School Bus Conversion Resources

School Bus Conversion Resources (
-   Short-Bus Conversion Projects (
-   -   Five Chime build (

mc11237 01-08-2020 12:38 PM


Originally Posted by o1marc (Post 354500)
Pics of your hitch? Sounds like how I did mine, strong, clean, cheap.

I too am interested to see the hitch.

o1marc 01-08-2020 12:43 PM

3 Attachment(s)

Originally Posted by mc11237 (Post 367624)
Upon first glace I liked this latch and thought it was a great solution. But I see what you mean because that is a concern of mine since I'll be using a wood stove. What do you recommend over this style?

I used a residential deadbolt. Keyed outside, turn knob inside for quick egress.

farok 01-08-2020 07:53 PM

My bus is a wheelchair bus, so the whole body is higher, and it has no wheel wells, hence the completely flat floor. Yes, my latch is basically the same thing that Marc put on his bus. I'll need to get a couple photos of the hitch.

Between the holidays and getting sick, I didn't really work on the bus lately (hence no updates), but I did make a successful ammo can stove that I plan to use to keep warm this winter while I work on the bus, as well as take with us in case the weather isn't so nice when we travel. It'll burn all night long with no maintenance, which was one of my requirements for a heater in the bus! Check it out at:


farok 01-11-2020 09:25 PM

3 Attachment(s)
Now that the stove is basically done (other than mounting in the bus somewhere, somehow), I returned focus to the inside. Our last trip went really well, EXCEPT for the lack of permanent storage. We're planning a short trip sometime in the spring, so I started on the passenger side upper cabinets. I spent most of my time today deciding how I plan to build and mount them, as well as what to do with the ceiling, which isn't complete yet (not even insulated all the way yet). Anyway, I plan to add another 1/2" foam, along with 1/2" stringers for the ceiling panels, which will cover the existing 1" foam, as well as all the exposed metal ribs. I'll then build the cabinets separately and mount them through the foam and to the ribs for strength. I also started putting in foam board in the walls. Nothing really to take pictures of today, but hopefully soon.

A few asked for pictures of the hitch, so I figured I'd at least add that. I know I need to wire wheel and paint over the surface rust before too much longer, but that's more of a spring project. My welder added a few more welds than called for in the instructions, as there was a longer seam that was available to weld, so it's PLENTY strong! It squeezed in just enough that the bumper is not welded, so it can be removed as needed down the road, as well.


mc11237 01-12-2020 05:02 PM


Originally Posted by farok (Post 368326)
A few asked for pictures of the hitch, so I figured I'd at least add that. I know I need to wire wheel and paint over the surface rust before too much longer, but that's more of a spring project. My welder added a few more welds than called for in the instructions, as there was a longer seam that was available to weld, so it's PLENTY strong! It squeezed in just enough that the bumper is not welded, so it can be removed as needed down the road, as well.


Thanks. Gives me hope. Easier than I thought. Appears to be a lot to mount the hitch too. :dance:

farok 01-19-2020 06:35 PM

3 Attachment(s)
Haven't had much time lately (seems like a running issue), but with the free time I've had in the last few days, we have our first cabinet installed! I used 3/4" plywood for the 5 "cutouts"/spacers and for the base, and 1/2" for the back and top. The gaps will be filled with more board foam once I thaw a bit. However, the first step was getting foam board insulation in the walls, which was a long overdue process. The driver side isn't done yet, but the passenger side (above the windows) is done at least!
Attachment 40896

I secured the cabinet together with construction screws and Titebond II glue, then used plenty of construction fasteners to secure to the ribs in the bus. I may have gone overboard with the fasteners, but as the shelf empty is probably 40-50 pounds, I don't want it coming off! Also, I know we have thermal bridges with these fasteners, but this is a weekend fun bus, not a full-time bus.
Attachment 40897

Like our back closet, we decided that sliding doors would be simpler and less weight than conventional doors (and I don't need to worry about hinges, keeping them closed while driving, etc.). I don't have handles installed yet, but that's a simple addition after the fact. It's hard to see, but there are two doors there in that picture. We're thinking to frame in white paint, and lightly stain the doors to keep the warmth of the wood.
Attachment 40898


JDSquared 01-19-2020 08:46 PM

awesome work

Frochevy 01-19-2020 10:51 PM

That is looking great! I can't wait to see the white and stain together... I think the white will break it up nicely.

farok 03-08-2020 08:23 PM

3 Attachment(s)
Wow... it's been a month and a half since my last post. Things have been moving slowly, as this is priority number 27, it feels like. However, there has been progress! Insulation has been glued to the ceiling, installed on all the walls, and I've started to button up the front. The rear will hopefully follow before too much longer.

As for the fixtures, for someone who hasn't ever really done woodworking before, I think slow progress is fine. Anyway, the countertop is framed, the shower pan is dry-fitted (still need to finish the framing there), and the dinette is framed out. Between the dinette and bed will be a built-in dresser - drawers will be about 15" wide. In front of the dinette, we'll be putting in our ammo can stove, and our cooler will be on slides below it. In another month and a half, we're taking another trip in the bus, so I'm trying my best to at least have a counter, seats, and a table! At this point, we're almost there!! I plan to make the counter out of 3/4" 13-ply plywood with trim around the edge, and the "glass-finish" epoxy over the plywood (I don't expect it'll be warm enough to epoxy the countertop before we leave). The same for the table and the top of the "dresser". Nothing fancy, but good enough!

The other big thing I'm hoping we'll be able to finish is painting the bus before we leave. Nearly all of the outside has been sanded and nearly all the surface rust cleaned and primed.


Native 03-08-2020 10:02 PM

Your progress looks GREAT! Keep at it, the end is near.

57ratrod 04-14-2020 09:33 AM

Looking great. What’s your ceiling height? How big is the fresh water tank and grey tank? Are you removing the rear ac?

farok 04-15-2020 01:51 PM


Originally Posted by 57ratrod (Post 381013)
Looking great. Whatís your ceiling height? How big is the fresh water tank and grey tank? Are you removing the rear ac?

I'm leaving the rear AC, though it needs to be recharged. It barely blows cold air. The interior ceiling height before I started building out was actually 6'6" with the original plywood and rubber removed. I added 3" on the floor, and am adding about an inch or so at the ceiling, leaving me about 6'2" at the peak.

I've not added the fresh water tanks yet, but am hoping for 84 gallons. I have two 42 gallon tanks I plan to join together. I haven't picked a gray water tank yet.

I hope to have build pics and an update soon, but I'm blessed to have a job that continues amidst the pandemic, so updates have been slow. The latest is finishing up the seats, building upper cabinets for the driver's side, cutting the countertop, and moving the starting battery under the hood to make room for a second house battery.



farok 04-18-2020 09:32 PM

11 Attachment(s)
More progress, little by little! I only get a little time on the days I can work on it, so over the last month or so, bits and pieces of projects continue. But first, let me go get some groceries... or rather let me wait in line for some groceries.
Attachment 43459
Attachment 43460
Don't even try to go to Lowes - 25 customer limit in the store, and the waiting line was at least an hour to get in. I'll work with what I have already!!

Moving on... Mini project #1 was moving the starting battery from the battery box to under the hood where Chevy intended. I had already reduced from two starting batteries to one, and am certain the bus is fine with just one now that all the school stuff and the lift are removed. Benefits include having room for a second 100ah house battery, and I have cable already run for a DC-DC charger, which I'm looking very closely at. The picture is my current sole house battery, and the old starting battery leads.
Attachment 43462

The next project was a hide-a-key mounted well out of sight, in a difficult-to-reach spot. The last thing I want to do is lock myself out of the bus!
Attachment 43463

On the electrical side, I finished off the 110V side (save tidying up the wiring). I mounted a smart surge protector on the shore power connection (protects against low and high voltage, reverse polarity, open ground, and incorrect frequency). I still would like to double-check any shore power posts before connecting, but this is a nice piece of extra protection. I have four double AC outlets in the bus, as well. All outlets except 1 are protected by GFCI. There's two next to the counter, two in the garage, two under the table, and two just behind the driver's seat. These two are split between two different circuits - the bottom one is isolated, and is in preparation for whether we ever get a 12v/110v refrigerator.
Attachment 43464
Attachment 43465

Speaking of the dinette, other than the side and rear face, which is just cosmetic, it's basically done less the cushions. (You can see the new outlets here as well.) We have temporary cushions for now, but plan to get better fitting ones eventually. The odd blocking behind the seat back can actually swing out, and the seat backs can swing flat so the dinette can turn into a 75" long [NARROW] bed. The [missing] table will drop down between the two seats. Also, the seat backs and seat bottoms are on piano hinges and can fold easily (or open for under-seat storage).

Even more important to me is the overhead storage. It took a little planning and lots of cutting, but we now have 8 overhead cabinets with more of those sliding doors which seem to be a hallmark of our build! Door knobs to come tomorrow, I hope, but we're looking much better up the right wall now!
Attachment 43467

The shower pan looks good, though it's not secure yet - a dry fit that works as intended is always good to see though!
Attachment 43468

The rear A/C has been covered over, and the rear walls will hopefully be finished tomorrow.
Attachment 43469

Finally, we dry fitted the counter top, which is a piece of 9-ply plywood. The circular cutting board is where we plan to put the sink - that cutting board fits inside the sink rim. That project involves staining the wood, attaching a small splash guard by the window, cutting and then gluing a strip of veneer along the front and side face, cutting holes for the sink and faucet, and using that "glass finish" type of clear epoxy to coat the counter (I'm looking for that bar table finish). I have no idea how difficult that will be, but I'm willing to try it!
Attachment 43470

All in all, I'm happy with our progress, even if slow compared to some! I figured I'd finish with a quick picture of our crazy cat. She sometimes sits very "chill" just like a human...
Attachment 43461


Native 04-19-2020 12:51 AM

Chris, can you feel the finish line creeping up on you? Nice, huh?

farok 04-19-2020 07:18 AM


Originally Posted by Native (Post 382010)
Chris, can you feel the finish line creeping up on you? Nice, huh?

It's creeping up slowly, but yes! There's still a LOT to do, though.

Now that I have room for a DC-DC charger, I've started looking, and found this interesting gizmo:

Now I'm also considering putting at least one solar panel on the roof, since tying it in would be very simple. The catch is that I don't have a good way to get the cables from the panel(s) to the battery box where this would be used... More and more things to think about!!


57ratrod 04-20-2020 11:46 AM

Looking great. Sorry if you already posted, what size is your bed? What are dimensions of the water tanks? Where are you planing to mount your grey tank?

farok 04-20-2020 12:36 PM

The bed is a standard double, and Iím hoping for a pair of 42 gallon fresh water tanks. The gray tank is planned tentatively between the frame rails just behind the rear axle.


Big Tim 06-03-2020 11:08 AM

This is great and very inspiring! Any progress lately?

farok 06-03-2020 12:06 PM

4 Attachment(s)
Thanks for the note!!

I have been spending time on other priorities, such as helping the wife with a garden, as well as planting fruit trees. That said, I did get some progress over the last however many weeks. Only a few pics, though, nearly all relating to solar. First, 200 watts of panels arrived!
Attachment 45256

I did go forward with that Renogy multi-charger, as well as a second 100ah battery, so now I have 200ah AGM on-board. However, that charger has an issue... the studs aren't steel (best I can tell) and are hollow at the base, so tightening up one of the nuts snapped the stud right off... not happy. Renogy made good and swapped the unit out. Anyone looking for one of these, just be careful torqueing down the nuts (there's no torque spec in the manual, either).
Attachment 45255

As for mounting them, I chose to use 3/8" carriage bolts from the inside, through the hat channel. The layers are:
  • 3/8" carriage bolt
  • Hat Channel
  • Roof
  • 4-degree angled aluminum shim
  • Strut channel
  • Centering washer
  • Fender washer
  • Nylock nut with Loctite
I put butyl tape on both sides of the shim, and put a generous amount of lap sealant over the top when done.
Attachment 45257

The rails ended up on the passenger side for now, and leaves room on the driver's side for a second set should I deem them necessary in the future. Between the two, I can easily get 6 panels mounted, which should be more than enough for us. The current charger is only good for 3, maybe 4, panels, so for now leaving the driver's side free.
Attachment 45258

Not pictured are the first two panels mounted, the entry gland, and the wiring run through the inside of the bus down to the charger.

In addition, since I moved the starting battery from the battery bay to the engine compartment, I used the 3/0 cables that were still between the two to connect the part that allows me to charge the house battery from the alternator. As a bonus, it trickle charges the starting battery from solar when there's spare solar input!

That's about it for now. I'm hoping the countertops can get some loving in the near future, as well as all the permanent interior 12v wiring. I have all the materials to finish the countertops, as well as the interior wiring, lighting, etc.


Bear Gerschafer 04-20-2021 08:42 PM


Originally Posted by farok (Post 337172)
Another project from a couple weeks back was a trip to the "U-Pull-It" junkyard to get a co-pilot seat. We got a seat out of I think a 2000 Silverado, one with the integrated seat belt. We bolted that in place as well, and gave it a quick test - the wife is happy with the seat!

How do you like the Silverado seat? Looking to get an IS chair in our '95 bus, it only has a lap belt :(

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 02:40 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.