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Old 01-04-2018, 11:05 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: Duncan, South Carolina
Posts: 14
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Chevy Blue Bird
Engine: 3116 Cat
Seats are out, so many options!

Hi guys!!
We purchased our bus on December 31, 2017 (great way to end the year), and have since torn out the seats!
There are so many threads and opinions on how to do, basically everything, it can almost be too much. BUT THAT'S NOT HOLDING US BACK.
Now that the seats are out, we're not quite sure if we are going to keep the rear heater or not, yet. Maybe it's good to keep for now while we're still renovating, then ditch it at the end?
We are also coming up to the quite confusing task of insulation, and what sequence to remove and insulate floor, ceiling, and walls.
One of the main things we're wondering is; how necessary is it to be able to access shore power? We do plan driving a lot (cross-country) and being completely self sufficient with solar and a generator. Our thoughts were this might be something more necessary for people who will be staying in RV parks and staying in one place for a long time? Is this true, or is there something we're missing? Because I'm also sure making the bus shore power accessible is a whole project in itself.

Our bus runs great, was just serviced before being decommissioned as an activity bus. Are there any simple upgrades we can make to increase the longevity of the buses life? We plan on living on it for a while.

I'm sure we'll have many more questions but are loving reading threads and are learning so much!!
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Old 01-04-2018, 12:46 PM   #2
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Congrats on your purchase.

After reading your post, what comes to mind is something most of us say all the time. Most of us find that our backup plans need backups. You've got your power sources in mind, but you need a backup plan. Even if you don't plan on using grid power it's good to be capable. Generators go down and the sun doesn't always shine. Things can get miserable quick on the odd time that your power plan doesn't work the way it's supposed to work.
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Old 01-04-2018, 02:08 PM   #3
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jan 2017
Location: Massachusetts
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Year: 1999
Coachwork: International/AmTran
Chassis: 3000 RE
Engine: 7.3 T444E
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mapletwag View Post
Now that the seats are out, we're not quite sure if we are going to keep the rear heater or not, yet. Maybe it's good to keep for now while we're still renovating, then ditch it at the end?
I'm typing this post as I watch us getting hammered with 2 feet of snow, and I'm thinking what's the rush to get rid of your heaters? I know that you're down South, but I'd wait until the very end (if at all) to get rid of the heaters.
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Old 01-04-2018, 02:42 PM   #4
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I would suggest getting an oil test. It will tell the tale on many fronts as to engine condition. Cheap insurance. Anyone have a recommendation on who to use?
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Old 01-04-2018, 03:57 PM   #5
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The cheapest part of the entire electrical system will be adding the facility for shore-power.

It makes little sense not to do it.
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Old 01-04-2018, 04:00 PM   #6
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I would suggest getting an oil test. It will tell the tale on many fronts as to engine condition. Cheap insurance. Anyone have a recommendation on who to use?
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Old 01-04-2018, 04:15 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mapletwag View Post
Hi guys!!
We purchased our bus on December 31, 2017 (great way to end the year), and have since torn out the seats!
There are so many threads and opinions on how to do, basically everything, it can almost be too much. BUT THAT'S NOT HOLDING US BACK.
Now that the seats are out, we're not quite sure if we are going to keep the rear heater or not, yet. Maybe it's good to keep for now while we're still renovating, then ditch it at the end?
We are also coming up to the quite confusing task of insulation, and what sequence to remove and insulate floor, ceiling, and walls.
One of the main things we're wondering is; how necessary is it to be able to access shore power? We do plan driving a lot (cross-country) and being completely self sufficient with solar and a generator. Our thoughts were this might be something more necessary for people who will be staying in RV parks and staying in one place for a long time? Is this true, or is there something we're missing? Because I'm also sure making the bus shore power accessible is a whole project in itself.

Our bus runs great, was just serviced before being decommissioned as an activity bus. Are there any simple upgrades we can make to increase the longevity of the buses life? We plan on living on it for a while.

I'm sure we'll have many more questions but are loving reading threads and are learning so much!!
You use lots more electric energy than you relieze...get a sound understanding of your needs and shore power will probably make more sense

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Old 01-08-2018, 02:17 PM   #8
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: Duncan, South Carolina
Posts: 14
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Chevy Blue Bird
Engine: 3116 Cat
Quote:
Originally Posted by Twigg View Post
The cheapest part of the entire electrical system will be adding the facility for shore-power.

It makes little sense not to do it.

What does that entail?
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Old 01-08-2018, 03:06 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mapletwag View Post
What does that entail?
My POV...start here https://youtu.be/gZY4BWEZ4ig

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Old 01-08-2018, 03:40 PM   #10
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Join Date: Feb 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Twigg View Post
The cheapest part of the entire electrical system will be adding the facility for shore-power.

It makes little sense not to do it.
Something I've suggested several times is to build the bus for shore power "only." Then, "converting" it to run on a generator is as simple as pull the start cord on the generator and plug in the shore power cord. Solar can work the same way: switch on the inverter and plug in the shore power cord.

The way I see it, shore power is kind of the de-facto baseline to which fancy things like solar/generator/transfer switches can be added. Those additions can happen in the design stage before anything is built, or they can happen down the road when bigger stuff is settled and true electrical needs and use patterns are better understood.

A person could design out the actual shore power cord and plug, but it's just so easy to imagine scenarios in which a person says "I'm glad this is here." that it's worth spending a few dollars and the storage space to have it on hand.
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Old 01-08-2018, 03:40 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mapletwag View Post
What does that entail?
A simple skin-fitting containing a plug, and an internal connection to your inverter or distribution panel via an isolating switch.
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Old 01-09-2018, 11:01 AM   #12
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: Duncan, South Carolina
Posts: 14
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Chevy Blue Bird
Engine: 3116 Cat
HELP air brakes and weird engine sound

Ughhhh.....
First of all I can't even figure out how to start a new thread from my phone so hopefully this while be seen by enough people who can steer us in the right direction.

Basically when we turn the ignition to accessory mode an extremely high pitch beep starts coming from control panel and the primary break light comes on. This sound and light continues once the engine is on.. when we tried releasing the air brake, the knob just popped back out and wouldn't stay in the released position.
Max did some researched and basically thinks we screwed up the brakes... what happened was we bought the bus New Years eve and the guy showed us quick how to use the air break and let us drive it around the parking lot before we bought it. We drove it home all the way from Charlotte no problem about 90 miles. The first few days of December were pretty cold so we didn't start the bus because we have the Cat 3116 engine and heard they aren't the best in the cold. We tore out the seats, it's been maybe 7 days since the bus has been started. We did have the bus plugged in the whole time though to the heater block.
Max said what he read online was that in the cold weather there is some special maintenance which needs to be done to the air breaks?

I guess what I'm asking is how screwed are we? Has anyone had experience with this, or knows if, how, and how much$$ it will take to fix?

Please help, this sucks. We are soo bummed.
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Old 01-09-2018, 12:11 PM   #13
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Join Date: May 2016
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Engine: T444E
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mapletwag View Post
Ughhhh.....
First of all I can't even figure out how to start a new thread from my phone so hopefully this while be seen by enough people who can steer us in the right direction.

Basically when we turn the ignition to accessory mode an extremely high pitch beep starts coming from control panel and the primary break light comes on. This sound and light continues once the engine is on.. when we tried releasing the air brake, the knob just popped back out and wouldn't stay in the released position.
Max did some researched and basically thinks we screwed up the brakes... what happened was we bought the bus New Years eve and the guy showed us quick how to use the air brake and let us drive it around the parking lot before we bought it. We drove it home all the way from Charlotte no problem about 90 miles. The first few days of December were pretty cold so we didn't start the bus because we have the Cat 3116 engine and heard they aren't the best in the cold. We tore out the seats, it's been maybe 7 days since the bus has been started. We did have the bus plugged in the whole time though to the heater block.
Max said what he read online was that in the cold weather there is some special maintenance which needs to be done to the air breaks?

I guess what I'm asking is how screwed are we? Has anyone had experience with this, or knows if, how, and how much$$ it will take to fix?

Please help, this sucks. We are soo bummed.
How much air pressure is the gauges showing? There is supposed to be an alert under a certain threshold, usually around 60 PSI. Let the engine run to build pressure up and the alert should silence.

The parking brake is functioning exactly like it's supposed to; it is *NOT* supposed to stay in unless there's minimum pressure in the system. In fact, it is designed to pop out when the system drops to that level.

Air brakes do not require much "special" maintenance in cold weather. The air tanks should have drains on them to purge any moisture; these should be drained every day it's driven. Usually there's a pull cord attached to the valve specifically for this purpose, just give it a pull until "dry" air comes out (there may still be a little residual moisture in it). The other maintenance will typically be done once a year on an active bus and that is servicing the air dryer (there's a filter that should be cleaned/replaced).
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Old 01-09-2018, 12:42 PM   #14
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: Duncan, South Carolina
Posts: 14
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Chevy Blue Bird
Engine: 3116 Cat
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad_SwiftFur View Post
How much air pressure is the gauges showing? There is supposed to be an alert under a certain threshold, usually around 60 PSI. Let the engine run to build pressure up and the alert should silence.

The parking brake is functioning exactly like it's supposed to; it is *NOT* supposed to stay in unless there's minimum pressure in the system. In fact, it is designed to pop out when the system drops to that level.

Air brakes do not require much "special" maintenance in cold weather. The air tanks should have drains on them to purge any moisture; these should be drained every day it's driven. Usually there's a pull cord attached to the valve specifically for this purpose, just give it a pull until "dry" air comes out (there may still be a little residual moisture in it). The other maintenance will typically be done once a year on an active bus and that is servicing the air dryer (there's a filter that should be cleaned/replaced).
Thank you! So if we release the pressure in the air tanks now we should be good? When we turned the bus on the gauge rises to 60 and the beep stopped! Where do i find the tanks at and the pull cord?
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Old 01-09-2018, 12:58 PM   #15
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Join Date: May 2016
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mapletwag View Post
Thank you! So if we release the pressure in the air tanks now we should be good? When we turned the bus on the gauge rises to 60 and the beep stopped! Where do i find the tanks at and the pull cord?
These will be under the bus, probably on the driver's side. Don't be surprised or worried if the pull cords are absent (they do go missing, especially after 20+ years), and some buses never had them in the first place. If there are no pull-type drain valves (also fairly common), you'll probably find the type that unscrew to open (designed to be opened by hand, but might stick if they haven't been opened in a long time). A couple turns should be enough to drain. My Volvo has 3 tanks and the back 2 rarely (if ever) have moisture in them. Air systems have what is often referred to as the "Wet tank" and "dry tank(s)". The first is the one air goes into directly from the air compressor, and from the wet tank, it supplies the dry tank(s). Systems with air driers may not have the pull cords and may not need daily purging, but it never hurts to open the valve and check.
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Old 01-09-2018, 02:29 PM   #16
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Engine: 5.4 litre
Rated Cap: 12
I suggest you do some reading about air brakes and commercial vehicles before you kill a bus load of nuns. Just sayin.
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Old 01-09-2018, 02:32 PM   #17
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Georgia
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Year: 2001
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leadsled01 View Post
I suggest you do some reading about air brakes and commercial vehicles before you kill a bus load of nuns. Just sayin.
An old video, but one that covers it very nicely:

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Old 01-09-2018, 03:14 PM   #18
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Engine: Cummins 6CTA8.3 Mechanical MD3060
Rated Cap: 46 Coach Seats, 40 foot
You might get lucky. Right behind the passenger door of my bus is a small door (like the fuel filler door).

Behind it are four turn valves for purging the tanks, handily marked Primary, Secondary, Wet and Aux.
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Old 01-09-2018, 04:04 PM   #19
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Join Date: Feb 2012
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Year: 2000
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Engine: ISC 8.3
Quote:
Originally Posted by mapletwag View Post
Thank you! So if we release the pressure in the air tanks now we should be good? When we turned the bus on the gauge rises to 60 and the beep stopped! Where do i find the tanks at and the pull cord?
The buzzer is a low air pressure alarm. It'll sound any time the key is on and the air pressure is below about 60 PSI. Because the emergency/parking brake is applied by springs when air drops below something like 20-40 PSI, there's an alarm at 60 PSI to alert the driver that something is wrong. That gives the driver time and air to have an orderly stop before the springs apply all the brakes and bring the truck to a screeching halt.

Releasing the pressure in the tanks is good from the perspective of draining water or debris that could be in the tank, but it'll also drop the air pressure and result in that low pressure alarm coming on. The alarm is just something that comes with the territory of an air-braked vehicle. You just have to endure it when the key is on and the air pressure is low. Don't follow the temptation to disable the buzzer; though annoying it's important for safety.
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