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Old 07-09-2022, 02:51 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Oct 2021
Location: Cartersville, GA
Posts: 50
Year: 2002
Coachwork: AmTran/International
Chassis: RE 3000
Engine: T444E
Rated Cap: 78
Project Matilda

Well.... we finally pulled the trigger and bought our full-time retirement travel home: working name MATILDA!



I am thinking MATILDA (until/unless the wife overrules me ) due to the song/poem Waltzing Matilda. A Matilda is the bag that carried all the worldly possessions of the "Jolly Swagman" (an itinerant worker in early 1900s Australia). Seems like an appropriate and less overused name like "Wanderer" or "Vagabond".


She is a 2002 International RE3000 chassis with an AmTrans body. T444E engine and Allison MD3060 transmission. 243K miles, rust free, runs/drives well.


1st task is to strip all the "Imma school bus" crap off of it. That and get rid of the seats!

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Old 07-09-2022, 03:06 PM   #2
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take it easy with stripping the school bus crap.
dont need another i cut wires and my bus wont start?
every single safety switch wire cut could be the issue?
good batteries and a charger to start with.
cut a wire/switch and crank the bus.
if it dont connect it back and figure it out before you remove it?
its not cut it all out and why my bus wont start?
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Old 07-09-2022, 04:52 PM   #3
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jolly Roger bus 223 View Post
take it easy with stripping the school bus crap.
dont need another i cut wires and my bus wont start?
every single safety switch wire cut could be the issue?
good batteries and a charger to start with.
cut a wire/switch and crank the bus.
if it dont connect it back and figure it out before you remove it?
its not cut it all out and why my bus wont start?

100% agreed!


If there is one aspect of this build I am completely comfortable with is it electronics/12v electrical.


Looks like the original purchaser school system (that I bought the bus directly from) bus shop was a little..... creative.... with their aftermarket wiring.
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Old 07-10-2022, 03:38 PM   #4
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Oct 2021
Location: Cartersville, GA
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Year: 2002
Coachwork: AmTran/International
Chassis: RE 3000
Engine: T444E
Rated Cap: 78
Strip down Day 1

If anyone from the bus shop of the Richmond VA City Schools district is viewing this....


Your wiring skills need serious work!


Got the stop signs and crossing arm off. 1/2 of the seat bottoms are out and much of the extraneous interior compartments are gone. about 1/2 of the upper wall trim/wire chases are gone as well.


Taking a break! The interior of the bus in the GA summer sun could bake a pizza!
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Old 07-11-2022, 10:52 AM   #5
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Yeah. The Yellow Microwave.

Shade tree is a must!

Dave
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Old 07-11-2022, 06:23 PM   #6
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Cool

Quote:
Originally Posted by w4cbl View Post
If anyone from the bus shop of the Richmond VA City Schools district is viewing this....


Your wiring skills need serious work!:
I think people sometimes assume that the maintenance yard for school buses is like a Formula 1 garage, white lab coats, freshly machined and or new parts, clean atmosphere...in reality, it's a bunch of mechanics trying to keep these things running for as long as possible, stealing parts off the ones that quit or are beyond repair. That's part of the reason so many people have problems before they even get the thing home.
"It was maintained by the school district" ...yeah, and?
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Old 07-12-2022, 11:17 AM   #7
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rwnielsen View Post
I think people sometimes assume that the maintenance yard for school buses is like a Formula 1 garage, white lab coats, freshly machined and or new parts, clean atmosphere...in reality, it's a bunch of mechanics trying to keep these things running for as long as possible, stealing parts off the ones that quit or are beyond repair. That's part of the reason so many people have problems before they even get the thing home.
"It was maintained by the school district" ...yeah, and?

Yeah, I get it....


And the wiring DOES work.... just the workmanship is appalling!
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Old 07-15-2022, 07:24 PM   #8
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Oct 2021
Location: Cartersville, GA
Posts: 50
Year: 2002
Coachwork: AmTran/International
Chassis: RE 3000
Engine: T444E
Rated Cap: 78
Strip down Day 5

Work on Matilda continues. 75% of the external indicators that she was a school bus are gone. Just the front and rear brow "school bus" signs and a few runs of reflector tape are all that remains. Getting rid of all the darned stuck-on-with-adhesive stuff is a flaming PIA.


I am quick-prepping any surface rust patches on the body as I come to them with an abrasive wheel on my angle grinder, some rust corrector, then a coat of primer.


The seat bottoms are gone and most of the upper cushions are as well. My plasma cutter arrives Monday, which is how I plan to deal with the thru-floor seat bolts. All of the school-added features like cameras, child-left-behind systems and door alarms are now disabled/removed.


It's alot of work, but the vision is worth the effort.
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Old 07-16-2022, 07:21 PM   #9
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LOL. That's what we named our shuttle bus!
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Old 07-18-2022, 06:40 AM   #10
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Originally Posted by mlbarrow View Post
LOL. That's what we named our shuttle bus!




Did you pick it for the same reason? Kinda unique, ain't it?
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Old 07-23-2022, 07:48 AM   #11
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Chassis: RE 3000
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Rated Cap: 78
Strip down day 13

Well, we are slowly making progress. Bus exterior stripping is done less the two big brow "school bus" signs. Instrument panel and console is mostly disassembled. Started this morning cutting the seat bolts with a plasma cutter; talk about the right tool for the job! Makes super quick work of them.
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Old 07-23-2022, 12:28 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by w4cbl View Post
Well, we are slowly making progress. Bus exterior stripping is done less the two big brow "school bus" signs. Instrument panel and console is mostly disassembled. Started this morning cutting the seat bolts with a plasma cutter; talk about the right tool for the job! Makes super quick work of them.
i dont have a portable plasma available but i do have a torch and a grinder that i know how to use for 20 plus years now.
hasnt happened to me because its in my mind from seeing actually happen.
plasma,torch,grinder,welding sparks/slag can and will stick to glass and if close enough will embed itself.
word of caution think about the windows and doors when around them.
i sold a man one of my work trucks and he wanted to shorten the legs on the pipe rack and asked for my torch?
i asked if he wanted to pull the rack and he said no i will do it on the truck and i said ok.
i went back to my other projects and 20 minutes later he asked for my welding machine so helped him wheel it out with the fork lift and when we got there the back glass of the truck on both sides were splattered with slag because the DUMB A$$ had cut the legs with the torch pointed directly at the glass?
i am suprised it didnt shatter?
thats how i know it can happen. that was a tinted back glass with a slide but it wasnt my truck anymore.
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Old 07-23-2022, 02:18 PM   #13
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jolly Roger bus 223 View Post
word of caution think about the windows and doors when around them.
i sold a man one of my work trucks and he wanted to shorten the legs on the pipe rack and asked for my torch?

thats how i know it can happen. that was a tinted back glass with a slide but it wasnt my truck anymore.
Thanks for the word of caution!

I'll keep it in mind, but almost all of the original glass is going, and I am down low away from the doors/windows.

Basically, we are stripping the bus to primer on the outside, and to the outer skin and ribs on the inside. Complete rewiring and instrumentation. New custom hotel smart control loads for living/camping. Most window openings skinned over and double pane glass where we do keep windows. Custom door to replace the bus air door.

Lots of work for sure but she's gonna be a beaut!
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Old 07-23-2022, 08:41 PM   #14
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Quote:
Lots of work for sure but she's gonna be a beaut!

Aren't we due for some pictures?
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Old 07-24-2022, 08:27 AM   #15
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rwnielsen View Post
Aren't we due for some pictures?
Yes we are. But so far they are just as she arrived, and a few of the strip down so far. Really nothing exciting yet.
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Old 07-24-2022, 01:58 PM   #16
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The demo days are the days I donít miss haha. We have the same spec bus from Fairfax County schools. Interested to see what you have planned for your conversion.
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Old 07-25-2022, 09:24 AM   #17
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Oct 2021
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Chassis: RE 3000
Engine: T444E
Rated Cap: 78
Stripdown Day 15

Continuing to work on the stripdown of Matilda. Hung up on the damned VCR box a couple of rows back from the driver's seat. Big self-drilling screws hold it down to the floor, but I don't see any way to get at them. Was trying to save the box itself, but it is looking like I'm doing to have to plasma cut it out. Any ideas?

The electrical system for the camper loads will all be "smart" and run via Home Assistant. I have already made "smart switches" with relays and ESP32 microcontrollers for this purpose. We will be able to control our bus from an app!
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Old 07-25-2022, 10:13 AM   #18
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Oct 2021
Location: Cartersville, GA
Posts: 50
Year: 2002
Coachwork: AmTran/International
Chassis: RE 3000
Engine: T444E
Rated Cap: 78
Camera VCR not a problem

OK, So I got the camera box out. Turns out there are two 7-pin tubular locks on the cabinet. The top secures the VCR cabinet, and the bottom secured the VCR cabinet to the rails that are bolted to the floor. Options: 1) Call a locksmith, 2) buy a 7-pin pick from banggood.com and pick it, 3) cut the box open and remove all the vcr guts to get at the bolts.

Then there is option 4. It requires 2 crowbars or heavy pry bars. put one bar under the VCR box and pry up, bending the vcr box up over the bottom lock. Simultaneously, us the second bar to pry the vcr box away from the bus wall. This frees the box from the rails, allowing you access to the bolts below.

Problem solved!

The primary purpose for the floor trim on the drivers side is to run the heater hoses from the engine to the heater in the back and then to the dash. Since I'm deleting the heaters.....
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Old 07-25-2022, 12:00 PM   #19
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W4cbl

Do you have the cameras that were part of the recording device? Can you turn this into a woop de do dash cam?

William
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Old 07-25-2022, 01:47 PM   #20
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Oct 2021
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Chassis: RE 3000
Engine: T444E
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Quote:
Originally Posted by magnakansas View Post
Do you have the cameras that were part of the recording device? Can you turn this into a woop de do dash cam?

William
Yes, I have 1 of them..... but trying to reverse engineer its feed and tie it into my new "smart home" integration would be problematic. And dash/backup cams are cheap.
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