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Old 04-13-2022, 03:18 PM   #1
Bus Nut
 
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Join Date: Oct 2021
Location: Jax Beach, FL
Posts: 461
Year: 2003
Coachwork: BlueBird
Chassis: TC2000 28ft
Engine: Cummins ISB 5.9 24v, MD3060
Rated Cap: 14
Birdie

About Birdie
BlueBird TC2000
28ft 9 Window
Flat Rear Floor
Handicap Lift
Cummins 5.9 24v
Allison MD3060
5.29 ratio
Rear Air Ride
Air Brakes
21k rear axle
13k front axle
Curb Weight Full tanks, seats = 17,000lb 8900lb steer 8700lb drive
Came from Tucson School District

About Me
For my day job, I am an Infrastructure Engineer at a Fintech company. I also have a small side business that does website building and maintenance. Never owned a diesel before, but I have replaced engines and transmissions in cars. Iím fairly mechanically inclined and throw myself to learning about things I get myself into. In the last 5 years, I have gotten deep into construction. I completed a whole guest house and down to the stud remodel in my own house after. I did everything from concrete, framing, plumbing, electrical, A/C, tiling, and roofing. The only thing I wonít do again is drywall (yay buses). I have a few other building projects that are going on at the same time as the bus build. I am trying to get grid tie solar going on my house during 2022. My son and I started a 16x12 treefort in our Live Oak, that Iím waiting for lumber prices to recede before continuing. And I typically have one weekly project to target (paint pergola, put up pool fence, powerwash house, etc).

Use for Bus
My family never desires to live on a bus. We want to take 1 month vacations to boondock mostly out west. We usually take one or two small vacations to the east coast Mountains. My family does think it would be awesome to homeschool one semester and do a 6-month excursion. Iím a remote worker and signed up for Starlink, so this could probably work out. My wife and I have two kids, currently ages 6 and 1. We want the bus small enough to go almost anywhere and easy to drive. We want it under the 35ish limit of some parks. We also want dedicated beds for the kids, so they donít have to fold up a dinette or couch to have breakfast. Thatís a lot to pack in a tiny bus.

The Workspace
I have a 35x12 gravel space next to my house that stored a boat. Itís the buses new home. I have an already full single car garage to store all my tools and treasures, so it will be a tight fit. Also, there is a fiberglass pool next to the gravel parking spot, so no metal cutting/grinding can be done where the bus is parked. This requires commutes to the front yard for dirty work. I also live about Ĺ Mile from the Atlantic Ocean. Metal brackets and things outside seem to rust quicker because of the salty air. With our humid climate, I am trying to get a nice coat of paint on, change to stainless screws and fluid film the pristine underside. When I remodeled my house, I put a 50amp RV Panel on the house next to the bus. I can run welders and shore power from here.


Updates
I'm sure things will change, but i will try to update this first post as i go. I wanted to make a list somewhere so its not just in my head. I will also post notable progress below on my adventure.


The Overall Plan
My build timeline is flexible. I have no needs to finish by a certain point, but would like to have something usable Summer 2023. I also have no fixed budget, I have a decent amount money to start the build, buy the bus, but Iím trying not to spend over a certain amount each month on the bus so that I can pay as go. This is for vacations. It is much too small of a platform to live in full time with the garage and bunks. I would love to have higher ceilings but donít want to get into a roof raise. I donít love the look and Iíd rather not mess with the exterior. Did you know when my bus was built, high roof was a $400 option? Umm, why werenít they all high roof?




Garage
So we are keeping the handicap lift and going to partition a wall separating the finished area from the garage. We plan to keep bikes, tools, hiking gear, grills and stuff in this back area. We can also hang inverters, batteries, panels and stuff on this wall. The space will be about 5x8 to fit all we can.


Rear Deck
3 or 4 ft extension of frame rails to allow 2 dirtbikes and other gear to be tied down outside. This brings total length to 31 or 32ft. Deciding how much tailswing I want. Will also be doing a headache rack from the platform up to a level bar crossing roof as a back support for the solar rack. Plan to put a swing out boom on the passenger side corner to be able to hoist things onto the platform. I can mount the minisplit to this rack and use the free side as a ladder to the roof. Iím hoping to replace or supplement my current 60 gallon diesel tank with something bigger extending under the platform. Under the sides, I would like to have a hatch/bin where I can store extra bus fluids. I also want to add a gas tank fill so that I can fill from either side of the bus


Roof Rack/Solar
I havenít decided on whether to just run two rails along the roof, bolted through each rib or to build a C shaped rack bolted to every other window channel. Either way, the only roof appliance will be a maxxair fan in the middle. This leaves me room for 8 commercial sized panels giving me 3200-3500watts of panels. Ideally, I would run one row of 4 on each side and then run an aluminum bleacher seat down the middle as a walk platform.


Dinette
We like the kids being able to have a seatbelted space up by the driver to hang out. We also want the table to be able to be up all the time. The plan is a 30-32in wide dinette with the front seat made like a flip flop boat seat. The backrest will slide to the front of the bus to face backwards during eating. It will slide to the rear of the bus to be forward facing with seatbelt while in motion. The flat front wheel wells will help save space here.


Bunk Bed
The bottom bunk will be framed and have under mattress storage like a couch. Under it will be driver heater and passenger heater. There will be plenty of other space for the kids stuff. The top bunk will be removable where the cushion is added to the top of the lower bunk and the frame will either get stowed tight to the ceiling or fit in the frame under the bottom bunk.


Bathroom
I didnít really want a wet bath, but gotta sacrifice somewhere fitting all this stuff. We will have a 32x42ish shower pan and an rv flush toilet on a riser behind it (total bath area is 60x32). My wife and I really donít want a compost toilet. There is room under the toilet for a 30-35-gallon black tank. Under that, I have a 60-gallon square aluminum fuel tank to be used for gray water. This will also shield the plastic black tank from rocks and things. I can fit 150gal of fresh in a 24x24x67 footprint under the bed.


Kitchen
I have a bit over 6ft of space to build a kitchen. We are planning on 4 feet of drawers and counter with sink. We have 2 feet for the fridge with a convection oven thing on top. Kitchen is opposite of all the plumbing. I can run the pex under the bed frame and for the drain, I think I should be able to easily cross the frame to the gray tank in the 2 in body channels.


Electrical
I want to be able to run off grid and I donít think I have enough space for an undermount generator. I plan an all-in-one inverter that can also backfeed my house with surplus solar. I plan one or two server rack batteries for storage. All bus appliances will be 120v so that I can accept shore power anywhere needed or run on a small 2000w inverter generator if my All-In-One fails. I plan a 48v battery system to keep wire costs down. Additionally, I have a free-ish 48v 180a alternator available. So I can buy a Balmar charge controller and have an engine driven charging in case solar output isnít keeping up. I can mount it where the remove A/C compressor was. I want to keep all systems electric that I can so I donít have to deal with propane. Everything that can be, will be run as 12v. Water pumps, fans, lights, etc. I will have a 12v charger to push power from the solar/48v/120v system to the 12v house battery (one 8D). I also have a battery isolator on the alternator to directly charge this while driving.


Insulation
Ĺ to 1in of XPS on the floor, 1.5in closed cell foam on the ceiling and walls. Sound mat on the steps and everywhere by the front engine. 90% roof airgap coverage by solar panels. Finished ceiling will have an insulator between hat channels and tongue and groove pvc boards.


Air conditioning
Going with a 120v 12k BTU minisplit heat pump. This will be mounted on the back bedroom wall. The outdoor unit will go under the bus if thereís room or above the rear door.


Heating
So far, we donít usually like cold trips, but it has gotten below freezing on many of our mountain trips. I have a 16kw diesel coolant heater. I will install 2 jegs heaters under the bottom bunk bed. The dash bus heaters are also in this loop, so there should be plenty of heat to go around. The Heat Pump on the minisplit should provide enough by itself for mild cold weather.


Water Heater
Originally was looking at doing a 120v/propane rv hybrid water. I really donít want to have a propane system on board. After realizing the power of my diesel coolant heater, I have decided to go with an 11-gallon marine water heater. This system has a 1500w element that will run off my 120v system to always keep 11 gallons hot for handwashing, one shower, etc. It takes one hour for 1500watts to heat 11 gallons. So typically on vacations, my family always showers back to back. Now I can flip on the coolant heater when showers start and have unlimited hot water (until the water or diesel tank runs out at least). Thinking of having a mixing valve outside the shower and only a ball valve on the heads. I can shower in 2 minutes, but everyone else takes forever.


Towing
Would like to flat tow a Jeep behind the bus on typical trips. Would like to be able to also tow boats or 10k enclosed trailers as well in future. Will wire in 7 pin hitch and possibly an air coupler for brakes. Currently Iím sitting at half the GVWR. A longer wheelbase would tow nicer, but Iím estimating adding 5-10k lbs during conversion. Even after Iím fully loaded, I think Iím still 10k under the GVWR. With my lockup transmission, low rear end, and some of my performance upgrades, I think Iíll be able to get where Iím going at a decent speed.


Paint
Roof will stay white. Will be waterproofed with seam sealer and use white Tractor Rustoleum. Not sure if it will be rolled on or sprayed. White will go all the way down to the top of windows. Body will be light gray. We want something muted and can be touched up easily. I looked at Eastwood single stage automotive paint, but it would cost over 1k for the body paint and I donít know how easily I could touch it up. I plan on Ford Gray Tractor Rustoleum. I plan to spray with HVLP and Majic Hardener. I am painting before converting as I donít want to paint around roof rack, solar, lights etc. I also want it all protected from rust during the build If I have to touch up, I can buy it in a rattle can and tape off affected area. All of the chrome fixtures will be blacked out if possible. The bumpers will be painted black and the rub rails will be body colored.


Notable Tools gathered during the build
YesWelder Mig 250 Pro
Bestcut 500DP Plasma Cutter
Harbor Freight 20 ton Air Bottle Jack
Harbor Freight Creeper
20v Dewalt Impact Wrench
Husky Dedicated Bus socket set
BlueFire Data Reader


Index of Activities (My to-do list)
Bring Bus Home 2000 Miles


Mechanical
Change Engine Oil
Grease Everything
Change Transmission Oil/Filters
Pressure wash dirt and grease from underside
Transmission Hose Leaking (Replace)
Oil Pan Gasket Leak (Replace)
Steering Gear Leaking from input shaft (Replace)
OEM Fuel Filter Leak (Replace O Ring)
Unlock Allison 6th Gear
Extend Puke Tube/ Add filter
Change Thermostat
Change WaterPump
Change Serpentine
Flush Radiator
FASS Fuel Pump
RV275 Injectors
Cummins Insite CAL Flash for higher HP
3 in spacer lift on suspension
Upgrade to 11r22.5 tires 42in instead of 36in. Open Shoulder
Air Ride seat
Relocate MCC Engine A/C to above dashboard or upgrade to IW-1
Relocate House Battery to share compartment with starting battery
Relayout Dash and new gauges
Meritor Air Locker Third Member
PPV to Regulator for air tools.

Demolition
Remove Seats
Remove Tracks
Remove Floor
Remove Walls
Remove Ceiling
Remove Rear A/C
Cap Unused Bus Wiring
Remove Wiggle Light System

Remove Stop Sign
Cut out front wheel wells and replace with new flat floor
Weld up holes in bus floor
Brushing and rest converter on floor
Primer over raw metal floor inside bus

Paint Prep
Weld/ Bondo exterior screw holes that wonít be used anymore
Order replacement marker lights and signals to ensure hole placement
Close up roof hatch
Remove extra battery box
Remove 5 windows and insert blanks
Sand entire exterior
Remove all marker and signal lights and detail sand behind them
Seam Sealer for each roof seam
Seam Sealer for each drip edge
Seam Sealer for top side of each rub rail
Remove all Windows
Powerwash and degrease bus
Tape off Bus
Paint Roof
Paint Body

Conversion
Rear Bumper Platform
Front Bumper Platform
Headache Rack
Floor Insulation
Subfloor
Framing
Will add rest here when I get closer
Attached Thumbnails
BusFloorPlan.jpg  

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Old 04-13-2022, 03:28 PM   #2
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Feb 2019
Location: New Hampshire
Posts: 1,345
Year: 1990
Coachwork: Thomas 4 window w/lift
Chassis: G30~Chevy cutaway
Engine: 5.7/350 Chevy Vortec
Rated Cap: Just me and my "stuff"?
Wow! Lots to do in a year, but with the right motivation, time, and money anything is possible.
You have certainly done your homework on what you're looking to do with it.
That pre-prep effort will get you across the finish line in better shape than one who plans and installs things on the fly.

I was stationed in Mayport for 4 years, so I know how salty the air is in Jax Beach!
Good luck on your project, and post pics of your progress if you can...
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Old 04-13-2022, 03:36 PM   #3
Bus Nut
 
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Join Date: Oct 2021
Location: Jax Beach, FL
Posts: 461
Year: 2003
Coachwork: BlueBird
Chassis: TC2000 28ft
Engine: Cummins ISB 5.9 24v, MD3060
Rated Cap: 14
Bringing The Bus Home

I had all sorts of criteria for the bus. Below was the ranking.
1. Cummins 5.9 or 8.3
2. Alliison 2000 or 3000 series tranny
3. Front Engine midsize
4. Air ride
5. Handicap Door
6. Rust Free
7. High Ceiling


So I finally got the wife on board in October with my lifelong dream of owning a bus. I started doing Ragbrai when i was in highschool and wanted one since then. I told her i would start looking because it may take me a year to find what i wanted.


Jump forward one month and i found my bus on Proxibid in Tucson. My brother lives in Phoenix and i have never been out to visit. $130 round trip plane tickets later, i had a flight out the next weekend to inspect the bus before the auction. Talked to the mechanic and went over the history. Test drove it. Seemed like a solid machine. I ended up being the only bidder against the prebid, so i got it cheap.


So i didn't have any tools or a spare 40 hours to drive that beast back. I didn't have insurance or anything either. I asked the bus yard if i could keep it there until January. They were alright with that.


My dad flew from Nebraska down to Phoenix a week before me and spent some time with my brother. I then flew out the night before we pick the bus up. We had my cousin who lives there get us from Phoenix to Tucson the next day. I had also bought some tools and shipped them to my brothers place. We also had Southwests 3 bag @50lb limit full of tools and parts. I had spare waterpumps, belts, filters, idler pulleys, copper wires, etc for the trek. 2000 miles or 35hours of driving ahead.



Had to jumpstart the bus to get it going and spent a few hours in Tucson getting lunch, changing fluids, wiring up 12v plug, and finding a replacement headlight. Made it to El Paso Walmart Parking lot for the first overnight.
Attached Thumbnails
PXL_20211112_191644804.jpg   RecievedTheBus.jpg   ParkingLotOilChange.jpg   GoodByeMtLemon.jpg  
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Old 04-13-2022, 03:51 PM   #4
Bus Nut
 
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Join Date: Oct 2021
Location: Jax Beach, FL
Posts: 461
Year: 2003
Coachwork: BlueBird
Chassis: TC2000 28ft
Engine: Cummins ISB 5.9 24v, MD3060
Rated Cap: 14
El Paso to Home

Night one was alright. Im glad a bought a new sleeping bag at Walmart because it was cold. There was also Wind advisories the weekend we drove back. 40MPH sustained winds and 60MPH gusts across New Mexico and Texas. Hows that for learning how to drive a bus?


A quick bathroom break and coffee and we were headed East again. Rather than take I-10 we took the highway out towards Carlsbad NM. We stopped at Guadalupe National Park for a bathroom break. Hit one border patrol stop on the way. Also, bus seemed to handle the pass really well. It was pretty steep the top point.


On the way towards Dallas, my check engine light started flicking on during cruise. If i idled, it shut of. If i floored it, it shut off. No codes were thrown. I thought maybe it was a fuel pressure issue with the VP44 that i read so much about. I changed the fuel filters in a truck stop parking lot and haven't seen that light since. We got a hotel in Dallas since the temp was down in the 20's and we had no heat while sleeping.


Then next day, we drove all the way to Pensacola and slept in another Wal-Mart parking lot.
Attached Thumbnails
GuadalupePass.jpg   GudalupeNP.jpg  
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Old 04-13-2022, 03:56 PM   #5
Bus Nut
 
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Join Date: Oct 2021
Location: Jax Beach, FL
Posts: 461
Year: 2003
Coachwork: BlueBird
Chassis: TC2000 28ft
Engine: Cummins ISB 5.9 24v, MD3060
Rated Cap: 14
Homeward Bound

The last day was short. My family was meeting me an hour west of our house so that my son could ride in with us. We stopped in a rural part of Florida to let him Captain a bit. Then finally we made it home to clean ourselves up a bit.
The next morning, I took the old bird through the drop off line at his school. Surprisingly, i didn't get sent to the principles office.
Attached Thumbnails
DriverJo.jpg   Jacksonville.jpg   SchoolDropoff.jpg  
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Old 04-13-2022, 04:00 PM   #6
Bus Nut
 
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Join Date: Oct 2021
Location: Jax Beach, FL
Posts: 461
Year: 2003
Coachwork: BlueBird
Chassis: TC2000 28ft
Engine: Cummins ISB 5.9 24v, MD3060
Rated Cap: 14
Enjoying the new Purchase

So before fully gutting we took about 12 family members and their bikes up to Amelia Island to ride their bike trails. We also camped in it and Parallel parked it at the beaches downtown..
Attached Thumbnails
BikeToAmerilia.jpg   CampingInTheBus.jpg   ParellelPark.jpg  
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Old 04-13-2022, 04:12 PM   #7
Bus Nut
 
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Join Date: Oct 2021
Location: Jax Beach, FL
Posts: 461
Year: 2003
Coachwork: BlueBird
Chassis: TC2000 28ft
Engine: Cummins ISB 5.9 24v, MD3060
Rated Cap: 14
Demo Done

So this part is boring, but we have removed all the floor, all the walls and ceiling. So now we are making plans for next steps. Got my back lock installed too. This was all broken up with a few out of town visitors, and a few trips for us out of the state.



I'm going to weld up floor holes, body holes and cut out wheel wells. I need to disconnect all the ECUs before welding on the body, so i dont wreck anything and i don't want to mess with those plugs a bunch, so im queuing up most of the welding at once. I'm also thinking i may do my spacer lift soon to give myself more room to crawl under the bus while i'm working. Just need to order new U Bolts.


Also, just got my welder, so now i have to teach myself to weld. Going to try some scraps first, but then plugging holes should be good practice.


And my neighbor owns a treelined acre out here by my house and said i could spray paint my bus there. Things are looking up! I'm trying to get to a stopping point by summer so i can switch to my house solar project.
Attached Thumbnails
trackgone.jpg   lock.jpg  
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Old 04-28-2022, 08:38 AM   #8
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Snowflake, Arizona
Posts: 341
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: All American Rear Engine
Engine: C-8.3-300 Cummins MD3060
Rated Cap: 40 Prisoners
Roof paint

I would recommend using enviro white paint by Henryís on the roof as it reflects a large amount of heat away from the surface. I applied 2 coats on my bus with a roller 7 yearís ago and it dropped the inside temperature by 10 degrees and it doesnít collect dirt like Tropicool. A great build on a TC2000 is the Broccoli Bus. Itís well documented, has a mini split and solar system as well.
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Old 04-28-2022, 04:48 PM   #9
Bus Geek
 
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Join Date: Jan 2019
Location: Philadelphia
Posts: 6,719
Year: 2003
Coachwork: International
Chassis: CE 300
Engine: DT466e
Rated Cap: 65C-43A
Any white paint will reflect a large amount of radiant heat away from a surface.
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Rusty 87 build thread
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Old 04-30-2022, 01:57 PM   #10
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2022
Location: WA State
Posts: 164
Year: 2005
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: All American
Engine: Cat C7
Rated Cap: 36,000
Whohoo, nice bus choice
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Old 04-30-2022, 03:50 PM   #11
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Join Date: Jun 2019
Location: VA - VIRGINIA
Posts: 54
Great start. Bus sounds nice, I looked at a similar one before I ended up with my current. There is lots to like about the short flat floor handi bus. Will be watching!
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Old 04-30-2022, 04:00 PM   #12
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Location: VA - VIRGINIA
Posts: 54
double post, sorry!
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Old 05-11-2022, 10:06 PM   #13
Bus Nut
 
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Join Date: Oct 2021
Location: Jax Beach, FL
Posts: 461
Year: 2003
Coachwork: BlueBird
Chassis: TC2000 28ft
Engine: Cummins ISB 5.9 24v, MD3060
Rated Cap: 14
Suspension Lift Prep

Getting ready to lift the bus so it will clear bigger tires eventually. Currently, i'm blessed with 2 year old tires with plenty of life. They are 10r low pros. They are currently 36in tires. They put smaller ones on to account for the flat rear floor. I want to put 11r22.5 Open Lug tires on. Those are 42in tall.



Possible downsides i'm expecting. My wheelchair lift may not reach the ground 100% of the time. Currently, it could go about 3 inches lower than where i'm parked. After new tires, i'm sure it will be up higher. I was going to put a ramp extension to help with bikes anyway, so that should be fine. I will also have a higher center of gravity. I'm not too worried about this, as most of my weight will still be very low and don't think this will impact tipping very much.


Currently, there are spacers above the axle and under the leaf springs. I'm just adding 3 inches more. The front weirdly has like 6 inches of spacers already. The rear only has one spacer that's roughly an inch. In the hendrickson manuals, they have multiple heights they offer and they add spacers to achieve them.


I ordered 3 inch longer than the existing U bolts for the front and back. I cut the spacers out of 1.5in plate. I plan to take the current spacers out and tack weld the new spacers to them to ensure they don't wiggle out. I have 7/8 Round U Bolts in the rear and 3/4 Semi Round U Bolts in the front. I thought about upsizing the front, but the holes in the axle don't look like they have enough clearance.



In the front, ill have to adjust the draglink a bit to get the steering wheel recentered.
In the rear, Ill have to adjust the transverse rod to remove the shims keeping the axle spacing left to right. I don't think i have 3 inches of slack on my rear brake hoses, so i assume ill have to run and get those after the lift.


None of the shocks or airsprings are impacted because all of the mounts are at the leaf springs which wont be touched during this.


As far as lifting, the plan is to leave the wheels on the ground and use bottle jacks on the frame (after loosening the existing U bolts) to get 3.5more inches for the spacers. Being under a bus on jacks scares the crap out of me, so ill crib under the frame at prelift height in case SHTF.


Anyway, I haven't seen a bus lift covered in any posts, so thought i would share the detail of mine. Will certainly report back after completion.
Attached Thumbnails
PXL_20220511_233617843.jpg   PXL_20220511_232648920.jpg   PXL_20220511_232927381.jpg   PXL_20220511_233602560.jpg  
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Old 05-11-2022, 10:14 PM   #14
Bus Nut
 
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Join Date: Oct 2021
Location: Jax Beach, FL
Posts: 461
Year: 2003
Coachwork: BlueBird
Chassis: TC2000 28ft
Engine: Cummins ISB 5.9 24v, MD3060
Rated Cap: 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dragonpop View Post
I would recommend using enviro white paint by Henryís on the roof as it reflects a large amount of heat away from the surface. I applied 2 coats on my bus with a roller 7 yearís ago and it dropped the inside temperature by 10 degrees and it doesnít collect dirt like Tropicool. A great build on a TC2000 is the Broccoli Bus. Itís well documented, has a mini split and solar system as well.

Thanks! Just followed that thread. I had looked at all sorts of paint options. Currently its a white roof and its doing pretty good. Because im putting solar over the entire roof, it wont see all the normal benefits. My wife and I are actually discussing just using the light gray paint we are using on the body as it will simplify paint day. Im in agony over this, as i know white is the best. I just have my solar on the other hand which tips the scale to simplicity on paint. Whatever i use, i plan to seam seal first. I have already welded up the holes they mounted my AC from. JB Weld on top of that for good measure against pinholes.
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Old 05-11-2022, 10:42 PM   #15
Bus Nut
 
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Join Date: Oct 2021
Location: Jax Beach, FL
Posts: 461
Year: 2003
Coachwork: BlueBird
Chassis: TC2000 28ft
Engine: Cummins ISB 5.9 24v, MD3060
Rated Cap: 14
Originally, i was going to treat my first post like an index and edit my lists, link to posts on it, but then realized i couldn't edit. I wasn't too worried about my to do list being all encompassing, as i just wanted a starting point. Okay, now i just its just going to be my scattered thoughts. Good luck guys!


The interior of the bus has been demoed and lots of the mechanical work has been done. I had all the batteries unhooked and the ECU, TCM, and ABS computers unplugged for welding. Additionally, i drove a ground rod in to absorb any difference of potential caused.



I removed the stop sign and front bubble mirrors.


Body Work
  1. I welded up some holes on the roof.
  2. I repaired the dripcap above the door which was pulling away from the body because of stripped, rusty screws.
  3. I body filled some screw holes in the body i no longer need.
  4. I body filled a dent that was caused by the bubble mirror hitting something.
Against advice on the internet, i have been using JB Weld as a body filler. I have used bondo before and my experience is that it absorbes water, dents easy, and causes rust. Seems like JB Weld isn't used because its expensive compared to body filler and harder to sand. So far its very workable with a flexible bondo knife and i hit it with an orbital to taper the edges. Bonus is that it doesn't need priming to keep rust off while i wait to paint.


Inside Floor Prep
I cleaned up with ospho a few rust areas of the floor.
I painted the whole floor with rustoleum rusty metal primer with a hardener.
I bought some stainless "plugs" that i will lexel down over seat bolt holes before i lay my floor insulation. I welded a few, but i had all kinds of stuff underneath the bus that i could damage for little benefit. I also have no idea what is galvanized or not on my bus, so I'm trying not to weld too much on the body.


I have been playing phone tag with the steel supplier, but i should be able to order my 5x10 18g sheet soon so that i can skin 6 windows. I was going to try to paint soon, but i might have a warehouse available sometime this summer to paint inside, so I'm just going to be ready in case that happens.
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Old 05-26-2022, 10:18 PM   #16
Bus Nut
 
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Join Date: Oct 2021
Location: Jax Beach, FL
Posts: 461
Year: 2003
Coachwork: BlueBird
Chassis: TC2000 28ft
Engine: Cummins ISB 5.9 24v, MD3060
Rated Cap: 14
Finished the Lift but...

So I Lifted the bus in two phases Front and then back. I had a few chores in between. To recap the reasons i want to lift besides clearing bigger tires.


Allow my front wheel well to be deleted like the back.
Increase approach and departure angles (especially with 3 extra feet im adding in back)
Room to work under the bus, i can finally get to my air bag leveling valve between the gas tank and the rear axle. I could never get a hand to the top to adjust it or change it out if needed.



Front

The front was pretty straight forward. I put cribbing under the front of the bus in case any of my lift points failed. All 4 wheels got front and back blocks to prevent rolling. Then i loosened the 3/4 U bolts. I pulled the U Bolts off and placed the new ones on, but didn't tighten them. I wanted to make sure that the axle couldnt rotate or drop out of where it was sitting. After the new U bolts were in, I jacked each side up 2 in at a time in order to drop the blocks in place (axle stayed on ground.). Somehow on the tilt, the axle got moved to the right of the frame. I was able to push it back square and line up my marker lines i made when i started. Holes had to be drilled into the spacer blocks to accept the pin from the spacers on each side. At the end, i got under the bus and tightened the 3/4 U bolts to 300 ft lbs.
I still have to adjust the draglink to fix my steering wheel center. Im also going to weld my spacer blocks to the factory spacer blocks to ensure they are one piece (waiting until i disconnect my ECUs to do all the welding together).



Rear

The rear went pretty much like the front except i was able to find a lower lift point back there to avoid bottle jacks on blocks.. Here's where things get interesting. The torque rod is what holds the axle still during cornering. After adding the lift blocks, the geometry changed to shift the whole axle to the passenger side 1.5 inches. I took out the 4 factory 1/16 shims and got the axle moved to only be 1in skewed to the passenger side. I am able to add shims to the frame side of the torque rod, but didn't have time to fabricate them before dark. If i don't do this, the airbags are slightly tilted and could cause premature failure. To rectify the alignment, I will add a 1/2 spacer to the frame side of the torque rod. The hendrickson manual suggested this for adjustment. This also helps clear my exhaust pipe cleanly.


Something I didn't plan for.
So a buses driveshaft should be pretty long right? And the longer the driveshaft, the less impact to a U joint.. Well i thought i felt some more vibration than usual on my drive home (45mph roads only for the test drive). So i spent the better part of the day, reading about Pinion angles and U joint limits. I have attached a little napkin drawing of my issue. Basically, before the lift, my driveshaft was at 7 degrees. After, it was at 9.5 degrees. This is probably stressing my back 2 U joints. According to most literature, I want to make my pinion angle match the angle of my driveshaft carrier bearing. Bluebird/Meritor/Hendrickson didnt do that. That would've made the factory operating angle 7deg (instead of 2.5deg). And it my case, it would make it 9.5. So my best attempt to fix this will be to drop the carrier bearing 2in. Currently, the bracket used to hold it has holes each inch and can just be moved down. If this doesn't help, i can always move it back up.
Operating Angle Pinion, Carrier bearing, Outputshaft
Starting

2.5, 5.5, 1
After Lift
5,8,1
After Dropping Carrier Bearing
3.2,4.4,2.8


If anyone has any suggestions, i'm all ears. If this doesn't do it, then ill head to driveline shop for tips. I dont want too much powerloss or u joint stress.

Next Steps
So after reading some stuff, Buses may not be optimal for a high driveshaft speed from the factory. Most of their use is under 45mph, where vibrations aren't as impactful. With my 6th gear being unlocked (0.65), I'm looking at a max driveshaft speed of 3800 RPM @ 77mph. I don't plan to go this fast, but my average use will have me at 3200rpm @ 65mph all day. This being said, I will want to have my driveshaft balanced before i hit the road.


Additionally I have adjusted the U bolts on the axles. Everything was marked with lines before i started and the whole frame should be parallel to where it was before. The caster angle shouldn't have changed. I plan to have a full alignment done professionally in order to protect my tires. I'm waiting to change my steering gear first.


Anyone else make mods like this to the driveline?


Also, tried to attached the PDF for the hendrickson Rear Suspension and Bluebirds driveline manual, but they were too big. Let me know if you would like to look.
Attached Thumbnails
PXL_20220513_123007364.jpg   PXL_20220513_224356084.jpg   PXL_20220526_213639967.jpg   PXL_20220527_005212979.jpg  
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Old 05-27-2022, 12:10 AM   #17
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Join Date: Dec 2021
Location: Iowa
Posts: 427
Year: 2006
Chassis: IC CE300 (PB105)
Engine: DT466e 7.6L 245hp | Allison 3000PTS
Rated Cap: 66
Cool thread and your planning sounds a lot like mine. I wonder if we're long lost siblings, haha. I also do IT infrastructure work remotely and am planning my bus for extended vacations and not full time living. Starlink is amazing if you haven't gotten yours yet. There is another thread on this site called "looking forward to starlink" where we discuss the latest developments.

Interesting idea using a dedicated 12v battery for 12v loads on a DC-DC charger from 48v. Im still planning on running 24v (trying to talk myself into 48v yet lol) but had intended on just using a converter for 12v loads... may have to research that more, now.
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Old 05-27-2022, 12:14 AM   #18
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Location: Iowa
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Year: 2006
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Engine: DT466e 7.6L 245hp | Allison 3000PTS
Rated Cap: 66
P. S. Being from Iowa RAGBRAI is on my bucket list. Maybe next year
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Old 07-26-2022, 11:35 PM   #19
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Join Date: Oct 2021
Location: Jax Beach, FL
Posts: 461
Year: 2003
Coachwork: BlueBird
Chassis: TC2000 28ft
Engine: Cummins ISB 5.9 24v, MD3060
Rated Cap: 14
Window Deletes Done

Haven't updated in a while. Had some visitors in July and wrapping up some odds and ends around the house.


Slight update to my situation.. My whole little town send letters out to everyone with an RV (or bus) parked in the driveway. They have to be 20ft back from the front property line. I had mine parked about 19ft when code enforcement came knocking.. I told her i would back it up, but it wasn't going to change the situation much.. I usually park on the side of my house, but its easier next to garage for tools and such. My brother has a 40ft Eagle in the driveway 2 doors down and doesn't have a sideyard, so in order to rectify the situation, we traded buses, as my shorty fits in his, and his eagle fits in mine.. We are proud to comply with local ordinances..


So for my window deletes, I bought a 5x10 galvannealed 18g sheet. Luckily i have a winch in my liveoak for fort building. I had to use that to unload the trailer by myself..



I was able to get all 6 windows out of one sheet. I could have done 8 windows with it actually. I bent each side to have a 1inch flange. I didn't have a box brake, so the sides all got started in the brake and finished with the hand clamp.





Each window opening was cleaned with a plastic scraper to get down to clean paint. I also painted the inside of the window covers grey so they dont stand out yellow after i paint the bus. They will be hard to paint with a sprayer without causing a run on the face of the window. I also primed the window blank, as i dont plan on painting for about 5 more months and its salty air here.



The front side of the window opening was lined with butyl tape to squish against the face. I used lexel on the bottom, sides and top to squish the window in. The windows were pushed into the butyl tape. Each side got 3 screws put sideways into the frame near the inside of the bus (the sealed side). The extra butyl tape on the outside got shaved off with a plastic razor before i gooed up.



All Done. After spraying the initial seal with a hose to ensure it was internally sealed. I used Sikaflex 505UV to seal the outside to the window frames. Used a soapy finger to tool it and mineral spirits to clean up my fingers and anything that shouldn't have it.

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Old 07-26-2022, 11:48 PM   #20
Bus Nut
 
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Join Date: Oct 2021
Location: Jax Beach, FL
Posts: 461
Year: 2003
Coachwork: BlueBird
Chassis: TC2000 28ft
Engine: Cummins ISB 5.9 24v, MD3060
Rated Cap: 14
Hatch Delete Done

Prepainted my hatch delete. I predrilled 1/6 pilot holes on the ground so that i didn't have any walking of the bit. I used closed end 3/16 Stainless rivets. I used ratchet straps to hold the panel down around the curve. Then i drilled and clecoed each hole from the peak to lowerside of each. Then i took it all out and ran lexel 3 courses around the inside and the old hatch holes. I then wet dipped all but one rivet (got distracted talking to my ladder friend) in lexel as i crimped them. Still going to go back over the top of each one with seam sealer or more lexel before i paint. Will also seam seal the perimeter before painting as well.
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