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Old 06-03-2020, 03:25 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Year: 2002
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Chassis: 37' FE Flatnose 3800FC
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I Need Air

We have a 37' 2002 International flat nose FE bus.
It came with two factory air conditioners, that we would like to keep to stay cool going down the road. However we also need to stay cool while stationary. We were thinking about getting two mini splits. However the back factory air conditioner is mounted dead center over the emergency exit door, which is where one of the mini splits would probably need to go. (We will have a 3/4 wall back there for a garage/storage area 24"×7'6". The wall will be low enough that the air conditioner will be able to blow air into the rest of the bus.)

We also thought about two roof top air conditioners like we have in our travel trailer. However there is already that big unit on the roof that runs the two factory air conditioners, plus we plan to skin over the two emergency hatches and will be putting two Maxx Fans up there somewhere, and also plan to add solar later, so don't want to run out of space up there.

What does everyone else do for air conditioning? Please don't tell me to just open the windows and sweat. I am an old Southern Texan who hates being hot. At home my home air conditioning is running from late April thru early October. When we go camping in our travel trailer we are in campgrounds with 50amp hook ups, so we have both air conditioners going. Boondocking in the bus is going to be a whole new experience, but this old southern lady would still like to be cool. I already plan on insulating the bus really well and will be adding solar at a later date. I do not want a roof deck and would not have room for one anyway. I just want to know what units others use.
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Old 06-03-2020, 04:18 PM   #2
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This is the one main issue I have with chassis AC on school buses. They are incredibly bulky, cumbersome to work around and you end up buying a whole nother AC system anyway for use while being parked.



I ended up removing mine since the compressors were both shot and replacement cost was absurd. I was going to go with mini splits but ended up getting a really good deal on a pair of 13.5 btu dometic roof ACs on marketplace (still had to buy the interior air boxes) but overall I am still well under the cost of just one bare unit shipped from Amazon.



My cooling requirements are probably a lot less than yours. I am in Wisconsin where it rarely gets above 90 (although the humidity is a killer).
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Old 06-03-2020, 04:29 PM   #3
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My cooling requirements are probably a lot less than yours. I am in Wisconsin where it rarely gets above 90 (although the humidity is a killer).
I grew up there, the humidity is the #1 reason I will not ever move back there! I LOVE my dry desert heat!!!
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Old 06-03-2020, 08:52 PM   #4
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Texas.... Too hot down there. Nice in the winter though.

Does the a/c in your bus work well when driving? If so I would be reluctant to alter or remove it. If you were in a cooler climate maybe but not Texas.

It seems this idea may have come up, and I have not tried it. But here goes, keep the factory air, then have another outside system, that is the condenser, and compressor that would be tee'd into the system, so that when the engine is running you have factory air, and when stopped the other compressor will run off shore power and still feed the factory evaporator (the inside portion). You would need valves to switch both the pressure and return lines I believe. Just seems this could be done. Need more research.
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Old 06-03-2020, 10:02 PM   #5
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Texas.... Too hot down there. Nice in the winter though.

Does the a/c in your bus work well when driving? If so I would be reluctant to alter or remove it. If you were in a cooler climate maybe but not Texas.

It seems this idea may have come up, and I have not tried it. But here goes, keep the factory air, then have another outside system, that is the condenser, and compressor that would be tee'd into the system, so that when the engine is running you have factory air, and when stopped the other compressor will run off shore power and still feed the factory evaporator (the inside portion). You would need valves to switch both the pressure and return lines I believe. Just seems this could be done. Need more research.
On most automotive (and in this case, buses) AC compressors are non-bypass. So you will need someway to cut off or bypass the engine mounted compressor, or else it will work as a restriction when then engine is off.

I know lots of automotive systems have multiple evaporators hooked to one compressor, but I'm not aware of any systems that have it the other way around.

((I'm a mechanic and spent lot of time working on automotive AC systems.))
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Old 06-04-2020, 01:02 PM   #6
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How about an electric motor mounted off to the side that you could run the engine mounted compressor with? You would have to switch the engine drive belt and AC drive belt each time, and figure out how to power the cooling fan for the condenser, but I'm envisioning something like that.

Or even less messy.....

I'm seeing a clutch driven pulley mounted to the engine and a clutch driven pulley mounted on an AC motor, both connected to the A/C clutch pulley by belt. Could even be the same belt. A switch inside would determine which drive system was engaged to turn the belt. I really wish I had road A/C because I don't think it would be very hard to engineer this. This would give you bone chilling A/C when parked!!
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Old 06-04-2020, 01:41 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by JackE View Post
How about an electric motor mounted off to the side that you could run the engine mounted compressor with? You would have to switch the engine drive belt and AC drive belt each time, and figure out how to power the cooling fan for the condenser, but I'm envisioning something like that.

Or even less messy.....

I'm seeing a clutch driven pulley mounted to the engine and a clutch driven pulley mounted on an AC motor, both connected to the A/C clutch pulley by belt. Could even be the same belt. A switch inside would determine which drive system was engaged to turn the belt. I really wish I had road A/C because I don't think it would be very hard to engineer this. This would give you bone chilling A/C when parked!!
I think that's how it would have to be ran. At least that's what I had in my head for running the same compressor via engine or electric motor. I also thought about using a variable frequency drive on the electric motor that way you can run the electric motor and compressor as fast or slow as it needs to to cool correctly. With the engine running, the electric motor will just freespin.

I read somewhere that you can't have 2 compressors in the same system because the oiling of them will be unbalanced, and would therefore run one of the compressors dry. It actually might have been one of cadillackid's posts on here.
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Old 06-04-2020, 02:14 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JackE View Post
How about an electric motor mounted off to the side that you could run the engine mounted compressor with? You would have to switch the engine drive belt and AC drive belt each time, and figure out how to power the cooling fan for the condenser, but I'm envisioning something like that.

Or even less messy.....

I'm seeing a clutch driven pulley mounted to the engine and a clutch driven pulley mounted on an AC motor, both connected to the A/C clutch pulley by belt. Could even be the same belt. A switch inside would determine which drive system was engaged to turn the belt. I really wish I had road A/C because I don't think it would be very hard to engineer this. This would give you bone chilling A/C when parked!!

Hybrid and Electric vehicles use electric AC compressors, much like home units. But that kind of defeats the purpose.
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Old 06-04-2020, 03:08 PM   #9
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Move the air conditioners or build new.. the condensors and compressors are pretty generic on these.. you can buy all kinds of different evaporators.. I even incorporated one into my front bus dash so I have regular A/C vents blowing on my while driving like in a car..



my midship unit is somewhat of a ducted A/C built into a cabinet .. right now I just have vents aroudn the vabinet blowing out but it could easily be ducted around to the seats if I wanted to use it that way in the future.. (those are my driving A/C)..



for parked,


go with one minisplit and 1 rooftop.. nothing says you have to have the same..



you can alwo buy mini split evaporators in different configs.. in wall, under floor, etc..



knowing how the rooftop condensors work, i'd think you could pull out the rooftop hatches and replace with coleman style camper A/C/s most busses have 1 hatch in front of and 1 hatch behind the rooftop bus air conditioner..
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Old 06-04-2020, 03:20 PM   #10
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A question regarding floor mounted ac:

My bus came equipped with dual bulkhead ac units. While functional, their not cold. Quick check shows both units to be bone dry of freon.

When it comes time, I'll have them pressure checked, find and repair leak, a few $6 cans of 134a from harbor freight, maybe with a little luck, they'll preform.

My initial thought was to just ditch them, but decided to incorporate them into the build as folliws: (if it's worth doing of course):

Sofa will be to immediate left of entry, thought to frame in the unit under it, with vents coming directly out base of sofa. Rear of bus is main bed, 2nd unit to be framed in under bed, blowing out vents there as well.

I know blowing ac out at floor level isn't ideal, but would it not be beneficial to do rather than to do without?

Granted, this will just be driving air.

Either way, I removed them from ceiling so I'd have access to side panels and ceiling panels for their removal. Just sitting in floor of bus at moment.
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Old 06-04-2020, 03:30 PM   #11
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you can blow air out on the floor.. it actually helps for around the driver compartment because of engine heat.. , you'll still want some up higher though.. the big thing about the units is orientation.. while you can move them, turning them on their side or upside down etc is hard unless you build your own drain pan to catch the water from the coils..



behind the plastic bezel on most of those units is the air outlet where you can attach a plenum and duct the air around.. a plenum can be made easily.. so you could blow some air on the floor and maybe some could blow up from behind the couch.. 3 inch flex duct and round vents are easy to come by..
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Old 06-04-2020, 05:09 PM   #12
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I was thinking of putting up a curtain in my driver's area so that my 9k split is focused on cooling a ~20sqft area. Should at least make a dent...
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Old 06-04-2020, 05:17 PM   #13
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I was thinking of putting up a curtain in my driver's area so that my 9k split is focused on cooling a ~20sqft area. Should at least make a dent...
I thought yours is the one integrating your factory units into the cabinetry ?

Curtains help.my dev bus needs another unit in the rear to really get cold on those hot days in the south but a shower curtain halfway back made a big difference on my trip last summer.
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Old 06-13-2020, 08:44 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by JackE View Post
How about an electric motor mounted off to the side that you could run the engine mounted compressor with? You would have to switch the engine drive belt and AC drive belt each time, and figure out how to power the cooling fan for the condenser, but I'm envisioning something like that.

Or even less messy.....

I'm seeing a clutch driven pulley mounted to the engine and a clutch driven pulley mounted on an AC motor, both connected to the A/C clutch pulley by belt. Could even be the same belt. A switch inside would determine which drive system was engaged to turn the belt. I really wish I had road A/C because I don't think it would be very hard to engineer this. This would give you bone chilling A/C when parked!!
Jack, I've got all the prices. Compressor, evaporators, condensers, from my 40 foot re Amtrans. Let you have it all cheap. Come n getum.
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Old 06-14-2020, 08:05 AM   #15
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do you have dual-compressor brackets for a T-444E engine? (holds two comporessors, with the add-on pulleys?
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Old 06-14-2020, 10:01 AM   #16
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do you have dual-compressor brackets for a T-444E engine? (holds two comporessors, with the add-on pulleys?
My enginé had a single very large AC compressor. The add on bracket also had a second alternator on it. I still have the compressor and bracket.
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Old 06-14-2020, 11:26 AM   #17
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My enginé
Ha ha, thanks for making me wipe my screen there! I can't help but pronounce that "ahn zhuh NAY" - it would make a very pretty name.
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