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Old 04-03-2021, 02:14 PM   #1
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Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Lafayette, Indiana
Posts: 291
Year: 2003
Engine: DT530
Rated Cap: 84
First big trip done! Random thoughts.

We just returned from our first big trip so I'm going to post some random thoughts and observations. Perhaps they will help current or future builds.

First a little about our trip. We have never gone on a vacation before without an exact plan but we did this time. We are from Lafayette IN and all we knew was that we wanted to be somewhere warmer. With that in mind we booked a couple of nights in a RV park in Gatlinburg TN with plans to hike in the Smoky Mountains. From there we hopped down to the eastern Florida coast then back to Indiana. The trip was 2 weeks and covered 2280 miles in Eternity Bus.

Thoughts:

- Days before leaving we purchased new aluminum wheels and tires. While they were being installed I was chatting with the tech doing the work and mentioned that the bus was going to drive like a dream. He actually laughed saying 'oh no it's going to drive terrible'. So apparently the new tires are really soft until they go through multiple heat cycles and become harder each time. He was totally right as the first 1000+ miles it was all over the road.

- For years I was under the impression that we were converting a school bus but it was actually a block of Swiss cheese. The wind noise was at times so loud that conversation was not easy. During the build we focused on the RV build and didn't do anything about the driver's area and the front. There was a little noise from the original bus windows we kept but mostly it came from the dashboard area. At one oint my wife covered the dash with beach towels and it greatly reduced the noise. So now I'm going to rebuild the dash to block out some wind.

- Some people will remove the air ride seat and that it a big mistake. The roads were in such poor condition that my back would not have survived.

- The driver's seat is made from a very durable fabric that has survived without damage for all these years. The reason is that it is infused with steel wool intended to grind the flesh off your elbow on the armrest.

- The bus has a DT530 with a MD3060 w/o 6th unlocked. This caused my mileage to average around 7mpg. We were towing part of the time and had some mountains but I expected a little better. Getting 6th unlocked is now a priority.

- Don't trust a GPS! Before leaving I downloaded Copilot GPS designed for use with trucks and RV's. The plan was to use it in combination with Google maps. Copilot allows you to enter your vehicle size so mapping will be customized for those restrictions. After leaving Gatlinburg both apps sent me on the same route. The road reminded me of the movie "RV" although the road had nice asphalt it was steep with lots of sharp turns. After 7 miles we see a sign 'Pavement ends in 1500 feet' and it did at the Appalachian trail. We had to back down the mountain for about a half mile for a place to turn around. Made for a good story but could have been avoided.

- Before leaving my son and I mounted the generator in the large open space in the engine compartment with an extended exhaust pipe. Unfortunately the heat from the engine was enough to trip the safety on the generator so it wouldn't run. In FL I moved it to a hitch carrier and it ran like a charm. Before the next big trip it will need to be installed somewhere else.

- Road air conditioning is priceless. Our bus came with it but due to it needing to be repaired and relocated it was not installed for this trip. It will definitely need to be before our next big trip.

Overall it was a great trip and we can't wait for our next one. We are scheduled to be at the Indiana skoolie meet up this month. I will post additional things as they come up.
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Old 04-03-2021, 05:37 PM   #2
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Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: GA
Posts: 605
Year: 1998
Coachwork: Amtran RE
Chassis: International 3000
Engine: T444e 7.3L
Sounds like a good time.

It’s have my generators (dual Honda 3000 watt) in the open area of my engine compartment and they run fine. More air flow maybe?

I replaced my air ride seat. The original had too much play and it’s actually much better on my bus without one.
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Old 04-03-2021, 08:50 PM   #3
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Oct 2019
Location: NE Oregon
Posts: 126
Year: 1998
Coachwork: Thomas
Engine: 8.3 Cummins
Thanks for the post.
How much were the new wheels and tires if you don't mind me asking? And why did you need new wheels? Have heard some discussion that aluminum wheels wear out over time, but other people use them forever?
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Old 04-03-2021, 09:46 PM   #4
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Join Date: Sep 2019
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 488
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Thomas x2
Chassis: HDX/MVP ER
Engine: CAT 3126 x2
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mountain Yawp View Post
Thanks for the post.
How much were the new wheels and tires if you don't mind me asking? And why did you need new wheels? Have heard some discussion that aluminum wheels wear out over time, but other people use them forever?
I've never heard this, and I've worked for a company that had coaches with Alcoas that have run for many hundreds of thousands of miles. The only reasons a wheel got junked was because someone squished it with a giant impact (overtorqued the lugs, leaving indents in the wheel) or the lugs got left loose and it wallowed out the lug holes, which happens with steel wheels too.

I've thought about upgrading to Alcoas for the look, but I'm too lazy to actually polish them to keep them nice.
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Old 04-03-2021, 09:51 PM   #5
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Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Lafayette, Indiana
Posts: 291
Year: 2003
Engine: DT530
Rated Cap: 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mountain Yawp View Post
Thanks for the post.
How much were the new wheels and tires if you don't mind me asking? And why did you need new wheels? Have heard some discussion that aluminum wheels wear out over time, but other people use them forever?
We really wanted the look of the aluminum wheels and that's the only reason to be honest. The wheels with the center caps were $1200. The tires are imported Ironhead (Vietnam not China). We paid $2200 for the six tires.
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Old 04-03-2021, 10:59 PM   #6
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Oct 2019
Location: NE Oregon
Posts: 126
Year: 1998
Coachwork: Thomas
Engine: 8.3 Cummins
Thanks everyone for the answers on the wheels. I have alcoas on my bus, but Idaho (where I purchased it) law requires school buses to have black wheels so they are painted black. I had my son start removing the paint, but it is slow going and now I wonder about just leaving them black.

T-bolt, that seems like a good deal for new tires, less than $400 each.
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