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Old 12-04-2023, 11:29 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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No Coast '05 RE300 Conversion

Where do I start... My wife and I built a skoolie in 2018, converted a van in 2020, and after having a child decided it was time to move back up to a 40'er. So in May we decided to and then purchased our new-to-us bus, but just recently had time to get around to the conversion. We (I mean I) had a few Volkswagen projects to wrap up for myself.






The bus sitting all sad outside...



We don't just convert vehicles for ourselves but we consult and build for others as well and over the years we've really learned to enjoy the process and have gotten quite particular with every aspect of our builds.

Our bus: 2005 International RE300. DT466 / MD3060 combo. Currently 101,000 miles on the odometer. 40' long, dual door accessibility bus that we removed the lift in. Rear air suspension, heated power mirrors, cruise control. This thing is loaded compared to our first bus.





To start the build, I think it's nice to know what we're thinking as an initial layout. I designed this in Sketchup, but this isn't the first rendering and it's far less detailed due to some measuring oversights I made in May when we got the bus back to our property.



We're still deciding certain details for the bathroom and for our daughter's area, but this is a good overview of the larger flow of the bus. It's similar in ways to our first build named "Tío."

Most of the appliances and major money drains have already been purchased, but we've still got a fair amount of expenses ahead of us and at the end of the conversion I'll put together the total cost involved for it.

We've tackled roughly 12 working days on the build and this is it's current state.
We employed an angle grinder to remove the seats. I'm too old and stubborn to get under the bus unless I absolutely have to and my daughter likes being held too much and too often for the grime I'd accumulate underneath.






I had to keep a few seats for the shop.








Needed to pull the bus out to clean out all the crap from grinding. The dogs were stoked.

I went through the forbidden spaghetti and filled a 27gal tote of wires. This is not for the faint of heart and is not for those who have limited knowledge, understanding, and patience for complex automotive wiring. That said, damn it's refreshing when the job is complete and the fuse panel is as clean as this one is now.



You can very easily screw something up though, so proceed with this project with the most caution. Maybe even skip it entirely.



We've insulated our floor (and entrance) and added our tongue and groove subfloor, using some new 3rd gen LP building tape at the joints.



We utilized a no screw, only adhesives (14 30oz tubes), installation method with a ton of weight applied to each section during the install. I know this is debated often, but we've used this method in the past and it simply works and it works very well.

Oh forgot to mention, we removed the old flooring and used Chassis Saver to seal our floor before installing our insulation and subfloor.







After flooring we decided it made sense to start furring the bus and doing so in a way to limit thermal bridging.





But because we planned on removing windows, we didn't completely finish.

Then I got caught up in a project my wife had been asking for. So I designed and then cut a montessori climber / convertible table for our daughter.



I made an extra for a friend of our's toddler.

This week we got to starting on the window removal and making our own window deletes. I shopped around and found the price for window deletes to be utterly absurd before even factoring in the cost to ship them (I could build 6+ for the cost of one shipped), so I picked up my own cold rolled steel from our local Nashville metal supplier, bought a cheap break, and used my CNC to make a template.

I ordered 4x10, but they only had 4x8, so I ended up with an extra sheet and a lot of waste. I'm sure I'll use it for patches somewhere though.





It took me a total of ~10 minutes per window delete, from marking, cutting, and then bending. I haven't cleaned the garbage from the previous windows, so they're just sitting in place right now.

13 window deletes in total. Steel cost ~$490 and the brake was open box and I got it for $170. That's a hell of a lot cheaper than the ~$2100 it would have cost me otherwise and I got a new tool out of it.

I started cutting them with a plasma cutter, which was way faster, but I needed some new tips and kept losing arc. So I swapped it out for the angle grinder and got back to work.









We started throwing wiring as well, but I managed grossly underestimating wire for this bus. I'm too used to vans, I guess. The last of our wire order shows up tomorrow which means I'll be able to hopefully finish roughing it in.

I've got to actually get the deletes installed. I'm using paintable automotive seam sealer inside and out, and screws. I'm degreasing my panels and priming them first though. Then we've got a few huge holes to make in the roof, minor ones for mounting our solar rails and cable entry glands, and then wrapping up the last bit of furring before deleting our air intake, relocating the breather, and then prepping for closed cell spray foam insulation.



Can't wait to share the next steps with everyone and get to know you all more.

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Old 12-05-2023, 11:17 AM   #2
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Great start. I'm interested to see what you come up with since you are already familiar with van conversions. Seems like a good plan so far. I'll be watching!
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Old 12-06-2023, 06:21 PM   #3
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Thanks, Alt1. We're having a fun time with the bus build so far. We both somehow forgot how much work bus builds are and for whatever reason our first one didn't seem like nearly as much work.

Vans are by far easier to build in and build out. If anyone ever tries to convince you or anyone else otherwise, they're a liar and should be called one.
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Old 12-06-2023, 06:26 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nocoasty View Post
Vans are by far easier to build in and build out.
I never understood the term, "build out."

Now you say, "build in."

Why don't you just build?
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Old 12-06-2023, 06:34 PM   #5
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I started the day by removing all 13 window deletes, they were just set in place to make sure they fit. The wife and I degreased all 13, then wiped them down really well with isopropyl alcohol.

Last night I cleaned out as much of the old urethane and foam from all of the window openings and then wire brushed and primed the openings in preparation for installing the deletes.




I recently purchased a power caulk gun in preparation for this job. I, and my forearms, learned my lesson installing windows with a manual gun. I didn't however expect to use as much as I did. 2 windows per tube. I purchased 6 tubes.




It's finally time! Installing the blanks with the seam sealer and making sure they're flush to the front. They fit before taking them out... will they fit again?




Like. A. Glove.



Securing them in place with self tapping metal screws and then stepping back to admire a job well done.



I've got 2 windows left and no sealer, until Bezos delivers some to me over the weekend. Such a bummer because I really wanted to finish furring and wiring this weekend.




I cleaned this up with acetone, but I'll be resealing the outsides of every blank when my extra tubes show up.

Back at it tomorrow. I think I'm cutting my holes in the morning. Skylights? I know for sure I'm patching at least the rear roof exit. Maybe extending the front.
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Old 12-06-2023, 06:35 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kentucky Dreaming View Post
I never understood the term, "build out."

Now you say, "build in."

Why don't you just build?
It could be that I'm just dumb, but my thought is that I'm building things both in and out of the bus or van. Also, building in, at least by my thought process, is actively converting. Build out is the completed process.

If I just "build" the van or "build" the bus, I'm part of the manufacturing process of the vehicle itself. It may come as a surprise, but I'm not. It could also just be part of the lexicon of some of us who convert vans and buses and it's totally fine if you don't and never do understand the term.
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Old 12-07-2023, 06:50 PM   #7
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Today, I got distracted from my initial plan. I had fully intended to open holes in the roof, but my wife reminded me that I wanted to relocate the air intakes on our bus.

I know this topic sometimes sparks debate here, but having read several positive outcomes from directing air through the engine access doors and freeing up interior space, I decided to go ahead with it.

Another advantage of this relocation is ease of accessing the intake filter. However, it might require more frequent cleaning or replacement since it will be more exposed to contaminants and dirt.

I figured a good place to start is drilling out the rivets to the panel that directs air into the intakes.




Then removing the perforated metal that I'll be repurposing on the engine access doors. I almost bought a sheet of this from my local metal supply, but it was going to be nearly $500 and I will have absolutely no use for any extra I would have had.



These screws were a PITA and just being crammed in the space was equally as much of one.

I used my favorite flathead screwdriver to wedge and break the seal from their initial installation.



With enough pushing and wedging, I was able to get it out without any curse words.


Sorry for anyone whose eyeballs aren't one on top of the other
Not really though.


Then it was wash and repeat for the driver side. It's a bit complicated here because there's just not as much room, even after getting the air intake out.



They're out. It's opens up the space and if asked, I'd do it all over again.





But now I've got more patch and panel work to do.
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Old 12-07-2023, 09:00 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kentucky Dreaming View Post
I never understood the term, "build out."

Now you say, "build in."

Why don't you just build?
Let me help you out....

build-out
noun

1
a: work done to make a structure or system ready for use or to bring a construction or development project to a completed state
When the build-out of the campus is complete, as many as 7,500 students will attend class there.
—Janis L. Magin

b: work done to expand a system (such as a telecommunications system)
The buildout of new infrastructure for digital cellular telephony is at such an early stage that it's impossible to predict what the performance of some of the systems will be.
—Brian C. Fenton

c: a project or process involving such work
Of course, the Chinese are traveling and spending more in their own country too, in part because of a gigantic infrastructure build-out; China will have constructed more high-speed-rail capacity by the end of the decade than is currently operating in the rest of the world, some 10,000 miles' (16,000 km) worth.
—Bill Saporito

2: a state in which an area has been fully developed
At build-out, the community is planned to include retail, restaurant and office space, a hotel, urban-style and loft apartments, townhomes, and condominiums.
—The Flower Mound (Texas) Leader

Source -> Merriam-Webster
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Old 12-07-2023, 09:07 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by nocoasty View Post

When I did the roof raise on my '99 Amtran RE I found an area where water intrusion at the air vent openings was a big problem.
A tell tale sign would be rust under the seats, engine compartment seat shelf.

Go to my build thread, at post 79 you will see what I am talking about.

I do believe International/Amtran may have realized this and fixed it but since your already there you might just want to make sure yours is good to go.

9906 Build thread
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Old 12-07-2023, 09:23 PM   #10
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I do believe International/Amtran may have realized this and fixed it but since your already there you might just want to make sure yours is good to go.

9906 Build thread
Good looking out and thanks a ton for the heads up. I'll check it out first thing tomorrow morning.

I remember reading through your thread when I was researching doing this.
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Old 12-07-2023, 09:53 PM   #11
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Window Convection

Quote:
Originally Posted by nocoasty View Post
Good looking out and thanks a ton for the heads up. I'll check it out first thing tomorrow morning.

I remember reading through your thread when I was researching doing this.
The convection gap above each window is also worth addressing.
skoolie.net/resealing-windows
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Old 12-08-2023, 09:05 AM   #12
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The convection gap above each window is also worth addressing.
skoolie.net/resealing-windows
Also a great catch and point for the windows we're keeping. I couldn't find any reasonably priced locally or from Bezos, but I found some here and went ahead and placed an order for a little more than what I should need.
Attached Thumbnails
Screenshot 2023-12-08 at 8.03.02 AM.png  
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Old 01-16-2024, 11:44 PM   #13
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After a holiday hiatus, I'm back working on the bus. I've actually been doing some things here and there, but it still feels like the build is at exactly the same stage. That's just how it goes.

After finishing the window deletes, I moved forward with the air intake deletes, which meant lowering the actual intake itself, skinning over the massive open holes, and patching inside the bus on top of the engine cover. This isn't finished yet, as I've still got to cut the engine access doors and add the air scoops and perforated metal for air intake.











I'm considering wiring and installing 12v radiator fans in this area as well, just to mitigate any potential air loss and heat gain from the delete/relocation. More on that down the road. Since the bus isn't moving more than 60ft and 2 or 3 minutes at a time as of right now, it's low on my priority list to knock out. I also removed our bifold doors. It's easier to move material in and out now, but we're also replacing them with a large residential steel and glass door down the road.



The wife and I decided we wanted two large skylights, which meant patching one roof exit and extending one, while opening a much larger hole in the back. We've seen some pretty elaborate additions to skoolie roofs, and we really just want a fixed, non opening addition for light. We've already got plans for an insulated blackout cover for each and we're using 1/4" UV Nonyellowing Polycarbonate for the skylight.





Here I am, just 'miring the light and the view.




I used leftover sheet metal from the window deletes, automotive adhesive, stainless screws, and then painted them to keep them from rusting. I'll be going back over the patches with Dicor self-leveling lap sealant as an extra precaution in a few days.

It was at this point that a good friend of ours came to town with his new-to-him skoolie. I cleaned the shop up a bit and we were able to comfortably squeeze both rigs in.




We met our buddy Brad several years ago in Glamis Sand dunes (kind of) and then again officially in Tonto National Forest. We were traveling in our first skoolie at the time.

Anyway, I told him if he came by, I could help him rebuild some of his bus, because in his words "It's a **** show." It was a **** show, but we were on limited time. One day I'll be able to fully sort the nightmare that was the electrical wire configuration and the plumbing in that bus.

We inventoried his primary concerns, diesel heater stopped working, sofa was unusable, wanted large storage as a flex space at the opening, and a sofa with tons of storage, storage behind the back rest, and make it deep enough for someone to sleep on. So I hopped on Sketchup Pro and worked up a design then hopped in Vcarve and set my toolpaths and made it a reality.






He ripped out the old set up, which wasn't terrible, but it was wildly inefficient, and we got to work.





Oh yeah, we relocated his diesel heater fuel tank from the very back of the bus, up to the front, as he wanted quick access to it from the bus doors. His skoolie is a Chevy Gasoline engine, otherwise I would have tapped into the fuel tank and saved him a ton of headache refueling.

Now for assembly...






Unfortunately, I don't have better photos of it all together, but when Brad takes some with cushions and stuff, I'll snag them and pop them in this thread. You might notice I designed the seat with 6 cutouts specifically for 3 complete lapbelts which he intends to secure to the school bus chair rail eventually. We also noticed during assembly that for whatever reason my SKP 19 file transferred the 3" diesel heater hole and the 110V power plug opening to the backrest, rather than the bottom of the sofa when I put it in Vcarve. I didn't catch this until it was already cut. Those components are different sizes, but it ended up working out perfectly fine in the end. We recut the holes in the bottom panel.

At this point he came up with an idea for a conversation piece... a 3D wavy cabinet door. I hadn't gotten that deep into CNC to figure out quite how to do that, but I figured no better time than now.









I think he wants to paint and stain some things, so the plain wood look will likely go away.

He's back on the road now which means we've got our project and the shop all to ourselves again. Our electrical is just roughed in and we've got a bit more to do by way of protective sleeving and interior furring before we're ready for spray foam insulation, but I'm confident it'll be going in within the next two weeks and I can move on to designing and CNCing our cabinetry. More to come soon!
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Old 01-17-2024, 11:24 AM   #14
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I didn't even conceive of using a CnC for wood cutting out cabinets. I guess I just imagined I'd free hand it because of how unique every bus is. My luck I'd download some plans, CnC it, and it wouldn't fit in my Bus and end up requiring just as much modification anyway.

Keep up the good work and keep sending pics!
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Old 01-17-2024, 03:09 PM   #15
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Truly, using the CNC have been a gamechanger for converting. I've also got a 3D scanner for more complex cuts and curves, but have yet to use it. I imagine for uppers and van interiors it'll be a little more useful.

I've found I can model my cabinets, accounting for dados, screw holes, shelves, etc and generate my toolpaths way quicker than I could set up fences, cut, and predrill. We rebuilt that section of my buddy's bus in about 6 hours, over two days, from start to finish. Would have been quicker, but he was super keen on being involved, which I appreciated his willingness to help.

The sprinter van my wife and I built in 2020 took about 9 working days for all of the cabinetry, and I'm confident I could model, cut, and assemble them again with the CNC in about 8 working hours or less.

Thanks friend. I tend to be picture heavy, which I think is a good thing on a forum. I'll be posting updates soon.
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Old 01-18-2024, 07:41 AM   #16
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that wood CNC machine!!! massively cool!! it makes the patterns and shapes endless that would take days or weeks with a router table..
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Old 01-18-2024, 07:45 AM   #17
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im interested in the 3D scanner... what did you get? im restoring a couple busses where various plastic parts are damaged but still exist.. i havent had much luck finding anyone to scan them.. so im interested in getting my own 3D scanner and then being able to scan parts for others doing what im doing.. the hope is of course scan it.. edit the scan to fix imperections and 3D print plastic parts..
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Old 01-18-2024, 11:20 AM   #18
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@nocoasty I just found your Youtube channel and plan to watch all 5 years of videos in the next week
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Old 01-18-2024, 11:33 AM   #19
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that wood CNC machine!!! massively cool!! it makes the patterns and shapes endless that would take days or weeks with a router table..
Exactly! That reaction is how I feel everytime I open the door to my shop and see it there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
im interested in the 3D scanner... what did you get?
I bought the Revopoint POP2 Premium which is currently on sale from when I purchased it. (as of 01/18/24)

I initially bought it for scanning and modeling automotive parts to print in ABS on my 3D printer, but now I'm into what I can CNC from Aluminum and wood.
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Old 01-18-2024, 11:34 AM   #20
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@nocoasty I just found your Youtube channel and plan to watch all 5 years of videos in the next week
Haha awesome! First chunk of videos are total and absolute trash, but I love them all the most because that's where I had to start. I knew nothing about well... everything I was doing.
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