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Old 07-18-2019, 03:45 PM   #101
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AC Evac

In order to move forward with the conversion, we need to temporarily remove the two indoor AC units, which are preventing forward progress on both the floor (lines running up through it) and the roof (evaporator/blowers mounted to it). At least one and maybe both will be going back in eventually, possibly in a different location and definitely in more pleasing enclosures, but for now they gotta go. So our first step to doing this was having the systems evacuated.

After a few phone calls to local auto shops (one balked at the bus size, another quoted us a ridiculous price), We happened upon AZ Auto Air in South Tempe. The owner, Steve, took time to listen to my needs, then told me to just come on down when ready... no appointment needed. He told me his hourly was $100.00, but said it shouldn't take long, so I figured maybe $50.00 or so.

Today I did. From the time I pulled in to the parking lot 'till the time the job was done was all of 10 minutes. But I probably spent another 20-30 minutes receiving a free education on the economics of maintaining these systems, the logistics of shortening or lengthening lines during relocation, how to cap off lines properly, how to account for any lost oil, etc. They happily answered every question I had, as well as some I never thought to ask. They didn't try to sell me on anything - quite the opposite, really - if anything they talked themselves out of potential business giving me the straight scoop on everything. I don't know much about AC, but being a mechanic myself, I do have a pretty-well developed sense of when people know what they're talking about & when they don't. I have no reason to doubt these guys (and gals!) know their stuff. They know it well.

So at the end of my AC lessons, I ask Blaine (the gent who evacuated the system and did most of the 'teaching') if I pay him or at the front desk, and I'm told, "no charge. it's free" Oh, did I mention the short-tour of the van conversion they were working on? It was more like meeting up with old friends than patronizing a new (to me) business.

So yeah, I'll DEFINITELY be going back when it's time to get these AC units back up and running. I can't even remember the last time I was this impressed with a business. HIGHLY recommended if you're in the Phoenix area.

https://www.azautoair.com/
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Old 07-18-2019, 06:14 PM   #102
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Originally Posted by TheHubbardBus View Post
In order to move forward with the conversion, we need to temporarily remove the two indoor AC units, which are preventing forward progress on both the floor (lines running up through it) and the roof (evaporator/blowers mounted to it). At least one and maybe both will be going back in eventually, possibly in a different location and definitely in more pleasing enclosures, but for now they gotta go. So our first step to doing this was having the systems evacuated.

After a few phone calls to local auto shops (one balked at the bus size, another quoted us a ridiculous price), We happened upon AZ Auto Air in South Tempe. The owner, Steve, took time to listen to my needs, then told me to just come on down when ready... no appointment needed. He told me his hourly was $100.00, but said it shouldn't take long, so I figured maybe $50.00 or so.

Today I did. From the time I pulled in to the parking lot 'till the time the job was done was all of 10 minutes. But I probably spent another 20-30 minutes receiving a free education on the economics of maintaining these systems, the logistics of shortening or lengthening lines during relocation, how to cap off lines properly, how to account for any lost oil, etc. They happily answered every question I had, as well as some I never thought to ask. They didn't try to sell me on anything - quite the opposite, really - if anything they talked themselves out of potential business giving me the straight scoop on everything. I don't know much about AC, but being a mechanic myself, I do have a pretty-well developed sense of when people know what they're talking about & when they don't. I have no reason to doubt these guys (and gals!) know their stuff. They know it well.

So at the end of my AC lessons, I ask Blaine (the gent who evacuated the system and did most of the 'teaching') if I pay him or at the front desk, and I'm told, "no charge. it's free" Oh, did I mention the short-tour of the van conversion they were working on? It was more like meeting up with old friends than patronizing a new (to me) business.

So yeah, I'll DEFINITELY be going back when it's time to get these AC units back up and running. I can't even remember the last time I was this impressed with a business. HIGHLY recommended if you're in the Phoenix area.

https://www.azautoair.com/
that's the kind of story I like to hear
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Old 08-04-2019, 03:16 PM   #103
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Lots more progress to report. Well, not lots more. But it feels like a lot with the temperatures we've been dealing with (see last pic... that was yesterday's temp inside the bus)

After we got the AC systems evac'd we pulled and shelved both underskirt condensors, and both in-cabin evaporator/blower units. All wiring and lines were capped off, pulled down under the bus, and secured so we can drive if need be until we put them back in.

Metal interior roof was removed, metal side skirts removed, and all fiberglass insulation (which was in great shape, but we're going w/ spray foam for the win). The roof was relatively easy... all screws except a few rivets holding the AC brackets in place. The roof insulation was stuck pretty well to the asphaltum lining. After pulling down what I could I used a nylon bristle brush to remove the rest. That worked like a charm, but it was literally snowing insulation, so tight-fitting goggles, a respirator, and long sleeves/pants were a must.

The side skirts we removed by temporarily pulling the windows and cutting through each spot weld with a spot-weld cutter bit in a drill. There were around 25-30 spot welds per window, so 150-180 spots welds. But the cutter worked great, using only one bit out of the 3 that came with the kit.

The floor we've started grinding with wire cup brushes in a big angle grinder, but I've still got plenty work to do on that. The floor remains solid throughout, no rust even thinking about breaking through, but that won't be the case if we don't seal it well and arrest it now. What I have finished I've coated in ospho to deal with the rust and prevent any more before we prep and paint the floor after summer's over.














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Old 08-04-2019, 07:26 PM   #104
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But it feels like a lot with the temperatures we've been dealing with (see last pic... that was yesterday's temp inside the bus)
That is a lot of progress......the un-glamorous but necessary steps that preclude greatness.

I had to check and make sure you didn't live in Death Valley.....I'm guessing 122 degrees and long sleeves/pants don't play well together. I'll keep my whining about working in 90 degree temps to myself.
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Old 08-04-2019, 07:40 PM   #105
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That is a lot of progress......the un-glamorous but necessary steps that preclude greatness.

I had to check and make sure you didn't live in Death Valley.....I'm guessing 122 degrees and long sleeves/pants don't play well together. I'll keep my whining about working in 90 degree temps to myself.
Thanks Don If our bus wasn't already named, I might consider 'Death Valley' a viable option. The respirator & goggles were the worst. My goggles kept filling up with so much sweat I had to step outside and dump them a couple times before they filled up to the bottom of my eyeballs
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Old 08-04-2019, 07:48 PM   #106
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Thanks Don If our bus wasn't already named, I might consider 'Death Valley' a viable option. The respirator & goggles were the worst. My goggles kept filling up with so much sweat I had to step outside and dump them a couple times before they filled up to the bottom of my eyeballs


if you have a car radiator and a fan kicking around, set the radiator up on a makeshift stand, mount the fan so it blows through the rad, and trickle water from your garden hose through it - just enough water so the petcock can drain it away so it doesn't overflow in the bus - use a piece of rubber tubing on the petcock to drain the water away from where you are walking - that is guaranteed to drop the temp in your 122 degree bus to a chilly 65 or 70 degrees, or lower if your fan and radiator are of a larger size
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Old 08-05-2019, 10:52 AM   #107
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Thanks for the advice, Sledd. Sure wish I had that kind of stuff lying around. I'd be tempted to rip the radiator out of the wife's truck, but then she'd just take mine

Today I think I've finally decided on the size, configuration, & location of our battery bank. THAT has been a challenge! Getting all that mass (480lbs in batteries alone) centered, forward of the rear axles, and near where I can mount our inverter has been a pain... particularly in a short bus.

The cardboard box pictured is cut to the external dimensions of the battery box. It will house 2 strings, each string consisting of 2x400AH 6V AGMs (total 800AH bank). I really wanted to orient the box 90-degrees to that pictured, so it would block the step less, but it was then impossible to get in & out of the seat like that.

This will serve both as a battery box and center console. The inverter/charger & solar charge controllers can go right beside it, to the immediate right of the step's entryway. The wiring to the panels will run inside the dash, over to the driver side, then up the wall. Venting the box will be a breeze (I love it when a good pun comes together) in this location.
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Old 08-05-2019, 04:01 PM   #108
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Hey, just make sure that you have enough usable power. 800ah on agm is 400 usable if as you can only do 50% depth of discharge. My calculations for my bus said I needed about 1000ah to do everything I want. Offgridskoolie has 900ah of lifepo4 and 1000 on the roof and just scrapes by on cloudy days. ($15,000 initial investment) Buy as much as you can afford but leave room to expand if you need to. Also remember to factor in that you will get 500-700 full charge cycles out of an agm at best before you lose about 30% of your usable capacity which would make your 400ah usable 280ah in about a year and a half of daily use. One of the reasons I switched to Lifepo4 chemistry which go 5000 cycles before losing about 10%.
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Old 08-05-2019, 04:01 PM   #109
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Looking awesum-OHh
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Old 08-05-2019, 05:03 PM   #110
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Hey, just make sure that you have enough usable power. 800ah on agm is 400 usable if as you can only do 50% depth of discharge. My calculations for my bus said I needed about 1000ah to do everything I want. Offgridskoolie has 900ah of lifepo4 and 1000 on the roof and just scrapes by on cloudy days. ($15,000 initial investment) Buy as much as you can afford but leave room to expand if you need to. Also remember to factor in that you will get 500-700 full charge cycles out of an agm at best before you lose about 30% of your usable capacity which would make your 400ah usable 280ah in about a year and a half of daily use. One of the reasons I switched to Lifepo4 chemistry which go 5000 cycles before losing about 10%.
I sincerely appreciate the advice, and it is sound. However, I've done an exhaustive workup of our solar requirements. Our storage will give us 2 days no-sun autonomy for everything we need (and then some). And we'll have 2 parallel-capable 2200W generators on top of that. 900-1200W in tiltable panels (paralleled) w/ MPPT, which is good for keeping them charged in 3.5 - 2.9 peak sun hour environments (respectfully). Anticipated daily DoD is 20%, not 50... our batteries should die a heat-related death long before they lose enough capacity to matter.

More storage is always nice. But in a short bus, both our power requirements as well as our space are limited. 800AH + backup generators seems to be a functional compromise. I may in the future switch to LFP, but on top of everything else, the up-front cost isn't something we can swing at the moment. If we do, the same battery box will then be more than sufficient. Just have to change the internal layout. But yeah... I'd love LFP, if for nothing else, the weight savings alone.
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Old 08-05-2019, 05:06 PM   #111
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Looking awesum-OHh
Thanks!


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Old 11-11-2019, 09:51 AM   #112
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After sweating out the last two months of summer, we're happy to report further forward progress! Namely, prepping, painting, & sealing the floor.

Before stopping due to heat, we had done some preliminary prep to tide us over & prevent further corrosion... angle grinder w/ wire wheels to knock down the worst areas in terms of rust, followed by a liberal application of ospho which we allowed to sit & dry.

Once the temps & humidity hit a happy range for paint, we reapplied ospho & allowed it to sit for a bit, then blasted it out with a power washer in order to completely neutralize it (failure to get all the ospho up could cause adhesion issues). Next was sanding (orbital w/ 80-grit followed by 220), power-washed again, applied a water-based cleaner/degreaser, power-washed a third time, & then dried thoroughly. In the end the floor itself was down to bare metal (or ospho-converted rust), while the fenders were a mix of clean/etched bare metal & prepped oem paint.

For the paint, we chose KBS Rust Seal, a water-cured high-solids urethane similar to POR15. Much of the prep done above was as per their requirements (though we didn't use their versions of cleaner or phosphoric acid). One cool thing about this product is you can use it along with fiberglass mesh to repair small holes, so we decided to go this route to seal the floor and patch all screw / bolt holes in the floor all at the same time.

After cutting more squares of fiberglass mesh than I can count, we laid down the first layer of KBS via foam brush to only the seams and areas surrounding the holes, pressing the fiberglass mesh patches into the paint as we went. After that cured enough to apply the first 'real' coat, we used a combination of foam brushes and low-knap (more like no-knap) foam rollers to paint as you'd expect. KBS recommended thinning 10% for rolling, which we did, & that was pretty much dead-on advice. You want to put it on as thin as possible, which is still way thicker than you expect.

Not counting the first coat on seams & holes, we put down 4 coats total, allowing to cure ~ 6 hours between coats. The less humidity the longer the cure, so in our dry climate it took some time. So yeah... it took us a good 24-hours to do the job, including waking up @ midnight for one coat. Even with the fan providing ventilation, we used half-mask respirators with new organic vapor cartridges, and are very glad we did, based on a couple times when my mask shifted. Painters booties & nitril gloves kept us from getting oil/dirt on our work as we went.

As far as KBS Rust Seal goes, their customer service is OUT OF THIS WORLD. I asked countless questions both before & after purchase, & their responses were extremely prompt, well-detailed, and dead-on accurate. As for the product, I couldn't be happier. The fiberglass patches worked great, and the paint itself looks to be pretty much indestructible. Adhesion appears to be excellent on everything, including the oem paint on the fenders/sides.

For those interested, for our 6-window short bus, each coat required 48 oz (1 qt + 1 pint). We bought both quart & pint containers so we didn't have to worry about resealing them between coats (which can be problematic). Each coat we just used up everything in the cans, then threw them away along with the foam brushes & roller pads. New brushes & pads for each coat.

The pics aren't show-car pretty (there was significant pitting / scale in spots, not enough to significantly weaken the metal, but enough to uglify it plenty), but our goal has been achieved: An impermeable sub-floor that will rust no further. This will all be under foam insulation & plywood in the near future anyway.
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Old 11-11-2019, 10:20 AM   #113
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Congrats, I read half this thread. DO NOT USE STARTING FLUID ON THESE, don't care what others have said before, it's a great way to cause piston ring damage.
I've worked on many a 7.3 and seen several ruined by spraying crap, I call it "idiot spray". WD40 is a little less harsh but I still would advise against it.
I NEVER use that crap, always best to just plug in the block heater.
If it still won't start use a propane torch in the intake to heat up the air works much better without risk of screwing over the engine.
Also if the glow plugs still work and you use starting spray you risk an explosion which can hurt you or do other damage like busting/cracking the air filter housing which will later on allow dust into the engine dusting the turbo and running the rest of the engine.

If the bus suits you then you got a great deal. Happy camping!
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Old 11-11-2019, 10:42 AM   #114
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Thanks Patrick! Mr Beefy never had any problems starting, but if he had, your advice would have been heeded I guarantee
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Old 11-11-2019, 12:36 PM   #115
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Thanks Patrick! Mr Beefy never had any problems starting, but if he had, your advice would have been heeded I guarantee
Awesome like a possum buddy. Def a good name fer yer bus.
Yeah you have to watch some peoples advise, I've seen some real bright ideas that make people like me money when I run off with the left overs to junk out.
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Old 11-21-2019, 11:12 PM   #116
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interesting - doesn't seem logical with the cab being in front of the steering wheels - l'll have to see if i can find one to ride in
A bit late to the party here...we drove our 32' FE flatnose up the ALCan. I was impressed with the ride. I drove it hard too, Alberta oil country was one helluva test drive. Admittedly, it wasn't quite the ride of an '83 Lincoln Continental, but definitely less tooth jarring than I remember my high school sport trips in a dognose.
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Old 11-22-2019, 08:19 AM   #117
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A bit late to the party here...we drove our 32' FE flatnose up the ALCan. I was impressed with the ride. I drove it hard too, Alberta oil country was one helluva test drive. Admittedly, it wasn't quite the ride of an '83 Lincoln Continental, but definitely less tooth jarring than I remember my high school sport trips in a dognose.
I had 2 pace arrow RVs, they rode far worse than my flat not RE bus does, both RVs were air bagged same as my bus is. Then again the RVs were GM garbage (what moron decided it was a good idea to put a wimpy 5.5k IFS on a medium duty chassis needs horse whipped). My 39' bus is easier to drive than either the 30 or 37 ft RVs I had. I scrapped those things out and my oh my you wouldn't want to wreck or God forbid roll one over, they were built with one thing in mind, not a care and couldn't be done cheap enough.
Yeah it def rides better than the old ford buses my school used LOL.
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Old 11-22-2019, 09:00 AM   #118
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After sweating out the last two months of summer, we're happy to report further forward progress! Namely, prepping, painting, & sealing the floor.

Before stopping due to heat, we had done some preliminary prep to tide us over & prevent further corrosion... angle grinder w/ wire wheels to knock down the worst areas in terms of rust, followed by a liberal application of ospho which we allowed to sit & dry.

Once the temps & humidity hit a happy range for paint, we reapplied ospho & allowed it to sit for a bit, then blasted it out with a power washer in order to completely neutralize it (failure to get all the ospho up could cause adhesion issues). Next was sanding (orbital w/ 80-grit followed by 220), power-washed again, applied a water-based cleaner/degreaser, power-washed a third time, & then dried thoroughly. In the end the floor itself was down to bare metal (or ospho-converted rust), while the fenders were a mix of clean/etched bare metal & prepped oem paint.

For the paint, we chose KBS Rust Seal, a water-cured high-solids urethane similar to POR15. Much of the prep done above was as per their requirements (though we didn't use their versions of cleaner or phosphoric acid). One cool thing about this product is you can use it along with fiberglass mesh to repair small holes, so we decided to go this route to seal the floor and patch all screw / bolt holes in the floor all at the same time.

After cutting more squares of fiberglass mesh than I can count, we laid down the first layer of KBS via foam brush to only the seams and areas surrounding the holes, pressing the fiberglass mesh patches into the paint as we went. After that cured enough to apply the first 'real' coat, we used a combination of foam brushes and low-knap (more like no-knap) foam rollers to paint as you'd expect. KBS recommended thinning 10% for rolling, which we did, & that was pretty much dead-on advice. You want to put it on as thin as possible, which is still way thicker than you expect.

Not counting the first coat on seams & holes, we put down 4 coats total, allowing to cure ~ 6 hours between coats. The less humidity the longer the cure, so in our dry climate it took some time. So yeah... it took us a good 24-hours to do the job, including waking up @ midnight for one coat. Even with the fan providing ventilation, we used half-mask respirators with new organic vapor cartridges, and are very glad we did, based on a couple times when my mask shifted. Painters booties & nitril gloves kept us from getting oil/dirt on our work as we went.

As far as KBS Rust Seal goes, their customer service is OUT OF THIS WORLD. I asked countless questions both before & after purchase, & their responses were extremely prompt, well-detailed, and dead-on accurate. As for the product, I couldn't be happier. The fiberglass patches worked great, and the paint itself looks to be pretty much indestructible. Adhesion appears to be excellent on everything, including the oem paint on the fenders/sides.

For those interested, for our 6-window short bus, each coat required 48 oz (1 qt + 1 pint). We bought both quart & pint containers so we didn't have to worry about resealing them between coats (which can be problematic). Each coat we just used up everything in the cans, then threw them away along with the foam brushes & roller pads. New brushes & pads for each coat.

The pics aren't show-car pretty (there was significant pitting / scale in spots, not enough to significantly weaken the metal, but enough to uglify it plenty), but our goal has been achieved: An impermeable sub-floor that will rust no further. This will all be under foam insulation & plywood in the near future anyway.
I followed your story and its quite remarkable making it this far. You should post a before and after pic and it will be perfect.
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And always bring a flashlight on your bus since it'll be quite handy on emergencies, check out Streamlight Super Siege at https://totalguide.org/best-tactical-flashlight/streamlight/super-siege-review/ .
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Old 11-26-2019, 10:54 PM   #119
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Really good looking bus you've got. Looks like you are off to a great start with the conversion, and are taking the time to do things the right way.


Your bus is very close to what I think is the idea size (for my taste/use case), I've been hunting for the right 5 window, but your 6 window doesn't look much bigger than some of the 5 windows I've been looking at. Have you measured the overall length of the bus, or the usable interior space? I'd be curious to know how long it is, it looks very well proportioned!


I'm looking forward to following your build!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Edit: oh and also I saw in your original post that you've got an Allison 2000 transmission. I found a few useful reference resources for this transmission the other day and posted them in the mechanical and drivetrain forum. One is a tech spec sheet for the transmission, the other is the operators manual (big ole' 91 page document). Here's the link for you, should be the 4th comment I believe.
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Old 11-26-2019, 11:57 PM   #120
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Join Date: Apr 2019
Location: Hotzona
Posts: 934
Year: 2003
Coachwork: IC
Chassis: 3800
Engine: Navistar T444e
Rated Cap: 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by dzl_ View Post
Really good looking bus you've got. Looks like you are off to a great start with the conversion, and are taking the time to do things the right way.


Your bus is very close to what I think is the idea size (for my taste/use case), I've been hunting for the right 5 window, but your 6 window doesn't look much bigger than some of the 5 windows I've been looking at. Have you measured the overall length of the bus, or the usable interior space? I'd be curious to know how long it is, it looks very well proportioned!


I'm looking forward to following your build!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Edit: oh and also I saw in your original post that you've got an Allison 2000 transmission. I found a few useful reference resources for this transmission the other day and posted them in the mechanical and drivetrain forum. One is a tech spec sheet for the transmission, the other is the operators manual (big ole' 91 page document). Here's the link for you, should be the 4th comment I believe.

Muchas Gracias, Mi Amigo!


Oh yes, I've got numbers ;)


The interior behind the steps (imagine a line drawn from the back of the steps perpendicular to the plane of the bus) is 14', 7" long x 7', 6" wide (rib to rib). Steps themselves are 3' wide. Overall length is ~24'. Height from the stripped floor to bottom of roof ribs is 6'6". Weight with seats & flooring removed is 13,500 lbs. Each window is ~24" wide x 30" tall, including framing, with a gap between each window of ~ 3" (window specs vary a hair depending on emergency window or not). Wheel wells are HUGE (much bigger than I anticipated)... 24" wide x 42" long x 9" tall.
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