Anyone own a school bus?

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Dr.Tramp
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Re: Anyone own a school bus?

Post by Dr.Tramp » Fri Feb 14, 2020 11:50 am

mtrdrms wrote:
Fri Dec 21, 2018 8:13 pm
I'm thinking about picking up an old bus to use as a camper/guest house. I know the international/bluebird busses are a good start. Just curious if anyone here had any input.
I lived in a 35' Bluebird for about three years. It had been partially converted so I could cook and sleep comfortably but the toilet/shower setup wasn't hooked up and I just used KOA or whatever facilities.
Plenty of room after the seats are removed so I used the area in front of the rear wheels as my living quarters and used the area behind the rear wheels for my tools and bike. Had no problem getting my Shovehead through the rear door.
Had a 25' Bluebird for a short time but ended selling it to Rick at Strokers of Dallas who made it into a beer bar to handle the overflow from the ice house beer bar.
The only problem I ran into, and not a problem really, was that they were both geared pretty low for around town and not really suited for highway speeds. On smaller roads they were perfect.
Check out Rolling Homes: Handmade Houses on Wheels by Jane Lidz https://www.amazon.com/Rolling-Homes-Ha ... 089104129X It's got some great ideas and pics of bus and truck modifications.
There are also a number of other books and some neat videos on Youtube on converting buses.
Ride Safe. Dr.Tramp.............

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Re: Anyone own a school bus?

Post by jaybird » Fri Feb 14, 2020 12:11 pm

BinDerSmokDat wrote:
Tue May 07, 2019 1:35 pm
Below is a layout I designed for my van.
It shows how an inverter is used in a van/RV.
I don't want to install a converter/charger to run all 12V while plugged in because I'm only running a few small 12V devices/charging phones.
No 12v heaters/appliances/fridges.
I do a fair amount of my camping at sites with electric so I can run an 110v fan, heater, etc. as needed.

I decided that two separate outlets powered by two seperate systems was the way to go.
One outlet uses a hook-up to campsite power or a generator outside of the van.
The other goes to an inverter run off a "house" battery.
House batteries/systems in RV terma are what they sound like, they power the "house" portion of your vehicle.

Ignore the 110V green neutral wires running to chassis, they run to the ground for that particular 110v circuit.

The design allows running down the house battery without killing the main battery.
Or if I've let the main battery run down, flip a switch and use the aux to jump the main.
An external 110v male plug means no extension cord pinched in the doors.
The smart battery isolator also prioritizes charging of the main battery first and then charges the house battery second.

The downside is the only way to charge the house battery is to run the van, but it should last for a weekend of camping.
I could add something to charge the house battery from solar or a 110v source but that adds complexity, especially if you want to use 12v power while charging.

The above issue is why for a bus/rv build you will probably want to go with a power converter/charger which manages the 12v power and also converts the incoming 110v to 12v. The benefit of having a converter/charger means you can be charging your batteries while also running your 110v/12v systems for a fridge, fans, TV etc.

Van Electric 092118.jpg
Hey Rich.
Do you have any thoughts on my last question in regards to battery placement and venting?
Thanks!

Happy trails,
Jaybird
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2013 Retro, Black beauty, AKA Lucky "13"
1995 Olive Tourist
1975 Enfield Diesel Bullet
2008 Enfield Bullet 500
1974 BMW R 75/6
Etc.

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Re: Anyone own a school bus?

Post by jaybird » Fri Feb 14, 2020 12:17 pm

54vintage wrote:
Fri May 10, 2019 11:23 am
BinDerSmokDat wrote:
Fri May 10, 2019 9:25 am
siberman1 wrote:
Tue May 07, 2019 7:59 pm
I did not want a noisy expensive generator at all. Hence, solar.
Noisy and expensive are relative.
You can get the Harbor Freight Honda clone generator for $450 right now.
That's pretty cheap for 2000 watts of quiet, electronic device-friendly inverter power.
It works rain or shine and is portable for camping, tailgating and emergency home needs.

What would one have to spend to get just 1000 watts of electricity with solar?
Not only are you buying panels but you need a controller and batteries to store it.
Batteries are heavy and you need a place to store them securely in your rig.

If you will be boondocking in sunny locations and have low electric needs solar can be a huge boon.
But what do you do when camping on rainy days, stuck inside and higher electric usage while you watch movies and run fans to dry gear or keep interior from getting stuffy?
A generator is a huge plus. I know folks with solar and even they carry a generator to charge batteries and run the rig on cloudy days.

Another issue is mounting solar. Many mount them flat on a van or RV roof. This is not always ideal.
Not only are they not angled to face the sun, you now have to park your vehicle in a sunny spot.
Not always easy in forested areas. And now you are parking your vehicle in direct sun; less than ideal for keeping the interior cool.
I've seen people with portable solar panels they can set-up in sun, but that means unpacking and packing them away.

Solar has it's pros and cons. Just consider all of the options.
I agree....it has it's pros and cons....if one is going to do this right, you need a bit of all worlds....shore power, solar and generator. I lack the generator on my rig, but will get one sooner or later. Two are things for sure.....you're not always going to be able to plug in everywhere you go and the sun doesn't always shine.


Hey Chuck.
Do you have any thoughts on my last question in regards to battery placement and venting?
Thanks!

Happy trails,
Jaybird
2005 Gear-Up, Mr. Nat_ural 108,000+ Kilometers and counting
2013 Retro, Black beauty, AKA Lucky "13"
1995 Olive Tourist
1975 Enfield Diesel Bullet
2008 Enfield Bullet 500
1974 BMW R 75/6
Etc.

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Re: Anyone own a school bus?

Post by BinDerSmokDat » Fri Feb 14, 2020 12:25 pm

jaybird wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 12:11 pm
Hey Rich.
Do you have any thoughts on my last question in regards to battery placement and venting?
I stuck mine in the wooden "locker" that covers the passenger side wheel well.
In fact that is where all of my electrical is.
I did put in a partition to seal the battery box away from the inverter and other wiring in the front half of the box.
There is no source of sparks or ignition in the battery area aside from the batteries themselves.

I'm running a single large deep cycle battery that sits inside a plastic marine battery box.
There are eye bolts through the floor with large washers and a cargo strap holding the battery down.
The marine box vents to the plywood locker which has some openings into the cargo area.
Less than ideal, but there are no sources of ignition inside the van and I'm not expecting a lot of outgassing as it charges, as it's not being drawn down and recharged heavily.

Ideally I want to drill a hole through the floor or interior wall and stick one of those 2" round louver vents in.
I'm thinking the side is better because it vents to the hollow part of the van wall, which has weep holes at the bottom of the body.
That way I'm not getting cold air and road slop being thrown up at the vent.

Incidentally there are two large boxes of baking soda in the plywood locker in the event of spillage/explosion.
I've seen a few batteries pop. Usually the cell covers on top go or a split develops in the case.
The marine box in theory should contain that, but having some baking soda around to immediately neutralize acid is helpful.

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Re: Anyone own a school bus?

Post by 54vintage » Fri Feb 14, 2020 7:05 pm

jaybird wrote:
Sun Feb 09, 2020 9:09 pm
so my question to all of you is where are you keeping your house batteries?
On my Dodge bus I plan to add some frame mounted side boxes and some underbody mechanical infrastructure, including a battery compartment. It already has a rustic camper conversion and I plan to upgrade and improve as I go.
I wanted to temporarily put a couple of house batteries, a charger, and an inverter under a built in cabinet inside the bus until I can fabricate something underneath.
So everything I’ve read says that it would need to be vented and I don’t want to cut any holes in the side of the body.

What have you done and what are your experiences?o

Happy trails,
Jaybird
Jaybird.....I have mine mounted on the rear "step" of my rig...a temp platform until I get around to building my fold down rear deck. Like you I plan on fabing up some sort of under the rig mounts for all this sort of stuff...to include a undermount propane tank. If you go with a built in cabinet in the rig you would want to have some sort of air vent to the outside world. Which would mean you'd have to punch a hole in the body to vent the hydrogen. Like you...I don't want to punch holes in my rig. The back step mount is a good way to go as a temp measure.
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Chuck Loftin
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Re: Anyone own a school bus?

Post by jaybird » Sat Feb 15, 2020 2:02 am

BinDerSmokDat wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 12:25 pm
jaybird wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 12:11 pm
Hey Rich.
Do you have any thoughts on my last question in regards to battery placement and venting?
I stuck mine in the wooden "locker" that covers the passenger side wheel well.
In fact that is where all of my electrical is.
I did put in a partition to seal the battery box away from the inverter and other wiring in the front half of the box.
There is no source of sparks or ignition in the battery area aside from the batteries themselves.

I'm running a single large deep cycle battery that sits inside a plastic marine battery box.
There are eye bolts through the floor with large washers and a cargo strap holding the battery down.
The marine box vents to the plywood locker which has some openings into the cargo area.
Less than ideal, but there are no sources of ignition inside the van and I'm not expecting a lot of outgassing as it charges, as it's not being drawn down and recharged heavily.

Ideally I want to drill a hole through the floor or interior wall and stick one of those 2" round louver vents in.
I'm thinking the side is better because it vents to the hollow part of the van wall, which has weep holes at the bottom of the body.
That way I'm not getting cold air and road slop being thrown up at the vent.

Incidentally there are two large boxes of baking soda in the plywood locker in the event of spillage/explosion.
I've seen a few batteries pop. Usually the cell covers on top go or a split develops in the case.
The marine box in theory should contain that, but having some baking soda around to immediately neutralize acid is helpful.
Thanks Rich, that’s just the kind of first hand experience I was looking for.
Funny thing is, that’s exactly the situation I have and the temporary solution I am considering.
As much as I’m concerned with a possible explosion, I’m also concerned with gassing myself while I’m sleeping, the proposed battery compartment is right by my face while I’m laying on the bed. I’ve lived through doing a lot of dumb things, some quite spectacular and noteworthy, but if I die in my sleep I’d prefer it not be from gassing myself :lol:
My solution was to use a “sealed” “maintenance free” battery, then my smart a$$ kid was kind enough to inform me that, “you know they still out gas, just not as much”, smart a$$ :lol: :lol: :lol: fortunately for me I’ve usually surrounded myself with people smarter than I am :lol:
So, since I’ve been in the same camp with you sleeping on top of your house battery without you gassing yourself, I gotta ask, what type of battery are you using?

Happy trails,
Jaybird
2005 Gear-Up, Mr. Nat_ural 108,000+ Kilometers and counting
2013 Retro, Black beauty, AKA Lucky "13"
1995 Olive Tourist
1975 Enfield Diesel Bullet
2008 Enfield Bullet 500
1974 BMW R 75/6
Etc.

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Re: Anyone own a school bus?

Post by jaybird » Sat Feb 15, 2020 2:42 am

54vintage wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 7:05 pm
jaybird wrote:
Sun Feb 09, 2020 9:09 pm
so my question to all of you is where are you keeping your house batteries?
On my Dodge bus I plan to add some frame mounted side boxes and some underbody mechanical infrastructure, including a battery compartment. It already has a rustic camper conversion and I plan to upgrade and improve as I go.
I wanted to temporarily put a couple of house batteries, a charger, and an inverter under a built in cabinet inside the bus until I can fabricate something underneath.
So everything I’ve read says that it would need to be vented and I don’t want to cut any holes in the side of the body.

What have you done and what are your experiences?o

Happy trails,
Jaybird
Jaybird.....I have mine mounted on the rear "step" of my rig...a temp platform until I get around to building my fold down rear deck. Like you I plan on fabing up some sort of under the rig mounts for all this sort of stuff...to include a undermount propane tank. If you go with a built in cabinet in the rig you would want to have some sort of air vent to the outside world. Which would mean you'd have to punch a hole in the body to vent the hydrogen. Like you...I don't want to punch holes in my rig. The back step mount is a good way to go as a temp measure.
Thanks for your response Chuck.
I often tow an 18’ enclosed trailer carrying my motorcycles. One of the solutions/compromises I am considering is an aluminum tool box on the trailer tongue, with the batteries and the generator inside. The obvious drawback is that I’m then tethered to the trailer if I want electric.
I may still consider this solution as I am setting up a mobile shop in the front of the trailer for working on motorcycles, and I do need electric in there.
I’ve got some other work I want to do to the bus before I start on the underside house mechanicals.
I found that a good source of RV mechanicals is Facebook Market and Craigslist. It’s amazing how many free or cheap RVs are available throughout the year, I’ve knocked apart a couple recently and someone just gave me a huge fiberglass Winnebago that has a new refrigerator, two new AC units, a good underbody LPG tank, and a bunch of other stuff I need or can sell.
It helps that I have a truck to tow these dogs back to my yard with, and a big dumpster to throw the leftovers in.
Probably an even easier way to get RV mechanicals and miscellaneous parts is the junkyard, several near me have doaner RVs, and they sell the parts quite reasonably.


Happy trails,
Jaybird
2005 Gear-Up, Mr. Nat_ural 108,000+ Kilometers and counting
2013 Retro, Black beauty, AKA Lucky "13"
1995 Olive Tourist
1975 Enfield Diesel Bullet
2008 Enfield Bullet 500
1974 BMW R 75/6
Etc.

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Re: Anyone own a school bus?

Post by BinDerSmokDat » Sat Feb 15, 2020 10:26 am

My battery is also under my bed.
I'm not worried.
The gas, if not violently boiling, is just hydrogen, so the danger isn't to poisoning/gassing yourself, but explosion.
If a charge controller fails or you've let a lead acid battery really go dry, out gassing COULD have a all amount of vaporized battery acid in the "steam." But again that would mostly condense in the marine box and then the battery locker.
A lot of the venting worry stems from marine applications. A boat could be out at sea where even a small melt down or explosion could be catastrophic. Also on boats there are bilges and spaces where fuel or hydrogen could accumulate, so venting is prioritized.

My van was owned by my step-dad. While gutting it I found evidence (battery acid corrosion/marks) that he overcharged the backup/camping batteries and popped them at least twice (or both at the same time.) Nobody died and other than some paint damage to the interior wall/floor, there was no serious consequences.

So a small vent, even through the floor should suffice for multiple batteries.

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Re: Anyone own a school bus?

Post by BinDerSmokDat » Sat Feb 15, 2020 6:19 pm

Oh and I'm using lead acid deep cycle battery.
I don't run it below 12.50 volts.
Then again I've only run the ceiling vent fan all night and charged phones.

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Re: Anyone own a school bus?

Post by BinDerSmokDat » Mon Feb 24, 2020 2:38 pm

I should have taken a picture but I thought of you bus guys when I saw it.
Some company off of Rt 535 near Cranbury, NJ took a full-sized school bus and chopped it down (rather expertly) to just two windows long past the traditional folding school bus door.
Near as I could tell, it is about the absolute minimum length you'd need for the engine, transmission, minimal drive shaft and differential to fit under the bus.
It is almost as wide as it is long and it looks odd with the massive split-mount wheels and big bus tires.
Below is a quick Photoshop of what it looked like.
My first thought was "WTF? :? "
My next was "that has to be the first front engined bus capable of pulling a wheelie! :lol: "
My third thought was "I have heard of 'riding the short bus' but that is ridiculous."

2-24-2020 1-36-24 PM.jpg
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Re: Anyone own a school bus?

Post by jaybird » Mon Feb 24, 2020 3:50 pm

Something like this?
679220A4-8538-495B-91F5-F55D84952E9A.jpeg
B7A46B7B-82C3-444D-89BD-435E1605F51F.jpeg
Happy trails,
Jaybird
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1995 Olive Tourist
1975 Enfield Diesel Bullet
2008 Enfield Bullet 500
1974 BMW R 75/6
Etc.

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Re: Anyone own a school bus?

Post by BinDerSmokDat » Mon Feb 24, 2020 7:23 pm

Yep, but at passing glance, the fit and finish was better on the NJ one.

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