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Old 12-08-2019, 12:45 PM   #81
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Posts: 100
Roof deck and solar

Got the roof rack and deck installed. I used 14ft pieces of unistrut solar racking. Mounted the panel up front and build the deck on the back using cedar decking. All of the stuff I used was from unistrut. They make end mounts and mimic mounts to attach panels with. Very easy to use and I didnít need to account for the slope of the roof.

I did use 2 ubolts for additional piece of mind of front on the panel. Just so I wasnít worried about it flying off. Iíll post better pictures later.

Also got the bumper bull bar out on. Itís from move bumpers. Just had to have it welded locally here.
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Old 12-08-2019, 01:01 PM   #82
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Oct 2019
Location: Just south of Tulsa, Oklahoma
Posts: 35
Year: 2000
Coachwork: BlueBird
Engine: Chevy 3500 Short Bus 6.5L Diesel
I love the way you've got your solar panels bolted to the struts - great job!
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Old 12-08-2019, 01:12 PM   #83
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
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Solar

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I love the way you've got your solar panels bolted to the struts - great job!
Thanks. I did discover once I had the racks you can just use normal bolts correctly sized upside down in the track. They wonít turn. Iíll post a pic to show what Iím talking about. All in all panel and racking with mounts was $275
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Old 12-08-2019, 01:30 PM   #84
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Oct 2019
Location: Just south of Tulsa, Oklahoma
Posts: 35
Year: 2000
Coachwork: BlueBird
Engine: Chevy 3500 Short Bus 6.5L Diesel
Good job...

Looks great. I'm about to install all my solar and I'm going to go to Lowe's and get regular uni-strut, brackets, bolts, etc. I already have my 'bead-board' tongue and grove and my walls will look pretty close to yours. I haven't decided if I want to board the ceiling or not yet...
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Old 12-08-2019, 01:48 PM   #85
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Location: Picton,Ont, Can.
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Year: 1997
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: GMC
Engine: Cat 3116
Rated Cap: 72
Really nice install overall.


Can you use those bolts for a railing on the deck?


John
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Old 12-09-2019, 07:10 AM   #86
Skoolie
 
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Deck

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Really nice install overall.


Can you use those bolts for a railing on the deck?


John
Not sure what Iím going to do yet. Iím leaning toward cutting all the bolts off. Then running a strip of wood over them to cover the heads with countersunk holes on the back. Then just using big I bolts and running a cable or rope. Then if Iím carrying surf boards and stuff I have a way to strap them down.

Still a work in progress. This is my last week in Indy working on the bus. So hoping to build my seating area, finish trim work, and paint the door and bumper. The finishes on plumbing and wiring will have to wait.
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Old 12-09-2019, 11:05 AM   #87
Almost There
 
Join Date: Jul 2019
Posts: 93
Year: 2002
Chassis: Van
Engine: 5.7L Gas
Great looking bus and conversion! I have just started looking for buses in my area but I am still pretty unfamiliar with the different drive train options. Is this a 5.7L 3500? I am currently looking at a 2003 5.7L 3500 and if I could get 14MPG like you do I would be thrilled.
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Old 12-09-2019, 11:19 AM   #88
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Dec 2018
Location: Mt Vernon, WA
Posts: 428
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Bluebird, Collins
Chassis: G30 Bluebird Microbird, E350 Shuttle Bus
Engine: 1995 Chevrolet 350, 1992 Ford 460
Nice progress!! That’s a gorgeous warm look with lots of wood. And a variety of species. That’s great to have access to a cabinet shop. I can’t imagine what a cabinet I would build would look like. A shipping crate LOL. Thanks for the inspiration.
I use loads of ordinary unistrut but didn’t know they make solar racking. That looks nice. Here’s a funny story about it: I found some stainless steel unirack on Craigslist. Another guy beat there by 5 minutes and bought it all so I stuck my arm out the window and flagged him down as he roared away with loot. I yelled “hey will you sell me some of that unistrut”. Long story short he sold me $1000 worth of stainless unistrut for $100.
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Old 12-09-2019, 03:34 PM   #89
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Posts: 100
Thanks. Yeah the key for me was finding one with the 5.7 for parts availability. I also valued the non dually version so I settled on this one. Mine is a low roof model so even with my roof rack I’m right around 8 ft high. Drives and handles more like a van than bus. Good luck looking. The only real issues with the 350 are head gaskets and manifolds. So have a mechanic take a look.
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Old 12-09-2019, 03:36 PM   #90
Skoolie
 
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Thanks the cabinets definitely turned out better because my uncle helped me. I would have screwed wood crates to the ceiling. That’s a score on the unistrut. I just used this style because I found another bus that did it. Plus the company that makes them is in Albuquerque. So easy choice.
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Old 12-22-2019, 12:32 AM   #91
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Posts: 100
More photos finally done

Sorry for the delay. I just spent the last 4 weeks working on the bus and finally ďfinishedĒ it. Well I got 98% done and had to head south for some warmth. Here are the finished pictures Iíll definitely post more. I will also try and detail and lay out some of the things I did step by step. It was 3 degrees the last day in Indianapolis working on the bike racks on the back so I was happy to leave.

We drove thru Smokey mountain national park and camped along the way. The bus has done great so far. Averaged about 12.8 mph the last 3 days. Thatís lower than before. I suspect the roof rack, mountains, and doing 70 mph has something to do with that though.
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Old 12-22-2019, 12:43 AM   #92
Skoolie
 
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Posts: 100
Finishing touches

My dog for some reason loves the counter to sleep on, see photo above.

Bike rack- I used 2 Thule fork mount bike racks I bout on Craigslist mounted vertically to the rear for the bicycles. I mounted them so I could still open the door and theu donít obstruct my view while driving.

Bumper- ordered a pre cut bumper from move bumpers it was $500 we welded it in 2.5 hours then painted it.

Propane under mount tank- Manchester tank fit it using unistrut where the old compressor behind the drivers seat was. I have the cover on a hinge so you canít see the tank but can access it for filling.

Bed-queen short memory foam (amazing sleep)

Water- 42 gallon tank in the garage right between the wheel wells

Dinette- we used som lumber my uncle has for the dinette and front of the bed itís rough hewn 11/4Ē hardwood from his friends mill. Mad 2 seats and used the butcher block leftovers for the table. It goes between the other two seats while moving to form a sofa.

I would say I have roughly 300 hours in the bus now and still have a few small things to finish. All in all it worked out really well. Iím super finicky about finish details, so I probably went a bit slow on some things.
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Old 12-22-2019, 06:13 AM   #93
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Location: Eustis FLORIDA
Posts: 22,931
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Freighliner FS65
Engine: Cat 3126
Rated Cap: 15
Nice, simple, well-executed. Dig it, man excellent job.
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Old 01-22-2020, 10:45 AM   #94
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Posts: 100
Finally finished sort of and now motor issues

So my friend and I finished all of the wiring, solar, propane, and plumbing.

Everything works as it should perfectly together. I will get a video and some pictures. The solar keeps the 2 150 amp hour batteries topped off perfectly. I used a Renogy charge controller and I have a sterling battery to battery charger also for smart charger of the batteries.

I weird everything up to a blue seas systems circuit board and all of my loads are DC. This includes my TF130 truck fridge, fan, led lights, 5 cigarette plugs, and usb chargers, and water pump. I do have an inverter for a hot plate we use.

I installed the 42 gallon fresh water tank under the bed directly between the wheels for proper load distribution. I then have a 5 gallon grey water tank under.

The bus worked perfectly for the last 5 weeks on the road. We averaged just over 13mpg. For the not good news about 100 miles from home the motor developed a small banging. Pulled into the driveway and lost oil pressure followed immediately by a check engine light.

Assuming the worst I am about to spend $4800 on a new long block motor and radiator. On the bright side Iíll have a warranty and piece of mind.
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Old 01-22-2020, 12:33 PM   #95
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Dec 2018
Location: Mt Vernon, WA
Posts: 428
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Bluebird, Collins
Chassis: G30 Bluebird Microbird, E350 Shuttle Bus
Engine: 1995 Chevrolet 350, 1992 Ford 460
What happened? Ugh, might as well rebuild the transmission while you're at it.
Get it over with. Good work on the inside.
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Old 01-22-2020, 02:33 PM   #96
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Posts: 100
Yeah I think I’m going to have them rebuild it while it’s being done. So far I’ve found a reputable shop here that will do it all outsourcing the tranny rebuild for $6300 total. So that’s a new jasper motor and all associated parts, hoses, belts, pumps, radiator, and rebuilt tranny. At least this way I should feel confident taking it to Baja.
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Old 01-22-2020, 09:46 PM   #97
Bus Nut
 
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Join Date: May 2018
Location: Wamego Ks
Posts: 527
Year: 2007
Chassis: Collins
Engine: 6.6L LMM Duramax
Man that sucks to hear about your engine issue. Everything else is looking awesome! I love your bus. Your green sheet metal over the windows inspired me to remove all of my windows and go there sheet metal route! Hope all goes well with the engine/trans rebuild! I plan getting a new trans this spring... $3400 for me for trans...
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Old 01-23-2020, 10:41 AM   #98
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Posts: 100
Engine

Yeah itís a bummer about the engine. This is literally why I went with a gas motor and specifically the Chevy 350 though. I figured whatís the point in building something you canít afford to fix. I have a ton of time in it, so Iím going to fix it. Got it to the shop yesterday. So basically itís between $6000-$6500 for the motor, transmission, radiator, hoses, belts, water pump, oil pump, plugs, and wires. Comes with 3 year 100k mike warranty on engine 3 year 60k on tranny. Now that the wife and I are both seasonal employees and get 6 months off in the winters, we should get good use out of it for the next few years. We will probably do a Mexico trip with it next year. And now I will be fairly confident in its reliability.

My buddy has a 26ft flat nose with a Cummins and his motor blew. He canít find anyone to fix his for under $12,000 and most donít want to touch it. Thatís why I laugh at the million mile motor concept people throw around. With enough money any motor will go a million miles though I suppose.
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Old 01-23-2020, 11:07 AM   #99
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Join Date: May 2018
Location: Wamego Ks
Posts: 527
Year: 2007
Chassis: Collins
Engine: 6.6L LMM Duramax
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tstege View Post
Yeah itís a bummer about the engine. This is literally why I went with a gas motor and specifically the Chevy 350 though. I figured whatís the point in building something you canít afford to fix. I have a ton of time in it, so Iím going to fix it. Got it to the shop yesterday. So basically itís between $6000-$6500 for the motor, transmission, radiator, hoses, belts, water pump, oil pump, plugs, and wires. Comes with 3 year 100k mike warranty on engine 3 year 60k on tranny. Now that the wife and I are both seasonal employees and get 6 months off in the winters, we should get good use out of it for the next few years. We will probably do a Mexico trip with it next year. And now I will be fairly confident in its reliability.

My buddy has a 26ft flat nose with a Cummins and his motor blew. He canít find anyone to fix his for under $12,000 and most donít want to touch it. Thatís why I laugh at the million mile motor concept people throw around. With enough money any motor will go a million miles though I suppose.
I agree. Peace of mind and you won't have to worry about it.

Is his Cummins motor a 5.9 12valve? Those are good engines. I've had several trucks with them. But they are a ticking time bomb if you don't fix the KDP (killer dowel pin)...
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Old 01-23-2020, 11:21 AM   #100
Skoolie
 
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Posts: 100
Yeah his is the 5.9. He lives out of it and for now it’s parked where he doesn’t have to move it. Just seems like diesels cost way more and mechanics are harder to find.
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