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Old 06-10-2011, 12:31 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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1989 32' Bluebird conversion

Hey guys,

Well I'm one of you now! I bought a 1989 32' Bluebird type D with a 5.9 Cummins front engine. I'll keep this thread updated as I go along. It's going to be my full time home once I get it converted.







I got the floor torn out yesterday. The plywood was mostly rotten and junk. The metal floor has surface rust but nothing serious.




Stay tuned...8 inch roof raise up next!

Arbor

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Old 06-10-2011, 08:57 PM   #2
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Re: 1989 32' Bluebird conversion

Congrats !!!!!!! Good looking bus....
What are you going to name her?
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Old 06-11-2011, 12:02 AM   #3
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Re: 1989 32' Bluebird conversion

I haven't come up with a name yet...

Today I got the windows, side panels above the windows, and the panels on the front and back out. Hopefully I'll be back at it on Monday. Highschool graduation tomorrow...probably makes me the youngest skoolie here!



Arbor
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Old 06-11-2011, 12:50 AM   #4
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Re: 1989 32' Bluebird conversion

Nice size, great start...and...it's a BB! Keep the pix coming.
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Old 06-11-2011, 08:35 AM   #5
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Re: 1989 32' Bluebird conversion

New here myself. GREAT look'n bluebird.
LOVE that "out with the old" shot.
looks like she "coughed" it up.
Good luck and Gods speed.
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Old 06-11-2011, 08:40 AM   #6
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Re: 1989 32' Bluebird conversion

You are never too young, but when you get to be 60 plus you will begin to wonder if you're not already too old......
good looking bus, good luck on the conversion....
Every day you spend in the bus is another days rent, or house payment you can save....
The housing market will take about 20 years to recover so I expect to see a lot more skoolies out there.
You know the smart people who know better, live better, see more, do more, go more ,etc etc etc...
You are heading in the right direction......

Bus less in Tennessee
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Old 06-11-2011, 09:42 AM   #7
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Re: 1989 32' Bluebird conversion

Quote:
Originally Posted by GreyEagle
You are never too young, but when you get to be 60 plus you will begin to wonder if you're not already too old......
good looking bus, good luck on the conversion....
Every day you spend in the bus is another days rent, or house payment you can save....
The housing market will take about 20 years to recover so I expect to see a lot more skoolies out there.
You know the smart people who know better, live better, see more, do more, go more ,etc etc etc...
You are heading in the right direction......

Bus less in Tennessee

I don't want another house! I've "played that game" and it always made me feel like I had an anchor weighing me down.I did the "responsible" thing. It was more like the house owned me rather than the other way around. I like living in the campgrounds full-time. I like the freedom. I do feel the skoolie are a better structure to live in than the Stick-n-staples RV. The basic frame of a skoolie will last longer than a sticks-n-staples. The great thing about having your "home" on wheels is that if the economy poops out in one place you can just roll to another. Or if you don't like your neighbours, the weather, etc... just go! But we don't like staying in one place for very long. My kids once figured up the average of how often we move (we owned 4 houses and rented many). Every time we have moved it's been tied to our job (construction). FL, GA, NC, SC & TN... now we're out west (NM, TX... currently NM again). I do like to go. You never know where an opportunity will lead you. A rolling home will allow you to take advantage of opportunities that you might otherwise pass up. Now I just gotta get the bus finished up to where we can move into it. Paint, Paint, Paint..... I gonna replace most of the light bulbs/holders while I have the marker lights pulled off the bus to... PAINT. They still work, they have gotten wet and rusted though. I figure It is better (and easier) to replace now rather than later when a light craps out on me in the middle of nowhere (I can see nowhere from here.... )
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Old 06-11-2011, 05:51 PM   #8
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Re: 1989 32' Bluebird conversion

Congratulations on your progress.

I've got one just like it.
I will be following your progress.

Here's a link to what I've accomplished so far:

http://www.skoolie.net/gallery2/v/Skoolies/Free+Bird

Good Luck!!
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Old 06-12-2011, 11:54 AM   #9
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Re: 1989 32' Bluebird conversion

Hey Guys & Gals --- since there seem to be so many "Birders" here, thought I'd pass along a couple of things I discovered years ago while converting an older All-American (flat-nose, forward control) 40 footer. As you will likely note, once the seats and old floors are up, when the engine is running it sounds like a fireworks display going off inside a tin cracker box. MY old unit came with a supercharged Detroit 6v53 "Screamer". Just maybe the loudest diesel engine ever built. Great little engines that did a lot of duty on the riverboats in Viet Nam, but probably inflicted more damage on the enemy from it's noise than even the gunners could muster. Sound proofing/deadening is critical if you plan on spending much time in these darlins'. In that vein, I came across a plywood product called "Db-Ply" (Db as in "decibels"). Probably goes by a host of names these days, but remarkable stuff. The center layer is not wood, but rather barium-loaded vinyl. This stuff absorbs sound like a sponge. We used it to build sound-stage sets and women in high heels could trot across it without so much as a click going to the mikes. Kinda spooky, actually. Makes the perfect flooring for a bus conversion and will also greatly reduce over-the-road noise as well.

Of course you'll also need to isolate as much engine noise at the source as possible, but there are heat resistant, foam products that use the same technology. Just Mylar covered foam with a barium-loaded sheet in the middle, Can be cut with a box cutter to fit and conform to the inside of a dog-house or any other engine compartment. Another trick that really helps hold down the noise in front engine units is to install carpeting to the roof in the front portion of the bus. Especially over the dog-house area. Blue Bird often fitted or retro-fitted (as an expensive option) a perforated, stainless sheet right over the engine to trap and isolate engine noise. Cheap (but tasteful) carpet samples glued to the roof works even better. Just try to find something other than that old orange and brown shag from the late '60's if you can.

Happy building.
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Old 06-12-2011, 01:24 PM   #10
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Re: 1989 32' Bluebird conversion

Thanks for the tips Tango! The little cummins in my bus isn't real loud but I will consider trying some the things you mentioned. It does have the perforations in the ceiling. I will be adding at least 2" of insulation to the floor, not sure yet how much I'll put on the sides and roof yet.

Arbor
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Old 06-15-2011, 02:31 AM   #11
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Re: 1989 32' Bluebird conversion

The roof raise should be commencing tomorrow or the next day. I have all the rivets out that need to come out. Having a good Mac air chisel is pretty nice for rivets! Takes 2-3 seconds per rivet. I started cutting the supports and I figured out where everything needs to be cut on the front and rear.

On a side note...this bus had been sitting for a long time and hadn't been run besides idling once in a while for several years. It seemed a little lacking in power and smoked a little. I felt the exhaust manifold when I cold started it a couple times, and one of the cylinders wasn't firing at an idle and two of them warmed up slower than the other three. All the injectors had fuel, so I tried swapping the injectors from the cold cylinder and one that seemed normal, but it didn't make any difference. I figured there must be carbon in the rings and valves from idling so much, resulting in poor compression. I did some research and decided to try hydro-cleaning the cylinders by slowing adding water to the intake. I'd never done this before so I was a bit weary, but I went ahead with it today. I put a half gallon of water in the intake over a few minutes with the engine at about 3/4 throttle. I wasn't expecting much of a difference, but I was amazed! It had noticeably more power going up my driveway (about 3/4 mile steep gravel road) and idled smoother. Ill see if it made any difference in the cylinders firing at an idle when I cold start it tomorrow.

Update: It runs better overall, but the one cylinder still doesn't start firing until it's warmed up. I'm thinking there's still carbon in there or else a burned valve or something of that nature. I won't worry about it though.

I would post a couple photos but photobucket is crapping out and I have work in 7 hours...

Arbor
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Old 06-19-2011, 11:41 PM   #12
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Re: 1989 32' Bluebird conversion

My phone died so I haven't taken any pictures lately, but I got the roof raised today. I decided to go with 10 inches. I made 22" extensions for each vertical support for the roof by welding flat metal to two sides of 1" x 1.5" rectangular tubing (it's not easy to find 1.25" x 1.75" tubing). I took the skins off the outside of the all the vertical supports, so they were channels that I could stick the extensions into from the outside. I cut them about 2/3 of the way up, then welded the extensions into the top part so they acted as guides as the roof went up. I jacked it up using 4 handyman jacks in the windows. I have 9 of the extensions welded in now (out of 24, but I will be taking out some of vertical supports out for larger windows).

I don't know how much sense that made without pictures. I'll try to post some tomorrow.

Arbor
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Old 07-17-2011, 02:14 PM   #13
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Re: 1989 32' Bluebird conversion

Hey guys! I'm back. It's been a busy summer and I haven't had a lot of spare time, but it's been pouring rain for the past few days and I'm having a lazy morning so I figured I'd update with some pictures. The roof is raised (10 inches) but I still have a little bit of custom work to do on the supports at the front and rear.

Post roof raise


Post roof raise


Close up of two of the supports. I used rectangular tubing and welded flat to two sides of it to get the correct thickness. I think I was going for 1 3/4" x 1 3/16"


One of the more "custom" supports. This one is behind the door. It's almost done.


I started digging into the extra wiring for all the school bus lights and other gadgets the other day. At first I was going to leave all the extra wires and reuse them later for new stuff, but I decided it'd be easier to just take it all out and add wires in as I need them. I removed the exterior light monitor and routed all the wires directly to the lights. I found some funky hillbilly wiring in the back at the turn/tail/brake lights, so I fixed all that.

In the middle of taking out wires


Some of the wires I took out. I'll reuse most or all of this.


Rear light wires after I fixed funky tape jobs


I bought 5 sheets of 18ga 4'x10' cold rolled steel for skinning the front and rear, as well as the sides where I won't have windows. I got it at Farwest Steel in Eugene for $55 per sheet, which was far better than anywhere else. I also bought 8 sheets of 2" 4'x8' R-MAX foil backed urethane insulation for the floor (R6 per inch) and 4 sheets of 1". I think I'll use the 1" foam for the ceiling and walls (I'll buy more if it works out). Otherwise I'm sure I'll find a use for it. The 2" foam was $40 per sheet and the 1" was $24 at Service Partners in Eugene.

Insulation and metal
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Old 07-17-2011, 05:04 PM   #14
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Re: 1989 32' Bluebird conversion (more pics added!)

Looks great!

I'm gonna need to check out the R-Max foil backed sheet insulation. I've seen quite a few conversions using that very same insulation. Is it tongue and grove?
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Old 07-17-2011, 06:33 PM   #15
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Re: 1989 32' Bluebird conversion (more pics added!)

Quote:
I started digging into the extra wiring for all the school bus lights and other gadgets the other day. At first I was going to leave all the extra wires and reuse them later for new stuff, but I decided it'd be easier to just take it all out and add wires in as I need them. I removed the exterior light monitor and routed all the wires directly to the lights. I found some funky hillbilly wiring in the back at the turn/tail/brake lights, so I fixed all that.
I guess we got lucky and didn't realize it. We didn't have a pile of excess wiring (just need to redo the flasher lights) nor did we have any "aftermarket" rewire jobs. We do have to pull new wire for the re-purposed flashers but that's not a big deal. And we also had to pull new wire for the speakers (I'm adding two and removing one). Other than adding switches at each dome light down the center of the bus and new switch for the docking lights, The original wiring is left alone.
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Old 07-17-2011, 07:15 PM   #16
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Re: 1989 32' Bluebird conversion (more pics added!)

The R-MAX isn't T&G but it might be available that way. I didn't check.

I got pissed today and tore out the whole door. I'm going to make a regular out-swing door. I'll make it a little higher than it was. It was about 77" but I had to duck under when I was going out (I'm 6'2"). I figure I'll be happier in the long run if I do it right.

Arbor
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Old 07-18-2011, 12:12 AM   #17
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Re: 1989 32' Bluebird conversion (more pics added!)

where did you put the water when you "hydro-cleaned" the engine? i did the=is on my NA diesel but it heard that the water droplets turn into bullets if you introduce them before the turbo because the turbo blades are turning so quickly. i have a 5.9 1989 model with inter cooler and am thinking about just removing the "croos-over tube" an misting it in there.
keep up the quick work
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Old 07-18-2011, 02:09 AM   #18
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Re: 1989 32' Bluebird conversion (more pics added!)

I put it in before the turbo. I don't think that that could cause any problem. The water droplets aren't going to speed up any more than the air, and even if they did, the only thing they could possibly hit is the intake manifold, which should be able to handle high speed drops of water. If you inject the water after the turbo, you'd have to have a tight seal and pump the water in because you would be putting into a pressurized system.

I still have one cylinder not firing. I'm going to swap that injector with a different one again just to be absolutely sure it's not that. Assuming it still isn't firing, I'll check the valves. If they are in spec, I'll probably have to tear the engine apart. Could be broken rings, burned valve, bent pushrod or flattened lifter roller - anything else? I'm getting fuel to the injector with at least some pressure, but I suppose it might not be a bad idea to check pressure there. I really just need to get the tool to do a compression test on it.

Arbor
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Old 07-18-2011, 11:13 AM   #19
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Re: 1989 32' Bluebird conversion (more pics added!)

it is not the speed of the water droplets that are concerning it is the speed of the turbo. the turbine is what is spinning and it is the first thing the drops come into contact with, I have seen the odd picture of a cratered and chewed up up turbine due to foreign matter getting into the intake.

That is all just something to think about if you are going to keep doing this periodically i would at least remove the ducting and make sure the blades are not pitted and scarred because rebuilding a turbo aint cheap and they are spinning Real fast in there.

Also removing the ducting after the turbo just makes the turbo an under-hood fan and the turbo diesel a regular diesel. it will run just fine without the added power/pressure from the turbo, it is only naturally aspirated for the duration of the H2O injection.

It can take a while for the air trapped in an injector to completely work its way out naturally, are you bleeding them at the fuel line with the engine running? Also the injectors have little sealing washers that should be replaced when the injector is removed. Some people don't do it every time but if you swap them around three or four times they might be leaking (compression out probably)

i get all of my cummins knowledge on this website.
http://www.dieseltruckresource.com
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Old 07-18-2011, 09:08 PM   #20
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Re: 1989 32' Bluebird conversion (more pics added!)

Thanks for the info about the turbo, I hadn't thought of that. I wasn't planning on doing it again anyway, but I will look into that if I do.

I am bleeding them where the fuel line connects to the injector while it's running, but I will make sure they are getting bled properly.

I'll check to make sure no gas is coming out around the injector, thanks.

Arbor
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