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Old 02-01-2021, 12:04 PM   #2
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jan 2021
Location: North Georgia Mountains
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The Mobile Homestead

My apologies in advance for repetition, I ain’t good at this yet.
Thanks!
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Old 02-01-2021, 12:19 PM   #3
Bus Crazy
 
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Welcome to the site TMH.

It looks like you've got things well planned out for your project.

Have you got a bus yet, or is all of this simply pre-planning?
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Old 02-01-2021, 06:13 PM   #4
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You have some foresight and thats a good starting point for forecasting an expense budget.
Once you have a bus, you can inspect the tires, engine, tranny etc. and have a clear idea of the maintenance/repairs needed to keep it mobile.
I like your floor plan. Its good to keep planning, let the changes happen.

Dognose or Flatnose?
Why "homesteaders", are you growing meat & veggies?

EDIT: Now I see the multiple posts.....
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Old 02-01-2021, 06:33 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peteg59 View Post
Welcome to the site TMH.

It looks like you've got things well planned out for your project.

Have you got a bus yet, or is all of this simply pre-planning?

So far I don't have a bus yet... My county school system is having a sale of them here in about 2 months and I hope to get one. I went to the to the bus garage and asked if I could measure the ones for sale. He happily obliged and gave me repair/problem info on all of them. They are all the same body style with a 12 valve Cummins and allison automatics.
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Old 02-01-2021, 06:41 PM   #6
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DeMac View Post
You have some foresight and thats a good starting point for forecasting an expense budget.
Once you have a bus, you can inspect the tires, engine, tranny etc. and have a clear idea of the maintenance/repairs needed to keep it mobile.
I like your floor plan. Its good to keep planning, let the changes happen.

Dognose or Flatnose?
Why "homesteaders", are you growing meat & veggies?

EDIT: Now I see the multiple posts.....
It's a flatnose 40 footer which leaves 30 feet of "usable" space. (motor in front) The one I hope to get has about 75% tread, the rear axle yoke seal leaks, needs "motor mounts" (due to excessive vibration) and a timing cover oil leak fixed before a long haul.


The cool part: I actually RODE this bus (when ours broke down) in high school (graduated 2 years ago). And even back then it needed motor mounts....

And the homestead part is because I will be off-gridding as much as possible, with solar power, 150 gallons of water, hydroponics, mabye a rooftop chicken coop (chicken addiction, it's hard to give em up after 20 years) etc....

Thanks all for the feedback!
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Old 02-01-2021, 09:06 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mobilehomesteader View Post
It's a flatnose 40 footer which leaves 30 feet of "usable" space. (motor in front) The one I hope to get has about 75% tread, the rear axle yoke seal leaks, needs "motor mounts" (due to excessive vibration) and a timing cover oil leak fixed before a long haul.
My opinion is, with issues like that, look for another bus unless you can get it on the cheap and get it fixed on the cheap...
Definitely look into the prices of fixing those issues and factor that in. Unless of course you fix it yourself! None of those parts should be prohibitively expen$ive.



Depending on how that rear axle housing is made, it may have to all come apart to get to that seal and that is labor time, and in that case, you should replace all the bearings and seals while you got it apart - the labor should be minimal to none extra, and the parts not that much more either; or the pumpkin might just come right off, and the seal can be quickly fixed.


Motor mounts in a flatnose might be "tricky" also, depending. Can't exactly say myself without looking, but maybe someone else here will chime in on those. I think I would HATE trying to do mine. The worst job on the bus, just about. I gotta change the air-compressor and p.s. pump on mine here soon, and that looks horrible enough. On my setup, that would have to come off to do the motor mounts, from what I remember. But mine's newer.....



The timing cover is also a labor-intense job on that motor in that body.


But none of those issues need be a deal-breaker if not too expensive.


Rust issues, internal transmission issues, internal motor issues; those are the issues to worry about.
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Old 02-01-2021, 09:12 PM   #8
Skoolie
 
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Good to see your planning underway. As long as you're looking at costs, remember the tools, consumables (sandpaper, wire wheels, nails, paint etc.) are going to add up fast. I also don't see an electric power system in your plan. Having enough juice is as important as having enough water and waste storage. Try to think through exactly how much of that you'll need.

Your design also has water lines and wiring all around the bus. You could save a lot of time and materials if you cluster the water (kitchen and bathroom back-to-back on one side of the bus, grey tank underneath that) and keep as much electrical as you can on the other side of the bus.

Have fun with it!
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Old 02-02-2021, 06:53 PM   #9
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Fortunately, I am able to do almost all of the mechanical work myself. Although I don’t have any experience with the 12 valve, I have worked on quite a few mechanically injected diesels and other things over the years. And at least according to the head guy at the bus shop, the bus is still plenty operable aside from the annoying vibration.

Just looking (and if y’all know different please let me know) it looks like the motor mounts could be replaced pretty easy by just unbolting them, jacking up the motor, and taking them off the block and frame...
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Old 02-02-2021, 07:07 PM   #10
Mini-Skoolie
 
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My current house has a solar system that I designed and assembled about 2 years ago. It is rated at 5 kWh of production per day and 7.5 kWh of battery storage at full charge. In all reality, all the electricity I use is for lights, water pumps and the fridge, and the occasional time spent on the computer for school if needed. On average under normal conditions, I use 3 kWh per day ( and of course that goes up for clothes washing day, air compressor running, etc).

The reason for the crapper on the other side of the bus is because there is about 12 feet of space between wheel wells, leaving a 6 inch cushion on each side. I still don’t know how long the tanks will be, as they will be recovered from an old camper somewhere instead of being bought new. If they can fit together, that would allow enough space for the bed to go on one side of the bus, as opposed to across it. Thanks for the feedback!
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Old 04-01-2021, 07:46 PM   #11
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Hey all,
I bought the project bus at the county auction last Saturday! (So now I have something to post about.) Anyway, it is a 24 seat, flat-nose Blue Bird (about 35’ bumper to bumper), powered by a 5.9 12-valve Cummins in front of a 4-speed Allison automatic. It’s an early 1998 with about 210,000 miles as a county school bus. It has tires with 80% tread and no mechanical issues except for a small timing cover oil leak (just enough to coat the front of the motor and oil pan, no puddles or spots underneath). It drives GREAT!

I have since sold my truck to cover the cost of this project. This week I insured the bus through a local agent in town, got it registered, and re-titled it as a motor home. So Officially, on the title anyway, it will read “Blue Bird Motor Coach” and will consequently be cheaper to renew. On that note, our county tag office staff and commissioner are awesome, and even though there was “no button for that”, they worked with me and were able to do the whole process of registration and titling in less than half an hour.

In Georgia, the weight limit for a standard Class C license is 26,000 lbs., and the bus GWVR is 30,000. Legally speaking I will need to get a CDL before I drive it anymore, and will have to study the book and learn the information for the test. (I’m good on the mechanical end and pre-trip inspection stuff, but picky things like “how far do you place the road hazard triangles from the truck” and “which tank trailer will slosh the most when stopping” I still need to work on).

After a thorough pressure-washing tomorrow, I will start this project next week. A few first steps have crossed my mind:

I am around 5’7” tall. I don’t know if the “roof raise” is practical for my “vertically challenged “ stature. Other benefits I’ve seen are increased insulating value (removing the drafty single-pane aluminum windows and replacing them with better RV-style substitutes) and more storage space, better light dispersal, and obviously more head space.

If the roof raise happens, it would definitely happen first. Otherwise, I would lay out (with painter’s tape the width of the wall) where all the walls would go, countertop/kitchen appliances, bathtub, dinette, etc. and tweak as necessary. Then I would buy the 55 gallon water and waste management systems (ie. potable, crap- and shower-water tanks) and plumb them where they needed to go, cover the windows with walls behind them, and roll on from there.

As always, comments and suggestions are very much appreciated. I have never done this sort of thing before. I run a farm, and DIY is a daily skill for me. But this is by far the most involved project I’ve ever done (in all my 20 3/4 years...). IF YOU KNOW SOMETHING, TELL ME LIKE I DON’T ALREADY KNOW!! (Because I probably don’t). Thanks!
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Old 04-01-2021, 07:52 PM   #12
Mini-Skoolie
 
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By the way, I took out all but 5 seats day before yesterday with the help of my dad (who ran the screw gun while I held the wrench underneath).

Thanks!
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Old 04-01-2021, 08:13 PM   #13
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Where are you in North Georgia? If your title says it's a motorhome, which is considered an RV, why does your current license not allow you to drive it? You're welcome to check mine out for ideas if you're in the area.
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Old 04-05-2021, 05:39 PM   #14
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I will definitely be following! I'm in Calhoun, NW GA and we're about to buy a bus to start on! Sounds like you're off to a good start!
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Old 04-13-2021, 08:04 PM   #15
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Solar Panel AWNING Rack...

Hey all,

I was thinking about mounting my solar panels on the Homestead the other day, and I also wanted an awning (kind of as an afterthought, actually). I ran this idea by dad and we fine tuned it. I just drew it up today.


C0C90F21-9077-4589-86F7-19C703FB60B6.jpg


I would ideally have one on each side, equally heavy, and one vertical panel length long. They would be underpinned with (screwed on for cleaning and removal) sheet metal roofing to function as the awning part. While in transit they would fold down over the windows and bolt/affix to the bus framing. While parked (Ideally east/west) one would be in full sun near morning and the other in the afternoon.

Is this a good idea? Thanks!
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Old 04-20-2021, 07:27 PM   #16
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Location: North Georgia Mountains
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Hey out there,

I got the stud walls framed up for the bathroom and mechanical room (water heater/batteries/inverter). I also got a pretty dated apartment stove/oven from the ReStore in town for 40 bucks. And the washer/dryer are sitting there so I can see how big they are and where they will fit. I.E. Something to kick when I get flusterated with an out-of square bus...
71D87208-8D9D-424A-A283-9C8ED0EF72E2.jpg
6D073C5B-E097-4862-8DFC-E692B60B0E4D.jpg


And here’s my 1959 Small, General Purpose Army Tent that is now my workshop, full of parts, pieces and tools. Hot at noon but okay when shade hits it around 3.

07D553CC-AEFA-43C6-921E-2965AB0AAB5E.jpg
A0701F3E-7F90-4A21-AA8D-F750EFD216DA.jpg
BF0FE2D7-22E3-4140-B4F0-378675266BB8.jpg

Thanks For Your Time!
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Old 04-20-2021, 07:42 PM   #17
Mini-Skoolie
 
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And these are overdue and now out-of-order, but maybe they’ll be good for future reference.

Here is the bus before the start of the conversion, seats and all:
A444F67D-17C6-4DC5-9AFA-E4C449B8D88F.jpg
F0C73D84-93CF-41FF-A68A-78C75D67AA4B.jpg
E2AD1E96-CD8A-420F-992A-3E3E1678F816.jpg
A2938587-D6F2-4AD4-8A9B-F458DE0D198F.jpg

And here is the most recent floorplan taped out on the bus floor (I have a paper copy that makes these pictures cipherable). I’ll have to post it later ‘cause it’s 8 miles away at the house
996009B9-A7AE-4A44-84EC-919EEB985BD3.jpg
26FCC78C-2A04-4929-9084-2D61E91583AA.jpg
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Old 04-20-2021, 10:00 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mobilehomesteader View Post
Is this a good idea? Thanks!
FWIW, I did something similar at the beginning of my build:
https://www.skoolie.net/forums/f11/k...tml#post273431


I used unistrut as the base and the panels were on hinges. I intended to use gas struts or air cylinders to articulate. Even drove around with it like that for a while... Took it down because the 700W or so of 12V panels I used just weren't going to work well with the 3000W I ordered later for the roof.



Still think about doing a little awning like this every once in a while, but now I'm working on a slide-out system instead.
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