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Old 08-29-2006, 05:00 PM   #1
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Conversion begins on an '86 GMC Carpenter bus!

Hello all!

What a great website, these forums are so helpful. We just purchased a 1986 GMC Carpenter bus to be converted to classroom space for our Sunday School class. Our church meets in a Veteran's Hall which has no classroom space, so this allows us to drive the "classroom" from storage and back on Sunday's.

The bus in excellent condition and drives great. As usual, the school district regularly maintained the bus, and they replaced the transmission last year. Engine has 137k miles on it (8.2L).

We have started our conversion process and so far we have removed all the seats and placed them in storage so we can convert the bus back to haul passengers whenever we get our own building. We have scuffed, primed, and painted the interior a "sky blue". My wife is going to paint clouds using a cool technique that she found on another website.

I am regularly updating our conversion gallery online if anyone is interested in seeing how things are progressing. The URL is:

Thank you for all the great information that you all have taken the time to post on these forums, it has saved me a lot of time and headache!

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Old 08-30-2006, 09:35 AM   #2
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Wow that is one nice lookin bus. Did you put new steer tires on it or did it come with those? Have you all checked out the roof welds? If not that is something you need to do. Carpenter bodies are great except for the few that have bad welds.
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Old 08-30-2006, 11:45 AM   #3
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These were the tires on the bus when we bought it. They are in great shape!

We didn't check the roof welds. Unfortunately, we have already painted inside so it would be a bit of pain to remove the panels and then do all the touch up. We are going to be putting in two 13,500 btu air conditioners (one forward, one aft) and might be able to spot check a couple of welds when we cut through the roof.
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Old 09-03-2006, 02:54 AM   #4
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Well, we've been hard at work for the last four days so I thought I would post a before and after picture of where we're at as of 9/2. Ceiling is primed and painted, clouds have been added, sides primed and painted, latice added with flowers, curtains hung, and framing has begun on bench seats.

Still lots to do: Finish bench seats, install carpet, air conditioners, front gate, and "moveable" wall.
This is my first diy poject (I'm a computer programmer by trade) and I am learning all kinds of new skills, but I'm having a blast so far!
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Old 09-03-2006, 12:50 PM   #5
Join Date: Mar 2006
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WOW,that looks great. good job. your gonna have a hard time getting those kids out of that bus and in to a regular class room when you build it. :P what did you use to hang your curtains, regular curtain rods ????? anyhow, looks really good. westport_wayne, 81 international /wayne s-series 21 footer.
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Old 09-04-2006, 11:46 PM   #6
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Looks very cool!! Nice work brother!!
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Old 09-05-2006, 12:33 AM   #7
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Thanks for the encouragement. The kids are already looking forward to having Sunday School in a bus!

For hanging the curtains, I used steel wire and secured between the front and back of the bus with eye bolts at both ends. I installed eye hooks on each rib between windows to keep the line from sagging. I also used a hook and turnbuckle at the front to tighten any slack. My wife sewed the curtains with a channel for the wire to pass through and we simply threaded the wire through the curtains (makes taking down and washing curtains east too). It works great!

When I get home, I'll take a few pictures of the wire attached at the front and back (we're currently vacationing at Lake Tahoe - it's beautiful up here now!)
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