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Old 02-04-2021, 05:53 PM   #1
Join Date: Nov 2020
Posts: 47
Thomas Saf-T-Liner conventional body style

Hi out there; I'm currently only in a research stage for doing a skoolie for the purpose of having a motorhome for typical recreational uses like going on a camping trip / road trip for up to a few weeks max (as opposed to full time living), and I'm wondering:

Has anyone analyzed the differences between a Thomas Saf-T-Liner and other more typical looking school bus (like bluebird or International)?

here's a pic link on wikipedia

I'm seeing that these buses are about $2000 - $3000 more than similar size buses of the same age, mileage, and condition when searching through some bus dealers, and they start at about $7,000 as they're generally newer.

This body style would have many advantages such as more headroom at the sides of the bus (in the bathroom or in a side hallway layout), bigger windows, bigger windshield;

Cons: Multiplex switching / specialized wiring setup mentioned by wiki; use of adhesives and non-traditional rivets as a form of putting the bus together == i.e. can the ceiling be removed for putting in better insulation and possibly a wood ceiling? The stop arm and flashing lights and the school bus features which need to go away would be a very different process than other buses as the lights are flush to the body and the whole thing has sort of an aerodynamic design. Not sure how a light delete would work or how it would look.

I haven't seen many examples of skoolie builds out there on this newer platform. I'm wondering if the better head room at the side of the bus would be worth considering in the context of building a skoolie for a <$25k budget including purchase of the bus on which to start the build.

rgjarrell is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-09-2021, 08:51 AM   #2
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Join Date: Jan 2021
Posts: 1
I recently purchased an 06 Thomas c2 with 11 windows (no side doors). I'm 6'2 and have a few inches to spare on head room. Just removed stop signs and pulling my hair since I don't have schematics (bus won't start). But I guess it's part of the experience (so my wife says). The ceiling uses regular Philip's screws so it shouldn't be too much of a hassle to remove. I'm currently working on the seats and waiting to hear from a dealer on schematics. I've heard of people using parts of the inner ceiling to cover up windows and such.
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Old 02-09-2021, 10:19 AM   #3
Bus Crazy
Join Date: Oct 2020
Location: Near Flagstaff AZ
Posts: 1,322
I don't want to push you away from a school bus, but you might also consider something like a Gillig Phantom for what you're planning. If you're not going off-road, that might be a good option. They have 6' 6" headroom and a relatively flat ceiling. There's a guy selling two, for $4500 each on the Minn/St Paul Craigslist. These aren't the school bus versions, they're transit buses, but we have two Phantoms and they're a great bus...super well made and pleasant to drive. But for anything that might involve a dirt forest service trail, we'd look towards a school bus.
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Old 02-09-2021, 10:21 AM   #4
Join Date: Nov 2020
Posts: 47
Wikipedia says these buses used multiplex wiring. Look out for a diplexer that allows the signal to extend the arm, etc...

That's probably not that helpful. But in a setup where 1 wire can share signaling multiple devices it's not as simple as continuity testing wires found at the removed item (school bus arm) to the switch.

If de schooling a safe t liner is a "writing" or systems headache, that's good to know.
rgjarrell is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-14-2021, 11:23 AM   #5
Join Date: Dec 2020
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 21
Year: 1994
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Saf-T-Liner ER
Engine: 6.6L CAT 3116
I have a 95 thomas saf t liner RE

Mine doesn't have rivets anywhere but the exterior body. Screws held the walls/ceiling panels/floors down. No adhesives giving me troubles. I plan on using the sheets off the ceiling as skin for an eventual roof raise z
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