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Old 02-12-2017, 02:27 PM   #1
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Necessary tools?

Could some of you experienced skoolie converters put together a list for someone with a tight budget of the most necessary tools for the conversion process? TIA!
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Old 02-12-2017, 02:50 PM   #2
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You should provide everyone with some requirements that you're looking at. For example, will you have access to water, electricity, a barn, heat, etc...? If you don't have electricity, then you would need a generator or cordless tools or both. I will leave a link to my Costs/Tools spreadsheet (I haven't updated it in a year though) as a start.
Costs/Tools ongoing spreadsheet
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Old 02-13-2017, 08:04 AM   #3
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A 30 gallon air compressor and an air hammer with chisels.

I got my almost new compressor off CL for $100 and the hammer from Harbor Freight.

If you are removing steel rivets it is a life saver! I am kicking myself for wasting $30 on a set of cold chisels at the beginning of rivet removal. Having the air tools at the begining of the project would have saved at least 100 hours and more shoulder pain than you know.
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Old 02-13-2017, 08:06 AM   #4
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FYI - budget be damned, I should have bought this before the bus.
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Old 02-13-2017, 08:06 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by karrlot View Post
A 30 gallon air compressor and an air hammer with chisels.

I got my almost new compressor off CL for $100 and the hammer from Harbor Freight.

If you are removing steel rivets it is a life saver! I am kicking myself for wasting $30 on a set of cold chisels at the beginning of rivet removal. Having the air tools at the begining of the project would have saved at least 100 hours and more shoulder pain than you know.
Excellent advice.
I can't believe folks do whole buses with a hammer and chisel!
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Old 02-13-2017, 08:53 AM   #6
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Like it was said above, what is the environment and resources?

Personally, my primary tools have been:]
4" Grinder with a ton of thin and thick metal cutting discs and wire wheels.

Cordless Drill with about a thousand #12 star bits and a thousand standard bits.

Half a dozen 5g buckets, they are handy for heater fluid, trash, recycle, tool box, etc.

An old radio, music player, old phone loaded with music. Something to listen too and be calmed by when frustrated or bleeding.

You will need a ton of work space, storage, dump capacity. So, plan ahead and whatever should be enough, double it.

You can get by with just a few tools at first. The first big steps are simple, removing seats, screws or rivets and a lot of trips to the dump. Now, some buses have rivets on everything and other buses like mine, had over 1,600 star head screws inside holding the walls and panels in place.

Now all of that being said the most important things you need immediately are protective gear. A nice set of goggles, ear plugs and ear cans, get a nice respirator mask, a cap or hat, a face shield, solid leather gloves, take the time to make yourself safe.

I have pinched a cutting disc and had it jump and run across my bicep and chest. I've taken my filtered mask off before due to the temp and sweating and later could barely breathe from inhaling grinding dust and nasty fumes. I've had a cutting disc fracture and chunks of disc and metal burn into my eye, somehow getting around my goggles, glasses and hat. The op had to drill it out a couple of morning later. When using a wire wheel or buffing wire brush, wear leather or put plywood between you and the wheels, the wires fly off and like to find a home in your legs, forearms, torso or other soft tissue areas.

So, be safe and have fun. Dont rush your project, take your time and enjoy it.
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Old 02-13-2017, 01:26 PM   #7
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Tinyhousebus- Thanks for the spreadsheet. Very helpful! Work environment: outdoors with access to water and electricity.

Thanks karrlot!

New2 skool- after your description I have to admit I'm more than a little intimidated! ��
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Old 02-13-2017, 01:29 PM   #8
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I dont mean to intimidate, just a strongly worded warning from my lessons learned. So, put on the gloves, goggles and everything else and go slow. Have Fun
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Old 02-13-2017, 01:49 PM   #9
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I want to start by saying that everything posted here is very true. I want to add that it is also possible to convert a bus by hand but it would take an incredible amount of time and effort. The key here is to find the trade offs that are right for you and your build. Energy expended vs the cost of tools (whether monetary or time spent learning to safely use the tool).

On one end of the spectrum, for example, you could use a hammer and chisel to remove rivets. On the other you could use an air chisel that would save you the most energy. For us we used a corded angle grinder with an aggressive flap wheel. Was it the easiest? No, but we already had the tool, wanted to get started, and at 27 are young and full of enough energy to muscle through.

A conversion will take time, money, and effort; what amount of each is up to you.

People convert buses in different ways and for different reasons. My advice is to start with research. It takes time but it is free.
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Old 02-13-2017, 01:51 PM   #10
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I absolutely appreciate it! It's much better to go into a project like this prepared and armed with the lessons learned from others!
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Old 02-13-2017, 01:54 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by New2Skool View Post
Now all of that being said the most important things you need immediately are protective gear. A nice set of goggles, ear plugs and ear cans, get a nice respirator mask, a cap or hat, a face shield, solid leather gloves, take the time to make yourself safe.



So, be safe and have fun. Dont rush your project, take your time and enjoy it.
Oh, very true!! I should have mentioned safety equipment first. There is so much metal shavings and dust while you are working.

I always have on safety glasses with power, air, or hand tools. ALWAYS.

If there is a potential of pieces flying at me I ALSO wear a face mask.

I always use the rubber ear plugs AND big orange ear muff things.

If there is any dust, dirt, insulation, smoke, I have a neoprene face mask which is 1000 times better than the white ones. It seals tightly around your face. (even with a breathing mask blow your nose and see what comes out!)

Grinding has a lot of sparks so I wear welding gloves (the work gloves got burned up).

Picking up, moving, cutting, drilling, scraping - anything that could cause metal shavings, I use leather work gloves.

Gloves, breathing mask, face mask, safety glasses, ear plugs, ear muffs can all be had from Harbor Freight for less than $50.

[Never buy anything from harbor freight unless you have a) the 20% off coupon, and b) Free with purchase coupon. just search on your phone and they take the coupon on your phone. ]

After you have those, THEN go get an air compressor.
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Old 02-13-2017, 05:01 PM   #12
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Good deal! Thanks y'all!
Karrlot- did you get your air compressor at harbor freight? What size did you get?
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Old 02-13-2017, 05:39 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by New2Skool View Post
Like it was said above, what is the environment and resources?

Personally, my primary tools have been:]
4" Grinder with a ton of thin and thick metal cutting discs and wire wheels.

Cordless Drill with about a thousand #12 star bits and a thousand standard bits.

Half a dozen 5g buckets, they are handy for heater fluid, trash, recycle, tool box, etc.

An old radio, music player, old phone loaded with music. Something to listen too and be calmed by when frustrated or bleeding.

You will need a ton of work space, storage, dump capacity. So, plan ahead and whatever should be enough, double it.

You can get by with just a few tools at first. The first big steps are simple, removing seats, screws or rivets and a lot of trips to the dump. Now, some buses have rivets on everything and other buses like mine, had over 1,600 star head screws inside holding the walls and panels in place.

Now all of that being said the most important things you need immediately are protective gear. A nice set of goggles, ear plugs and ear cans, get a nice respirator mask, a cap or hat, a face shield, solid leather gloves, take the time to make yourself safe.

I have pinched a cutting disc and had it jump and run across my bicep and chest. I've taken my filtered mask off before due to the temp and sweating and later could barely breathe from inhaling grinding dust and nasty fumes. I've had a cutting disc fracture and chunks of disc and metal burn into my eye, somehow getting around my goggles, glasses and hat. The op had to drill it out a couple of morning later. When using a wire wheel or buffing wire brush, wear leather or put plywood between you and the wheels, the wires fly off and like to find a home in your legs, forearms, torso or other soft tissue areas.

So, be safe and have fun. Dont rush your project, take your time and enjoy it.
very true, solid advice.
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Old 02-13-2017, 08:40 PM   #14
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Power Probe! When you start playing with wiring, it's a must-have.... Ok, not a MUST, but will save tons of time and headache.
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Old 02-14-2017, 10:12 AM   #15
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Good deal. Thanks y'all!
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Old 02-14-2017, 10:17 AM   #16
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Good deal! Thanks y'all!
Karrlot- did you get your air compressor at harbor freight? What size did you get?
It is about 30 gallons. I wouldn't get anything smaller than that. It also can go up to about 130 PSI, which means I can air up my tires if need be.

I got it used off of Craigslist for $100.

From Harbor Freight I have purchased accessories for it. I have been very pleased with the air hammer, needle scaler, 15 guage nail gun (I LOVE this thing).

I have not been happy with the pnumatic angle grinder. It doesn't have the power that a motorized angle grinder does. I bought a motorized angle grinder from HF 15 years ago for less than $25 and it is still going strong!

However, in general, I love air tools. After the initial investment of the compressor and hoses, they are cheaper, quieter, and have less vibration than the electric motor versions.
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Old 02-14-2017, 10:35 AM   #17
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My 30 gallon is ok, but its barely able to keep up using high volume air tools very long. I'd say its the minimum. A cheapo Kobalt from Lowes.
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Old 02-14-2017, 11:52 AM   #18
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My 30 gallon is ok, but its barely able to keep up using high volume air tools very long. I'd say its the minimum. A cheapo Kobalt from Lowes.
I'll second that. I wish mine was bigger, but it get's me by. I'm always keeping my eyes open for other options.
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Old 02-14-2017, 03:03 PM   #19
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I have a harbor freight 40 Gallon. and using impact tools, air chisel, air hammer is OK, but start running wire wheel or grinders and it cant keep up.

seems any rotating tool makes me stop fairly often to wait for air..

if I buy another compressor i'll defimnitely want the 220 Volt double cylinder unit.

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Old 02-14-2017, 03:17 PM   #20
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I can highly recommend this compressor from Harbor Frieght - but with the cavet that applies to all things HF and for that matter all good compressors - YOU MUST BREAK IN THE COMPRESSOR PROPERLY!

This is easy - and will ensure a long life for your compressor.
  1. Before you buy your compressor, order one of these on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Hardline-Prod.../dp/B003RB0IAQ
  2. Buy some good oil - this is what I use - https://www.amazon.com/Royal-Purple-...%3A11292772011
  3. Buy your compressor
  4. Unbox and determine if the compressor has oil - usually it will not, and my experience is that they do not include any in the box. Buy a bottle of the cheap stuff from HF when you pick up your compressor, maybe even two.
  5. Fill the compressor and run it for the period of time that it takes to fill the tank. Empty the tank. Do this 2-3 times.
  6. Once you have done this, empty the oil, fill with cheap stuff again, and immediately empty again. You will be amazed at all the metal particles that will come out when you do this. I have seen it on HF and the more expensive brands.
  7. Fill again with, but this time with the more expensive oil.
  8. Attach your hours meter to the compressor. I attach mine direction to the motor.
  9. Run your compressor until the hours meter is at 20 hours. Once you hit 20 hours on the meter, flush the oil again and refill. If you still see shavings or metal in the oil, flush it again.
  10. Now, every 50 hours or so, empty and refill the oil.
Your compressor will love you for this and will last a long time.

Also, do not forget to attach a good air dryer to the compressor - this will ensure that you do not push moisture into your air tools or painting equipment.

Empty your air tank weekly of moisture (more often if you are using it a lot). There will be a valve on the bottom of the tank, turn it and tip the tank so that it spews out. Either do this outside or with something below, because the water that will come out will most likely be rust colored due to oxidation inside the tank.
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