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Old 01-13-2022, 02:24 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rgjarrell View Post
What does this thread think about the potential of being able to replace an engine in a skoolie?

In a used drivetrain in a bus, if you put $20k into the interior, what happens if you need a new engine or other major drivetrain fix?
Any engine replacement is a big ordeal, but can be done, especially if you have enough into the build to warrant not "starting over." One of the reasons my mechanic turned me on to the Navistar DT466e is that it's rebuildable for a reasonable cost. Not cheap by any means but still cheaper than an entire engine swap, and then can theoretically run for a million miles. On my passenger fleet I've seen most of the inside of the DT466 engine on a couple between doing injector replacements and our latest bus a front-cover re-seal.

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Old 01-13-2022, 02:26 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rgjarrell View Post
What does this thread think about the potential of being able to replace an engine in a skoolie?

In an RV, the body will shake apart and deteriorate before the drive train fails generally.

In a used drivetrain in a bus, if you put $20k into the interior, what happens if you need a new engine or other major drivetrain fix?

Everyone's situation and goals differ. Personally, we view our short bus as an alternative to a new sprinter-type van, but (much) better in every single way (& with style & character you simply just can't buy). We figured that for 1/2 the price or less (not including labor*), we could achieve those goals. And that price estimate includes an eventual engine & tranny replacement / rebuild. So while I hope neither become necessary, if they do, it's part of the plan.

I can't even fathom putting in the incredible amount of time/work/money necessary to convert a bus, only to have your dreams shattered by a mechanical failure. If we couldn't budget for such eventualities, I don't think we would have gone down this path. It is, after all, a 20-year-old vehicle. Stuff is going to go wrong. That's just a fact of life.

*If we included labor, a gold-plated sprinter would have been more economical! But we've (necessarily) learned so much during the process it's akin to an education most people would pay good money for. So it all comes out in the wash.
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Old 01-13-2022, 06:16 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rgjarrell View Post
What does this thread think about the potential of being able to replace an engine in a skoolie?

In an RV, the body will shake apart and deteriorate before the drive train fails generally.

In a used drivetrain in a bus, if you put $20k into the interior, what happens if you need a new engine or other major drivetrain fix?

I assume you can just do it with the confidence knowing that the replacement will last and the vehicle itself will last because it's steel and not flimsy.

Or would it be better to get a new bus and do work to transfer your interior from the broken bus to the new bus re-using the expensive stuff in the interior build.

I guess it depends on whether you want to let a mechanic do engine work or embark on a months long project yourself.

Our bus is 25 years old and has 235,000 miles. It's a DT444E which is the same basic engine as the Ford Power Stroke pickup's 7.3 turbo diesel. The engine is rated for commercial trucks up to 75,000 GVW so in our F350 Power Stroke pickup with a Gross of about 29,000 including a trailer or the skoolie with a 31,800 GVWR, it's not even at HALF it's rated capacity.
The B10 for the engine is 200,000 and the B50 is 350,000.
What that means is that only 10% of all the engines sold require "major repair" (defined as anything that requires dropping the oil pan), overhaul, or replacement and 50% require it before 350,000 (and that's all of them, even the ones running at max rated capacity, those that sit idle in farm equipment 9 months of the year, etc.).
Taken care of, such as in fleet service with reputable fleets and regular maintenance, and then when we converters get ahold of them, they are considered "million mile engines".
We STILL looked into the cost of a replacement. Ordering a rebuilt and nationwide guaranteed for 5 years engine, including labor for the installation and expected necessary replacement items (hoses, belts, etc) was quoted as $14,000. Considering we will have $40,000 in the build PLUS the bus, it would be well worth the 14k in the worst case of having to completely replace the motor.
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Old 01-13-2022, 06:22 PM   #24
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I regard engines and transmissions and wear items that will at some point need to be rebuilt. In a bus the body and chassis will hold up for many years so rebuilding/replacing engines as needed are well worth it to me.
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Old 01-13-2022, 07:32 PM   #25
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I ended up replacing the engine in the "new Crown".
It came with a Cummins big cam III 300 engine that ran perfect when I bought it for $3,000. When I started it up the following winter, it spun a main bearing. While this was a repairable condition, it was cheaper to replace the engine than repair it. I was able to buy a big cam I 400 for $3700. It cost a bunch more for labor and some parts to complete the swap. All of the external parts that made the big cam III were put onto the big cam I essentially making it into a big cam III. I had the injector pump re-calibrated for the 400.

To not do the swap meant ending the whole project after I had already purchased most of the RV components and the materials.

Rather than basically loose an investment of maybe $7000. I had the work done.
Realizing that this bus could too easily exceed redline rpms going down the road, I had the "pumpkins" in the differentials replaced with taller gearing. This made a bus that effortlessly cruises 70 + mph. All of this cost is still less than the going price for like Crowns today
For me it was worth it. I didn't like doing it but in the end it was worth it.


I was pursuing an engine replacement for the "old Crown" before finding the "new Crown" as the Detroit Diesel had no power on hills.


Yes I think engine replacement can be worthwhile for a skoolie.


I would think more of buy a school bus and move the good engine to the skoolie with the bad engine.


The effort to convert a Crown to a skoolie is substantial. For me the purchase and installation of a fridge and range and furnace is the small part of the effort. I have spent hundreds of hours so far converting the "new Crown". Just the generator install was about 5 days.


Even though this was my second Crown conversion there was still a lot of hours doing the engineering to make this one better than the first one.
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Old 01-14-2022, 03:35 AM   #26
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Wrong post
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Old 01-14-2022, 10:09 AM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NewCreature View Post
...I just joined a diesel pusher group on Facebook and read all the posts on RV maintenance...It sounds to me like annual maintenance and repairs on an RV run around $4000...
.
a)
Any time I see a complaint about anything, I think I can reasonably presume the writer is establishing grounds for a law-suit, using a forum to generate stories of similar issues.
.
b)
2003, we acquired a 1996 Ford CF8000 commercial truck to convert to our concept of an ExpeditionVehicle.
(Our rig and engine information is part of the intro to the left of this post.)
Within a week, we set off from Oregon for South America.
Twenty-four months twenty-four thousand miles... no reason to post gripes to a forum.
Alaska, Panama, multiple tours all over north and central America... impeccable reliability.
.
Nearly two decades full-time live-aboard, our repairs are probably in the neighborhood of <nickel a day.
The claims of 'eleven bucks a day' (us$4,000 annually) seems unreasonable.
.
Of course, miles accumulated can impact maintenance as much as sitting without moving.
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Old 01-14-2022, 05:15 PM   #28
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I presume you do not count preventive maintenance in your cost. When putting on the miles even at the slow rate you did one must perform preventive maintenance. Going to/through South America, I would be performing such maintenance more often even though it appears your vehicle is made for what you did.

I used to pay about $300 - $350 for service on my "old Crown" for full service at a truck shop.

I had this done once a year. I would speculate that an RV shop charges even more.
I had to replace a couple tires once on the road. It all adds up.
My first RV cost me somewhat more than that as it required repairs several times.


Two years costing a total of about $75. Did you ever change your oil?
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Old 01-14-2022, 05:37 PM   #29
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Wanderlodge- its the best of skoolie and RV combined.
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Old 01-14-2022, 08:34 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LargeMargeInBaja View Post
.a)
Any time I see a complaint about anything, I think I can reasonably presume the writer is establishing grounds for a law-suit, using a forum to generate stories of similar issues.
Well when it comes to the US RV industry and the RVIA, that would be a very reasonable assumption considering how shoddy their products are built and how dangerous they are in even a minor accident. Toss it the sales dealerships and their "professional" salesmen who will gladly smile, glad hand you, and send you out the gate with far more trailer than your tow rig can safely haul. I've personally had them try to sell me a trailer that was double the tow capacity of my Ram 1500 AND tell me that my F350 is rated to haul "anything on the lot" as they're showing me a 5 slide 40' 5th wheel that is 6 or 8 THOUSAND pounds over my rated capacity.
They need a massive class action lawsuit sent their way.


Quote:
Originally Posted by LargeMargeInBaja View Post
.b)
2003, we acquired a 1996 Ford CF8000 commercial truck to convert to our concept of an ExpeditionVehicle.
Your commercial truck conversion is NOTHING like a cookie cutter RV out of Indiana (and other parts). Your chassis is designed for the rigors of full time use in commercial service. As long as the RV systems are built well there's no reason to expect its relatively light use in your application to have issues.
We're talking about high dollar (god help the budget offerings) commercially produced RVs that are made out of the cheapest and lightest (i.e. smallest) possible structural items..... 1.5x1.5" "studs", luan walls, cardboard, staples, super thin rubber roof membrane that is a good 60-75% thinner than standard commercial roof membranes (cost and weight savings), and caulking materials that don't hold up under the expected conditions of use. Most RV roof warranties require re caulking all roof fittings every three months with their specified material. You'd think they would specify a material that actually worked best but no, they specify substandard materials.That's because they use substandard materials and want an easy reason to deny your warranty claim.

It's disgusting.



Quote:
Originally Posted by LargeMargeInBaja View Post
.Of course, miles accumulated can impact maintenance as much as sitting without moving.
Actually, with commercially built RV's sitting is generally safer for them until you want to move them again.
Substandard roof coverings are subject to rips and tears from low hanging flora.
Substandard fastners work lose from the movement of travel
Substandard sealants crack, lose adhesion to their substrates, and leak
They're a mess.


I've used the word "substandard" a lot. Unfortunately that's not the right word as TECHNICALLY, the standard is set by the industry and what you or I may consider substandard is actually standard since the vast majority of the industry uses the cheapest crap they can get away with.


Ever wonder why those with big budgets and a need to travel use customized commercial diesel buses? The skoolie movement it the product of those with lower budgets having realized that the RV industry sucks and that a Skoolie can be converted just like a high dollar Greyhound style rig. And then, it caught on.
And those high repair bills for RV's? If you take your RV to an RV shop, you're going to have those high repair bills.
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Old 01-14-2022, 08:53 PM   #31
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Lots of great posts about how and why RVs have drawbacks. I'm very familiar with the issues above.

However, the skoolies I've seen online in ads videos pictures or even the few I've seen on the road are often a cobbled together mess. They have tacky "look". Mini split hung off the back looks tacky. Wood stove pipes sticking out the top look tacky and possibly dangerous. They often use composting toilets which were nice manufactured units or homemade. Everywhere the skoolie is touched by the converter had bad attention to detail and how to make things look like they're supposed to be there. Only about 10% look polished.

The outsides are bad too. Bad paint. Bad tacked on roof racks and solar everywhere.

Don't take it the wrong way... I want to tackle a project. But I really don't want it to turn out looking like an amateur did tiling flooring kitchen install furniture making and automotive things.
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Old 01-14-2022, 09:47 PM   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rgjarrell View Post
Lots of great posts about how and why RVs have drawbacks. I'm very familiar with the issues above.

However, the skoolies I've seen online in ads videos pictures or even the few I've seen on the road are often a cobbled together mess. They have tacky "look". Mini split hung off the back looks tacky. Wood stove pipes sticking out the top look tacky and possibly dangerous. They often use composting toilets which were nice manufactured units or homemade. Everywhere the skoolie is touched by the converter had bad attention to detail and how to make things look like they're supposed to be there. Only about 10% look polished.

The outsides are bad too. Bad paint. Bad tacked on roof racks and solar everywhere.

Don't take it the wrong way... I want to tackle a project. But I really don't want it to turn out looking like an amateur did tiling flooring kitchen install furniture making and automotive things.

If you don't possess the skills and knowledge necessary to build something that meets your standards, then you either do what's necessary to acquire those skills/knowledge, farm the work out to someone else, or lower your standards.
It's your build. The outcome is 100% up to you. If you can avoid putting yourself against a timeline & enjoy the learning/challenge as much as the finished result, anything is possible.
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Old 01-14-2022, 10:12 PM   #33
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Wanderlodge. Done.
Wish they still made em.
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Old 01-14-2022, 10:31 PM   #34
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Every skoolie is unique and the result of one or two individuals. By definition they're going to range from "hippie van" to high tech super coach (see the Brocolli bus).
Those chimney pipes are fine (as long as they're not puffing out smoke underway). They might not fit everyone's aesthetic but that's why some people love HOA's and other's hate them. I suspect the vast majority in the Skoolie community fall into the latter category.

As for a mini split hanging out the back of the bus, I don't think that's any more tacky than having one of those big condenser units sitting outside the house. In fact the one at a house should probably be considered more tacky since it could have been placed in an attic or crawl space and not out in plain view.
I guess you're gonna hate our build.... we're going to have one of those roof racks and the whole roof is going to be covered in solar panels or something to walk on so we'll definitely have "solar everywhere".
Do I like the "hippie" rig with the 15 colors of paint, sheets hung for curtains and spray paint used to make windows opaque, a bucket for a toilet, no shower (not needed since all the windows open), yadda yadda yadda........NOPE. But it's still a largely free country and I fully support the RIGHT of folks to build whatever they are comfortable with.
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Old 01-14-2022, 11:59 PM   #35
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Sorry for the controversial statement which throws shade on skoolie builds -- just trying to find some positives about an RV comparatively.

It's such an apples and oranges comparison to do RV vs skoolie. Others have made it clear that the hand built home made skoolie is going to be the exact product of the diy effort.

While I really don't want to spend $40k on my next RV which drives me to the skoolie world... (And I've recently found myself with property, space, and tools, and some time to build).

A positive aspect of RVs is that they look factory / professional. Until they fall apart inside and out as a result of their cheap shoddy materials and big time susceptibility to water damage on a vehicle that's actually going to see plenty of rain, condensation, dirty shoes, and on board water including stuff that comes out of the people. There is consistent fabrics throughout. Consistency in window treatments fabrics. Fasteners are not visible - no rough carpentry look.
The fridge is seated nicely into a cabinet. There's a trim on the microwave to install it into a cabinet nicely.

I've seen a lot of edges of plywood on the diy builds. It just looks diy. (Not necessarily just in skoolies).

My interest was to solicit comments from the people who did a build who may have honestly not been all that satisfied with their build. Those people probably aren't posting here but there seem to be plenty of abandoned projects out there. If someone did post about being unsatisfied with their build, what did you do next?
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Old 01-15-2022, 02:50 AM   #36
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A couple more things I have to share about the 2014 travel trailer I bought new,
1. When I walked on the roof or especially if I kneeled sometimes I could hear the wood cracking under my weight. There was even small indents more than a few times.
2. After owning it a couple years I was working underneath and noticed the axles (it had 2) had a sticker on them it said 3500 #. I started thinking about this… the gross weight was supposed to be about 8800 lbs (something close to that). surely they’re not expecting 1800 lb tongue weight, that wouldn’t be the 10-15% of weight it’s supposed to have. So yes it turned out they put on under rated axles. Luckily the manufacturer agreed to ship out the 4000 pound axles after warranty was over to have the dealer install. All this was after I drove it to Florida and back twice…
And 1 more big issue I just remembered, when I bought it the specs showed 2 grey water tanks but after I bought it and camped I noticed the tanks were filling faster than they should’ve. Turned out they only put 1 tank in because the manufacturer changed the spec and didn’t tell anyone. Grrr had I know that I wouldn’t have bought that model. To make up for it the dealer gave me a portable tote tank. Yeah not quite the same and basically useless to me.

I’ve heard of people buying brand new motorhomes, expensive ones at that, to find out later that there’s rust underneath.

These aren’t uncommon stories in the industry at all. Things like this happen all the time. I would hope they’re less common on expensive diesel pushers but I wouldn’t be sure. $4000/year sounds a little high for maintenance/repairs but people paying that might be the type to take it in to service and just take their word on the repairs and do nothing themselves.
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Old 01-15-2022, 05:28 AM   #37
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True that ham skoolie , the RV I spent the most time in, driving it on several long trips each year for its owners was a prevost coach ordered new and sent from Canada as a bus ( empty and no windows) built to the prevost standards and then converted by a company in Ohio to an RV..

While I’m sure there was a lot of 1x lumber inside it, the structure and drivetrain was still all bus. That unit did suffer some maint issues because it sat a lot .. it was often used as a home for several months and not started or driven. The batteries were the only thing maintained.. when it was home I’d go over and drive it once a month if I got a chance but once they got to Florida in October and set up “Glamp” at the RV park ..

Like anything knowledge is required.. RV companies not only sell RV without regard to the tow rig but also does it’s new owner have a clue how to load the weight and luggage in it, how to set the brake controller in their truck, how to settle down a squirmy trailer, what to do if you blow a tire

Almost every one of my long Florida trips ( I need some of those again ) traffic jams up as a result of a crashed RV on 75 or 95. Most often a trailer and SUV or truck flipped… pretty new looking stuff.. occasionally I’ll see a motorhome but that’s more rare.

One of the things that always has concerned me with motorhomes . Not the van chassis type but the bigger ones on a spartsn or gmc 7500 series was how big the body is and those little wheels. To me it seems much less stable to drive than a bus with big wheels.

My red bus with 19.5 is much different drive than my others with 22.5 .. seems with bigger wheels and heavier suspension it’s much tougher to get too heavy .. too heavy makes something much less stable esp if you must take evasive action.

I myself would prob own a van chassis RV. Many keep the van cab over the front and it’s small enough to not overload a hood transit or E series chassis. (Assuming built on the heavy one)
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Old 01-15-2022, 08:25 AM   #38
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We bought a 2004 3800 Blue Bird for 650.00 in wyoming. It had the DT466E and alison 3050 trans. with 114284 miles. Trans didnt work, and crankcase full of water. We replaced a fuse for the the trans and it works great, Completely rebuilt the DT466 in our driveway "VERY EASY" for $2600.00. now we have a wonderful SKOOLIE that we know and trust. It's not for the faint of heard but can be done with some research and support.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Rolling out.jpg (260.2 KB, 3 views)
File Type: jpg Finishing engine assembly.jpg (323.3 KB, 2 views)
File Type: jpg Sitting at home.jpg (468.8 KB, 4 views)
File Type: jpg finishing floor.jpg (192.2 KB, 2 views)
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Old 01-15-2022, 10:28 AM   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rgjarrell View Post
My interest was to solicit comments from the people who did a build who may have honestly not been all that satisfied with their build. Those people probably aren't posting here but there seem to be plenty of abandoned projects out there. If someone did post about being unsatisfied with their build, what did you do next?
I'm not sure I understand where you're coming from, or what the purpose is for your arguments. It's really quite simple: you get out of your build what you put into it. All these observed negatives you keep listing regarding the skoolies you've seen are the result of choices. If you don't want exposed plywood edges, crappy paint, or any other facet you find displeasing, then all you have to do is make different choices.

Yes, there absolutely are countless abandoned projects out there, and many more that didn't meet the builder's unrealistic expectaions. Unrealistic is the key word here. People watch youtube videos designed to sell the sizzle instead of the steak, and think it's going to be cheap/easy/quick/fun to knock out a georgeous, functional dream-machine. It will be none of those things, I assure you (ok, maybe fun, but certainly not every day). Even if you have knowledge and experience in every aspect required to convert a bus - which hardly anyone does - it's still a huge challenge.

IMO if you don't find the process of researching / learning / building as fulfilling as the end result, you'll likely end up with something short of what you envisioned. We started 2.5 years ago. I originally thought we'd be done in 1. Now when people ask me "When will it be done?", I tell them the only truthful answer: "When it is". We originally looked forward to all the great adventures we'll have it in. Now we look forward to the next step of the build. If you want quality, quality needs to be your focus. If you're just slogging along half-a$$ing the work so you can hit the road as quick as possible, then quality will elude you. And for many people, that's OK. For many people (most?) being on the road is more important than getting every single detail absolutely perfect. That's perfectly fine. Just don't think you can have your cake & eat it too. If you want perfection, there's no quick path to it.

The advantage of an RV over a skoolie is you don't have to do the work. The disadvantage of an RV compared to a skoolie is you don't get to do the work.
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