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Old 01-07-2009, 04:46 PM   #1
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 15
Short Bus Questions


I have been 'planning' on creating a tiny rammed earth & cob small home for about five years now, and researched small/micro homes obsessively. I've had a bit of a problem staying in one spot all my life and for some reason I only put the two motivations together a few months ago after reading an article on micro houses about a portable ship-crate home.

It was one of those James Joyce things, where I realized there was something I hadn't thought of on a personal level even though it was so completely obvious, nearly inevitable. I lived in and near santa cruz california and oregon for years and have seen probably hundreds of house bus conversions.... Well the light switch is on, and it looks like it's not going to change position. Now instead of looking for a nice code free lot to build a dirt house I'm looking for a short bus!

One bus that caught my eye recently was a forward cab blue bird called a 'TC2000' special needs on ebay. It's short, has high clearance (like a a lot of the full sized bluebirds) and has a chair lift. There is another white one on ebay right now but it has none of the special needs equipment. I was a heavy equipment operator in the navy and drove personnel during my brief training, and I drove one forward cab bus that left a permanent impression on me. I have no interest in any other form factor.

So looking through the site I've not seen one as a conversion project. Is there any inherent flaw in the model, or is it just rare? Also I noticed the short model engine is up front, does that cause handling issues? Presently I can't afford to buy a bus and pay to keep it somewhere while I convert it (while still paying my rent and eating) so I have plenty of time to learn about the different models. Any input is appreciated. Thanks!

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Old 01-07-2009, 05:42 PM   #2
Bus Crazy
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Adirondack Mountains NY
Posts: 1,100
Re: Short Bus Questions

Welcome to the asylum!

There are a lot of T2K conversions here - don't know if there are any short ones.

in addition to using short buses on van chassis, the Associations for Retarded Citizens in 3 counties around me transport their customers in medium-sized, normal height Bluebirds with wheelchair lifts . One used to go by the house every morning as I got into the truck to go to work. (It's now a new short bus on that route.) Talk about teasing me! No yellow paint to be covered within 14 days, no flashing lights on the forehead and 'backhead' leaving holes to cover, and big horizontal tinted coach-style windows along the sides instead of leaky vertical sliders.

The only way to keep my sanity when I pass them is to tell myself they don't have the extra headroom of a high-roof bus.
Someone said "Making good decisions comes from experience, experience comes from bad decisions." I say there are three kinds of people: those who learn from their mistakes, those who learn from the mistakes of others, and those who never learn.
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Old 01-08-2009, 07:31 PM   #3
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 15
Re: Short Bus Questions

Thanks for the info redbear, I might have to chase after those buses soon. I found a couple of bus fan pages (I had no idea there were people that collected bus data as a hobby) and apparently the 19+2 models with the mid cab lift are pretty rare. I wish I could have purchased the one from arizona on ebay, it was claimed rust free. Most of the models I saw being tracked are from the great lakes and northwest coastal states. On the other hand I found a page linked showing the bluebird construction floor, no wonder they are considered safe rides.

Oh, I live in california, when I get a bus I'll have to remove every dot of yellow, all the flashers and everything. They can't even be there. Probably not a lot of fun but I intend to remove the ceiling metal when I get one and cut it up to cover the windowless areas and flashers and all of that. I'm big on reusing parts so most of my waste will be the floor and seat foam and covers. I'll have to get a gas set for the steel though, haven't done that in decades.

So has anyone removed the interior ceilings and used wood? My plan is to use hardwood slats with rope stuffing up there, right over the insulation. I'm going for something between the old wood nautical construction + hobbit house interior (circular openings and round arches) and the wabi sabi aesthetics ideals influencing everything. I have a lot of plans so I will be using this space to bounce them off much more experienced people.

I should add that I am not intimidated by bending wood or making curved facades, or creating much of anything with steel and oxyacetylene. I am however intimidated by solar/battery bank type setups. I've never touched a solar or battery setup. I'm also not looking forward to the possibility of raising the roof. I saw the 'The Millicent Chronicles' and might just have to learn to duck a lot. I'm a short guy so it might not be too bad.

ARG, another sweet shortbus on ebay; ... QQptZBuses
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Old 01-08-2009, 09:48 PM   #4
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 40
Re: Short Bus Questions

I think this one is similar - might be a little longer, it's hard to tell from the pictures. It's older than the one on eBay, and has more miles, but it's MUCH cheaper.

. . .could be yours. . .
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Old 01-09-2009, 09:48 AM   #5
Bus Nut
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Savage, MN
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Year: 1992
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Re: Short Bus Questions

There are two different ones this sie from bluebird one is a tc2000 which can be either a short one or long one and the other is a tc1000 which is a short model with low profile tires and a flat floor. The tc1000 also is comparable to a bluebird transshuttle which is a glorified school bus as it has transit windows instead.

I can't think of any thing wrong with using one of these model buses. They handle good and turn in tighter places than a passenger van. An ideal bus to me would be one with the mid left door. One of them buses does have more usable room inside than my 25 foot bus I have now. I would have got one myself but I couldn't find one that was in my price range I wanted to pay with a mid left. I didn't want a rear lift as I planned on using the lift.
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Old 01-10-2009, 09:31 PM   #6
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 15
Re: Short Bus Questions

I hope I'm not being to picky on specifying a bus model but that's exactly what I want. I am also picky about the mid-cab lift. I don't want the rear one because they are smaller and in the 'wrong' place. I found a site claiming all tc2000 are 74" ceiling height is this true? If so then I definitely will not need a roof raise as I'm only 67" and will only lose 2" in interior modifications.

Some more general short-bus questions popped up. Looking at that prison bus on ebay it claimed 12-15MPG, is that even possible? The conversion I've read here are between 6-12 even on low miles buses.

Also I read that wood-stoves, kerosene lamps, and other items usually used in cabins are being installed. Is the interior pretty much a free for all? I would love to install a chofu heater (wood heater that heats water instead of air) and a soak tub. I also read on a personal conversion site that one bus draws fuel from the main tank to run lamps and a heater. Anyway I know people don;t always follow the codes but looking at the california DMV documentation there is nothing specifying fuel types or any kind of tank mods except that toilets have to be permanently installed and a segregated power source has to be there.

OH and lastly, is it legal to install stacks on a bus?

zamfir thanks for the link but I really do want a short short-bus (but that one is a good deal though).

wmah thanks for the info on handling. I will be off the main roads sometimes (not 4x4, just off the main roads) so I need that, plus I currently live in a space about the size of that model shortbus and it's more than enough room.
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Old 01-11-2009, 05:22 AM   #7
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 40
Re: Short Bus Questions

Originally Posted by skojolt
I hope I'm not being to picky on specifying a bus model but that's exactly what I want. I am also picky about the mid-cab lift. I don't want the rear one because they are smaller and in the 'wrong' place.
IMO there is no such thing as "being too picky". There are gazillions of used buses on the market, so there is no reason to buy one that is not exACTly what you want. The search may take a little longer, but I think it will be worth it in the long run.

Methinks the seller of the prison bus is being a trifle, umm, optimistic in his fuel mileage claim.
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Old 01-11-2009, 08:53 AM   #8
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Location: Truth or Consequences, NM
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Re: Short Bus Questions

Just a note on the ceiling question Skojolt,.... this is pertaining to my first bus I owned and lived in in Alaska in the 80's.

I removed the inner steel and had the inside roof sprayed with insulating foam on my bus. I then covered all but the two end caps with 4" wide knotty pine tongue and groove wood with the wood running fore and aft. A very simple and easy job and it turned out very nice. Due to the compound curves I just replaced the original steel over the foam on the ends of the ceiling. I don't even know if the sprayed urethane foam is being used these days and you could use anything you were comfortable with, insulation-wise. There was some question then about the safety of the sprayed foam and the consensus was that if it did not burn it was fine...anyone know about it now?
Brian in NM
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Old 01-11-2009, 10:51 AM   #9
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 15
Re: Short Bus Questions

ah, thanks I wasn't sure about availability. I had read somewhere that a lot of of buses go to south america without ever being available used here. Maybe they were talking about city buses. I have seen lots of 40' school buses but not many lower price shorties except the van cab style. Now that I've been looking for a while I've seen four of the TC2000 special needs models up for sale (two were $6k+ though). I'm thinking a good deal will come along without too much issue.

I thought the 12-15 MPG seemed a little out there. I know that model is pretty light relative to other buses but it seemed to good to be true.

Thanks BK2Valve, I really dislike metal ceilings. I want my bus to feel warm and look it. After I strip the ceiling I'm thinking of using the painted on micro-buble epoxy/enamel mix I keep reading about (seal things up and insulates) then gluing on mineral wool insulation sealed off with a foil layer. I know spray-foam is less of a hassle to install but most out-gas without sunlight exposure and crumble after they cure (not to mention the gassing during fire is fatal). Plus I like the energy absorbing (sound dampening), fire resistant nature, and moisture/mold resilliance of mineral wools. I just have to make sure I don't breath it
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