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Old 10-11-2015, 05:22 PM   #1
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Join Date: Jul 2015
Posts: 5
Jake in Vegas - Introduction and looking for feedback

I am in the research phase of preparing to purchase a bus. There are some really talented and knowledgeable people on this forum. Reading your posts over the last couple of months has been really educational. Thank you for posting your projects for me to learn from.

We live in Las Vegas and are looking to build a rig for long weekend trips in the western United States but primarily for trips to Baja California Mexico. I am married and have three growing children. I want this bus to be heavily used when they are teenagers and would love to see each of them take a gap year after high school to travel and work while living out of the bus. Our family travel interests are spearfishing, hook and line fishing, surfing and playing on the beach. After reading exhaustively I have come up with the following requirements for our project. The bus should be able to support a minimum of 5 passengers (my immediate family) and up to 15 people for 4-14 day excursions down to baja. We plan on taking lots of 4 day trips to the Ensenada area (420 miles from Vegas) and occasional trips farther south. Here are the specs for the project that I have decided on so far. These are my accumulated thoughts written down for the first time. Your suggestions and corrections are welcomed.

Bus
I am looking at purchasing a 40' Thomas rear engine with a 78" roof. This vehicle is commonly used in this school district and I can buy one at auction locally.

Exterior
•Entire bus will be painted white since this is the desert and it gets ridiculously hot here.
•Large full length roof rack with mechanical boat/trailer loader in the back half and solar panels in the front half. We would secure the roof rack to the roof ribs with rivnuts. Space will be left in roof rack for access hatches.
•We will not be doing a roof raise as it will make the bus too tall with a boat on top.
•Remove front door and convert stairwell into storage accessed from outside and top to match the driver’s side of the bus with sliding two pane RV window.
•Add stairwell to side door or use extendable steps.
•Remove all side windows and skin bus with sheet steel. No side windows in back 15’ feet of bus as these will be bunk areas for sleeping and need to be well insulated. Add windows as appropriate to middle and front sections of bus.
•Install large propane tank and tankless water heater under kitchen/bathroom area.
•Install outdoor shower on outside wall of bathroom/shower area.
•Install fresh, gray and black water tanks under bus.
•Install 50amp power outlet
•Add large bike rack to front of bus and boat loading system to rear of bus.

Interior
•Remove all rear seats, flooring, side and roof panels.
•Remove all insulation in ceiling and side walls and replace with 2" of sprayed on closed cell foam.
•Install mini split AC units with a front and rear zone.
•Install floating floor with 2” of hard closed cell insulation foarm board.
•Stairwell compartment is now removed and made level with rest of bus floor allowing for 1-2 copilot chairs.
•Front section of bus is large couch approximately 8’ long on both sides that will convert into a giant bed. Rivnuts installed in ceiling ribs to allow for hanging of hammocks at night in this section of bus.
•Middle section of bus is kitchen and bathroom on one side and on opposite side there is a hard bench that converts into a bar for eating. Bench slide back on rails towards interior of bus and back of bench flips up to form a bar to eat at.
•Rear section of bus is separated from the rest of the bus by a pocket door. A narrow walkway will go between eight bunks and terminate at the rear of the bus. There will be four bunks on each side. The rear bottom bunks will be short due to the engine intruding into this space.

These are my initial thoughts and plans. I welcome any and all input on this project.
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Old 10-12-2015, 01:00 AM   #2
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Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Stony Plain Alberta Canada
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Year: 1992
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: TC2000 FE
Engine: 190hp 5.9 Cummins
Rated Cap: 72
Welcome.

Good to see you did your homework.

I look forward to pics and a build thread.

Nat
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Old 10-12-2015, 12:18 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nat_ster View Post
Welcome.

Good to see you did your homework.

I look forward to pics and a build thread.

Nat
Nat,

You had mentioned on another build thread that a floating floor is the way to go and that any screws that pierce the metal on the bottom will act as a conduit for heat transfer which can lead to condensation in cold weather. This makes perfect sense but I can't wrap my brain around how else I will secure my walls and furniture to the body of the bus. Do I secure cabinets to the wall/roof and then have them unsecured on the floor? Wouldn't the same principle apply to piercing the ribs on the sidewalls or ceiling?

What if I put some some framing supports down in the form of 2x4's and countersink the heads so they are recessed by 1/4" and then cover the screw head with sprayable foam?

Your 2 cents would be appreciated.

Jake
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Old 10-12-2015, 02:54 PM   #4
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Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Salt Lake City Utah
Posts: 1,328
Year: 2000
Chassis: Blue Bird
Engine: ISC 8.3
Sounds like a very well thought out plan!

Quote:
Originally Posted by JakeInVegas View Post
Rear section of bus is separated from the rest of the bus by a pocket door. A narrow walkway will go between eight bunks and terminate at the rear of the bus. There will be four bunks on each side. The rear bottom bunks will be short due to the engine intruding into this space.
This is the one part I'm having trouble with. By my estimate there'll be about 73 inches vertical between the faces of the roof and floor insulation in the middle of the bunk stacks. Split that among 4 bunks and you've got about 18.25 inches each including the mattress and framework. If those comprise a fairly thin 1/2 inch plywood with an inch of foam padding, there's less than 16" left for the people and their bedding. Will your group tolerate that? It may be tricky to get in or out of the top bunk or two. Pity the poor soul who gets the bottom bunk(s) where there's no leg room on account of the engine bay, and can't lie on their back with knees up nor on their side on account of the space being so short.. Do the wheel wells eat into this space too, or will the bunk stack go entirely behind them?

I'm planning a similar bunk concept in mine... but I'm just putting the finishing touches on a 16" roof raise and only going 3 high on the bunks so that they have 21" usable space plus 5" allowance for the pad and frame, plus 10" below for wheel wells and storage.

With that many people sleeping in such a small space you'll want good ventilation to carry away the humidity from their perspiration and breath.
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Old 10-12-2015, 04:44 PM   #5
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Join Date: Jul 2015
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Sounds like I didn't explain myself very clearly. What you described would be a claustrophobic nightmare and you were right to be concerned. Let me try again. I am planning on four double tiered bunk beds. Essentially the back 15' or so of the bus would be bunk beds. The front four would be 7' long as well as the upper bunks of the rear four beds. The bottom two bunks at the rear would be shorter due to intrusion from engine compartment. Hopefully that description is more accurate. My inspiration came from the "Serendipitibus" thread A group of recent grads renovated this clunker into a beautiful, traveling home for eight and took it thousands of miles around the States. - Album on Imgur.
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Old 10-12-2015, 06:32 PM   #6
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Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Stony Plain Alberta Canada
Posts: 2,937
Year: 1992
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: TC2000 FE
Engine: 190hp 5.9 Cummins
Rated Cap: 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by JakeInVegas View Post
Nat,

You had mentioned on another build thread that a floating floor is the way to go and that any screws that pierce the metal on the bottom will act as a conduit for heat transfer which can lead to condensation in cold weather. This makes perfect sense but I can't wrap my brain around how else I will secure my walls and furniture to the body of the bus. Do I secure cabinets to the wall/roof and then have them unsecured on the floor? Wouldn't the same principle apply to piercing the ribs on the sidewalls or ceiling?

What if I put some some framing supports down in the form of 2x4's and countersink the heads so they are recessed by 1/4" and then cover the screw head with sprayable foam?

Your 2 cents would be appreciated.

Jake
Have a look at my build thread here.

http://www.skoolie.net/forums/f11/th...ime-10138.html

And this is Jake C's build thread. His floor is mostly floating.

http://www.skoolie.net/forums/f11/pr...utus-5059.html

After looking through those threads, if you still have questions, I will do my best to answer them. The pics are worth 1000 words.

Nat
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