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Old 08-12-2018, 05:00 AM   #1
Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: Miami, Florida
Posts: 43
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: International 3600
Engine: T444E Diesel, Allison 545 Transmission
Battery Bank Dilemma!! HELP


Seats and floors are out and now doing a bit of average costing and I'm completely at lost with electrical! She has 73000 miles on her and is a thomas vista 3600.

Here's what I will be doing with her and the electrical needs I anticipated:

I will be travelling from Florida to the West Coast to BC and finish in NY, she will then be shipped to the UK and will be set in Wiltshire(During 4 to 5 grey months but no shadows) as an AirBnb(Shore power available) on a horse farm and will be rented for a couple of festival(Not sure if shore power available) as well (So I need the electrics to be easy for newbies for 4 days).
I will then travel around Europe for a few month cooking(Looking at propane but will probably need a blender but that can be when connected to shore) and then set base in Portugal(Sunny almost all year around). She will then become part of the accommodation of an Eco Yoga and Surf retreat.

My needs:

- Water pump + Boiler
- RV Ceiling Air Con
- LEDs
- TV/Projector (the occasional Netflix)
- Device Charging (Phone, Computer, Cameras)
- Blender(Can be when connected to shore)

What I think Festival and Airbnb Clients will need on top:

- Microwave
- Coffee Machine
- Hair Straighteners

I'm Looking at all option! Ideally something space efficient, easy and lasting. The end goal when I'm finally set in Portugal is to be as eco friendly as possible but I understand that the month prior to that I might have to compromise on that!

I've been told anything from:
- Use the alternator during the US trip as I'll be on the road a lot
- Use Solar + Alternator + Regular batteries
- Lithium + Generator
- Lithium + Solar + Generator
- Lithium + Alternator (Is that even possible?)
- Marine Deep Cycle batteries + Alternator + Solar
- Marine Deep Cycle + Alternator

I'm sure I've missed a few but what would your ideal set up be? I understand it might cost and I'm willing to be patient and save up more if necessary if in the long run it makes life easier!

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Old 08-12-2018, 11:57 AM   #2
Bus Crazy
turf's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Colorado
Posts: 1,654
Year: 1993
Coachwork: bluebird
Engine: 5.9 Cummins, Allison AT1545
Rated Cap: 2
wow, sounds like an amazing trip!!!

your destinations have a bit to do with your desired setup, but less than you think. the only problem i see is USA voltage is 110, European Voltage is 220. so i dont know how your shore line will work, you'll probably need 2 one for usa camping and one for european camping.

to figure your capacity, you need to list the electrical items that you will use, the time you intend to use it, and how much electric it consumes for the time.

then you need to figure out how often you will be able to charge you battery bank.

then add up some losses for inefficiency and you will be close to your battery bank size.

what i've seen on the forum is that 24v 400ah is about as big as these guys get.
the trend is for lithium iron phosphate batteries, solar, and an inverter.

you are going to have to decide on appliances, voltages, because of your trip. an american blender will not last long plugged into the EU grid.

good luck
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Old 08-12-2018, 02:21 PM   #3
Bus Nut
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Orange County, CA
Posts: 970
Year: 1990
Coachwork: integral
Chassis: Crown Supercoach II (rear engine)
Engine: Detroit 6V92TAC, DDEC 2, Jake brake, Allison HT740
Rated Cap: 37,400 lbs GVWR
I hate to ask this question, but why an American school bus in Europe? Getting parts and service for that drivetrain won't be easy anywhere there. Do you know for sure about how to get parts for a 7.3 in Portugal?! How many Portuguese mechanics are familiar with that engine and have the appropriate tools for it? Also, an AT545 is OK for flat land, but (as has been discussed here many times) is not the best choice for when the land gets lumpy, and it does between England and Portugal - at least add in a big transmission cooler and a reliable transmission temperature gauge.

Good luck, John
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Old 08-13-2018, 06:48 AM   #4
Bus Crazy
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Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Virginia
Posts: 1,768
Year: 1971
Coachwork: Wayne
Chassis: International Loadstar 1700
Engine: 345 international V-8
is european 220 like ours in that it is two hot legs at 110 and a neutral? or is it one hot at 220 and a neutral?

I was wondering who was going to say something about the transmission. Trans temp gauge is a real good idea. take care of it and it should be fine. I would add to his comments, change the oil in the trans before the trip, synthetic would be best.
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