Author Topic: New member/bus owner, general new-owner questions  (Read 810 times)

Offline Phuriousgeorge

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New member/bus owner, general new-owner questions
« on: May 17, 2018, 09:25:17 PM »
Hi all, been stalking as a non-member for awhile now, as this has always been a dream of mine.  I recently took a new position out of state and have had bad luck with the turning-around of properties, so decided "screw it!" I came upon a bus last month and after I had the owner complete some mandatory repairs, I picked up my new-to-me bus this last weekend.

Now I know from stalking here awhile, that I'm going to be the loner/outcast of the group - I now own a 1996 Van Hool T815 with the Cummings M11 416K miles on the odometer when it stopped working on the trip up from Houstin (doh), but it ran beautifully and I'm excited to get to work!

Insulation
My bus came with 2" ISO (Polyisocyanurate) insulation board, which I recognize has the reputation to degrade over-time and not work as well in colder climates.  I don't have any experience with the product and the more I dig, the harder it seems to be able to find reliable degradation numbers for the existing ISO.  That being said, I'm curious if y'all would recommend pulling all that out and what the recommended replacement insulation would be?  I've seen people use everything from closed-cell foam, ISO board or XPS board with and without Reflectix.

A/C
Again, I've seen conflicting (and rather old) posts on the topic, but at the moment I'm planning on buying two Pioneer 12k BTU 115v inverter mini-splits.  Now that time has gone by for those of you that have them, what's the verdict?  I'm not planning on cutting out any of my windows and hoping the double-panes save my butt in the areas that aren't covered inside.  Now that time has gone by for those of you that have them, what's the verdict?

Double-pane pain
Yeah, so some of those lovely double-pained windows are fogging.  Is there any real DIY solution to this?  Is this something a local glass shop could assist with?  I'm not too worried by what's currently fogged except for one part.  The driver's slide-window has one of the slides that's pretty-well completely fogged.  In order to be able to drive it home comfortably, I had to open both slides and have them meet in the middle so I could see out the side for turns and reliably see the mirror.  The prior owner also removed a pane from the entry door (I have the glass in the case I can get it back in). 

Sub-floor
To rip it out or not to rip it out...
If I do rip it out or not, when adding my selected flooring, I'm assuming I should I ensure all the existing access hatches are still accessible?

Floor Plans
I never like plagiarizing, rather grab inspiration from available sources.  There was a topic for floor plans on the forum but sadly, there were no floor plans there...  For the time being, I'll be putting a temporary wall across the back 1/4 or so of the bus to live in, while I finalize plans and start the conversion process on the rest.  Was hoping y'all might have some great floor plans for inspiration, or know which back-issue of BCM might have a good selection now that those are coming available?

Trailer Wiring
So, a question I've seen posted several times around here, with mostly the same answer - How to convert 24v coach tail lights for 12v trailer use?

The common (and great) answer I've seen is Craig's awesome converter (chatting with him via email - great guy):
http://www.gumpydog.com/Bus/MC9_WIP/Electrical/Tail_Light_Converter/tail_light_converter.htm

I'm curious though, if anyone has had any experience with alternate solutions such as voltage converters or products like this:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00J3MHUWM/ref=psdc_10967761_t3_B009TA9AS0

EDIT: I went ahead and pulled the trigger on buying the parts for Craig's converter, but still wondering about alternatives.

Closing
Aside from all the above, lucky for me, the prior owner had already gotten a lot of the hard work out of the way and removed the interior.  I'll be tracking down a 24v tail light and some marker lights that aren't operating, tracking down the odometer issue, pulling out all the remnant interior pieces the prior owner left for me in the belly, and gutting the old HVAC/radiant heat system out, so if anyone wants Van Hool HVAC parts/compressor, radiant heat distribution parts, or 3x overhead A/Cs, I'm about to have a yard-sale lol.

I'm a mid-30's Jack-of-All-Trades by trade, but a Quality Engineer by title, so I tend to put more time into research than I do actual application and realize I don't know everything.  I'd rather spend an extra $100 now to avoid spending $1,000 to replace a bad solution later, so I'm open to any and all input!

P.S. Attached a photo of my non-metallic, fiberglass beast (well that didn't work - https://www.dropbox.com/s/gnevr7wr71nnt1s/20180516_195350%20%284%29.jpg?dl=0)
P.P.S. I suck at naming... suggestions? :)
« Last Edit: May 17, 2018, 10:59:43 PM by Phuriousgeorge »
Tearin' up Texas - Granbury, TX

"Van Hooligan" - Project page
1996 Van Hool T815 40'


Cummins M11 - 370HP
4-Speed Auto Allison

Offline lostagain

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Re: New member/bus owner, general new-owner questions
« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2018, 06:26:01 AM »
Hi Phurious. And welcome.

I know nothing about Van Whos, so I can't help you. The Cummins (no g) should serve you well.

On the double pane glass: that is a great feature that will help keeping you cool in summer and warm in winter. Some glass shops will take them apart, clean them up, and reseal them. Or you could try doing one yourself to start.

Good luck with your bus.

JC
JC
Blackie AB
1977 MC5C, 6V92/HT740

Offline DoubleEagle

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Re: New member/bus owner, general new-owner questions
« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2018, 06:29:29 AM »
I have driven the T815 as a charter bus, and it's squared-off design will give you lots of room. The wheelbase gives you good turning room, but you have to watch out for the rear overhang in dips and when making turns close to curbs and signs. On the one I had, the power steering was an issue in that it did not provide much assist when going slow, so maneuvering in tight quarters was a workout compared to other buses. The M11 is dependable, but not particularly powerful, if one injector goes bad, you will fall behind the pack of other buses (on a charter filled with passengers). All of the glass area is going to require a lot of cooling power to keep you cool going down the road. One or two A/C's will suffice parked, but not going down the road on a hot humid day. You need fewer windows, more insulation, and more A/C capacity.
Walter
Dayton, Ohio
1975 Silvereagle Model 05, 8V71, 4 speed Spicer
1982 Eagle Model 10, 6V92, 5 speed Spicer
1984 Eagle Model 10, 6V92 w/Jacobs, Allison HT740

Offline brmax

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Re: New member/bus owner, general new-owner questions
« Reply #3 on: May 18, 2018, 08:08:04 AM »
  Hey!
Welcome to the party.

That sure is a nice bus you got there, in my opinion an excellent choice.



Have a good day

Floyd
1992 MC9
6V92
Allison

Offline PP

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Re: New member/bus owner, general new-owner questions
« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2018, 08:57:13 AM »
Welcome. In trying to decide what to name it, this is how we came up with our name. Someone had engraved the ignition key with a capitol "P" for Prevost along with "ig" for ignition. It spelled "Pig", and that's what she's been called ever since (very fondly, I must admit). Eats like one too  ;D

Offline Branderson

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Re: New member/bus owner, general new-owner questions
« Reply #5 on: May 18, 2018, 09:11:35 AM »
Welcome. In trying to decide what to name it, this is how we came up with our name. Someone had engraved the ignition key with a capitol "P" for Prevost along with "ig" for ignition. It spelled "Pig", and that's what she's been called ever since (very fondly, I must admit). Eats like one too  ;D

hahah that's awesome

I don't really have a name for mine yet but my wife calls it 'the rollin hizzo"  I'm not sure on the spelling.  :)
- Brad

Offline buswarrior

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Re: New member/bus owner, general new-owner questions
« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2018, 09:51:40 AM »
Welcome to the madness.

There is no cure.

Happy coaching!
Buswarrior
Frozen North, Greater Toronto Area

Offline windtrader

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Re: New member/bus owner, general new-owner questions
« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2018, 11:53:13 AM »
Welcome.
Nice looking coach! Van Hool is a fine coach and they are opening a huge mfg. plan in a couple years
http://www.masstransitmag.com/press_release/12393329/van-hool-will-build-a-giant-factory-in-the-united-states

Since you have time and interest to research and do a quality conversion, study and use every single good idea you see. Also, look at sourcing the bulk of your parts from a salvaged RV or a parts conversion bus. You'll save many thousands, check it out. If you go that way, you can design around the parts you get.

If you plan to use it mostly connected to electric, water, and sewer, you can build one for much, much cheaper than one designed for fully disconnected, boondock operation. No generator, no huge battery bank, no tanks, etc. You'll save huge and much simpler design.

Good luck
Don F
1976 MCI/TMC MC-8 #1286
Fully converted (June 2017)

Offline neoneddy

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Re: New member/bus owner, general new-owner questions
« Reply #8 on: May 18, 2018, 12:14:07 PM »
ACs - Sometimes I wonder if minisplits might have been better, I know they use less starting power.   I don't think it's a bad choice by any means.

Windows - Just from my limited experience if you want to keep the heat down you need to trap that air in between the window and inside air.  I did this by building a shroud / valance in front of my cellular blinds.  It's pretty standard way many RVs do this.    Not my coach but you get the http://www.usabuscharter.com/2005StarCoachInterior_2l.jpg

Floor Plans - I was a noob here too.  My needs were for a family of 6 mostly as a recreation vehicle, not full time living, but extended trips would be planned.   I think  you start with the utilities, figure out where the bathroom and shower will be, usually under the back bay for the water tanks.  Then move forward and back from there.  Lay it out on paper, and maybe some tape on the floor.  Pay attention to the hallway widths.  I found anything smaller than 24" or so is too small.  We ran into that around the double bunks.  Measure stuff and just start laying out, it's like a puzzle where you get the make some of the pieces and other pieces are defined for you.   Ours changed a good 3 or 4 times, each time changing less, and less.
Raising hell in Ham Lake, MN

1982 MCI MC9

6V92 / 4 Speed Auto (HT740) - 1950 Watts of Solar - Victron Inverters and Solar Controllers
 - Current Status - Livable, still 10-20% more to go.  Video Build Log

Online luvrbus

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Re: New member/bus owner, general new-owner questions
« Reply #9 on: May 18, 2018, 12:18:28 PM »
Welcome.
Nice looking coach! Van Hool is a fine coach and they are opening a huge mfg. plan in a couple years
http://www.masstransitmag.com/press_release/12393329/van-hool-will-build-a-giant-factory-in-the-united-states

Since you have time and interest to research and do a quality conversion, study and use every single good idea you see. Also, look at sourcing the bulk of your parts from a salvaged RV or a parts conversion bus. You'll save many thousands, check it out. If you go that way, you can design around the parts you get.

If you plan to use it mostly connected to electric, water, and sewer, you can build one for much, much cheaper than one designed for fully disconnected, boondock operation. No generator, no huge battery bank, no tanks, etc. You'll save huge and much simpler design.

Good luck


It would be nice if VanHool would use a American running gear their running gear sucks when you need parts
Life is short drink the good wine first

Offline Phuriousgeorge

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Re: New member/bus owner, general new-owner questions
« Reply #10 on: May 18, 2018, 01:44:07 PM »
Thanks for all the input so far.  I'll definitely be stand-still/connected for the most part (at least for the 1st 18 months, minus trips home once a month or so for a few days), so I'm planning to focus on shore-related affects 1st, but want to make sure to leave room for boon-docking and/or self-sustainability capabilities down the road.

Windows - Just from my limited experience if you want to keep the heat down you need to trap that air in between the window and inside air.  I did this by building a shroud / valance in front of my cellular blinds.  It's pretty standard way many RVs do this.    Not my coach but you get the http://www.usabuscharter.com/2005StarCoachInterior_2l.jpg
@neoneddy - That's pretty much exactly what I was planning on doing with my windows.  I like the pleated look and will be looking to source or sew some for heat blocking/black-out capabilities.

The wheelbase gives you good turning room, but you have to watch out for the rear overhang in dips and when making turns close to curbs and signs. The M11 is dependable, but not particularly powerful, if one injector goes bad, you will fall behind the pack of other buses (on a charter filled with passengers).
@doubleeagle - I ran into that on my test drive (dragged the muffler). No mishaps since!  I had thought when the original owner had the ECM rebuilt, that he mentioned he had the engine tuned for a higher rating, but it appears it's still at the stock 370HP configuration.  I couldn't get any more than 63MPH on the trip home, but the torque is nice. It did take off rather well for an empty bus.  Down the road I may look into transmission-swapping from the 4-speed Allison, but I've got a lot of time to think about that. The current setup works well enough for now.

It would be nice if VanHool would use a American running gear their running gear sucks when you need parts
@luvrbus - Not quite sure what you mean here.  The M11 can be found aplenty domestically and the 4-sp Allison transmission isn't hard to come by either?
« Last Edit: May 18, 2018, 01:48:49 PM by Phuriousgeorge »
Tearin' up Texas - Granbury, TX

"Van Hooligan" - Project page
1996 Van Hool T815 40'


Cummins M11 - 370HP
4-Speed Auto Allison

Offline neoneddy

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Re: New member/bus owner, general new-owner questions
« Reply #11 on: May 18, 2018, 03:04:26 PM »
@phuriousgeorge - Here is how I did mine. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nj8gX0T_-6E   I used Ikea Cellular Blinds, knowing I needed  10-14 of these I tried to find a good price.  They sell a 48" blind for around $40, best price I've found.  In our home we have Levelor blinds and they are really nice, but over $100 each for that length. We may upgrade as we go in the future.

Cellular is really important to trap the heat.  For dirt cheap you can do straight pleated blinds from Ikea. 

Here is my inspiration, the great Chief's Prevost https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1UpbcJIvvY
Raising hell in Ham Lake, MN

1982 MCI MC9

6V92 / 4 Speed Auto (HT740) - 1950 Watts of Solar - Victron Inverters and Solar Controllers
 - Current Status - Livable, still 10-20% more to go.  Video Build Log

Online luvrbus

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Re: New member/bus owner, general new-owner questions
« Reply #12 on: May 18, 2018, 04:04:40 PM »
It's not the M11 and Allison some are made on Scania chassis with odd ball parts ,I do maintenance on a couple of VanHools for a casino here they can get frustrating at times waiting on parts,but I really like the TX45 even with the odd ball stuff very nice coach with the DD13 Detroit and the B500 Allison     
« Last Edit: May 18, 2018, 04:16:40 PM by luvrbus »
Life is short drink the good wine first

Offline windtrader

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Re: New member/bus owner, general new-owner questions
« Reply #13 on: May 19, 2018, 12:08:30 AM »
I had no idea what the actual production figures were for buses. Finding his link surprised stating annual production is around 2000-3000 units.
American Bus Association Foundation (ABAF)
https://www.buses.org/assets/images/uploads/pdf/Coach_Manufacturer_Report_2017Q3.pdf

To me, a very small number of units. This puts a lot of comments in perspective about sparsity of parts and service, especially for 20-30-40+ year old units. These numbers include all buses sold in USA. It is a very specialized and small market, especially 40+ coaches. Even during the best of times, easy access to full inventory of parts is fortunate rather than expected. Getting parts for old buses becomes a real art in sourcing.

Don't get scared away. You'll find parts, just need to do some hunting.
Don F
1976 MCI/TMC MC-8 #1286
Fully converted (June 2017)

Offline Phuriousgeorge

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Re: New member/bus owner, general new-owner questions
« Reply #14 on: May 19, 2018, 11:08:36 AM »
Interesting information. I'm not too worried, I did find a source of some scrapped buses (stole the entire lower wiper assy) and the folks at ABC have been great so far.  They have a local depot in Grand Prarie I've thought about having them give the bus a go-over inspection just to meet the folks.

That and get their help troubleshooting my Odometer...I hate electrical Odos
Tearin' up Texas - Granbury, TX

"Van Hooligan" - Project page
1996 Van Hool T815 40'


Cummins M11 - 370HP
4-Speed Auto Allison