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Old 09-06-2021, 10:36 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Join Date: Jan 2021
Posts: 34
Year: 2007
Coachwork: BlueBird
Chassis: Chevrolet
Engine: 5.9 Cummins Diesel
Rated Cap: 35
Off Road Skoolie Conversion Done!

The build started with a 30 foot 2007 Bluebird Vision and of course it was a job to get all of the seats out and dump the wheelchair lift out the back door but other than that, just simple wiring the 4-100 watt panels into the controller and to the 5-150ah battery bank and using the busses wiring channels to run the power to LED lights, the 12v fridge, 8000 watt inverter, etc. I also added a 4000 watt wind generator for cloudy days.

And then I added 4-40 gallon water tanks and ran PEX from them to the pump and hot water heater underneath and through the floor channels to the shower, back bedroom sink and kitchen sink.

Two propane tanks are bolted to the interior walls, the one under the kitchen counter runs the stove and then to the outside by the door for an outdoor grill and burner for those hot days when cooking inside is not comfortable. The tank in the back runs a small indoor vented heater and then down to the water heater under the bus which is shielded so heat does not bother the frame or floor.

We went with the "industrial" look and left the rubber floor in, not removing any interior construction (I've watched vids where the bus gets gutted and damn thats a lot of work), which made an easy job of installing ready made steel cabinets and a tool chest for drawers all bought locally from Craigslist, stores and ebay.

The bucket seats rotate and are screwed down and the dining room table is like a murphy bed that drops down from the wall.

The grey water runs straight out the bottom of the bus through the floor which is totally legal. I made my own composting toilet that uses peat moss to break down the poop. A pee funnel is located just under the toilet seat and also drains out through the floor and we keep a little squirt bottle by the toilet to rinse the funnel. Composting toilets are da bomb. With a couple of cranks on the handle no odors but you can't pee in them. I reckon the toilet cost me $100 to make and it works perfectly.

All I did to the exterior was to remove the old stickers, pressure wash, and paint with cans of Rustoleum 2x black and grey with minimum sanding here and there for when peeling was visible. I applied transfers to the sides giving the bus an "official" appearance which seemed to work as intended as gawkers were respectful and stayed away, as nobody wants to tangle with officials of any sort, even pseudo ones lol.

I added LED bulbs all around and LED headlights and a LED light bar for dark country roads.

I put new tires and shocks all around and recently took her for a shake-down cruise into southern Colorado (the Durango area which I highly recommend visiting), and the 5.9 Cummins performed like a champ running 65-75 mph even up 3-4% grades and averaging 12 mpg . The rear tires are the most aggressive I could find in this size and allowed us to easily scramble up fairly steep fire roads to camp in some remote locations that you would normally see only 4x4's go into and with our abundant power and water supply we stayed for a week without resupplying.

Thats about it. I did it all on my own with just some life experience to guide me. It took less than a year in my spare time and including the bus everything was done for under 10k which I thought was pretty good considering we will someday be taking it all over the country.
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Old 09-06-2021, 10:46 AM   #2
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Location: Central Alberta, Canada
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Year: 1990
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Navistar 3800
Engine: DT 466
Rated Cap: 72/44 Adults
Really like what you've done there and appreciate how you kept everything simple yet functional.
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Old 09-06-2021, 10:53 AM   #3
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Awesome. Love the vibe!!

Unit 9! Is Unit 10 taken? Otherwise I may lay claim to that one
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Old 09-06-2021, 11:19 AM   #4
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Year: 1935
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Chassis: Chevy
Engine: 317 ci/tid / Isuzu
Nice looking interior. What are you doing with your grey and black water?
Jack
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Old 09-06-2021, 11:29 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ol trunt View Post
Nice looking interior. What are you doing with your grey and black water?
Jack

Added to the description, thanks!
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Old 09-06-2021, 11:30 AM   #6
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Location: Central Alberta, Canada
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Year: 1990
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Navistar 3800
Engine: DT 466
Rated Cap: 72/44 Adults
Curious what you're running for rear tires?
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Old 09-06-2021, 11:56 AM   #7
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Year: 2007
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Engine: 5.9 Cummins Diesel
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WRS_Mark View Post
Curious what you're running for rear tires?
Yokohama Super Steel Y303's

I thought about converting to Super 6's but the expense wouldn't be worth it although it would have improved the ride. Duallies give more traction and then the safety net of 4 rears instead of 2 made it an easy decision.
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Old 09-10-2021, 10:33 PM   #8
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lol I wouldn't have bothered posting here had I known that I'd get just an handful of comments.

Apparently conversions have to be painstakingly difficult and expensive to get attention. Not that I'm an attention whore, but still a guy wants to know his efforts have been appreciated, not so much by innocent bystanders, but other builders.

I recently saw a conversion on YouTube where the couple had tiled their bus entrance and bathroom with river rock and stones. It had to be 1000 pounds of rock and mortar I kid you not and it was a viral vid as the most beautiful off-grid bus ever, and they only carried 40 gallons of water with grey water tanks and a smelly $1000 Head composting toilet. That just kills me...

Gary Seven, aka Holden Caulfield
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Old 09-10-2021, 10:39 PM   #9
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Year: 2003
Coachwork: Blue Bird All American
Engine: 8.3 Cummins
Rated Cap: 2 adults and two pigeons
Gary, I have pages and pages of my build and I do not expect any responses as most here do not either. We do this as a hobby for the most part.

Your build looks great. Sometimes the quiet ones appreciate the work without saying so. I have looked at many builds here and perhaps may have put in a comment or two. Musigenesis has done an outstanding and thorough job with cataloguing his process. I may have not said much on his build, but I thoroughly enjoy reading what he has done. Sooooo, in the end, don't take it personally if you do not feel many are not saying something. We all are looking
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Old 09-10-2021, 10:41 PM   #10
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Join Date: Nov 2020
Location: Central Alberta, Canada
Posts: 9
Year: 1990
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Navistar 3800
Engine: DT 466
Rated Cap: 72/44 Adults
Actually, your build has given me no small amount of encouragement in regards to the direction I'm taking my own design, which is similar in spirit. There's a lot to digest in what you did, so I wouldn't take the limited responses as a slight.
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Old 09-11-2021, 03:33 PM   #11
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Location: Sandpoint, ID
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Year: 2003
Coachwork: Girardin Microbird MB-IV
Chassis: Ford E450
Engine: 7.3 Diesel
Rated Cap: 25
I like the stealthy exterior look. Before I bought a bus, I considered a stepvan on which a "Bob's Plunger's" logo might keep people away. Unfortunately any hint of stealth went out the window when I installed solar, LEDs and an awning.

I'm curious about your take on grey water because I though that was pretty benign too until I read a number of comments here. A quick search online shows BLM land is ok to drain greywater but most other areas frown on it.
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Old 09-11-2021, 05:53 PM   #12
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Location: Missoula, MT
Posts: 234
Year: 1990
Chassis: Crown Supercoach
Engine: Detroit 6-71TA, 10 sp.
Rated Cap: 90 (40')
Nice job! I like that you kept a lot of bus elements. It always makes me sad when a bus loses all of its bus-y-ness.

I really don't want to spin this thread in the wrong direction, but I really hope you reconsider this:
Quote:
Originally Posted by GarySeven View Post
.
The grey water runs straight out the bottom of the bus through the floor which is totally legal.
I won't touch the legality question, but from a fellow public landowner's perspecive, this bums me out. It sucks sooooo bad to pull up to the perfect spot, only to find that it reeks of somebody else's dishwater and urine. Gray water is equally as gross as black water.
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Old 09-11-2021, 11:47 PM   #13
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Location: Brazoria County, Texas
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Year: 1997
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International
Engine: T444E
Rated Cap: 32 Passenger
So where are you located Gary?
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Old 09-15-2021, 03:37 PM   #14
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Gary, your bus is great and works well, I can tell.

I love your thoughtful interior and exterior.

Please advise me about the ventilation units you have in the picture. Can you give me any info. They look wonderful and I need them for a bluebird I am working on.

Thank you very much.

Rob
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Old 09-15-2021, 04:38 PM   #15
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Posts: 68
Year: 1992
Coachwork: Blue Bird
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Engine: 5.9, Spicer-5
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Well done looks great inside and out. Love the KISS approach.
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Old 09-15-2021, 04:54 PM   #16
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I think my reply was nuked.

Very impressive work, Holden. I have a question in that I have always understood propane should be stored outside. Do you feel there is any undue hazard having it mounted indoors, so-to-speak? Thanks!
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Old 09-15-2021, 05:19 PM   #17
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Engine: 5.9, Spicer-5
Rated Cap: 44 Big butts/66 Lil ones
Word of caution re. the propane tanks. They should never be istalled inside the cabin unless inside a cabinet which is sealed to the inside and vented to the exterior!
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Old 09-15-2021, 05:35 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GarySeven View Post
lol I wouldn't have bothered posting here had I known that I'd get just an handful of comments.

Apparently conversions have to be painstakingly difficult and expensive to get attention. Not that I'm an attention whore, but still a guy wants to know his efforts have been appreciated, not so much by innocent bystanders, but other builders.

I recently saw a conversion on YouTube where the couple had tiled their bus entrance and bathroom with river rock and stones. It had to be 1000 pounds of rock and mortar I kid you not and it was a viral vid as the most beautiful off-grid bus ever, and they only carried 40 gallons of water with grey water tanks and a smelly $1000 Head composting toilet. That just kills me...

Gary Seven, aka Holden Caulfield

Maybe they are like me and wondering why the title doesn't match the post

"lol I wouldn't have bothered posting here had I known that I'd get just an handful of comments."
Well I guess that explains the title - post content mismatch - click bait.

BTW, You also didn't bother to do much of a "build". Not a whole lot to comment on.

If you are counting responses, then you should post to Facebook or some other venue where there are many more viewers. But I guess whining about it here will get get a few more responses, but you might not like them all.


That said, I do like the simplicity.

I would not have used a federal agencys name on the side of my vehicle though. Couldn't you come up with something that just sounded official? The attention the government hands out is probably not the kind that you are seeking.
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Old 09-15-2021, 11:23 PM   #19
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Posts: 34
Year: 2007
Coachwork: BlueBird
Chassis: Chevrolet
Engine: 5.9 Cummins Diesel
Rated Cap: 35
Thanks for the comments guys. I'll reply as I can as we are on the road now.

As for the comment on "dumping" gray water, its a bit of shampoo in a quick shower out in the boonies as this is an off-the-grid, off road conversion and we will never, ever be parked in a KOA next to you so don't worry about the horrible soap odor lol.

Also the USGS is not a "Federal Agency" its a map surveying organization, but in this case it stands for "United States Girl Search" so it gives me the right to inspect girls all over the USA. And I'm good at my job. I was actually thinking about writing "SuperMax Prisoner Transport" on the side to really, really keep the gawkers and tailgaters away, but I thought that might be a bit much.

But thanks for the snarky comments KidHarris. I'm sure you are a hit on Facebook and Twitter.

I'm more surprised that someone didn't ask me how to build an odorless composting toilet for under $100. But if someone does, I'm happy to share.
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Old 09-15-2021, 11:29 PM   #20
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Year: 1997
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Chassis: International
Engine: T444E
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Apparently expensive?

Apparently conversions have to be painstakingly difficult and expensive to get attention. Not that I'm an “attention whore”

Who are you trying to convince….. us or yourself ?
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