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Old 05-31-2012, 09:51 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 24
Year: 1994
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: AARE
Engine: 8.3 L Cummins
Project Steel Tent

I have lurked here for a while and finally purchased a bus. The plan is to use it on a family trip this summer that was not practical without a place to sleep and the price of a rental RV was prohibitive. So the plan is to tear out the seats and install enough interior so that we can travel safely and have a place to sleep, basically a 'steel tent'.

The State of Wyoming or at least my courthouse is requiring me to have it converted to 'self contained' status to re-title as an RV, specifically; sleeping quarters, a potty, and water.
So for my interior I am planning:
van seats
a porta potty
a platform for an air matress
a nook for the babies pack and play
a table
a food prep area with water

any advice on passenger seating would be appreciated

The school bus yellow to my eyes attracts all the wrong attention so if time permits and at all possible I will give the bus the $50 paint job. I plan on going with Rustoleum brand because while it is more expensive than the Ace Brand when touch up time comes I can get a rattle can that will nearly match almost anywhere.

The bus is in pretty good shape but there a few mechanical issues that need to be addressed before heading out for 3000 miles.
a hydraulic leak
the fuel gauge does not read
the oil pressure gauge does not read

So if anyone has a line on the service manual for a mid nineties 8.3 Cummins Rear Engine All American it would make my life much easier.

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Old 05-31-2012, 10:04 PM   #2
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Re: Operation Steel Tent

From my way of thinking, you need the maintenance manual for the engine, service info for the transmission, and the only thing from BB is the wiring diagram. Dag Gamit, that wiring diagram would sure be nice!
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Old 06-01-2012, 09:40 AM   #3
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Re: Project Steel Tent

All I have in electronic format is the body and chassis wiring diagrams for a late 80's to early 90's BB All American. I just got them from bluebird last week.

Send me your email via PM and I can forward along what BB sent me. Maybe it can help you out.

I also have these:


It's a long shot but if you have something you want me to look up I can give it a shot. I don't have a scanner working right now but I will shortly. I plan to make a pdf version of all three of these books. It seems the skoolie community is lacking electronic versions of operator manuals and such. I know these are not shop/repair manuals but they might help at some point.
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Old 06-01-2012, 10:20 AM   #4
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
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Year: 1994
Coachwork: Bluebird
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Engine: 8.3 L Cummins
Re: Project Steel Tent

I have the Allison and Bluebird Operators Manuals so they are some help. As you say though there is a world of difference an Operator and a Shop Manual. Something is always better than nothing sadly most of the issues I am going to be running down in the next few weeks have to do with Bluebird's integration of the units that I can get manuals for into the chassis and Bluebird's choice of components. It is not an impossible task I just need to not think about how much easier it could be with full documentation. Anyway the best way to learn a system is to troubleshoot it. ;)
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Old 06-01-2012, 01:17 PM   #5
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Re: Project Steel Tent

There should be an archive created here on skoolie.net to allow people to post and download manuals that people have managed to find somewhere online or can scan from physical copies..
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Old 06-14-2013, 03:27 PM   #6
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Year: 1994
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Re: Project Steel Tent

Last spring I did get my bus converted almost to my goals. Sadly the trip we were building it for got shortened on both ends due to family illness. I thought I would share little of what we did and of the trip.

All the seats came out I did what I could with wrenches then went to cutting wheels on the grinder. The seats went into a pile and I threw out the gum and snuff cans.



I went through as sealed all the holes, for this project the floor is remaining as is.

The rear became the master bed. I framed in a platform and we slept on a queen size airmatress. It was quite comfortable and puts away nicely for unobstructed sight lines so that I did not need to drive mirrors only.



To put that in I had to delete the rear heater. Getting the barbed pipes out of the coolant lines was quite a chore tha involve a couple big screwdrivers and lots of patience. I cleaned up all the blood I got on the sheet metal and I am sure the coolant sterilized the wounds. I soldered up a U and clamped that in so that I could revisit the heater if I wanted to.

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Old 06-14-2013, 03:41 PM   #7
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Re: Project Steel Tent

I got an old camper and grabbed some things out of it. I got a sink with its drain valve and a nice two burner stove. The stove is nice because it is removable, the gas is on a quick connect and it can lift out and lock into an aluminum rail installed externally. I welded up a frame steel frame and painted it then attached it to the bus floor and chair rail. I then urethaned some plywood and attached that to the frame.



Another handy bit from the camper was the table. I used the original bus seats and installed one reversed to create a booth. I saved two cushions and the original hardware so the booth makes a small bunk. Table also can be removed and mount on the same type of rail as the stove. The seat that I left in place was the one that had the forward coolant heater under it, that came in handy when we were cruising through Glacier Park in the snow.

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Old 06-14-2013, 03:50 PM   #8
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Re: Project Steel Tent

Great update...any pics from the trip....?....maybe with bus porn.
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Old 06-14-2013, 03:58 PM   #9
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
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Year: 1994
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: AARE
Engine: 8.3 L Cummins
Re: Project Steel Tent

I used good components to install a basic water system for the trip. The fresh water tank is under the master bed, then I setup a board with a replaceable filter an RV water pump, and a captive air tank. I used braided stainless for all my connections and I am really happy with the performance the captive air tank and flexible connections really take the vibration and surges out of the system. The power for the system is inside as I have not fabricated a house batter box yet, the pump is switched and I take the battery out to charge it so for now it is fine.



The grey water tank is simply another tank like the fresh tank with aluminum on top and secured in the belly bin, and vented out the side, it is simple and unobtrusive.

Where I got fancy with the water was the hot water. Those outdoor propane water heater looked too nice to pass up. I built a steel frame that stows while we are underway and hangs from the eyebrows outside at camp. The water and propane go out a mouse hole and onto it with quick connects. It works great and again on those frosty mornings it was a very nice little luxury.

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Old 06-14-2013, 04:08 PM   #10
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
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Year: 1994
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Engine: 8.3 L Cummins
Re: Project Steel Tent

Sure I will throw in some pics from the trip as I go through my photos for the update. We left after my wife got off of work and made it to the middle of no where Wyoming before I was not good to drive any longer. Pulled off to the side of the highway set up and went to sleep this is what we woke up to.

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Old 06-14-2013, 04:29 PM   #11
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Re: Project Steel Tent

Nice looking bus. I like the color.
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Old 06-14-2013, 06:35 PM   #12
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Re: Project Steel Tent

Thank you for the sunrise pic!
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Old 06-14-2013, 08:33 PM   #13
Skoolie
 
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Re: Project Steel Tent

I like it a lot.
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Old 06-15-2013, 04:16 PM   #14
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Year: 1994
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Engine: 8.3 L Cummins
Re: Project Steel Tent

Thank you for the compliments. Here is the bus at a family get together. The camper to the right is actually a pickup camper in a pickup bed trailer so the bus was not even the oddest looking rig. In fact the bus was very popular the kids liked to come hangout in it because it was a a school bus but wasn't, and it was roomier than the other places to get away from their parents. ;)

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Old 06-15-2013, 04:31 PM   #15
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
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Year: 1994
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: AARE
Engine: 8.3 L Cummins
Re: Project Steel Tent

Over the rear wheel wells I bolted in steel frames with ply wood. One is a platform for the baby's bed the other a plat form for the tub and porta potty. The potty is comfortable and I did not have time to set up a black solution, likewise the drain is not installed in the tub yet.

The little one's room, at camp there are curtains we put up with magnets and set up her pack and play though now she has graduated to her own mattress.



The bathroom, not the best picture. RV style with the potty in the tub for now. Once again there are curtains to magnet up and I sprayed the windows with frosting.

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Old 06-15-2013, 04:41 PM   #16
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
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Year: 1994
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Engine: 8.3 L Cummins
Re: Project Steel Tent

I found a flexsteel chair from a conversion van and two seats out of a Winnebago at our local salvage yard. I bolted them in with grade 8 bolts and we had seating for everyone to ride safely. Here is what it looks like with the seats forward.



For the level of this conversion I was not going to be tearing out the interior etc. To get compartments and privacy my wife sewed up some nice canvas dividers. They are velcro edged and there is velcro on the ceiling so we can go from open floor plan to rooms in about a minute. With the dividers up but not the curtains, and the seats pivoted the interior looks like this.

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Old 06-15-2013, 05:11 PM   #17
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Year: 1994
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Engine: 8.3 L Cummins
Re: Project Steel Tent

At this point time was running out the trip was a week away and my wife who generously allowed me to give the bus a was not going to be riding around in a steel banana with blackout spray paint on it.



In the first post I had allowed as how I was considering the '50$ paint job', while sanding the bus in prep for painting I realized that that was insane. I realized I was going to sand that beast only once for surface prep. I washed the bus with sugar soap. Then I sanded all the flat surfaces with my random orbit and then hit all the rail rails with steel wool then wiped down with spirits.

Because it was to be a summer trip my first step was to get white elastomeric roof paint and do the roof down to a tapes width above the over eyebrow rivets. I ended up doing 5 coats on the seams and three on the roof with the 'cat on a stick' before I ran out. The coverage was good and it really did make a huge difference on the interior temp. With the roof painted and the curtains up the back was bearable in the sun where before it was not.

For the sides I went with Rustoleum Brand and over the last year and has cured into a nice finish. The rub rail and bumper is 'leather' or something and the sides are 'sand' or something, it was at Ace and Home Depot in gallons and colors that they had in spray bombs for small parts and future touch up. When I shot the bus it was done outdoors but I lucked out and I had perhaps the only still days that entire spring. The Rustoleum took a lot of thinning to shoot well but once I got it down it went on nice. The finish is not perfect but it made a huge improvement and people look at you way less cross-eyed when you pull up than when it was yellow.







I considered doing the under window and bottom rubrail and the mirrors in the red, however I simply did not have time to mask for another color I did the grill as an accent because it comes off. In fact on the time front I simply ran out of time to get the rear prepped like the front. The reflective tape had to come off with a putty knife and heat gun the the adhesive left was unreal. The letters and numbers were fine but the tape adhesive repelled adhesive stripper and goof off. I had to use Dads EZ strip and try not to trash the paint around it. So sadly the back needs to be revisited but that is a fine opportunity to touch up the rest of it.

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Old 06-16-2013, 12:08 AM   #18
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Year: 2000
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Engine: Series 50
Re: Project Steel Tent

Can you tell me about the fresh water tank, i.e. how many gallons, height, and where you found it?

Thanks,
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Old 06-16-2013, 04:00 AM   #19
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Re: Project Steel Tent

What a great looking bus. I love the colors.
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Old 06-16-2013, 01:59 PM   #20
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
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Year: 1994
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: AARE
Engine: 8.3 L Cummins
Re: Project Steel Tent

Thanks Accordian I like it but it does not have sweet stacks like yours.

Chow it is 35 gallons it is about 22 inches high about 21 deep and about 31 long. It is the kind of water tank found at ag supply stores I bought mine at Murdoch's I am sure the Big R or Tractor Supply or whatever your local flavor is has them.

http://www.tractorsupply.com/en/store/l ... ank-35-gal

Had to purge it a few times to get rid of the plastic taste but it is good now. They come in a variety of sizes too, really the only issue is the there is a single fitting in the bottom and the lid is vented. I have never had an issue with the lid leaking but I do not over fill it. If you wanted it to vent elsewhere you would have to drill and tap to install your own bulkhead fitting on top.

I should add that there are some handy things about those tanks also. I built a steel frame for mine but I have not used it I secured the tanks with plumbers strap and 3/8 drive metal screws and the the built in strap grooves keep it very secure.
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