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Old 02-22-2020, 05:32 PM   #1
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Too stupid to own a bus??

Oh my!
I want to buy a school bus to convert because I think it would be a lot of fun. But I have been reading a lot of the forums and it seems like you must know a lot about Diesel mechanics, maintenance, etc. in order to have a bus that is dependable.
I. Know. Nothing when it comes to mechanical things.

Would it be ridiculous for me to even think about buying a diesel bus?

That being said, what are your thoughts on a 2012, 12 passenger Thomas Minotour GMC? It says 12 passenger, but there are only 4 windows, not counting driver’s. Dependable?
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Old 02-22-2020, 05:37 PM   #2
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Oops. It is a 2010, 4 sp auto. 6.6 duramax. About 138k miles.
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Old 02-22-2020, 06:29 PM   #3
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you can not be any more stupid as some of us . go for it you will learn
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Old 02-22-2020, 06:52 PM   #4
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Join Date: Sep 2018
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Year: 2007
Coachwork: Thomas Built
Chassis: Minotour
Engine: Chevy Express 3500 6.6l
What do you want to do to it? You doing any of it yourself?

I have the 5 window version of that bus with a Chevy nameplate. That’s a good engine. The weak spot is the turbo. But it runs like a champ. Does that one have an aluminum aluminum skin?

I’m mid-conversion right now. I’ve done a lot of work figuring out how to make things work that might help you with your build.

Is that going to be big enough? Why I ask what you are planning.

How much?
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Old 02-22-2020, 08:51 PM   #5
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I would do all of the conversion myself, with the help of my adult son who has construction experience. I’ve done plumbing and electrical before.

I have a 32’ Winnebago class C and I’d like something smaller to take on short trips by myself. Kind of a “she-shed” on wheels...but not as Glampy. I retired last summer and need a project. Haha.

I don’t really even need s bathroom in it, but hot water and a compact kitchen area would be nice. I would be satisfied with a nice futon instead of a bed. Do you think that will all fit? Is it about 10’ of space?

It is at an online auction. No bids yet. No clue what the reserve is. It’s only 3 or 4 hours from me, so I may take a road trip and check it out.
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Old 02-22-2020, 09:28 PM   #6
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Engine: Chevy Express 3500 6.6l
Quote:
Originally Posted by CC-Rider View Post
I would do all of the conversion myself, with the help of my adult son who has construction experience. I’ve done plumbing and electrical before.

I have a 32’ Winnebago class C and I’d like something smaller to take on short trips by myself. Kind of a “she-shed” on wheels...but not as Glampy. I retired last summer and need a project. Haha.

I don’t really even need s bathroom in it, but hot water and a compact kitchen area would be nice. I would be satisfied with a nice futon instead of a bed. Do you think that will all fit? Is it about 10’ of space?

It is at an online auction. No bids yet. No clue what the reserve is. It’s only 3 or 4 hours from me, so I may take a road trip and check it out.
You may not want a bathroom, but when it comes to insurance you will probably need one, although others have somehow gotten insured missing the commode. You can probably do with one window width.

A futon might be a smart way to go. A full size one is about 2 windows and it could be a sitting area too. Another way is to make a dining table that converts to a bed.

For insurance reasons you will need a sink and a stove, toilet and bed.

The kitchen could be one window wide if you put the sink on one side and the stove on the other.

I’ve seen a bunch of 4 window conversions on YouTube. Almost none with bathrooms.

I’d personally hold out for an extra window
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Old 02-25-2020, 08:16 AM   #7
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Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: GA
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Year: 1998
Coachwork: Amtran RE
Chassis: International 3000
Engine: T444e 7.3L
Do you know how to do maintenance on your car? No?

I'm not an expert, but I'm learning rapidly. Here's what I did before driving 4500 miles from Alaska to Georgia a couple weeks ago:

-paid for inspection from a reputable diesel mechanic

-greased all lube points on the undercarriage (it's easy - 45 minutes, a grease gun, and a couple tubes of grease)

-paid for oil change, fuel filter change, and replaced oil in rear diff (I could have done myself, but it was -30 degrees outside)

-inspect the tires and fluids twice a day (fluid level, checking for burnt smell, etc.), listen to engine run, do a walk-around, and do an air brake test daily, plus drain air tanks at end of each day.

-Now that I'm back where it's warm, I'm planning to change the oil again, the transmission filters, relube grease points, change air filter and fuel filter, and inspect the air system.

The one task that I'm going to do that is a little more complicated is to replace one of the pulleys and the tensioner on my serpentine, but I've watched it done before and it was a 10-minute job. I'll have an experienced mechanic there for help if I need it at the military auto skills center.

As you can see, I'm not doing any high-level maintenance. These tasks are all very simple and there are youtube videos if you need help. You could also hire all the work done if you want to - you'll just pay a bit more.
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Old 02-25-2020, 08:35 AM   #8
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There are for sure a wide range of opinions on this but ultimately nobody here knows what you're capable of. I didn't know anything about buses when i got started but I have always been handy, always worked on my own vehicles, and spent a few years wen I was younger working on cars professionally. What i didn't know was anything about building walls, floors, insulation, plumbing, solar power... and all the big truck stuff was new to me as well. I manage to do OK.

With that said, there was a gal on Facebook last week who was building something for her bus and nearly cut all her fingers off using a table saw. Now she's got wires and pins holding her hands together and will never have full use of it. You have to have a bit of wisdom about your abilities and know when you're in over your head and how to handle that.

Given the space constraints there are some real considerations to keep in mind. if you make a space that a toilet can fit, you can turn that space into a seated shower. Most futons stick out behind them and can't push up against a wall, but many can be modified to fit better if you're able to secure them to the wall. Lots of people do modular setups with folding platforms or leaf platforms. You probably want to look at vanlife builds as much as skoolie builds as you're going to have about 1/8 the amount of interior space as a non-type A bus.
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Old 03-07-2020, 04:34 PM   #9
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Year: 2001
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Chassis: Chevy Express Cutaway g3500
Engine: Turbo diesel 6.5L
Rated Cap: 14
Not too stupid

I have a 24 ft shuttle bus (5 window). I am a 68 year old woman who had never driven a diesel vehicle before. I learned about glow plugs. I learned that you don't start a diesel the same way as a gas vehicle. Luckily I have a son who worked on diesel engines while in the Marines. When I would ask him what he was doing he said I didn't need to know and that I should hire a diesel mechanic. Then he finished working on the engine, a lot of the electrical, and mechanical stuff to make the bus run safely. I did spend a few thousand to have some of the mechanical work done (replace the transmission). I am doing most of the interior and exterior work by myself. Heavy stuff I get my younger son and grandson to help. I learned how to use a circular saw and clamps and a Kregg jig. I watch You Tube videos, am taking a conversion course, and ask questions on the forums. You will be surprised at how much you will learn within the first year. Oh, and I learned that it takes longer and uses more muscles for the brakes to make the bus stop compared to a compact car. You can do this.
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Old 03-07-2020, 05:01 PM   #10
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dont be hard on yourself ?
i was a MARINE and still live and work on and around all of the military bases in the area including several others.
i am in swansboro,nc.
if you need any help or a place to park or stay i can help.
any vehicle help you need I can help especially between new river air station,lejeune,cherry point.
if your son ever wants a get away from the base
or you need/want a place to stay i have two high energy dogs that are not mean but like to meet people
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Old 03-07-2020, 05:08 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jolly Roger bus 223 View Post
dont be hard on yourself ?
i was a MARINE and still live and work on and around all of the military bases in the area including several others.
i am in swansboro,nc.
if you need any help or a place to park or stay i can help.
any vehicle help you need I can help especially between new river air station,lejeune,cherry point.
if your son ever wants a get away from the base
or you need/want a place to stay i have two high energy dogs that are not mean but like to meet people
sorry?add.
i grew up a mechanic and after the corps in 96 i have worked with pipewelding and plumbing and taught my children to mechanic on the week ends.now my oldest at 20 is a local ford mechanic.
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Old 03-07-2020, 07:40 PM   #12
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Skoolie users are so kind sometimes.
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Old 03-09-2020, 01:41 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CC-Rider View Post
Oh my!
I want to buy a school bus to convert because I think it would be a lot of fun. But I have been reading a lot of the forums and it seems like you must know a lot about Diesel mechanics, maintenance, etc. in order to have a bus that is dependable.
I. Know. Nothing when it comes to mechanical things.

Would it be ridiculous for me to even think about buying a diesel bus?

That being said, what are your thoughts on a 2012, 12 passenger Thomas Minotour GMC? It says 12 passenger, but there are only 4 windows, not counting driver’s. Dependable?
Ignorance is not knowing. You can learn. You don't need to know anything to own/drive a bus, however the more you learn the better off you are. Just as with owning any vehicle. Often maintenance and repairs that you would have to pay big dollars to get done at a shop can be fit for much less. Knowing that preventative maintenance to do can save you huge troubles and expenses. The same goes for your 32 foot class C.
Enjoy the learning experience and profit from it. Welcome aboard.
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Old 03-10-2020, 11:49 AM   #14
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Join Date: Oct 2019
Location: Wake Forest NC
Posts: 342
Year: 1998
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Vista 3600
Engine: T444E
Rated Cap: 24000 lbs
You can totally learn

The thing about buses I like the best is there is really not a "wrong way" to do the conversion.

It's your bus.

We did not put in a loo, but we did install a galley.

I registered mine using the vermont method so it is a motorhome on paper now regardless of what is inside it. Geico never even asked...the title says MH so that was it.

I went through Vermont because I also did not want to install some things that NC would require in order to sign off on a conversion.

As for the mechanics... you can do it.

I've never owned a bus before either, and now I have two. I just finished swapping the transmissions in them, alone with a ratchet strap and a jack and some hand tools. It's pretty easy to work on buses, especially with some guidance from here


go for it

cheery day
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Old 03-10-2020, 11:57 AM   #15
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Location: Montevallo, AL
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Year: 1989
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: Intl S/1753
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Hey CC-Rider!

I, too, know almost nothing about the process. I've already purchased my bus, but I'm holding off until the summer to start the real work so I can take the time the learn as much about the process as I can from this forum. It is chock FULL of great resources - I've spent hours upon hours just reading and making notes for my process.

I understand your apprehensiveness toward working anything mechanical/electrical/plumbing wise - I also have very little experience in this department. But this is a great opportunity to learn!

If it makes you feel any better, I am in the same boat as you, and so are many others. What it comes down to is if you are willing to take the time to learn, experiment, and find what works best for you. (And a decent sized budget, of course)

Cheers!
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Old 03-11-2020, 04:11 PM   #16
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Yes, you're absolutely crazy to consider building out a bus.
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