School Bus Conversion Resources

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Steve 02-29-2004 05:28 PM

Ricks Broncohaulic
You can find more pictures in the gallery:

Steve 02-29-2004 05:31 PM

Those clear lights on the top, did you just take the cover off the lights or are they something else you put in? I would like have clear lights up there to help during parking, but I would need to make a gasket and a cover to fill the area the lenses cover.

Rick78EFI460 02-29-2004 07:03 PM

The clear lights are the originals without the coloured lenses. I sealed them up with a foam gasket to keep the water out. I did the same for the rear lamps for use loading and checking the trailer in the dark. These lights are very bright with the covers off, probably as bright as the headlights . The rear lights do throw a lot of light for parking too, if something's in the way you'll see it for sure. I have "heard " that some places it may be illegal to have the clear lights up front that high, but I have also heard that as long as you never turn them on while on the road it will never be a problem. When I wired in the trailer brake controller, I changed it so that the lights worked off the switches since I was into the harness anyways. From experience I know that some work light is a good thing. If I was going to do it again, I would wire it so that I could control each lamp independantly instead of in pairs, they do draw a lot of current and are overkill for most tasks .

Les Lampman 02-29-2004 09:29 PM

Hi Rick,

Hey, thanks for the photos...they're great; especially your co-pilot :D

I've got a Blue Bird that looks very close to yours in vintage; 'course they've probably been the same for 50 years!

I need to pull a car trailer as well (mine will be enclosed for our Jeep Wrangler so when it's out of there I have a workshop). How did you set up your electric brake controller?

Rick78EFI460 03-01-2004 01:20 AM

The electric brake controller is a very simple install in most cases, the only difference in a bus application is actually running the wiring. it takes a good size wire, and a great deal of it . There are only 3 or 4 wires to connect, and the cost isn't too bad for controllers nowadays. If I remember correctly theres a battery power wire, a ground wire, a wire to the brakelight switch, and the wire to the actual trailer brake circuit. I really like towing the flatdeck with the bus, the long rear overhang of the bus swings the trailer out a good ways, and my trailer only tracks inside the buses track about a foot on a tight right hand corner, so you can drive it like it's not even there basically. backing up is also very easy because of the long overhang, you don't have to maneuver the wheel much to get the rear bumper to swing so the trailer is easy to steer. I drove mine with the trailer attached through the small tourist towns of the Black Hills SD without any problem. I went to a local welding shop and had a conversation with the welder, asked if he ever rode in the back of a schol bus, reminded him how the ride can be over bumps, told him I needed to haul a car trailer and needed a hitch with all those variables taken into account. an added benefit of the trailer is its ability to resist the rapid change in vertical direction, so the bus actually rides a fair bit smoother.

Steve 03-01-2004 01:25 AM


Originally Posted by Rick78EFI460
an added benefit of the trailer is its ability to resist the rapid change in vertical direction, so the bus actually rides a fair bit smoother.

Thats a good point, I hadn't thought of that. I guess there is no need for torsion or sway bars either when your pullin with a bus :)

Rick78EFI460 03-01-2004 01:31 AM

You do need to use an equalizing hitch though, not really for supporting the weight, but eliminating the leverage the hitch has against its mounting points. with a car trailer the tongue weight is still pretty heavy, and all that weight located on one point behind the bus trys to "bend " the frame downwards at the rear, the equalizer bars actually lift at the rear of the hitch and distribute the weight along the frame better while still holding up the ball

Rick78EFI460 03-01-2004 02:07 AM

Some more info on my bus:

I bought this bus for a couple of reasons, one is that skoolies are just plain cool, another is that I wanted a good big truck to tow my 4X4s around, and I have a wife and 4 kids that I take with me when I go places. As an RV, it doesn't need to stop at weigh stations either. I bought a damaged camper and moved all the appliances into the bus in a cabinet I built myself , fridge , stove oven, microwave sink etc contained in the cabinet. I did not plumb the propane to the fridge, because I plan on usig the bus either on 12V or at commercial campsites with shore connections. I built a typical RV type U shaped seating area for the 6 of us at the table that we can all sit at comfortably. over the wheel wells on the right side I built a "water closet " and directly across the hall a large shelving unit. behind that is bunks for the 6 of us. We do have a 12 / 120 V tv/vcr combo that the kids can appreciate at campsites, and we all know that happy kids makes for happy camping :lol: The kids like to watch movies on the road too, so they complain less , and having a fridge full of cold drinks and no seatbelts keeps them all happy. After this summers 10 day trip in the bus to SD from here in Canada we went back into the house ( 10pm ish), put the laundry away and got the little ones in their pajamas, then they were pretty upset that we weren't going out to the bus to sleep. It helps a lot when the kids love the bus :wink:

When I took out all the seats I kept the seat bottoms all in a pile seperate, then with my cut off wheel in a circular saw I cut all the seat frames into as many straight sections as I could. I used these straight sections and welded them into long straight sections to build my bunks. I found that 4 seat bottoms makes a mattress that a teenager can sleep on and not complain about too, so top bunks were no cost. I also used theseat frame metal to build the seating arangement at the table too. the breaker box , and some mattresses, and other miscellaneous stuff all came out of the camper I bought, so the expenses were kept to a minimum on this project.

Les Lampman 03-01-2004 08:59 AM

Hi Rick,

Thanks for all the info; it's great.

I was remembering the old-time electric brake contollers that tapped into the hydraulic brake system on our trucks and cars. I was trying to figure out if there was one available for air brakes but it sounds like a moot point as it sounds like the new controllers just pick up a signal from the brake light voltage. What makes it proportional?

Sounds like you did a great conversion; you're very resourceful! I'm afraid I'm at the other end; my children are grown so it's just the two of us and the bus will become our home for as long as we enjoy it. The requirements for my conversion from the Boss are that it feels like a home and that it's had to have a drafting/work table and a piano! I also managed to fit in a fireplace (really a Dickenson Diesel Heater).

Truly, I started out many years ago with the idea that I'd put in a woodstove, use some nice wood cabinets from a house, bolt in a bed in the back, make a closet for a portable toilet, bolt down a couch, throw in some beanbag chairs and go; my how times change :shock:

Long about 1990 I spent 6 weeks in Naicum, Sask at one of the largest Ford tractor dealerships in Canada; I worked for a computer software company back then. I actually had a good time and learned more than I knew there were questions to ask about Curling. :wink: I also had a few good weekends in Saskatoon; their ability to party was phenomenal. :D

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