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Old 01-18-2015, 03:54 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Hi all! ramping up to a purchase and conversion

Hey folks, wanted to stop lurking and say hello and THANK YOU for the absolute gold mine of knowledge that's been collected here.

We're a family of 4 living in NC, planning a couple of ambitious cross country trips in the fall, though I expect the bulk of our travelling will be just to the beach or mountains at various times of the year when the kids are tracked out.

I've been balancing my time between reading the fun stuff (the conversion threads) vs the homework (all the how-to and technical sections) in an effort to make an informed decision when we purchase a bus this spring. It seems there are certain engine/transmission combos that are more desirable than others.. I've been wearing out the search function looking up stuff like that and still have alot to learn.

I really like the forward control buses (drivers seat in front of the front axle) but don't see too many for sale in our area.. there seem to be plenty down in Atlanta.. so one of the things I am researching now is what is involved in buying a bus out of state and then getting it home. I've seen enough threads where people have done it so it must be possible right?

I am attaching pics of our past camping solutions so pretty much any size bus is going to be an upgrade for us (also a shot of me )
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Old 01-18-2015, 08:44 PM   #2
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Some of the features I'd like to eventually realize as a part of my build:

- Some form of Rocket Stove. It doesn't necessarily have to have the mass heater component.. I see where some posters have already discussed this and the weight just doesn't seem doable. I am thinking more of a boiler set up with pex running under the floor. A rocket stove with a copper coil will pump water on it's on via thermal siphoning.. and for warm weather trips you just dump the water to save weight. Care would need to be taken so you don't build a steam powered bomb but if you understand how these systems work I think it's doable.

- Uber clever crap like this couch: which I am sure costs a bazillion dollars but I am equally sure I could successfully emulate to some degree working with just wood. Or this dinette for that matter

- I saw in a thread where someone mentioned creating a ducted AC system using relatively inexpensive window units and the luggage bays under their bus. Whoever did this is my hero and I want to be just like them.

- There is a double decker Bristol for sale here in NC. Someone please remind me what a bad idea that would be.

I am sure there's other stuff I am forgetting right now but I'll remember and post it later. A little but about me.. I am an IT Solution Architect and I LOVE to build stuff. Most recently I built a 12' trebuchet for our fall block party and we launched jack o lanterns at the next subdivision over. One of the photos I've posted is of a full sized doll house we built out of cardboard and faring strips in our living room for my daughter's 8th birthday party. I used to collect the kids electric jeeps and soup them up so they would run 10-15 mph. I made one that was 6wd and skidsteer. I haven't learned to weld yet but I've got that on my list and I am not an expert mechanic but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night ;)

A big victory and of course pre-requisite for this project was talking my wife into it and getting her on board and excited about it.. so now that the hard part is done I am looking forward to the easy work....
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Old 01-19-2015, 07:55 AM   #3
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Location: Eustis FLORIDA
Posts: 12,103
Year: 1992
Coachwork: Ward/AmTran
Chassis: International
Engine: dt466
Rated Cap: 78
Lots of TC's in the Ga area and lots of RE THomas buses in Maryland.
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Old 01-19-2015, 08:55 AM   #4
Mini-Skoolie
 
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possible candidate

http://raleigh.craigslist.org/cto/4808151824.html


"A 1992 International Bus Model IHC3800, 466 Diesel, rebuilt Allison automatic transmission, two roof AC units, under 112k miles. "


Not even positive it's still available since the ad is old.. it's not necessarily the style I like and it has some surface rust for some reason but I think the drive train is a better one and it already has 2 roof AC units installed.. also super low miles if that mileage is correct.

Any advice? Should I jump all over it? Avoid it completely? Only buy it if I can talk them way down?
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Old 01-19-2015, 10:10 AM   #5
Skoolie
 
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Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: Western North Carolina
Posts: 100
Year: 1993
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: TC2000
Engine: Cummins 5.9; MT643
Rated Cap: (was) 44; (now) 2
Similar boat, here.
I spoke to GaDMV, NCDMV and my insurance agent and got mixed signals.
GaDMV want you to have a temp tag before leaving the state, NCDMV ditto, my insurance gal says "how do you do that if you buy on a weekend?" which is a good question.

Sooo, it looks like you have a few choices:
1. Go during the week and get a temp tag (need proof of insurance) then hire someone with appropriate licensing to drive it back for you (unless you already have a non-cdl Class B with P endorsement)
2. Get the temp tag, drive it yourself and hope like hell you don't have a wreck (insurance will likely not cover if you wreck but don't have the correct license)
3. Get the temp tag and find a willing buddy with the appropriates.

The only way around the temp tag is if it is already tagged in that state.


Extra info relevant to NC:
You're insurance agent will likely prepare an application for insurance of the bus and you call him/her with the VIN and GVWR of your bus and they give you an agent # (they are binding coverage without a policy #). You go with that and get to their office ASAP to sign above application and give them the all important dinero.

If your bus is for "personal use" don't let the NCDMV talk you into a cdl...you don't need it. You will need a class B (if the bus is over 26,000 lb GVWR) with P endorsement (because its a bus).
To get a class B, you will need to pass the written test (basically the same as for CDL) and provide your own vehicle for the driving portion (not the same as for CDL). There lies the catch...you'll need to get it tagged and pay the NC $$$ fees so someone with appropriates you know/hire can drive with you during your training and drive the bus to the DMV office so you can take the road test. Some will tell you this isn't necessary (except your insurance man...who will say, "if you want us to cover an accident..."). Personally, I think the effort is worth it to have experienced eyes and ears. If you, like me, thought you would just get it retitled as an RV at the same time as the title transfer (within 15 days?...get real DMV...) but realized it would be alot quicker to just leave it as a bus initially, then be prepared to pay the retitle fee twice (and drive it to another DMV office to have it inspected for the changes). Need info about the required changes to reclassify as a 'house car' in NC? Just ask...I'll post the link.

What part of NC?
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Old 01-19-2015, 12:06 PM   #6
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Awesome.. thank you for the info. I knew it was going to be a fiasco to some degree, but on the up side I do have a relative with all the right licenses and endorsements, hopefully I can talk him into helping out on this.

Please do post the link for NC... I've seen the requirements in a couple of other posts but I get the sense that they change by state?

We're in central NC (Cary specifically but shhhh... I am pretty sure they would kick me out if they heard I was even thinking about buying a school bus lol ... we love it here but man they are a bit of an uptight bunch )
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Old 01-19-2015, 12:23 PM   #7
Skoolie
 
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Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: Western North Carolina
Posts: 100
Year: 1993
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: TC2000
Engine: Cummins 5.9; MT643
Rated Cap: (was) 44; (now) 2
Love Cary. We lived there for about 5 years. I steadfastly refused to move to a cheaper area because I just would not give up the greenway/park system.period.

https://connect.ncdot.gov/business/D...s/default.aspx click "title manual" in the downloads menu on the right side of the screen. The 'house car' designation is defined in chapter 2 section 1 page 1 if memory serves. If not, just do a CTRL-F and search for house car. You must have 4 of the listed 6 features. I interviewed an inspector on the phone about their expectations and got the clear signal that they were pretty focused on seeing that the mod's show an 'intent of permanence' so I took that to mean they want to see stuff that you would be disinclined to yank back out....but they can only interpret the regulation (spoken like a true former beaurocrat - which I am) and cannot, strictly speaking, 'add' their own requirements. Also, you'll need an avidavit of changes (you can fill it out on day of inspection; no receipts needed).

had another thought: You may be able to get a NC temp tag (during the week in your area and take with you out of state on the weekend if need be) if you have a deal done with the VIN and proof of insurance....then again, you may need a title...maybe check with them. Don't call the office in downtown Raleigh, they are too pencil-pusher-y and won't know. Just call the office you'd go to for the tag...they should know. If all else fails, call the Asheville office...they do know.
Ours was already tagged so I didn't investigate this step.
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Old 01-19-2015, 01:08 PM   #8
Skoolie
 
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Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: Western North Carolina
Posts: 100
Year: 1993
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: TC2000
Engine: Cummins 5.9; MT643
Rated Cap: (was) 44; (now) 2
Which allison? If its a 545, they appear to be geared lower; a 643 is geared higher (highway speed); something to consider on your way to the beach...it gets pretty dull east of Raleigh. I'd go look at it, even if you only practice for the next one, but esp. the inside and esp. the floor. with two emergency exits and two AC units, there could be some leaking from the roof. Also, can you stand up in it? My DH is 6' and we checked out several that were just too short...any money we saved would go straight to the chiropractor.

It's got low miles but ours has 120K and we bought for nearly 1000 less. Also, I'd say ask for papers on the tranny rebuild...who did it, when, what did they replace? expect a dealer to not know, but no harm to ask.If this is a dealer sale AND you are interested in buying, I would def start talking the price down.

Also, you might consider calling that guy in Cleveland, Ga about parts for this make/model and get an idea of how easy/difficult getting parts will be.

This isn't a new listing so don't rush to purchase before the homework part.
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Old 01-30-2015, 02:57 PM   #9
Mini-Skoolie
 
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I am still hunting and saving money and researching and in general obsessing about buses ... and I found a couple of people talking about clerestories or clearstories but couldn't find a project where someone has actually added one to their bus. So I started searching outside of the forums here and stumbled on this:

http://webspace.webring.com/people/h...n77/busses.htm

So, in many of your excellent builds I have seen where I want my bus project to end up.... and now I've also seen some places where I don't want it to go! (not in any way judging these wonderful creations but I think these just aren't the "category" of bus I am looking to build!)
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Old 01-30-2015, 09:44 PM   #10
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Location: Eustis FLORIDA
Posts: 12,103
Year: 1992
Coachwork: Ward/AmTran
Chassis: International
Engine: dt466
Rated Cap: 78
I actually like the "hippie" buses. I used to go to Dead shows, though.
I'd never own or drive one though... Its too "obvious". I don't like the hassle.
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