School Bus 101, long technical post

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Postby Elliot » Mon Dec 15, 2008 11:46 am

:D
Cullen, different people have different habits and styles. My friends tend to bring the same sort of foods and beverages and drinking glasses they keep in their homes, and set them on the table as if they were at home, and then it all slides on the floor. Myself, I spent a quarter century in the cab of an 18-wheeler and never bring anything but screw-cap plastic bottles and other mess-proof things -- all of which I keep in a cooler on the floor for maximum tip-over proofing. So I'm just saying that you may want to think about such things before you hit the road.

Hmmm... yes, fresh water tanks may need to be protected against frost. I hadn't thought much about that, as Millicent's frost exposure is minimal. Waste tanks -- as Gyre said -- can be protected with a special anti-freeze that is made for that purpose.
:D
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Postby cullen » Mon Dec 15, 2008 12:44 pm

good thats what i wanted, those little thing people don't tend to think about.

i've also been looking at limo buses and party buses for ideas and it's giving me lots to think about.
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Postby gyre » Mon Dec 15, 2008 1:20 pm

There is antifreeze for fresh water in houses and rvs too.
Supposed to be non-toxic, but they tell you to flush it out before using again.
There are devices to force it backwards into lines.
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Postby Sail Man » Mon Dec 15, 2008 3:39 pm

Elliot wrote:One thing we desperately need in Millicent is a way to keep food and beverages secure while we are driving. We are often a half dozen people, and boxes of cookies and jugs of beverages are flying everywhere. I'm thinking "fences" and recessed bottle holders on the tables.


This is a good point Elliot, on boats, and the good Captain can back me up on this, fiddles are helpful in keeping stuff on the tables. Recessed drink holders are good for bottles and can, heres another option, a suction cup drink holder:

http://www.westmarine.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/producte/10001/-1/10001/16827/377%20710%201168/0/Drink%20Holders/Primary%20Search/mode%20matchallpartial/0/0?N=377%20710%201168&Ne=0&Ntt=Drink%20Holders&Ntx=mode%20matchallpartial&page=CategoryDisplayLevel1&isLTokenURL=true&storeNum=62&subdeptNum=63&classNum=63

They have other ideas for keeping things in there place, not just bottles and cans. If you do the overhead storage like Elliot suggests, consider netting or bungie cords along the face to keep items from falling out. West Marine sells both types of products. Another source, often cheaper is:
http://www.defender.com/

And of course RV dealers and suppliers will offer similar products. Probably cheaper than a marine supplier, because they use the reasoning that the marine environment is harsher on equipment, and that is def. true especially when considering a salt water environment. Fresh water less though.
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Postby cullen » Mon Dec 15, 2008 5:12 pm

one thing i've been seeing in the limo buses is cup holders behind the seats.

and i saw this in walmart earlier this week and just remembered.

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Postby gyre » Mon Dec 15, 2008 5:17 pm

There is a gimbaled and anodized cup holder for aircraft, that can hold something in a full inverted position.
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Postby Captain Goddammit » Mon Dec 15, 2008 8:10 pm

Something to keep in mind when laying out an interior, and yours looks pretty good, is to leave empty space. Empty space ends up being your favorite place. I improved my last two motorhomes by removing some of the superfluous furniture and replacing it with... nothing!
You always end up loading up stuff like coolers, luggage, cases of booze, etc. and if there's no place dedicated to nothing in particular, that shit will always be in your way. And you never know what the hell you'll end up cramming in there to transport someday. I carried a metal lathe home in my motorhome.
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Postby Elliot » Mon Dec 15, 2008 8:16 pm

Captain Goddammit wrote:Something to keep in mind when laying out an interior, and yours looks pretty good, is to leave empty space.


:D
Hear, hear! Elbow room! Very important. Do NOT build it so you have to turn sideways to move around in there. It may seem an acceptable compromise in theory, but it will grate on you.
:D
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Postby BAS » Tue Dec 16, 2008 11:36 pm

Cullen-- that foot rest/food tray is kind of neat! (I'll have to see if somewhere other than WalMart has it, if and when I get a school bus.)

Do you plan on using a camping stove for cooking? I didn't see a stove in the plan, so I am curious. (I was thinking about having a built in stove whenever I get a bus for a conversion, but that was mostly as part of complying with it being a motor home-- and that I found plans for building an oil stove out of metal in a reprint of a book from the early 1900s! [Lindsay Publishing has a lot of books like that... ])
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Postby cullen » Wed Dec 17, 2008 12:00 am

i'm thinking a grill, a wok, and a few bowls is all i need.
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Postby BAS » Wed Dec 17, 2008 12:15 am

Okay. I was just curious. (Forgetting to put a place for a stove is the kind of thing I might do, so I figured it was better to ask, just in case! :wink: )

(Or I would go the other way, and want to put in way too much...)
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Postby cullen » Wed Dec 17, 2008 12:36 am

i was thinking about a small electric George foreman type as a back up for those dust storm moments.

i haven't decided what i'm gonna do with the upper shelving just yet. i'm thinking a small microwave there. if i can get some welding help from my family then i'll raise the roof about a foot and i think it will make a big difference.
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Postby BAS » Wed Dec 17, 2008 12:46 am

For some reason I keep finding myself wanting to keep a bus conversion as primitive and basic as possible. No real reason (except maybe laziness...?)

Are you going to have a generator, or maybe something like solar panels and/or a wind generator? (Those last two should work pretty good on the playa, but maybe not so well in other areas.)

I had what might be a bad idea disguising itself as a good one: Putting the water containers on the roof, so you could have a gravity feed for the faucet. I don't know how well it would work out weight-wise, and could also screw up the aerodynamics. (In other words, hopefully someone who has more experience/is more sober than I am at the moment will chime in.)
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Postby cullen » Wed Dec 17, 2008 1:20 am

most likely a generator one of those eu2000 or two if i can find them cheap enough on ebay.


i think it would be a bit more troublesome then just installing them under or inside the bus and using a pump.
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Postby Captain Goddammit » Wed Dec 17, 2008 7:14 am

Yeah, you don't want the water on the roof. Lots of reasons; it'd be really hard to manually pour water in should you ever need/want to, putting all that weight as high as possible is the opposite of good design, stress on roof, and gravity feed, especially through small pipes, would result in only a trickle of water. 12 volt camper water pumps are so simple and work so well.
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Postby gyre » Wed Dec 17, 2008 7:59 am

BAS wrote:For some reason I keep finding myself wanting to keep a bus conversion as primitive and basic as possible. No real reason (except maybe laziness...?)

Are you going to have a generator, or maybe something like solar panels and/or a wind generator? (Those last two should work pretty good on the playa, but maybe not so well in other areas.)

I had what might be a bad idea disguising itself as a good one: Putting the water containers on the roof, so you could have a gravity feed for the faucet. I don't know how well it would work out weight-wise, and could also screw up the aerodynamics. (In other words, hopefully someone who has more experience/is more sober than I am at the moment will chime in.)

You can have a supply tank up high fed by a demand pump.
You can also have a conditioning tank in the bus for raising water to room temperature in the cold.

If you have propane, put in a propane stovetop at least.
I have a great propane oven.

Heaters are available that use no blower, vented radiant heaters.

Some home units made for a direct vent would work well, though they require an exhaust blower.
They may not be rated for rvs.
I don't know if this matters.

DO NOT USE A NON-VENTED HEATER!
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Postby cullen » Wed Dec 17, 2008 3:25 pm

okay so i know buses have those on floor heaters.

would it be a better idea to pull it out completely and install a roof top a/c heater unit?
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Postby Elliot » Wed Dec 17, 2008 4:03 pm

cullen wrote:okay so i know buses have those on floor heaters.

would it be a better idea to pull it out completely and install a roof top a/c heater unit?


You are talking about two very different technologies, and all the extra money to purchase the second of those two.

The bus came from the factory with two or three heat exchangers that use the engine heat to keep the interior cozy while driving. When you buy a functioning school bus, you already have this system and can use it while parked if the need arises. It may be true that to idle the 200 HP bus engine just for the by-product heat is not very efficient, but....

....The alternative you suggest is to spend some serious money for the rooftop machinery, then more serious money for a generator to power it. To my (limited) knowledge, if a rooftop A/C unit also has heat, then it will be electric resistance heat, and that means a big generator.

So I'm thinking... you can idle the bus engine "forever" for the money you would spend on all the other extra machinery. And a diesel engine does not mind idling. No "loading up the carburetor" or "fouling the plugs". Just make sure your hand throttle cable works; bump it up a couple hundre RPMs above curb idle so it runs real smoothly with good oil pressure, and forget it.

All this said... I have been to Burning Man with a bus three times, and I have never felt a need for heat while parked. And most burners sleep in tents.

Same with A/C. I have a residential window A/C mounted in the wall of the bus, and a generator ready to power it, and have never used it -- not even with my friends' eight month old baby onboard.
:D
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Postby cullen » Wed Dec 17, 2008 4:30 pm

okay i asked be cause i keep seeing people pulling the second heater in back. and then i got to thinking about keeping cool on the playa if i wanted to sleep in tll 2 one day.
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Postby Elliot » Wed Dec 17, 2008 5:51 pm

cullen wrote:okay i asked be cause i keep seeing people pulling the second heater in back. and then i got to thinking about keeping cool on the playa if i wanted to sleep in tll 2 one day.


Good points.

I'm guessing you are referring to other bus owners on the skoolie.net forum, and I cannot answer for them. Some of them install wood stoves, so there is obviously a wide spectrum of needs and preferences out there.

As for myself, I removed the rear heater as a convenient way to proceed, because these heaters hang under a seat, and the seats in the back were "getting off the bus". And of course, in my particular case, I was turning the rear half of Millicent into a cargo area. Also, a small heater mounted on the floor next to the driver's seat was removed to make room for the new swiveling seat. That left only the heater in the dashboard.

This proved to be inadequate while traveling up and down the West Coast in October. My friends have given strict orders to re-install the heater from the rear into the current passenger area. Luckily, I still have it. So let that be a lesson to me! :lol:

As for A/C in BRC during the day, some people do indeed swear by it in order to get decent sleep. I suppose this can be likened to my sleeping in an 18-wheeler - there were times when I made the decision that I was going to have the A/C on to sleep, no matter how much I prided myself on minimizing idling time.

Other than that, I cannot address the phenomenon of daytime sleeping. Lots of burners do it, for the obvious reason. My own sleep pattern tends to follow the sun -- and I really enjoy mornings in BRC.

I think it was mentioned before that a good way to arrange daytime sleep in a bus would be to build a relatively small bedroom and equip that with a small A/C. I'm pretty sure that's what I would do. You can get a small "window" A/C at Sears or some such store for as little as 100 bucks. I'd have to find the numbers, but I know an EU3000 can power that. One friend of mine uses such a window A/C in a tiny compact-pickup camper-shell -- I think he REALLY likes it cool when he sleeps!

But as mentioned before, I have never found my bus too horribly hot during the day in BRC. And to me, passive features are the way to go -- shade, reflective paint, air circulation....
:D
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Postby cullen » Wed Dec 17, 2008 6:28 pm

someone mentioned that it would be a good idea to have more table space and i just came up with an idea. what about having a table top under bench seating. i got the idea from this instructable.
http://www.instructables.com/id/Coffee_table_upgrade/

but i was instead thinking the top would tilt up on a piano hindge and under it would be the table top and pole(s)

http://store.dan-marcrvparts.com/kiha.html
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Re: School Bus 101, long technical post

Postby falk » Wed Dec 17, 2008 6:39 pm

Elliot wrote::D
SCHOOL BUSES 101 -- BASIC INFORMATION ABOUT BUYING AN OLD SCHOOL BUS FOR CAMPING IN BLACK ROCK CITY ...


My vote for most informative post ever on ePlaya.
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Postby gyre » Wed Dec 17, 2008 6:40 pm

They do make heat pump rooftop units.

I suggest using water heaters when the engine is running for heat.
Propane when parked, unless you're running off a power grid.
No way to run a heat pump without a blower, but you can run some propane heaters.

http://www.rvcomfort.com/suburban/produ ... rnaces.php
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Postby gyre » Wed Dec 17, 2008 6:54 pm

At the high end, rvs use radiant water heating systems.
Some have separate thermostats for each area.
It seems a system like that could also use engine heat.

Here is a diesel example.
There are several pages.
http://www.radiantdesigninstitute.com/page77.html
http://www.radiantdesigninstitute.com/page79.html
Most of what I have seen uses baseboard heaters.
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Re: School Bus 101, long technical post

Postby Elliot » Wed Dec 17, 2008 8:05 pm

falk wrote:
Elliot wrote::D
SCHOOL BUSES 101 -- BASIC INFORMATION ABOUT BUYING AN OLD SCHOOL BUS FOR CAMPING IN BLACK ROCK CITY ...


My vote for most informative post ever on ePlaya.


:D
Like most humans, I crave and thrive on praise, so I did it largely for my own sake. And I just collected. :lol:

Thank you. It was my pleasure. While the above "for my own sake" statement is of course also true, that post is simply the sort of thing that I would myself hope to find when poking around on the interweb. Then, you ePlayaens made it possible by building up a widely available forum for other burners to find it on -- just like I found much information here when I first decided to learn about BM four years ago.
And most of the credit belongs to all the guys on the skoolie.net forum, where I did find much of what I simply collected and transferred to ePlaya.

As for the clever folding furniture, I suppose there is really no limit to what can be invented! But I have at times found myself falling in the trap of being more clever than useful.

The bunks in Millicent are all folding bunks collected from wrecked 18-wheelers. (No, I did not wreck them myself! :lol: ) The way the hinge is offset to the top of the mattress allows the bed to be folded flat against the wall without removing the mattress. Not too clever, but quite useful. The one bottom bunk has storage under it. The upper bunks fold up for that important elbow room in the bus. They do need sturdy outer supports also. My guess is, these bunks should be readily available in big-rig wrecking yards. Mine are from the Freightliner Century model.

Those metal posts and sockets for RV tables are universally available, inexpensive, and simple to use. The floor socket is meant to be recessed into the floor, so you can walk over it (when the table is not in place)without tripping. This works well in a school bus -- just look underneath first to make sure you don't cut into something below the floor. The dining booth table in Millicent uses such a post, with a home-made bracket and wing nut at the wall. You can eliminate the wall support by using two posts.
:D
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Postby cullen » Wed Dec 17, 2008 8:36 pm

i think got my theme down for my bus too.

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Postby theCryptofishist » Wed Dec 17, 2008 8:47 pm

I don't read this thread any more. I"m just here to see if there are any more wacky bus videos.
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Postby Zamfir2 » Wed Dec 17, 2008 9:40 pm

theCryptofishist wrote:I don't read this thread any more. I"m just here to see if there are any more wacky bus videos.


[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0wqZC51bFs[/youtube]

:D
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Postby cullen » Thu Dec 18, 2008 3:51 am

new question, how do i figure out how many batteries i need so i can use what ever crap i want on battery power alone?
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Postby Captain Goddammit » Thu Dec 18, 2008 7:40 am

OK; small cheap window A/C units (typically about 5000 BTU): I use one as a second "kicker" A/C when I really want to chill. Unless your bus is extremely well insulated, and I mean extreme, it isn't going to be enough. They're just too weak, unless your bunk compartment is very small. You can use a home type window unit, but you really need to get a bigger one. Those A/Cs you see on camper roofs are generally 11,000 - 13,000 BTU. And they work great, too! If I were you I'd look on craigslist for one from an RV being parted out. Frequently, old or dead RVs have almost new items in them. I got my last expensive large propane fridge that way. The roof mounted camper A/Cs are much better, you don't have to screw with taking them out and putting them away all the time.

The battery issue is a wide open discussion with one of those "it depends" answers. It depends on exactly how much stuff you want to run, and for how long.
My simple opinion: lots of batteries is a good thing.
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