School Bus 101, long technical post

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Re: School Bus 101, long technical post

Postby Tin Halo » Mon Sep 29, 2014 2:37 pm


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Re: School Bus 101, long technical post

Postby Tiahaar » Mon Sep 29, 2014 11:02 pm

*shock* is right...$300K for a prettied up old transit is like gilding a dumpster and selling it as a primo apartment. but hey maybe they'll get an art gallery to buy it who knows :D

there's a 'burning man' bus in LA craigslist that might be better, only 8K too!
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Re: School Bus 101, long technical post

Postby Elliot » Tue Sep 30, 2014 10:39 am

For USD 300,000 you can get a Prevost Marathon from around year 2000-2003. Google Marathon Coach inventory, for some eye-candy. :D
(The new ones now often top Two Million.)
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Re: School Bus 101, long technical post

Postby Tin Halo » Wed Oct 01, 2014 9:27 pm

And now I see the SS Tittyhawk is for sale, not too far from me... (...sigh...)

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Re: School Bus 101, long technical post

Postby ManitoBURN » Thu Dec 11, 2014 4:37 pm

Elliot wrote::D

For maximum hill climbing power (Wadsworth to Gerlach!), look for the International DT466 and the Cummins 8.3 (C-series). These engines are also famously durable. The Cummins 5.9 (B-series), same engine as in Dodge pickup-trucks, is also good, and very common. These engines are inline six cylinders -- just like in 18-wheelers.
Practically all diesels have a turbo charger, and many have an intercooler (charge cooler, after-cooler). There is no reason to consider any diesel without a turbo, and the intercooler helps too.
A word about the Screamin’ Demon. Detroit Diesel (GM) used to build two-stroke diesel engines. They are called “Screamin’ Demon” for a reason -- think two-stroke motorcycle. On rare occasions you may find one in a large school bus. As these engines are kind’a obsolete, major repairs may be expensive.



I finally bought my bus!

Anyway,

Body/Chassis - Tomas/International
Rated cap. 54
year- 1997
miles- 65xxx
engine- T444e (175 hp version)
Trans. - Spicer 5 speed (idk the model but its good for 32000 lbs)
Gwvr. 10795 KG (23800 lbs)

It has rust around the rear lights, this was "solved" with a can of expanding foam and silicone.
I did not pull up the rubber floor beceause i know there is rust and cannot afford to fix it.

I have a couple of questions,
A) The T444e, i know its not the greatest but am i doomed in the mountains? have I wasted my money? I know it is kinda a throw away engine, but it will probably not see another 20000 mi.
B) It smokes ALOT at idle, is that important/bad? (blueish smoke? maybe? bad turbo seals?)
C)Can I put 900 lbs of watter behind the rear axel and have 500 toung weight from a trailer?
D) can I tow 5000 lbs with it?

Thanks!

PS. Im the "Dumb ass praire boy, never seen a hill, has bad temper" If you see my bus GET OUT OF THE WAY!!!!!
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Re: School Bus 101, long technical post

Postby Elliot » Thu Dec 11, 2014 6:08 pm

:D
Congrats!

You ought to take it to a well-skilled Diesel mechanic to have the smoke diagnosed. It could be minor, or not.

The IH 444 is not a bad engine. And 65,000 miles is "nothing". In fact, that is very low mileage for that year bus.

My brother has a 444 in his Ford pickup. Ford calls it a "Powerstroke" 7.3 Liter, but it is the same engine. This one is rated at 250 HP and 500 pound-feet. If the engine checks out sound, you might ask about uprating it to the 250 HP level.

I just drove this 444 (7.3) from Texas to California, grossing something like 17,000 pounds. The power was impressive. We slowed below 55 MPH only on a very few very steep climbs. Often, we cruised at 75 MPH.

Your water and trailer should be no problem. But here's what you ought to do: take it to a truck scale and get separate weights for the axles. Then you will know what you are doing.
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Re: School Bus 101, long technical post

Postby BAS » Fri Dec 12, 2014 9:41 am

Congratulations on the bus, ManitoBURN!

Florida Church Bus has a bus posted right now for $9000 I would like to get. In theory I have the money, but in practice, not really. After reviewing my employment history and my doctor's recommendation, I'm going to get Social Security Disability. I've already received a $13,000+ check for back pay-- but I have had to put someone else in charge of my finances (and I am not clear on how long or what conditions must be met for me to get control again.) Also, I am not clear on what I am allowed to spend it on-- even with my debts I should have at least $9,000 left over. I'd like to convert a bus so that, if worse comes to worse, I'd at least have somewhere to live-- but that concept seems too weird for anyone I have tried mentioning it to... And I still am looking for somewhere to store and work on it, although I do have some promising leads. (The best is a complex in Madison which rents out to people like the bike shop collective and other similar groups-- and someone in the past did work on a bus there, according to the bike people. I also know someone who lives off grid in the middle of nowhere, but that would be a two and a half to three hour drive, most on rural roads-- not good in winter.)

I'm glad to see that this thread is still going.
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Re: School Bus 101, long technical post

Postby Captain Goddammit » Sat Dec 13, 2014 1:03 pm

Buying a manual trans bus was a great move, in my opinion. Busses come with big stout automatics, but you just never know when they are going to fail. They also rob power in the hills, if they aren't a lockup converter type.
It isn't going to fly up the mountains... there aren't many school busses that are exactly fast. It will be slow, but it WILL get there.
You're not going to cruise at 70 even on flat land regardless of how much you turn up the power, because of the gearing.
It should tow a 10,000 pound trailer with no problem. I do that with my one-ton dually pickup carrying a large camper. Your drivetrain and chassis are much stouter.
Overall I think you got a great bus. I like the shorter ones because they weigh less and fit in normal places unlike 40-footers that are great on the desert but suck anywhere near civilization. It's hard to tell in the pic, but it doesn't appear to have those five-spoke "suicide" wheels on it either. And finding a stick shift in anything but a very old one is really rare. If I were bus shopping and came across that one at a decent deal, I'd have bought it. (Depending on how bad the rust is!)
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Re: School Bus 101, long technical post

Postby ManitoBURN » Sun Dec 14, 2014 12:39 pm

Captain Goddammit wrote:
You're not going to cruise at 70 even on flat land regardless of how much you turn up the power, because of the gearing.
It should tow a 10,000 pound trailer with no problem. It's hard to tell in the pic, but it doesn't appear to have those five-spoke "suicide" wheels on it either. And finding a stick shift in anything but a very old one is really rare. If I were bus shopping and came across that one at a decent deal, I'd have bought it. (Depending on how bad the rust is!)


Turning up the power sounds like a great idea but...unfortunatly my transmision is only rated for 180hp.
It does have the "suicid" wheels, im not sure what the big deal is though. I read up on how to to remove/install them and it doesent sount THAT hard, I am sertain it would take me a long time but I could definaly do it.
The rust is reparable, maybe next year (the list is too long), we have a very tight dead line between when the snow melts and the first trip.
I have another verson of this bus (wheel chair lift) then chassis and drive train is the same, it is in slightly better condition but is not saftied.
that leaves it to be storage and spare parts (for now, I have some sneaky ideas to make all or more of my money back)
I got my busses decently cheap, it was less for both of mine then what Eliot paid for Millicent.
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Re: School Bus 101, long technical post

Postby Thecatman » Wed Dec 31, 2014 7:25 pm

Found this on the internet. I don't know if it's legit or not. I don't see where the (bus) would pivot on the fifth wheel. I thought it was cool looking though.


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Re: School Bus 101, long technical post

Postby Captain Goddammit » Wed Dec 31, 2014 9:00 pm

That's a photoshop.
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Re: School Bus 101, long technical post

Postby Elliot » Wed Feb 04, 2015 2:33 pm

60 foot articulated bus for sale in Spokane, Washington.
If he can document the engine and transmission rebuilds, the price may even be fair.
(No personal connection.)

https://spokane.craigslist.org/rvs/4839075105.html
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Re: School Bus 101, long technical post

Postby ManitoBURN » Tue Feb 17, 2015 4:19 pm

A quick note on South American busses,

Look at the attached picture....
something isn't right is it?

Some one questioned how they still manage to fine manual transmision busses, they don't.
They find automatic busses and swap in a manual afterwords.
It's lots of work but an auto would fail on it's first trip.
I'm actually in Guatamala right now, I thought I was impossible some of the stuff they do.
Yesterday the bus I was in was going up a 15% grade?!
First gear (out of 5), screaming on the govoner, and just barely making walking speed. All the while rolling coal like some white trash kid In his truck.

Don't even get me started on some of the "racing slicks" I have seen on trucks here.....
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Re: School Bus 101, long technical post

Postby ManitoBURN » Tue Feb 17, 2015 5:18 pm

ManitoBURN wrote:A quick note on South American busses,

Look at the attached picture....
something isn't right is it?

Some one questioned how they still manage to fine manual transmision busses, they don't.
They find automatic busses and swap in a manual afterwords.
It's lots of work but an auto would fail on it's first trip.
I'm actually in Guatamala right now, I thought I was impossible some of the stuff they do.
Yesterday the bus I was in was going up a 15% grade?!
First gear (out of 5), screaming on the govoner, and just barely making walking speed. All the while rolling coal like some white trash kid In his truck.

Don't even get me started on some of the "racing slicks" I have seen on trucks here.....


Actually I take the grade % back, after researching the steepest road in the world, 35%, I have concluded that it was closer to 30%!
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Re: School Bus 101, long technical post

Postby BAS » Sun Dec 13, 2015 7:53 am

Here's the thread I was looking for! Now to get it to the front page...
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Re: School Bus 101, long technical post

Postby Molotov » Tue Dec 15, 2015 1:18 pm

Is the EPA cracking down on older diesel school buses? If so, could be an issue if you are trying to register a bus in a state with high emission standards? Here is a recent article about school districts with older buses: http://www.kake.com/home/headlines/Kansas-schools-get-federal-grant-to-replace-diesel-buses-362369991.html

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Re: School Bus 101, long technical post

Postby Elliot » Tue Dec 15, 2015 3:31 pm

Grants to replace or upgrade commercial vehicles have been going on for at least a decade, that I am personally aware of. It was "a big thing" when I started looking for my first bus nine or ten years ago. And I know a local business owner who received essentially free engines for a couple aging 18-wheelers -- the new engines being much newer and less polluting.

To my knowledge, once a school bus is sold and then registered as a private motor home ("house car", in California Vehicle Code parlance), only the normal diesel engine smog rules apply to it, same as if it were a diesel powered passenger car. This, in California, at least. I have now owned my 1992 Blue Bird with Cummins 5.9 diesel engine for eight years and have never heard a word from any authority. I seem to remember smog inspections for diesel engines begin with the 1997 model year, or within a couple years of that. (Again, California.)

From time to time I see listings of school buses for sale in California that specify that the bus cannot be sold to or registered by an owner in California. In other words, it must be sold out of the state, or sold for scrap. I do not know what this is about. Perhaps you can look into it for us?
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Re: School Bus 101, long technical post

Postby BAS » Sat Dec 26, 2015 9:04 pm

Well, I have, instead of finding a place to store and work on a bus: opposition from my dad for wanting to make a "poor investment" which is a "stupid idea." Even though he is my payee for Social Security I am trying to do it all on my own money, from other sources, so, in theory, it isn't a problem. In practice, he wants to go to Burning Man with me and I made the mistake of talking about my ideas.

I have found a way to make planning logistics even more difficult.

On the other, I have seen some pretty low cost buses on midwestransit.com-- some $2,000 and under (ten of them). I don't see why, from their posted information, why they are so cheap.
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Re: School Bus 101, long technical post

Postby Elliot » Thu Jun 16, 2016 10:21 am

:D
This morning I received an inquiry about buses from a friend, which reminded me of this thread. So... "bump"!

My own bus, Millicent, is doing fine. As of January this year, we have driven her 57,000 miles in nine seasons.
She refused to crank up for our first trip last month, and that was a poor electrical connection on the back of the ignition switch. Time does take a toll.
Once she cranked, she fired right up -- and died. That was the fuel pump -- what's called the "lift pump" on a diesel, to distinguish it from the injection pump. And the local NAPA Auto parts store had it in stock! This is thanks to Dodge installing this engine -- the Cummins 5,9 -- in millions of pickup-trucks.

The king pins are now badly worn out, and I have an appointment with a shop next month. This will be expensive.

The springs are sagging. Often, she leans quite a bit to the right. And the front springs have taken on a slight W shape, as opposed to the proper arc. So I'm looking into replacing these at the same time.
Admittedly, I have overloaded her on the last couple trips to BRC.

I regret raising the roof two feet. I ought to have raised it three feet or more! Strange as it may seem, I'm considering raising it the rest of the way.
The main reason is headroom for the upper bunks. There are two kinds of headroom to consider: Clearance for people to walk around without hitting their heads on the upper bunks, and clearance for the occupant of the bunk to sit up in bed. At the present ceiling height we can have one of those, but not both.

FIRST STUDENT

An update on First Student as a source of buses: A few years ago, First Student bought Laidlaw, so now First Student is the all-dominant contractor of pupil transportation services in the USA. They still list their buses-for-sale on their website, but... A; without prices, and... B; they don't update the list but once in a long while.
I have inquired about a couple buses recently, by e-mail, and the response was lousy. They gave the price, and that was all I got out of them. My impression is that they didn't want to bother with me, unless I simply mailed them a check, bus sight-unseen.
No doubt, most of their sales are to wholesalers who buy many buses at the time.

What to do? Go to your local school bus yards and ask.

You can still make use of First Student's online listings. But e-mail for the price before you travel any distance to see the bus. That way they will tell you if that bus is already sold, saving you a trip.
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Re: School Bus 101, long technical post

Postby Elliot » Thu Mar 16, 2017 11:50 pm

Update:
As mentioned, Millicent went in the shop for king pins. And front brakes at the same time. The bill was Two Grand.
Ready for another 240,000 miles!

And then.... I bought another bus:

Image


Meet Albatross. She is a 1994 Blue Bird, very much like Millicent -- only 27 inches shorter and with the "lesser" transmission.

Strangely, I bought her from a dealer. The asking price was $5,900. I negotiated that down just a tad -- to $2,500.

No, she will not replace Millicent. I have "room in my heart" for two Blue Birds. And as with Millicent, my buddy Peter is partnering on the project, so we can drive one each.

We have slightly radical plans for Albatross. More later.

But one important item today:
Both my bus engines have "mechanical" fuel injection. No computer or any electronics at all. This is highly desirable for ease and cost of maintenance! And even for basic reliability, since the electronics fail more often than any mechanical stuff.

The industry transitioned to electronics in the mid-90s, roughly. If you want a mechanical engine, you need to educate yourself a bit.

Same with transmissions, come to think of it. The newer transmissions are also electronic, and Allison is extremely "protective" of the software. These transmissions are identifiable by their four-digit model numbers, such as MD3060 and 2000. The name "World" may also appear.
They are terrific transmissions, except for the electronics and computer programs.

And these are all 6-speeds, but in school buses, 6th gear is usually locked out with the computer program, so they are 5-speeds. And again... getting 6th gear unlocked can cost many hundred dollars -- if Allison will even allow the dealer to do it.

So... buses with mechanical engine and the MT643 transmission is the "holy grail".
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Re: School Bus 101, long technical post

Postby JayBobBoy » Fri Mar 17, 2017 7:12 am

Congratulations on the new Blue Bird. She's beautiful! I can't wait to see what you have in mind for her....

Cheers for all you do!
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Re: School Bus 101, long technical post

Postby Elliot » Fri Mar 17, 2017 9:23 pm

JayBobBoy wrote:... ...can't wait to see what you have in mind for her....
...

Oh... nuttin much.
Just that something followed Millicent home one day recently.

Image

Yes, that's the Albatross portion of the project.
A 1955 Grumman Albatross.

Now. Some new "101" business:

I'm reading lots of reports of skoolie owners having difficulty finding insurance coverage; even minimum required liability. Seems insurance companies are leery of unwashed hippies with marginal technical savvy, shoestring budgets, and general incompetence regarding a 30,000-pound movable object with the appearance of a train-wreck.

So I suggest you make your bus look professionally sharp, both inside and out, so your agent can take photos and convince the suits that yours is a proper and worthy conversion.

In my case, I have been with the company for decades, and I have zero claims ever. Also, I have a sterling driving record.
Not bragging... just giving you information. This stuff matters.

And one more thing:
It may be best to avoid Caterpillar engines. Cat makes very good BIG engines, but their school-bus-size engines have a poor record for durability.

The two clear winners under the hood remain the International 466 and the Cummins 8.3. Next, the Cummins 5.9 (despite its puny size), followed by the International 444 (which is a V-8 and you may know as the 7.3 in Ford pickups).
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Re: School Bus 101, long technical post

Postby Captain Goddammit » Sat Mar 18, 2017 8:06 am

Remember to watch your total length overall... but I can't wait to see this happen!!

Speak the gospel Elliiot. My Cummins has the electronic injection pump and of course it left me on the side of the road the other day. Piece of shit...
I'm up against $1500 in parts to fix it, or $3000 to retrofit the earlier mechanical injection. I'm probably gonna do the cheaper-right-now option but I'm 100% certain I'll regret it later and end up retrofitting it. The electronic setup is superior in its ease of tuning and perfect driving manners, when it works at all!
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Re: School Bus 101, long technical post

Postby Elliot » Sat Mar 18, 2017 1:25 pm

Albatross will be between 39 and 40 feet long. That way, she may be driven piloted with a "regular" Class C Driver License.
(RVs may be up to 45 feet long, but when it is over 40 feet, a higher class of Driver License is required.)
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Re: School Bus 101, long technical post

Postby FlyingMonkey » Sun Mar 19, 2017 1:44 am

Elliot wrote:
JayBobBoy wrote:... ...can't wait to see what you have in mind for her....
...

Oh... nuttin much.
Just that something followed Millicent home one day recently.

Image

Yes, that's the Albatross portion of the project.
A 1955 Grumman Albatross.



That will be Awesome.

Can't wait to see it.
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Re: School Bus 101, long technical post

Postby Elliot » Sun Mar 19, 2017 9:53 am

It just dawned on me that many Burners on ePlaya these days... may never have seen the original post of this thread.
So... please note that:

The original post is a primer on what to look for in a decommissioned school bus, to be used for camping and such personal purposes. Brands, types, engines, transmissions, and more.
There is additional information throughout the thread, but mixed with "thread drift".

All right.

I'm thinking that Albatross may serve for public transit in BRC, in which case she would need a veranda of some sort.

Image

The proportions of this illustration are off by quite a lot. Even the angle of the cockpit is off. But it shows the concept. The style of the veranda probably ought to match the aviation theme up front, so we would have to come up with something like George Jetson's veranda.

One thing at the time.

For now, I have established fairly well how Things fit together. It would be better not to cut wheel-openings, but I see no way to avoid it.
The solid double lines show the "indoors" area. The firewall is already there!
The floor lines up pretty well with the bus floor.
The dotted double shows the upper deck on each side of the cockpit, where the pilots sit. Pilots will simply take two steps up to their seats.

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Traveller in Time
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Re: School Bus 101, long technical post

Postby Traveller in Time » Sun Mar 19, 2017 10:34 am

Wonderful, magic in the making :D

Make sure you have sight below the overhanging nose !
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A-RockLeFrench
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Re: School Bus 101, long technical post

Postby A-RockLeFrench » Sun Mar 19, 2017 11:04 am

Dude!

Awesome project Elliot! Sweet score on the cock-pit!

Is this thing going to be street legal when completed?

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some seeing eye
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Re: School Bus 101, long technical post

Postby some seeing eye » Sun Mar 19, 2017 4:56 pm

Awesome project! Where did you find the nose cone? If it has a nose, maybe it needs ears? A roof deck can be fun. Then the roof deck can have a band! Maybe it has wings and can transport people to/from daytime the intergalactic spaceport (airport)?

You will need a MV walking safety team. I would suggest 2 front and 2 side-rear, especially at night. Rotate them to keep them alert. Maybe they need themed costumes? The tendency of burners to want to throw themselves under the bus, as well as embark/disembark when the vehicle is moving, can never be underestimated, from my experience. We had an "on the bus" entry-exit volunteer too.

There has also been some discussion on ePlaya about MV physically disabled accessibility if that fits with your plan. Big Dale had a bus or two. Burning Man volunteers who helped with the Hot Wheelz camp before and after the burn stayed in them at his property. Maybe there is a bike camp set of overseas volunteers who can help with your project?
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Elliot
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Re: School Bus 101, long technical post

Postby Elliot » Sun Mar 19, 2017 10:48 pm

Yes, absolutely 100% street legal. I have the California Vehicle Code on my desk.

The windshield will be tricky. I need to find a car with a curved wrap-around windshield of suitable size and shape. It will be much flatter than the five aircraft windshields, so there will be an "eyebrow" above it. (Which ought to look cool, actually -- I hope.)
I'm making cardboard templates of the original windshield shape, to take with me to auto salvage yards.

It will almost certainly have a "toy hauler" tailgate like Millicent, which will accommodate wheelchairs (with extra pushing, since the ramp must necessarily be steeper than ADA spec).

Edit to add:
I'm paying close attention to forward sight-lines. The saving grace is that the snout is narrow, so not much can hide under it. Of course, I'm accustomed to driving 18-wheelers with long boxy hoods.
Worst case... CCTV.
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