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Old 04-11-2017, 11:40 PM   #1
Almost There
 
natedlee's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: Maryland
Posts: 95
Year: 1998
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: TC2000
Engine: Cummins 5,9 12V
Rated Cap: 24 seats, 3 wheelchairs
SkooLee conversion

We haven't settled on a name, but ours is Lee, so this SkooLee was clever. Maybe it will stick.

So I've wanted to convert a bus forever, and now I have a legitimate excuse. A handful of kids, 1 profoundly disabled. Traveling is arduous - this will make it easier.

So, here's our
- 28' Blue Bird TC2000
- Cummins 5.9
- Allison AT545
- Highway gears
- New tires
- with a wheelchair lift uniquely in the middle vs the rear.



The seats were already out since the previous owner used it bare bones to sleep in while pulling his 30' trailer up and down the East Coast. It has some stuff I've gotta troubleshoot:

- Left front wheel wobbles. You can feel it in the steering wheel and it's visible to a driver beside me while on the highway. Hoping it's just a balance issue. The bearings are supposed to be new.
- Oil is leaking somewhere that makes the top of the engine and doghouse cover wet on the underside. Hoping it's just a valve cover gasket.

Stuff I'm doing to start:

- pulling up rubber floor cover. Seriously debating pulling up the floor. It has 1" plywood and if have to remove the lift, which is not something I want to mess with.
- debating floor insulation plan. If I did go the trouble of removing the factory flooring I'd build up the floor as is typical. If I don't pull it up I don't want to add a lot of height.
- remove walls and ceiling to insulate
- figure out electrical plan before insulating. My disabled daughter has crucial power needs, so that will be done right, whereas if corners are cut it will be elsewhere.

This rough drawing is fraught with issues I am sure, but this is generally my approach. I'd like kids beds in the back and the front sofas will double as master. My disabled daughter needs to be on a raised bed (to save our backs) and have room around for medical equipment and supply storage. Figured her bed will not be a bunk. Also the walkway has to be wide enough to carry her through when moving to the rear.



SkooLee and our 4x4 diesel wheelchair accessible van




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Old 04-12-2017, 07:21 AM   #2
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 15,817
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
2 nice looking rigs you have!!

are you making the new Bus into a camper or are you guys going to Live in it? and how much will you use it? alot of how much you tear apart and insulate and such depends on how much and where you will travel or want the ability to travel.. some people plan to run only in mild weather (not supert hot or cold) so they dont worry as much about insulation.. others Live in the bus full time so insulation and top quality materials are a must..

from my own experience .. the tale of 2 busses.. (granted I dont camp or live in either of them).. but I can say that if your bus came with factory Air-condition, they seem to be insulated better than ones that arent..

poulling the roof and walls is a must for any real climate control to work.

for warm weather running, some heat comes through the floor, but in cold weather LOTS of cold coems through the floor..

im assuming with a disabled daughter you either haave or will want to add A/C for travelling... 1 or 2 camper units on the roof wont cool a running bus driving down the highway on a hot day... engine heat in a front engine bus is Killer..

-Christopher
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Old 04-12-2017, 08:22 AM   #3
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Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: Maryland
Posts: 95
Year: 1998
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: TC2000
Engine: Cummins 5,9 12V
Rated Cap: 24 seats, 3 wheelchairs
This will just be an RV, but I could see us traveling all seasons, and maybe for weeks at a time. Hopefully we will use it several times a year. We'll have to see.

It does have 2 factory A/C units that blow surprisingly cold. I was planning on replacing them with 2 rooftop units, however. It will save me space and weight. The floor heaters and piping have all been removed also.


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Old 04-12-2017, 08:31 AM   #4
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 15,817
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
if you plan on a lot of hot road travel you may want to keep at least one of those units.. obviously they dont do you any good while parked, camper units will keep you nice and cool when parked esp at nioght as you arent generating any engine heat..

you may want a rear heater for travelling as well, or at least osme methoid of generating heat on the road for those in the back of the bus.. or they may be chilly.. running the driver heat on high in winter will result in a very warm driver seat but a cool back of the bus.. obviously again this doesnt apply when parked...

as a comparison.. the Coach / road A/C in your bus is likely a combined 70-90k BTU of cooling... its designed to cool you down similar to a car unit.. on those mid 90s days even with insulation your bus will get hot inside unless you have the interior already cold from shore-power / generator, etc.. (running rooftop off of solar can be done but is pricey to get enough solar and battery capacity to do so)

My RedByrd convdentional is a 6 row.. it has a 45K BTU A/C unit in the back.. tinited windows and decent factory insulation.. the back of the bus gets nice n cool.. i get warm enough in the driver seat that im going to place a dashboard A/C.. and I dont have a doghouse generating heat..

-Christopher
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Old 04-12-2017, 09:33 AM   #5
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Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: Maryland
Posts: 95
Year: 1998
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: TC2000
Engine: Cummins 5,9 12V
Rated Cap: 24 seats, 3 wheelchairs
Yeah I've thought about just keeping both of the A/C units. I mean, if I can build the rest around it, I might as well keep them for now. The only issue I could see is needing the room where the condensers are underneath for water tanks. If I need that space then the A/C units will have to go. Haven't gotten that far yet.

I hadn't really thought about a rear heater. It could even be a moveable plugin-in space heater I guess. I'll have to think about that one more. Are the ceiling units only A/C, not dual purpose?

Also, I'm afraid to ask, but what are your thoughts on pulling up the factory floor?
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Old 04-22-2017, 08:10 PM   #6
Almost There
 
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Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: Maryland
Posts: 95
Year: 1998
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: TC2000
Engine: Cummins 5,9 12V
Rated Cap: 24 seats, 3 wheelchairs
Latest iteration of floor plans and a glimpse of possible paint job.



I've also been doing time lapses every time I work - which I post here: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list...Q2pbInX6D0bzav


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Old 05-22-2017, 09:06 PM   #7
Bus Crazy
 
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Join Date: Jan 2017
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 1,497
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: Bluebird
Engine: 5.9 Cummins 24v
Rated Cap: 72 pax
I have a 35' (+or-) bluebird with a 5.9... Cummins have a habit of leaking oil.
I have researched them for a couple of months, haunted forums, and talked to mechanics and gear heads...
The oil pans leak, the valve covers leak, and the one I found the hard way... The "pushrod cover".
If you can find the leaks, gaskets are cheap and usually easier to change in our busses than in a Dodge pickup.


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Old 07-05-2017, 01:10 AM   #8
Almost There
 
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Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: Maryland
Posts: 95
Year: 1998
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: TC2000
Engine: Cummins 5,9 12V
Rated Cap: 24 seats, 3 wheelchairs
Wow I forgot about this thread! I've been chronicaling my build on YouTube and Instagram (@natedlee). Here are some current pics.








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