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Title: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: busproject on January 15, 2014, 08:42:44 PM
Hello all. This is my first post. Please feel free to correct me if I'm doing something stupid, such as being in the wrong place on the site.

Iím considering doing a bus conversion. I have more than a few questions about design strategies and costs. I did a search and there have been threads from newbies asking questions, but none that I can find addressing the ones I have. Iím trying to get a ballpark idea on costs before purchasing a used coach, because then Iím committed. (No comments from the peanut gallery.)

I hate most professional coach conversions, otherwise Iíd have bought one, Iíve seen some in nice shape that are probably equal to what it will cost doing it myself. I like the quality, but not the dťcor. Too fancy for me personally; Mirrors on the ceiling with extravagant lighting, overstuffed couches, weird cabinet colors, wild paint job. (Probably why the examples I saw in my price range were going cheap.) An exception is Bruce Coaches in BC Canada, Iíve seen some very tasteful conversions from them, but they are priced out of my reach. However if Iím going to go to this much trouble, Iím going to use a good chassis. Either a Prevost H3 or an MCI 102D3, most probably the former, theyíre just starting to get attractive in pricing with 4 stroke powerplants.

The next two paragraphs are just general info about my goal, then specific questions follow.

What I want is an interior that is clean and simple in style, but looks professional in quality of execution. A quality hardwood floor, probably walnut stained oak, from stem to stern, with modular attachments so I can attach what I need, but change it over time. I may cover that with nice throw rugs to reduce noise, but no wall-to-wall carpeting. This is both for style and utility, easier to keep clean, but a bit classier than vinyl or other sheet flooring, and warm under foot. The walls will be covered in a fabric-covered panels or dense short-pile carpeting, probably slate blue or grey, Iím just personally not into the imitation wood paneling look.

The layout for the aft half will be fairly conventional, tasteful quality, but minimal in style. No giant mirrors, nothing gold plated. The aft area will be the bedroom, nothing fancy, just the bed with nightstands, perhaps large storage drawers underneath, then a nice bulkhead wall with door, then head/shower on one side and clothes storage on the other, then another wall, then a small galley. The rest of the area forward, about 40-50% of the bus, will be open and modular, easily changeable. To port will probably be a workbench, to starboard a table and chairs or single couch, all easily latched in place or removed, assuming the coach has easily opening large windows, I think that may be the case for emergency exits, but I still need to check. If not, I will design those items to break down easy for entry/exit via the front passenger door. Iím pretty familiar with the costs of the above, I donít expect them to be that much. Here are my questions (and if there is anywhere a checklist with typical costs for all of this, kindly point me in that direction, thanks):

1) I want it insulated for cold weather. For the hardwood floor, will I also require insulation underneath? I would expect so. Does it go above the structural floor or beneath? Is standard polystyrene sheet stiff enough to go on top? How thick do I need? Whatís the best way to do the floor, foam sheet covered by plywood sheets, through bolted, to which the hardwood floor is nailed? Or is the foam not stiff enough for that, does the foam need to be spray foam underneath, sprayed on the ceiling of the cargo compartments?

2) Is anyone doing radiant floor heat on conversions these days?

3) Do most modern buses typically have enough roof insulation from the factory? Iím thinking of a mid-90s Prevost H. What about the walls below the windows?

4) Can I simply leave all the stock windows in place, and use curtains, or will I lose too much heat/AC through them? Is it necessary to remove and pan off most of the windows and insulate there, or is that only necessary for structure to attach things to, like a fridge? What if I keep everything (all installed components) below the window bottom? Again, mid-90s Prevost H. Do the stock windows on an H hinge open for emergency egress, or are they fixed? I would need opening windows for ventilation, and it would make installing large items easier, I think, than trying to fit through the passenger door.

5) What are the typical costs for the ďsystemsĒ parts? i.e., fresh water tank, gray water tank, black water tank, hot water system, heater (and do you recommend propane or diesel powered?), air conditioning, toilet system, shower stall, stove, fridge (three way power?. Does anyone ever use the original coach air conditioning, or does that require the engine running or it takes up too much cargo space? On the Prevost H, the stock AC is installed to starboard in the same #2 cargo bay as the fuel tank, the latter to port. So if that AC is removed, it would seem logical to put the fresh/gray/black water tanks there, to leave the other cargo bays unobstructed. But would that put too much load on the front axle? Would it be better to relocate all of the above, including fuel, to the #3 compartment (further aft), which would also result in shorter plumbing runs to the tanks?

6) In terms of power (when parked), heat and stove will be the main consumers, and those will use chemical energy (fossil fuels). With electronics, especially lighting becoming much more efficient with LEDs, consumption there should be down, if Iím not on the internet or TV all day. Whatís a recommended diesel generator and cost? Not sure if I need that, might be able to just get by with a small quiet Honda portable, but diesel would mean I donít need to go fill the gen with gasoline in the middle of the night, and be safer because no need to carry more volatile gasoline. Recommended location? I would figure to mount the storage batteries near the gen, so that combined is some concentrated weight. I would think you could put the rack of batteries low on one side of a storage compartment, then perhaps the gen on slide-out rack above those, for best space efficiency. Flexible, durable solar cells are coming, I would figure to eventually cover the roof with them when the costs are decent.

Well thatís enough for now. Many thanks to any and all who contribute to answers. I expect to be on this forum either a very short time (if material costs way more than I expect), or become a regular. It's not that I don't have the money to finance a conversion, it's just a matter of priority; I only want to sink so much into this vehicle, and if it's more than I want, I may just look for a used VW Eurovan Westy-Bago, although since they quit making them, they seem to be not any cheaper than a good used coach!


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: dukegrad98 on January 15, 2014, 08:48:56 PM
So many thoughts...

Where are you located?  Let's start there.

Cheers, John


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: busproject on January 15, 2014, 08:55:48 PM
Dukegrad98,

I'm currently on the west coast, I'm retired and still looking for a place, and that could vary a great deal. I'm asking the questions above because this will also factor into my house hunt, whether or not I need the space for the conversion, and for storage. I don't want to have to rent space, because unless it's right down the road, I won't be there often enough to do the conversion on a timely basis, and I'm already blowing too much rent on storage space while I'm house-hunting. If I'm going to do this, it has to be on-site.


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: busproject on January 15, 2014, 08:58:40 PM
....(additional)

I don't just jump into things. I plan, plan, plan, plan....plan, then execute. There are always surprises, but with me, they are usually minimal if I have done a good job of investigation and planning.


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: busproject on January 15, 2014, 09:07:10 PM
Oh and I have already seen past posts with regard to Prevost H chassis in particular, what's good, what to watch out for, so I'm on a bit of sound footing there. The newer ones with the more desirable features are still more than I want to spend (which is why they are still desirable as first-line coaches), so I'll have to settle for a bit earlier one.


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: Iceni John on January 15, 2014, 11:31:37 PM
Flexible, durable solar cells are coming, I would figure to eventually cover the roof with them when the costs are decent.
For now it's either flexible or durable (choose one).   "Real" PV panels are still dropping in price  -  I paid $0.81/watt for UL-listed made-in-USA Sharps last year.

Don't ignore the cost of miscellaneous nuts 'n bolts 'n widgets etc.   I'll have easily spent over $1000 just on them when all's done with my conversion.   All those little things add up fast!

John


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: Jon on January 16, 2014, 03:48:46 AM
Professionally done motorhome conversions can tend to look like whore houses but what makes them an excellent platform is they have systems that have evolved over the years and make living in those coaches enjoyable. I am easily satisfied and far more tolerant of having primitive conditions and systems, but my wife is not and she deserves the comfort and ease of a professional conversion.

The electrical systems are excellent. The plumbing system is well conceived. The heat and AC systems will satisfy anyone. For a homebuilder to design and build the equivalent would be a daunting task and it is likely the end result still will not come close to the highly evolved professional conversions. I hear a lot of "I don't need that" from home builders, but once you have all the comforts and ease of use I doubt anyone would go back to simple systems. Don't confuse the systems with excessive maintenance. The systems in my three coaches have been nearly bulletproof and almost all my maintenance and repairs is on the chassis.

As to gaudy, that is where the home builder can exercise his creativity. Start with a good platform and redo the interior. Trust me, the effort to do the interior will be a significant challenge because the converters have also done a great job there also but a lot of owners of used coaches modify the interiors to suit their tastes.


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: luvrbus on January 16, 2014, 04:20:41 AM
Buy a converted shell with low miles then remodel one can buy a H-40 VIP from the 90's fairly reasonable now under a 80 grand you are going to spend that much anyway,tour operators and bus line sell off the buses for one reason the maintenance and the bottom line are not in sync 

I would take a 150,000 miles over a million mile shell any day JMO 


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: bevans6 on January 16, 2014, 05:16:12 AM
I think there are two ways into a converted bus - make that three ways, but only two count...   Way number three is buy new.  Someone buys the new ones, but no one I will ever know...  Way one is buy a retired service bus with a million or two miles one it that needs a lot of mechanical work, maybe a new engine, and fix it up and put your conversion into it.  I really think that for many who take this route, the journey is the goal, not the end result.  It can take many years to go this route, and cost as much in the end as an already converted or pro-converted bus, but you spend the money in nickels and dimes rather than a big check.  Way two is what others have proposed - buy a good quality, well maintained 20 year old pro conversion that you can expect to be mechanically very good, 150K miles as an expectation, with all of the basic conversion upfitting done but needing both systems and decor updating.  You'll put a tasteful modern simplistic interior in (BTW one reason they tend to look like rolling brothels is that is easier and cheaper to do than modern tasteful) into it by changing finishes and trim, you'll put modern electronics, inverters, control systems in, and you'll have what you want in a low mileage good condition shell.

I think that conversion costs will vary wildly depending on your personal views on what is appropriate.  Buy all new "RV" stuff, use household appliances and be all-electric, buy a wrecked RV trailer and transfer everything at 10 cents on the dollar of new, etc.  I would personally put things in big blocks - bedroom, kitchen, lounge, electrical system and batteries, HVAC,  electronics (many cool new WIFI controlled switches and controllers these days), plumbing and tankage, and put a $5K bill against every block.  Adjust up or down based on your ability to economize vs your desire for upscale taste.  Things like laminate countertop vs granite make a big difference...

Edit:  FWIW I am doing Way 1.5 - I bought a 90% converted bus with a couple million miles on it, put in a new engine, have been doing major work on the running gear, and I've been working on finishing the 90% left to do after the first 90% was done - most of the plumbing has been redone, all of the electrical system, inverter, AC and heat, etc...

Brian


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: Seangie on January 16, 2014, 05:22:45 AM
Busproject (name?),

I love that you are taking the time to lay everything out.  You can never plan enough with a project like this.  To keep this brief I'll give you some quick answers to your questions from my own personal experience.  Others opinions may differ -

1. Yes.   My sub flooring is on top of the Metal Frame of my bus and there is 1.5" foam insulation underneath inbetween the frame and underneath the sub flooring.  This is not enough for us.  As we are now living on the bus we notice on cold nights and warm days that there are air gaps and can feel where the heat/cold come up through the floor.  I am planning on sealing up the underside (in the bays) by spray foaming all the cracks and covering with another layer of 3/4" foam board insulation.

2.  Yes   - there are a few that I have seen and read about who have radiant heat flooring.  I would like to add this to our conversion and if I did it would just be down the center aisle of the bus.  Pretty much with our layout all the cabinetry, furniture and beds are on the sides of the bus with a center aisle so thats where I'd keep our radiant heat (would come from the webasto and/or engine heat)

3. No and no. (from my experience) Not that what is existing isn't enough but you can never have enough insulation.  It also depends on how and where you are using your bus.  If you live in moderate temp weather and are only occasionally using your bus for recreational use then you could probably get away with that but if you plan on living on it and will be in 90+ temps or sub 30 temps then I would add more insulation. Besides adding insulation it will give you a chane to get a look at the frame of the bus and check for damage and rust in the frame.

4. Yes you can leave the windows in.  You can insulate them from the inside and have the walls on the inside go over them.  There are quite a few converters on these sites that prefer the "original" bus look with windows in tact as opposed to large sheets of metal covering the windows from the outside.  I guess that you could make a sub frame that runs from floor to ceiling or off the side frame of the bus that you can bolt stuff to or slide your components in between.  Most of my stuff is screwed into the bus frame (walls) or bolted to the frame (floor).  All our parts and pieces went through the front door on our bus.  Although I am sure that the windows on the H3 open for emergency access.

5.  Costs for system parts vary greatly depending on new or used.  ( I recommend diesel as a single fuel design so that you only need a single tank to run generator, heater, bus engine)  As far as the coach AC, most recommend leaving it if it works and pulling it when it fails (beside the gained space it costs a lot of money to upkeep and keep running compared to costs of other AC systems) Those who have it love it and those who dont have more bay space.  It is smart to plan the weight of heavier components on the rear axle.

6. Thinking of fuel - This is a good thing to plan on the front end.  We went all electric with Diesel for generator and (eventually) a webasto heating system.  We have no propane.  This of course is up to the individual to decide how they want to setup their coach.  We only have to fill one tank. (we do have a small grill that uses propane but it is not part of the bus system- a single tank is stored under the bus for this).  I recommend a generator with wattage enough to power (2) roof airs/heaters and have some power left over and also capable of being wired to a 50 amp panel .  I think to get the 50amp panel up you need to be looking for at least a 6000w generator.  We currently have a 15k but ideally an 8k would be perfect for us.  You'll have to ask around to see what works best for you.  We are trying to keep as much as we can on 12v (TV, Lights, fans, fridge, charging phones and computers) and eventually a battery system and inverter big enough to match our cooking needs so we can go 24 hours without needing the generator.  Currently if we are boondocking we need the generator to cook.  It would be awesome to have enough battery/inverter to run the air conditioning off of that.  

Its not cheap to do a conversion especially if you are doing it all at once.  But the most expensive part of the conversion is your time.  Its going to take a lot longer than you think it will.  Figure out all your costs and multiply by 3 then estimate the time it will take and multiply that by 2 and you'll be close to what its going to take.  But the experience of doing it is priceless.  We have enjoyed every minute of it and have not regretted a single penny or hour spent on this project.

-Sean




Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: scanzel on January 16, 2014, 05:39:02 AM
I have a 1989 Prevost that I have been working on since 2005 and I am still not done working on it part time. Even though we do use it as is on occasion and with what I see now on ebay and other sites going very resonable I wish I could just buy one and make a few modifications and go out and enjoy instead of having to get spare time to work on mine. Back in 2005 most were out of my price range so I went with the use bus, but now that prices have dropped and diesel going up again my advice would be to find a very good one already converted by Liberty or one of the better companies and just make some modifications. You will save money and work and start enjoying it immediately. With what I have in mine money wise now I could not get even half back if I were to sell as is. Spent $30,000 initially and have about another $30,000 into it already. Some decent Prevost's on ebay right now in the 50 to 80,000 range. Good Luck in your venture.


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: luvrbus on January 16, 2014, 05:49:19 AM
There were several converters that did Prevost with out all the bells and whistles Angola was one just a good solid coach even Country Coach some of theirs were just basic coaches


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: luvrbus on January 16, 2014, 06:14:33 AM
Here is something for you to think about all the converters of Prevost that I have spoken with always told me it takes 4000 man hrs to convert a bus and that is doing one with a bunch of prefab work and with a sprayed foam shell with RV windows installed from the factory

good luck


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: Seangie on January 16, 2014, 07:32:38 AM
Here is something for you to think about all the converters of Prevost that I have spoken with always told me it takes 4000 man hrs to convert a bus and that is doing one with a bunch of prefab work and with a sprayed foam shell with RV windows installed from the factory

good luck

Holy Buses Batman.  Thats 100 weeks or almost 2 years of 40 hour weeks (with 2 weeks vacation) for one person and that 4000 hours is a professional using all the pro tools that go along with it!  And I am sure that includes very little mechanical work to the bus itself.



Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: lvmci on January 16, 2014, 08:24:12 AM
Hi busproject, sounds like you got alot of decisions to make and you are the decider. Look at as many buses as you can, drive as many as you can, of all different types, you can learn as much from bad as you can from good. Ace has a prevost for sale and Gary the publisher has a log cabin (moose) like pro conversion and is pictured in an earlier edition of the current generation of the BCM, you might want to look at. insulation, no 1, radiant heat great idea for cold or wet climates. Window glass can be replaced with a plastic or non see thru glass, you dont want to see the wires or interior light from the outside, skinning over however is prefered by most. I looked at 12, examined 9, drove 6. Mine is a proconversion from 1986, a Canadian company that was heavy on insulation, back up systems, oak everything and after two updates everything still works well, and mostly within the frame work of the original conversion. My livingroom and bathroom are in the middle, a floor plan that caught my eye from the begining. My wife can get up to make tea or popcorn while were traveling and still talk to me (a mixed blessing! Just kidding). If your gonna stay in the southwest or anywhere inthe southern 1/3 of the US pay more attention to AC than heat, good luck, its a daunting task but fun and interesting, lvmci...ps, whats your name, or should we just call you bp, location and where do you think youll end up with your conversion?...


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: TomC on January 16, 2014, 08:25:29 AM
4000hrs sounds about right. If you're still working and can only work on the conversion on the weekends, will take several years. I started my truck conversion in May 2008 and figure I have at least another year to go. I used to drive the truck I'm using-so that's paid for. I figure the complete conversion to cost about $120,000. In this day and age, that will buy you a 25ft Mercedes based motorhome. Good Luck, TomC


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: robertglines1 on January 16, 2014, 08:59:21 AM
Just about like lady in your life.  Cost can be same or more  more   and can be a level of happiness or frustration.  Well  you get the picture..  In the real world you can't build one as cheap as you can buy.  If you must you select the level you want to build to $$$ wise and how you want to use=pole to pole or strictly boondocking. or combo.. then your off and running..  Great hobby..   good therapy.    Bob  


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: Jon on January 16, 2014, 09:43:08 AM
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, but if that is your goal that is great. Just keep in mind the repair work on the chassis could equal that amount. Then there is resale value.

At the very least, if you plan on doing your own conversion buy a coach that started out as one so at least you are not spending countless hours trying to make a million mile coach into a reliable base for your conversion.


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: Zeroclearance on January 16, 2014, 10:36:55 AM
Do you have a budget that you would like to share with us..   Are you going to boon dock or travel from power pole to power pole.   I have two Xantrex sw4024 with 8 AGM..   Just adding up the invoices for those components equal $7800.00   A 7500KW diesel Kubota genset will set you back $5K to $7500 depending on condition.

On another side note..  The Series 60 that is stuffed into the MCI and Prevost is getting tired.   I wouldn't buy a mid 1990's bus with a series 60 in it without planning on an inframe rebuild.   I have probably one of the BEST DDEC4 engines manufactured in 2001 pre EGR and I with 250K on the clock have had to roll bearings into it, address the rear JAKE and replace most of the valvetrain with all Detroit parts..   Doing most of the work myself my parts bill was $3000.00  That's not including a waterpump or assy drive replacement or tearing apart the bull gear (mine is fine)..   This spring I will be replacing the fuel pump and air compressor..

3 or 4 years down the road I will most likely have to address my B500...   

Look at the required repair cost for these buses.   Murphy's law always crops it's head.   Two years ago, I was packing up for a vacation..   I crawled under the bus, and noticed my rear drive axle seals were leaking.  I ended up driving the bus in to have it repaired, because time was critical.   Synthetic fluid (5 gallons) parts, labor and tax was near a grand...

If you like the Bruce coach, buy one used.   In the end it might be cheaper.   If you are retired, you might take you years to convert vs hugging the steering wheel.


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: busproject on January 16, 2014, 11:54:04 PM
It's me, the original poster. Call me Bob.

4000 hours? Dang that's more than it takes to do a nice rifle from scratch. Hmmm, doesn't seem like it would take that many hours, but that's why I ask the folks that know.

I've very impressed with what little I've seen of the Prevost H series, only got a chance to see one up close once back east about 10 years ago, when I went to look at an early one powered but a 2 stroke Detroit, $50k at the time, glad I passed on that. But impressed by the full stainless steel space frame. Unless it was really in the salt belt, I would imagine that would hold up pretty good, but I would guess I would want to eyeball all the welds for any signs of fatigue. Like the look of them. Enough wheelbase for their length.

Yeah I considered getting a used pro conversion and redoing the interior, but heck, I thought then I would be redoing one of the primary costs! Regarding installing proven systems, a) I would ask advice and try to use duplicate systems as the pros, b) I'm a retired auto engineer who also knows how to turn a wrench and use large stationary tools, and c) I'm a belt and suspenders kind of guy because I designed military vehicles (think redundancy, field serviceability, no single-point failures, etc.) and quality leaders in the auto industry (think 1 part-per-million defects). I'll be performing a detailed failure mode and effects analysis on all systems. What happens if this breaks? Then what? Severity? Occurrence probability? Detectability?

Prevost H's with series 60s have gotten relatively cheap used now, but all over 800k miles. They all seem to have about the same miles, I would expect there is a reason for that, either mechanical issues, or just that is the typical miles when the depreciation write-off is done and it's time to buy a new coach. I would expect an engine rebuild there, would factor that into costs. Maybe trans too. I would not buy without having it dynoed somewhere and compression or blowby checked.

Thanks for the answers regarding the flooring and windows, that's the specifics I'm looking for.

Much to consider. I'll redouble my efforts to look for a conversion instead of a seated coach. I would not expect to be putting a ton of miles on it, diesel is expensive. The RV will be designed to save money (on hotel bills) by driving to a destination and then parking for months at a time. Maybe the slow way, driving the coast 20 miles at a time. But not day after day of hundreds of miles. Probably put less than 5,000 miles a year on it. I don't need the luxury of a coach. Only reason I would want one is the space to have a workbench and desk along with me.

Hey, peripheral question: I already have a 24' box truck on a class 6 diesel chassis. I've seen conversions on those, fully finished box that just drops right onto the chassis. I should say, I've seen the finished product, in pictures. But I can't find online who makes the boxes. That might be the best way to go for me. Anyone knows who sells just the finished box, without the truck?

Thanks,

Bob



Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: luvrbus on January 17, 2014, 04:02:54 AM
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 


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: muldoonman on January 17, 2014, 06:50:21 AM
50,000 grand for a overhaul. Wow! After buying my 91 Converted Prevost for 50 thousand some odd bucks have spent another 30 grand on it. It still ain't over. Always something it seems.  Nobody said these things were cheap. Good luck on your endevor.


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: luvrbus on January 17, 2014, 07:27:18 AM
You think that is bad Glen I have a friend that has 8v92 in his Eagle Valley Power in Ca got him for 51 thousand just on the engine a year later the turbo sent pieces through the engine as usual it was out of the warranty period cost him another 20 grand life is good if one has the funds lol 



Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: Jon on January 17, 2014, 07:28:54 AM
Bob,

We joke about this, but I am sure everyone will agree there is nothing logical about private ownership of a bus conversion, either professionally done, or home made. Some of us can BS ourselves into justifying one on the basis we save money on hotel rooms when we travel, but those of us who recognize the truth will tell you that ain't going to happen.

Just recognize that regardless of whether you build one or buy one already done your wallet is about to be vacuumed out on a regular basis. If you think limiting the driving because of the cost of fuel is the answer, you need to look at all the costs involved in ownership. Regardless of miles driven you will be buying insurance, tires, batteries and coolant changes because all of those time out. Other items such as brake chambers, air bags and hoses and valves also age out, but at different rates, however you as an owner get to decide your tolerance for dealing with problems associated with them failing on the road, versus replacing them to a schedule to avoid surprises. Look into the cost of all the things I mentioned because even if you never drive the bus those are items you spend money on because they age out.

If you buy a coach dirt cheap you don't have to deal with depreciation, but the offset is a cheap bus is a money pit. You will NEVER EVER recover the money you spend on repairs. You will NEVER EVER eliminate depreciation, but you can minimize it if you are very lucky and buy a good bus well below market price.

But there is an upside to all the costs associated with bus ownership. You have freedom to travel unlike anything you have ever experienced. You set your own schedule, you drink coffee from your own pot, you use your own toilet and pillow. That alone is priceless. But the biggest benefit is the friends you will make and meet all over the country. You talk to them on the forums, you see them at rallies, and when you travel you get to spend time with your bus friends. That is more valuable than anything and as far as I am concerned whatever the cost of bus ownership is, it is chump change compared to the value I receive.


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: lvmci on January 17, 2014, 07:56:43 AM
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...


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: Mike in GA on January 17, 2014, 08:43:23 AM
Bob :
     Welcome to the club.
     Jon's insights, above, are right on the mark. You'll never justify the money spent, but the convenience of sleeping in your own bed, in rather high comfort, really is glorious.
     Here's another benefit if you do most of your own conversion: you will have a tremendous sense of satisfaction and pride every time you turn the key. Among the entire motorthome community you will be in the 1/10th of one percentile of folks like us who actually crafted their RV. You'll know every nut and bolt, and where every wire goes.
     Priceless!
Mike in GA


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: bevans6 on January 17, 2014, 11:38:21 AM
4,000 hours is two years of a normal full time, 40 hour a week, job.  I don't think that it really takes two full person-years to convert a bus, does it?  Using $50K a year for semi-skilled labour and a normal 2X markup for fully loaded cost of employment, that's $200K in cost for labour alone.  That just strikes me as a lot, but maybe it's the way it is.  That's about double what it costs to build a 2000 square foot house around here, I have some friends who do that, it's three guys for three months and done.

Brian


Title: Re: Re: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: Seangie on January 17, 2014, 12:15:22 PM
I
4,000 hours is two years of a normal full time, 40 hour a week, job.  I don't think that it really takes two full person-years to convert a bus, does it?  Using $50K a year for semi-skilled labour and a normal 2X markup for fully loaded cost of employment, that's $200K in cost for labour alone.  That just strikes me as a lot, but maybe it's the way it is.  That's about double what it costs to build a 2000 square foot house around here, I have some friends who do that, it's three guys for three months and done.

Brian

Brian - reaching here but maybe the guy Cliff was talking to was referring to the 6 million dollar jobbers.  8 guys for 3 months....with a little boasting thrown in as the owner of the company to add value to a multimillion dollar coach.....and it could be union labor :)

Fulltiming somewhere in the USA
1984 Eagle 10S
www.herdofturtles.org (http://www.herdofturtles.org)


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: busproject on January 17, 2014, 01:13:19 PM
Engine costs: Hmm, I thought I had done some research months ago and saw that a series 60 rebuilt would be $10k, I think that was a motor-for-motor swap (out of the bus), not counting removal and installation. Even double that is way less than I am hearing from you folks. B-500 trans rebuild costs, I could not find info.

I can't count the number of days I've traveled in a station wagon with just a mattress and sleeping bag in back, plus cooler and stove. Fine while traveling, even better than a bus because more mobile, but tough waiting out rain days, and not very conducive to finding lifetime companionship. Bus would be still very high on the list if I was not planning on getting a house, and perhaps still if I want to go south for the winter, so still investigating this. But otherwise, may be better to have just a small camper van, that I can use for hauling when not a camper.

I still would like to know the source and cost for a finished conversion box that I could swap out with the 24' box on my class 6. Those are typically set up like toy-haulers or race vans, strictly business, i.e., utilitarian inside, no frills. Stainless counters, rubber floors, white formica or paint for everything else. Living quarters forward with side man-door to starboard (with deployable stairs), aft area open and flexible.


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: bevans6 on January 17, 2014, 01:19:29 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


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: busproject 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.


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: busproject 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.


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: usbusin 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/ (http://www.transportdesigns.com/)

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

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

Gary D



Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: dukegrad98 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


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: Oonrahnjay 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


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: Homegrowndiesel 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.


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: busproject 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.


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: busproject 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).


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: busproject 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.


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: lvmci 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...


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: lostagain 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





Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: bevans6 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


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: Oonrahnjay 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


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: busproject 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.


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: busproject 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.


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: busproject on January 20, 2014, 08:55:50 PM
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

What's more complex about the Prevost H, for the same time period? They're not mutiplexed, are they?

What's the structure design on an MCI 102D? (like the Prevost, full stainless tube space frame?)

What appeals to me about the H is the quality of the structure (frame), and the height of the cargo bins. But I do admit that I see a lot more of the 102DL3, they must be a real workhorse because that's all I see Greyhound using in this area, although I am reading they are now using Prevost as well. (I think I recall MCI and Greyhound being the same company at one point (one owning the other or both owned by a parent), but no longer I think.)


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: Oonrahnjay on January 20, 2014, 09:16:05 PM
 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.  

     Unfortunately, the answer to those questions is the same answer that you got to about ever complex question in your professional career "It depends"!  If you're going to be running a lot of power through your inverter, you're going to need a high-wattage inverter (duuhh!!!) and they're more expensive.  If you're going to have a propane fridge, hot water heater, and cooking appliances, you might get by with a lower-wattage inverter.  A big factor in this is often "do you plan to run air conditioning through your inverter?" -- that a big current draw item.  Basically, for inverter capacity, you pay by the watt.  
     And for just about every modern purpose, you're going to need a pure-sine wave inverter (unless you don't).  Load sharing, complex battery charging, transfer switching, low-battery generator automatic generator starting capability; are you going to want/need those?  Just bring money.
     And yes, wiring, breaker boxes and breakers, switches, transfer switches, and miscellaneous will be extra.
     And batteries are another "how long a piece of string do you need?" question.  I have a friend who recently spent about $3500 on a new battery set.  He could easily kill them in 48 hours by being only moderately stupid or careless.  But he bought his bus with a huge battery capacity and, when he needed new batteries, he decided to keep that capacity.

     But lets try to be generally helpful here.  Here's a WAIG on your direct questions:

1)  Cost of inverter -- To get the features that most people want puts you in a price range.  You'll find some impossibly small inverters with the features that you want, and some with way more capacity than most people need.  But for a healthy capacity, with reasonable reliability, and useful features, you're probably looking at about $2000/$2200, with a low maybe down in the $1500 range (low features) and a high up to Mars.   Add $$$ for cabling, control systems (the control system for my "Outback" inverter is called the "Mate" device; it's a computer control for most of the features), fusing or breakers, plain switches, transfer switches, etc., $600 - $900.  But with any and all parts of this, moderately larger wattage capacities or additional necessary features could easily double these estimates.
2)  Battery bank -- to get about 250 useful amp hours, you'd want a minimum of two "8-D" size batteries, deep cycle.  If you're lucky, you're looking at $250-$300 each.  But some people would sell a kidney so that they could pay for AGM or gel-cell batteries instead of wet-cell and that will about double the price.  At least your cost of cabling, switching, controls, etc. has already been figured into your inverter purchase.  But two 8-D deep cycle batteries will run a single rooftop air conditioner for maybe 45 minutes if you're not pulling any other electrical loads; i.e., not really useful for any extended service, maybe only to keep The Management cool while you switch the engine off and establish your shore power connection or start your generator.  If you're going to have big electrical loads, you'll need more battery power (unless you plan to pay $30-$90 a night to plug into a shore power outlet at a campground every time you stop overnight, or invest big money in a generator or solar).  How much power you want?  How much money you got?

    Oh, did I just mention the words "generator" and "solar" -- how friendly are you with your bank manager?????

    Sorry, I don't mean to be obscure here, but these are complex issues.  


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: Jon on January 21, 2014, 03:56:15 AM
I am an advocate for plagiarism in that the professional conversions are using systems that have evolved over a lot of years. Those converters do not cut corners and the equipment and devices used have stood the test of time.

In another life I was responsible for developing new products. I know the effort required to design a product and source the components to create a durable reliable product. For anyone to think they can create a bus conversion without literally copying what others have done is not a good idea in my opinion. I am continually in awe of the extent converters go to create reliable systems, doing things often not visible or noteworthy, but very valuable in the long run.

No matter what you think you can live with, it will not be good enough. 100 gallons of water is nice, but 150 is nicer. A set of 4 8D batteries is nice, but 6 or 8 is even better. 3000 watts of inverter is adequate, but a pair of 3000 watt inverters is better. You can get away with a 10 KW generator, but 20 KW is the new standard. 3 15,000 BTU AC units will keep the coach cool, but now 4 15,000 BTU AC units is the minimum, and if you look at the current entertainer coaches they are often running with 5 or 6 AC units.

Wiring can be good quality copper, but our converter is using tinned copper marine grade stranded copper wiring with no splices or connections between the source and the device. My point is the conversions have evolved to provide reliable service so the owners can enjoy their travels without compromise or without having to do constant repairs. Our coaches go down the road trying to shake themselves to death.

Even if you opt to do your own conversion, at the very least poke your nose in every professional conversion you can to see and understand how they are built. Even if some things seem excessive and don't make sense, they really have been done that way for a reason.


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: luvrbus on January 21, 2014, 04:35:37 AM
The MCI D is a good bus and like all they sometimes have a rust problem in 2 areas the air beam supports will rot and so will the engine cradle

The H is not exempt from rust either they have a problem at the rear bulk head  service wise the H is easier to have repaired on the road not only at the service centers but the larger Volvo truck dealers service the Prevost parts are cheaper for Prevost  

I don't care much for the over designed air system on Prevost the MCI is less complicated Prevost has the advantage in the engine cooling IMO it is a roll of the dice but it makes no sense to me to convert a million mile bus chassis but then we all do it different as individuals  

I would go for a conversion built on the Prevost VIP shell, turn the key on start the engine and drive off and do your changes as you have time and money the VIP-H shell has more head room and less storage than the seated coach because of the lower floors you may not need the head room but it is a plus for some  JMO


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: Oonrahnjay on January 21, 2014, 04:53:34 AM
  I am an advocate for plagiarism in that the professional conversions are using systems that have evolved over a lot of years. Those converters do not cut corners and the equipment and devices used have stood the test of time.
... 

    Yeah, everything that Jon said in that post I agree with.  And I don't know anyone who finished up a conversion and said "I wish I had less water" or "I wish I had less electrical power".


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: lvmci on January 21, 2014, 05:33:23 AM
WOW! One of he most informative and honestly well presented discussions I have seen for basic design choices. Very impressive, tom, lvmci...


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: luvrbus on January 21, 2014, 06:07:57 AM
Lol I hope the code gods don't see the part about tinned marine wire in a bus conversion that has been a hot topic here I copied the converters and used it great stuff IMO


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: lostagain on January 21, 2014, 07:16:19 AM
MCI D models, D3 being 40' and the DL3 45', are all stainless steel up to the floor level. Yes there are still areas prone to rusting in a car from the North, but there are some that have always been in the South. I have one ('77 5C) with no rust that spent all its life in San Diego, CA, before being converted. A northern bus will have corrosion in the electrical panels up front below the driver, and in the battery compartment where the Vanner equalizer is, as well as the wiring for the Webasto heater, if equipped, and around the rad and intercooler fans above the engine. All the outside lights also suffer from moisture and salt. But that would be with any vehicle from the North.

A rust free bus with a million miles can be in better shape if it was well maintained than a neglected low mileage one. You just have to spend the time to go look at several so you get to know what you're looking at.

Remember that Prevost is French (from Quebec City), and that means complex just because it is French LOL. I am French myself. You will find the MCI D models were built as a basic bus for durability and serviceability.

Bottom line is, and I think everyone will agree, money is what it takes to play with buses. Although it is a little more justifiable if it is also your full time home.

JC


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: busproject on January 21, 2014, 05:01:20 PM
The MCI D is a good bus and like all they sometimes have a rust problem in 2 areas the air beam supports will rot and so will the engine cradle

The H is not exempt from rust either they have a problem at the rear bulk head  service wise the H is easier to have repaired on the road not only at the service centers but the larger Volvo truck dealers service the Prevost parts are cheaper for Prevost  

I don't care much for the over designed air system on Prevost the MCI is less complicated Prevost has the advantage in the engine cooling IMO it is a roll of the dice but it makes no sense to me to convert a million mile bus chassis but then we all do it different as individuals  

I would go for a conversion built on the Prevost VIP shell, turn the key on start the engine and drive off and do your changes as you have time and money the VIP-H shell has more head room and less storage than the seated coach because of the lower floors you may not need the head room but it is a plus for some  JMO

Good to know about the corrosion issues, thanks. I like the tallness of the H, the MCI-D's luggage bays are a lot shorter (want easy storage of bikes and other things) and the MCI-Es are still way too pricey. So it would probably be a Prevost H, if I did it at all.

Regarding the merits of converting a million mile shell, it's about the numbers. It's an expensive chassis, if the structure is in good shape, it all depends on the costs of rehabbing everything else, because I would expect with that many miles and years, everything major will need rebuild. Engine. Trans. Air bags. Air switches. Brake shoes. Drive axle. So it's a question what that all adds up to.


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: busproject on January 21, 2014, 05:32:56 PM
    ...If you're going to have a propane fridge, hot water heater, and cooking appliances, you might get by with a lower-wattage inverter.  A big factor in this is often "do you plan to run air conditioning through your inverter?" -- that a big current draw item.  Basically, for inverter capacity, you pay by the watt.  
     ...And for just about every modern purpose, you're going to need a pure-sine wave inverter (unless you don't).  Load sharing, complex battery charging, transfer switching, low-battery generator automatic generator starting capability; are you going to want/need those?  Just bring money.
      ...And batteries are another "how long a piece of string do you need?" question.  I have a friend who recently spent about $3500 on a new battery set.  He could easily kill them in 48 hours by being only moderately stupid or careless.  But he bought his bus with a huge battery capacity and, when he needed new batteries, he decided to keep that capacity.

     But lets try to be generally helpful here.  Here's a WAIG on your direct questions:

1)  Cost of inverter -- ...for a healthy capacity, with reasonable reliability, and useful features, you're probably looking at about $2000/$2200, with a low maybe down in the $1500 range (low features) and a high up to Mars.   Add $$$ for cabling, control systems (the control system for my "Outback" inverter is called the "Mate" device; it's a computer control for most of the features), fusing or breakers, plain switches, transfer switches, etc., $600 - $900...
2)  Battery bank -- ...two 8-D deep cycle batteries will run a single rooftop air conditioner for maybe 45 minutes if you're not pulling any other electrical loads; i.e., not really useful for any extended service...

    Oh, did I just mention the words "generator" and "solar" -- how friendly are you with your bank manager?????

    Sorry, I don't mean to be obscure here, but these are complex issues.  

Good answers.

Not looking for a massive battery electrical system, due to the following:

Not planning to power the AC for hours at a time. I generally tend to shy away from very hot areas. Might need it just for an initial evening cool-down from baking in the sun all day even in temperate areas, but hoping to have sufficient ventilation to obviate need for this. In this vein, I really like the roof on old Land Rovers, a roof above the roof with air space between, keeps the inside a lot cooler.

I will at minimum have gas powered appliances; preferably dual powered fridge if they make one; gas stove, with a portable or built-in inductive burner for use in camp to save fuel (love inductive way better than traditional electric, responds as fast as gas); gas heat, and use a portable electric heater when in camp to save fuel. So don't need massive battery power, need it mostly out of camp for lights (much more efficient than in past, will use LEDs), and computer and display/TV which will require more power than lights. Until they make propane-powered laptops, I think that will drive my battery power requirements. :) Water heater is a big question, would love to have dual power there but I think not possible. May also go instead with small heat-on-demand system. I also plan to have a workbench with a few power tools, but not use them often, and motors for short duration don't take that much power (I've used inverters before no problem), and would expect most use there to be when hooked up to land power. So I am guessing off the top of my head, I would require the moderate ("silver") level system you describe. No massive generator, but it would seem that a small generator would pay for itself by reducing engine hours on the Series 60. But I would at least like the ability to charge the house batteries from the big engine when underway, as that load is small compared to road load. Over time, as costs drop for flexible panels that conform to the roof line, I think solar cells are a given, that's cheap energy (if the system is relatively cheap and durable). If I could deploy it easily, I would even add a wind generator, as wind is plentiful along the west coast, right on the coast.


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: busproject on January 21, 2014, 05:56:44 PM
I am an advocate for plagiarism in that the professional conversions are using systems that have evolved over a lot of years. Those converters do not cut corners and the equipment and devices used have stood the test of time.

In another life I was responsible for developing new products. I know the effort required to design a product and source the components to create a durable reliable product. For anyone to think they can create a bus conversion without literally copying what others have done is not a good idea in my opinion. I am continually in awe of the extent converters go to create reliable systems, doing things often not visible or noteworthy, but very valuable in the long run.

No matter what you think you can live with, it will not be good enough. 100 gallons of water is nice, but 150 is nicer. A set of 4 8D batteries is nice, but 6 or 8 is even better. 3000 watts of inverter is adequate, but a pair of 3000 watt inverters is better. You can get away with a 10 KW generator, but 20 KW is the new standard. 3 15,000 BTU AC units will keep the coach cool, but now 4 15,000 BTU AC units is the minimum, and if you look at the current entertainer coaches they are often running with 5 or 6 AC units.

Wiring can be good quality copper, but our converter is using tinned copper marine grade stranded copper wiring with no splices or connections between the source and the device. My point is the conversions have evolved to provide reliable service so the owners can enjoy their travels without compromise or without having to do constant repairs. Our coaches go down the road trying to shake themselves to death.

Even if you opt to do your own conversion, at the very least poke your nose in every professional conversion you can to see and understand how they are built. Even if some things seem excessive and don't make sense, they really have been done that way for a reason.

Totally agree on plagiarism.

Big water supply is nice and doesn't cost that much additional. Big water HEATER requires a lot more energy. Would either go relatively small on that, or have on-demand heater. I take navy showers, but do want the capability of a typical long shower :)

As said above, battery capacity will be governed mostly by how much life I want for computer and display/TV. Oh, forgot sat hookup. Because I need my interwebby :) But new wireless devices may preclude need for that wherever there is cell coverage.

Agree about tinned copper cable, as my dad says, "Pays but little more to go first class", we're only talking marginal increase in material costs, zero increase in labor. And just condensation from big temp changes can wreak havoc, especially if I will be spending time right on the saltwater coast. But I'll also be sealing the ends of all cables to try to keep out any moisture, that can be a bit tough with fine stranded wire, but on two-aught battery cables I made, I saturated the ends with solder, then sealed with RTV, and used marine terminals.

"Even if some things seem excessive and don't make sense, they really have been done that way for a reason." Damn right. There's the right way, the wrong way, and the navy way :) When I build a house, I go well over code on the foundation. It's just not that much more money (strictly material cost), but incredibly important to maintenance costs.


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: busproject on January 21, 2014, 06:01:24 PM
MCI D models, D3 being 40' and the DL3 45', are all stainless steel up to the floor level. Yes there are still areas prone to rusting in a car from the North, but there are some that have always been in the South. I have one ('77 5C) with no rust that spent all its life in San Diego, CA, before being converted. A northern bus will have corrosion in the electrical panels up front below the driver, and in the battery compartment where the Vanner equalizer is, as well as the wiring for the Webasto heater, if equipped, and around the rad and intercooler fans above the engine. All the outside lights also suffer from moisture and salt. But that would be with any vehicle from the North.

A rust free bus with a million miles can be in better shape if it was well maintained than a neglected low mileage one. You just have to spend the time to go look at several so you get to know what you're looking at.

Remember that Prevost is French (from Quebec City), and that means complex just because it is French LOL. I am French myself. You will find the MCI D models were built as a basic bus for durability and serviceability.

Bottom line is, and I think everyone will agree, money is what it takes to play with buses. Although it is a little more justifiable if it is also your full time home.

JC

"...stainless up to the floor level..." Yeah that makes the decision easier, if I can get all stainless on a Prevost (or is it? I just saw stainless in the luggage bays...), unless they galvy the upper sections.

French: Oh, crap, it's not like a Citroen, is it? Aw jeez.... (Car Talk voice) "Never buy a French car, unless you live in France."


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: Oonrahnjay on January 21, 2014, 06:31:51 PM
    Re:  Water heater, I have an Atwood 3-Way; it has a 1500 watt electric coil, a propane burner, and a heat-transfer loop off the engine coolant/radiator.  I think it was in the $400 range.  Nice to have "free" hot water at the end of a drive; I think that they have 6 and 10 gallon models.  They have built-in tempering valves so that if the water inside is 190ļ by transfer from engine coolant, then it pulls X gallons of hot water and Y gallons of ambient temp water to make water that's about 117ļ.  So, when you're parked at the end of the day, you might have a supply of 16-18-20 gallons of "hot water" from a 10-gallon heater.

    Just my take on your proposed electrical system -- you're going to feel as if you're living in a tent that (probably) doesn't leak.  But everyone has to make choices and compromises and if you like those, then they're yours.  Again, my opinion, and that only my opinion but I have pretty strong feelings that that's the way it is.


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: luvrbus on January 21, 2014, 06:47:30 PM
H series are S/S tubing up to the floor level


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: Iceni John on January 21, 2014, 07:13:26 PM
Good answers.

In this vein, I really like the roof on old Land Rovers, a roof above the roof with air space between, keeps the inside a lot cooler.

Over time, as costs drop for flexible panels that conform to the roof line, I think solar cells are a given, that's cheap energy (if the system is relatively cheap and durable). If I could deploy it easily, I would even add a wind generator, as wind is plentiful along the west coast, right on the coast.


This is basically the idea behind what I'm doing  -  eight big PV panels hinged off a raised central walkway will cover most of my roof, and the two coats of Thermacels ceramic insulation additive in my roof paint (said to give five to ten degrees lower interior temps) should together keep direct sun off enough of the roof skin to make a useful difference.   I would still recommend you think carefully before going the flexible PV route;  maybe in some years from now they'll be a viable alternative to poly- or mono-crystalline conventional panels, but they're nowhere near that stage yet:  http://www.wind-sun.com/ForumVB/showthread.php?20649-thin-film-performance&highlight=flexible (http://www.wind-sun.com/ForumVB/showthread.php?20649-thin-film-performance&highlight=flexible)   Wind generators have been tried by some RVers, and I think it's fair to say they're just not worth having.   They don't produce enough power to be useful, they're a hassle to put up and take down, they need (lots of) maintenance relative to their meager power output, they can be noisy, and if one falls down on top of your PV panels you're double-screwed.   Jerry Campbell lives in his Crown for half the year, commuting between Oregon and Mexico, and he's pretty much given up with his wind generator  -  he says another PV panel or two will easily replace it:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gykXY06dct0  He hinges all his panels up;  mine will be hinged to each side of my walkway so one half will raise up to 50 degrees, and the other half will lay down against the roof at 20 degrees below horizontal, just about perfect for summer insolation here.   I plan on also having two or more solar water-heating panels.   If you're serious about self-sufficiency, solar's the way to go.   Maybe you'll be the first Prevost with a full solar set-up!

John


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: lvmci on January 21, 2014, 07:45:19 PM
Hi, I have a 10 gallon electric water heater used when shore power is available,  and a propane powered tankless, that I use most of the time. If I remember right,  the mci5As were million mile buses and the mci9s and above were 3 million expected life span buses, as they were promoted. Lvmci...


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: bandsaw on January 21, 2014, 08:37:23 PM
Hello, I started with a 1990 MCI 102C3 and switched to a 1998 H3-41 in 2011.  The H3 I chose most would frown on, it needed many simple mechanical repairs, air would leak out in 3 minutes, it leaked antifreeze in several places and the bus air did not work. The motor is sound and the transmission had just been rebuilt before my purchase.  I learned how the bus air worked and I repaired it myself.  The body is decent and it was not beat up from rough roads. I bought it at the bottom of the drop in the economy.  The bus is the last of the framed windows and the first with the improvements to the structure and frame. I am very happy with the switch. 
-On the MCI, the flat side windows are easy to switch to sliders and the vertical side walls allow simple installation of awnings.  Sam Caylor has all the MCI parts you would need.
-On the H3, the curved side windows make it difficult to install sliders ($$) and the awnings require custom brackets. The large bays allow me to stay upright on my knees and work. This is very nice.  The coach is very tall and adding roof air makes it worse.  I often drive in the middle of the road to miss trees. Used parts are very hard to find. There are not many do it yourself conversions of the H3. H3Jim, Ron W., Ace, and a couple more.  Haul that dinosaur home, put it in your driveway and it will start eating your money!!


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: luvrbus on January 22, 2014, 04:07:37 AM
Just the body parts are hard to find for the H most of mechanical stuff is the same as a XL I was at a place Tuesday I never in my life saw so many late model XLV 2000 + models  Prevost in so many pieces and they were bringing in another one lol


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: busproject on January 22, 2014, 10:53:10 AM
Hello, I started with a 1990 MCI 102C3 and switched to a 1998 H3-41 in 2011.  The H3 I chose most would frown on, it needed many simple mechanical repairs, air would leak out in 3 minutes, it leaked antifreeze in several places and the bus air did not work. The motor is sound and the transmission had just been rebuilt before my purchase.  I learned how the bus air worked and I repaired it myself.  The body is decent and it was not beat up from rough roads. I bought it at the bottom of the drop in the economy.  The bus is the last of the framed windows and the first with the improvements to the structure and frame. I am very happy with the switch. 
-On the MCI, the flat side windows are easy to switch to sliders and the vertical side walls allow simple installation of awnings.  Sam Caylor has all the MCI parts you would need.
-On the H3, the curved side windows make it difficult to install sliders ($$) and the awnings require custom brackets. The large bays allow me to stay upright on my knees and work. This is very nice.  The coach is very tall and adding roof air makes it worse.  I often drive in the middle of the road to miss trees. Used parts are very hard to find. There are not many do it yourself conversions of the H3. H3Jim, Ron W., Ace, and a couple more.  Haul that dinosaur home, put it in your driveway and it will start eating your money!!

Good post.

What are the structural improvements, and did the structural improvements begin with the 41? Because those are going for a lot more than the 40s, even when the 40 is equipped with a series 60 and same miles. Was wondering about that. I'm guessing they added the 1' because then everything aft of the rear axles is identical to a 45?

Interesting about the windows! Grrr. How much were slider replacements per window for your H? Do the stock H windows tilt out? I'm guessing they are designed only for emergency opening, not when underway. But if I was designing them, I would guess they would be hinged on top and swing out on the bottom, is this true? Does the latch work easily? If true, I may be able to engineer simple prop and screen designs, and with a relatively small roof fan in the vent openings, I could quickly draw air through to quickly cool it off, at a lot less power than running the AC.

The tall bays on the H would be a big benefit to me, worth the other tradeoffs. If I don't do an H, I probably won't do a conversion. The tall bays would be the biggest advantage to me over just another motorhome.


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: robertglines1 on January 22, 2014, 11:22:48 AM
If you think a bus is just another motor home you belong in a stick and staples. Everyone has been nice to you here!  But if you haven't figured the difference in the way something is built then go for the sticks and staples (motor home).  How many 60 yr old motor home or for that fact 25 or 30 yr old motor homes are still on the road?  Just a point from a non professional engineer..  You need to connect with the hobby and the bus life.. these units were made to carry passengers safe  24 hrs a day 365 days a year.. not to a camp ground a short distance away a few times a year  with a limited life span..   Bob


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: luvrbus on January 22, 2014, 11:35:57 AM
 The H-41 replaced the H-40 the H-40  was only around for a few years like 5 years I think, all H-41 had the series 60 engines with a larger engine compartment and different tag axles to accommodate the 60 series and B500 transmission 

The H-40 had mostly the 92 series engine a few had the series 60 I don't remember if the H-40 had the B500 with the series 60 or not I believe 1994 was the last year for the H-40 and the first year for the H-41 I could be wrong on that

good luck


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: busproject on January 22, 2014, 11:44:42 AM
If you think a bus is just another motor home you belong in a stick and staples. Everyone has been nice to you here!  But if you haven't figured the difference in the way something is built then go for the sticks and staples (motor home).  How many 60 yr old motor home or for that fact 25 or 30 yr old motor homes are still on the road?  Just a point from a non professional engineer..  You need to connect with the hobby and the bus life.. these units were made to carry passengers safe  24 hrs a day 365 days a year.. not to a camp ground a short distance away a few times a year  with a limited life span..   Bob

Oh I know all that! Bus won't be a rattletrap, safer, more stable, more roomy, everything. In fact, that's why I look at an 800k mile H and think, that structure has a lot of life in it. Depends on the cost of rehabbing all the systems, plus the conversion. It's just that one of my primary uses may not be extensive travel, but just acting as a place in the city if I buy a house way out in the boonies (city/suburban housing is too expensive for me to afford a place with a workshop). Which would not require all of the above, except, I would be commuting around the city on a bike daily, which would require easy use of such. Putting it on an external rack, even with lock, would invite theft. But if the costs are not too out of whack for me, yes, a coach is the way to go. Especially if I start making trips south for the winter, I haven't done that in the past, but may, in which case, for months-long stays, I would want more space than a van. I wouldn't be taking very long journeys unless it would be for long stays. Maybe short jaunts to the mountains to enjoy the snow in the winter. Great heat will be important. AC perhaps less so, but I should plan it in if only for resale value down the road.


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: busproject on January 22, 2014, 11:54:59 AM
The H-41 replaced the H-40 the H-40  was only around for a few years like 5 years I think, all H-41 had the series 60 engines with a larger engine compartment and different tag axles to accommodate the 60 series and B500 transmission 

The H-40 had mostly the 92 series engine a few had the series 60 I don't remember if the H-40 had the B500 with the series 60 or not I believe 1994 was the last year for the H-40 and the first year for the H-41 I could be wrong on that

good luck

Was wondering about the trans, thanks! One of the coaches I see advertised with a 60 says automatic but not B500 like their other listings, I was wondering if it is not. Yes, the vast majority of H40s I saw were with 8V92s, so I passed. But now seeing late 40s with series 60s, that's what got me interested. But I do want to find out about improvements after that. Boomer in an older thread ("buying a Prevost H3-45") recommends '99 through '02 due to a number of improvements such as frameless windows, dual Bosch alternators, new dash and switches, parcel rack A/C, but doesn't mention structural improvements. I think I'll message him and ask about that.


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: bandsaw on January 22, 2014, 12:12:09 PM
Hello, my 1998 was the first one to have the added bracing in the rear suspension. I don't know exactly when they added plates on the stainless frame.  I think that started in 1997.  I don't think you will be able to find factory sliding windows for a conversion. They do not sell assembled windows any more. When they were available the price was over $5k per window.  Pennisula glass has a method to make an slider from two flat panels.  Dave at Southern Oregon diesel has a reconstructed 45 foot H3 with the Pennisula windows.  He was trying to sell the bus shell. The windows swing out at the bottom but the cooling is not near as nice as a flat open window.

If you are not going to do the work yourself, I would not start with an empty shell.  I am doing my bus as an interesting project that is fully paid for as I go.  I have an enclosed heated shop so I can work year round.  I also wanted a 41 foot and I have not seen any factory conversions of H3-41's.  If you are doing this for a project go for it.  The only reason to start with an empty shell is the enjoyment of the project.  If you are more interested in a completed conversion buy a finished conversion. Factory converted used bus prices have dropped steadily since I bought my H3.    


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: robertglines1 on January 22, 2014, 12:30:31 PM
Since I've gotten involved in a discussion I did not intend to I will finish my though.. The coach as you said you would like to build for your use would have almost little market valve for resale. Yes some one would like it --but not for the general market.. also day to day expense for all those nice solar,battery Banks (thousands of dollars) systems,converters,etc==if your only going to use them on occasion they are not going to pay off..  makes more $$ to just run gen set and pay for fuel  in it. Hugh gen sets= more fuel--size it for your load..  The more weight you add the more fuel you use going down the road.  Look at allot of other things when buying coach.  tire age =A set can easily cost you $6,000--  Air bags--usually going at 10 years--got 8 of them on a H model.  Battery (start) best I have gotten is 6 years.  Over the road Air --plan on $1,000 to charge it minimum.  10 gallon oil changes...I think the reason for the pre 2002 60 series suggestion is it is pre egr and gets better mileage and last longer. If you must take the plunge it is a great hobby and I love to build and the challenge. The H -is a good base. Then you need to decide your life style-use of it. `Plan on loosing money but having a great time and meeting fantastic people...  My personal opinion.  Bob


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: busproject on January 22, 2014, 12:47:58 PM
H series are S/S tubing up to the floor level

Ahhhh. OK. Probably better protected from spray that high up, but just condensation can wreak havoc, so I'll plan on inspection. Nice thing is, little fiber optic handheld cameras (with light on the end of the probe) have gotten relatively cheap, I am thinking that may make pre-purchase inspection easier. Or does the long side panel above the cargo bins come off easy? I would expect that I would have to get access to that area anyway during the conversion in order to insulate, either from the outside or the inside. In your experience, how well did they coat the tubes above floor level?

Thanks, all these details do matter. If I do this, I really would like to package all this info into one place in a very organized format. It really would be enormously useful reference, rather than having to search through or post new threads. I would have to just compile it using regular word processing, but I'd need someone more knowledgeable to transfer it to an online format that is easily and quickly referenced. Just off the top of my head, I'm thinking...

Prevost H Series
  • Primary differences between H and other models and makes, the overall good and bad
  • Changes by model and year
  • Detailed specs
  • What to watch out for (systems often needing service)
  • Full inspection procedure and checklist, good sources by region
  • Typical rebuild costs for systems, per publish date
  • Sources for parts, by region
  • etc.

The Conversion
  • Order of operations and why
  • Removal of interior (and can seats and bins be sold?)
  • Interior layout with sample plans
  • Systems layout; wiring and plumbing runs and design
  • Systems detail; head, shower, tanks, HVAC, stove, power systems, etc. Choices, typical costs at time of posting, source list, installation issues.
  • Window and vent issues
  • Insulation; roof, sides, floor
  • Flooring designs
  • Wall coverings
  • Walls, cabinetry and furniture designs and fabrication
  • Printable checklist/worksheet in Excel or other app for costs and labor (separated by pro and self rates)
  • etc.


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: busproject on January 22, 2014, 12:53:49 PM
Hello, my 1998 was the first one to have the added bracing in the rear suspension. I don't know exactly when they added plates on the stainless frame.  I think that started in 1997.  I don't think you will be able to find factory sliding windows for a conversion. They do not sell assembled windows any more. When they were available the price was over $5k per window.  Pennisula glass has a method to make an slider from two flat panels.  Dave at Southern Oregon diesel has a reconstructed 45 foot H3 with the Pennisula windows.  He was trying to sell the bus shell. The windows swing out at the bottom but the cooling is not near as nice as a flat open window.

If you are not going to do the work yourself, I would not start with an empty shell.  I am doing my bus as an interesting project that is fully paid for as I go.  I have an enclosed heated shop so I can work year round.  I also wanted a 41 foot and I have not seen any factory conversions of H3-41's.  If you are doing this for a project go for it.  The only reason to start with an empty shell is the enjoyment of the project.  If you are more interested in a completed conversion buy a finished conversion. Factory converted used bus prices have dropped steadily since I bought my H3.    

Excellent info about the structure, that was what I was looking for.

Window costs: YIKES! Is that for sliding windows, or just the original replacement glass?!

Yes I expected swing windows don't cool as well as sliders, that's why I said I would need a roof fan to suck air through.

I'm beginning to see why Hs are going cheap after their service life is over.


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: busproject on January 22, 2014, 12:56:38 PM
Since I've gotten involved in a discussion I did not intend to I will finish my though.. The coach as you said you would like to build for your use would have almost little market valve for resale. Yes some one would like it --but not for the general market.. also day to day expense for all those nice solar,battery Banks (thousands of dollars) systems,converters,etc==if your only going to use them on occasion they are not going to pay off..  makes more $$ to just run gen set and pay for fuel  in it. Hugh gen sets= more fuel--size it for your load..  The more weight you add the more fuel you use going down the road.  Look at allot of other things when buying coach.  tire age =A set can easily cost you $6,000--  Air bags--usually going at 10 years--got 8 of them on a H model.  Battery (start) best I have gotten is 6 years.  Over the road Air --plan on $1,000 to charge it minimum.  10 gallon oil changes...I think the reason for the pre 2002 60 series suggestion is it is pre egr and gets better mileage and last longer. If you must take the plunge it is a great hobby and I love to build and the challenge. The H -is a good base. Then you need to decide your life style-use of it. `Plan on loosing money but having a great time and meeting fantastic people...  My personal opinion.  Bob

Yeah. Yeeeaaaah. This is why I'm asking. Yep. Yep....Yep.


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: busproject on January 22, 2014, 01:39:26 PM
So I'm doing the math, and if posters are right about full conversions being available at good discounts, it sounds like I will not do a full conversion. I would either look for that, or, based on the seated coaches I am seeing now, if I see one that appears to be in great shape, not requiring a new powerplant for the limited miles I would put on it, I might buy that and do only the following:

Rip out the seats, perhaps leave the cargo bins in place.

Insulation, nice floor, and heat. Must have heat capable of a 50 degree F temperature differential (20F outside, 70F inside). Everything else I'll go primitive, porta-potti, porta-sink, porta-stove, etc., everything internal to the cockpit, no storage tanks under the floor. It would be just like a small camper van, just a lot more space for things. Heat must be offline, so propane or diesel. So my question now is, recommendations on the heater, and what is the best way to vent the exhaust on it?

If I could generate enough solar to power a fridge, great, if not I would just do without there.

I've primitive vehicle-camped more than you can imagine, very experienced with it, so I know what I'm getting into there. Have done it through entire winters with no heat. I was warm under blankets but condensation was an issue, insulation and heat would take care of that. Summer was no problem in temperate climates. The above, with heat, would be just dandy for me for 5-7 day jaunts/uses (limiter I think would be porta-potti capacity, if I could dump that easy on site, longer would be easy).


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: RJ on January 22, 2014, 02:06:26 PM
Bob -

As part of doing your homework, you need to pick up copies of the following reading materials:

Beginner's Guide to Converted Coaches by Larry Plachno, the publisher of National Bus Trader, an industry magazine.  Altho somewhat dated, it's message is timeless and extremely valuable.

The entire series of books published by Dave Galey.  Dave's converted several coaches, and has covered just about every aspect of what needs to be done in his books.

Mike Kadletz published the magazine that this BBS is based off of for almost 20 years.  He wrote a book about conversions, it's somewhat rare and now out of print.  Can't remember the title, but IMHO, Larry's is better.

Amazon is your friend for these, but also check eBay, they pop up every now and then.

Finally, please take a couple minutes to update your forum profile to at least include a signature line similar to mine below.  Simply click on the "Profile" tab above, then in the LH menu that pops up on the next screen, click on "Forum Profile Info" and follow the prompts.  By including you name and home-base city/state, we can better help you, both with parts and service sources, and quite possibly a neighboring busnut!

FWIW & HTH. . .

 ;)


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: busproject on January 22, 2014, 03:49:27 PM
Bob -

As part of doing your homework, you need to pick up copies of the following reading materials:

Beginner's Guide to Converted Coaches by Larry Plachno, the publisher of National Bus Trader, an industry magazine.  Altho somewhat dated, it's message is timeless and extremely valuable.

The entire series of books published by Dave Galey.  Dave's converted several coaches, and has covered just about every aspect of what needs to be done in his books.

Mike Kadletz published the magazine that this BBS is based off of for almost 20 years.  He wrote a book about conversions, it's somewhat rare and now out of print.  Can't remember the title, but IMHO, Larry's is better.

Amazon is your friend for these, but also check eBay, they pop up every now and then.

Finally, please take a couple minutes to update your forum profile to at least include a signature line similar to mine below.  Simply click on the "Profile" tab above, then in the LH menu that pops up on the next screen, click on "Forum Profile Info" and follow the prompts.  By including you name and home-base city/state, we can better help you, both with parts and service sources, and quite possibly a neighboring busnut!

FWIW & HTH. . .

 ;)

See, that's what I should have asked for from the beginning. Although costs and some technology would be out of date. I will look for those books. For those concepts that are universal among coach brands and timeless, sounds like great info. But time has marched on, so for example, I wouldn't have to worry about raising the roof on an H3. I would think that inverters were out of the question 30 years ago, everything was 12VDC. Insulation materials may have improved in efficiency.

I will update my sig line with perhaps first name, general location (when I get one), and vehicle if I get one. But I am cautious to not post any real identifying info on any web forum; If I mention I am going south for the winter, it's like giving a thief an open invite. And you never know if a potential employer is going to google me, lest they find my name on busconversions.com, well holy heck, there went that job. :( Like a car writer (I think perhaps Pat Bedard) once said about people being suspicious of VW Bus owners; "You never know what's going on in the back with mazola oil and Swedish massagers."


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: robertglines1 on January 22, 2014, 04:08:18 PM
Really think the guy just showed his true colors!!!  And opinion of this bunch of busnuts!! 


Title: Re: Re: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: Seangie on January 22, 2014, 04:19:35 PM
And you never know if a potential employer is going to google me, lest they find my name on busconversions.com, well holy heck, there went that job.


Well - I think if your name was googled for a job and they found you posted on this forum it would show that you are smart, a good planner, are versatile, good at multitasking, can somewhat use a computer, know a bit about electrical, plumbing,   carpentry...it shows you certainly are not afraid of a challenge and no task is too big. 

Then again if you are in the field of investing and working with money...hide your identity as much as you can.

:)

-Sean

Fulltiming somewhere in the USA
1984 Eagle 10S
www.herdofturtles.org (http://www.herdofturtles.org)


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: Jon on January 23, 2014, 05:25:44 AM
There is not a snowball's chance in Hell that the purchase of a seated coach, it's repairs to make it mechanically reliable, and the conversion costs will ever be lower than the purchase price of some professional conversions. And at the risk of alienating just about everyone one here a non=professional conversion by a first timer will not come close to the quality, reliability, or appearance of a store bought conversion unless the converter spends as many hours planning as he does building. But I will admit no store bought conversion is ever going to provide the satisfaction that comes with successfully building your own either.

Where I am heading with this however is I get a great sense that money is the object. Not only in what it will actually take to build one, but to maintain one in the sense Busproject is looking to live in a somewhat frugal or compromised manner. And if I am correct in that living economically is an objective stop right now. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. These coaches are a money pit. If I was given a coach my outlay for ownership without ever driving a mile starts to ramp up with insurance tires batteries and all else that ages. then if I start to drive it I am buying fuel and having to lube it, change oil and fluids including transmission and coolant, plus fix what breaks from use.

And the ugly reality is the dollars required to maintain or repair an old coach are at least equal to, if not greater than the costs associated with maintaining a new $2,000,000 coach. Nobody sells parts or labor hours cheaper because they go on an old coach.

Then there is the bottom line.......these things lose value at an alarming rate. Buy it or build it, you are guaranteed that in 5 years its value will be significantly less than whatever has been spent on it.

These are great if approached as a hobby with no expectations of ever getting back what has been spent. They are to be enjoyed as a project or a motorhome. I spend as many hours working on mine as I do driving or living in it and despite dumping serious money into it I have no expectations I will ever see those dollars again. If someone goes into this with their eyes wide open and accepts the lack of any return on the investment it ends up way cheaper than a mistress.


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: luvrbus on January 23, 2014, 07:29:32 AM
I saw a 1994 H-40 with a series 60 seated coach sell for 18,500 owned by a casino here they had 3 the guy in Vegas bought all 3 my point is why pay 20 grand and install a 50 dollar port-a-potti in a conversion seems like a 2,500 dollar schoolie and build his own bays would work  to each his own I guess


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: dukegrad98 on January 23, 2014, 07:46:49 AM
luvrbus beat me to it -- why care about a Series 60 and all these details when all you really want is a cheap tin tent to drive once in awhile and park?  You can do all that MUCH cheaper, and save in the long run since you aren't going to be piling up miles on it anyway.  You still have a PM...

Cheers, John


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: Iceni John on January 23, 2014, 08:35:40 AM
Good points.   Skoolies are derided by some "real bus" folk, but they are sometimes the best basis for a conversion if they won't be driven thousands of miles a year, or if they may need to go off the paved roads, or if you don't have the disposable income for a high-dollar conversion, or if you simply want something simple and easy to work on.   For example, CARB in California is mandating that all 2-stroke buses and trucks be out of service in the next few years, so school districts are getting rid of them now.   Providing they don't need to be crushed, they're showing up on eBay, Interschola and elsewhere.   A late 1980s or early 90s Crown or Gillig like mine is a good candidate for conversion  -  full-length frame rails (makes tow hitches easy to install), 6'6" headroom, underfloor storage bays, bomb-proof construction quality, usually no rust whatsoever if it's from CA, simple, durable, easy access to all the greasy bits, and cheap compared to everything else.   There was even a tandem-axle Thomas WestCoastER for sale recently.   By the time I'm finished with my conversion (are they ever finished?) it will have all the functionality of a higher-priced bus, but for less money.   And how many converted Super II Crowns are there, compared to the myriads of converted MCIs and Eagles and Prevosts?*

I know this is a big difference from a Prevost, but sometimes less is more.   Worth thinking about.

John

*  Two!   Mine, and Locutus's in WA.   How's that for exclusivity?   That makes ours rarer than Bugatti Veyrons!


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: robertglines1 on January 23, 2014, 09:14:14 AM
Good outcome for our readers!!  even though the original poster--- It stirred some good discussion.  Different strokes for different folks.  We all share the same basic interest. Was this his 3rd screen name on the board??  Doesn't require a answer..   By the way I've been Involved with a Thomas school bus build,Mci 8, and Prevost.  All been fun and a learning experience. Still allot to learn!  Bob


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: bansil on January 23, 2014, 09:21:25 AM
So I'm doing the math, and if posters are right about full conversions being available at good discounts, it sounds like I will not do a full conversion. I would either look for that, or, based on the seated coaches I am seeing now, if I see one that appears to be in great shape, not requiring a new powerplant for the limited miles I would put on it, I might buy that and do only the following:

Rip out the seats, perhaps leave the cargo bins in place.

Insulation, nice floor, and heat. Must have heat capable of a 50 degree F temperature differential (20F outside, 70F inside). Everything else I'll go primitive, porta-potti, porta-sink, porta-stove, etc., everything internal to the cockpit, no storage tanks under the floor. It would be just like a small camper van, just a lot more space for things. Heat must be offline, so propane or diesel. So my question now is, recommendations on the heater, and what is the best way to vent the exhaust on it?

If I could generate enough solar to power a fridge, great, if not I would just do without there.

I've primitive vehicle-camped more than you can imagine, very experienced with it, so I know what I'm getting into there. Have done it through entire winters with no heat. I was warm under blankets but condensation was an issue, insulation and heat would take care of that. Summer was no problem in temperate climates. The above, with heat, would be just dandy for me for 5-7 day jaunts/uses (limiter I think would be porta-potti capacity, if I could dump that easy on site, longer would be easy).

I haven't commented yet because I have no idea what in the hell your trying to achieve???????

This last post makes it sound like you want a fancy metal tent?i so get a $3000 Skoolie and put in your porta potti shower and sink etc.

after a week the whole taking the porta potti inside to dump or trying to pour it into a funnel at a dump station will get old if you use it a lot.

and then you mention solar to power your fridge while camping so you need a few batteries and atleast 240watts of solar

and no electric into bus???


why buy a $15k, $2ok or $30k conversion, strip it out and live like a backwoods hillbilly? (I can make this comment because I resemble that remark)  ;D
.
.
.

OH>>>>>and now you do not want to be associated with the fine folks from this site???

 If your job interview leads them here...WTF?? so your not filthy rich since you need a job (or are worried about needing a new one), and you don't work now?? because you are worried about a future employer finding you hanging with riff raff

yada, yada some needs to figure out what they want other than acting like a troll with so much time on their hands that they can fire off long quick responses...so CHEERS MATE


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: Dave5Cs on January 23, 2014, 02:59:07 PM
Here we go again , LOL ;D


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: John316 on January 23, 2014, 03:03:50 PM
(http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Rc8k_D3yYoE/Tw4IyOKMysI/AAAAAAAAAls/awgasVzJMfA/s320/Stephen-Colbert-Popcorn.gif)
^^^^^^^^^^
I have no idea who this guy is, and I am not saying I agree with whatever he says. It was just a funny gif that I found.


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: Dave5Cs on January 23, 2014, 08:19:54 PM
Now I have to go make Popcorn. Thanks john for the excuse. I told my wife its your fault, LOL

Dave5Cs ;D


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: John316 on January 24, 2014, 05:19:16 AM
Now I have to go make Popcorn. Thanks john for the excuse. I told my wife its your fault, LOL

Dave5Cs ;D

LOL, Dave. Anything I can do to help. Are you a microwave kinda guy, or a real pan of popcorn kind of guy?


Title: Re: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: Dave5Cs on January 24, 2014, 06:11:43 AM
MW . Actually not suppose to eat  pc because just got  teeth fixed lol

Dave5Cs from Galaxy S III


Title: Re: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: John316 on January 24, 2014, 06:26:35 AM
MW . Actually not suppose to eat  pc because just got  teeth fixed lol

Dave5Cs from Galaxy S III

Sorry, pal. I really did get you in trouble. Oh well. It was worth it. LOL


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: Jnbroadbent on January 24, 2014, 06:41:37 AM
If you keep a look out, you can get materials for really cheap on Craigslist.

For example, I bought ~1000sq ft of 2" rigid insulation for $120.

I've seen 30+ sheets of 1/2"-3/4" ply go for $3-5 bucks a sheet. I keep missing out on those...


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: luvrbus on January 24, 2014, 06:46:57 AM
Where did he go ?


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: muldoonman on January 24, 2014, 07:17:58 AM
Where did he go ?
Aliens?


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: bansil on January 24, 2014, 08:47:35 AM
Aliens?
:o
Shiat , for real!
.
Dang I made Popcorn late...turned out to be wifeys kettle corn, crap...threw it to the cats and made more;
LA natriala~

Damn okay it,s plain and no salt!

Did I say something to offend?

Nagh...was'nt me so....

Should we add purple sea shells to the sink handles?

 :-*

It takes longer to warm bus up to do the work I wanna do...reckon
, I'll turn another heater on and head to the beer store ta-ta


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: busproject on January 26, 2014, 09:59:39 PM
I'm back.

This is my first time on the forum/board, no I don't have any previous identities.

Over the years I have learned to temper my fascinations and desires against the true costs. For example, after investigation, I resisted the urge to buy an Audi S8 just outside of warranty. Cool car, but even well taken care of, they seem to be a money pit.

You are right that it seems incongruous to make a tin tent out of an H3-40. What appealed to me was the ultra-tall cargo bins, for several reasons which are not important here. Don't have those on a skoolie.

In conclusion, my desires have been tempered. I will look for a finished conversion, but even then only get one if the value is good. I've bought many things in my life including several very sporty cars used, and got them at a good enough price that I was able to resell 4-5 years later at profit (break even when including maintenance). I'd like a bus, but I don't have so much disposable income at this point to throw money into a pit.

A Prevost H is still not out of the question. I think I'm less concerned right now with the conversion systems costs than the rehab/maintenance costs on the H. The older ones I was looking at, seems things like control boxes for the trans are no longer made (but a company will rehab your old one for $1000 I think). I want to get my head around those costs, knowing when might be a better cutoff in terms of model year, etc. And in that regard, I think Boomer's post on that subject was good advice. But of course, those are still going for over $50k. I'll continue to look and learn. If I get a place that has room for it, and stumble across a good year H in relatively good shape for less than $20k (not likely, but stranger things have happened), I'll probably buy it just to futz around with it and work on it for the enjoyment of it. I'll just make sure the mechanicals are sound before pulling the seats out, because once I do that, I'm committed.


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: busproject on January 26, 2014, 10:03:00 PM
Oh and thanks all for the input, much appreciated.


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: Jon on January 27, 2014, 05:06:03 AM
I have been a long time owner of Prevost coaches. The first I had for 15 years and I put about 250,000 miles on it. I put about 100,000 on the second. So far about 20,000 on my current one. All were bought used.

Even if you get a "deal" I can almost bet the farm you will never recover your money. If you add in what it really costs to maintain one you will not come close to break even. As long as you approach the acquisition of an H3 knowing a lot of money will be going down the drain you will be a happy camper. I suspect the early models with the 8V92 are going to sell for far below their cost to reproduce. The key to buying one has to be to avoid buying one with a lot of stuff broke from a seller who tries to tell you it is a simple repair. If it was simple (or inexpensive) he would have fixed it. A coach with an accumulation of small defects is one to run away from because you can be sure it was not maintained properly. As was shown on a post a few weeks ago just failing to change and maintain the coolant cost an owner a new engine.

I have learned due to the multiple systems and complexity to keep detailed logs of all maintenance and if they are not available when I buy the coach to zero everything out including fluids, filters, belts, air dryer, air bags, brake chambers, leveling valves, etc. Time consuming and expensive but then I start with a virtually new coach and can enjoy a lot of trouble free miles and years. I cannot handle surprises when on the road so I would rather spend the money on preventive maintenance than on a tow truck.


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: lvmci on January 27, 2014, 06:18:34 AM
 surprises when on the road, so I would rather spend the money on preventive maintenance than on a tow truck.
[/quote]
Great way to put it, Jon,  lvmci...


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: Jon on January 27, 2014, 09:25:06 AM
surprises when on the road, so I would rather spend the money on preventive maintenance than on a tow truck.

Great way to put it, Jon,  lvmci...

Comes from flying for business for so many years. Far better to fix it before it breaks than to wait til it breaks and wished you'd fixed it.


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: RJ on January 27, 2014, 10:57:24 AM
Bob -

You mentioned in an earlier post about wanting the larger bays for your bikes.

Human-powered or gasoline-powered?

Bicycles are not a problem if you don't mind laying them on their side - regardless of coach make/model.

Motorcycles, OTOH, are a different challenge.  Part of that challenge is the tunnel that runs down the center of the coach, which houses heater/defroster coolant lines, A/C freon lines and electric conduits, thus not easily removed.  That makes the bikes harder to store cross-ways in the bay if they're taller.  Most bikes are also longer than the bay, so mounting them parallel to the sides of the coach gets thwarted.  You can't cut away the bulkhead between the bays to accommodate the length, because the bulkhead adds torsional rigidity to the chassis.

Now you know why the majority of folk who are into motorcycles pull an enclosed trailer behind their bus conversion.

With the current depressed market, even a good Haulmark or Wells Cargo trailer with a drop tailgate can be had very reasonably with a little shopping around.

FYI, the GMC PD4905s actually have larger baggage bays than an H3 Prevost, two fewer tires and a longer wheelbase.  There are several of those available right now with automatics for quite a bit less than a Prevost.  You might consider one of these as a "starter coach" to see if this is really the lifestyle for you.  In today's market, GMs are about the only coach you could just about recoup your purchase price, less maintenance.  You'd still take a hit, just not as severe.

Here's a couple examples of the 4905:

http://www.sellabus.com/blake.html (http://www.sellabus.com/blake.html)
http://www.sellabus.com/rowsell_77gm.html (http://www.sellabus.com/rowsell_77gm.html)

Just some additional food for thought.

FWIW & HTH. . .

 ;)


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: Jeremy on January 27, 2014, 12:27:07 PM
I realise that this probably doesn't help much - but for pure height you can't beat the bays in a double-decker coach:

(http://www.jumbocruiser.com/photos2/Buses/ayats/slides/IMG_0726.JPG)

Jeremy


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: luvrbus on January 27, 2014, 01:00:02 PM
Don't the Van Hools have the largest bays of any bus ?


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: RJ on January 27, 2014, 09:51:25 PM
Don't the Van Hools have the largest bays of any bus ?

They might. . . but who wants a POS??


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: lvmci on January 28, 2014, 04:53:02 AM
Hi buspj, have you looked at the mci's with a wheel chair lift ? You might be able to adapt and beefup that mechanism to fit a motorcycle, I've lomg thought. Theres one for sale in palm springs on craigslist. Mike, the previous owner of busconversions, had a mci custom fitted with a set of doors on the side that was beefed up to display medical machinery,  you might be able to rigup a lift like for the top of my T-bird, that would crank up into a pocket garage.Have you seen the motorcycle lifts mounted to the rear? those are quite common, but you need a bus with a frame, I think, I'm suggesting there might be other solutions, only limited by your imagination, lvmci...


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: luvrbus on January 28, 2014, 04:59:43 AM
Just another option for him RJ,Northwest Bus in Vegas has a hella of buy on a Neoplan Metroliner extra clean with a ISM and Allison that replaced the 6v92 it was installed in 2003 has 153,000 miles has electrical problems on the bus for 9 grand you cannot buy the ISM and B500 for that price and it is a clean west coast bus  

He can look beyond Prevost,GM,Eagle and MCI the BlueBird intercity coach is a nice bus also they are all going to cost to maintain  

These old bus parts are getting hard to find even Luke is running out


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: Jeremy on January 28, 2014, 05:17:40 AM
Another idea for those with big / heavy / valuable bikes would be to buy a low-floor bus with a central door and actually keep the bike inside the bus. You could build a 'garage' inside the bus around the central door (and use the front door for personnel access), or if you had a wood or tile floor, and the bike was clean, you could forget the garage and just wheel the bike inside the bus and strap it down.


Jeremy


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: robertglines1 on January 28, 2014, 07:28:40 AM
Several years ago someone posted a picture of a transit that the whole front end swung open and a guy drove a cobra replica in it to haul it around..BK I think? 


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: dukegrad98 on January 28, 2014, 12:12:14 PM
Several years ago someone posted a picture of a transit that the whole front end swung open and a guy drove a cobra replica in it to haul it around..BK I think? 


You have to watch out for those crazy guys that drive Cobras...   8)   :o

If you're bored -- here's one I built, running a twin-turbo V12 tuned to around 600hp / 750lb-ft:

http://www.ffcars.com/forums/17-factory-five-roadsters/228016-unveiled-top-secret-ubercobra-new-vids-pg-4-a.html (http://www.ffcars.com/forums/17-factory-five-roadsters/228016-unveiled-top-secret-ubercobra-new-vids-pg-4-a.html)

Cheers, John


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: Hard Headed Ken on January 28, 2014, 12:29:06 PM
John, incredible craftsmanship, I salute you!!!!!!!!!!

Ken


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: Iceni John on January 28, 2014, 12:36:43 PM
Another idea for those with big / heavy / valuable bikes would be to buy a low-floor bus with a central door and actually keep the bike inside the bus. You could build a 'garage' inside the bus around the central door (and use the front door for personnel access), or if you had a wood or tile floor, and the bike was clean, you could forget the garage and just wheel the bike inside the bus and strap it down.
Jeremy
Bicycles or motor bikes?

If bicycles, I will have at least four of my fleet inside my bus, behind the driver's seat, partially-hanging by their front wheels from the ceiling, but at about 45-degree angle pointing back.   This way takes the least amount of real estate inside, and if they're arranged fore/aft/fore/aft their handlebars and pedals won't clash too much.   A bicycle is about 6 feet long.   For my irreplaceable custom bicycles there's no other way for me.   Forget about outside, where every crackhead will try to steal them, plus they'll get filthy, plus I don't want them to be my crumple zone.   I need to keep my bays for Other Stuff.

If motor bikes, Odyssey Sean's blog has some ideas.

John

 


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: Jeremy on January 28, 2014, 02:04:07 PM
Bicycles or motor bikes?



I did mean motorbikes - I'm sure even the heaviest of Harleys or whatever could be got onboard a low-floor bus quite easily

(http://www.promove.uk.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/19084377_m.jpg)

Jeremy


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: busproject on January 29, 2014, 09:03:21 AM
To answer multiple questions:

I was thinking bicycles, and yes, they are nice enough that I would not leave them outside. Not motorcycles, but I did just remember that I do have thoughts of learning to ride the latter. I just never wanted to spend the full price on one in terms of bank for the buck, but now some of the great bikes I have admired are now relatively cheap on the used market. The nice thing about bikes is that they are easier to inspect, and not too difficult to find a used one in nice shape. The bike I am interested in (sport cruiser, only slightly large than a crotch rocket), I don't think the handlebars are any taller than a bicycle, however the windshield even abbreviated, would be, but backing it into the bay, I think it might fit. Would have to verify that. I would assume that if I did any serious touring, towing a toad (car) would be more important than a trailer for a motorcycle, unless that was my primary transport, which would depend on great climate and close grocery shopping.

I remember in my college days, seeing a low floor bus I thought was really cool, it had tires as large as big coaches and axles at the very ends, zero overhand front or rear. I can't recall the engine location. Those were cool but I haven't seen any on the market.

Most coaches with a wheelchair lift go for a lot more money as that is needed for a lot of fleets. I hadn't considered that for the bike as that is more trouble than I want to load/unload the bike each day. However, if it didn't cost a lot, I thought it would be nice just to be able to get things in and out easy if I set up a small workshop in the bus. (In which case a ramp would be better than the lift, but with that height, the ramp is much too long for easy deployment of a folding ramp, and no place to store a one-piece ramp that long, unlike a box truck where it goes between the box and frame.) Probably makes more sense to have the tools down in the bay with an awning and just work on things outside.

There's lots of coaches for sale. Time was a bit more critical as I thought the H3-40s I saw for sale looked like a great deal, but now not so much due to the age more than the miles due to how they are equipped. So I'm concentrating more now on finding a house, I'm still going for a place with space to work on a bus, and if not that, something else.

Wow, the bays on the double-decker are HUGE! How tall are those things? Prevost H is only 6" shy of the max interstate limit if I recall, I'm guessing the doubles are taller than that and restricted to local city travel.


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: busproject on January 29, 2014, 09:40:36 AM
The bus I mentioned above is an Orion II, took a LOT of searching online to find an image.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3c/EMTA_Orion_II_0082.jpg (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3c/EMTA_Orion_II_0082.jpg)

I wonder if that thing is front or rear drive? Definitely looks front engine, it says they were powered by DDA 8.2L. They were a lot cleaner looking without the roof air.


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: busproject on January 29, 2014, 09:53:26 AM
Here's a better shot of the Orion II. With that width, low overhangs, and low CG, I'll bet that thing has the best vehicle dynamics of any bus ever made.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/aa/TTC_Orion_II.JPG (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/aa/TTC_Orion_II.JPG)


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: luvrbus on January 29, 2014, 10:26:47 AM
Valley Metro in Phoenix has a few of those Orion II still in service theirs are all Cummins engines


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: lvmci on January 29, 2014, 11:22:03 AM
Hi buspj, the ad in craigslist in palmsprings, has the factory wheelchair lift, I think, which has become common on mcis in greyhound service, a few people I've helped looking for a bus, have talked about a shop on board, either in the bus compartment or in the bay, its becoming a common requirment for new busnuts. I saw a bicycle carrier cover on the common transit bike carrier off the front bumper, it looked to be hard plastic with hinges, but I think it was in Montreal or Toronto, maybe you northern guys could help out with that, lvmci...


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: Iceni John on January 29, 2014, 12:10:25 PM
Seizure World in Orange County CA had some buses like them, but I heard that they were being sold off.   Theirs were a front-wheel-drive super-low-floor design, quite a step down from a Prevost (so to speak), but potentially a useful toy hauler conversion candidate.   However, keeping nice bikes inside wouldn't leave too much usable space for you, and those buses have NO underfloor space for tanks etc.   For someone who wants to take his toys out just on weekends maybe they would work, but for a "serious" conversion I think not.

We've certainly explored a lot of ideas in this thread so far  -  everything from Prevosts to skoolies to old-fogey buses!   What's next?

John


Title: Re: typical conversion component costs?
Post by: Jeremy on January 29, 2014, 02:39:56 PM
To throw another idea into the mix, this is how the professionals do it over here:-

Skiing holiday tour buses usually have these boxes (known as 'droms', as in 'dromedary' (ie, a camel with a hump)) on the back, which are classed as a 'load' and not part of the vehicle itself (so the vehicle isn't technically over-length).

It'd be a fair bit of work to build one of these from scratch, but if I had some valuable but lightweight bicycles to carry I would very strongly consider this approach:

(http://www.setra.de/uploads/tx_templavoila/131219_pm_setra_detail_2_01.jpg)
(http://www.setra.de/uploads/tx_templavoila/131219_pm_setra_detail_1_01.jpg)
(http://www.setra.de/uploads/tx_templavoila/131219_pm_setra_detail_3_01.jpg)

Cycling tour buses (which seem almost as popular as the skiing buses) typically tow a trailer - overkill if you've only got a couple of bikes, but just for the sake of showing the pic:

(http://www.markanthonysigns.com/vinyl-vehicle-graphics/vehicle-graphics04.jpg)

Jeremy