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.