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Still Alive

 Bus, Planning  Comments Off on Still Alive
Jun 122017

So school is fin­ished, I’m look­ing for work.  Looks like the plan is to get a job, pay off debts, and then go full in on the bus.  It prob­a­bly won’t be too excit­ing this year giv­en it will most­ly be con­tract­ed out.  Engine in-frame rebuild and sus­pen­sion, main­ly.  As for the bus design, the mini-split is out in favor of  a chiller.  Lead acid bat­ter­ies are out in favor of lithi­um LiFe­PO 4 bat­ter­ies. This means dou­ble the capac­i­ty for house bat­tery bank in half the weight and vol­ume. In doing that, it makes some oth­er things a lot eas­i­er to do as well. The mas­sive area which was going to be bat­ter­ies on the right side of the bus is now going to be the home of the chiller unit. I’ve also decid­ed to very much look into build­ing my own fridge for vari­ety of rea­sons. Light­ing is now going to be LED rather than flo­res­cent, sav­ing pow­er bud­get and space. The washer/dryer might change as well giv­en the mini-split con­denser is no longer lim­it­ing height. As for the roof raise, I have now set­tled on the join­ing method being pri­mar­i­ly plug welds. Appro­pri­ate riv­ets end­ed up being more expen­sive, weak­er, and more prone to rust when all is said and done.

The cur­rent state of the bus is that no notice­able new rust has occurred thanks to time­ly touch up paint before stor­age and keep­ing eye on it. It is cov­ered in algae or some­thing, but a good pres­sure wash­ing will take care of that.

With this year basi­cal­ly being engine and sus­pen­sion, that puts the roof raise at the start of 2018. Upon fin­ish­ing up with that comes the exte­ri­or repaint­ing. I will also be pick­ing up an HTP Pro Pulse 200 MIG Welder. Try­ing to use a cheap MIG for this job just isn’t going to cut it. Looks like I will also be pick­ing up a water cooled drill press from either Har­bor Freight or some used/surplus set­up. We’ll see when the time comes.

So, yeah, looks like the project is going to start back up in full.

SketchUp Layout Planning

 Bus, Pictures, Planning  Comments Off on SketchUp Layout Planning
Oct 312010

While this lacks roof raise and has crushed down the bunks to sil­ly pro­por­tions, the lay­out core is present.  It fits!

All walk­ways are min­i­mum of 2.5′, the door itself 30″.  Rear door will remain in place (though gain height in the roof raise) so as to allow both an emer­gency exit as well as direct access to bathroom.

Things I’ve Learned About Paint

 Bus, Gripe, Paint, Planning  Comments Off on Things I’ve Learned About Paint
Oct 132010
  1. When paint­ing the inside, forced ven­ti­la­tion is key.  Ven­ti­late the hell out of the bus once it is no longer tacky (bugs won’t stick to it).
  2. It will still take a lot longer than paint can indi­cates to dry.
  3. Let it dry prop­er­ly.  No mat­ter how long it ends up taking.

Navistar International ISIS DVD

 Bus, Planning  Comments Off on Navistar International ISIS DVD
Oct 052010

While this does not seem to have all the infor­ma­tion I was look­ing for, it does have a great deal of the infor­ma­tion I need­ed for the engine.  Huzzah!

Bad News: Coolant

 Bus, Planning  Comments Off on Bad News: Coolant
Oct 022010

When I removed the heater coolant loop I found two very bad things:

  1. It was green.
  2. It had gunk in it, like­ly small amounts of set­tled oil.

Now.  Why is it being green bad you ask?  It is because the DT466, while a mag­nif­i­cent engine, is prone to var­i­ous issues if one uses improp­er flu­ids or sim­ply does­n’t change them out when sched­uled.  Green antifreeze is /not/ what makes the engine hap­py.  Green antifreeze is what makes the sleeves eat through rapid­ly due to cavitation.

The sec­ond prob­lem, the gunk?  Yeah, fair­ly obvi­ous do-not-want issue. 😛

Worst case was I have to do a rebuild, looks more like­ly that will be the case.  Rough­ly $1100 and I get to basi­cal­ly start new on engine wear.  Not a bad deal.

Paint Plan

 Bus, Paint, Planning  Comments Off on Paint Plan
Oct 012010

So, appar­ent­ly paint­ing is a lot more dif­fi­cult than I thought.  After a good amount of research, I’ve reworked the plan and bought all the appro­pri­ate products.

Phys­i­cal Clean:

  • Grind to remove remaining/missed screws and nubs.
  • Wire brush all rust spots.

Chem­i­cal Clean:

  • TSP (TriSodi­um Phos­phate) — Clean of grease/glue/etc.
  • Ospho Rust Treat­ment for Met­al — Gal­va­nized Met­al Etch & Rust Conversion/Primer


  • One coat Rust-Oleum Pro­fes­sion­al White Clean Met­al Primer
  • One coat Rust-Oleum Pro­fes­sion­al Paint

The end col­or will be Smoke Grey in this case as it was the least offen­sive not-white col­or avail­able local­ly.  So far as I can tell via hours of research and talk­ing to sev­er­al peo­ple, this is indeed the best route to go if not overkill.  As I have no bloody inten­tion of hav­ing to do this again, overkill is good!

I’ve yet to decide what man­ner of top­ping will go onto this.  If I go with foam pan­els for the floor, I will like­ly end up going with a spray in truck bed lin­er for long term dura­bil­i­ty and sound damp­en­ing.  If I go with a high den­si­ty spray in foam for the floor sim­i­lar to what I intend to do for walls and ceil­ing, it will like­ly stay as it is.  The lat­ter is a bit more expen­sive in the short term, but I am lean­ing strong­ly in that direction.

Apr 292010

Oops.  While the MT643 is indeed a nice trans­mis­sion, the MD3060 is the one I want.  MT643 is a mechan­i­cal con­trol type 4 speed with 3rd and 4th lock­ing.  MD3060 is a larg­er, elec­tron­ic con­trolled 6 speed which appar­ent­ly locks on all gears.  This is good news as MD3060 seems to be very pop­u­lar com­pared to try­ing to locate the MT643.  Only real draw­back is elec­tron­ics con­trol adds a bit of cost, espe­cial­ly if it breaks.

Apr 092010

While research­ing var­i­ous equip­ment avail­able for this project, the Out­back brand real­ly stood out in qual­i­ty, fea­ture set, and price.

One of the big things that quite inter­est­ed me is that all the var­i­ous com­po­nents link up into a net­work to work as a team.  Pairs of invert­ers can be used to give split phase pow­er (what most hous­es have) and all smart charg­ing sys­tems work in tan­dem.  There is no left hand not know­ing what the right is doing.  Best of all, the net­work can be tapped by a stan­dard ser­i­al con­nec­tion open­ing up the door for inte­gra­tion with com­put­er or cus­tom electronics.

Not shown (or yet priced out) is 28VDC  alter­na­tor for bus engine.  Rel­a­tive­ly small 12VDC sys­tem will be kept in place run­ning off a starter bat­tery kept topped off via charg­er run­ning off house bank.

Note that a DC genset was select­ed.  When I looked over what was avail­able, I was extreme­ly dis­ap­point­ed in the noise lev­els, espe­cial­ly for diesel gen­er­a­tors.  A DC sys­tem is no dif­fer­ent save for being con­sid­er­ably small­er.  This results in a unit which can be sound proofed via var­i­ous mats, lead, and baf­fles far more eas­i­ly than a 110VAC set­up.  The sin­gle down­side to be found was that DC gensets tend to be marine equip­ment and cost more, effec­tive­ly dou­bling cost of elec­tri­cal sys­tem.  Obvi­ous­ly the genset is intend­ed to be pur­chased far down the road as it is not crit­i­cal.  Infor­ma­tion on genset cur­rent­ly selected/priced can be found here.

Bat­ter­ies are AGM.  Those famil­iar with them will know they can eas­i­ly pull mas­sive amounts of cur­rent dur­ing bulk charge.  Despite the amper­age of the var­i­ous charg­ers, they are still expect­ed to run 100% for pro­longed peri­ods of time.  Specs show them capa­ble of doing such.

A ran­dom note, 160amps is pow­er require­ment to keep two 15,000BTU A/Cs run­ning hap­pi­ly at 100% duty cycle.

Apr 092010

I’ve decid­ed to pur­chase and con­vert a bus into a full-time capa­ble RV.  After research, I’ve decid­ed on the bus I am seeking.

  • 90 pas­sen­ger (40′), Rear Engine bus, prefer­ably Thomas.
  • DT466 engine.  Pow­er­ful, long last­ing, eas­i­ly rebuilt.
  • MT643 trans­mis­sion.  Long last­ing, effi­cient transmission.
  • Air brakes.