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Old 08-19-2016, 02:54 AM   #1
Almost There
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: Salt Lake City, Ut
Posts: 83
Year: 98
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: D
Engine: 7.2L turbo Cat C7 3126
Rated Cap: 84
First skoolie road trip was a success!

Hello all,
I've been working on my bus for about 8 months now and I just drove it from Dallas Texas to Salt Lake City Utah! My wife and I are going to be living in the bus full time in a couple weeks. Right now we are just finishing some stuff we couldn't complete before the move.
Thanks to everyone on the forum for some really great advice over the past few months, it helped a ton.

The trip took 3 and half days since my wife is scared to drive the bus (I don't blame her though, it is a very large vehicle) We averaged about 55-60 mph and 7.0 mpg. There were a few steep hills were we could only go 30-35, but the bus ran like a champ. We stopped at RV parks each night to get a good sleep and we stopped at truck stops every few hours to stretch and eat. I used a trucking app to plan the route which worked great! My bus is 13'6" tall so I like to stay on routes used by truckers.

I didn't get my generator installed in time, but I built a pretty cool setup which worked really well for the trip. We have a full size fridge on the bus, and right before the move we were given an entire freezer full of steaks, meats, and cheeses from a relative who is also moving and couldn't bring them in the moving truck. For the move, we needed to keep the food frozen, run a fan to keep cool, charge up phones, and use the microwave occasionally. I am an electrical engineer, but this is the first time I have worked with such high currents. I bought 4 marine deep cycle batteries and hooked them up in parallel with the major connection points on opposite ends of the bank so they would charge evenly. I connected this bank to the 2 bus batteries through a large house disconnect switch. This allowed me to remove the 4 marine batteries while starting the engine, then reconnect them all together so the alternator could charge them while driving. (The marine batteries can each provide 635 CCA but my wiring is not designed to handle that, so I stuck with the stock batteries for starting the engine.)

While stopped at the RV parks, I used a 40 amp charger to keep the batteries charged at all at the same voltage. (If I allowed there to be a large voltage difference between the 4 battery bank and the 2 bus batteries, they could produce some serious current after flipping the switch connecting them.) I cut up and used a 30amp 120V extension cord for most of the wiring. Normally, the 3 wires inside the extension cord are for Hot, Neutral, and Ground. Since I was using DC instead of AC (and because I was using a lot more 30 amps) I crimped ring terminals on the three interior wires and them connected them together so they would function as one heavy duty wire instead of 3 separate wires. Then I just ran multiple lines when necessary.

I used a 1500 watt inverter (3000 watt peak) to power our appliances. It all worked beautifully with no problems and the fridge never lost power for more than a few seconds when switching over to shore power. Long term I am going to add battery isolaters, fuses, and circuit breakers for safety, but this solution got us here and cost less then the generator would have.

gobygoby is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-19-2016, 05:18 AM   #2
Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: Asheville, NC.
Posts: 20
Good to hear you had a great trip.
x225x is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-19-2016, 01:57 PM   #3
Bus Geek
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 18,324
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
good deal!! I use a 1500 watt sine wave inverter and run a small frig, even sometimes an Air-conditioner, etc and use an isolater which works good..

a generator is great to keep thinbgs going for a long time... bvut batteries definitely can do the job for those sort stops where you dont want to run it or arent stopped long enough... plus moving , if you have a big enoug alternator you can keep your batteries charged and your appliances turned on.

cadillackid is offline   Reply With Quote

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