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Old 05-01-2015, 02:57 PM   #1
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Howdy

Hi guys,

I've been lurking here for a couple of weeks reading about bus conversions. Figured I ought to get an account.

I don't have a bus (yet), but I'm thinking I'll be in the market for one this summer. The wife and I like the idea of converting one.

More to come in a later post.

-Austin
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Old 05-01-2015, 02:59 PM   #2
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I love the greeting of "howdy".
When travelling, it makes for interesting introductions.
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Old 05-01-2015, 05:43 PM   #3
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So, here's the rest of my intro:

My name is Austin. My wife (Ashley) and I live and work in the greater Houston area. I'm a mechanical engineer in the oilfield. I'm 25, and my wife is 26. We don’t have any children (yet).

For a while now, my wife and I have been interested in these tiny houses that've become somewhat popular in the past few years. Before choosing a skoolie, we first considered building a tiny house on a trailer, but decided not to go that route for a few reasons. Most importantly, because it would require a larger vehicle to tow than we currently own.

While we may eventually want to have a skoolie capable of taking us on cross country road trips, our immediate need is for a spare bedroom/bathroom on my father's land in the hill country of central/west Texas. Every year during hunting season/Thanksgiving my family goes to my dad's land in the hill country (Junction). We cram 8-10 people and 3 dogs into an 800 sq. ft. home, and my wife and I usually sleep on the floor in the living room. We'd like our own space this Thanksgiving. We considered building an extension on to the home, but that would be a pretty big project and would increase the property taxes.

I'm considering a phased approach to the construction of this skoolie. That way, I have the opportunity to choose to cease progress on the project at the end of any phase. The goal of phase one would be to construct a spare bedroom/bathroom in a bus capable of surviving a 300 mile trip from Houston to Junction. The project will begin this summer with the goal of having a livable skoolie parked on my dad’s land by early November. It doesn’t have to look pretty (but I’d like it to). I might be able to get by doing limited plumbing/electrical work in phase one. I’ll be able to get fresh water from the house, and use the house’s septic system. I would like to have a 30 or 50 amp electrical system installed in phase one, but I could get by without it.

Phase two can begin after Christmas. The goal of phase two is to have a very reliable bus that we can take on weekend camping trips. Phase two will begin with any mechanical work that may need to be done to get the bus running very well. I have a mechanic in Junction that I really trust who works on diesels quite a bit. His labor rate is less than half of what most mechanics are in Houston. Once any mechanical work is completed I’ll start with installing tanks for black/gray/potable water. If needed, I can improve the electrical system at that point. A significant portion of phase two will also be focused on cosmetics. It doesn’t have to look pretty in phase one, but I’d like it to look pretty in phase two. Depending on how phase one goes, we may postpone painting until phase two.

Phase three and beyond are hypothetical improvements. Off the grid living kind of things.

I have a list of newbie questions in my head, and will ask them here if this is an appropriate place for that. This post ended up being 589 words, so it’s a little long. I’ll come back with my questions later.

Thanks for letting me be a part of this community. I look forward to learning more about this stuff in the coming months.


-Austin
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Old 05-01-2015, 08:32 PM   #4
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Good buses out your way, if a bit dusty!
Its good bus shopping all the way to the Pacific from there. Happy huntin, yall.
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Old 05-02-2015, 10:42 AM   #5
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Yes howdy is a nice greeting lol

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Old 05-02-2015, 11:36 AM   #6
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LOL, that wasn't very nice.
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Old 05-02-2015, 12:57 PM   #7
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Howdy y'all I was born and raised in Kilgore and my wife is from robstown the marine corps landed me in NC and our bus is our ticket back to texas. I am a steam/pipe fitter by trade but I am a supervisor with the same company 17yrs now doing plumbing mechanical pipe and HVAC but we are still pushing to get back home and my only hang up now is a good company to work for in texas? Any question's for your skoolie please ask everyone here is willing and able to help! Even if it is telling you how they dealt with the issue on there's? Each and every one is different and that is why we create what we want and then you have no one to blame when it doesn't work!!!
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Old 05-02-2015, 01:05 PM   #8
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Sorry, also meant to add that my wife's family has hunting land in Montell, grandpa. retired 3-yrs ago as an oilfield welder and lives in robstown, and his son lives in Houston. They are not into the skoolie thing but are very hands on SAAVY and like any real Texan will go out of there way to help. If needed or asked.
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Old 05-02-2015, 02:56 PM   #9
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One more Howdy --- I'm in Houston too and this is a great area to shop buses. There is a member of the forum who I think works for the Katy School District and has an "inside line" on their bus sales. Maybe he will hop in and pass along some info.

Meanwhile...Welcome!
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Old 05-02-2015, 03:06 PM   #10
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Welcome.

Looking forward to pics when you get a bus.

Nat
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Old 05-02-2015, 03:12 PM   #11
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The men at the bus barn here (nc) were not allowed allowed to make recommendation's on the book's but they told me that even if (after selling buses to there church) that I could adjust the governor's but I would burn up the rear end gear's? I cannot get any local's to recommend or do the work without handing just the gears to them? We want to be in texas from North Carolina now but the Jolly Roger can only do 49 mph downhill? I keep looking for complete rear changes but I also want to get away from split ring rim's? Any advice from your friend in texas would be great because this is where the Jolly Roger is heading even if I have to do 49 the entire way???
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Old 05-02-2015, 03:24 PM   #12
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The men at the bus barn here (nc) were not allowed allowed to make recommendation's on the book's but they told me that even if (after selling buses to there church) that I could adjust the governor's but I would burn up the rear end gear's? I cannot get any local's to recommend or do the work without handing just the gears to them? We want to be in texas from North Carolina now but the Jolly Roger can only do 49 mph downhill? I keep looking for complete rear changes but I also want to get away from split ring rim's? Any advice from your friend in texas would be great because this is where the Jolly Roger is heading even if I have to do 49 the entire way???
None of that makes any sense at all. The rear end gears don't care how fast they are turning.

I would disregard most of what that guy told you. He lacks understanding of what he is talking about.

Nat
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Old 05-02-2015, 03:30 PM   #13
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Ok I have 6.50 rear Gear's an at-545 with an 8.2 dd?
How do I get more road speed??
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Old 05-02-2015, 04:02 PM   #14
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Think about this:

I drove a 1962 Chevy "super duty" 1-1/2 ton 4x4 from elpaso to NE TN, it had 5:38 gears an Eaton reart, sb chebbie and 4spd....it was a 45/50 mph truck, I threw a 70 gallon tank off a 18wheeler in the bed, loaded bed and headed east.
It took 2-1/2 days to get to vidor Tx where I got stopped, by sheriff

A couple days later I was in Bristol TN....bet I got 4 miles to the gallon
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Old 05-02-2015, 04:27 PM   #15
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Think about this:

I drove a 1962 Chevy "super duty" 1-1/2 ton 4x4 from elpaso to NE TN, it had 5:38 gears an Eaton reart, sb chebbie and 4spd....it was a 45/50 mph truck, I threw a 70 gallon tank off a 18wheeler in the bed, loaded bed and headed east.
It took 2-1/2 days to get to vidor Tx where I got stopped, by sheriff

A couple days later I was in Bristol TN....bet I got 4 miles to the gallon
Thank's for the history and I do appreciate the comment! But that didn't address the question?
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Old 05-02-2015, 05:02 PM   #16
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The answer isn't pretty. Probably best to start with another bus with the right drivetrain. Cheaper in the long run.
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Old 05-02-2015, 05:05 PM   #17
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The answer isn't pretty. Probably best to start with another bus with the right drivetrain. Cheaper in the long run.
True depending on their final goal for the bus. The more parts you change one at a time, the more the cost go's up.

Or just swap out that old rear end for a nice, 4.44, or higher gear ratio.

Nat
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Old 05-02-2015, 05:16 PM   #18
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Thank's for the history and I do appreciate the comment! But that didn't address the question?

From what I understand the AT545 is a non overdrive transmission.
That is the first problem.
Second is the 6 something rear gears.
My bus does around 100 kph downhill (60 mph) with 4 something rear gears and a non overdrive transmission.

You can either exchange rear gears or replace the axel.
I feel like replacing the axel will be cheaper and easier than replacing the gears.
Most MD axels would fit I think. Possibly even HD axels.
Around here there are several MD and HD salvage places.
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Old 05-02-2015, 10:10 PM   #19
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Speed, RPM's, gearing, tire size and MPG are all related. If you want to play "what if" with some numbers...spend a few minutes with them all on a decent calculator.

Like this one...I like the one at the bottom of the page...


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Old 05-03-2015, 05:39 AM   #20
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Jolly, it just jogged my brain of what not enough gear does for a trip, I put on 37 inch tall tires to get a little more out of her

What size tires do you have?
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