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Old 03-08-2018, 04:11 PM   #1
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jan 2018
Location: Raleigh, NC
Posts: 102
Year: 1995
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Saf-T-Liner ER
Engine: Cummins ISC 8.3 Allison MD3060
Meet Isabella! - My conversion of a 1995 Thomas Saf-T-Liner ER

Time for the fun to begin!

Meet Isabella! This past weekend I went and picked up my 1995 Thomas built Saf-T-Liner ER

She comes equipped with a Cummins 8.3 with a Allison MD3060 with 6th gear unlocked. She will top out at 80mph (found out with a friend driving her) but she does best at around 60-65mph.

The trip from Oklahoma city was uneventful... only when I got home and got her stuck did the fun start. lol

Come to find out, our water pump has been leaking the whole time we traveled to pick the bus up. I have three acres to park her on and of course I had to drive right up to the flooding.. lol lesson learned... SHE'S A HEAVY GIRL!!

She has the optional 100 gallon fuel tank, optional automatic chains, and a Pro Heat preheater installed. She has fairly new shoes with only 3000 miles on them and batteries that are about a year old. Her rear end just got replaced two months before she went out of service in the fall of 2017. The fluids on her were just changed less than 3000 miles ago and the alternator was just replaced.

She has a full basement that's most clean.. some surface rust here and there. All and all the bus is fairly clean.. The underside looks like it has an undercoating on it, so no rust at all. The rub rails have some rust and I am sure there is some under them. I will get that fixed as I remove the rub rails.

Thomas sent me her build sheet and her operating manual and service manual.

I plan on converting her into full time living with a complete solar array, composting toilet, and 50 amp circuit for shore power should I decide to come back from running away.

I am considering a roof raise, but since it's just me living in it and I am only 5'8" I will decide that after I tear down everything and consider how much room I will have when insulated and such. With or without a roof raise I do plan on removing all the windows except for one.. There is a smaller window by the emergency door, and I think it will make a cute bathroom window. Speaking of emergency doors, I have two.. one of either side so some new steel and body work will need to be done.

This will be an ongoing project for me as time is limited right now. I manage a restaurant and will be working on this with my father, so scheduling will be an issue but I am giving myself two years to complete this. I would rather take my time and do it right the first time, researching and reading the forums, and getting ideas and suggestions as I go since this will be my full time living.

I have never done anything this big before, so it will be an adventure for sure!!
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Old 03-08-2018, 04:59 PM   #2
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Join Date: Feb 2018
Location: Elizabeth WV
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Year: 1998
Coachwork: Thomas
Engine: 466
Great looking bus, can't wait to see your progress....Looks like a big job but since it's going to be your home that will help...
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Old 03-08-2018, 05:17 PM   #3
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Join Date: May 2016
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Engine: Cummins ISC (8.3)
Rated Cap: 72
I second that. Awesome bus.

Excellent drivetrane and full basement storage.

Score!

We look forward to your conversion. Show us lots of pics.
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Old 04-09-2018, 09:38 AM   #4
Skoolie
 
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Year: 1995
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Saf-T-Liner ER
Engine: Cummins ISC 8.3 Allison MD3060
OK, off to a rough start... my girl is heavy!



While trying to get it closer to the house for power, I found that our well had been leaking for the last couple of months and made the field around the pump very wet.. down down down she went...



On to Plan B. I bought 250 foot of 12/2 with ground made up a super long extension cord and when I get to the point of running my wiring for the bus, I will absorb this into the bus.. double duty for one cost.



With power, I could finally grind the bolt off through the center row. The side rails I took all the bolts out and did as much as I could do without any help. Then I waited for a couple of weeks for schedules and friends to help out underneath and since that didn't happen, I made a trip to Harbor Freight.

Grinding the tops of the bolts off, and using a hammer and punch to punch them through went really quick. 3.5 hours later and I had no seats... well I left one for the time being.

Next up is the heaters and the ceiling/side walls.. I have a scrap lady that will come by and collect the seats and any metal I generate to trash removal will be a snap.

Managing a high volume restaurant, dealing with that work schedule AND turning 51 next week... The work is going slow, but we're moving forward!
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Old 04-09-2018, 03:41 PM   #5
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Great platform! Careful that voltage drop doesnít kill your power tools on that super long cable! Been there done that!

How did you get unstuck? I got mine stuck and was able to pull it with a Jeep, but mine hadnít sunk like that.
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Old 04-09-2018, 04:23 PM   #6
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Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: Owasso, OK
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Engine: Cummins 6CTA8.3 Mechanical MD3060
Rated Cap: 46 Coach Seats, 40 foot
To supply 15 Amps at the end of a 250 foot cable, and keep the voltage drop under 3% requires 6-gauge on a 120V system.

If you use 12-gauge you will probably burn out any electric motors.
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Old 04-09-2018, 05:31 PM   #7
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jan 2018
Location: Raleigh, NC
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Year: 1995
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Saf-T-Liner ER
Engine: Cummins ISC 8.3 Allison MD3060
You guys are kill joys! lol Seriously, thanks for the heads up... so far only the 19 dollar angle grinder has been used but I would hate to burn up something because of this.

I guess I will have to go with the next step, was thinking of going ahead and ordering the generator I will have on the RV and use that..

To get it unstuck, I paid a tow company with a huge rig that pulled it out.... a $250 lesson on how heavy the bus is... but the good news is we never knew the pump value was leaking and had been leaking according to the plumber for at least a month if not more than that... We did wonder why the power bill was so high, so thought it was the heaters we were running over the winter

Off to search for the generator I need...
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Old 04-09-2018, 06:14 PM   #8
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jan 2018
Location: Raleigh, NC
Posts: 102
Year: 1995
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Saf-T-Liner ER
Engine: Cummins ISC 8.3 Allison MD3060
So it looks like a lot of folks on these forums like Champion Generators. As I am just starting my search to maintain power to my build and want the something to use in my RV, how does this one look?

https://www.amazon.com/Champion-3100...C?ref=ast_p_ei

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Old 04-09-2018, 06:24 PM   #9
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Join Date: Sep 2017
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Engine: Cummins 6CTA8.3 Mechanical MD3060
Rated Cap: 46 Coach Seats, 40 foot
That one should be fine.

So here is the thing. It is as important to size your generator to your anticipated power draw, plus a bit of overhead.

If, for example, you buy a 3100W generator when you only need 2200W, then you are running a louder and heavier machine just to burn more gas than you need to.

Other than that, there is plenty of choice.
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Old 04-12-2018, 01:06 PM   #10
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Engine: T444E w/ MT643
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Twigg View Post
That one should be fine.

So here is the thing. It is as important to size your generator to your anticipated power draw, plus a bit of overhead.

If, for example, you buy a 3100W generator when you only need 2200W, then you are running a louder and heavier machine just to burn more gas than you need to.

Other than that, there is plenty of choice.
Yes but there is also the whole starting/peak power required versus running power for your appliances etc. Seriously this electrical **** is way more complicated than I anticipated!!! I have read articles on this that say go ahead and oversize the genny because it means that you will have to run it less time to re-charge your house batteries every day or two or.... and that means less fuel use and less wear and tear on the engine so it will last longer.
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Old 04-13-2018, 06:08 AM   #11
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Join Date: Apr 2017
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I look forward to seeing your build. How much head room do you have in the bus right now?
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Old 04-13-2018, 08:28 AM   #12
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Location: Frisco, Texas
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Year: 1998
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Here's a slightly cheaper generator. Reccomend3d to me by forum members, and it's been working great for almost a month
https://factorypure.com/products/cha...gaAtUqEALw_wcB
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Old 07-10-2018, 04:01 PM   #13
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jan 2018
Location: Raleigh, NC
Posts: 102
Year: 1995
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Chassis: Saf-T-Liner ER
Engine: Cummins ISC 8.3 Allison MD3060
Hello everyone!


Long time no chat! Right after I bought my bus I got a promotion at work that has kept me busy busy and I am finally just now finding time to get back to the work on my bus...

Sad news though... during the weeks of me not working on it, I would go out and start it and let it run to maintain the batteries. Well last week I went out on my day off to start it and it wouldn't start... Thought oh no, I didn't start it enough... ends up being worse..

Someone stole my two batteries from my bus. They were bold... It's parked 600 foot off the road on 3 acres beside the house... I am guessing they came in at night and yanked them out. They didn't cut cables or damage the door, just opened it up, took them out like I would have when cleaning up the battery compartment.. :/

I have ordered a locking handle for that door and posted a nice little sign explaining that if I see you on my property I will pop you in the knee cap and then ask questions...

So my question.. Where is the best place to buy a battery? I have read that Group 32 batteries are what I should get, but I have also read of people saving money and buying a different battery.. so suggestions would be welcomed. My dad suggested I get a caterpillar battery like his big tractors use, but I don't know enough about it to just buy any battery..

Also a follow up question.. for the core cost, does the core battery have to be the same type that I am buying? My dad has a farm and he has several dead batteries I was thinking of using as my core.
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Old 07-10-2018, 04:08 PM   #14
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Location: GA
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Year: 1998
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Chassis: TC2000 RE
Engine: 8.3 Cummins
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Damn sorry to hear about some one stealing your batteries. I don't think the core matters at least at Walmart it didn't for me.
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Old 07-11-2018, 01:58 AM   #15
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: May 2018
Location: CT. near New Haven.
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I dont think anybody rebuilds batteries, they recycle them. So i dont think they care what the core is.
I believe they only charge the core to prevent you from dumping it in a field somewhere.
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Old 07-11-2018, 08:22 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yfrank14 View Post
I dont think anybody rebuilds batteries, they recycle them. So i dont think they care what the core is.
I believe they only charge the core to prevent you from dumping it in a field somewhere.
The prime source for lead for new car batteries is old car batteries.
They actually really DO want the old ones back.

Lots of people are fine with WalMart batteries. Theres only a few companies that make em in the first place, so the biggest difference is the sticker on the outside.

Most places you can come back with the old battery later, the receipt for the new battery, and they will refund the core charge. IDK if they give you different amounts based on the battery size, but even my lawn tractor battery got me $10 or so last year.
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Old 07-11-2018, 10:40 AM   #17
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They don't usually care what core you return. I did get in aheated disscusion when they tried to tell me the brake pad cores had to be the same. I asked how would they know? I had intended to make only one trip for parts, so I found an old sets of pads in the trash at repair shop and wanted to give those in up front so I didn't pay a core charge I would need to come back to refund. They insisted they needed to be correct. I asked again how would you know? They said we match them to the pads your buying. I asked how they do that when the old ones are still on the vehicle. Once I swap them at home and then bring you the cores, how do you know they are the same pads. Their answer was "They don't, and so their argument of how they needed to match went right out the window. Fact is the core brake pads gets sent to a place in bulk to strip them and the backing plate thrown into a piles to be sorted for reman. Then they tried to pull the wearing the pads out is not covered under warranty, which technically is true, but is enforced less than 1%. I asked them how many times a day do the replace "Lifetime Warranty" pads because they are worn, again they admitted they do it all day long.
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