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Old 07-19-2021, 07:15 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2021
Location: New England
Posts: 40
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Michael Corbier
Chassis: GMC Savana 350
Engine: 6.5 Diesel
Post Corbi-Hab Build Progress

Iím making headway on my short-bus conversion, a 1999 GMC Savana cutaway 5 window wheelchair school-bus. I Purchased it from a Hudson Valley school district at auction with 145 K miles on it. Corbi has a 6.5 GM/DT diesel engine that so far, runs well.

The main challenges to date were removing the rubber and plywood floor-covering. Since the bus had a 3 wheelchair capacity, I needed to remove three sets of Q-Straint attachments, bolted to the underneath. One set was above the gas tank. The other two had access from below, but were firmly rusted in. Another challenge is the physical limitation of where Iím parked: Itís a rented spot in a social service agency parking lotóso the building managers rent out spots by the month that are not needed by the agency. So, I had to contain debris in the bus until I ran out of space and had enough to bring it to the privately-run building materials recyclers. I finally dropped off the last load of debris, and started on the sub-flooring lastI used this site primarily for ideas about building the floor. I took in account my parking situation, and decided to use 1/2 inch xps board under 1/2 in of plywood. There was one large hole and a few lesser ones caused by rustóI have a corrugated galvanized metal deck. I decided to use a rust inhibitor primer to prevent further decay. This week, Iím going to tape the seams of the foam boards, and get ready for the plywood install. Its feels good to reach this stage of the conversion.

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Old 07-19-2021, 07:23 PM   #2
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Apr 2020
Location: Northern California (Sacramento)
Posts: 463
Year: 1999
Coachwork: El Dorado Fiberglass
Chassis: Ford E450
Engine: V10 Gas
Quote:
Originally Posted by Corbi View Post
Iím making headway on my short-bus conversion, a 1999 GMC Savana cutaway 5 window wheelchair school-bus. I Purchased it from a Hudson Valley school district at auction with 145 K miles on it. Corbi has a 6.5 GM/DT diesel engine that so far, runs well.

The main challenges to date were removing the rubber and plywood floor-covering. Since the bus had a 3 wheelchair capacity, I needed to remove three sets of Q-Straint attachments, bolted to the underneath. One set was above the gas tank. The other two had access from below, but were firmly rusted in. Another challenge is the physical limitation of where Iím parked: Itís a rented spot in a social service agency parking lotóso the building managers rent out spots by the month that are not needed by the agency. So, I had to contain debris in the bus until I ran out of space and had enough to bring it to the privately-run building materials recyclers. I finally dropped off the last load of debris, and started on the sub-flooring lastI used this site primarily for ideas about building the floor. I took in account my parking situation, and decided to use 1/2 inch xps board under 1/2 in of plywood. There was one large hole and a few lesser ones caused by rustóI have a corrugated galvanized metal deck. I decided to use a rust inhibitor primer to prevent further decay. This week, Iím going to tape the seams of the foam boards, and get ready for the plywood install. Its feels good to reach this stage of the conversion.
Good stuff. How will you be using the bus? Weekend getaway, full time liveabord, something in between?
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Old 07-19-2021, 07:30 PM   #3
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2021
Location: New England
Posts: 40
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Michael Corbier
Chassis: GMC Savana 350
Engine: 6.5 Diesel
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rucker View Post
Good stuff. How will you be using the bus? Weekend getaway, full time liveabord, something in between?
Hi Rucker, thank you for your reply. Well, its a work in progress. I recently retired from a college English department with a measly retirement plan. So, I'm dealing with some financial restraints. I'd first like to take the bus on a week's trip, maybe do some dry camping and campground stuff. I want to be in or near forests and hiking trails. I'm also interested in meetups with other skoolies--share, have fun, see interesting builds. How's it going with you?
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Old 07-23-2021, 03:26 PM   #4
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2021
Location: New England
Posts: 40
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Michael Corbier
Chassis: GMC Savana 350
Engine: 6.5 Diesel
July 23 update

A milestone of sorts. Yesterday I purchased plywood for the subfloor. I did did some math to determine the number of panels and at what length to cut them at the lumber yard. The cost for panels was very high; I seemed criminal to have to cut pieces to fit. Today I began to seal the bottom sides, to get ready for a coat of primer. Next, check for fit, then it's time for using screws to attach to wood supports below. I ve managed to avoid making more holes in the gavanized metal base.
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File Type: jpg IMG_20210722_174129222_HDR.jpg (267.9 KB, 8 views)
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Old 08-04-2021, 04:25 PM   #5
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2021
Location: New England
Posts: 40
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Michael Corbier
Chassis: GMC Savana 350
Engine: 6.5 Diesel
Side Wall Framing

I have framed in most of one side of the bus. I managed to get past the annoying seat hanger problem.
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Old 08-04-2021, 07:13 PM   #6
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Apr 2020
Location: Northern California (Sacramento)
Posts: 463
Year: 1999
Coachwork: El Dorado Fiberglass
Chassis: Ford E450
Engine: V10 Gas
Quote:
Originally Posted by Corbi View Post
Hi Rucker, thank you for your reply. Well, its a work in progress. I recently retired from a college English department with a measly retirement plan. So, I'm dealing with some financial restraints. I'd first like to take the bus on a week's trip, maybe do some dry camping and campground stuff. I want to be in or near forests and hiking trails. I'm also interested in meetups with other skoolies--share, have fun, see interesting builds. How's it going with you?
Good to hear. I also chose not to spring for an RV due to cost and affordability (and reliability, and straight-up coolness).

For the record I left the interior of my 6-window fiberglass shuttle intact, floors, walls, Qstraints, ceiling, and built out from there. Not worried about Instagram, I suppose.

I am quite surprised at how many people strip out the floor-what a bear! I'm also very surprised at the number of folks who rip out the rear A/C, but you've probably seen all those posts pro and con.

Have you looked into plumbing and electrical systems? What are your initial thoughts for your bus?

One of the harder things to do on my bus was put in the graywater tanks; the most expensive thing so far was the house electrical system, but I feel that is a very worthwhile investment.
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Old 08-09-2021, 02:29 PM   #7
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2021
Location: New England
Posts: 40
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Michael Corbier
Chassis: GMC Savana 350
Engine: 6.5 Diesel
Post Corbi replies

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rucker View Post
Good to hear. I also chose not to spring for an RV due to cost and affordability (and reliability, and straight-up coolness).

For the record I left the interior of my 6-window fiberglass shuttle intact, floors, walls, Qstraints, ceiling, and built out from there. Not worried about Instagram, I suppose.

I am quite surprised at how many people strip out the floor-what a bear! I'm also very surprised at the number of folks who rip out the rear A/C, but you've probably seen all those posts pro and con.

Have you looked into plumbing and electrical systems? What are your initial thoughts for your bus?

One of the harder things to do on my bus was put in the graywater tanks; the most expensive thing so far was the house electrical system, but I feel that is a very worthwhile investment.

Hi Rucker, you raise several relevant points about bus conversion. When I finally pulled up my floor, I realized that the base was corrugated galvanized metal. This material resists rust. There were still holes and corrosion, but the plywood was in good shape. This seems to be a recommended step because of the steel bases, and the chance that there is rust, holes and damage to the plywood. The other reason is that once the build is complete, it would be hard to go back and make repairs. Your second point about Instagram is well taken. I wonder how much influence AI has on curating what posts I see, and thus the amount of engagement I have with the site. Iím sure my direction is being influenced by what appears on my feed. The whole idea of FaceBook and Google pushing me in a direction that I havenít agreed or consented to is scary. Your last question about electrical and plumbing is important as Iím moving toward positioning different functions on a floor plan. Since I am considering dry camping, a decent supply of battery storage would be high on my list. Since keeping them charged by the bus alternator is not recommended, having a shore power connection and outlet would be an important feature. Can you direct me to any board posts on this topic? For plumbing, Iím going the basic route of on board fresh and gray water jugs and using the marine foot pump for water pressure. Iím not sure If I want to install my own compostable toilet yet. Iím anxious to set a destination and get to it!
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Old 08-09-2021, 03:59 PM   #8
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Apr 2020
Location: Northern California (Sacramento)
Posts: 463
Year: 1999
Coachwork: El Dorado Fiberglass
Chassis: Ford E450
Engine: V10 Gas
Quote:
Originally Posted by Corbi View Post
Hi Rucker, you raise several relevant points about bus conversion. When I finally pulled up my floor, I realized that the base was corrugated galvanized metal. This material resists rust. There were still holes and corrosion, but the plywood was in good shape. This seems to be a recommended step because of the steel bases, and the chance that there is rust, holes and damage to the plywood. The other reason is that once the build is complete, it would be hard to go back and make repairs. Your second point about Instagram is well taken. I wonder how much influence AI has on curating what posts I see, and thus the amount of engagement I have with the site. Iím sure my direction is being influenced by what appears on my feed. The whole idea of FaceBook and Google pushing me in a direction that I havenít agreed or consented to is scary. Your last question about electrical and plumbing is important as Iím moving toward positioning different functions on a floor plan. Since I am considering dry camping, a decent supply of battery storage would be high on my list. Since keeping them charged by the bus alternator is not recommended, having a shore power connection and outlet would be an important feature. Can you direct me to any board posts on this topic? For plumbing, Iím going the basic route of on board fresh and gray water jugs and using the marine foot pump for water pressure. Iím not sure If I want to install my own compostable toilet yet. Iím anxious to set a destination and get to it!
DIY composting toilet is the way to go. Cheap and effective.

For shore power, not sure there's a specific thread. My recommendation for a simple setup is a 30A service with a few receptacles scattered in the bus, don't try to integrate with the battery and inverter if you do one, just plug in to the appropriate outlet.

A step up from that would be GoPower autotransfer box that prioritizes shore power. Then all your AC circuits work the same way regardless of whether you're on battery or shore power.


For a battery, make a list of the devices you think you'll be using and let us know-we can help provide suggestions for system design. I have 280 amp-hours of Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePo), which is pricey but lasts much, much longer than lead acid or other types. You could price out 100 amp batteries to get a feel for pricing.
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Old 08-19-2021, 09:13 AM   #9
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2021
Location: New England
Posts: 40
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Michael Corbier
Chassis: GMC Savana 350
Engine: 6.5 Diesel
Corbi-Hab progress update August 21

Since my last update, I completed the wall wood framing that covers the seat attachment bar. This allows room for more insulation. I ordered hemp batts that will be cut to size and doubled up in most bays. I'm now working on framing the wheelchair door. I was hoping to find a carpenter to build an insert so I could remove the door, but no one has answered my Craig's List ad. I'm basically building over the locking mechanism with 2x3s, adding foam insulation pieces in tight spots, and leaving room for batt insulation. I'm thinking about using the wood frame to support this side of the bed frame. I completed the left side section as a free-standing unit. It will have hinged plywood doors. I'm improving my carpentry skills: more accurate measurements, better cuts with the hand saw, using a long drill bit to make angled pilot holes, so I don't have to use the Kreg pocket hole jig for every joint. I started to like framing- getting to see a wall go up is satisfying. I'm still having issues with cutting 2x2s. My cuts, even with a fine tooth saw, still are off.
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Old 08-19-2021, 11:29 AM   #10
Bus Geek
 
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Join Date: Jan 2019
Location: Philadelphia
Posts: 6,009
Year: 2003
Coachwork: International
Chassis: CE 300
Engine: DT466e
Rated Cap: 65C-43A
Sounds like you're going good, keep at it. I can't cut anything decently without a table saw and a mitre saw.
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Old 09-12-2021, 08:10 PM   #11
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2021
Location: New England
Posts: 40
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Michael Corbier
Chassis: GMC Savana 350
Engine: 6.5 Diesel
Post Update 9/12

Since my last blog entry, a while ago, the build has moved ahead with some delays over design and build problems. The one that took the most time to solve was the passenger side bench that contained the slide out section for the bed. As already reported, my measurements result in joints being off square leading to wood frames not square. So, when I built the sliding part, the two pieces didnít fit together as planned, and needed a lot of adjustments, or fudging. Design-wise, I also didnít anticipate how the slide needed support when it was in its stored position and as it was sliding out to its bed position. I realized that the long end of the frame had to be attached outside of the base frame. Eventually, by unscrewing and repositioning, as well as shaving off wood from the sides of both frame and slide. The slide-out portion works pretty well. Legs were added to support it in the open position. I'll post photos soon.
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Old 09-16-2021, 05:34 PM   #12
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2021
Location: New England
Posts: 40
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Michael Corbier
Chassis: GMC Savana 350
Engine: 6.5 Diesel
Post Sliding Bed pictures

See attached pictures for bed progress.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg sliding bed.2.jpg (318.8 KB, 1 views)
File Type: jpg sliding bed 1.jpg (321.1 KB, 0 views)
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