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Old 01-20-2017, 05:17 PM   #1
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Cool Bus Conversion Starter Questions

Hello!

We have a 1988 International School Bus that we are converting into a tiny home. We are new at this and have a few questions.

1. What is the best way to rid of rust and seal the metal so it doesn't rust again?

2. We are looking at options for flooring. What is the best, most reasonably priced option that is insulated and will keep out moisture?

3. What kind of insulation is best for the floor, walls, and ceiling that is also thin?

Thank you in advance for your advice!
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Old 01-20-2017, 08:56 PM   #2
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For the rust, you must first wire brush away as much as possible. Then cover it with POR15.
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Old 01-20-2017, 09:54 PM   #3
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I just did a post that might answer some questions on the insulation - Insulation — Buslandia
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Old 01-20-2017, 10:06 PM   #4
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protip: Google "site:skoolie.net rust removal" or whatever else you seek. Between google search results and image search results you'll have a lot of good resources.

1. Wirebrush that rust away for sure!

2. Your flooring will have layers, floor, insulation foam, radiant barrier, plywood, topcoat flooring (hardwood, laminate, rubber, vinyl, etc.) I am going to use vinyl fake hard wood floors because it is hardy, will not mold, will not rot, immune to water damage. It is about 3-4x more expensive than laminate, and will last 10,000x longer. Can you imagine how crappy it would be to remove your flooring of the home you live in and put new better flooring back in? No thanks.

3.I went with XPS insulation for flooring because I have been under the understanding that XPS will perform best when wet(from an xps vendor website, take with grain of salt). For your walls and ceiling you want 2 part (not 1 part) spray foam. Don't let the high price tag intimidate you. Study up, read lots of builds and spend the extra on great insulation. Foam will add structural support for your bus and waterproof it as well, in addition to giving you very high R value per inch. Enjoy it for life. I went with polyiso foam, it's not bad but I should've just spray foamed it.

But if you're a fool like the rest of us which didn't go spray foam here's the basic breakdown of insulations.

Foam boards.
Polyiso is supposedly 2 part spray foam sprayed into a mold and turned into insulation boards. It has the highest R value of insulation boards and is resistant to water. It's performance goes down in very cold climates (google for more details).

XPS is extruded polystyrene insulation. It's supposed to work well when wet, very resistant to water, has decent R value, not as good as polyiso. However when colder or wetter it performs more consistently (I think).

EPS is expanded polystyrene insulation. (think packing popcorn). It is the cheapest foam insulation board and will give you the most R value for your buck. The broccoli bus insulated with lots of EPS and is happy with it. I don't have a lot to say about it aside from the fact that the broccoli bus is an outstanding build and makes me think better of EPS because it was used in it.

Batting:

I don't pay much mind to batting. I think with all the vibrations that occur in the bus on the road that stuff will succumb to gravity and sink to the bottom. Maybe not though, I'm just not into it. Except for maybe rockwool in select areas. Maybe.

Fiberglass batting: supposedly has good R value, and supposedly isn't harmful for you. It is waterproof but can still accumulate mold via dust/moisture.

rockwool: Pretty much fireproof, cool.

recycled newspaper insulation: molds easily.

These are opinions based off a lot of research.
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Old 01-20-2017, 10:09 PM   #5
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For the rust, you must first wire brush away as much as possible. Then cover it with POR15.
POR15 is good stuff but pricey. You can also use a phosphoric acid rust converter to turn the rust into iron phosphate which stops the rust process and makes a good base for paint. Ask for "rust converter" or "metal prep" at home depot or any paint store.

You just pour it on the rust and leave it over night. Once the surface is dry you can paint it.

Poly-iso sheet insulation has the best R value for a given board thickness (R-6 per inch).
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Old 01-21-2017, 10:17 AM   #6
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There is also a product made by Quest Chemical called "Restore". Unlike other converters, it does not require painting over to achieve the desired results. It contains a polymer that forms an extremely tough finish so it only takes a single pass. I have used it for years on my steel & cement work. I even tried to force the rebar I used it on to rust by daily saturating the surface with concentrated salt water over a period of about five years...no rust on the treated metal while the untreated rebar looked like burnt matchsticks. Good stuff. Can be brushed, rolled or sprayed.
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Old 01-21-2017, 01:06 PM   #7
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I am a new Jack to converting a school bus to a motorhomes. My questions are
1. Can those railings (usually black) be removed without complications to the bus body?
2. Which unit provides better heat the Through and through units or some kind of space heater? (My wife suffers from anemia)
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Old 01-21-2017, 05:57 PM   #8
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Tango, After finding my way out of the "google rabbit hole" I've been in, I'm still lost. Can you tell use where to find Restore? I've used Ospho before, but I'm always looking for different products that work well. BTW the build lokks great......as always
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Old 01-21-2017, 06:03 PM   #9
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I believe he is referring to this here.. I saw another link advertising a quart for $163(ish).

I would appreciate Tango's input regarding this though. The price looks a little high, not super high considering rust remover + POR15 or other covering, would cost a pretty penny too.

The product description says "concentrated and powerful", do you dilute this with mineral spirits or something similar? Or just use it right out of the bottle? Also how far does this go?

With Tango's endorsement, I'll probably throw this on my spring/summer todo list.
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Old 01-21-2017, 08:13 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IWC Bus View Post
I am a new Jack to converting a school bus to a motorhomes. My questions are
1. Can those railings (usually black) be removed without complications to the bus body?
2. Which unit provides better heat the Through and through units or some kind of space heater? (My wife suffers from anemia)
1. NO! Those are called "Rub rails" and they are extremely critical to the structural integrity of the body, they add much needed stiffness and strength to the walls. Do not even *THINK* of removing these permanently (temporary removal is fine for rust repair and such); make sure you reattach them just as securely as the factory did.

2. I'll let someone more knowledgeable than myself answer this one.
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Old 01-21-2017, 08:34 PM   #11
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Rust-Oleum® Stops Rust®

I haven't converted a bus yet, but have done several army truck restorations.

I have good luck with:
ABOUT RUSTY METAL PRIMER

Rust-Oleum® Stops Rust® Rusty Metal Primer stops rust and prevents corrosion. Apply to heavily rusted metal (use Rust-Oleum® Stops Rust® Clean Metal Primer on clean or lightly rusted metal). Bonds tightly to rust to form a surface top coats can adhere to.
Indoor/outdoor
Durable, corrosion-resistant

Roller brush works fine, or thin a bit w lacquer thinner and spray from pressure pot. The trucks I do weigh 22,000 and are as big as a bus, 8.3L Cummins.

I've gotten it in gallons at some Home Depot, is reasonable and oil based.

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Old 01-21-2017, 08:49 PM   #12
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Very cool rig^!
Rustoleum rusty metal primer and ospho have been applied to the ENTIRE underside of my bus' roof. I'm doing the entire inside of the bus in this fashion.



getting the sides ready-
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Old 01-21-2017, 10:40 PM   #13
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Holy crap thank you all so much for the replies! Definitely a lot to look through but now we feel like we can finally get some ground on prepping and protecting our bus.
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Old 01-21-2017, 11:07 PM   #14
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That price appears to be for a case of four one gallon jugs. I buy it locally for about $17 a quart. It actually goes a long ways. The place I get it in Houston is below but I know they have national distribution. I usually get a case of 12 quarts for a little over $200 bucks. Since I use it for both my sculpture and classes it works out fine. I've had the best results spraying it on using a hobby type siphon sprayer called the "Critter Sprayer". No moving parts, cheap and super easy to clean. Whatever you do...do NOT let the material set up in any gun. The poly in it cures extremely hard & tough and fast. I just keep some water handy and blow out the gun any time I stop for more than a minute.

Continental Tool & Supply 713.641.0501
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Old 01-21-2017, 11:22 PM   #15
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That price makes the cost of the shorts, that I crapped in, seem ok. Good stuff, is good stuff, but I was ready to mark it off my list. Thanks for the clarification.
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Old 04-12-2017, 09:57 AM   #16
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well we have options and a better idea of what to do now and we really appreciate all of the input!!

We have a slightly bigger problem now: how much is the bus actually worth. We are living with friends that currently own the bus and are working off the cost of the bus by helping out. Nothing is in writing, but it was claimed that our bus is worth $4,000 based on the engine alone.

The bus is a 1987 International S1700. The engine is a Navistar 7.3. It's rusty and I'm not sure how many miles are on it because I just haven't looked. My main concern is that there are some nice, newer buses for sale in my area that are $4000-$4500. Why would this old bus still be worth this much? Please help.

Also, the sticker on the engine says the model is an "A170F" but if I google that, the T444E engine pops up. So is that what I have??
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Old 04-12-2017, 10:07 AM   #17
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$4,000 seems high for that engine - what's the transmission? And did you mean the engine was rusty, or the bus? How bad?
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Old 04-12-2017, 10:53 AM   #18
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The Navistar 7.3l is the T444. The engine was made by Navistar International but everyone calls it an International T444.
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Old 04-12-2017, 12:03 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ourtravelingsouls View Post
well we have options and a better idea of what to do now and we really appreciate all of the input!!

We have a slightly bigger problem now: how much is the bus actually worth. We are living with friends that currently own the bus and are working off the cost of the bus by helping out. Nothing is in writing, but it was claimed that our bus is worth $4,000 based on the engine alone.

The bus is a 1987 International S1700. The engine is a Navistar 7.3. It's rusty and I'm not sure how many miles are on it because I just haven't looked. My main concern is that there are some nice, newer buses for sale in my area that are $4000-$4500. Why would this old bus still be worth this much? Please help.

Also, the sticker on the engine says the model is an "A170F" but if I google that, the T444E engine pops up. So is that what I have??
Sounds like your average seller.
NO the bus is not worth anywhere near that. Sounds like a rusty, older, low spec bus.
If you look around you can find an AMAZING bus for four g.

see my two buses- my daily driver was 1700, my big project bus was only 2150.
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Old 04-12-2017, 03:52 PM   #20
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Sounds like your average seller.
NO the bus is not worth anywhere near that. Sounds like a rusty, older, low spec bus.
If you look around you can find an AMAZING bus for four g.

see my two buses- my daily driver was 1700, my big project bus was only 2150.
Okay, great information! We basically are trying to build up a counter-offer and need some evidence. Seller claims that the junkyard offered $4K just for the engine. $2150 sounds waaaay more in our budget.
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