair! July 7 -9, Veneta, Oregon. There are always some fantastic busses there. I've never overnight parked there (I live a half hour away), but just going for the day might be rejuvenating for you.
It just so happens... we are.
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Old 07-03-2017, 11:47 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VelvetBlueEyes View Post

Ya, someone stole my roof hatches (wtf?... seriously) and International quoted be almost $800... I found them at Western Bus Sales in Gresham for $230 (complete).
Make sure you REALLY even want roof hatches as many here delete those for power vent or skylight. Hatches are tough to secure/lock by design. Leaky. I have decided the guys that worked on the roof of the busses- hatches and strobes- never had their work inspected and were functionally deficient in their jobs.

It might be cheaper to address them now and not buy hatch cover twice, if that makes sense.
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Old 07-03-2017, 12:08 PM   #13
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I had rtech and duct tape..... in Oregon..... not a good combo.... also didn't know what i wanted on the roof and wasn't certain how to seal it. The hatches were the safest, quickest, fix for an immediate need.

I was going to do an upstairs bedroom, but decided the headroom would be too limited.... so its going to get solar panels and a roof deck with a solar (coiled hose/pvc) water heater.
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Old 07-03-2017, 01:21 PM   #14
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not necessarily good idea to park at wal mart in mac... for one thing, is right next to the main road. try salem as they have two n the one by airport usually always has someone there. also in woodburn, the semi trucks park on that big lot as well.
actually there are lots of places to park if you just look at where people are parking, even the casinos, not to mention the county fair grounds that allow overnight. maybe even wal mart in dallas allows parking as they have huge lot.
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Old 07-03-2017, 01:53 PM   #15
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Lots of people are down on their roof hatches.. I really like mine. I use it for roof access as well as a easy convenient vent.

Sory to hear you're having such trouble parking. I've found that (so far) you can park just about anywhere for one night, as long as you're gone the next morning. It's fine for travelling but not great at all if you're needing a base to work on your bus. Even before we started travelling we had 5 or 6 places we'd rotate for sleeping... And of course, we did most of the "hard" work of conversions before we gave up our own parking space.

I would do just about anything to avoid going to an international dealer. I've heard plenty of stories both ways, but I'd rather just try to do something myself if I can. Being on the road already we have to make some decisions about what we can do in various places. For example, Autozone doesn't usually mind if you spend a day in their lot wrenching on your bus... We even spent an afternoon changing a fuel pump on our friend's box truck somewhere near Galveston.

PS we also have the T444E but it's a FE and we're in a short bus. I hope yours is a higher tune than mine to push the extra weight!
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