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Old 02-11-2024, 06:36 AM   #1
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Birddog's Bus

Guess it's time to start a build thread. Few weeks ago I found a bus being sold by a local school and after some negotiations I brought it home. 1999 Bluebird conventional with a Cat 3126B and I believe an AT545 trans. I put a bunch of miles on a box truck built on the same chassis so I had some familiarity. My goal is to have something me and the dogs can use for occasional weekend or even week long adventures, NOT full time living. At this point I don't see it being near as fancy as I see alot of people building, infact I see it being rather spartan. I don't usually run Air Conditioning in my house in the summer so I hope I won't need it in the bus, after all I live in northern Ohio. Started pulling seats out yesterday, the hardest part was the repeated crawling under and back inside the bus to get the bolts undone. A few bolts actually came unscrewed, most broke under the impact, a few yielded to the cutoff wheel.
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Old 02-13-2024, 12:02 PM   #2
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Not exactly a skoolie but a project I did 15 years or so ago. Dad's neighbor said I could have an old motor home if I could get it running, by the time he got back home from the bar I had it turned around in his driveway. Roof was too far gone for me to try to repair it and my car trailer was too narrow for a late model I had acquired, so I converted the camper to a car hauler. Worked great.
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Old 02-18-2024, 02:57 PM   #3
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I should have measured before I bought it. No worries, if I can't fix it with the scrap metal pile and a welder I have another potential use for it.
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Old 02-18-2024, 03:01 PM   #4
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Idea what it would look like folded up.
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Old 02-23-2024, 12:13 PM   #5
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Whoo hoo, titled as RV, temp tags and veteran plates ordered.
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Old 02-23-2024, 05:03 PM   #6
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I've stripped the seats from a bunch of mini-buses and the easiest solution I have found is to cut the bolt head off with an angle grinder and just punch the bolt out from the top. No going under the bus at all - just pick up the bolts when done.

Instead of trying to loosen all the bolts, it is so much easier to use two angle grinders inside the bus. We used a heavy wheel to start the grind at the junction of the bolt head and washer. Then we switched to a cutting wheel. Without doing the first wheel, it was hard to get below the bolt head reliably. On the last bus I did, the two of us did all the seats in about 3 hours.
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Old 02-23-2024, 05:39 PM   #7
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I just don't like all the crap that cutting and grinding makes. I screwed up the windshield of my Baja Bug with grinding slag years ago and since then avoid when I can.
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Old 02-23-2024, 06:20 PM   #8
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I just don't like all the crap that cutting and grinding makes. I screwed up the windshield of my Baja Bug with grinding slag years ago and since then avoid when I can.
When I first bought my bus, I had the brilliant idea of cutting out my ceiling panels between the ribs, leaving a thin strip of the panels still attached to the ribs and not bothering trying to remove the rivets. I used a cutting wheel on an angle grinder and ended up with thousands of little bits of steel embedded in all my windows. You really can't tell they're there unless you look really close or run your fingers over them, but I still feel pangs of regret - especially since I ended up chiseling out all the rivets anyway.
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Old 02-25-2024, 02:39 PM   #9
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Quote:
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Not exactly a skoolie but a project I did 15 years or so ago. Dad's neighbor said I could have an old motor home if I could get it running, by the time he got back home from the bar I had it turned around in his driveway. Roof was too far gone for me to try to repair it and my car trailer was too narrow for a late model I had acquired, so I converted the camper to a car hauler. Worked great.
How did you close the back of your cab on the toy hauler? This is my hope to do with a bus I have
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Old 02-25-2024, 02:51 PM   #10
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Over the cab was a bed when it was a camper. I used that and plywood to close the back of the can in. Pop rivets and bondo. Driving the dodge chassis after it was stripped of the camper, rocks were hitting me in the back of the head from the rear tires. ��
If I were to use a school bus to build a car hauler I would use the original back and just move it forward however far I needed too.
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Old 02-26-2024, 10:44 PM   #11
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Mine is a shuttle bus on an e450 IDI. I love the back window on the shuttle bus but not sure I have the skills to move the back cap forward ��
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Old 03-02-2024, 05:33 PM   #12
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Well, got my side door locking solution roughed out. And some of the school bus decals off today.
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Old 03-02-2024, 06:29 PM   #13
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That is a no BS locking mechanism, I like it. The only thing I'd recommend is something heartier than a Master lock - I've watched too many Lock Picking Lawyer videos to trust that thing.
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Old 03-03-2024, 08:40 AM   #14
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With battery powered grinding wheels readily available today anyone could defeat that in under 5 seconds. But it should keep the majority out who don't have one handy on their person.
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Old 03-03-2024, 11:23 AM   #15
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With battery powered grinding wheels readily available today anyone could defeat that in under 5 seconds. But it should keep the majority out who don't have one handy on their person.
It's really only as secure as the next weakest component. Pretty sure a utility knife could cut the window seals out to get a person in. Or a rock.
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Old 03-10-2024, 06:31 PM   #16
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So I went to the Bluebird Vantage site and tried looking my bus up because I was hoping to find some wiring diagrams. No joy. Is there another source I can pursue? Or do I need to just spend some quality time in the panel with my multimeter?
The stock radio doesn't seem to work. I did notice a very faint display of I looked real close. Determined that there was no ignition power coming in to the radio. Found another source of power and jumped it and heard life coming out of the speakers.�� Unfortunately that was quickly followed by the magic smoke trying to escape from the head unit, I guess no tunes for me. Also got the rest of the seat bottoms off and the side bolts on the seats off so when I get a helper to run the impact, I can crawl underneath with the vice grips and get the rest of the seats out. I did put a couple questionable stickers on the back window.
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Old 03-11-2024, 07:09 AM   #17
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With battery powered grinding wheels readily available today anyone could defeat that in under 5 seconds. But it should keep the majority out who don't have one handy on their person.

more than you think.. catalytic converter thieves keep them handy... granted grinding out in the open is a little more noticeable than someone under a pickup truck. so there is that..



that said, the driver window lock on school busses is more insecure than that is.. it is incredibly easy to overcome the little "tang" on IC/amtran, carpenter, thomas bus driver window locks.. bluebird latches are a little better...
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Old 03-11-2024, 07:22 AM   #18
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on my bluebird of the same vintage.. when you open up the 'T' shaped switch panel, of course there are 2 or 3 'power bars' on the sidewall one is BAT+ and the others are accessory and / or ignition.. if your bus has 2 solenoids then stuff hooked to one of them will be accessory (when key is ON or in ACC).. things like radio, dome lights, power outlets.. the second bar (if on separate solenoid).. will be IGN ON items like heater motors, wipers etc..



if your bus only has one solenopid then everything except the BAT+ bar is poewered when is in ACC or ON.



hidden underneath that Massive ball of wires on the bottom of that switch panel cavitiy is 2 rows of terminals.. I have found everything goes here first.. and those terminals pop off when people mess with the wiring.. I found more than one loose wire on those terminal strips that are under everything..



I dont have diagrams for mine either.. vantage had nothing but the A/C wiring which was provided by trans / AIR..



my factory radio itself was dead.. I found a pinout for it (was a panasonic).. using a meter I found I had power to bioth the BAT and IGN lines but it would only light up when it wanted and sometimes played through one speaker.. I tossed it and swapped in a pioneer with a navi screen on it..



the speaker wiring in Bluebirds is Wonky.. I found a diagram for a different bus a couple years newer.. and the speakers use a series/parrallel wiring setup with what appears to be a shared floated ground.. when I hooked up my speakers I hooked up Left+ and right+ but only hooked the negative up on the left side and left the right side negative open and all works.. if I tried to bridge that shared common it caused the radio to fault and give me a "speaker wiring fault".. its a wierd wiring setup that ive not seen before.. if you are opening your ceiling up id probably re-purpose some of the old school-light wires and run discreet wiring to each speaker..
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Old 03-11-2024, 10:08 AM   #19
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Cadillackid, thanks for the info.
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