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Old 04-18-2006, 09:04 AM   #1
eggman's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Hamel, IL
Posts: 160
What to do first?? Questions from a newby......

Hello all, new to the forums here. Been reading up on most everything on these ol' skoolies. I have been considered a jack of all trades and a master of none, a sheetmetal and heating and cooling guy by trade, so a bus shouldnt be any problem. I have recently purchased a 95 IH/AmTrans 72 school bus witha DTA466 and Allison auto. Body wise its nearly perfect, one small rust area that will be easy to take care of.

My question is other than removing the seats and preping the floor, what should I do first? Electrical, water, toilet/disposal, heat/ac? I have looked at the heat pump roof tops and was wondering how well/badly they actually worked. I know with an rv furnace, they will work on 12v. I already have a 4kw onan generator, so that is taken care of.

Any suggestions?


95 IH 72 passenger transit school bus w/ DT466 and 545 Allison.
79 IH Scout II/392 (0.030 over) Hamilton Injected/727/D300/Full size axles/36" Swampers/Lockers/OBA/38 gal Custom fuel tank, roll bar, tube doors.
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Old 04-18-2006, 10:09 AM   #2
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Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Tucson, AZ
Posts: 524
Year: 1993
Coachwork: AmTran
Chassis: IHC
Engine: Dt360
Rated Cap: 19
Hi Jeff and Welcome!

For us, the order of doing things is in part determined by the eventual floorplan of the bus. I think drawing a layout is a good starting point. We went so far as to draw the bus floor "rectangle" on graphing paper, then on a separate piece of paper drew and cut out small scale versions of appliances, furniture, etc. We could then move them around on the paper and see the inherent limitations (or sublime genius! ) of a layout.

Once we had a layout, the order of doing things sort of fell into place.

Good luck, have fun with those seats!

Sean F
Bus conversion/info here
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Old 04-18-2006, 11:41 PM   #3
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Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Whidbey Island, Washington (USA)
Posts: 465
Wow...there's a lot of answers to those few simple questions!

Really, as Sean says, it just depends. We all approach this so differently, with so many different desired end results and such a difference in our talents and backgrounds that it's very difficult to give a step-by-step guide.

I think I spent as much time developing my floorplan as anything because it affects and is affected by everything. You need places for the waste tanks, the fresh water tanks, the batteries, the appliances, the beds, the water pumps, the bathroom, the bedroom, the propane tanks if you use them, the furnace, or the fireplace, or the heater, the water heater, and lots more.

The layout is also driven by use...weekender, full timer, short trips, long trips, just one or two or a whole bunch of folks, hot weather, cold weather, rural mostly, or lots of traffic...and the list goes on...and on.

Visit every site you can for school bus conversions and check them out. Look at the photos on the site here. Think of the commercial RV's you might like.

From a build standpoint it's the typical from the bottom up and the walls in. Most of us deal with the floor first (depending on what you're doing with your ceiling you may tackle that next), then the things that will go behind walls, then the things that get attached to the floor that need openings to under the bus (waste and fresh water primarily along with maybe propane and wiring). Then maybe appliances. Somewhere in here some walls get put in; some sooner to provide a place to mount things and some later to allow working space. Ditto for built-in furniture.

Honestly, its like a giant jigsaw puzzle. You just keeping looking for the next piece that will fit and try to think far enough ahead that you have a way to access areas you need to. Looking at how others have approached it on their web sites helps an awfully lot. In that sense the pictures are worth way more than thousands of words!

Have fun!
Les Lampman
1982 Thomas Saf-T-Liner Pusher "Illusion" Gallery
Illusion's SmugMug site
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Old 06-03-2006, 11:20 AM   #4
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Plymouth MA
Posts: 186
I'd say paint the outside! That way the locals can't object to a "school bus" sitting in the driveway instead of an RV.

Then second I'd pull the seats, and remove the extra flashing lights and stop signs (usually required most states by law).|

With the seats out you can get a better set of measurements for locating stuff. Wheel wells, heater mounts etc. can affect your desires.

Once you have this stuff done, and if you don't need to raise the roof, finish one thing at a time:
Flooring (Insulation and finish floor).
Walls (insulation and finish walls). Window changes go along with the wall work.
Ceiling (insulation and covering, if needed)
Plumbing setup, including fresh, grey and black tanks if used.
Electrical, both 120VAC and 12VDC systems for lighting, heat, etc.
Bathroom (partly covered by plumbing, above).
Kitchen/galley (partly covered by plumbing, above)/
Dining area?
Master/guest beds?

At this point things are pretty much interchangeable as what to do next.

Hope this helps, I'm typing while pretty tired.
The tool storage is nice, but where do I put the bed?
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