School Bus 101, long technical post

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Postby lapeer20m » Fri Dec 05, 2008 10:41 am

cullen wrote:
lapeer20m wrote:here are links to youtube vid's of two of the buses. I wasn't into video yet with my first 2 buses.


i have a question about your jacuzzi bus and the playa dust. how well is the jacuzzi filter work for the dust. or are you using an additional in line filter?


bringing a jacuzzi to the playa could it's own thread......rather ot of used school buses...sort of. A successful jacuzzi on the playa is made of a number of what seem to be complicated systems. These systems are actually quite simple when you break them down.

an ounce of prevention is worht a pound of cure! Clean people = clean water. I set up a crude shower using clorinated, filtered recycled water. I make sure to post a sign stating the shower water is recycled.

Rule 1, shower is required before entry

rule 2, no hair in the jacuzzi! Hair holds so much playa dust. Keep your head out of the water!

rule 3, no clothes. Even a pair of boxer shorts hold a ton of playa dust. I do make exceptions to this rule occasionally

rule 4, the bus driver is exempted from all bus rules....

standard jacuzzi filter will not keep the water clean. standard filter is good to have, as it filters particulate matter from the water. A standard paper element filter does maybe 50-100 micron. The problem is that playa dust particles are small enough they pass right through the filter.

I put tons of research, time, and money into water filtering.

things that didn't work (at least by themselves)

sand filter for a pool, rated to filter the volume of water in the jacuzzi once every 6 minutes.

standard jacuzzi paper element filter

0.5 micron drinking water filter, plugs up too fast.

What does work??

whole house drinking water filter's rated at 20 micron.

Image

They are fine enough to remove playa dust, but coarse enough to last for a while before changing them out. How many do you need? A LOT! During heavy jacuzzi use, i change a filter probably once per hour. However, once everyone get's out, i can leave one filter going for several hours when i sleep and wake up with sparkling water.

Another big problem with jacuzzi's is their power consumption. A standard 8 person jacuzzi is often rated for 240 volts and 40 amps. that is more energy than i care to waste on the playa. That would require 0.5 to 1 gallons of gasoline per hour. 10 days X 12 gallons/day = 120 gallons of fuel. Way too rich for my blood. To solve this, I replace the energy hog 220 volt electric pump(s) with cheap 110 volt low amp draw pumps. I can run 2 of these at peak jacuzzi usage times, and a single pump to run when nobody is in the water. I like to filter water 24 hours/day on the playa. You absolutely cannot beat an eu series honda geni in my opinion. With an eu2000 i average 15 hours/gallon of fuel on the playa. That includes the jacuzzi, chest freezer, toaster oven, several camera charges, lighting, etc. And the geni is so quiet you can barely tell it's running.

jacuzzi will occasionally get like 10 people in it and overflow. it is ok according to the bm guide book to put filtered treated water directly on the playa, but rangers still get grumpy if the bus is leakign water on the ground. to solve this, i just build a simple evap pond under the bus out of black visqueen and 2x4's.

i also bring 220 gallons of extra water for the jacuzzi....just in case. plastic 55 gallon drums are your friend.

what would i like to do to better the system in the future?

I end up with like 100 dirty wasted paper filters. They are expensive, take up lots of space, and this is very wasteful as they are not reusable. I think you could filter water using a centerefuge and be much less wasteful.

i also think that building a real shower into the bus and a big evap pond to handle the waste water would be ideal.

some things to keep in mind.....Inviting people into your bus will also bring in tons of playa dust. don't be one of those people who can't tollerate playa inside your vehicle. You'd go mental trying to keep all the dust out.

i also like to use a hepa furnace filter and a fan to keep the dust down inside the bus. I pretty much only use this during dust storms, but it sure is lovely! I turn off the geni and use batteries/inverter to run things during a bad dust storm so the geni doesn't suck in so much playa dust.

there is almost nothing better than sitting in the jacuzzi eating bacon in the middle of a dust storm. seems almost surreal watching people walk by leaning into the gale force winds.

you also need to heat the water to about 90 degrees. it might sound silly, but if the water is only 70, it's too cold to get into. i'm from michigan, i know cold, and i can't sit in the jacuzzi for more than a few m inutes in the desert when the water's only 70 degrees. solar heater would be most efficient, but i use either engine heat from the bus motor, or i brought a fuel oil boiler one year just to heat water.

One of my favorite thigns to do at the burn is to find a random stranger in the heat of the afternoon and say "would you like to go swimming?" at first they don't really believe you, but hey, this is burningman and anythign is possible. The most enjoyment i get out of the jacuzzi is watchign other people enjoy it. You can't measure the amount of joy and excitement produced by allowing people access to a swimming pool in the middle of the desert.
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Postby lapeer20m » Fri Dec 05, 2008 12:31 pm

grrr...can't edit my post after an hour. i was going to go back and correct my spelling and grammatical errors.

anyhow...

water treatment.....I use more chlorine in the week of the burn than i do all summer long. I like to use the liquid test gizmo rather than the test strips.

Image

i check chlorine levels at least a dozen times a day on the playa. I don't pay much attention to hardness or alkalinity

I like to use pool chlorine. it's like 100 times cheaper than jacuzzi bromine. both do the same thing, chlorine just has a stronger smell to it. .

i also bring jb water weld. it's like play dough that works underwater to fix leaks. dries hard as porcelain. I had a crack in the jacuzzi one year at the burn. jb stick weld saved the entire week!

i would say you'd definitely need to keep the jacuzzi inside some sort of structure, or in a bus. Open to the elements sounds like a playa dust disaster.

lots of people will tell you that bringing a jacuzzi to the desert will not work and they may also tell you that man never landed on the moon.

bm staff at the dmv will tell you that you need to get a permit from the nevada state health department for your "public pool". i've e-mailed back and forth, and talked on the phone to a gentlemen at the health department, and his official opinion is that a jacuzzi in a bus in the middle of the event is simply not a public pool, even if you allow strangers to enter. I have never been able to register the bus(s) as a mutant vehicle. Not mutated enough! I even put a 20 foot blue light up man on the roof of the bus one year.

that's all i can think of for now......
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Postby theCryptofishist » Fri Dec 05, 2008 8:00 pm

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJ0I69Q5BpY&feature=related[/youtube]
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Postby Captain Goddammit » Fri Dec 05, 2008 8:16 pm

Thanks for taking the time to share your hard-earned wisdom!
I can handle transportation, enclosure, water supply, power, building heat exchangers for alternate hot water source... but didn't have a clue about how to make sure I didn't end up with a tub full of mud!

I do have some those little foot-bath thingies in my Land Yacht, but it's just not the same...
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Postby Sail Man » Fri Dec 05, 2008 9:26 pm

lapeer20m wrote:rule 2, Keep your head out of the water!

rule 4, the bus driver is exempted from all bus rules....



So that was you with the snorkel and mask! :shock:
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Postby cullen » Fri Dec 05, 2008 9:56 pm

hmm... so even if you didn't want to bring a jacuzzi before you figure it all out you could do a bath tub with the same set up as a test.
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Postby Sail Man » Sat Dec 06, 2008 4:12 pm

cullen wrote:hmm... so even if you didn't want to bring a jacuzzi before you figure it all out you could do a bath tub with the same set up as a test.


My bathtub is to small to go snorkeling in :(

But I can raise the periscope :wink:
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Postby Captain Goddammit » Sat Dec 06, 2008 10:19 pm

Sail Man wrote:
My bathtub is to small to go snorkeling in :(

But I can raise the periscope :wink:


Well just don't release any torpedos!
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Postby jkisha » Sat Dec 06, 2008 10:29 pm

Captain Goddammit wrote:
Sail Man wrote:
My bathtub is to small to go snorkeling in :(

But I can raise the periscope :wink:


Well just don't release any torpedos!


LMFAO!!!!

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Postby Tiahaar » Sun Dec 07, 2008 12:18 am

oh you guys :roll:
hey when I was about 5 my aunt caught me doing a 'pee fountain' while I was taking a bubble bath...boy did I get in trouble!
Ahem! OK some more bus fun, and how the cooling system on my rig has been a regular challenge over the years.

I've got a rear engine diesel bus (GM TDH 5301 40') , and when I bought it the whole cooling system was still hooked up. Had a large double set of heater cores and fans amidships to warm the bus interior, a small heater core up front for the driver and defrost as well as the huge rear side radiator for the engine, all connected by pipes and hoses and served by various booster pumps and control valves. Quite the system!

I had a coolant leak from the getgo, a steady fast drip down the side of the engine. All the hoses were OK, finally traced it to coming out of a weep hole in the engine water pump. The manual said if this was happening the pump shaft seal needed replacing. Pulled a cover, pulled the impeller, replaced the seal and the leak stopped. Yay!

First big trip I went for an overnight jaunt to Six Flags with a friend. Rode way too many coasters and ended up laying on a bench not able to move without my head spinning. Or stomach heaving. Yargh. Anyways on the trip home we were coming down a winding grade and I noticed a trickle of water on the floor coming from somewhere in back. Thought one of the water jugs stored in the rear had tipped over so sent my friend to the back to investigate. He makes his way 30 feet to the back and comes quickly back saying there is water and steam spraying out from under the back bed. Not good! Pull over, shut down, find out a 1/4" pipe had broken off the heater boost pump control valve and was letting engine coolant spray the storage area under the bed. And since the heater system apparently hadn't been run in a long long time it was rusty stale nasty water that was being forced out first. Yech what a mess. Had a pipe plug to put in and water to top off the radiator so we were soon good to go again. Its very good to bring lots of spare parts and fixit stuff on an old bus!

Once home I disconnected all the extra heater crap, pulled the cores and fans and recycled the scrap. Won't ever have to worry about all that extra coolant line springing a leak and with the price of antifreeze saves me tons on coolant changes 'cause I cut out probably 15+ gallons of unused coolant capacity.

There was still another adventure or two...the engine driven radiator fan quit turning at full speed one year, puzzled over that for weeks, finally a guy on a bus forum recalled that the old GM's had a strange fan drive setup that ran off engine oil. Not through pressure, but through a fluid drive clutch that filled with oil once the engine warmed up and a little valve closed to fill the clutch with oil. That valve had failed. I pulled it out, put in a manual valve that I just leave closed. Fan runs fine now, though if I lived in a cold place the engine would run too cool and I'd have to fix it properly.

The last and most messy coolant nightmare on my rig was a year ago when I went to top off the radiator before coming home from BRC 2007...and oil came out! Brown gunky chocolate stuff. Oh oh. The engine ran fine, no white smoke (indicating water getting in the heads through a crack that could also be letting oil get in the water) or water in the oil, just oily coolant. Well, decided to head for home, made it all the way 660 miles no problem. Did some research and discovered that Detriot Diesel engine's have a heat exchanger built into the side where the crankcase oil had coolant circulated around it. Duh. I should have known that but hadn't a clue, was looking for an external cooler like on other diesels, and um somehow missed that part of the manual :oops:

Pulled the cooler core, discovered it had been dropped and dented sometime in its past life...and a crack had formed allowing a leak. Would like to smack the mechanic responsible for that! Put in a new one and all is fine for now. What a messy job. Playa dust and oil form the most amazing sticky gunky substance. My engine needs a steamcleaning badly.

I better quit now! Moral of the story I guess is that big busses can have big complicated problems, but they are designed to have parts located where they can be accessed for service and the systems are very robust to handle commercial use so generally last very well in light RV use. Still pays to have a full toolbox on board and a good collection of spare parts. Stop by and visit me and the Starship Palomino in 2009! (mine's the yellow bus):
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Postby gyre » Sun Dec 07, 2008 2:34 am

Is that diesel?
They are very sensitive to running too cool.
There is even a new geared and computer controlled system for some trucks just to keep the temperature as warm as possible.
Efficiency goes to hell when they are too cool, I'm told.

Aux heaters can be very handy in an overheating emergency, I find.
I like them, even in a car.
And it's the only way to defrost ice off the rear.
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Postby Captain Goddammit » Sun Dec 07, 2008 2:52 am

A "rear engine diesel bus" with a Detroit Diesel is probably... a diesel...

If you see that big yellow thing with a tall yellow trike with huge tires parked out front - run away! The inhabitant is an eccentric gentleman who definitely needs to scrub his motor.
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Postby gyre » Sun Dec 07, 2008 3:07 am

Captain Goddammit wrote:A "rear engine diesel bus" with a Detroit Diesel is probably... a diesel...

If you see that big yellow thing with a tall yellow trike with huge tires parked out front - run away! The inhabitant is an eccentric gentleman who definitely needs to scrub his motor.

Thought so.
I missed it.
I'm watching graham norton and trying to catch all the slang so I get the jokes, while posting on two forums and doing a few searches about various curiosities all at the same time, and I can't focus on more than one thing at a time...but i did catch that it was a bus.

Looks like a good highway bus from that picture too.
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Postby lapeer20m » Sun Dec 07, 2008 8:41 am

the above poster made an excellent point! Bring tools and spare parts. I have a toolbox filled tools, another with plumbing pieces, another with electrical connectors, on buses with air brakes i carry an air hose and have a quick connector that lets me tap into the bus air system. good for filling tires, and running air tools.

spare engine belts are cheap...or just change out the belts and keep the old ones on board.

i also carry a generator and 40 amp battery charger. Good to start your bus when the batteries are too low. Also handy if your alternator stops charging.

spare fuel line, hose clamps, engine coolant, oil, etc...
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Postby Elliot » Sun Dec 07, 2008 11:18 am

:D
Tiahaar, if your engine fan is running all the time, you are wasting fuel, because that big fan takes a lot of HP to turn. In an 18-wheeler, it is almost like stepping on the brake -- I've read 40 HP.

In school buses -- at least in my Blue Birds -- the hoses for the interior heaters run inside the bus -- yards and yards of them. So... if the bus is old, you might want to replace the hoses before you get a geyser in the living room.
:D
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Postby Captain Goddammit » Sun Dec 07, 2008 6:52 pm

Then again, a nice hot coolant spray might cleanse out a lot of playa dust build-up.
Tiahaar's bus is only 5 years older than I am, and I haven't replaced any of MY hoses yet.
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Postby Tiahaar » Sun Dec 07, 2008 11:18 pm

lapeer20m wrote:spare fuel line, hose clamps, engine coolant, oil, etc...

yup and yup! and loved your hot tub tips, wow what a big project.

gyre wrote:Aux heaters can be very handy in an overheating emergency, I find.

That's the one reason I wish I had the complete working system. Oh well, it would have cost a fortune to refit and get it working again.

Captain Goddammit wrote:If you see that big yellow thing with a tall yellow trike with huge tires parked out front - run away!

Ha, did you come by the day my kitchen fire extinguisher blew up???? Ohhh I was not happy...but I LIKE visitors most of the time! And where is your new bus???

Elliot wrote: Tiahaar, if your engine fan is running all the time, you are wasting fuel, because that big fan takes a lot of HP to turn. In an 18-wheeler, it is almost like stepping on the brake -- I've read 40 HP.

Ya, true that, I really should fix that regulator. I do need all the fan running up grades though, even thought about putting a water spray system on the radiator.

No worries on the old interior hoses leaking (and mine are copper pipes except at the bulkheads) 'cause they no longer are connected to the engine coolant.
:P Ha and yes the bus is a 1960...older than me too!!!
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Postby Elliot » Sun Dec 07, 2008 11:42 pm

:D
When was that radiator last replaced or refurbished? Driving around with a gunky radiator is false economy -- a fried engine costs SOOOO much more.
:D
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Postby Sail Man » Mon Dec 08, 2008 8:47 am

Captain Goddammit wrote:Then again, a nice hot coolant spray might cleanse out a lot of playa dust build-up.
Tiahaar's bus is only 5 years older than I am, and I haven't replaced any of MY hoses yet.


Well, have you at least flushed all the gunk out? :shock:
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Postby cullen » Mon Dec 08, 2008 9:21 am

shouldn't you clean out the gunk daily?
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Postby Elliot » Mon Dec 08, 2008 9:48 am

cullen wrote:shouldn't you clean out the gunk daily?


:D
Dollars to donuts SOMEBODY will be unable to resist saying it. :lol:
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Postby cullen » Mon Dec 08, 2008 12:21 pm

which do you think is better a shortie or a full sized? are there benefits to each? does a shortie get better mpg?
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Postby Elliot » Mon Dec 08, 2008 1:38 pm

cullen wrote:which do you think is better a shortie or a full sized? are there benefits to each? does a shortie get better mpg?


:D
We are back to talking about buses, right?
All right.
I am unable to give you a good answer. Bigger is... bigger. A bigger bus can carry more Stuff and has room for more living space. At the same time, a bigger bus takes up more parking space -- which is a major issue for a lot of people in urban and suburban areas.

So the first thing I would do, is to investigate your parking situation. By that, I mean the legalities. How much acreage you have is probably obvious, or can be quickly determined with a tape measure. But many people also need to comply with parking regulations -- anything and everything from county ordinances, to homeowners association rules, and any Conditions, Covenants and Restrictions -- "CC&Rs" -- in the property's deed. Do not attempt to skirt the rules. Most "regular citizens" take a very dim view of having to look at a delapidated school bus every day, and you need to be certain that you are on solid legal ground.

Then you can decide how big a bus you want -- within any parking restrictions that may apply.

As for fuel mileage, a major determining factor is weight. Again, more is more. But there are many other factors that play in, like the model of engine, the transmission, how you drive, and whatnot, so it is perfectly possible that a long bus with engine A might get better fuel mileage than a short bus with engine B.

One possible "secret" advantage to a long bus is that it may have a transmission with locking torque converter -- an MT643 as opposed to the AT545. The MT643 is generally found in larger buses and with larger engines. If the bus has a GVWR of 30.000 or more, it is "safe from" the AT545.

You don't ask about purchase price, but I'm thinking that this may be a factor also. The least costly buses tend to be the ones around 35 feet. They are quite common, but too big for many people. From that benchmark, you will generally pay a little more for a full 40-footer, and also more for a shorter one.

Does that help?
:D
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Postby Sail Man » Mon Dec 08, 2008 2:38 pm

Elliot wrote:
cullen wrote:shouldn't you clean out the gunk daily?


:D
Dollars to donuts SOMEBODY will be unable to resist saying it. :lol:


:lol: http://www.enemas4fun.com/ :P
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Postby jkisha » Mon Dec 08, 2008 3:04 pm

Sail Man wrote:
Elliot wrote:
cullen wrote:shouldn't you clean out the gunk daily?


:D
Dollars to donuts SOMEBODY will be unable to resist saying it. :lol:


:lol: http://www.enemas4fun.com/ :P


Fuck. I don't believe I actually clicked on that link! LOL

We have lots of those 'colonic cleansing' clinics here in Los Angeles. I love reading the ads in the back of magazines where they show the shrivled up corn flake that was stuck in your colon that only a colonic cleansing could remove. It's actually illegal here, so they get around it by having you stick the tub in yourself. (And no, this knowledge does not come from experience.)

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Postby Sail Man » Mon Dec 08, 2008 3:11 pm

jkisha wrote:
Sail Man wrote:
Elliot wrote:
cullen wrote:shouldn't you clean out the gunk daily?


:D
Dollars to donuts SOMEBODY will be unable to resist saying it. :lol:


:lol: http://www.enemas4fun.com/ :P


Fuck. I don't believe I actually clicked on that link! LOL

We have lots of those 'colonic cleansing' clinics here in Los Angeles. I love reading the ads in the back of magazines where they show the shrivled up corn flake that was stuck in your colon that only a colonic cleansing could remove. It's actually illegal here, so they get around it by having you stick the tub in yourself. (And no, this knowledge does not come from experience.)

JK


LMAO! Made you look!! :lol:
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Postby Captain Goddammit » Mon Dec 08, 2008 4:21 pm

I still can't decide how long a bus I want either. When I bought my class A stick'n'staple motorhomes I went with shorter ones, a 26' and then a 24' to keep the weight down. They still had the same engine/trans as the bigger ones, and I wanted to pull my almost 10,000 lb trailer.

The other logistic I've been thinking about is heating and particularly cooling. I like to run A/C at Burning Man; it's SO nice to have a cool dark place to sleep during the day, and when you keep everything closed up you only get minimal dust.
A big bus needs more A/C units... and more A/Cs need more power, which means more or bigger generators, which means more fuel.
In my 11' truck camper, I can cool with a single roof A/C, and when I run two it actually gets COLD during the day. Do you know how great it is to sleep off the hottest part of the day underneath several blankets because you're freezing?
It would take a LOT of BTUs to really chill a 40-foot bus.
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Postby gyre » Mon Dec 08, 2008 4:38 pm

Separate areas, just like in a reefer truck.
Cool what you want.

By the way, not all small or large rvs are wood or cardboard frame.
You can't always tell by looking, but a fibreglas or metal skin is more likely to have a frame.
Aluminum and steel framed rvs abound.
But you have to check.

I wouldn't buy anything else, unless it was a very well made english caravan.
My airstream got hit hard and is still structurally sound even without being repaired.
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Postby LeChatNoir » Mon Dec 08, 2008 4:49 pm

gyre beat me to it...

You could just build a sleeping area and call it "The Cooler". Could make a sign over the door and everything.
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Postby gyre » Mon Dec 08, 2008 4:54 pm

I would use at least 6 inches of insulation and maybe vent an attic space overhead, especially if you can't mount a shade over the roof.
And reflectix too.
Don't forget to insulate the floor.
Urethane foam is great over the floor of most vehicles.
Cuts noise too.
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