Author Topic: typical conversion component costs?  (Read 28934 times)

Offline busproject

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 33
Re: typical conversion component costs?
« Reply #30 on: January 17, 2014, 01:21:17 PM »
You will have a tough time finding a shop that will dyno a bus they are not setup to handle the tag,just pull the info from the ecm have the dealer run the serial number if it was ever in a DD shop it will be on record 

800,000 miles one is getting close to the end I saw a repair bill at WW Williams for a 60 series in a H model a whopping 50 grand with transmission work 

Months ago I called the nearest Prevost service center, and even though that one was not set up for "major" work, they said they could dyno a coach, and he said checking blowby (pressure into the crankcase) would tell me a lot, in addition to downloading the engine info.
"Say, that's a nice bus." -T1000

Offline busproject

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 33
Re: typical conversion component costs?
« Reply #31 on: January 17, 2014, 01:34:03 PM »
Hi Bob, some thoughtful and insightfull responces for you. With your interest in prevost, to bad you cant come down to las vegas and visit Gary at B&B conversions, hes got 3 wrecked prevost conversions that he Van & Joe are making one from, exposed all the way down to structure, and another they put 3 slides in, always a great learning experience when I visit them. Couple of mci 102s and an eagle, their specialty, the other is Quartzsite going on right now, at Rice Ranch, just on the other side of the Colorado river from CA. More buses than you could imagine, you could drive there in easily,, lvmci...

Would be interesting, but I'm too far from there.

I don't want a slide, don't need that much space and don't want the complexity.

All of the Prevost conversions I am seeing at decent prices are XLs. I'm kinda stuck on an H series, the tall cargo bays are important to storing the things I want to store. And I like the modern look of them. 45s are still twice the money, I would most probably go with a 40.

Only thing I don't like about the Prevost, and obviously the design is adequate, but from a functional standpoint, I don't like the radiator blowing hot air onto the engine. I thought the setup on the MCI 102D3, pulling air in from the side and then blowing it straight aft to the outside, is better functionally, plus, the radiator has twice the frontal area, and there's no substitute for than on a radiator. Stacking coils twice as deep just don't do it. But I understand that putting a smaller radiator low on the side is more space efficient. I think the MCIs from E and later do the same thing. And I'm not planning on pushing 500 hp through the desert, I drive things easy, although I will need good cooling for mountain climbs. But I watch the gauges and if things start to go red, I just pull over under an overpass and idle it down, diesels cool off fast under idle. Only had to do that once, coming out of the desert on a hot day, just starting to climb a mountain. Once I climbed higher, air temp was a lot cooler, so no problem. Not even a design issue, just an observation. I like robust designs.
"Say, that's a nice bus." -T1000

Offline usbusin

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 557
  • '60 PD4104-4355(sold) Now Freightliner Conversion
Re: typical conversion component costs?
« Reply #32 on: January 17, 2014, 02:14:15 PM »
Renegade is one of the better known toter-home makers.  As far as I know they are built on to the chassis, not a drop on box, but you could call them and ask.

Brian

Try Steve Mattie at Transport Designs Inc. in Montoursville, Penn.  Steve and his crew built my Motorhome on my Freightliner chassis about 13 years ago.  Steve is an excellent person to deal with and his shop personnel are great.

Here is his website:

http://www.transportdesigns.com/

No financial interest, just a very satisfied customer.  Here is the link to my conversion:

http://www.ustruckin.blogspot.com/

Gary D

Gary D

USBUSIN was our 1960 PD4104 for 16 years Ustruckin' is our 2001 Freightliner truck conversion

Offline dukegrad98

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 189
Re: typical conversion component costs?
« Reply #33 on: January 17, 2014, 02:16:19 PM »
Bob --

Sent you a PM, so check for that.  Also had some follow-up thoughts that I will try to send along a little later.

Cheers, John

Offline Oonrahnjay

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3300
Re: typical conversion component costs?
« Reply #34 on: January 17, 2014, 03:37:12 PM »
 
The 4000 hours is for a factory produced coach with all the programming for the interior done on CNC machines, all the wire looms made to templates on a bench, and with workers who are highly skilled in their respective areas of expertise. The purchased components have already been sourced and the 4000 hours is just direct labor costs.

As an individual you have to do the planning, the sourcing, the purchasing, and be skilled in all disciplines or be prepared for the on the job training with the typical rework to get first class results.   

4000 hours might build a basic tin tent with a few of life's necessities, ... 

     Many, many hours of planning, sourcing, purchasing, and picking up skills.  I was a car guy (product engineering and management) which provided *very* little background for this stuff.  I tell people "if I'da known that it was going to be 1/20th the time and 1/10th the money, I'da never started -- look at the mess I'm in now" (of course, I wouldn't trade it for the world).

     Quick, easy, everything work right first time, cheap ... ain't gonna happen.  BH   NC   USA
Bruce H; Wallace (near Wilmington) NC
1976 Daimler (British) Double-Decker Bus; 34' long

(New Email -- brucebearnc@ (theGoogle gmail place) .com)

Offline Homegrowndiesel

  • Vegetable oil, Rudolf Diesel's original fuel
  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 203
  • 73-05 Eagle
Re: typical conversion component costs?
« Reply #35 on: January 17, 2014, 07:07:50 PM »
On my first conversion it took over 3 years to get it barely useable. On my second conversion it was 60 days from removing the seats to going cross country. My second conversion is more refined. After 4 years of use on my second conversion I replaced all air bags and brake diaphragms before our trip to alaska at a cost of about 1k. It cost me about 18k for the shell and close to that for the conversion. I could not have done the second conversion in that short of time if i had not had sound mechanicals and the previous conversion experience, and of course,,, Help from my friends. Good luck with your choices.
Aerodynamic Eagle & MCI 102a3, 102d3 and NABI series 50 transit. Busnut x4

Offline busproject

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 33
Re: typical conversion component costs?
« Reply #36 on: January 17, 2014, 09:12:24 PM »
     Many, many hours of planning, sourcing, purchasing, and picking up skills.  I was a car guy (product engineering and management) which provided *very* little background for this stuff.  I tell people "if I'da known that it was going to be 1/20th the time and 1/10th the money, I'da never started -- look at the mess I'm in now" (of course, I wouldn't trade it for the world).

     Quick, easy, everything work right first time, cheap ... ain't gonna happen.  BH   NC   USA

Well there's an opinion that I particularly respect as relates to me, because very similar background. I do truly appreciate the advice, as you folks don't know me from Adam and it's better to error on the safe side.

But gee whiz, I ain't gonna be engineering an entire prototype automotive chassis, which I actually have done in the past, bills of material with 10,000 parts. I'm not going to need to do any 2 million cycle fatigue tests. Fitting skills will be required. I worked my way through college as a craftsman, metal and wood. Plumbing skills will be required, pipefitting, with proper knowledge of strain relief so you don't run dead straight lines, due to both much greater vibration environment plus much wider temperature range, ability to drain easy, etc. I'll consult with experts before doing the job. Same goes for every other system. I don't know all the answers, but I know the right questions to ask.

I'm retired. No family. I have the time. I'm just not quite as energetic as I used to be, and mind not quite as quick. If that's a problem, I'll serve as prime contractor and contract it out. I know from experience that in the depressed areas of the country, you can get quality skilled labor, with experience in flooring, upholstery, etc, relatively cheap, especially for cash money. I'll need to supervise carefully if they haven't done motorhomes or yachts. The systems work, such as the tanks and such, a lot of those depressed areas have marine fitters and mechanics that are short on work in the wintertime. My dad had a boat interior and systems rehabbed that way at quite reasonable cost. Although, some areas have now been depressed so long, folks are out of business. I actually have a better idea about the labor costs than I do about the part costs. Things like a fresh water tank can vary wildly in price, depending on if it's COTS (Commercial Off The Shelf) and production volume of the part, or whether it has to be fabbed custom. Things like that are what I am wondering about. Stove, furnace, are going to be something Off The Shelf, but the latter has more variations and that's what I want to get nailed down early.

I would make sure the coach had the capability for everything, even if everything is not installed from day one. Lay enough wire to support NORAD's Cheyenne Mountain, the wire costs less than the labor to expose the conduits later. Stranded copper, tinned stranded copper if any concern about corrosion. Proven long-life wire insulation. Use all high reliability connections, no wire nuts, either crimped, soldered, or crimped AND soldered, shrink-wrapped, labeled, cable-tied, with a tension-calibrated cable-tier. Look like the inside of an F16. Make formal plan drawings, make sure there's a place for everything.

Shouldn't there be a written menu somewhere on this site with current part costs, with comments about performance and installation of each component? One from column A and two from column B? Like the new health care program, choose gold, silver, or bronze plan? Hasn't anyone put together a design and fab manual or book, perhaps for sale at a price? Because I've put together exactly that at every job I've had. No one did before me because either a) too lazy, or b) don't want to write down anything that would lesson the impression of magical feats performed, and lessen the skill level required of their potential replacement. If it hasn't been done, and I do this, sounds like that's what I'm going to do. They have this for yacht projects. One author expressed cost in Beers because he felt that remained a constant over time despite inflation.

OK who else can I rant at? I'm really much more likable (likeable? *wiki* Huh, both acceptable spellings) than I sound.
"Say, that's a nice bus." -T1000

Offline busproject

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 33
Re: typical conversion component costs?
« Reply #37 on: January 17, 2014, 09:25:24 PM »
On my first conversion it took over 3 years to get it barely useable. On my second conversion it was 60 days from removing the seats to going cross country. My second conversion is more refined. After 4 years of use on my second conversion I replaced all air bags and brake diaphragms before our trip to alaska at a cost of about 1k. It cost me about 18k for the shell and close to that for the conversion. I could not have done the second conversion in that short of time if i had not had sound mechanicals and the previous conversion experience, and of course,,, Help from my friends. Good luck with your choices.

That sounds more like it, assuming working full time on it. Even doubling, 120 days, sounds reasonable. Your cost estimates are about what I was guessing as well, for only systems, not mechanical rehab on the coach itself.

Another question: Inverters have gotten massively cheaper (and smaller and lighter) in the past 20 years, I can get a 3000W peak for $100, but they are modified square wave inverters, and I don't know if typical motorhome inverters are true sine wave. I think the latter also incorporates the charging controls as well. If lower cost due to production volumes, any reason I can't use multiple smaller inverters for different lines versus one big one? It not like generators where multiple ones can end up cancelling each other (AC) (unless they can be chained (talk to each other) like some of the Hondas can).
"Say, that's a nice bus." -T1000

Offline busproject

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 33
Re: typical conversion component costs?
« Reply #38 on: January 17, 2014, 09:36:20 PM »
OK since there appears not to be an all-encompassing design manual handed down by the Wizard of Oz with great fanfare, I shall start perusing the site using the following search terms for topics:

Insulation
Floor
Ceiling
Water tank
Stove
Heater, HVAC
Generator
etc.
"Say, that's a nice bus." -T1000

Offline lvmci

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1466
Re: typical conversion component costs?
« Reply #39 on: January 18, 2014, 07:05:12 AM »
Hi Bob, searching individual subjects is indeed the way to go, a whole lot of info here and the other boards, in so cal there are still  tank manufacturers with good reputations, I had personal dealing with the one by the ontario airport, Aztec, very nice in a bad situation, helpful and knowledgeable. Every individual here is going about his conversion in his own way, dealing with issues with his own life experiences guiding the way, and within the constraints they have to deal with. And they are sharing their experiences for the good of the group and the individual, or receiving the benefit of that gracious sharing. You sound like your ahead of the curve and have a plan, good luck. Lvmci...
MCI 102C3 8V92, Allison HT740
Formally MCI5A 8V71 Allison MT643

Offline lostagain

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2518
  • MC5C
Re: typical conversion component costs?
« Reply #40 on: January 18, 2014, 07:17:48 AM »
busproject,

you are way over-thinking this thing. Remember it is just a camper. Sounds like you are planning to build a ship to go to Mars with. I suppose it is fine if what you like is the building part. I like building and fixing too, but I like driving and using my bus. And if you found an existing conversion, you could be using it right away, and modifying it to your taste at the same time. Sure you could spend the next five years, if not the rest of your life, building the ultimate coach that people would drool over at bus rallies, and that would be great, if that is what you like to do. I understand your desire for quality, durability and reliability. But you could find it in used existing coaches at a fraction of the cost of building your own.

Here is what I have done and it has worked for us:

The first bus, a '57 MCI Courier 96, had a dated '70s conversion, but everything worked, and we started using it the day I bought it. I spent the following 4 or 5 winters remodeling upstairs, and overhauling the engine, and various other mechanical components. We had some great times with it, and sold it to some people who are enjoying it now.
Our current coach is a high quality, professional conversion, on a low miles MC5, no rust. Again, I fix and modify things in it every winter. There are a couple of things I would've built differently and would be too much trouble to change now, but it is damn near perfect for us, and we love it. And we bought it for a small fraction of new cost, and have been using it from the day we got it.

What I am saying is this: they are lots of used conversions on the market, cheap compared to building from scratch. You should at least look at a few. You might find one that is close to what you need.

Also, I am a MCI guy, and I would recommend looking at MCI 102 D, or DL 3s. Excellent bus, basic, without the complexity of the Prevost H. Millions of Ds on the road, still supported by MCI, lots of parts for them.

Good luck in your endeavor.

JC



JC
Blackie AB
1977 MC5C, 6V92/HT740

Offline bevans6

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6008
  • 1980 MCI MC-5C
Re: typical conversion component costs?
« Reply #41 on: January 18, 2014, 07:51:49 AM »
For an inverter I would recommend a pure sine wave, 3000 to 4000 watts, with a built in transfer switch and charger.  Radically simplifies the AC and DC support systems, and does it per code as well.  I have the Magnum 4024, and since I think the Prevosts are also 24 volts, that would be a good starting point.  You can use 24 volt house systems or put in an equalizer and run 12V house systems through it, from a decent sized 24 volt house bank.  That's isn't a $100 inverter, but it's the kind of choice most of us end up going to in the end, sometimes after false starts. (be nice if I could start jobs where I finish, most times...)

Brian
1980 MCI MC-5C, 8V-71T from a M-110 self propelled howitzer
Allison MT-647
Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia

Offline Oonrahnjay

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3300
Re: typical conversion component costs?
« Reply #42 on: January 18, 2014, 03:00:47 PM »
  For an inverter I would recommend a pure sine wave, 3000 to 4000 watts, with a built in transfer switch and charger.  Radically simplifies the AC and DC support systems, and does it per code as well.  I have the Magnum 4024, and since I think the Prevosts are also 24 volts, that would be a good starting point.  You can use 24 volt house systems or put in an equalizer and run 12V house systems through it, from a decent sized 24 volt house bank.  That's isn't a $100 inverter, but it's the kind of choice most of us end up going to in the end, sometimes after false starts. (be nice if I could start jobs where I finish, most times...)   Brian   

     Good advice.  I was told by "somebody who knew" that it was better to do a separate "house" system with an engine driven alternator, but it should be 12V "since so many things like radios" are 12V.  But, now that I'm running it and living with it, it appears that it would have been a lot smarter to make the house system 24V, with a 24V inverter (lower amp loads, smaller wires, larger capacities) and an equilizer (or voltage converter) to supply 12V current to the 12V loads.  But be sure that your inverter "load supplements" - if you're on a restricted power supply (say you can only draw 15 amps) and you switch on the coffeemaker while the hot water heater is on and you need a total of 18 amps, a "load supplement" inverter will draw 3 Amps from the batteries and 15 from "shore"; if it's a "load switching" inverter, it will shut down the shore power and draw *all* the load power from the batteries.  It's usually easy for a "load supplement" inverter to charge the batteries back up; if a "load switching" inverter draws the batteries down, it will draw the down much more deeply and will take much longer to recharge.
     But as Brian says, not the inexpensive way to go (except maybe in the long run).

BH   NC   USA
Bruce H; Wallace (near Wilmington) NC
1976 Daimler (British) Double-Decker Bus; 34' long

(New Email -- brucebearnc@ (theGoogle gmail place) .com)

Offline busproject

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 33
Re: typical conversion component costs?
« Reply #43 on: January 20, 2014, 08:30:30 PM »
busproject,

you are way over-thinking this thing. Remember it is just a camper. Sounds like you are planning to build a ship to go to Mars with.

Well I only pulled out the heavy guns because some folks (rightfully so, not knowing me) said that one of the reasons to buy a pro conversion was the robustness of the systems. A very good point, but if I build it, I will get a lot of input to find out those systems and do them the same, or better. You just can't have good enough electrical, plumbing, or gas connections on a mobile application subjected to vibration and temperature changes. It's not a military application, but I know I'll never regret doing connections the same quality.

The tougher question is the major components, which I don't a have a clue with regard to questions of reliability and service parts availability. Don't need to know that right now, I'll ask comes the time. That info above about inverters, see I didn't know any of that, very valuable. What I'm most interested in now is finding out ballpark costs to see if the whole project is worth it.
"Say, that's a nice bus." -T1000

Offline busproject

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 33
Re: typical conversion component costs?
« Reply #44 on: January 20, 2014, 08:34:43 PM »
     Good advice.  I was told by "somebody who knew" that it was better to do a separate "house" system with an engine driven alternator, but it should be 12V "since so many things like radios" are 12V.  But, now that I'm running it and living with it, it appears that it would have been a lot smarter to make the house system 24V, with a 24V inverter (lower amp loads, smaller wires, larger capacities) and an equilizer (or voltage converter) to supply 12V current to the 12V loads.  But be sure that your inverter "load supplements" - if you're on a restricted power supply (say you can only draw 15 amps) and you switch on the coffeemaker while the hot water heater is on and you need a total of 18 amps, a "load supplement" inverter will draw 3 Amps from the batteries and 15 from "shore"; if it's a "load switching" inverter, it will shut down the shore power and draw *all* the load power from the batteries.  It's usually easy for a "load supplement" inverter to charge the batteries back up; if a "load switching" inverter draws the batteries down, it will draw the down much more deeply and will take much longer to recharge.
     But as Brian says, not the inexpensive way to go (except maybe in the long run).

BH   NC   USA

So what are we looking at for ballpark costs of said inverter, plus how big a battery bank? I will assume said costs are without any wiring, unless you tell me a packaged installed price.
"Say, that's a nice bus." -T1000