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Old 09-30-2019, 02:07 PM   #1
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Year: 1997
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Home Is Anywhere Bus Conversion (97 Blue Bird "TC1000")

We recently won an auction for a 97 Blue Bird TC1000 (kinda) Airport Transit Bus. We've been looking for something just like it for a bit over 2 years now.

A combination of living in weird areas, lack of resources, time, and money has made it really difficult to find the perfect deal. So finding this in our area (about 2 1/2 hours away) was exactly what we'd hoped for. It was on auction via PublicSurplus.com

We bid on it after 2 other bids, and then those other bidders disappeared. It was a sure thing that we'd win it but at the end of the day, due to a small misunderstanding on our part we didn't meet the reserve which apparently was $5500. We had no intentions of paying that much for the bus anyway, so we resolved ourselves to move on and try again for the umpteenth time. Three days later, after a depressing weekend, however we got a call from the sellers and they let us have it for $3500 after all fees!

We paid for it the next day, and drove up to pick it up two days after that on a Thursday. We were handed the keys and told it had to be jumped to start and had a full tank of gas as a bonus, SWEET! After a quick inspection, some testing of limits, buttons, switches, brakes and tires, we took off.



30 Minutes later and we we're on the side of the highway because it had made some alarming noises, and stalled. After trying to crank it with zero results, I checked the batteries which were in fact forever dead. A quick trip to nearby shops and $400 later, we had two brand new batteries in, and it still wouldn't start.

I called up my absurdly smart and intuitive mechanic brother. First thing he asked was if we had any gas, to which I replied, "yup a full tank!" Without skipping a beat he asked "Is there a full tank or is the gauge just telling you it's a full tank?" Ashamed at my lack of thought I walked out of the bus with a wrench and banged on the incredibly hollow diesel tank. She was dry and the alarming noises had been the injectors spurting out air.

Another quick trip to the nearest gas station to buy some entirely overprices jugs and 10gallons of diesel, and we were finally underway again.

She drives beautifully! No rattles besides the seats and luggage rack. No wobbles, no weird noises, except for the fully functional roof mounted AC units. She accelerates fine, and can easily cruise at 65 which is perfect!

No problems at all with the bus on the drive at all, that is until we hit Tennessee about 20min from home and hit the mother of all potholes on Highway 65. Thought for sure we’d flip that bus over, after being rattled, my Dad turned back to facing forward and noticed we’d basically exploded the passenger side windshield. It had been so bad the windshield is out of its seal!


I really doubt TDOT will pay for the damage, so hopefully insurance is willing and not too expensive if we can even find someone to do the change and has the windshield in stock.



So here she is finally home.







Its 25 feet long, and the door is in the middle and its air powered, the brakes as well. The Engine is a 5.9L Cummins diesel, the transmission an Allison AT545. The floor is flat, no wheel wells which is nice. The floor to ceiling right now is 6’3” (75in) which is nice. The floor looks to have ¾” rotten ply. The ceiling looks to be about 3 inches thick (?) based on the emergency hatch. If we’re lucky we’ll get to keep our ceiling at above 6 feet. We’ve got about 21 feet to work with from doghouse to the back and 7 feet 6in (90 inches) across. That’s a total space of about 158 sqft. It’s not much but we’ll make it work.




We’re both full time students with full time jobs and 2 dogs, a Great Dane, Sif, and a Little Weeny, Hebe.



We’re gonna work hard, my parents are helping and hopefully finish this thing for when we’re done with school a little over a year now.

Stay tuned for another update soon. We’re gonna try to get Youtube videos going, we’re on Instagram too and patreon cus why not, and if I can find any free time gonna setup a webpage.
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Old 09-30-2019, 02:30 PM   #2
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Congrats! It's a nice size and appears to be in decent condition. I hate to ask, but does it have a working fuel gauge?
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Old 09-30-2019, 02:32 PM   #3
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Congrats! It's a nice size and appears to be in decent condition. I hate to ask, but does it have a working fuel gauge?

No... No it does not.
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Old 09-30-2019, 02:35 PM   #4
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Obviously not on the fuel guage. I would file a claim for the damage anyways. You should have gotten a pic of the pot hole and it's location.
I once was travelling down the hwy after just having my Mustang detailed for a wedding the next day. On the way home I went through a section where they were concrete sawing with water to keep the dust down. As I went through the section in my lane the concrete sludge just covered the sides of my freshly washed car. I stopped and got pics, filed a claim. They actually paid me the $100 I was seeking.
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Old 09-30-2019, 02:53 PM   #5
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...They actually paid me the $100 I was seeking.

That's awesome! I did get a pic of the pothole and all teh details I could. I do plan to file, but the wording here is very much in the vain of "you must prove everything. It's all on you." We would have to prove they knew about the pothole and didn't fix it and so on. So I'm not holding my breath.
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Old 09-30-2019, 02:54 PM   #6
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3D Interior Design: Part 1

At the moment we have 2 real designs we like and they look like this.



Design 01 was obvious in my mind and it happened without any real thought. We wanted a permanent bed, with storage underneath. The water would go there and a long 7-8ft drawer would pull out for extra storage. Behind the bed is another storage location for clothes probably. Next to the bed is a bathroom, with a toilet that would have storage behind it just like the bed. To get here you’d walk through the shower. We don’t know that we’ll need one, but better to have it and not need it than the opposite. This became a sore point for this design because some space was being wasted to get access to the shower/toilet area. That’s why it’s unfinished in the design.
In front of the bed is a closet, and then a kitchen. With plenty of storage. Across from the kitchen is a garage since the stairs are huge and just don’t need to be that big. So half the stairs will be used for storage from outside and in and the other half or maybe a bit more will be the door. Next to the garage is more storage with a wood stove on top.
At the front of the bus are 2 couch/benches and a table. The table, like commonly seen in other buses and RVs, drops down to make a bed, and ideally drops to the floor so we can still mess in the doghouse should we have the need.

Not wanting to rest on the first attempt I came up with another design.




Design02 has some input from a few family members after my first attempt at it was a disaster. This design took a lot of more thinking to get out on “paper”. We really wanted a long table looking out the window like a few people have done. Incorporating that into the design was way trickier than we thought and the first few attempts had no second bed which is requirement for us.
The table is missing in this image, but that’s because I didn’t get to it.
The changes here was turning the bed, which makes a bit more sense, and we still get to have storage we just lose a bit of its depth. Now the bed has a shower/toilet integrated as one next to it, which makes more space sense, especially if we use the shower rarely. Across from that is the closet and next to that a long table from some live edge tree piece or something. It has a flip up table for extra surface should we need cus why not. Across from that is the kitchen this time. About the same setup as before but just a better sue of space. Again the wood stove next to that above the garage.
At the front is the same setup as design 01, because we really do want a cozy couch area and need the extra bed for friends/family/ my daughter.
Right now Design 02 is probably the one, but I’m sharing them both so you can see the evolution. Design 02 just works better, makes better use of the space, and still has plenty of storage and useable surfaces.
I’m sure it will change as we go, but that’s what we have for now.
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Old 10-02-2019, 10:46 AM   #7
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Gutting the Bus.

After parking the bus at my parents’ house and taking a few sad pictures of the busted windshield we started planning how to approach this project. Since this was a week night nothing was going to happen after this long drive. My mom asked if she could work on it if she got bored to which we gave her a resounding yes!



Super mom to the rescue she attacked the bus the next day, with a bit of help from dad later on as well. They managed to remove all the seats except a one and the luggage rack. All the seats in the bus were held in with large screws so removing them was simple enough. Quite a few of the screws were rusted nearly all the way through the center due to having been surrounded by soggy wood for the last couple decades. I wonder if the wood ever actually dried. The remaining seat was the only one to have nuts and bolts. One of them a standard nut and bolt, but the other was meant to be permanent and needed to be cut.
My parents were also able to remove a few of the posts and ceiling hand rails but these were all held in place much better than the seats. So they doused anything still left in the bus with lube spray and let it all sit overnight. By Friday night the bus looked like this.



Saturday morning we started trying to remove anything that was left. Some of the handrails came out without issues, others needed a few good hits with a hammer to break the hold first but in the end they all came out. The handrails looked brand new so maybe we can reuse some of that tubing somewhere on the bus. We also took a sawzall to the remaining seat and cut its bolts down and go rid of that one too. All the seats must be pretty new as well. Not a single one of them has a tear and I refuse to believe original seats lasted 20+ years in such a heavily trafficked bus. We’re not sure what to do with these, but right now they’re on craigslist and we’re talking to some local shops to see if they want them for some “fancy hipster couches”, which we’ve seen a few of them do before.


The luggage rack was a beast. We took out almost all the screws securing it to the wall and floor, but a few remained unmoving. At this point in the day it was 97 outside again and we had plans so we headed off with the tasks unfinished. My parents went in for round two later in the night when things cooled off a bit and finally got that stubborn luggage rack out.


Sunday morning we got to it again with the plan of stripping the floor completely and maybe if we got lucky start on the walls and ceiling.



Timelapse Deconstruction!


Unlike the seats the floors in this monster have probably never been renewed. The rubber topper mat was already falling apart in sports and it tore easily. We could grab a piece and strip the whole length of the bus. After doing this a few times we could see that the plywood was rotten all the way through. There was no way of getting it out easily besides maybe a shovel, so we decide to leave the rubber mat glue to the wood so it would hold pieces together. This way we could pry up large pieces of ply wood and then toss them out that way. This was mostly uneventful, and we got it done in a couple phases as the temps started getting into the 90s again.


We returned one last time by the end of the day to clean everything out and be ready for rust scrubbing and converting. At the end of Sunday the bus looked like this.



Surface rust everywhere.



A few spots were a bit worse, breaking through the metal entirely. This was all on the same metal piece that goes over the rear wheels/axle. There was also a decent hole in the back drive side, but nothing major. There is also a big hole where the diesel tank is, possibly to unplug the pump or fuel level sensor? No idea. The stairs are a mess; the bottom step is rusted all the way through and only exists because of spray foam holding on to some parts and the large square tubing at the outer edge. Speaking of spray foam, the entirety of the under underside of the bus is covered in a few inches of it. I’m not sure yet if this is a blessing or not. If there are gaps water can get in, the floor will melt someday. If it’s done well enough then we get a bit of free insulation I guess? Anyone have any thoughts on that? That’s it for now. Parent’s will be brushing, sanding or busting rust on the floor, and then by the weekend we should be able to lay down some converter and paint.

Thanks again for reading!
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Old 10-08-2019, 03:20 PM   #8
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600 Rivets and Some Free Insulation

This weekend’s plan was to convert the floor rust, paint the floor and peel off the walls and ceiling.


The plan did survive contact with the enemy.


Before we get to all of that, my mom spent the week finishing up some floor spots, removing the rear heater, and taking an angle grinder with flap disc to the floors. What a beast! Thanks Mom!


When we showed up Saturday, I started with removing the walls and ceiling. This meant removing over 600 rivets. To do this I used a cheap air chisel with a punch and a chisel. I used the punch to get the mandrels (the middle part of a rivet) pushed out of the rivet head and neck. This would allow me to cut the head off a lot easier with the chisel afterwards. Towards the end of the first part of this process, punching the rivets, we realized some rivets were hidden behind various panels like a seatbelt hanger, emergency window borders, the main door mechanisms, and so on.


So we set out to remove all these panels, in the process we decided we might as well remove all the windows and re-seal them to be sure. My Daughter Zoe and I worked on getting the windows out while Breanna worked on cleaning them and getting them ready for paint. At this point Zoe showed my mom how to get the windows out and I went back to chisel stuff. After cutting off the rivet heads it was time to take panels out! Here’s what we found behind all of them except the driver side runner which had all the electrical wiring.




Our first worry was that this was cheap great stuff foam and we just ran into a major annoyance, but then I started wondering if this maybe was actually good closed cell insulating foam. So I went to the internet, reddit and skoolie.net to be exact and the consensus was that this was the good stuff! Amazing! What’s crazier still is the whole underside of the bus is covered in this stuff too! That’s probably about $2000 worth of insulation, for free! What a great outcome.


So I removed all the wall panels anyway because we’d planned to replace those regardless. The ceiling was something else entirely. It won’t come out. The side edges are wedged into a metal protrusion above the windows (see the pic).





It’s a tough piece of metal that’s hard to bend out of the way without really mangling it all. So we’ll leave the ceiling, and repaint it a prettier color or cover it with more insulation and wood and move on with our lives.


As for the windows we we’re only able to mask and paint 2 or 3 of them, then it was time to call it a day, and prep the bus for the coming days of rain. The painted windows look much better. Right now only the outsides are painted, the inside will be painted when we decide what color makes the most sense.


It feels like we accomplished a lot but made no progress this weekend. We’re learning to accept that since it’s likely to be like this often. This week, my mom will Corroseal the floor and paint it with some yellow rustoleum oil enamel. If she has a chance she may reseal all the windows with butyl tape and then we’ll paint them in place so that we don’t have to worry about leaks causing any rust issues while so much is exposed.
Thanks again for reading.
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Old 10-09-2019, 12:54 AM   #9
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Your MOM is a KEEPER!


I like design #2.


Your wrap-around windshield will be costly, be prepered.
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Old 10-09-2019, 06:32 AM   #10
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She's the absolute best.


We found a place that can do the windshield, it would be about 300-400. Which was a lot less than I was expecting. Still sucks but not terrible.
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Old 10-09-2019, 06:50 AM   #11
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She's the absolute best.


We found a place that can do the windshield, it would be about 300-400. Which was a lot less than I was expecting. Still sucks but not terrible.
Those lower buses on small tires don't have much for suspension. I've not seen a windshield busted till yours but I've known folks with similar buses who've broken appliances due to the jarring potholes and such.
Sounds like a decent price on that glass, congrats!

Its good that you've got a positive outlook and determination.

You planning a custom paint job or leaving the red white and blue?
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Old 10-09-2019, 07:24 AM   #12
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You planning a custom paint job or leaving the red white and blue?

This is what's going to lead to our divorce hahaha! We agree on everything except what to do with the paint.


I like the paint right now. I wouldn't mind freshening it up maybe. Or artist friend agrees, wife does not. She's had strange ideas so far for paint schemes... She's got these ideas that make sense inside or on a piece of clothes, but not on the outside of car/bus...



I'm sure we'll compromise song the lines of a two tone paint. Windows up white, below that maybe a cream or or something subtle. Then maybe our mountain wave logo on the back half.


We really can't agree on any store colors so they'll probably just go unless some fancy artists come up with something we're both like.
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Old 12-20-2019, 12:52 PM   #13
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Have you stalled out? What's the status of your conversion?
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Old 03-03-2020, 10:33 AM   #14
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Have you stalled out? What's the status of your conversion?

Oops. Nope. We've been slowly chugging along, but we pretty much abandoned our online presence. Never been much for posting online, and my SO was supposed to do the social media stuff but school got in the way.


We'll try to organize some picks and post an update soon.
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Old 03-03-2020, 10:36 AM   #15
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no worries -
The TC1000 is pretty much my dream bus. But I can't find any up here in Oregon at this time. I keep lookin... Lots of great buses for sale - if you need a 70+ passenger - which I don't, and don't have room for it....
If you have any good ideas of where to land one - let me know
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Old 03-03-2020, 11:01 AM   #16
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no worries -
The TC1000 is pretty much my dream bus. But I can't find any up here in Oregon at this time. I keep lookin... Lots of great buses for sale - if you need a 70+ passenger - which I don't, and don't have room for it....
If you have any good ideas of where to land one - let me know
TC1000's pop up out there every so often. Just keep watching.
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Old 03-03-2020, 11:06 AM   #17
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TC1000's pop up out there every so often. Just keep watching.
There are a couple down in Florida (which is also were my sister lives - so some day a road trip may be necessary) but up here in the NW - no luck ;-(
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