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Old 01-21-2020, 11:41 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jan 2020
Location: Wild Wild West
Posts: 29
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: All American A3RE
Engine: 8.3 Cummins MD3060
Rated Cap: 84
'99 Blue Bird Retirement Project - Bus #1

Since this will be my build journal, It needs to start with the back story.

As I approach retirement with my State of Nevada job, we decided it was time to slowly step into the RV world. Since we still have our last child home, we don't want to go at it fulltime yet. In August of '19 we purchased a new pop-up camper. The plan was to use this for a few years as we experience camping and life on the road in small increments to determine exactly what RV path we want, and if this lifestyle is even what we really want to spend retired life doing. August was probably not the best time of year to purchase. With winter coming on and school starting back up, we have only used the trailer a few times, and now it sits under a tarp waiting for freezing temps to go away. In the mean time, my oldest son comes up with this brilliant plan to buy an old school bus to convert into a motor home. He is my one child that is always 1000% gung-ho at the beginning of every project, but runs out of motivation very shortly into each project. (Can you say adult child with severe ADHD?)

His plan was a roof raise since he is 6'4". I could just see this bus with the top cut off laying in the back yard never to be completed, right next to the three Suburbans and two trucks he has started to project on and never will finish! Sometimes his inherited (from me) horse trading works out in my benefit. This time he traded a minivan for a '99 rear engine Blue Bird All American with the 8.3 Cummins and the Allison MD 3060. Someone else had started the project, so it came completely gutted, and with fairly new tires on it. He drove it about 200 miles home and it ran quite well. Fortunately for the future of the bus, he picked it up in the middle of winter, so he was reluctant to start on the roof raise until warmer weather hit. It only took about a month for the novel idea of a Skoolie was replaced with his wife's desire to buy a house and remodel that instead of living in a bus. Then he realized he would need a truck to haul all the building materials. Here's where I enter the future picture of the bus. He offered, practically begged, me to take the bus off his hands since he couldn't find a buyer for it. He really didn't try very hard, I think he could have signed up on this site and had it sold pretty fast, he was only asking $3500 for it. But his lack of patience has cost him mucho $$$ throughout his life. (I still haven't told him about the International A100 Golden Jubilee that he sold to me for a quick $500 when he was 16. I turned around and sold it for $2000 after a little advertising he was to impatient to do!) I have numerous stories like this where I have profited because of his lack of patience. Even after showing him how to make money being patient, he still can't seem to wait for the bigger pay off. He does well on his trades, but he could do so much better if he would settle down a bit and wait. I guess I should feel bad profiting off of his impatience, but he does pretty well anyway, so I don't feel too bad. 2019 saw him $24,000 richer with his wheeling and dealing, so he still doesn't do too bad.

So now here we are. He wants to trade the bus for my '94 F150. I really did NOT want a school bus living in my yard! After he pestered me for almost a month, I reluctantly decided to see what the sellers market looked like for a school bus. Little did I know there is this whole sub-culture of Skoolies driving around the country. I quickly realized if I advertised this thing right, I could probably have it sold in a few weeks at a substantial profit over what my truck was worth. Then I made the mistake of searching 'Skoolie' on youtube. I spent a weekend sick on the couch watching hours worth of skoolie videos, which led me to finding this web site. After a few weeks of researching school bus conversion, I took the bus for a ride down the highway. I was hooked, bitten by the Skoolie bug! I have even managed to convince my wife that this is going to be a fun adventure we can have together. My only regret is that if I had waited until this spring to buy the pop-up camper like my wife wanted to do, we would have had that money to put into the bus. However, I think we will still get plenty of use out of the trailer since I'm in the process of remodeling my house, and finishing my career, I think I will be about 2 years on the bus project before it's ready for the road.

Now, on to my plans for my Skoolie. I have a '88 Southwind motor home in the back 40 that I picked up for a cheap song after it had a grease fire that pretty well ruined the interior. This will be the major donor for all the RV needs for the bus. I plan to go the RV route rather than the more common off-grid set up of the skoolie. The main things I will pull off the Rv to use will be the fresh water, grey, and black tanks, 2 roof A/C units, 5000 watt Onan generator, 3 burner range top, several of the windows, and the swivel seat pedestals. I'm not sure what was used as an inverter, or house battery charger, so I don't know if I will use that, or come up with something different. I'm planning on going with 50A shore power so I can run both A/C units, microwave, and fridge. I plan on a full sized 110V fridge, those 3 way fridges are way too small and expensive. I am also very anti RV bathroom. We will devote a decent size portion of the floor plan to the bathroom. I'm really quite excited to get going on the conversion. I have lots of questions that I'm confident this awesome community has the answers to. I really look forward to learning and sharing my experience here. I'm very open to suggestions throughout my build. I'm not one who needs to make my own mistakes to learn, I have no problem learning from yours, so please, if you see me heading for a big one, feel free to tell me to quit being an idiot and do it the right way!
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Old 01-21-2020, 12:51 PM   #2
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 279
So the two trucks.

Chevy square bodies by any chance??
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Old 01-21-2020, 01:31 PM   #3
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jan 2020
Location: Wild Wild West
Posts: 29
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: All American A3RE
Engine: 8.3 Cummins MD3060
Rated Cap: 84
Yes, one was a '79 camper special, 4 door, 2 wheel drive dually. He cut the frame to make it a short box. Actually did a pretty good job that far, but then lost steam for that project. He finally sold that truck a few months ago after it sat for a few years while he collected more junk. The other one is, I think, a '82 standard cab 3/4 ton 4x4 without a title. I think he finally gave that to his brother so it is now on the mend. His brother is a much more focused and driven person. With him buying a house and moving a few towns over, I told him all his junk has to go, or I'm hauling all of it to the dump.
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Old 01-21-2020, 02:05 PM   #4
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Posts: 279
Well if either one are available.
I need a couple of good bodies
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Old 01-25-2020, 10:01 PM   #5
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jan 2020
Location: Wild Wild West
Posts: 29
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: All American A3RE
Engine: 8.3 Cummins MD3060
Rated Cap: 84
I spent some time out back with the donor motor home this afternoon. I got the grey and black tanks pulled out. Pulled the A/C wiring out of the roof enough to hook each unit up to power to see if they still work after sitting for 12 years. No sense in carefully removing them if they don't work. I also did some measuring and floor planning on the bus. Remodeling the house and building the bus at the same time is going to be quite the challenge!

I was originally going to install the roof A/C units in the emergency hatches, but the hole is 2'X2' and the A/C units take a much smaller hole. Since I plan on adding a couple fans, I think I'll just cut new holes for the A/C and make the emergency hatches into sky lights.

The generator I have is a 6500 watt Onan. It looks like there are two separate 110V lines coming off of it. If so, I'll tie each leg into the 50A set up and just be aware that when running off generator power, I'll be limited to about 30 mps on each side, rather than 50. I plan on mounting the generator behind the wall panel towards the front of the bus, between the storage bay and the front wheel on the drivers side. That way I can run it while I'm sleeping and it won't be right under the bed room.
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Old 01-26-2020, 02:11 AM   #6
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Posts: 1,467
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Thomas Built Bus
Chassis: Freightliner FS65
Engine: Caterpillar 3126E Diesel
Rated Cap: 71 Passenger- 30,000 lbs.
With regards to the 2'x2' emergency hatches ... you can build an insert that reduces it down to 14"x14" for the air conditioner. This is what we did for our build.
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