School Bus Conversion Resources

School Bus Conversion Resources (
-   Short-Bus Conversion Projects (
-   -   Codename:Crystal Bat - 2002 Thomas Minotour (5 Window) - Ford 7.3 Diesel (

Joyful 04-08-2018 01:08 AM

Codename:Crystal Bat - 2002 Thomas Minotour (5 Window) - Ford 7.3 Diesel
3 Attachment(s)
Codename:Crystal Bat (Mostly I just needed something to call it, and I happened to be watching The Dark Crystal when I posted this.)

It's a 2002 Thomas Minotour body on a Ford 7.3l Diesel chassis.

We drove it home a couple weeks ago and parked it in the driveway. It runs strong, but needs a little work - one of the glow plugs (or possibly just the wiring harness) needs to be replaced, possibly one of the injectors as well. We're stuck in that chicken-and-egg position of "can't get it insured until it's built out, can't drive it to the mechanic unless it's insured." But it ran strong on the drive home, and we feel good about moving forward. Replacing the injectors on a 7.3 looks to be pretty straight forward, if the many videos are to be believed.

These photos are more or less the Before pics. We didn't snap any before we threw a little yellow paint over the Scho (Making it the 'ol Bus for purposes of getting it home), or before I moved one of the fisheye mirrors out of the way.

We're going for a fairly minimal, light build out. The Crystal Bat is being designed assuming we won't be in it for more than a week at a time, or far from services, or using it in sub-zero weather.

In We Go!

Joyful 04-09-2018 03:20 PM

Crystal Bat Design Principles & Buildout Philosophy
Before I start posting teardown/buildout updates, I wanted to articulate some of the guiding principles that are behind the decisions we're making as we go along. I don't know if that'll be helpful for anyone but me, but I wanted to capture it anyway. We welcome feedback, especially if it looks like "While you're doing this, you should", "You're really going to regret", "You should know:", or "If I had it to do again, I would save you this woe:"

The Crystal Bat is being designed as a long-haul, short term stay RV. It will primarily be used for simple camping near services, attending music festivals/Burning Man, and interstate road trips, sleeping 2 typically, with 1-2 multi-purpose guest berths (storage that converts to a sleeping tube, a couch that's big enough to sleep on, etc).

We're approaching this knowing that our first build will be a learning process. We're not intentionally building-to-replace, but I expect that after we take it on a couple journeys, we'll want to tear it out and reconfigure everything.

For house power, we want to go light - a small house power bank plus a small solar install on the roof. We intend to rely heavily on standard USB-recharging devices, with some 12v lighting and audio. That basically means the car stereo will be switchable to house power, and there will be some basic internal lighting, but we'll rely on phones, tablets, and rechargeable batteries for anything else.

House water will also run on the small side. We'll use a composting toilet, to avoid the need for handling blackwater. We'll rely on passive solar for hot water, setting up an external shower if we need one. This will limit the house water to hand washing and rinsing dishes. I'm on the fence about under-bus clean and grey water tanks versus using a pair of removable. The jury is out.

House propane will be in the 11 gallon range, running a fridge and the stove. We think that should be enough to cover cooking and the refrigerator for a week.

We want a roof rack, for stargazing, solar, and storage (in that order). This is the part we're least confident about handling. Everything I've seen here says we'll be drilling through the ribs and through-bolting, which makes me a little squirrely. But working backwards from the roof rack, the goal is to design it such that we can slot in standard conduit-fitting canopy, so we can do cheap and easy shade next to the bus.

Our intention is to configure storage areas and furniture positioning such that we can maximize allocation of a popular sized rugged storage bin. We generally transport a lot of gear for festivals, and we're helping someone move cross-country this summer, so we're particularly interested in designing a space that's easy to load and unload, and that we portion out easily (e.g. "The Crystal Bat safely has room for a driver and 3 passengers, 3 conduit bundles, and 24 Bins"). We'll rig it for light towing, for when we want to bring motorcycles, attach a cargo tray, or a bike rack.

With how much time we spend in dusty places, I'm hoping we can finish a build that looks nice and is fairly open, but that strips down easily to allow for thorough cleaning.

We'll be adding some external Oooooh and Ahhhhh, but that will be as time permits.

Joyful 04-09-2018 03:31 PM

Week 1 Update
We didn't get to spend much time this weekend working, but we managed to get a few hours in. We've got the seats and associated hardware out, the stop sign off, the fisheye mirrors off, removed all the Zonar RFID tags, and removed the front bumper gate hardware.

We picked up some paint supplies, and started cleanup. We removed two letters of the lettering by hand before I found out about the eraser discs. I think one just was delivered to the front porch.

I've gotten to know the underside of the bus fairly intimately, and I'm reminded this morning that I'm not in my 20s any longer.

I've started a punch list of things to followup on as we complete individual tasks. I have wiring to chase and cap, holes to plug, and I still need to demystify the relay box in the driver's compartment. But it's in a state now where if we did nothing else other than remove the front red lights and put a coat of primer over the yellow, we'd be externally street legal.

The seller indicated he wanted 4 of the seats, and we're asked him which ones. He owes us a window frame anyway, one of them was knocked out by a tree limb in a storm the day we went to pick it up.

All in all, it's immensely satisfying to have the seats out. It feels like we're 80% done. But we know we're barely even started.

Joyful 04-13-2018 10:17 PM

Heading into the weekend, prepping the exterior for a coat of primer, and working on ripping up some of the floor.

Whoever it was that recommended the eraser disc for removing the lettering, THANK YOU! Best money I've spent so far.

Pictures and updates as we get further on.

Joyful 04-14-2018 09:56 PM

Got the back heater removed, though it can't be driven until I construct a more stable bypass. We also had a window that was smashed when we picked the bus up. We picked up the replacement last night and got that installed today as well.

All the main lettering has been erased, and we're in the process of taping everything off for painting.

Took the angle grinder to a few lingering bits of bumper hardware, and started ripping off the rubber flooring.

We've again gone back and forth on tearing out the plywood. Today we're leaning toward pulling it all out. We're here already, we might as well.

Pictures after we wrap up tomorrow.

MovinOn 05-02-2018 03:36 PM

Nice bus,
Any pictures using the eraser disc and what and where to get one?
Hope you include lots of pictures!!!!!

TheArgobus 05-04-2018 03:26 AM


Originally Posted by Joyful (Post 263988)
We also had a window that was smashed when we picked the bus up. We picked up the replacement last night and got that installed today as well.

I have the same issue. Did you just go to an auto glass shop? Or something more specialized?

TrailLifeBill 05-04-2018 06:53 AM


Originally Posted by MovinOn (Post 267099)
Nice bus,
Any pictures using the eraser disc and what and where to get one?
Hope you include lots of pictures!!!!!

Lots of variants available.

EastCoastCB 05-04-2018 07:07 AM


Originally Posted by TrailLifeBill (Post 267399)

Yup. An invaluable tool. I got a couple for $8 each!!:thumb:

Joyful 05-19-2018 12:09 AM


Originally Posted by TheArgobus (Post 267392)
I have the same issue. Did you just go to an auto glass shop? Or something more specialized?

I'm not sure, actually. The window broke before we went to view the bus, and the seller had the glass replaced for us.

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 02:22 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.