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Old 08-19-2016, 05:29 PM   #1
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Total Newbie...help!

This may be a silly question, but what is the best engine and drivetrain configuration? I know that is subjective, but surely there are ratings that might favor the 7.3L over the 6.4L...or Cat vs. Cummins...or the Allison tranny vs. whatever.

Also, does brand and/or model matter in terms of the "bones" of the rig? For instance, does the Thomas FS65 rust out in a heartbeat whereas the International 3800 could live in the ocean?

On a related note, is there a model that is "better" for conversion? I hear that some models really don't have much space underneath to mount fresh, gray, and black water holding tanks; whereas another model might be ideal for that???

I'm sure many of you have your faves, and since I haven't bought a Skoolie yet I'd like to learn what I should really be keeping my eye on.

Also, I registered on GovDeals but it seems too good to be true, so I'm guessing it probably is...am I missing something?

I've got a million more questions I'm sure, and just scanning through some of the threads it seems I've come to the right place to get an education...so please steer me straight! Thanks

-Erik
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Old 08-19-2016, 06:42 PM   #2
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Nope, govdeals is good and true. Lots of people bus busses there.

The right bus for me is the one i fall/ fell in love with.
Some rust, some scrapes and bruises, dings and dents, plusses and minuses, and i love her just the same.
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Old 08-19-2016, 06:49 PM   #3
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I agree on te rigt bus being the one you like and makes you smile...

I suppose mine cost more than it may ave somewere else.. definitely isnt perfect but im sure as heck having a Ball with it!!.. 6000 miles of fun in 3 months
-Christopher
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Old 08-19-2016, 10:25 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by espurgin View Post
This may be a silly question, but what is the best engine and drivetrain configuration? I know that is subjective, but surely there are ratings that might favor the 7.3L over the 6.4L...or Cat vs. Cummins...or the Allison tranny vs. whatever.
It's highly subjective, and really, there's no real "best" setup. It depends on what you want it to do. You want a bus to park permanently at a camp? It doesn't really matter if it even has an engine (have it towed). You want something to drive 20 miles a month to and from the races? Buy whatever you find at a price you find reasonable and close by. You want a bus to drive 5,000 miles a month and capable of ascending hills at 70 MPH? You're going to want a higher displacement engine (at least an 8 liter or more).

Also, what size bus you want? Something like a 4-window cutaway chassis (the typical GM/Ford "van" style front-ends)? Or do you want a longer 25-30 foot mid-size bus? A full 40-footer? More bus = more weight = more fuel consumption = larger engine needed. On pretty much anything larger than the GM/Ford cutaway chassis, Allison transmissions are pretty much the industry standard. The AT545 is the "basic" Allison trans and is the workhorse of the industry, but generally lacks a "lock-up" torque converter and no overdrive. For these 2 reasons, it is widely regarded as less-than-the-ideal tranny for much long distance driving, but is perfectly fine for 99% of school bus routes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by espurgin View Post
Also, does brand and/or model matter in terms of the "bones" of the rig? For instance, does the Thomas FS65 rust out in a heartbeat whereas the International 3800 could live in the ocean?

On a related note, is there a model that is "better" for conversion? I hear that some models really don't have much space underneath to mount fresh, gray, and black water holding tanks; whereas another model might be ideal for that???
You may be confusing chassis builders and body (coachwork) builders. International does not build the coachwork. All they build is the engine/transmission, frame and suspension, providing the foundation for the body. Thomas, Blue Bird, Carpenter, and others have build bodies over the years.

For the most part, on the "larger" buses you'll have about the same "room" under the floor for water tanks, but those have to compete with space for belly storage compartments. On a 40' bus you'll probably have plenty of room to make things fit ... on a 24' bus, maybe not so much. Underbody room is more of an issue on the cutaway chassis.

Quote:
Originally Posted by espurgin View Post
Also, I registered on GovDeals but it seems too good to be true, so I'm guessing it probably is...am I missing something?

-Erik
AFAIK, Govdeals is pretty much on the level. ***READ EACH AD VERY CAREFULLY*** Make sure you read the fine print. Many sellers charge auction premiums, make sure you know this prior to bidding. There have been a few stories on the forum about buyers getting something unexpected, but 98% of the time, it was because they mixed up ads or forgot to "do their homework" before bidding. Rarely is it because the seller did something wrong.
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Old 08-20-2016, 03:51 AM   #5
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Great responses...thanks! Things change but I envision my eventual bus to be parked a good bit of the time where it will serve as a "tiny house" for guests. I have a cabin on a couple acres of land. Originally I was thinking that this may be the sole purpose, but my wife likes things to be multi-purpose and we do like to get out and about to do some camping and sightseeing. On that note I have been looking at Type-C rigs and leaning towards the 64-65 passenger rather than the bigger 71. I'd like to keep it between 34-40 feet from tip to tail.

We are in Ohio, so the bus would spend most of it's life in OH, PA, MI, WV, KY, NC, MD, VA. The Appalachians have some impressive uphill grades, but we'd be in no particular hurry to get up or down. We've got a lot of friends in Denver, CO so we might eventually road trip out that direction...but don't need it to be able to power over the Rockies...just putt around the foothills.

Whether for road trips, as a guesthouse, or as base camp HQ I want it to have apartment-sized range top and fridge...don't care about an oven unless that is how it comes. Small shower stall and toilet.

I think to put a small woodburner or pellet built up over one of the wheel wells...and maybe a little closet over the other well. But I have questions about how to best insulate behind the stove (for fire safety).

I have questions about the sequence of conversion steps. Maybe there is a step-by-step document somewhere??? For instance, after tearing out the seats is it good to do a plywood subfloor, or can I click in Pergo right on top of what is there. How I insulate the ceiling, and should I use reflective blanket insulation or try to fiddle with cutting and sizing blue board or pink board - I am not terribly concerned about R-rating, but want to do what is best...or at least reasonably good.

Can the sheet metal on the ceiling be reused or repurposed, or do I have to get new? Like I said, I really know almost nothing at this point...but super eager to learn from you all!
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Old 08-20-2016, 04:55 AM   #6
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The Appalachians are just wee hills compared to the Rockies!
I will say, though, going over Monteagle in TN made me a little nervous.

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Old 08-20-2016, 09:54 AM   #7
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I will continue to Google Search, but is there a PDF online that sequences the steps (even at a high-level) for a conversion project? If anyone has a link, please let me know...or if you have a doc I can give my e-mail address.

I am liking what I am seeing on GovDeals. It definitely seems more affordable than buying off eBay or Craigslist.

I am also amazed, especially with the momentum of the "Tiny House" phenomenon, that companies specializing in Skoolie conversions haven't popped up all over the country. Although I prefer to do most of it DIY, I did perform a search for those type of companies (just out of curiosity) and came up empty...I was surprised since it seems like such a good small biz idea.
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Old 08-20-2016, 10:16 AM   #8
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Engine: DT360
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
International does build teir own coachwork... thats wat an IC bus is..

even my bus andles the appalachains and ive just got a DT-360 and an AT545 and I run on those just fine.. as CB says the rockies are a much different beast not to be taken lightly...

-Christopher
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Old 08-20-2016, 11:06 AM   #9
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I lived in CO for 5 years and drove those mountain roads in everything from Penske box trucks to sports cars. I don't fool around crossing over the Rockies unless there is an absolute need. ...And I know to stay on I-70 or I-80.

Luckily, I've been blessed to travel to all 48 of the contiguous US States and I have lived in 12 of them...just gotta cross AK and HI off my bucket list to have them all, but wouldn't be doing either in a Skoolie
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