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Old 10-20-2018, 07:48 PM   #1
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What to Do About Weather

Having just moved back to MA from 20 years in Southern California, I'm not looking forward to wintertime Skoolie life. Everyone marvels at how rust free my bus is, but I have a feeling that's not going to last long around here. Any advice on how best to get a 20 foot long, 7 foot wide, 9 foot tall short skoolie through the winter in fine shape? Here are some specific questions but anything you can tell me would be great.

1) Is there any kind of clear coat-type treatment or exterior weatherizing I should do?

2) I'm assuming I'm going to need a block heater or something. Any suggestions on this? My diesel bus is 27 years old and not a super great starter in normal circumstances; have never had to start it in super cold. I had previously thought about getting one of those diesel heaters that warms up the cab and also preheats the engine. Has anyone ever tried one of these? Here's a link to a cheap one on eBay: https://www.ebay.com/itm/12V-5KW-Air...aff8:rk:1:pf:0

3) I only have a driveway, not a garage, to park in. I'm hesitant to get some kind of canopy because of truck height and because in the reviews of most of the ones I can afford I see a lot of wind damage occurring. Does any one have one of these, do they have to jack up the height, and how do they hold up? I'm talking about cheap ones, a couple hundred bucks at most. If this isn't workable, is there any kind of tarp or cover I can just put right onto the vehicle itself instead of a structure to sit up above it?

4) Do I need snow tires? I have a vague memory of changing tires in the winter but honestly know nothing about it.

5) What do I need to know, that I DON'T know?
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Old 11-03-2018, 06:38 PM   #2
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Am I being boycotted? People used to actually answer me...
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Old 11-03-2018, 07:06 PM   #3
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You aren't being boycotted.

If you have good all-weather tires, snow tires aren't necessary.

A block heater is a good idea for any diesel engine.

Get some double-faced rigid foam insulation panels for the inside. This includes the windshield and the doors.

Fire up the engine at least every other day. Let it get up to temp before shutting down.

Get a winter front for your beast.

Get a German comforter from Betten-
Anne
. I've got a good 4 season one for about $300. Yes, they do ship to the good ol' U S of A.
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Old 11-03-2018, 07:40 PM   #4
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Thank you!!
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Old 11-04-2018, 07:53 AM   #5
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You don't say what your intended use is. Are you living in it, occasional use to run around in, daily driver? If you don't drive it in salt snow and ice is just cold wet rain. Probably less harmful than CA sun.

Quote:
Fire up the engine at least every other day. Let it get up to temp before shutting down.
This is a bad idea. It doesn't hurt an engine to be cold. If you aren't going to drive it, it's best to just let it sit. Get a good battery maintainer to keep the battery charged. Turn on the block heater a few hours before you are going to start it. Just bringing an engine up to temperature isn't really enough. Exhaust system will rust out sooner too.

I wouldn't think a winter front would do all that much for a van type bus, the engines thermostat will keep things at the right temp for anything you are likely to encounter in the northeast. Truck designs have come a long way since those were common. Flat nose buses would be a more likely candidate, some of those cover the entire front and help keep wind from getting to the driver.
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Old 11-04-2018, 10:26 AM   #6
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If you are going to be driving the bus in the snow and salt, then you need to rustproof the undercarriage. You can use a pump sprayer and mix up some used motor oil 50/50 with mineral spirits or kerosene to thin it out. Liberally spray the entire undercarriage except the exhaust and any rubber suspension bushings.

There are other products like Fluid Film and cavity wax products to help prevent rust. I will be doing this with my bus real soon.
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Old 11-04-2018, 10:29 AM   #7
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is that better than using a professional spray can undercoating. as i work on my busses I spray parts underneath with a rattle can undercoating that a body shop got me turned onto.. usually after hitting everything with an air hose to knock loost dirt away...
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Old 11-04-2018, 03:57 PM   #8
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Undercoating like the rubberized crap does nothing but hold moisture in. You want the steel wet and oiled.
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Old 11-04-2018, 04:38 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by somewhereinusa View Post
You don't say what your intended use is. Are you living in it, occasional use to run around in, daily driver?
Daily driver, work vehicle (I use it as a pop-up shop), occasional overnighting.

Quote:
Originally Posted by somewhereinusa View Post
This is a bad idea. It doesn't hurt an engine to be cold. If you aren't going to drive it, it's best to just let it sit. Get a good battery maintainer to keep the battery charged. Turn on the block heater a few hours before you are going to start it. Just bringing an engine up to temperature isn't really enough. Exhaust system will rust out sooner too.
Good info, I've never heard that before. But I doubt more than a couple days will go by without it being used anyway.

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Originally Posted by somewhereinusa View Post
I wouldn't think a winter front would do all that much for a van type bus, the engines thermostat will keep things at the right temp for anything you are likely to encounter in the northeast. Truck designs have come a long way since those were common.
Well, my bus is a '91 so I think it probably predates the designs that have come a long way!
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Old 11-04-2018, 04:39 PM   #10
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If you are going to be driving the bus in the snow and salt, then you need to rustproof the undercarriage. You can use a pump sprayer and mix up some used motor oil 50/50 with mineral spirits or kerosene to thin it out. Liberally spray the entire undercarriage except the exhaust and any rubber suspension bushings.

There are other products like Fluid Film and cavity wax products to help prevent rust. I will be doing this with my bus real soon.
Thanks so much - this is what I really need to know.
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Old 11-06-2018, 06:30 PM   #11
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Here in SW NH you see lots of shops with signs out this time of year offering specials on 'oiling your undercarriage'. Everyone I know with a pickup gets it done yearly, and a lot of passenger cars do also.
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Old 11-06-2018, 07:09 PM   #12
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Undercarriage oiling is the only reason you see older vehicles on the road here in the salt belt unless it's garaged every winter. Rust is caused by oxygen and iron and other alloys like steel especially when moisture is involved. Add road salt to the mix and the effects are 10 fold.

Oiling the undercarriage yearly keeps the oxygen out of the mixture stopping the effects of corrosion.
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Old 11-06-2018, 09:28 PM   #13
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so you just oil the under-carriage? not oshpo or paint or such? and it doesnt wash off in the first rainstorm you hit?


this is interesting as ive never heard of oiling the under-carriage but am intruiged by it as its much simpler than trying to keep every surface painted or sealed..
-Christopher
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Old 11-07-2018, 06:41 AM   #14
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I have heard of oiling, less common here in Virginia, but some do it. My bus was undercoated,and it is flaking off, what a mess. I need to pressure wash it to get the loose undercoating off then decide what to do. Oil might be the best choice for me.

Undercoating should be done when new or it just traps the rust and muck under it. Not a good thing. I really never have been a fan of undercoating.

I do need to say on my 96 Dodge truck it had a lot of surface rust on the frame. On that I washed it, then sprayed Gempler's rust converter two coats on it and then sprayed rustoleum black paint on that. It has held up well, going on 5 years now, no rust. This truck gets a lot of winter use.
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Old 11-07-2018, 07:43 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by firebuild View Post
1) Is there any kind of clear coat-type treatment or exterior weatherizing I should do?
Look at these guys here https://corrosionfree.com/ . It's used predominantly around my area and I believe it lasts 18 months. I also think it's silicon based.

Quote:
2) I'm assuming I'm going to need a block heater or something. Any suggestions on this? My diesel bus is 27 years old and not a super great starter in normal circumstances; have never had to start it in super cold. I had previously thought about getting one of those diesel heaters that warms up the cab and also preheats the engine. Has anyone ever tried one of these? Here's a link to a cheap one on eBay: https://www.ebay.com/itm/12V-5KW-Air...aff8:rk:1:pf:0
If your bus isn't a "super great starter" now, it's only going to get worse when cold. Make sure your glow plugs are all in good shape, the controller works good, the starter is in good shape, as are the batteries and cables. All of those things can cause no/slow start situations.

I think a block coolant heater is a must when below freezing. You'll also notice a huge difference by using an oil pan heater as well. Use quality, thick gauge extension cords when dealing with electric heaters.

You can use one of those diesel air heaters if you need instant heat when you get in the bus, but most can get by without it.

Quote:
3) I only have a driveway, not a garage, to park in. I'm hesitant to get some kind of canopy because of truck height and because in the reviews of most of the ones I can afford I see a lot of wind damage occurring. Does any one have one of these, do they have to jack up the height, and how do they hold up? I'm talking about cheap ones, a couple hundred bucks at most. If this isn't workable, is there any kind of tarp or cover I can just put right onto the vehicle itself instead of a structure to sit up above it?
I'd avoid any sort of non-permanent canopy strictly for the fact that they blow away too easily. It'd be nice to keep the bus out of the wind, but isn't absolutely necessary.

Quote:
4) Do I need snow tires? I have a vague memory of changing tires in the winter but honestly know nothing about it.
There is a night and day difference between winter tires(snow tires) and all-terrain tires. I have an extra set of rims and tires for my 2wd pickup that I use in the winter and it's amazing the difference in traction. The problem is changing them back and forth in the spring and fall. If you're paying someone to do it, it will get expensive quick, especially if you don't have 2 sets of rims.

Quote:
5) What do I need to know, that I DON'T know?
Winter sucks, stay in SoCal. But in all seriousness, reread my response to #2. Your actions on that alone will make or break you this winter. The oilburners forum is the place to go for reading on the 7.3 IDI engines. They can help you better then anybody when it comes to cold starting tips/troubleshooting.
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Old 11-07-2018, 07:46 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by somewhereinusa View Post
Quote:
Fire up the engine at least every other day. Let it get up to temp before shutting down.
This is a bad idea. It doesn't hurt an engine to be cold. If you aren't going to drive it, it's best to just let it sit. Get a good battery maintainer to keep the battery charged. Turn on the block heater a few hours before you are going to start it. Just bringing an engine up to temperature isn't really enough. Exhaust system will rust out sooner too.

I wouldn't think a winter front would do all that much for a van type bus, the engines thermostat will keep things at the right temp for anything you are likely to encounter in the northeast. Truck designs have come a long way since those were common. Flat nose buses would be a more likely candidate, some of those cover the entire front and help keep wind from getting to the driver.
x2. Most engine wear is caused by start up. Being cold out only makes it worse. Only start it unless your planning on going somewhere.
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Old 11-07-2018, 07:58 AM   #17
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Few more points that I forgot to mention.

The block heater doesn't have to be plugged in all the time. You can save on electricity costs by only plugging it in a few hours before you leave. Some people have heavy duty timers that they plug into to control operation. I'd suggest that unless your schedule isn't predictable, then have it plugged in all the time.

Glow plugs are really important to these IDI engines. Make sure the system is working correctly.

Block heaters help tremendously, but aren't 100% necessary. Some people can run without them depending on outside temps. I removed mine this summer due to a leak. I don't drive my bus in the winter at all, but if I had to get it started, I believe I would able to.

Glow plugs are really important to these IDI engines. Make sure the system is working correctly.

Use a good fuel additive/antigel in the winter time. And always get your fuel from a high volume/quality seller. I've rarely seen fuel gelling be the cause of a no start, but once it does happen, you're screwed, so take precautions.

I'll say it a 3rd time. Glow plugs are really important to these IDI engines. Make sure the system is working correctly.
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Old 11-07-2018, 08:40 AM   #18
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An added bonus to using a block heater is that your heater/defroster will start blowing warm almost immediately. On some vehicles leaving the controls in the defrost position, when the block heater is on, will also help keep the windshield clear. Not sure if this still works, it worked on vehicles where the heater controls opened a water valve to the heater.
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Old 11-07-2018, 02:04 PM   #19
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I notice on my DEV bus (before i installed electric heater valves)if I leave the block heater on continuous (instead of the normal 2 hours per day).. it will circulate water mostly through the engine. and only a little through my heater loops... at least not very far.. when i start the engine.. all that ice cold coolant thats in the heater loops going throughout the whole bus. ends up in the engine which cools it down a bit, however it doesnt take very long for the loops to warm up and me to have heat compared to if I dont .. it now has electric heater control valves that default to closed.. even so it warms up MUCH faster and of course sincei t has no glow p0lugfs or grid heater it starts up SUPER easy with the block heater and quite hard (at 0f) if its not plugged in.


-Christopher
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Old 11-16-2018, 09:03 PM   #20
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Shoot, I should have looked here before starting a new thread but I never got any notice there were responses here so I didn't even look! I just started a thread about my start-up issues here - http://www.skoolie.net/forums/f34/gl...mal-24928.html.
My glow plug controller, all the glow plugs, and both batteries are NEW. I said in the other thread I couldn't afford a block heater right now but it sounds like I better find a way to afford it sooner rather than later. But the gist of the other post is, the glow plugs tick for almost a minute after the wait to start light goes out, and my mechanic said to let it cycle through until it stops multiple times before attempting to start. Starting up is hard though, and I'm worrying about the wear and tear. I was asking if this ticking is normal or not. Glow plugs are a whole new thing to me. Thank you thank you thank you to everyone who has put their 5 cents in here.

By the way the parking heater would be for times I am using the bus in its work capacity as a "popup shop" and customers will be boarding. I just wondered if it could help with other things or not.
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