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Old 04-02-2020, 09:00 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Okienomad's 2nd Build-Big Blue Toy Hauler



1991 Bluebird Full Size
5.9 Cummins Diesel
Allison AT545 transmission

We have done it again and added another bus to our stable. In 2016 we built a short bus and have spent 2018-present traveling full-time in our shorty. Our short bus has been to the lower 48 states and parts of Canada and it has served us very well. Due to COVID-19, we had to bail on our travel plans to Alaska and retreat back to family and friends until we are able to travel again.

Short bus build thread:https://www.skoolie.net/forums/f27/o...dow-15689.html

We have been getting more into backcountry/off-road travel with our '86 4Runner and we have found that we like having a home base in our bus and being able to explore in the small Toyota. Our short bus is really good at serving both purposes as it is capable enough to get down forest service roads but it is more comfortable than an SUV for extended travel. The short bus isn't strong enough or rated high enough to tow the 4Runner so changes had to be made.

The plan is to chop a few windows off of the back of Big Blue and move the rear cap forward to make room for our 4Runner to park and use the bus as a poor man's toy hauler. Once that is done we will move inside and build out the interior with a shower, toilet, battery bank, etc. Once finished, hopefully by the end of the year, we will take this bus to Alaska and back in Summer of 2021. We plan to use our bus as a base camp on a forest service road or campground and use the Toyota to explore more and do some backcountry camping/overlanding style travel.

We looked for a decent bus in our price range around where we are in NE Oklahoma and had very little luck. People seem to be catching on to the value in school buses because some of the asking prices were a bit crazy. Anyways, we found one in Lubbock, TX that needed some work, but had what we were looking for so we made the drive. We left Tulsa in the early AM and did our best to social distance ourselves on the way down and made a good deal on the bus by mid-afternoon 7 hours of driving later.







We drove a few hours North to a rest stop that we were familiar with from our first time across I-40 in our short bus in 2018. We checked fluids, tires, ect and decided that the bus was capable of making it across the Texas panhandle and most of Oklahoma in one piece. We were wrong. Shortly after leaving Amarillo the next morning in a rainstorm, the headlights stopped working along with the driver's side windshield wiper. I slowed down, but for whatever reason the rain didn't obstruct the windshield like a car, it seemed to still roll off. So we kept going cautiously at 55-58 MPH. We made it to Shawnee, OK (2 hours from home) and the water temp began to rise. I smelled coolant, so I pulled over at the nearest truck stop to evaluate. Once the engine was turned off there was no obvious leak so I filled the radiator back up and drove another 10 miles with the same result. On second inspection I found the culprit on one of the heater hoses that had a small gash near the hose clamp. It was nearing dark and with the headlights not working, we opted to drive back to a warm bed and come back in the morning when it was dry and easier to work on.



The following AM we returned and replaced the offending heater hose and filled the radiator again with success. The bus drove splendidly on the rest of the way home and the temperature never moved once warm. And here it is in it's temporary resting place.









And the plan in photoshop...

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Old 04-02-2020, 09:22 AM   #2
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I'd consider modding the rear to be full width opening and accommodate the vehicle fully inside.

Gonna need some long ramps either way

Toad out of the question?
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Old 04-02-2020, 09:34 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by john61ct View Post
I'd consider modding the rear to be full width opening and accommodate the vehicle fully inside.

Gonna need some long ramps either way

Toad out of the question?
Toad is out of the question for the way we travel, the wear and tear on the vehicle being towed is not something we want to deal with.

We have contemplated a full-width opening, simply dismissed it as it seems a door would be overly complicated compared to just having a flatbed. I am open to ideas on the enclosed opening as we are raising the roof anyways, adding another 24 uprights shouldn't be too much extra work...We are planning and calculating adding a dovetail to the rear to help with the ramp issue, but it is also a lifted 80's 4Runner, so we are planning on low range helping a fair bit to climb and break over the ramps.
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Old 04-02-2020, 10:36 AM   #4
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Well then, if keeping the back cap, I'd lower the flatbed right down, if possible even below the main chassis rails.
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Old 04-02-2020, 03:57 PM   #5
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Look fwd to what type of ramp you come up with vs flat-towing the 4runner.
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Old 04-02-2020, 05:00 PM   #6
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Look fwd to what type of ramp you come up with vs flat-towing the 4runner.
Right now we are contemplating 10-foot long aluminum ramps used to load small equipment. The 4Runner is lifted and has decent clearance so we are hoping to not need to modify anything to get it on board.

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Well then, if keeping the back cap, I'd lower the flatbed right down, if possible even below the main chassis rails.
We are not set on the keeping the rear cap, we go back and forth as making a wall with square tube and aluminum would be easier and we could customize it to accept a window AC unit and windows.
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Old 04-02-2020, 08:17 PM   #7
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In which case might as well get some big-van outside-swing hinges and make it an indoor garage, keep those svelte original body lines and arouse less LEO attention out on the highways.
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Old 04-02-2020, 10:38 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by john61ct View Post
In which case might as well get some big-van outside-swing hinges and make it an indoor garage, keep those svelte original body lines and arouse less LEO attention out on the highways.
Agree with you John, keep it inside if you can. Attract less attention from the Leoís and maybe the nefarious types also.
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Old 04-03-2020, 11:27 AM   #9
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Agree with you John, keep it inside if you can. Attract less attention from the Leoís and maybe the nefarious types also.
Where are you guys camping that you are worried about having a vehicle outside? Honestly we were considering a covered storage area to protect the vehicle from weather, not cops and heathens. The biggest issue with inside storage is opening the door to the truck. We only have approximately 15 inches to open the door and slide by.
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Old 04-03-2020, 11:56 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by okienomads View Post
Where are you guys camping that you are worried about having a vehicle outside? Honestly we were considering a covered storage area to protect the vehicle from weather, not cops and heathens. The biggest issue with inside storage is opening the door to the truck. We only have approximately 15 inches to open the door and slide by.
Haha good one! No weíre not camping in east LA
Actually Iíve alway felt very safe and comfortable anywhere weíve traveled. Iíve never been ripped off but Iíve always been prepared. Had not thought of your vehicle width and door length, good point. Was only thinking out of sight out of mind and more inside storage for tools and supplies.
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Old 04-03-2020, 01:21 PM   #11
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Nothing to do with theft, just looks better than Frankensteining the body.

Plus the LEO attention issue.

I keep vehicles in shipping containers, and enter/exit via the back hatch.
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Old 04-03-2020, 03:20 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by john61ct View Post
Nothing to do with theft, just looks better than Frankensteining the body.

Plus the LEO attention issue.

I keep vehicles in shipping containers, and enter/exit via the back hatch.
Haha Frankensteining! Is Friday new word day? Love it.
I agreeí not a big fan of the flatdeck look. But hey itís not my bus so whatever works for the operator.
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Old 04-03-2020, 04:20 PM   #13
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Nothing to do with theft, just looks better than Frankensteining the body.

Plus the LEO attention issue.

I keep vehicles in shipping containers, and enter/exit via the back hatch.
You've never transported a 1st generation 4Runner have you? Rear hatch is operated by a motorized window that is switched in the cockpit.

What is of interest to a police officer if I have a truck on a flatbed or tucked into a school bus? If it is legally registered as an RV and I am below GVWR, what business is it of theres?

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Haha Frankensteining! Is Friday new word day? Love it.
I agreeí not a big fan of the flatdeck look. But hey itís not my bus so whatever works for the operator.
Obviously it would look better without losing half the body, we are still planning, so who knows where we will go with it.

Quote:
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Haha good one! No weíre not camping in east LA
Actually Iíve alway felt very safe and comfortable anywhere weíve traveled. Iíve never been ripped off but Iíve always been prepared. Had not thought of your vehicle width and door length, good point. Was only thinking out of sight out of mind and more inside storage for tools and supplies.
The storage is a good point and we would love to have some inside storage in the "garage" area. Something to consider.
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Old 04-03-2020, 04:22 PM   #14
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I think it **could** look good, but not doing it on the cheap.

Enclosed section nicely finished off, clear separation, as I said bed dropped as low as possible, contoured maybe a polished aluminum outer angle like a flatbed maybe?

But I like best looks as much as possible like a regular bus but then the end cap splits and the 4WD rolls down. . .
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Old 04-04-2020, 07:47 AM   #15
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First step was to repair some mangled wiring from a mouse that got to close to the headlight circuit. A total of about 20 wires needed mending/replacing including all of the dimmer switch wiring from the pedal to the steering column. Easy peasy couple of hours and we have lights again! I am not excited that the previous owner cut a hole in the panel to make access easier, but it was extremely easy to fix with a giant hole in the front end.



Despite not having much of a plan after demo takes place, we still had to demo the inside.

We started with removing almost every screw on the interior of the bus. You would have thought after our first Blue Bird that we would have found a bus with screws instead of rivets, but here we are. We used an angle grinder to remove the rivets on the side panels below the windows and only learned later that there was a better way to remove them. Also it's nice to have help!







We are now working on removing the rivets in the ceiling panels and it will likely be finished up early next week using a new to me tool of the air chisel. It makes quick work of those pesky rivets.

Thankfully the previous owner had ripped all of the seats out and laid down a subfloor. Not so thankfully, they left holes in the floor from the seats and didn't seal the roof prior to doing all of this work so the floor and insulation had to come up due to moisture build up and some surface rust.



There aren't too many holes and since we will be covering the rear half with some type of textured steel we will not be worrying so much about patching the back half. Eventually the inside area will be getting a couple of coats of rustoleum and the roof will get sealed with some seem sealer and Henry's roof paint.
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Old 04-04-2020, 10:17 AM   #16
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I like the look of the sketchup. What about making doors in the remaining bus body to make it easy to get in and out of the Toyota?
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Old 04-04-2020, 05:11 PM   #17
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I like the look of the sketchup. What about making doors in the remaining bus body to make it easy to get in and out of the Toyota?
Jack
I hadn't thought of that...hmmm should be easy enough relatively speaking.
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Old 04-08-2020, 03:27 PM   #18
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Side doors

Another thought...if you make bus doors for access to your truck have them hing down and build steps on the inside of the hinged door. Simplifies access even more?
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Old 04-08-2020, 04:18 PM   #19
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architectural details swiped from Classic UFO design
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Old 04-08-2020, 04:58 PM   #20
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or hinge on the top to make a hatch door
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