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Old 09-11-2019, 12:01 PM   #1
Join Date: Feb 2018
Location: Fredericksburg, VA
Posts: 14
Year: 1988
Coachwork: Crown
Chassis: Supercoach
Engine: 6-71TAC w/ MT647
Not even in the planning stages...

Been perusing the site for a few years. My wife and I both teach and as such have summers off. Of course as we are teachers we are also working with a very limited budget. Throw in two youngsters (7 and 4), and the budget and build constraints get even tighter. Best case scenario for us is a cross country road trip in the summer of 2021. We currently have one sixty pound dog, with the possibility that we'll add a mastiff to the mix (I do love my mastiffs).

In an ideal world we'd be looking at a month long excursion each summer til the kids can't stand us or vice versa. Maybe throw in a long weekend a month as well.

We live in Fredericksburg, VA, which is a truck stop halfway between Richmond, VA, and DC. I'm not a complete idiot when it comes to building stuff. I've remodeled a bathroom, to include re-doing all the plumbing and electrical, and I'm decent with laying out and planning. But I've never welded a thing, and all things mechanical perplex me to no end. Doesn't mean I won't dive in (and break something).

Looking forward to the hunt first.

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Old 09-11-2019, 01:27 PM   #2
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kazetsukai's Avatar
Join Date: May 2017
Location: Windham NH
Posts: 926
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Amtran
Chassis: International RE
Engine: International T444e
Rated Cap: 76
Originally Posted by gastone View Post
Looking forward to the hunt first.

That's it, one step at a time, really. Welding was an obstacle for me as well- first, learn to cut metal. Get a grinder, cutoff wheels, and abrasive sanding wheels, and then some square tube. Practice measuring, marking, making cuts. Wear eye protection! Operate safely on solid ground and clamp down your target!

Then go to Harbor Freight and get their $90 Flux welder, watch a few tutorials, then practice on your cuts of the square tube. Make some abstract art with it, or something. Cut, weld, polish (sanding wheel). Make shapes- three equal lengths of tube with 60 degree cuts = a triangle. Adjust your amperage and feed speed to your liking. The square weld magnets they sell make it easy to make right angle welds.

Once you can weld a sealed square out of square tube with reasonable polish you're probably ready to put the skills to basic use- just remember what's around your weld when welding- if its flammable, it will probably catch fire. Good welding blanket and area prep goes a long way. Gloves, apron, mask, and watch YT for welding techniques.
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Old 09-11-2019, 02:20 PM   #3
Bus Nut
Join Date: Feb 2019
Location: New Hampshire
Posts: 712
Year: 1990
Coachwork: Thomas 4 window w/lift
Chassis: G30
Engine: 350 Chevy
Rated Cap: 10K
With what you've outlined as your project and its potential use, a full blown strip out of ceiling, walls and floor are unnecessary. That is a good thing.
Especially since you're planning on summer usage for the most part.

I would suggest finding a candidate bus with little to no rust/rot underneath.
Then focus on the functionality of its running gear. You don't want to buy a bus only to find it needs extensive, unplanned, mechanical repair work.

While some might argue that finding such a candidate is impossible, let me tell you from experience, it is not! You simply must be prepared to walk away from one that doesn't fit the bill, and keep looking.
It took me the better part of 6 months, looking at dozens of potentials, to settle on what I have now.

A bus that has seen its use anywhere in the nations "rust belt" should be eliminated from your list. Unless all of the rusted structural members have already been repaired or replaced. Then it would take someone with a basic knowledge of vehicle construction to determine if the repair(s) were done correctly. Duct tape over rusted out wheel wells doesn't count!

You might look at a bus from the rust belt that has a good looking outside body. However when you dive in and discover the floor, wheel wells, back door/wall, etc. are soft enough to poke a finger through, your project has just come off the rails.

Hope I haven't bored you with minutia on rust, but it can be a real bummer/project killer when much $$ must be spent to get it safely back on the road, and the actual camper conversion process hasn't even started.

Good luck and remember its always "Buyer Beware"...
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