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Old 07-01-2017, 01:17 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: Scottsdale, Az
Posts: 14
Year: 2001
Coachwork: AmTran
Engine: International T444E HT
Rated Cap: 84 Passenger
2001 AmTran RE to Self Sufficient Space Habitat

Before embarking on my schoolie project, I had done some preliminary research on the fish, plants, lighting, and other elements necessary to be self-sufficient, and self-sustaining. If you have an interest in more details, check out the website at http://earthseed.space.

After I wrapped my initial research, I built a tiny home on a 4x8 trailer to test some of the integration. Talk about a project that never ends! After 4 years, I still couldn't call it done. That is, until I was surfing the web and found an auction site for school buses.

The find was more than fortuitous. There, in a town nearby was a bus, that was within my budget, and even possibly, in good shape. Long story short, the owners were very helpful in letting me inspect the bus, provided a limited, but descriptive history, and my impetuousness took over.

After winning the auction in March 2017, I found a mechanic only 25 miles away and had the bus towed there. They discovered that after new batteries, $40 in fuel, oil change a family of pack-rats had made a nest in the Air intake. After their eviction, only a few adjustments resulted in a road-worthy schoolie!

More to come.
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Old 09-18-2017, 02:56 AM   #2
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: Scottsdale, Az
Posts: 14
Year: 2001
Coachwork: AmTran
Engine: International T444E HT
Rated Cap: 84 Passenger
Progress Update on The Bus

The Parking Spot
With the bus in road-worthy status, all I had to do was find a parking spot to work on it. This is slightly more complicated that I had thought. The home I live in does not have sufficient driveway for the bus, so I needed to find other accommodations. Serendipity intervened. One evening (before I picked up the bus from the mechanic) I was working with one of my clients, and told them of my recent purchase, and difficulty in finding a place to park for the build out. They were quick to offer their gravel parking spot in their recently purchased home. The rest is history! two weeks later, I parked the baby in her new, temporary home. I immediately began removing all vestage of the School bus nomenclature, and equipment, and began preparations for a fresh paint job.
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Legalities
The city of Phoenix (most municipalities it turns out) have specific rules about parking "commercial" vehicles in the front of a home. And a school bus is "commercial". My host had introduced the bus to her neighbors with much praise and excitement from all, and willingness to allow the project on their cul-de-sac. However, the city gives bonuses to waste collectors to report certain infractions to the inspectors, and a commercial school bus was a great target. My host received a notice regarding the bus.

Harumph. I had done my preliminary research on licensing as a private vehicle, already had a temp tag, but it was still "commercial". SO, I had to accellerate my work. I knew that certain components had to be installed and functional inside to qualify as a class-A, so I set to work.
First was the paint job. My harbor freight sprayer did a fair job, if I say so myself. Though I got in a hurry in a few spots, and, well, we'll just ignore those for now.
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With the paint complete, I worked on removal of the seats. Problematic until I finally (after half-way through) realized I could just cut the legs off close to the floor to expedite removal. Then cut the bolts off and remove the feet later. Ungh!!!
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With most of the seats removed, I could concentrate on installation of the required components: Sink, water supply, cooking, refridgerator, A/c, heater, bed, and generator.
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Off to the DMV for my inspection. I arrived early, and was making great progress until the last item on the list ... the VIN plate. This is supposed to be a small plate riveted to the interior wall or chassis. Well, several of them and I scoured the bus to no avail. They were about to disallow my licensure until I produced the full documentation history from factory, through previous owner, to me. Saved my bacon!

But one last wrinkle bit me. According to Arizona requirements, the first thing listed is "full custom flooring installed". This I fought. I argued that the list placed flooring install prior to installation of key infrastructure, therefore creating a conflicting requirement. I spent nearly an hour arguing this through inspectors, supervisors, and finally the manager. We agreed on a compromise: They would pass me, thus registering and licensing the bus, BUT qualify that no flooring was installed at inspections. I suspect this was to protect them from fallout if I were to be stopped while on the road. I took the partial win, and drove away with registration and plates as a Class-A Motorhome.
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With the bus now classified as a Private Motorhome, I could take the pressure off of my parking host, and resume the work!

The next step ...
Removal of the remaining seats would provide me more work space, and I had to pull out the installed components temporarily so that I could open the walls and install first layer of insulation.
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And finally install the electrical panel and wiring, construct the interior wall, and insulate that ... whew!!
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Well, progress is moving forward ... pretty good I think, from March to September!

A new wrinkle
Noticed a fluid leak near the right rear axle. Quite the puddle. Took it in ... looks like an axle seal. ONLY $1000 and two days, to locate a replacement and install it. Well, I'll have to save up for that one.
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Old 09-18-2017, 06:53 AM   #3
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Kansas
Posts: 224
Year: 1995
Coachwork: Thomas
Engine: 8.3 Cummins, 643
That is a great looking bus you have there. Good luck on your way to becoming self sufficient looks like you have the drive to get it done.
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Old 11-23-2017, 10:12 PM   #4
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: Scottsdale, Az
Posts: 14
Year: 2001
Coachwork: AmTran
Engine: International T444E HT
Rated Cap: 84 Passenger
Thanks, Jacob ... a Labor of love!
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Old 11-24-2017, 05:08 PM   #5
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: SW New Hampshire
Posts: 1,334
Damn! Argued a point with the DMV and WON on the basis of COMMON SENSE! I don't recall hearing that happening before.
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Old 11-24-2017, 06:18 PM   #6
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: Louisville, KY
Posts: 33
Year: 2002
Coachwork: AmTran RE
Engine: DT466
Rated Cap: 72
Will be watching this closely, I've got an AmTran too.. Bit more rust, but that's Kentucky for you. Lots of salt, not that much snow.
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Old 11-24-2017, 06:31 PM   #7
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 228
Year: 1997
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: AARE 3903
Engine: Cummins 8.3L 12v
Rated Cap: 78
2001 AmTran RE to Self Sufficient Space Habitat

Nice to see another skoolie getting built in Phoenix! Hope it’s going well!


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Old 11-25-2017, 08:06 AM   #8
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: Scottsdale, Az
Posts: 14
Year: 2001
Coachwork: AmTran
Engine: International T444E HT
Rated Cap: 84 Passenger
A tiny victory of bull-headedness ... but victory just the same.
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Old 11-25-2017, 08:08 AM   #9
Bus Geek
 
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Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Eustis FLORIDA
Posts: 23,673
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Freighliner FS65
Engine: Cat 3126
Rated Cap: 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by DamnitAddie View Post
Will be watching this closely, I've got an AmTran too.. Bit more rust, but that's Kentucky for you. Lots of salt, not that much snow.
I guess it depends on where in KY. My Todd county Senator came 98% rust free.
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Old 11-25-2017, 08:08 AM   #10
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: Scottsdale, Az
Posts: 14
Year: 2001
Coachwork: AmTran
Engine: International T444E HT
Rated Cap: 84 Passenger
Good luck on your AmTran, Addie. One suggestion ... find a level parking spot to work on, as it will make a lot of measurements/joints work better!
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Old 11-25-2017, 08:12 AM   #11
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: Scottsdale, Az
Posts: 14
Year: 2001
Coachwork: AmTran
Engine: International T444E HT
Rated Cap: 84 Passenger
Miscrms ... Well, purchased in March, and now in Nov, I'm on the home stretch to complete living space. So far, so good. One of the gotcha's I have discovered is little inconsistencies like how nothing is square. I suppose a lot of that is due to age and road-wear.
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Old 11-25-2017, 09:51 PM   #12
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: Louisville, KY
Posts: 33
Year: 2002
Coachwork: AmTran RE
Engine: DT466
Rated Cap: 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by EastCoastCB View Post
I guess it depends on where in KY. My Todd county Senator came 98% rust free.
Yeah, Todd borders TN. Mine came from Kenton, which is near Cinci. Even here in Louisville, they brine the crap out of the roads anytime a meteorologist even hints that there might be frozen precipitation.
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Old 11-25-2017, 09:52 PM   #13
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: Louisville, KY
Posts: 33
Year: 2002
Coachwork: AmTran RE
Engine: DT466
Rated Cap: 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by djmitzlplick View Post
Good luck on your AmTran, Addie. One suggestion ... find a level parking spot to work on, as it will make a lot of measurements/joints work better!
Good suggestion. I'm currently on quite the incline.
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Old 03-28-2018, 03:25 AM   #14
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: Scottsdale, Az
Posts: 14
Year: 2001
Coachwork: AmTran
Engine: International T444E HT
Rated Cap: 84 Passenger
New Updates

The effort to maintain updates both here and on my website (www.earthseed.space) is getting challenging, especially as a lot has happened since my last message.

Here is the link to the project on my website, Bus

I will post another message here when updates are put up there as well.

Thanks for all the support, and keep up ... the best is yet to come!

Don
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Old 09-23-2018, 09:33 PM   #15
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: Scottsdale, Az
Posts: 14
Year: 2001
Coachwork: AmTran
Engine: International T444E HT
Rated Cap: 84 Passenger
Just added an album with most recent pics ... EarthSeed Mobile Habitat.
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