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Old 05-19-2022, 08:35 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2021
Posts: 16
Thomas Vista 3600 [1994] - June 2022

Good evening, community.

We've just purchased a Thomas Built school bus for our mobile home conversion!
We are very excited to begin this new journey!

I wanted to create a thread to help document the process, and to see if anyone around could offer advice / opinion about some of the concepts we're playing with. (first build)

We haven't yet picked the bus up - that will happen in the next few weeks.
I will be sharing some pictures here to give an impression of the vehicle.

Mainly, I'm wondering what ya'll think - both of the vehicle, and of the concepts!

I'm so happy to see an active community that discusses these builds!
Let's see if the pictures come across well.

Thank you,
  • Under-coating bus to prevent future rust.
  • Mount stainless steel NEMA 4 junction boxes under frame / skirt.
  • Install hidden storage compartments into the floor of bus.
  • Rooftop deck + Solar array.
  • Fresh water storage.
  • Propane Storage.
  • Heating + Cooling [wood burning / air conditioning?]
  • Ladder access to the roof [Black iron pipe / weather proof]
  • Collapsible storage / hidden storage everywhere.
  • Potential battery system.
  • Provisioned cellular modem - work remotely.
  • Functioning kitchen / refrigerator / stovetop + oven. (propane?)
  • LED lighting / warm.
  • Installed movie projector / movable magnet mounts.
  • Exterior lights (weather proof).
  • Updated instrument cluster (custom face with new gauges?)
  • Master bed / combination wrap around booth table. (conversion)
  • Outdoor (back of bus?) mounted junction box for exterior storage
  • Bus entrance stairs, hinging treads? Hinging hidden storage?

I am currently researching boat / marine hardware since they're so unique and specialty. I've also found the community of narrow boat interior design, and air-stream conversions.

Let's get this thing started!
Thank you everyone!

PS - The bus still needs to be named.

Thomas Built Bus - International Chasis.
Thomas Vista 3600 - 1994. (5) window.
[Pending confirmation] 444E 7.3 Diesel. (Should be turbo-charged)
Allison Transmission AT542, automatic.
Dual wheel rear.
69,000 miles.
Very minimal rust - oil pan / exhaust.
Governor @ 55 MPH.
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Old 05-19-2022, 08:38 PM   #2
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2021
Posts: 16
Additional picture viewing passenger side.
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Old 05-19-2022, 10:39 PM   #3
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: May 2018
Location: topeka kansas
Posts: 1,738
Year: 1954
Coachwork: wayne
Chassis: old f500- new 2005 f-450
Engine: cummins 12 valve
Rated Cap: 20? five rows of 4?
Metallurgy

I donít recommend using stainless steel on a bus made from mild steel. Long term, like 20, 30, 40 years in the future, the surrounding steel will pay a price of increased corrosion.

William
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Old 05-20-2022, 03:36 PM   #4
Bus Nut
 
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Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: Sandpoint, ID
Posts: 524
Year: 2003
Coachwork: Girardin Microbird MB-IV
Chassis: Ford E450
Engine: 7.3 Diesel
Rated Cap: 25
Love the Vista style! I used to have one. Top of the list should be full inspection and maintenance of mechanical systems. Then soundproofing the engine as best you can. One person here replaced the transmission on his Vista and gained good cruising speed . It also reduced engine noise considerably.
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Old 05-21-2022, 02:02 PM   #5
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2021
Posts: 16
Thank you!
That's a very good point - I wasn't aware that mild steel and stainless steel would enable electrolysis.
Do you have any input about the potential of coating the metals in a bed-liner type application?

Do you foresee any issues if the Stainless Steel boxes were mounted on the body, in contact with paint?

I appreciate the time and guidance.
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Old 05-21-2022, 02:04 PM   #6
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2021
Posts: 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by magnakansas View Post
I donít recommend using stainless steel on a bus made from mild steel. Long term, like 20, 30, 40 years in the future, the surrounding steel will pay a price of increased corrosion.

William
Quote:
Originally Posted by peakbus View Post
Love the Vista style! I used to have one. Top of the list should be full inspection and maintenance of mechanical systems. Then soundproofing the engine as best you can. One person here replaced the transmission on his Vista and gained good cruising speed . It also reduced engine noise considerably.

That's awesome advice!
Yes, it would be in my best interest to enable the vehicle to have "fuel sipping" / "cruising" abilities. I would hate for the vehicle to work itself too hard, and for things to be too loud.
That's an interesting concept of sound-proofing the dog house.. hmmm, do you know of any examples / applications?

Thank you very much.
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Old 05-21-2022, 03:19 PM   #7
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Feb 2019
Location: Communist State of New Jersey
Posts: 964
Year: 2004
Coachwork: IC
Chassis: CE200
Engine: T444e
Rated Cap: 27,500
Welcome to the forum. Nice looking bus. Not much rust under it. Best thing I noticed is it's no yellow so no painting required, that alone saved you a lot of time and work.
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Old 05-21-2022, 09:22 PM   #8
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Posts: 313
Year: 1992
Coachwork: Bluebird Mini-Bird 24'
Chassis: Chevy P30
Engine: Chevy 6.2L Diesel
Quote:
Originally Posted by captain_keyes View Post
That's an interesting concept of sound-proofing the dog house.. hmmm, do you know of any examples / applications?

Thank you very much.
Pretty much mandatory, IMHO, on any doghouse if you don't like yelling.

Get some rockwool or DynaMat and affix it to the underside of the doghouse. It will help noticeably.
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Old 07-10-2022, 06:10 PM   #9
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2021
Posts: 16
Hey all,
Here is an update on the project;

Got the bus back from North Carolina - drove her home and it went great!
I've got the seats removed and the floor taken up.
I'm wondering - what does the community do for good processing of the metal floor?
I'm lucky this is in such good shape!

I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Yes, I did cut the radiator hose... for some reason I thought it was air... that was a tricky experience to patch with what I had around me.
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Old 07-10-2022, 07:29 PM   #10
Bus Crazy
 
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Join Date: Oct 2020
Location: Florida
Posts: 1,492
Coachwork: Integrated Coach Corp.
Chassis: RE-300 42ft
Engine: 466ci
Rated Cap: 90
Floor Lotto Winner!

Looks like you have vinyl glued right to the steel. This configuration seems to harbor the least amount of rust, from what I see. No plywood also means no nail/screw holes either. You may need nothing. The old adheasive is protection.

The rust spots will do well with Ospho & a wirewheel or flapper. Don't go nuts.

Most of your flawless floor will need only mild scrubbing for loose bits & a repeated cleaning before oil based implement paint.

Well done on your rust free selection, btw. Luck or not.
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Old 07-11-2022, 06:21 AM   #11
Bus Geek
 
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Join Date: Jan 2019
Location: Philadelphia
Posts: 6,947
Year: 2003
Coachwork: International
Chassis: CE 300
Engine: DT466e
Rated Cap: 65C-43A
Yeah, the floor is looking great, congratulations. You're probably going to want to remove the wall panels (including the rear ones) and the insulation behind them. Given the rust spots on the outside of them, you're probably going to find some damage underneath them.
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Old 07-11-2022, 09:31 AM   #12
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 18,339
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
nice!! definitely be sure to put some insulation down!! I notice in my Superior that has rubber directly on the metal (45 years old and no rust).. that the floors get HOT! without that plywood..
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Old 10-08-2023, 11:53 AM   #13
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2021
Posts: 16
October 2023

Shorthand... items completed thus far.
Update : October 2023.

- Interior, completely disassembled.
- Electronic Governor speed limit - removed. (Time to go 65 MPH!)
- Driver's side heater core - removed.
- Drivers side Passenger auxiliary heater - removed.
- Defrost unit - removed.
- Antifreeze coolant overflow reservoir - removed. (was an awful eyesore).

- Thermo-syphon coolant heater, installed. (Winter AC plug engine heater).
- Antifreeze coolant overflow reservoir - replaced. (looks much better!).
- Replacement Defrost unit installed. (low profile + not ugly)
- Antifreeze - full flush and replacement.
- Antifreeze filter - replaced.
- LED headlights installed (plastic lenses, rrrr... anyone know where we can get some quality glass lenses containing LED lights?)
- Plastic bevels around headlights replaced.
- (2) Heavy Duty batteries replaced.
- Battery compartment dis-assembled + cleaned out.
- Chassis Saver applied to floor pan.


- Exterior, full detail + clean. Scrubbed down with toothbrush and inspected.
- Engine - cleaned with a toothbrush. She's beautiful!

Anyway, wanted to provide an update and share some pictures.
Taking her to Wichita Kansas to have the roof raised, windows deleted, RV windows installed, Hatches patched, front door fabricated, front and rear trailer hitches installed... etc.

I hope you enjoy the pictures - and I hope to hear from you!
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Old 10-08-2023, 11:56 AM   #14
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2021
Posts: 16
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Old 10-08-2023, 11:58 AM   #15
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Posts: 16
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Old 10-08-2023, 12:00 PM   #16
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2021
Posts: 16
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Old 10-08-2023, 01:23 PM   #17
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 18,339
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
lookin good!! those jegs style heaters are the best thing ever.. been using one in my DEV bus as a rear unit for 5 years now and it blows away the original rear heater...
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