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Old 03-04-2017, 12:35 AM   #1
New Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: Denver Colorado
Posts: 3
Year: 2003
Engine: Cummins
2003 Blue Bird for National Park Tour

First post: Feb2017, bought a 2003 Blue Bird, 29 feet, Front Engine(Cummings), Allison 2000 Series Transmision from Las Vegas Bus Sales with 124K miles on it. I have 6 weeks to demo it before the contractor starts the build.

Decisions made so far:
6 solar panels for 1800W of power
Rooftop deck (cedar)
Separett for composting toilet (ordered)
Tuft and Needle Queen mattress for bedroom (delivered)
Tuft and Needle Twin mattress for couch/daybed (ordered)
Origo denatured alcohol stove (eBay from a yacht in Virginia, delivered but with damage, had to take to sheet metal worker to repair)
Shower, no bathtub
10 gallon RV water heater (that runs on solar, have not ordered)
Blue stained pine wood floors (found for 59 cents per LF)
Cedar for closet, bathroom walls
Foam insulation
Switch to RV Windows (will order from eBay)
Small woodburning stove (have not ordered)

My Builder instructed me to find LED light fixtures, kitchen and bathroom sinks plus any fixures I want for them. (Still looking, mostly at habitat)

Once complete I plan to visit all 59 National Parks (7 of which I will have to take a boat or a plane to once I get in the vicinity). I will be working remotely so will need to put a dish on top for decent internet.
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Old 03-04-2017, 05:20 AM   #2
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: SE Florida
Posts: 1,109
Year: 2003
Coachwork: International
Engine: T444E
Rated Cap: 65 pax
Welcome! Looking forward to seeing the build.

Sandi


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Old 03-04-2017, 10:18 AM   #3
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: Colorado
Posts: 49
Year: 1998
Coachwork: BlueBird
Chassis: TC2000FE
Engine: 5.9L Cummins ISB
Rated Cap: 71
Welcome Zeldarin!

I am nearby in Aurora, and have both a '93 and '98 TC2000. The '93 has been retired for parts, so if you need anything, let me know!

My 2 cents on seat removal:
- 2 person job
- Air ratchet w/ extension and socket
- Combination wrench
- Remove all the seat cushions (where you sit) prior to starting
- Unbolt the seats rather than grind them

I have now done this 2x and my son and I did the 71pax in about 2hrs.

Are you stripping the interior sheet metal? An air chisel makes super quick work of the rivets!

Who is your 'contractor'? Is there someone here that specializes in conversions professionally?

Good luck with the build, and looking forward to you documenting your NP adventures!
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Old 03-04-2017, 12:33 PM   #4
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Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: Denver Colorado
Posts: 3
Year: 2003
Engine: Cummins
Hey ColoradoCummins

Hey CC, I live in Centennial so we are very close! I would love to meet up for Lunch or coffee one day or maybe come and check out your buses! Good advice on removing the seats, etc from my bus. The dealer is going to remove the seats and the wheelchair lift for me but then I need to get to work on the rest of the demo. We are removing everything we can from the interior. Charles Kern (wouldyoulookatthatbus.com) is my builder. He and his partner do excellent work, they are in Arvada.

I have a friend who drives a school bus for Denver Public Schools and he is going to give me a driving lesson on Sunday. I leave to pick up my bus next Thursday.
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Old 03-04-2017, 02:27 PM   #5
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: KANSAS CITY
Posts: 751
Quote:
Originally Posted by ColoradoCummins View Post
Welcome Zeldarin!

I am nearby in Aurora, and have both a '93 and '98 TC2000. The '93 has been retired for parts, so if you need anything, let me know!

My 2 cents on seat removal:
- 2 person job
- Air ratchet w/ extension and socket
- Combination wrench
- Remove all the seat cushions (where you sit) prior to starting
- Unbolt the seats rather than grind them

I have now done this 2x and my son and I did the 71pax in about 2hrs.

Are you stripping the interior sheet metal? An air chisel makes super quick work of the rivets!

Who is your 'contractor'? Is there someone here that specializes in conversions professionally?

Good luck with the build, and looking forward to you documenting your NP adventures!
Great advice. Lucky mine had the seats out already. The guy you can get underneath is the key.
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1998 Ford B700 Thomas body 65 passenger. 5.9 Cummins 12 valve with MT643 Transmission 123,000 miles.
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Old 03-04-2017, 02:30 PM   #6
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: Colorado
Posts: 49
Year: 1998
Coachwork: BlueBird
Chassis: TC2000FE
Engine: 5.9L Cummins ISB
Rated Cap: 71
Zeldarin,

I would love to meet up! My busses are stored near Buckley AFB as I live in your typical suburban covenant controlled neighborhood. (they don't like me much!)

Nice move having them pull the seats and lift!

I took a look at Charles' website. I would love to meet him as well. Maybe I can come up with you when you drop her off, or to check progress?

Good idea on the driving lesson! I actually live ridiculously close to one of the Cherry Creek Schools bus barns, and have befriended one of their mechanics who also occasionally runs routes too. He has been SO helpful! In fact, he came out to inspect the '98 we drive now before I bought it, and used to work for Stewart Stevenson, so has been a lot of help with my Crown as well. (Detroit Diesel)
Many thanks Daryl!!!

Where are you getting your bus from?

I'll PM you with my phone and email.

I can feel the excitement building!
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Old 03-13-2017, 09:52 PM   #7
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Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: Central Connecticut, for now.
Posts: 6
So similar ...

Love your goal for the conversion -- National Parks! They're on my list as well, but I'm about 3 years behind your project timeline!

Did anyone ever rate your bus in terms of "rows?" Is there a way to translate rows to feet and inches? I *still* don't know what I'm looking for, even though I have a good sense of the result I want! And each time I email dealers I hear *crickets* in reply.

Best wishes! Hope to cross paths somewhere "out there!!"
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Old 03-14-2017, 08:01 AM   #8
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: Utah
Posts: 266
Year: 1990
Coachwork: BB
Chassis: TC2000
Engine: Cummins
Rated Cap: 25.999K
A friend of mine has the same bus, as do I (mine is older though). My friend painted "26 ft" on the side (his is 28 or 29 also), in a font that made it look like it was original and still from the school district. He said he did this for parking reasons in the Parks. Its something you might want to look into.
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Old 03-15-2017, 10:19 AM   #9
Skoolie
 
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Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: onboard
Posts: 235
Year: 97
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: BadMuthaFuka
Engine: Cummins 5.9
Rated Cap: All of us
awesome idea about the NP tour, we have been hitting them for last 9 months and the skoolie is the way to go.
how much $ is the contractor projecting the build will cost and how long will it take? I have been curious because I would like to build one for someone sometime. also is contractor offering any "warranty" on their work?
built ours in 200 hours solo, and am under 30k still
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Old 03-19-2017, 05:00 PM   #10
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Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: Denver Colorado
Posts: 3
Year: 2003
Engine: Cummins
Update: 2nd Post March 2017

It's been a whirlwind this last month. Picked up my bus from the dealer in Las Vegas and drove it back to Denver. I was comfortable driving this bus after only a few hours of tooling around in it. I stayed in Vegas for about 6 hours after I picked it up and practiced driving on highways and through side streets. The first night I drove from Vegas to Flagstaff. I stopped a few places along the way but the truck stops were always full of semi's and there was nowhere to park for the night. In Flagstaff I used an app to show me which Walmart's allowed overnight parking, I ended up using Walmart parking for the rest of the trip. I also didn't care much for driving the bus at night so stuck to driving during daylight after the first leg. Second day was Flagstaff to Albuquerque and then Albuquerque to Denver on the last day. Long trip but I feel like I can drive the bus anywhere now. The air breaks and downshifting handled the 6% grades nicely, I didn't once feel out of control. I tried to keep the bus near 45 mph going down steep hills/grades. Otherwise, with the bus empty it could cruise on flat highway. I stuck to 65 mph but would catch myself going 70 without realizing it. Cruise control was a HUGE help, it kept me from getting so tired.

Once in Denver, my goal was to get the bus plated and drop it off at the warehouse for the contractor. The DMV required the title, bill of sale, proof of insurance, emissions test, VIN verification and a certified weight slip. I was lucky enough to find a local diesel dealer who took care of the emissions and VIN verification and referred me to a place nearby to get the certified weight. My car insurance agent found me bus insurance. It is expensive, at least more expensive than I was expecting. She said once we re-title it as an RV it will go down in price. Right now it is still considered a commercial vehicle and that is why the rates were so high.

I dropped the bus in the warehouse parking lot. I will be gutting it there over the next month, my contractor won't be starting the build until the end of April. He has to finish the current bus he is converting first. But that gives me a lot of time to pull up the floor, take down the ceiling and remove the windows. The more work I can get done, the more money it saves me. My original budget was 30K but the contractor thinks it will come in around 37K. I will be working hard to get the extra money put aside in the next few months!

One month closer to my dream
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