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JEL 10-31-2013 05:57 PM

Ol' Bessie!
Hey skoolie buds!

First - Thanks! I've been cruising through many of your posts and the experienced advice is very helpful.

The backstory: My name's Jesse. I'm a 25 year old guy, an entrepreneur, and I need a place to live. Here's my critical 5 for where I want to live:

-reasonably low cost (10k or less)
-environmentally minimal impact
-capable of mobility
-all the aspects of a "home" (kitchen, bed, bathroom, shower, garage, desk etc)
-not a cardboard box / does not look like I built it in the dark using only my feet

So, like every other cash strapped semi-recent college grad - I bought a school bus. :D

Specs on my bus:
- 2002 Thomas
- CAT Turbo diesel
- Allison Transmission (Automatic)
- Length bumper to bumper is 27 feet
- Fully operational handicap lift
- Dana axles front and back
- 180k on the odometer
- Gets about 11 mpg right now
- I'm the 3rd owner. 1st owner was a school district in Richmond, VA, 2nd was a used car dealer nearby Richmond (bus is now near Asheville, NC)

This is my first post here, so I'm trying to think about how organize things logically. I'll get some photos up tomorrow if possible. Many, many questions rolling around, but the biggest is the roof raise. I've tackled quite a few big design challenges but the roof raise is still raising some quesions. Anybody have good advice there?


wmkbailey 11-01-2013 09:34 AM

Re: Ol' Bessie!
I'm just finishing the roof raise on my bus. check out my post listed below for the high lights. I will answer any questions I can.

Welcome and good luck.

Tango 11-01-2013 12:09 PM

Re: Ol' Bessie!
Welcome to the mayhem! --- Having a list is a great start. A roof raise sounds more daunting than it really is. My ex-wife & I did a 19" raise on a 40' BBAA in a week just working evenings (had nothing to do with the divorce, that came much later BTW). Numerous ways to go about it and with a little searching & reading here you'll likely see most of them. One thing that many people don't do but is a to cross brace both the cut free and the remaining structures to keep them stable prior to cutting anything loose. Just tack welding some steel tube in place will do but do it about every 4-6 feet minimum. Otherwise, as soon as you cut a roof section free it (and everything else) will torque out of shape and they will never fit back together again smoothly.

Other considerations include...

1.) is best to alternate the location of the cut from window to window. That way you avoid a straight run "weak line". I cut one at the top and the next at the bottom of each window. No big deal.
2.)...reinforce the cuts thoroughly. On mine, I found that 1-1/4" square tube fit perfectly inside the ribs so I fully welded a length that went all the way from below the floor up to the curve in the roofline then added a section of repair rib over the difference to fill the gap. It was very solid and even got the blessings of a Blue Bird engineer (they HATE anybody messing with their designs!).
3.)...if you leave the endcaps intact, the whole rig will be much, much stronger. They provide the majority of the torsional rigidity for the whole rig.

Course, that's just how I did it. I would encourage anyone else here to jump in with ideas/experience.

Best of luck and do post some pix. We just love watching youngsters work.

JEL 11-01-2013 04:05 PM

Re: Ol' Bessie!
William - Thanks for dropping in! I spent about 2 hours on your thread last night reading everything you had. Phenomenal work man! I'll definitely stay tuned.

Tango - Very much appreciate the considerations on the roof raise. Cross bracing is not something I considered but will absolutely do that now that you bring it up. I hear you with leaving the end caps. I have a feeling that lifting the whole roof as a "cap" ie blasting out the rivets on the front and end cap will be less work than cutting incisions across the roof just behind the front cap and just in front of the end cap. I know it's going to be some work either way, but does that sound accurate? Like you said I'm thinking either 1" or 1 1/4" steel square bar laid into the C channel of the windows. Then steel sheeting across everything. And come back later to cut holes for RV windows.

Here are some pics of this sweet mama

ol trunt 11-01-2013 08:42 PM

Re: Ol' Bessie!
I hope you mean square tubing and not square bar--I'm sure you do.

JEL 11-01-2013 10:53 PM

Re: Ol' Bessie!
What? You guys don't think I should add ~9,000 lbs of high, structural weight? Only kidding. Yep, you're right on - I meant tubing... I just have a tendency to equate "tubing" to "cylindrical" for some reason. Thanks for keeping me in check :)

Tango 11-02-2013 01:23 AM

Re: Ol' Bessie!
Good lookin' rig and a great size --- one option for the rear is to get a "repair rib" and weld it to the very back of the existing cap and skin in the area over it. It provides a smooth roofline plus gives you a substantial area between the inner & outer roof for overhead storage or an A/C. That's where I put the unit for my BB then ran a duct down the middle. Worked great and I never had to worry about tree limbs taking out the A/C.

bansil 11-02-2013 05:56 AM

Re: Ol' Bessie!
Welcome,that wasn't parked in the parking lot near AvL was it?

I go asheville once a month, we now have about 6 skoolies "in the area"

inkblots84 11-02-2013 11:20 AM

Re: Ol' Bessie!

Originally Posted by bansil
Welcome,that wasn't parked in the parking lot near AvL was it?

I go asheville once a month, we now have about 6 skoolies "in the area"

We'll be heading to Asheville in a few weeks. Skoolie party anyone?

Welcome aboard!

JEL 11-02-2013 11:44 AM

Re: Ol' Bessie!
Bansil and Inkblots - Asheville skoolie party for sure! When are you guys thinking about coming through? Give me a shout when you're headed this way. I'm in Fletcher - just 10 miles south of Asheville proper.

Sat in the bus for a long time last night trying to wrap my mind around this roof raise. What I'm thinking at this point is to leave one window on each side behind the drivers seat. Heard a few of y'all raise a great point about intersection visibility. There is also some bracing that looks to protect the drivers cab that stops there - so I want to leave that in tact. Also I just can't see dismantling the entire front door and windshield area with any amount of success. The back on the other hand - I think I can manage. So it would be a bump up (sloped) about 5 feet from the nose of the bus, and then straight back from there.

Goals for today:
-Pull up the rubber flooring
-remove last rear panel
-get up that last $&%*#)@ handicap rail
-Finalize my digital 3d model and get it up here for 2nd opinions
-List the handicap lift, seats, and windows on craigslist (is this a long shot? anybody know some org. who needs / buys these?)


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