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Old 08-22-2019, 10:47 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2019
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 50
Year: 1996
Engine: DT466E Diesel
Hey Everybody! We bought a bus!

Hello everyone!

I have been off and on this page for a while and have read through a bunch of threads about buying and building a bus and only a couple months ago did my girlfriend and I finally pull the trigger after months of wanting to buy a bus (actually more like years) but here we are. We bought a 1997 444e Thomas DIESEL school bus and now we are in the beginning stages of the conversion. We are currently out of Minnesota and hopefully we can get it about 50 % concerted before this winter comes so we can get out of dodge. But hereís some pictures. Everyone loves Pictures!

Iíll be posting some more pictures and keeping you guys updated as things as I go along. This is my first build so Iím sure Iíll ask a bunch of questions for advice and opinions.
Attached Images
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File Type: jpeg D2A4C5D2-6A3F-4E14-941F-BBEA5AD976C7.jpeg (328.3 KB, 12 views)
File Type: jpeg 2439B771-216A-4AE0-B106-4A6878C9C44E.jpeg (488.2 KB, 17 views)
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Old 08-22-2019, 10:50 PM   #2
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2019
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 50
Year: 1996
Engine: DT466E Diesel
So flash forward a few months and driving the bus and parking it at various places (apparently people donít like a huge sketchy school bus across the street) we finally have it at my parents for the remainder of the conversion. Went ahead and pulled the flooring...which was absolutely terrible and had to take a lot of wall panels. I know some people leave the ceiling but the way our panels were laid out it was like a puzzle. You had to take a few out to get the bigger pieces so hereís the flooring from beginning through the tear up, de rust, and floor prep.
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Old 08-22-2019, 10:55 PM   #3
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2019
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 50
Year: 1996
Engine: DT466E Diesel
Hereís the pictures guys. Doing this from my mobile while Iím at work dreaming about my bus thatís 2 hours away!
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File Type: jpg AFE4D58D-F921-4BCC-B8AD-1E3AF22EA0D8.jpg (216.7 KB, 15 views)
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Old 08-22-2019, 11:03 PM   #4
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2019
Location: Minnesota
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Year: 1996
Engine: DT466E Diesel
Hey guys...Iím just spamming this thread with updates on the bus. Work is so slow. And I wish I could be working on the bus. So we recently started on the sub floor, Iím kind of kicking myself because most people said to do a ďfloatingĒ subfloor after I already went ahead and started framing the hole.

I realize now that allowing those extra holes to allow water in the bus is a bad idea. And on top of that I ordered OSB for my plywood subflooring. Well anyways I didnít screw any of that Iím yet so I think Iím gonna switch it out for something better of a more marine quality. I mean it is a short bus so the sq footage is only like 180 sq ft. But itís worth it. This is what Iíve done so far.

Good thing I only did the back section and only went up to the front of the wheel well so I might just leave he front section floating. What do you guys think???
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File Type: jpg 620DC917-A43F-4B4F-98B7-C1E121D58E49.jpg (159.9 KB, 14 views)
File Type: jpg D48B519D-FB23-4836-BEFA-F9DD2512CFE2.jpg (144.2 KB, 11 views)
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Old 08-22-2019, 11:46 PM   #5
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Looking good! Much love for the 6-window 3800!

Oh, and what's a Fuzzy?
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Old 08-23-2019, 12:09 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BabztheBus View Post
Hey guys...Iím just spamming this thread with updates on the bus. Work is so slow. And I wish I could be working on the bus. So we recently started on the sub floor, Iím kind of kicking myself because most people said to do a ďfloatingĒ subfloor after I already went ahead and started framing the hole.

I realize now that allowing those extra holes to allow water in the bus is a bad idea. And on top of that I ordered OSB for my plywood subflooring. Well anyways I didnít screw any of that Iím yet so I think Iím gonna switch it out for something better of a more marine quality. I mean it is a short bus so the sq footage is only like 180 sq ft. But itís worth it. This is what Iíve done so far.

Good thing I only did the back section and only went up to the front of the wheel well so I might just leave he front section floating. What do you guys think???
The bad news is your "joists" (the wood in between sheets of foamboard) aren't doing you much good in terms of supporting the pressure from the plywood/OSB sheets on top. Normally you want these joists close together to keep that decking from bending too much when you step on it (standard house spec is something like 20" on center for 3/4" plywood but is often 16" on center so the beams match up with the seams between sheets every 48"). Being 48" apart is much too far to support against that bending.

The good news it doesn't really matter because your foam board is rated at 25 PSI which would be perfectly adequate for a floating floor and will provide the proper resistance to the bending of the decking. What you have now essentially is a floating floor, just with a beam or joist in between each foam sheet. It's actually not bad to have that at all since you can anchor at least the edges of the sheets to it.

It would be better to use plywood (3/4") for your decking than OSB. You don't even need to use tongue-in-groove since you have those beams in place.

Not sure exactly what you mean by "extra holes to allow water in the bus". Do you mean you screwed the joists into the floor with screws that are now projecting through the floor?
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Old 08-23-2019, 12:36 AM   #7
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Join Date: Apr 2018
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Year: 1995
Coachwork: Girardin
Chassis: E-350
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Awesome. Good find and good work. It seems to my grumpy old ass that you might be jumping the gun a little bit, but I might be thinking differently because I have an E350 so I had to do my planning before building anything up.


The most important thing, in my opinion, is to get it street legal and safe. It's not a school bus yellow, so you're good there, but make sure all the lights work, and I'd encourage you to strip out all the unnecessary wiring and replace all lights with LEDs (if they're not already). Then start building it up.



I only bring this up because for me, I am having to redo the wiring for the lights before I put the insulation in because once it's in, I don't want to pull it off. Also, the plumbing will have to go through the insulation laterally along the floor, under the plywood, so it has taken some very careful planning before I start building it up.


Then again... I've owned Argo for a year and we still haven't put a shred of insulation in for the floor walls or ceiling yet, so maybe you guys have the right idea.
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Old 08-23-2019, 12:38 AM   #8
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On second pass, it looks like you've already done the demolition. If you don't have LED lights already, then I highly recommend you put them in while the wiring is exposed, because not only is it brighter and safer, it won't drain your battery when the engine is off and it won't be a drain on your alternator, so maybe you can hook up a house battery charger at a later date.
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Old 08-23-2019, 12:53 PM   #9
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2019
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 50
Year: 1996
Engine: DT466E Diesel
Thanks everybody for the replies and the opinions! I knew this sight is where itís at!

Anyways the people who owned it before is bought it directly from a school but used it for there band. When they found out that typically busses donít go faster than 65-70 mph they were over it and sold it so they could make it to shows on time. Thatís where we come in scooping it up for only 1800!

In terms of the floating floor, yah a lot of the cutting strips I used self tapping screws so I could secure it to the frame. They screws donít really go all the way through as you can hardly see them from the underneath, but from what I have read on this thread from veteran builders is that by doing so it allows the moisture from condensation to travel up the screws into the insulation and create water damage. Now on the one hand I canít believe it will be as bad as what we originally had to tear out (youíre talking 15-20 years of muddy boots) but my thought process is to just take what I have already done and than proceed to let the front have of the bus ďfloatĒ as to not provide anymore damage. Also we figured to just keep the OSB for random cabinets and storage because weíre bound to use it anyways. And get some better wood for the flooring.

Lastly! I was having troubles getting the ply to lay flush with the walls and the rear of the bus. If you look at picture a, it shows a little lip that, even when the ply is cut perfectly it is impossible to just lay it down. Any thoughts if I should just cut those off with the angle grinder? Or should I lay the plywood vertical as oppose to horizontal so I can fit it in those spaces.

Also, also. I am in the process of removing unnecessarily wiring such as the back door interlock and random lights and speakers but after removing the inner back wall skins I found this!

What are your guys thoughts on sealing this up? Should I cut the rust off completely and weld new sheet metal around? And also on the inside. I have a good idea of what I should do to prevent this opening but any new ideas are always welcome! It takes a village!
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Old 08-23-2019, 03:01 PM   #10
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Feb 2018
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Posts: 164
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Coachwork: Bluebird
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Engine: 8.3L
A tip on getting your marine grade 3/4" plywood to fit is to cut just short of full width (1/8"), then lay your sheet against one wall and put some 2x4s in the middle, find people weighing total of 250#+ one to anchor the low side and one to start on the high side. Bend it like a teeter totter action, and with the assistance of a crow bar, pop it under the chair rail and remove the blocking. There should then be enough room to hold the panel up and place your adhesive under the panel. Worked for me on a 40 footer. There are many others that can address your other concerns. They will be along shortly! Good luck!
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Old 08-21-2020, 07:47 PM   #11
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2019
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Year: 1996
Engine: DT466E Diesel
Hey Guys, so after a while Iím back at it working on the bus again, unfortunately I have to drive to my parents house to work on it, but at least I donít need to pay for lot rent and other places to store it. Iím trying to get as much done to be able to drive it closer to me and continue to store it and work on it this winter.

So as of last night I closed off and looped the heater system. That was one thing I had to do. Also put a cap on the air ride underneath the bus, which was surprisingly difficult to find. I removed the air ride seats so this will close off the system until I re-install a new chair, or decide to use the old one.

And lastly the rust on the back part of the wall is atrocious. Surprisingly itís not bad anywhere else really besides the back wall. I think itís because of rain residue dripping off of it, well suffice to say I cut the entire skin out and plan to reform the back studs of the door, and put a new layer of sheet metal on top. I might take this opportunity to give the underside of the bus a once over with rust reformer, because sheís old, but the motor and engine are top notch so itís worth it.
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Old 08-21-2020, 07:53 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by BabztheBus View Post
Also put a cap on the air ride underneath the bus, which was surprisingly difficult to find. I removed the air ride seats so this will close off the system until I re-install a new chair, or decide to use the old one.
May I ask why you elected to remove the air ride seat? The impression I've had from people over the years is that they are highly desirable. I'm curious what your reasoning is.

I have to say, it looks like you're doing a great job tackling that rust. wow.

Thank you,
Jim
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Old 08-21-2020, 08:11 PM   #13
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2019
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 50
Year: 1996
Engine: DT466E Diesel
It was mostly in terms of being able to get the demolition through to the rest of the floor. There was no way to work around it and it was much easier once removed to do that area, than leave it. And tbh the seat itself is pretty ratty so I might replace it with something different entirely.

This is the comparison between working on grinding the rust out and what it looks like. Itís pretty bad in the back, but surprisingly nowhere else. Iím curious as to why that is, but once I re-finish the back wall I can sleep a little more soundly knowing their isnít cancer underneath where Iíll be sleeping.
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Old 08-21-2020, 08:12 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by bp1791-unleashed View Post
May I ask why you elected to remove the air ride seat? The impression I've had from people over the years is that they are highly desirable. I'm curious what your reasoning is.
Not OP obviously, but I find my air ride seat kind of disconcerting when I hit a really big bump since I start oscillating up and down completely out of sync with the bus. I'd prefer to be able to better feel what the vehicle is doing, even at the expense of a beating. I've left the seat in only because I need to devote my money and time to more important things.
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Old 08-21-2020, 08:13 PM   #15
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2019
Location: Minnesota
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Year: 1996
Engine: DT466E Diesel
Here are the pics, forgot to attach! The battle continues!
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Old 08-21-2020, 08:15 PM   #16
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Nice work here! It pays to not be shy about cutting away the rusty bits. Looks like your rust didn't wrap around the corners, which will save you some effort for sure.
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Old 08-21-2020, 08:20 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by BabztheBus View Post
It was mostly in terms of being able to get the demolition through to the rest of the floor. There was no way to work around it and it was much easier once removed to do that area, than leave it. And tbh the seat itself is pretty ratty so I might replace it with something different entirely.
Ah, I understand. Fortunately, mine has a disconnect just through the side wall in the electrical compartment, so I'll be able to temporarily remove it while I remove the floor.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BabztheBus View Post
This is the comparison between working on grinding the rust out and what it looks like. Itís pretty bad in the back, but surprisingly nowhere else. Iím curious as to why that is, but once I re-finish the back wall I can sleep a little more soundly knowing their isnít cancer underneath where Iíll be sleeping.
I have one guess. Many moons ago when I was in school, my bus driver had a driveway that was slanted. She would frequently open the rear door and hose out the bus to clean it, and just let everything run out the back. Obviously, some of that water won't escape. It wouldn't surprise me if something similar occurred with your own bus.

Quote:
Originally Posted by musigenesis View Post
Not OP obviously, but I find my air ride seat kind of disconcerting when I hit a really big bump since I start oscillating up and down completely out of sync with the bus. I'd prefer to be able to better feel what the vehicle is doing, even at the expense of a beating. I've left the seat in only because I need to devote my money and time to more important things.
See, that is my own personal experience. "disconcerting" is an understatement. The first time it happened, I was so happy the seat belt kept me in the seat because I lost the steering wheel and pedals. I find that seat to be rather jarring at times. After removing the seats, the front end is even lighter, and it bounces even worse. Some bridges and roads result in some serious porpoising going on. I suppose if I liked roller coasters, I would enjoy this more. But I'm not as young as I once was, and my back is begging for a better solution.

I hope this doesn't hijack the thread. Looking forward to seeing the rest of the work on this bus.

Jim
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Old 08-21-2020, 08:24 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by musigenesis View Post
Not OP obviously, but I find my air ride seat kind of disconcerting when I hit a really big bump since I start oscillating up and down completely out of sync with the bus. I'd prefer to be able to better feel what the vehicle is doing, even at the expense of a beating. I've left the seat in only because I need to devote my money and time to more important things.
YOur seat isn't adjusted properly then. Or something's worn/broken.
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Old 08-21-2020, 08:37 PM   #19
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I have air ride seat in one of my busses and wish i had it in all of them!!!



taking the driver seat out definitely makes it nice for working in the driver area.. ive done it on mutip0le occasions to restore the driver heaters (and yes you should reconnect your driver heaters when you are done replacing the floor.. or you will freeze no matter how much you bundle up in cold weather..
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Old 08-22-2020, 12:02 AM   #20
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2019
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 50
Year: 1996
Engine: DT466E Diesel
I would reconnect the heater system but it is so far gone and short of disassembling the whole thing and putting it back together I would much rather just stick with what I have and loop the system. From my understanding I should still be able to use the defrosters, so hopefully that isnít an issue, but at the very least if I need it I can always pick up a smaller version.
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