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Old 03-20-2022, 06:12 PM   #1
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2020
Location: Raleigh NC
Posts: 146
Year: 2000
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: TS FE 2509
Engine: Cummins 5.9l ISB CM550
Rated Cap: 34
EarthShip

I'm getting overwhelmed and I just started.
Any input/advice would be greatly appreciated!
So far I have

1. removed the wheelchair lift and all associated tracks belts etc.
2. pressure washed all 4 sides(not the roof or undercarriage yet)
3. removed all the seats, grab rails etc.
4. cleaned the interior somewhat, still needs a lot of tlc
5. got insurance, set up for and got my inspection for "house car" then got my registration and plates(title is on the way)
6. planned my layout
7. removed stop sign, and added a lock to the handicap door(the other 2 lock easily from the inside)
8. created a rough plan of attack as follows.
-3 phases that will overlap somewhat
mechanical phase, make sure braking system, complete drivetrain, and suspension is roadworthy and functioning properly. Wednesday I'm taking it to my best friends auto shop(he doesn't know I got it yet haha) to change the oil/oil filter, grease all the fittings and get his opinion. Possibly change the fuel filters and do whatever else I can. May delete the rear bus heater. At this point I can plan the rest of this phase which may include a transmission cooler and lift pump upgrade. The bus has 96k miles so I'm somewhat hopeful

structural phase, making sure the structural integrity of the bus is solid and waterproofing. treat remove any rust as needed(very little present from the looks of it). strip, treat, seal the floors. remove, reseal the passenger windows. remove, replace, or reseal the hatches(I went up on the roof yesterday for the first time and saw this cant be skipped). remove and delete or reseal the strobe. coat the roof, sand/scuff/prime/paint the bus.

cosmetic/functionality phase for the interior. This will be the easiest part since I already know my initial layout and everything is going to be simple and repairable/replaceable for my initial build until I spend some time on the road in it and see whats what. Install a floating floor 1/2 inch insulation, 1/2 inch plywood, flooring will be cork tiles. This phase will include starting right behind the driver seat installing a wardrobe/pantry(I have it), 5-6 foot kitchen consisting of a counter, storage(drawers and cabinets under and upper open shelf),sink, marine foot pump system, butane stove(have), 12v fridge(have), dresser/entertainment center, power will be solar generator(have) and full bed along the wall going back to the corner. Behind the relocated small passenger seat moved to the very front passenger side will be a dinette then nice wide 6.5 foot couch wide enough for a guest to sleep and drawers underneath. the back 7.5' by 3.5' of the "bedroom" by the side handicap door left open(can be used as a makeshift bathroom/shower area with magnetic shower curtains and metal tractor supply tub, weed sprayer shower, and bag system emergency toilet). I also have a mr buddy heater with the big bottle for temporary emergency heat if need be. I will install curtains or blinds all the way around and maybe a shelf over the bed hang a few pictures and bring in some plants

I will post pictures and updates

If you got this far
my youtube is
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5q...jGKBtGcgSWz7sA

my Instagram is
https://www.instagram.com/hutchy_4/?hl=en

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Old 03-20-2022, 06:36 PM   #2
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2020
Location: Raleigh NC
Posts: 146
Year: 2000
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: TS FE 2509
Engine: Cummins 5.9l ISB CM550
Rated Cap: 34
A few pics

Heres me the day I washed the bus it was sooooooo. dirty, If anyone knows why they rotated or how to fix that let me know
Attached Thumbnails
IMG_6478.jpg   IMG_6474.jpg   IMG_8234.jpg  
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Old 03-20-2022, 07:08 PM   #3
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Jul 2019
Location: Suburbs of Winterset, OH
Posts: 570
Year: 2005
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: FS65
Engine: Mercedes 6.4L
Rated Cap: just the 2 of us
Sounds/looks like you got a decent bus...
Now I'll apologize for being "Negative Nancy"
But in my opinion, everything needs to be solid and secure...No one wants to have an accident, but if it happens, you don't want to get hit/crushed/injured by loose furniture, appliances, countertops, flooring...the list goes on.
Also, if you use a propane heater make sure you have adequate ventilation and a CO2 sensor...somebody on this forum referred to Mr. Buddy heaters as "wet death".

There is a lot to consider when converting a bus, safety needs to be a top priority.

As far as getting over whelmed...I'd say we have all experienced that, sometimes I just walk away for a day or two. Now that I'm making visible progress I'm finding that motivation comes easier.
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Old 03-20-2022, 08:13 PM   #4
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2020
Location: Raleigh NC
Posts: 146
Year: 2000
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: TS FE 2509
Engine: Cummins 5.9l ISB CM550
Rated Cap: 34
Yea the Mr. Buddy will just be temporary and hopefully won't even use it, If I do windows will be cracked for sure and Co2 sensor for sure. eventually a vented propane or diesel heater will go in. All the furniture will be secured to the seat rails and or wall ribs Smaller items will be stowed as much as possible in transit. thanks for the suggestions!
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Old 03-21-2022, 07:31 AM   #5
Bus Nut
 
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Join Date: Sep 2019
Location: Bly Oregon
Posts: 452
Year: 1986
Coachwork: Crown
Chassis: Supercoach
Engine: Cummins 350 big cam
Rated Cap: 86 passengers?
You have a good start and I like your bus. One suggestion before you go any further, write up a list of specifications for your project. Make your requirements detailed. I did this at the start of the project for the "new Crown". Once you have scrubbed your requirements is easier to fill them.


Those requirements should include documentation on your preferred construction approach (weather to use steel or wood to frame your bus inside), heating needs, cooling needs, etc.


A good understanding of what conditions you will use it under.



Do you plan to use it in only fair weather, or all year?
Do you want to go boondocking with it, or in RV parks?
Do you wish to travel a lot with short stays, travel occasionally with long stays?
Is it just an RV to you, or your next house?


All of these things make a difference to your design.


In my case, It is my RV not my house. I will still live in my house, and travel some, but not all the time. I will sometimes boondock. Some national forest campgrounds don't have conveniences like water sewer or power. Design your project to work with how you will use it.
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Old 03-21-2022, 08:00 AM   #6
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2020
Location: Raleigh NC
Posts: 146
Year: 2000
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: TS FE 2509
Engine: Cummins 5.9l ISB CM550
Rated Cap: 34
thanks for the reply! I will be using it as an RV somewhat similar to you for now, fair weather almost exclusively. Maybe some day I will be a full timer. I am doing an open concept design, no walls. I have a pop up enclosure that I used with my Element to use as an outhouse on 2 day plus stays in one spot. My idea is that I will use the solar generator for power and everything will be seperate systems so repair/replacenment/redesign will be easy since I really have no idea what will work for me yet. Down the line I will install a real power system. A full time heater and possibly dehumidifier will go in once I have more permanent power. For now it will be fans windows and a mr buddy for emergencies.
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Old 03-24-2022, 07:48 AM   #7
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2020
Location: Raleigh NC
Posts: 146
Year: 2000
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: TS FE 2509
Engine: Cummins 5.9l ISB CM550
Rated Cap: 34
Decal removal

I started decal/adhesive removal using a 3M wheel, and I also secured my relocated passenger seat and went for a drive with my friend

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Old 03-24-2022, 11:27 AM   #8
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Feb 2019
Location: Communist State of New Jersey
Posts: 964
Year: 2004
Coachwork: IC
Chassis: CE200
Engine: T444e
Rated Cap: 27,500
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hutchy View Post
I started decal/adhesive removal using a 3M wheel, and I also secured my relocated passenger seat and went for a drive with my friend

I waited for the afternoons of 90 degree days and then the decals peeled right off (mostly ). My attempts to remove decals on cool days were frustrating and ended up taking much more time. Unless there's a compelling reason that the decals HAVE to come off now I'd suggest you make that a dead of summer job. Unless you really enjoy frustration and wasting time.

Oh, and it's actually fun to grab those number decals and carefully peel them off in one piece.
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Old 03-24-2022, 11:49 AM   #9
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Feb 2019
Location: Communist State of New Jersey
Posts: 964
Year: 2004
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Chassis: CE200
Engine: T444e
Rated Cap: 27,500
Yes, overwhelming is the word.

Don't focus on all the work you have to do to finish, focus on the job at hand and maybe next job.

Don't be a slave to you lists. As you move along you'll be best served by, at times, changing the list rather than being overwhelmed.

Do the right job at the right time, like removing decals in hot weather, not cold weather.

I saw a good one in another post, you don't have to finish the bus to use it. You can take the bus on a trip by using camping gear in good weather. That's my intention this summer. I need to start taking short trips to test my bus long before it's finished - if I ever finish it.

In your post about taking your bus to your buddy's shop you mentioned changing oil. You meant engine AND transmission right? Cause you wouldn't want to do a first oil change on just the engine. Actually, if I had a buddy with a shop, I think I'd also change, at least, the top and bottom radiator hoses, the thermostat, and have a long, hard look at the serpentine belt cause it's cheaper to buy those things and change them in your buddy's shop than to pay for a roadside service call.
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Old 03-24-2022, 12:09 PM   #10
Bus Nut
 
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Join Date: Oct 2021
Location: Jax Beach, FL
Posts: 410
Year: 2003
Coachwork: BlueBird
Chassis: TC2000 28ft
Engine: Cummins ISB 5.9 24v, MD3060
Rated Cap: 14
I used a whIzzy wheel for some stickers, but I blew off most of them with a pressure washer and then finished them off with the whizzywheel. The reflective ones by the rivets are the worst, use a pressure washer.
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Old 03-24-2022, 12:36 PM   #11
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Feb 2019
Location: Communist State of New Jersey
Posts: 964
Year: 2004
Coachwork: IC
Chassis: CE200
Engine: T444e
Rated Cap: 27,500
Hutchy, something else to check at your buddy's shop. Take off the serpentine belt and check your pulleys. It's not unusual to find bad pulley bearings especially in idler pulleys. I had to change the bearings in both my idler pulleys. Maybe with 96K miles yours will be fine but better to check than break down, Do this even if you do nothing else with the cooling system. Would only take a few minutes and cost nothing. LOL, just don't forget to take pictures of how the belt is run.
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Old 03-24-2022, 02:50 PM   #12
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
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Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
Quote:
Originally Posted by Oldyeller View Post
Hutchy, something else to check at your buddy's shop. Take off the serpentine belt and check your pulleys. It's not unusual to find bad pulley bearings especially in idler pulleys. I had to change the bearings in both my idler pulleys. Maybe with 96K miles yours will be fine but better to check than break down, Do this even if you do nothing else with the cooling system. Would only take a few minutes and cost nothing. LOL, just don't forget to take pictures of how the belt is run.

+1 on the idlers... I had one pulley go "ding ding ding" down the highway . and ive caught them being bad on others' busses. . if the bus has air brakes it will likely have 3 idlers.. 4 if you have Air Conditioning.. thats right I had 2 idlers go "ding ding ding" down the highway.. my Air-Conditioner idler broke once too..
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Old 03-27-2022, 11:01 PM   #13
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Jun 2021
Location: Baja often, Oregon frequently
Posts: 350
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Our hot little grubbies...
Chassis: Ford CF8000 ExpeditionVehicle
Engine: Cummins 505ci mechanical
Rated Cap: Three RedHeelers
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hutchy View Post
...overwhelmed...advice...created a rough plan of attack ...taking it to my best friends auto shop...and get his opinion ...structural integrity...This will be the easiest part...(can be used as a makeshift bathroom/shower area with magnetic shower curtains and metal tractor supply tub, weed sprayer shower, and bag system emergency toilet)...I will post pictures and update...
.
I am in awe of your post!
.
Based on everything you wrote, you have every right to be overwhelmed.
I was overwhelmed sometime during your second paragraph.
.
You ask my advice.
Are you sitting down?
.
a)
Forget everything else, verify your vehicle is suitable for your purpose.
Verify the Big Stuff -- engine, trans, axles, frame -- has the potential to 'go the miles'... and go them safely.
.
Verify the peripherals are reasonably functional -- brakes, tanks and lines, fuss-budget parts such as wiper motor, etcetera.
.
b)
I see you accomplished a tremendous amount of removing stuff you think you will not need.
My suggestion -- set it in a safe spot, because you will visit your spare parts often.
Trust me on this.
.
c)
I suggest you take your rig for a few local vacations.
Toss in some car-camping gear, go have fun.
Allow the overwhelm to slip away, fade into nothingness as you bond one-on-one with your rig.
.
During the development of this intimacy, I sincerely hope you can 'just be' in the moment.
Learn the myriad ways your rig communicates, its rattles and squeaks, its speeds and slows and rolls.
.
You may discover your 'plan of attack' transmogrifying into a 'plan of peaceful cooperation'.
Maybe not, maybe aggressive dominance is the route for you.
Hard to say.
.
I realize this may sound counter-productive.
You set your pace, you need to accomplish thus-n-so gizmo by thus-n-so date, The Schedule is inviolate.
Admirable... and potentially overwhelmingly overwhelming.
But, can you imagine living without a couch for a while?
Can you imagine living without a place for your future guests, the mobile gardens, the tons of add-ons?
.
Can you imagine living without a sense of overwhelm?
How would that feel?
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Old 03-28-2022, 10:23 AM   #14
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Feb 2019
Location: Communist State of New Jersey
Posts: 964
Year: 2004
Coachwork: IC
Chassis: CE200
Engine: T444e
Rated Cap: 27,500
Hey Hutchy, it's after Wednesday, did you take your bus to your buddy's shop. If yes, how did it go? Inquiring, retired minds want to know?
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Old 03-28-2022, 10:57 AM   #15
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2020
Location: Raleigh NC
Posts: 146
Year: 2000
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: TS FE 2509
Engine: Cummins 5.9l ISB CM550
Rated Cap: 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Oldyeller View Post
Hey Hutchy, it's after Wednesday, did you take your bus to your buddy's shop. If yes, how did it go? Inquiring, retired minds want to know?
I have to go this Wednesday he was at the beach last week
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Old 03-28-2022, 11:18 AM   #16
Bus Crazy
 
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Join Date: Apr 2019
Location: Earth
Posts: 1,969
Year: 2004
Coachwork: IC
Chassis: CE300
Engine: t444e
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Like others have said, regarding being overwhelmed... try to force yourself to just focus on one thing at a time. I've learned over time the tricks I need personally to keep myself motivated and prevent fatigue from setting in (mostly, lol). At night I usually plan out my next day - step by step list - and that's the time I consider the 'bigger picture'. Then the next day I take each step, one at a time, and just do them. No more thinking of the future or all the other things I need to get done. No more pondering how much work there's left to go. Just one thing, focus on in exclusively, mark it off the list, move on to the next. That's the only way it will ever be done, and it will be done that way and no other way regardless of where your mind's at in the process.

Also, if you're working on it continuously, it can seem like nothing's getting done when in actuality you're making incredible progress. Some times you just have to force yourself to step back for a day or 3, do something else, and then approach it with a fresh attitude. I like going over the voluminous pics we've taken, from start to finish, just to remind myself of how far we've come.

Building a bus (even one as small as ours) aint no joke. It's gonna be a long haul. You need to develop whatever habits/tricks work for you as soon as possible to see you through to the end.
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Old 03-28-2022, 12:57 PM   #17
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2020
Location: Raleigh NC
Posts: 146
Year: 2000
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: TS FE 2509
Engine: Cummins 5.9l ISB CM550
Rated Cap: 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheHubbardBus View Post
Like others have said, regarding being overwhelmed... try to force yourself to just focus on one thing at a time. I've learned over time the tricks I need personally to keep myself motivated and prevent fatigue from setting in (mostly, lol). At night I usually plan out my next day - step by step list - and that's the time I consider the 'bigger picture'. Then the next day I take each step, one at a time, and just do them. No more thinking of the future or all the other things I need to get done. No more pondering how much work there's left to go. Just one thing, focus on in exclusively, mark it off the list, move on to the next. That's the only way it will ever be done, and it will be done that way and no other way regardless of where your mind's at in the process.

Also, if you're working on it continuously, it can seem like nothing's getting done when in actuality you're making incredible progress. Some times you just have to force yourself to step back for a day or 3, do something else, and then approach it with a fresh attitude. I like going over the voluminous pics we've taken, from start to finish, just to remind myself of how far we've come.

Building a bus (even one as small as ours) aint no joke. It's gonna be a long haul. You need to develop whatever habits/tricks work for you as soon as possible to see you through to the end.
thanks! I can only hope mine looks half as nice as yours
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Old 03-29-2022, 11:35 AM   #18
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Sep 2020
Location: Central PA
Posts: 347
Year: 2002
Coachwork: AmTran
Chassis: International/IC Bus
Engine: T444E
Rated Cap: 78
What you write about is the exact reason you see so many gutted or unfinished buses for sale. A lot of people become overwhelmed by the entirety of the project. Most of those people want the allure of the skoolie life but donít understand how big of an undertaking it is.

Personally, I run large fabrication and installation projects for a living, have built buildings, general contracted my own home, etc. Even with that experience, building a skoolie is still a bit overwhelming. Iím very much in that phase right now as Iím planning/installing the infrastructure of the bus (plumbing, heating, AC, electrical).

My recommendation is to gut the bus and get a floor down. Insulate the bus. Layout a rough floorplan. Then plan those systems by choosing tank/plumbing locations, electrical box/routing locations etc.

Last thing you should be doing is the interior framing and finishes. I see too many people jump right to the ďfunĒ part but they neglect to plan any of the functional systems of their bus. This leads to rework, workarounds, and having to settle with things being in places you donít want them.

How do you eat an elephant?
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Old 03-29-2022, 09:25 PM   #19
Bus Geek
 
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Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: Swansboro,NC
Posts: 2,542
Year: 86
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Ford B700
Engine: 8.2
Rated Cap: 60 bodies
hutchy.
we have talked on the phone.
i have done commercial HVAC and plumbing for over 20 years and i told you i have full access to a sheet metal shop as needed.
cant park your bus there for weeks but weekends are golden.
and your not that far away.
as long as it runs we might be able to move it in and out for the over 50 vehicles during the week and pull it in on the weekends.
saturday morning are still crasey until about 10 for the residential crews but after that its free reign if they are told to park outside.
a little more to it between them and I but as long as there trucks are in there sunday night and getting loaded at 4 am on monday before they get i get no complaints.
aint the first time cleared the shop for personal work.
wont be the last.
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Old 05-12-2022, 05:51 AM   #20
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2020
Location: Raleigh NC
Posts: 146
Year: 2000
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: TS FE 2509
Engine: Cummins 5.9l ISB CM550
Rated Cap: 34
Update: found an awesome local old school diesel mechanic

Had the old girl checked out, fully greased, adjusted brakes, tires checked and topped off and wiper blades replaced all for $140, we rolled around underneath on some creepers and he showed me some stuff.
The good:
-fuel filters are new
-computer was replaced at about 43k miles
-vp44(injector pump) was replaced at some point
-school district did a good job of maintaining her
-brakes have a few years left
-tires have at least 5 years left
-already has a good external transmission cooler so no worries there
the not so good:
-2 of the transmission lines to the cooler are leaking($400 parts and labor)explaining the low tranny fluid when I got her home

He agrees that upgrading the lift pump is definitely a good idea to keep the vp44 happy and will do it for $200 labor and even suggested I can find the part he would recommend and use himself if it was his, for cheaper than he can get it for but he can get it for me for $699(hess with the filters on it)

Overall he said she is a really good bus
link to a short video I made is below if you're interested

https://youtu.be/58AbLVx_9ow
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