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Old 02-08-2020, 03:56 PM   #1
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New to the Skoolie life

Greetings from the great Corn State!

A bit about me; I'm a welder and machinist by trade, blacksmith by hobby. I am a massive traction engine enthusiast, which is why I got into the trades I did, because my dream is to build a miniature engine. My husband and I have a dog and 2 cats.

Something my husband and I do every year is volunteer at WMSTR, one of the largest steam threshing shows in the US. I work on a steam shovel as a boiler operator and my husband works in the foundry. In years past, we usually tent it. However, last year, our 10 man tent was destroyed in a storm at the end of the show. We had our dog with us (a gas/lab), so the tent size was perfect for her kennel to be in there so she can sleep with us out of the elements. But with the tent destroyed, we have had enough. Other volunteers have buses for their campers and that is the route we want to take.


My husband ideally wants a full size International, because tractors. We want to cut the back half of the bus off and create a trailer to also be able to haul our small pickup, and later on tractors to other threshing shows. Having a bus would also be better for my husband's neck, who is 6'5". Plus we could bring all our pets with. We don't have a bus yet, but have watching local auctions as they go pretty cheap.

We have been doing a lot of research into figuring out how we can build proper ramps for such a high frame and keep them secure. Dismantling the bus we have all figured out, as well as doing the reriveting of the rear end. Reinforcing the deck is also something we need help with. We haven't seen many who have turned their buses into half trailers. So, when I found this place, I thought I'd join to learn!
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Old 02-08-2020, 11:04 PM   #2
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Greetings from the great Corn State!

A bit about me; I'm a welder and machinist by trade, blacksmith by hobby. I am a massive traction engine enthusiast, which is why I got into the trades I did, because my dream is to build a miniature engine. My husband and I have a dog and 2 cats.

Something my husband and I do every year is volunteer at WMSTR, one of the largest steam threshing shows in the US. I work on a steam shovel as a boiler operator and my husband works in the foundry. In years past, we usually tent it. However, last year, our 10 man tent was destroyed in a storm at the end of the show. We had our dog with us (a gas/lab), so the tent size was perfect for her kennel to be in there so she can sleep with us out of the elements. But with the tent destroyed, we have had enough. Other volunteers have buses for their campers and that is the route we want to take.


My husband ideally wants a full size International, because tractors. We want to cut the back half of the bus off and create a trailer to also be able to haul our small pickup, and later on tractors to other threshing shows. Having a bus would also be better for my husband's neck, who is 6'5". Plus we could bring all our pets with. We don't have a bus yet, but have watching local auctions as they go pretty cheap.

We have been doing a lot of research into figuring out how we can build proper ramps for such a high frame and keep them secure. Dismantling the bus we have all figured out, as well as doing the reriveting of the rear end. Reinforcing the deck is also something we need help with. We haven't seen many who have turned their buses into half trailers. So, when I found this place, I thought I'd join to learn!
Welcome!

I love international tractors but the modern Navistar stuff isn't any better than anything else. Brand loyalty is a lost cause with used school buses. Go for the nicest Navistar, Cummins, or Cat you can find that's pre-emissions and not at a full blown retail price. I used to be a die hard International guy. But I now have an amazing bus with a Cat and its treating me right so far. Its a Thomas and has 6'7" of headroom in the middle of the bus.
That said- a pre-emissions DT466 is a really good engine. One of the best.

We already have a couple here who are steam enthusiasts and build steam engines and steam powered boats. Ronnie and Dee. They're at the Skoolie Swarm, but I'm sure they'll chime in in a couple days when they're back to civilization.
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Old 02-09-2020, 09:01 AM   #3
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Oh head room on a Thomas sounds great! My husband is more brandist than I am. I just a bus that fills our needs and is not 4mpg. Although I am more partial to manuals, if an automatic is easy to maintain, I'm on board.
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Old 02-09-2020, 06:33 PM   #4
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Oh head room on a Thomas sounds great! My husband is more brandist than I am. I just a bus that fills our needs and is not 4mpg. Although I am more partial to manuals, if an automatic is easy to maintain, I'm on board.

Manual transmission schoolbuses are the exception and not the rule. In the 1970's an automatic was pretty unusual and seldom seen. Starting in the 1980's the automatic became standard spe'c and the standard became the option.



These days 99%+ of all buses are automatic. There are the occasional unicorn buses out there but they are pretty few and far between.


I would echo trying to find a pre-emissions bus as most of them are non-electronic. Electronics do make things run better but it also means there is more to go wrong and it is much more expensive to find the problem and to fix the problem.


For years the standard inside height for buses was 70"-74". You can tell which buses those are by the side windows which are usually double sash windows with 9" openings. The other tell tale of the the standard height headroom is the top line of the windows is inline with the top of the service door and driver's window.



The extra cost high headroom option is usually 74"-78" depending upon the brand. You can tell which buses have the high headroom option because it will have either 12" double sash window openings or on an older bus it will have standee windows (a second row of fixed windows above the standard windows). The other tell tale is the top line of the windows is several inches above the top of the service door or the driver's window.


In regards to chopping the back of the bus body off to make a small flat bed, that is done all the time and it makes for a pretty good platform for a flatbed. I have even seen some where a roll back was added to make loading vehicles that much easier.



Just be aware that most school buses were spe'c'ed to be used as to/from route buses where 90%+ of the service life of the bus is spent at speeds less than 35 MPH. To/from route buses that spend there life at surface street speeds don't need big HP engines or high speed gearing in the rear end. There are a LOT of school buses that have top speed gearing of 47-57 MPH. I drove one bus that was a late 1990's vintage that had a top speed of 62 MPH and it had an Allison 3060 transmission with overdrive. It was spe'c'ed to run a hill route with some pretty steep grades. With a full load going up the hill at 35 MPH wouldn't have been a problem. The same bus with the same engine and transmission with rear end gearing for a top speed of 75 MPH would have seen the bus going up the same hill at less than 25 MPH.
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Old 02-12-2020, 09:46 AM   #5
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Well it's good to know that manuals aren't as common. Something I can throw out as far as looking goes. But the speed limiters is something I had no idea existed (although thinking about, it does make sense). I'm more familiar with semi trucks having such things (as I work pt at a truck stop and hear all their complaints over their vehicles). Definitely something I should research more!
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Old 02-12-2020, 10:08 AM   #6
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Unless you really like the idea of converting a bus...

For that level of future towing and hwy driving I'd be looking at other options...
https://www.facebook.com/marketplace...8744804299648/
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