School Bus 101, long technical post

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Postby gyre » Wed Dec 24, 2008 11:36 am

What was it?
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Postby cullen » Wed Dec 24, 2008 12:04 pm

does anyone have basic pics of the underside of a pusher bus so i can get a rough idea of how much space is available.
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Postby Captain Goddammit » Wed Dec 24, 2008 6:44 pm

That's something you'll have to figure out when you find the particular bus you want to build.
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Postby gyre » Wed Dec 24, 2008 7:02 pm

I think if it has a flat floor, it has a bigger cellar.
I knew someone with a lift up floor panel that had stairs going into the wine cellar.
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Postby cullen » Thu Dec 25, 2008 2:46 am

gyre wrote:I think if it has a flat floor, it has a bigger cellar.
I knew someone with a lift up floor panel that had stairs going into the wine cellar.


That's a good point, I want as much storage space as possible.
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Postby Elliot » Fri Dec 26, 2008 4:20 pm

:D
For really big under-floor storage, you may want to look at highway buses; the Greyhound kind -- MCI, Eagle etc. Those are built from entirely different technology, with the passenger floor "upstairs" and large luggage compartments "on the ground floor". Older MCI's are becoming affordable. (MCI = Motor Coach Industries; was owned by Greyhound for many decades.)
:D
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Postby BAS » Fri Dec 26, 2008 4:46 pm

I had someone trying to convince me that those highway buses are the only way to go. They seemed to be, on the average, much more expensive than school buses. The person argued that highway buses lasted longer since they were built for long trips. Of course, he also just happened to sell used highway buses, so I tended to be a bit skeptical about how unbiased he was.

I do imagine that there are advantages, such as the underfloor space Elliot mentions, plus at least some of them come with a toilet already installed. I don't know if they are as easily modified or are built to the same standards as school buses. (I do imagine they are built to better standards than motor homes-- I still remember that Top Gear episode where they tried racing motor homes, and had most of them falling apart on the track!)
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Postby gyre » Fri Dec 26, 2008 5:45 pm

Underfloor space?
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Postby Captain Goddammit » Fri Dec 26, 2008 6:54 pm

Don't even mention real coach busses in the same sentence as those stick-built pile of crap motorhomes like the ones you saw falling apart on that show. They have NOTHING in common.
Freeway coach busses are absolutely superior to school busses, the only reason people use school busses instead is price. Coaches usually have better headroom, huge "basement" storage bays, as well as air-ride suspensions that ride SO much nicer. Most are also capable of cruising at 70 - 75 MPH.
The down side is price, one with less than eleventy-zillion miles on it will be higher than a school bus.

If you go with a coach bus, something like an MCI that is still in commercial service will be easier to get service parts for than something like a Flxible or even an Eagle that are now orphans.

Your other "real" bus option is a transit bus. These are generally cheaper than coaches and usually have lower gears that limit them to school bus speeds on the freeway (55 - 60ish). They are built lower and don't have the "basement" under the floor, but otherwise are generally comparable to coaches.

Oh, and most people remove the bus toilet and install a real bathroom but if you weren't gonna put in anything at all I guess it's better than nothing.
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Postby BAS » Sat Dec 27, 2008 12:25 am

Well, when I was up at the State Patrol Academy for DMV training, the opinion there was that school buses were probably the toughest vehicles on the road (well, outside of construction-type equipment). I'm not surprised that coach buses are good, though, since they have to travel much further distances, carrying both people and a lot of luggage.

My comment about them coming with a toilet already installed wasn't meant to be taken too seriously! :) (Of course, what I would be likely to go with for camping and BM would be a port-a-potty type affair. Of course, that would be inadequate for more than a week or two! Then again, so would a coach bus toilet!)

Cost will almost certainly be one of my biggest concerns, and a coach bus would probably be out of reach. (I can't think of any relatives who are particularly well off, much less leave their money to me! [Part of the problem of being on the "black sheep" branch of the family tree. :wink: ])
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Postby Elliot » Sat Mar 21, 2009 8:37 pm

:D
BUMP!
This question keeps coming up.
Anybody feel this ought to be a Sticky? I'd like to get some more "mileage" out of all that typing.
:D
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Postby Elliot » Sun Mar 22, 2009 12:04 pm

:D
Oh, and I just found a site that seems to do a good job of listing driver license requirements for RVs is every state:

http://changingears.com/rv-sec-state-rv-license.shtml

:D
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Postby CapSmashy » Fri Jun 05, 2009 4:34 pm

Bumpity bump bump. :)

We were just tire kicking on a 2002 (or maybe it was 2000) Blue Bird flat nose 10 window bus with the handicap package. These are retired Fort Worth ISD buses and the asking price for the handicap one is $3500.

One had 187k on the clock and the other has 205k. Cummins 5.9 engine, not sure on transmission, 2 onboard ac units (factory installed, told they work and blow cold) and air brakes. The wheelchair lift looks brand new. Tires look good with decent tread but will need to check the manufacture date on the rubber.

Probably about the cleanest used buses I have climbed in and looked at over the past few years and being a handicap model, it already has most of the seats removed with tie down rails for securing wheelchairs.

Depending on how the rest of this month plays out, we might be pulling the trigger on one of these in time for this year's burn. :)

I need to do the research on getting it titled as an RV, etc, but from what my wife has been seeing, it should not be too difficult here in Texas and given that its a mid-sized bus, no special endorsements or licensing even with the air brakes if I am reading the DPS website correctly.


What would be some of the obvious things to look for when checking it out.
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Postby ygmir » Fri Jun 05, 2009 4:41 pm

hey cap'n.
where do you live?
Looney tune just did all that for his bus, title and RV designation, here in CA.
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Postby Toolmaker » Fri Jun 05, 2009 7:21 pm

2 x 1993 Bluebirds with under 200K miles went for 1800 each at an auction in PA this past weekend. A "short bus" went for 650.
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Postby CapSmashy » Fri Jun 05, 2009 7:45 pm

ygmir wrote:hey cap'n.
where do you live?
Looney tune just did all that for his bus, title and RV designation, here in CA.


I'm in Texas. There's few hoops to jump through, but its not too bad.
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Postby ygmir » Fri Jun 05, 2009 8:16 pm

CapSmashy wrote:
ygmir wrote:hey cap'n.
where do you live?
Looney tune just did all that for his bus, title and RV designation, here in CA.


I'm in Texas. There's few hoops to jump through, but its not too bad.


oh, I bet it's lots easier than here in CA.......just wonderin'..........
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Postby CapSmashy » Fri Jun 05, 2009 9:07 pm

And according to the city code, as long as its licensed and inspected its legal to park it in the driveway since its under 35 feet.
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Postby Elliot » Sun Sep 13, 2009 11:08 am

:D
Bump.

Time to start planning for 2010!
:D
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Postby theCryptofishist » Sun Sep 13, 2009 7:59 pm

Elliot wrote:Time to start planning for 2010!
Yeah, yeah. Tell me all about the wheelchair lift you're putting in your bus...
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Postby Tiahaar » Sun Sep 13, 2009 10:18 pm

Crypto...Elliot has a whole freakin' swing-down rear door RAMP on the back of his bus, if you haven't seen it. Rolls vehicles in and out. A wheelchair could come right in.

Meanwhile, my bus has a friggin fuel line that the fuel pump is sucking air into. Fixed on this trip by pressurizing the whole 30 foot copper line with an electric pump at the tank, but still can't pinpoint the leak. It doesn't leak fuel OUT under pressure but lets air IN when siphoning??? Oh well, there are 11 months left to sort it out :?
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Postby Elliot » Mon Sep 14, 2009 9:51 am

:D
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Cargo ramp, yes. Passenger accomodations, no. :(

This business of air getting into fuel lines is a common problem with diesel engines. Air will indeed seep into the lines before fuel leaks out. I'm guessing it has to do with the size of the molecules. I had this problem on Millicent, and it took forever to get her started. Replaced the rubber hoses, and now she starts right up even after sitting for months.
:D
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Postby ygmir » Mon Sep 14, 2009 10:08 am

yeah, that's one drawback to metal fuel lines.....you can get a crack small enough to let a gas (air) through, but, not liquid out........a soft line will usually not leak that way because the vacuum in the pickup line keeps it shut......until it gets big enough to spit fuel, and then, you can see it........

a pusher pump, as you did, will resolve that for the time, but, you still gotta find the leak.
you might consider pulling both ends, capping one and pressurizing the other with air to 100 lbs or so......it'll either blow the bad spot out, and, you'll hear it, or, you can go along and listen for the "hiss"........

if you have the money, it might be a good time to abandon that line and replace it with a braided flexible line........best of both worlds, IMHO, in that they are very tough, can handle vibration and impacts, easy to route and install, and, can easily be cut and repaired with a hacksaw and barbed coupler, if a failure does occur.

good luck
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Postby Tiahaar » Tue Sep 15, 2009 10:45 pm

hmmm. I like the pressurize-the-line idea, I can get to both ends and cap one and put a tire valve fitting on the other. SOMEWHERE there is likely a fatigue crack just waiting to break completely apart and put me out of action.

A short story about the trip in: Somewhere around Yerington I noticed the engine missing a bit and pulled into a service station to investigate. It was idling fine, but acted like it was starving for fuel when revved. Step one was to replace the fuel filters (which was in fact needed as the primary showed signs of collapsing...should have done that pre-trip!). That seemed to solve the problem. Fueled up at Fernley and headed into the last stretch towards the playa. At the Worst Place Possible, going up a steep hill around a blind corner, at the downshift the engine lost power, going back nearly to idle RPM with full throttle called for. EEEP!! Sent my campmate out and back on foot to warn approaching traffic, and after a few hair raising minutes tried the throttle again and got the bus moving up and around the corner to a wider spot to pull out of the way. Thankyou to the several ATV haulers who came by for not running into me...I scraped the rock cliff a bit trying to be off the road as far as possible.

There are some complicated controls on a Detroit Diesel running the throttle, its not just a butterfly valve in a carb. The fuel racks are controlled by a gov, several solenoid valves and pressure switches, and they all seemed in order. Cleaned up a sticky air-operated cut-off solenoid (used to shut the engine to idle during shifting...thought that might be a culprit) and started off again, but lost speed on the first rise encountered so found a real pull-out and spent the next 3 hours there.

That's when the air bubbling into the filter was discovered, and where the bodged-together booster pump was installed. Helps to have a chest of spare parts stashed onboard! Hats off to DPW's Gameshow and Katy (his new bride I was later to learn, congratulations!!) for pulling over and checking on me, as well as the reservation police who watched out for traffic, much appreciated. The pump got things running as they should and the trip to the playa and then home went pretty well. I did have to replace the old booster pump with a newly purchased spare close to home. Now I have another 'spare' for the spare on hand :roll:

The hunt is on for some good fuel hose and thanks for putting up with my long winded typing...its good to share road stories. Now back to bus fixing. I'm thinking that the pickup tube in the tank has a clogged strainer that is making the pump work especially hard to get fuel through it. At first glance it doesn't look removeable (like its brazed onto the tank) but a 49 y.o. tank might be scary-full of bottom scale & gunk needing removal. :shock:
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Postby Elliot » Sat Nov 21, 2009 1:51 pm

:D


All right, I’ve been saving this as “bump fodderâ€
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Postby Tiahaar » Thu Dec 17, 2009 11:33 pm

nice shade!

psst...it appears my bus will have a new yard mate tomorrow...a rather large truck with a rather large welder on it...details to follow...
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Postby Captain Goddammit » Fri Dec 18, 2009 8:10 am

Tiahaar wrote:nice shade!

psst...it appears my bus will have a new yard mate tomorrow...a rather large truck with a rather large welder on it...details to follow...


Man you know how to put me on the edge of my seat! Post pictures.
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Postby Elliot » Fri Dec 18, 2009 8:36 am

:D
Welding: The process by which a man's thoughts are transmongrified into mechanized transportation.

Update on the used-school-bus-market-situation: I just heard of a perfectly good Thomas rear-engine bus with Caterpillar diesel engine going for $1.500 near Kent, Washington. The $1.500 was said to be the scrap metal value. The bus is being crushed unless somebody walks in with $1.500 and drives it home before the crushing happens. It's a major buyers market for these things now!
:D
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Postby ygmir » Fri Dec 18, 2009 8:46 am

do you have contact info on that bus?
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Postby Elliot » Fri Dec 18, 2009 9:07 am

:D
Not directly, but here's where I saw it:
http://www.skoolie.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=5248

I'm a member on that board, so I'll send a PM and request the contact info.
:D
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