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Old 07-04-2018, 05:40 PM   #1
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"EMILEE" Our 1999 BlueBird TC2000 Full Conversion

Our bus is finally here!! Settled on a decent 1999 Bluebird TC2000 RE with a Cummins 8.3 Mechanical engine and AT-643 transmission. After checking out the mechanical motor I understand now why everyone has been recommending them. Much simpler machine. The bus, I mean RV, has the pass through storage compartments that I wanted. This is an Arizona Vehicle and there is almost zero rust. In fact, the most rust I found was on the top of the seat bolts and I assume is from the kids spilling liquids rather than the elements.

This will be a full conversion. Sleeping for 4, kitchen, bath, generator, batteries, solar, water tanks and more.

I will post progress and ask advice regularly. If anyone is interested, I am live streaming the entire build process. I tested it out this morning and it worked out well. Took all the seats out and swept her down.

To watch the live bus build, I should be on every morning at 6am PST
www.twitch.tv/fadderall
You can also watch past broadcasts there.


Tomorrow, I will either take out the floor or start on the roof. Planning to paint with Tropicool to keep the heat down.

Some pics of the progress.
EMILEE





SEATS SO EASY TO REMOVE THEY ARE FALLING OUT THE BUS



SWEPT CLEAN READY TO MOVE ON


PICKED UP A CHEAPO $100 WINDOW BOX AC TO INSTALL IN WINDOW FOR BUILD AC.....JUST A SPOT TO COOL OFF WHILE WORKING. WILL INSTALL TONIGHT OR TOMORROW.


Hope to see you guys tomorrow!
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Old 07-04-2018, 05:59 PM   #2
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Good idea for the portable temporary A/C unit. Have a small window unit here I can throw in there to try knock the edge off.
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Old 07-04-2018, 07:24 PM   #3
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I should be on every morning at 6am PST

Hope to see you guys tomorrow![/B]
Forget the PST I'll still be snoring...
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Old 07-04-2018, 11:46 PM   #4
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A most excellent find! Congrats on getting a great engine/tranny combo and major underbelly storage to boot!
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Old 07-05-2018, 10:00 AM   #5
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Congrats on the great find! I will be watching with great interest as mine is almost identical. Unfortunately on hold to clear a health problem. Best wishes for a safe and successful build.
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Old 07-05-2018, 10:30 AM   #6
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Our buses are almost identical minus the trans. That's a good looking bus.
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Old 07-05-2018, 11:31 PM   #7
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That is a beauty!
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Old 07-06-2018, 02:02 PM   #8
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AC Installation, Subfloor, Insulation, Satan's Nails and those damn Seats.

3 days and still sticking to the schedule. Live streaming the build every morning starting at 6am PST (its HOT out here) and going until the heat gets me. Basically, if I am working on the bus I hit the stream button and it keeps archives of each day. www.twitch.tv/fadderall

A couple days in and progressing along nicely. After getting all the seats out, I took a break to install the window AC. This is a temporary unit just to "take the edge off" as 01marc said. Does it work? Sort of. Its never going to cool down the bus, but it does create a cool safety zone to retreat to when getting over heated. In other words, feels great standing in front of it!

I bought the cheapest unit I could find. $129 @ home depot (or lowes). They all have one like this (GE, LG). Its s 5000 BTU window AC needs a 12" height and 21"-25" width. Nothing would fit in the window openings, so I used an emergency exit window swing out and propped it open with a pole. The next level was $179 but was only 6000btu and came with a fancy remote that I didn't want to pay $50 for. Next level they jump to $300+. Too much for temp AC so I stuck with the cheapo.

At first I used the $40 universal support bracket they sell, but that left the unit too high and I just didnt like it. I took that back. After staring at the problem a while and coming up with all kinds of frames, sleeves and other wood type contraptions, I started to get way too complicated. I had to K.I.S.S myself. Its a temporary! So, I just clamped a 2x3 across the window opening to hold the unit down (like the window normally would) and then used foam, cardboard and duct tape to seal it in. Works and moving on.
AC in emergency exit window from outside. Pole only supports window. Never support AC from ground or the movement of the bus on the suspension will push the AC in and out of the hole.

Inside 2x3 and clamps hold the AC down on the metal sill.

My gorgeous 10-3 100' new extension cord! Cost more than the AC but will be cherished and used for years to come. And, the ends light up so....


Next, we tackled the subfloor. I have a 74" interior headroom school bus, so insulating the floor on the inside was never going to happen. The plan was to remove the subfloor anyways and seal the bottom, then replace with fresh wood. Well, that subfloor does not want to come out! The floor is actually NAILED to the metal deck with a fastener I have dubbed SATAN'S NAILS. These devious nails have a twist along the body of the nail that acts like a cross between the flutes on a drill bit and the teeth of a screw. For production line they are wonderful. Put them in an air nailer and shoot in fasteners that are probably 1/3-1/2 as strong as screws but 10 times faster to install. But, for renovators, these things are from HELL. On a good day they are designed to be hard to pull out but after 20 years, and a nice dusting of surface rust, they are all but impossible to deal with. The wood splinters and rips rather than the nail letting go and unlike screws, they cannot be removed before pulling on the wood. They are all counter sunk so you got nothing to grab onto. After ripping and tearing a section of the first board I stopped. It was pointed out to me by someone on the live stream that I could just leave the subfloor. I think the exact words were "why are you doing that". I get that it might be prudent to rip it up and check/seal the underside. But, in reality, why? I am not going to insulate. It will take forever and cost money for not much gain. It is an Arizona bus and has almost no rust (certainly not going to find and cancerous rust and holes in the metal pan). So why not just leave it? I cut a board to replace the wood I hacked up. The current plan is to check the whole floor for squeaks. Screw down where appropriate. Seal seat holes with silicone caulk. Seal cracks between boards with caulk (to allow for wood expansion rather than using liquid nails between). Finally, sand down the subfloor to smooth the top and remove the old glue/dirt from the previous floor. Anyone have a compelling reason for me to do this differently? Any better idea for sealing between the subfloor boards and/or the seatbolt holes?
Seats out, Rubber floor removed.

The spot I had to cut out after damaging the wood trying to remove it. You can see that yes there is some mild surface rust but nothing serious.

Subfloor patch piece dry fit

SATAN'S NAILS!!! I HATE THESE THINGS


A FEW QUESTIONS


1. Has anyone successfully insulated the floor from the underside? Inside my bays looks easy and I can reach most spots outside the bays. The problem is how to cover/protect the insulation from the elements when it is on the underside? In the bays foam board would be fine but what about outside the bays? How about spray foam? Would go into the nooks and crannies great but doesn't it need to be protected? Could I spray undercoating or bed liner on the dry spray foam or foam board or would it eat the foam? Anyone thats done this or has ideas; I appreciate any advice, pictures, suggestions please.

2. Has anyone reused the original wood subfloor? Any issues with this plan that I may be missing?

3. WHAT DO I DO WITH THESE SEATS? Like everyone on here I know have a huge pile of used school bus seats (only one of which stands on its own). I was thinking of putting an ad on craigslist to see what demand (if any) is out there. Anyone, have a clever idea? Are they worth scraping for the metal? Any places that are known to take/want these seats? They are in decent shape given their age. Any advice is appreciated. I hate the idea of just throwing them away. If they aren't worth anything to anyone I will just put them out front for the metal gremlins to come feed on.


Oh One More Thing
I covered some of the windows of the bus with Cardboard from the outside to help with the heat while working on the bus. The difference between covered and uncovered (but tinted) window is HUGE. I am not sure about all the worrying over insulation techniques that I have seen since these windows pretty much seem to negate ANY insulation done to walls, floor, ceiling. They equalize with the external temperature and then having no air break double pane technology, they just radiate in or out. In the heat they are massive radiators transferring the suns energy into my cool space. In the cold, they are massive heat sinks pulling out whatever warmth I could generate. I am starting to think that solving the window issue is more important than any other insulation technique.
Cardboard box taped to window on outside. The difference between the covered window (cool to touch) and the uncovered next to it (will burn your hand) is huge.


IDEAS.
It is clearly more efficient to cover the windows from the outside. This breaks the heat exchange from the more massive environment. But curtains or roller shades inside are so much easier to engineer. Some ideas.

1. HARD COVERS. Fashion a shallow 5 sided box out of sheet metal. Maybe, 1/2" thick. Can be braced and/or insulated on the inside or open side. This side goes toward window. Box is a little larger than the size of the window. Top of box has hinge mechanism and mounts to top of window, hinge under metal awning lip. Has a means to fasten down when in motion. Has a pole that can prop it up as an extended awning when stopped.

2. SOFT COVERS. Use marine canvas of the type for boat furnishings, sail covers convertible car top boots (from back in the day before they all retracted under the body panels). Attached with snaps that can be riveted/screwed into the metal of bus. A single screw (alongside the snaps) on top of the cloth could be a safety so that even if the wind unsnapped one it would not fly down the road. Velcro on the windward edge would discourage air lift but looks cheesy?
They could roll up or be propped out with a pole. Another method would be to build them stretched on a wire frame. Two wire struts could fold up diagonal inside the frame. The whole thing would still snap on and when stopped the wire struts would unfold and hold them out like mini awnings.

Any creative cover/awnings mounted from the outside? Ideas? Pictures? Plans?

Thanks again guys. I really appreciate the good wishes, support and great advice everyone has on here.
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Old 07-06-2018, 02:22 PM   #9
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Congrats on the great find! I will be watching with great interest as mine is almost identical. Unfortunately on hold to clear a health problem. Best wishes for a safe and successful build.
Thank you Gary. I hope you get that health issue squared away. Love to see what you are doing with your Bluebird.
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Old 07-06-2018, 02:22 PM   #10
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A most excellent find! Congrats on getting a great engine/tranny combo and major underbelly storage to boot!
Thanks Tango. You got any pics of that 46 Wayne?
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Old 07-06-2018, 02:24 PM   #11
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Forget the PST I'll still be snoring...
KAMAAAAN wake up brazzah.

I am usually on until early afternoon when the heat just kills it. I could use the advice. LOL
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Old 07-06-2018, 02:25 PM   #12
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That is a beauty!
Thanks David. Hope your trip is going well!
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Old 07-06-2018, 02:26 PM   #13
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Good idea for the portable temporary A/C unit. Have a small window unit here I can throw in there to try knock the edge off.
Thanks. It helps.....if you stand right in front of it. Better than nothing though.
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Old 07-06-2018, 02:43 PM   #14
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3. WHAT DO I DO WITH THESE SEATS? Like everyone on here I know have a huge pile of used school bus seats (only one of which stands on its own). I was thinking of putting an ad on craigslist to see what demand (if any) is out there. Anyone, have a clever idea? Are they worth scraping for the metal? Any places that are known to take/want these seats? They are in decent shape given their age. Any advice is appreciated. I hate the idea of just throwing them away. If they aren't worth anything to anyone I will just put them out front for the metal gremlins to come feed on.


Seats basically have no value other than scrap. In most cases they only have legs on one end, making them useless for regular projects. On the other hand, local scrap is paying $6/100lb. There are 26 seats at 27lbs ea. or 702lbs equaling $42.
Plus you get to weigh your bus at the salvage yard.
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Old 07-08-2018, 09:21 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by o1marc View Post
3. WHAT DO I DO WITH THESE SEATS? Like everyone on here I know have a huge pile of used school bus seats (only one of which stands on its own). I was thinking of putting an ad on craigslist to see what demand (if any) is out there. Anyone, have a clever idea? Are they worth scraping for the metal? Any places that are known to take/want these seats? They are in decent shape given their age. Any advice is appreciated. I hate the idea of just throwing them away. If they aren't worth anything to anyone I will just put them out front for the metal gremlins to come feed on.


Seats basically have no value other than scrap. In most cases they only have legs on one end, making them useless for regular projects. On the other hand, local scrap is paying $6/100lb. There are 26 seats at 27lbs ea. or 702lbs equaling $42.
Plus you get to weigh your bus at the salvage yard.
Thanks Marc! I put them in Craigs real quick and got someone coming tomorrow to buy 2@$20ea so got my scrap price out of 2. That is if they actually paid attention to the part where I wrote that they only have legs on 1 side. Probably not but I will address tomorrow when they come by. I may get lucky......or may be wasting my time LOL.
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Old 07-08-2018, 09:59 PM   #16
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Help need advice about insulation.
I know this has been beat to death on here. I know I am probably just looking for someone to say "do it this way". But, I am stuck. I am looping out on insulation types and install techniques. Guys, help me with some sage advice.
Limited headroom. Dont want to raise roof.
What should I insulate?
I tore up part of the wood floor and learned about those devil nails. Made a piece to fix the floor, but haven't glued it in yet. I keep thinking I should tear up the floor.
Right now I have 1/2" plywood original subfloor. I could sand it down and move on. Or, I could tear it up and put down 1/2" foam and 1/2" OSB/plywood.
Would that little bit of foam be worth it? Just a thermal break from that massive metal pan?
If you had to choose, would you go thicker on the foam or plywood (say 3/4 of one and 1/2 of the other)?

Right now when I use my super calibrated palm, the floor is dramatically cooler than the walls or ceiling with only the plywood down. So, makes me think the floor is least of my worries, but if I rip it up I want to get some thermal and acoustic benefit.
I have the perforated interior roof and I like the look of it. I suppose I could spray foam behind the metal, but it would probably all come out the little holes and make a huge mess. Also, would probably negate the sound insulating properties of the holes. The ribs will also be direct thermal paths. Will they really condensate a lot? Will a 9000-12000 BTU heat pump/AC keep control of the condensation?
Without taking ceiling down, whats the best way to insulate?
Has anyone used blown in cellulose? I could make that happen, but isnt that just paper?
I worry about fire safety and water absorption.
What about pushing/pulling new bat from one side to the other? I can rig something up and shouldnt be too hard if I take off all the top sidewall panels.
Is there any benefit to new fiberglass bat or would it be mostly like what is already in there? BTW, it does have about 2" bat in the ceiling and top sidewall now.

I think I will be removing the lower sidewall panels (below windows) and insulating in there. I noticed today that the lower wall gets almost as hot as the windows! WALLS NEED TO BE INSULATED FOR SURE.

Structural question - I know the ribs and body are most of the structure, but the metal ceiling and side walls have to be adding some structure and rigidity. Should I be worried taking off any of these (knowing it will be replaced by much more flexible wood)?
Is there anything (other than the bench mount angle iron rail) that is more structural than any other interior wall part? In other words, can anyone rank the interior coverings in terms of how much they add to the structural integrity and overall body stiffness?


Sorry if it seems like I am trying to take shortcuts or I am asking what has already been asked. The answer may well be "stop being an idiot and take everything down like everyone else". Im cool with that, but I would like to know what you guys think.

As far as intended use - I will be using this bus for a big trip for me, my wife and 2 teenage kids. 6 months - 1 year. Mostly intend to follow decent weather, but will for sure want to spend some time in the snow (we are from Lake Tahoe and want to take the kids back there and maybe Rockies). We have lived in Vegas for the past 20 years so we do know heat. However, humidity is a soul sucker to us. We like our heat dry. Finally, when its hot we love that AC. Can deal with cold much more than we can deal with heat. Blankets and hot beverages are fun, but fans and sweat is not. In Las Vegas we almost never use our heater (it does get down below freezing here sometimes) but that AC is on in the bedroom all summer long. Just some background in the hopes that it helps advise the best course of action forward.

Thanks as always for the help.

NEW PICS
Metal under plywood

I cant bring myself to glue this in yet

My hair is not receding fast enough to capture more headroom!

Sidewall and Ceiling insulation bats

Lower sidewall almost as hot as the window! Upper sidewall not far behind. Must insulate the walls!!!!
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Old 07-08-2018, 10:50 PM   #17
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IMO, of your planning to do the works, solar, plumbing, etc... and are planning full timing, then you need to pull everything; floor, walls, and ceiling. My reasons are simple, why do so much to it and not have prepped it to the best it can be. Why have your A/C or heater fighting to keep it cool ALL the time?

XPS or Spray foam insulation everywhere. Floor, walls, ceiling.

Do 1/2 inch of insulation and 1/2 play on floors if you need to save height inside.

Use 1/4 inch ply on the ceiling after insulation or something that won't take a lot of head room.

Pull the panels on the wall. Insulate. Add wood walls back in.

Keep or delete as many windows as you like. Original windows, or RV windows, or tempered glass/safety/storm windows, that's your call. But don't leave original windows AND cover them with a wall. That's asking for a leak you'll never notice until it's moldy.

However, I'm on my first build. Many people here with more expertise and experience. It's YOUR bus. Do with it as you please!
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Old 07-08-2018, 11:08 PM   #18
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If there is any rust on your floor, and from the pics there is, you want to seal it. While the rust may not be bad from what you can see, inevitably the last few pieces of plywood you remove will reveal massive rust. You want to stop that action before building over it. That's why the floor should be completely removed down to the bare metal, metal prepped with a list converter and then sealed with a Rustoleum metal primer or rust preventer.
I personally would never use OSB on a floor, walls maybe, floors never. Any moisture on it and it starts to disintegrate.
Ninjakitty has good advice for thickness of foam and ply to save room. If the old ply was 3/4" you only loose 1/4" on the floor and 1/4 on the ceiling.
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Old 07-08-2018, 11:42 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Ninjakitty View Post
IMO, of your planning to do the works, solar, plumbing, etc... and are planning full timing, then you need to pull everything; floor, walls, and ceiling. My reasons are simple, why do so much to it and not have prepped it to the best it can be. Why have your A/C or heater fighting to keep it cool ALL
I think thatís what I needed, a good snack in the face wake up.
THANK YOU NINJAKITTY!
Tomorrow 6am I start again on demolition. Bye bye walls floor and ceiling.
Now what playlist to use for the demo work?
Die Antwerp?
Death Grips?
Violent femmes?
Metallica?
Beastie boys?
NWA?
Lil pump?
EDM?
Drowning pool?
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Old 07-08-2018, 11:45 PM   #20
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If there is any rust on your floor, and from the pics there is, you want to seal it. While the rust may not be bad from what you can see, inevitably the last few pieces of plywood you remove will reveal massive rust. You want to stop that action before building over it. That's why the floor should be completely removed down to the bare metal, metal prepped with a list converter and then sealed with a Rustoleum metal primer or rust preventer.
I personally would never use OSB on a floor, walls maybe, floors never. Any moisture on it and it starts to disintegrate.
Ninjakitty has good advice for thickness of foam and ply to save room. If the old ply was 3/4" you only loose 1/4" on the floor and 1/4 on the ceiling.
Ya your right brother. I know better, thereís rust diwn there, even not still gotta check. Good call on OSB. Iíll look for a 1/2 ply or 3/4 TG (donít think they make it in 1/2.

The demo continues.

Thanks for the direction, I appreciate it.
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