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Old 10-12-2016, 05:52 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: Savannah, GA
Posts: 45
Year: 1997
Coachwork: International
Chassis: 3000
Engine: 7.6 L / DT466
Rated Cap: 72 Pass.
Talking Some questions to consider!

Hi everyone!

First step: What type of bus?
1) Rear, or front engine (I think rear, just because of what Ive read, idk though)
2) How many miles is acceptable?
3) What type of engine or body considering we'll be going over mountains and cross country?

Other questions:
4) Have you heard of, or have an air dam in front, flaps for the sides, and taper for the back for aerodynamics?
5) Portable stove or an actual stove?
6) Roof raise?
7) Push/pump clothes washer ($40) or laundromat
8) Is weight always an issue or not really (like type of wood for construction)?

Things:
9) Ill have a composting toilet over black/grey water.
10) Large tank for shower and sink water
11) Any ideas: Thinking about getting sponsored by my college (Savannah College of Art and Design), Savannah city tourism company, bike company (well be hosting rides through the company around states), Clifbar and Redbull to travel country and promote my college

Thank you!

Michelle
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Old 10-13-2016, 07:06 PM   #2
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: Utah
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Year: 1990
Coachwork: BB
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Engine: Cummins
Rated Cap: 25.999K
Answers.

The answer MOST of your questions is a resonating "YES"!!! For the questions that are not covered by this answer, the next answer should suffice nicely.... "Whatever you want". I know this doesn't help a lot, but what you are asking is pretty vague. Figure out what you want/need and start from there. Otherwise, WELCOME! great site and great people here.
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Old 10-14-2016, 01:36 AM   #3
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You have accomplished the most important hurdle and that is asking questions. I have been around buses in one way or another for over 40-years now and I learned something new about them earlier this week. So if you don't learn anything else it is okay to ask questions.

1. There are good reasons to choose a front over (FE) a rear engine (RE) just as there are good reasons to choose a rear engine over a front engine. A lot of it depends upon how you intend to use your bus.

One of the big advantages an FE has is the floor is pretty much clear from behind the driver's seat to the rear wall. The rear wall usually has an emergency door that opens at floor level which can lead to a lot of really neat options for moving the inside outside.

One of the big advantages an RE has is the with the engine in the rear all of the heat, smell, and noise are a long way away from the driver's compartment. It also means the space between the axles is usually empty--no drivelines or exhaust systems to get in the way of tanks, storage, plumbing, electrical, etc.

Generally speaking, since an RE bus costs between $10K and $15K more than the same bus with the same power package located in front the RE buses tend to have bigger engines with higher speed rear ends. If the bus has luggage compartments you can pretty much depend upon that bus having HP and gearing to be able to go highway speeds.

2. Miles on the bus are not nearly as important as hours on the engine. The vast majority of all school buses spend their entire service life at speeds less than 30 MPH. A bus that goes only 20 miles every day is going to be in poorer shape than an identical bus that went 100 miles every day. The short trip bus won't ever really get to the proper operating temperature and goes such a short distance condensation will collect and not be burned off. The longer trip bus will get up to temperature and burn all of the condensation off. On average most school buses will put on over the service life an average of about 10,000 miles per year. If the bus has considerably less it would make me wonder what was wrong with it or really question what it had been doing during the service life. If the bus has considerably more I would question what it had been doing to be so over the average. I know that some trip buses for schools in MT and WY will put on 20K-30K miles or more per year. A bus like that could have 300,000 miles in 10-years. I would very seriously look at the 300K bus as it would have the big HP engine, the highway gearing, and luggage compartments.

3. The biggest engine with the most HP is what you want. Ideally the IHC DT466/530 or Cummins 8.3L/ISC in 285-325 HP ratings would be best for highway cruising and going up mountains. As far as which body to chose, your three choices are IC, Thomas, and Blue Bird. You will find people are just as particular about bus bodies and other people are about their Ford, Chevy, or Dodge performance cars. My choice would put IC first and Blue Bird last for purely subjective reasons and mostly because I don't like the way Blue Bird puts things together.

4. I haven't ever seen any buses with any sort of ground effects on them. For the most part I doubt they would do all that enough good to overcome the brick shape a bus is. The classic Crown Supercoach was probably the most aerodynamically designed bus out there and it always did get better fuel mileage on the highway. But again, in vehicles that spend their whole service life at 30 MPH or less being aerodynamic really isn't important.

5. The type of stove you use is totally up to you and there really isn't a right or wrong choice as long as it is a choice you like.

6. It all depends upon how tall you are and if you get a bus with the 12" windows or the 9" windows. For someone under 5'10" tall a bus with 9" windows would be okay. But for someone over 6'6" even a bus with 12" windows would be a head knocker. If you really need a lot of headroom your better choice would be a transit bus that usually has 84" or more of headroom. But that headroom is sacrificed by not having any space under the floor for any mechanicals or tankage.

7. Most RV laundry machines are expensive and don't work that well. Every town and practically every RV park has coin op laundry facilities. Unless you plan on being way off the grid somewhere I would say save your $$$ and spend it on something that would be more useful.

8. Weight is always an issue. For every additional pound you put in the bus it will require an extra expenditure of dead dinosaurs to move it. Once it gets moving it will require more braking force to stop it. What is too much all sort of depends upon you. It is amazing how much junk and plunder one can stow away in a bus that you don't really need. Put the weight in important stuff like quality plumbing and electrical systems and leave the granite countertops and tile floors to those who drive the McMansions on wheels one sees all the time. You will need very little in the way of structural materials in your conversion. There is enough steel in a school bus to keep things square which should allow you to use much less in the way of framing lumber for your built ins. Broccoli Bus has done an amazing job without using any wood except for stuff you would see. All of his interior framing has been done with square steel tube which is very light compared to a wooden 2x4.

9. There is a lot of conversations going on all the time on RV forums about toilets that do not need a black tank. There is a lot of appeal for not adding a black tank. But I for one do not want to use a toilet that is more like a cat box than anything else. But that is a personal and subjective preference.

10. You are going to need a grey tank that is at least as large, if not 50% larger, than your potable water tank. Again, it all depends upon how you intend to use your bus and where you hope to travel with it. The more boondock style of camping you plan on doing the larger all your tanks need to be. When we have been hooked up to city water it wasn't hard for the three of us to fill a 65-gallon grey tank in less than 3-days.

11. I have no idea as to how you would get anyone to sign on to sponsor as school bus conversion. Most people want to keep the maximum distance as possible from a bus conversion. If you can make it work, more power to you!

Again, you have asked a lot of very good questions. Not asking what you might think to be very bad questions could allow you to make some very $$$$ mistakes.

As you shop around for a bus the number one thing for which you need to look closely is rust. You really do NOT want to have to mess around with fixing the problems associated with rust. It is worth taking the time to travel to places in the west to purchase a bus that are known for having buses that do not have rust.

Good luck and happy trails to you!
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Old 10-14-2016, 07:40 AM   #4
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As a newbie, what an excellent question, and what a Fantastic answer! Saved me alot of work by having my questions asked and answered too.
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Old 10-14-2016, 11:45 AM   #5
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: Savannah, GA
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Year: 1997
Coachwork: International
Chassis: 3000
Engine: 7.6 L / DT466
Rated Cap: 72 Pass.
Hi Cowlitzcoach,

Wow, your explanation for each question was very detailed and through! Thank you so much for taking the time and effort to respond to my tedious questions. I have been doing my fare share of research, but not having any electrical, and construction experience lends itself to long frustrating hours of trying to figure it out myself. I think the next move for me is to design some floor plans with idea of where the necessities belong and where wires and such go.

Thank you again! I really liking this Skoolie community!

P.S. I enjoyed your response to question 8, about weight, when you said, "For every additional pound you put in the bus it will require an extra expenditure of dead dinosaurs to move it."

~ Live a Life Worth Repeating.
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Old 10-14-2016, 12:07 PM   #6
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Engine: T444E
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheRoanBus View Post
Hi everyone!

First step: What type of bus?
1) Rear, or front engine (I think rear, just because of what Ive read, idk though)
2) How many miles is acceptable?
3) What type of engine or body considering we'll be going over mountains and cross country?
1) I'm partial to front-engined buses, mostly because it's easier for me to hear the engine ... and when something "isn't right".
2) Depends on the engine, how it was driven, the route is was on, and how it was maintained.
3) I'm guessing you're looking for a 40' bus, so I'd look for at least a DT466 or Cummins 8.3 engine. You'll see lots of 5.9 Cummins and T444's, which are *adequate*, but will slow down ascending hills.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheRoanBus View Post
Other questions:
4) Have you heard of, or have an air dam in front, flaps for the sides, and taper for the back for aerodynamics?
5) Portable stove or an actual stove?
6) Roof raise?
7) Push/pump clothes washer ($40) or laundromat
Is weight always an issue or not really (like type of wood for construction)?
4) Personally, I wouldn't bother. A brick is a brick is a brick. How you drive will make *FAR* more difference on your fuel consumption than anything. You'll get the best fuel economy driving under 60, above that, the faster you go, the more you use.
5) I suppose that depends on how much cookin' you plan to do, and what you plan to cook.
6) How much headroom do you want/need? How badly do you want/need it?
7) I'll let others answer this one.
8 ) Weight is always an issue. Unless, of course, you plan to park it and rarely move it. The more it weighs, the more energy is needed to move and stop it. This is where your big motor comes into play (You *DID* get one with a big motor, right???) . You'll need some big brakes too. I personally prefer air brakes, myself (I'm a driver by trade).

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheRoanBus View Post
Things:
9) Ill have a composting toilet over black/grey water.
10) Large tank for shower and sink water
11) Any ideas: Thinking about getting sponsored by my college (Savannah College of Art and Design), Savannah city tourism company, bike company (well be hosting rides through the company around states), Clifbar and Redbull to travel country and promote my college
9) Another of those personal preference things.
10) Large tanks will be useful if you are planning to be away from running water (And I don't mean natural waterways here, I'm referring to something plumbed), and of course somewhere to dump the waste water. If you plan to use water *ONLY* where there is fresh/waste connections, you really wouldn't even need holding tanks at all. Only you can answer this question. There are many ways to hold and store water. My preference would be to cannibalize a truck junkyard for the 100+ gallon tanks off an old road tractor (and the associated brackets) and simply bolt them to the frame. All the engineering has been done for you. You'd simply need to get a local welding shop to weld in some appropriate threaded plumbing fittings (easily done by many shops).
11) Gooooood luck with sponsors. I've never tried, but I expect anyone who might advertise on a vehicle will require it to be in good cosmetic condition and (at least for vehicle wraps) under a certain age.

I see you're in Savannah - I'm not far from Atlanta (and occasionally travel to Savannah for work).
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Old 10-14-2016, 12:16 PM   #7
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Designing floorplans on paper or on the computer is a great place to start. But once you have your bus you need to lay out the floor plan on the floor with tape and cardboard. Then you need to take the bus camping.

Many times what looks good on the computer or on paper does not work out when you put the plans into practice.

It is much easier to move tape and cardboard than to move walls and cabinets.

Don't try to overthink stuff. This isn't brain surgery or rocket science.

And remember, at the end of the day this is supposed to be fun.
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Old 10-14-2016, 01:44 PM   #8
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: Savannah, GA
Posts: 45
Year: 1997
Coachwork: International
Chassis: 3000
Engine: 7.6 L / DT466
Rated Cap: 72 Pass.
Hi Brad_SwiftFur!

Thank you for your reply!! Whenever you are in Savannah let me know and I would love to meet up with you!
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Old 10-14-2016, 01:59 PM   #9
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: Savannah, GA
Posts: 45
Year: 1997
Coachwork: International
Chassis: 3000
Engine: 7.6 L / DT466
Rated Cap: 72 Pass.
Quote:
Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
Don't try to overthink stuff. This isn't brain surgery or rocket science.
And remember, at the end of the day this is supposed to be fun.

I tend to overthink things and make it more complicated than it should be, Its the perfectionist artist in me!

Two more questions!
1) Isn't it harder to maintenance the RE since I think the transmission in behind the engine? I know absolutely nothing about vehicles, so I would probably have to bring it to a technician which would I'm sure run me a very high service fee for a school bus. Maybe just leave it to the auto shop to take care of all repairs even if its $$$?

2) Do you like the Goal Zero Yeti 400 or 1250 Solar Generator ($400 for the 400, and $1,500 for the 1250)? Is there an alright cheaper alternative that you like?

Thanks!
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Old 10-14-2016, 02:45 PM   #10
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Year: 1990
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Engine: Cummins
Rated Cap: 25.999K
I like how deep your thinking has gotten into this. You are seeing things way in advanced. I overthink things as well. It's good and bad, you are usually more peepared, but sometimes things don't play out as planned.. Some of the answers to your questions have been so long that you could have bought and converted a bus in less time than it took to write or read them!!! Awesome people here to though!!
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Old 10-14-2016, 04:00 PM   #11
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Year: 1999
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Chassis: Freighliner FS65
Engine: Cat 3126
Rated Cap: 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheRoanBus View Post
Hi Cowlitzcoach,

Wow, your explanation for each question was very detailed and through! Thank you so much for taking the time and effort to respond to my tedious questions. I have been doing my fare share of research, but not having any electrical, and construction experience lends itself to long frustrating hours of trying to figure it out myself. I think the next move for me is to design some floor plans with idea of where the necessities belong and where wires and such go.

Thank you again! I really liking this Skoolie community!

P.S. I enjoyed your response to question 8, about weight, when you said, "For every additional pound you put in the bus it will require an extra expenditure of dead dinosaurs to move it."

~ Live a Life Worth Repeating.
Cowlitzcoach is awesome. A real well of bus knowledge. REAL WORLD bus knowledge!
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Old 10-14-2016, 04:32 PM   #12
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: Savannah, GA
Posts: 45
Year: 1997
Coachwork: International
Chassis: 3000
Engine: 7.6 L / DT466
Rated Cap: 72 Pass.
Yeah, Ive probably spent 15 hours researching, of course that includes scrolling through all of the beautifully done skoolies on Pinterest! Ive just learned about skoolies 2 weeks ago and I can't stop thinking about it! Ive never done a big project like this, (college projects are different) and not something I've orchestrated myself. I want to test my passions and give myself a challenge that I can be proud of.
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Old 10-14-2016, 04:55 PM   #13
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Engine: Cummins
Rated Cap: 25.999K
Big project.

Just get started. And know it will be hard sometimes. As mentioned earlier, it NEEDS to be fun!!! Buses get way more SMILES PER GALLON than about any other vehicle!!
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Old 10-14-2016, 06:22 PM   #14
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Chassis: International, 643 transmission
Engine: DT 466ci 250hp, International
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I don't have a smiles per gallon gauge yet.
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Old 10-14-2016, 06:28 PM   #15
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Quote:
Isn't it harder to maintenance the RE since I think the transmission in behind the engine?
The transmission is still behind the engine, the engine is just pointed the other way. Accessibility depends on the manufacturer. On a Bluebird RE the whole back end opens, everything is quite accessible. FEFC buses you have to remove the doghouse and then work through that hole in the floor. FE conventional, in my opinion, it's always a pain to have to reach over the front tires.

Dick
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Old 10-14-2016, 08:52 PM   #16
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1. An RE is actually easier to work on than and FE bus has somewhereinusa noted. Everything has to be accessed through the doghouse on an FE and that is not a very big hole. Some regular maintenance items like the serpentine belt are accessed easier by taking the radiator out--which is why it is hinged on the FE to make removing it easier.

Almost everything that needs regular service on an RE bus can be reached while standing on the ground. The transmission is no harder to access than any other transmission. I would highly recommend you do NOT permanently cover any access panels that are in the floor. Some of them have been put in the floor of the bus to reach areas under the bus that you can NOT reach from down below.

I would not take a bus to any old shop. Most truck shops really do not know anything about buses. As a consequence they can mess them up. Most truck mechanics think everything is the same in a bus as in a truck but arranged differently. That is true to a certain extent. But buses have systems most trucks do not have which can mess the process up when it comes time to pop the hood and see what is in the engine compartment. For instance, the serpentine belt and air filters on an FE bus. The more you learn to do yourself the more $$$ you are going to save.

Since most smaller diesel engines use anywhere from 12 quarts to 30 quarts of oil the cost of the oil is going to be substantially higher for a bus than on a car. You will need to change at least one oil filter (some buses have two), at least one fuel filter (most buses have at least two), and if you are lucky an external transmission filter. At the same time doing a regular 30-point safety check which would include brake adjustment, lube the chassis, check the air pressure in all of the tires, and checking the lights will usually run a minimum of $350.00 can go over $1,000.00.

2. I am not familiar with the Yeti products so I have no opinion on how well they work or don't work. What I do know is the quality of solar power products have made quantum leaps in how well they convert sun light into stored power. With the size of the roof of the bus you can put a lot of collectors up there. It is important that you mount them in a way they can be angled to catch the sun. Mounting them flat on the roof might work in CA, AZ, NM, or TX but isn't going to work well going north.
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Old 10-22-2016, 06:44 PM   #17
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Bus $?

Hi all. I'm new to the site today. My son and I are looking to start a project and want to make sure we get the best bang for our buck. We found a 2003 international 72 passenger. 446 DT diesel, Allison auto, air brakes with 131000 miles. Owner is asking $4000. He says everything works like it should and it drives great. I have not actually seen it yet. Curious if he's in the ballpark with the price? Thanks.
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Old 10-22-2016, 08:51 PM   #18
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I think you mean the DT466 engine.... with the Allison transmission it should be the MT643.... can't really beat that combination.

Not really sure where you're located.... if the body and chassis are in good shape then 4000 is a pretty fair price for that rig in most places... though it might be a little high in other places.

If you have a chance to go inspect it and take a test drive it would certainly behoove you to do so, make sure for yourself everything is as it should be.
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Old 10-22-2016, 09:50 PM   #19
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A 2003 most likely has a MD3060 automatic.

At $4K that is not a bad price depending on condition and mileage.

The mileage is actually right in the center of what is typical.

Some operators take better care of their equipment than others. I have seen some Laidlaw buses (the precursor of First Student) that were not very old that were one tow bill away from the crusher. I have seen some district owned buses that were 30-years old that looked almost brand new.

The only other thing I would be concerned about would be rust.

For those of us out here on the left coast bad rust is when the black paint is not longer shiny on the frame rails. For those in the rust belt bad rust is where you can read the classifieds through the holes.
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Old 10-22-2016, 10:02 PM   #20
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Thanks for the input. I plan ongoing and checking it out. It's only about an hour away. The pics look pretty good but in VT rust can be an issue. We'll see. Thanks.
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