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Old 05-06-2021, 09:11 AM   #1
New Member
Join Date: Apr 2021
Location: Pinon, Arizona (Navajo Nation)
Posts: 3
Year: 2002
Coachwork: IC Amtran
Chassis: 3000 RE
Engine: DT466 + Allison MD3060
Rated Cap: 40 ft. bus
"Something Happened" Bus Build

I purchased my bus in Phoenix AZ from a charter school on the day it left their service. It had been their "backup" bus and thus wasn't in daily use other than to be started, moved to its daytime parking spot and then moved back to its nighttime parking spot at the end of each school day. Previous to the charter school owning it, it had been a bus in the fleet of a Scottsdale school district. It still had a valid DOT inspection sticker... a fact I found comforting.

When I purchased the bus two weeks ago I owned no power tools. In fact, all the tools I owned were a few hand tools which I was able to store in one of those US Post Office flat-rate shipment boxes. I own no workbenches, sawhorses, etc. nor do I have a garage.

So my first step has been to purchase a basic starter set of power tools. I rapidly figured out that I wanted battery-powered tools which, in turn, meant I had to choose a single brand since I didn't want to buy multiple types of batteries/rechargers. I chose Makita as I'd heard they were at/near the top end and I wanted the lowest chance possible of some tool failing before I was finished with the conversion. Here is what I've acquired so far:
Angle Grinder
Impact Driver

Since my initial purchase, I've also ordered an air compressor and a tool which will allow me to use a chisel for rivet removal. Eventually I'll likely add at least a HVLP air painting tool to my air arsenal.

Finally, because I already know I want to raise the roof and relocate the front door to be further back in the fuselage of the bus it became clear I needed to teach myself how to weld. So I purchased a Forney 140 Ic flux core "Easy Weld" flux welding machine. I will start practicing some welding pretty soon since the roof raise will need to occur early in the conversion process. Everything I know so far about welding I've learned on YouTube.

Unlike the folks in many of the conversion YouTube series I've viewed I have no experience as a homebuilder/contractor/carpenter/metal fabricator/hot rod restorer/etc.. YouTube and the search function on this site are my "go to" learning options.

So far I've used both my new Sawzall and my new angle grinder without cutting off any appendages nor putting an eye out. Good start.

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Old 05-06-2021, 10:48 AM   #2
Bus Nut
Rwnielsen's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2020
Location: Long Beach, CA
Posts: 378
Year: 1998
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: TC1000, 40' MPV
Engine: 5.9 Cummins/B300 trans
Rated Cap: U/K
Welcome to the asylum!
It's good to hear from someone willing to just go for it. My list includes a mitre saw, router, possibly a table saw, maybe a planer, welder etc, etc, etc. Good choice on cordless tools too. I'm a Dewalt guy and, like you said, batteries are what determines what tools you use. I'm not really on a budget but my business is totally messing with my free time.
Something you might want to get is a couple of various length magnetic bit holders and a set of socket adapters for your impact. It's a versatile tool.
Oh, and half a dozen tape measures
Have fun, good luck
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Old 05-06-2021, 11:20 AM   #3
New Member
Join Date: Apr 2021
Location: Pinon, Arizona (Navajo Nation)
Posts: 3
Year: 2002
Coachwork: IC Amtran
Chassis: 3000 RE
Engine: DT466 + Allison MD3060
Rated Cap: 40 ft. bus
I am a high school teacher and have access to the high school woodshop if I want to do anything serious like use a drill press or table saw. That said, having the shop teacher open it up, close it down, etc. is kind of a hassle and something I really am going to try and avoid bothering that teacher.

Another issue is that I live 90 minutes away from any kind of civilization where a Home Depot or metal retailer (for sheet steel, etc.) can be found. This means I will need to be very disciplined and thorough when it comes to ensuring I don't miss buying something essential when I'm "in town." And forget any access to something like salvage yards. Those are anywhere from 2 1/2 - 4 1/2 hours away.

The final challenge is that I live on the Navajo reservation and there are NO recognized addresses here. UPS has figured out how to deliver to the teacher housing area, but for, say, the US Postal Service, I can only receive mail in my PO Box. Several times I've had Amazon orders canceled because the shipper is using some shipping company other than UPS and they don't recognize my "shipping address."

On the other hand, I have a bus barn full of school district bus mechanics about 500 yards from my house should I need diesel engine questions answered.
Different truths
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Old 05-06-2021, 11:28 AM   #4
Bus Nut
Join Date: Jan 2020
Location: Fraser Valley British Columbia
Posts: 795
Year: 2007
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Freightliner
Engine: C7 Cat
Well! Having a bus barn full of mechanics within spitting distance is pretty damn handy to have in your tool box
Welcome and good luck with your build.

Oscar1 is online now   Reply With Quote

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