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Author Topic: Cost of Conversion Work  (Read 4835 times)
Chuck Newman
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« on: August 11, 2009, 08:18:24 PM »

Except for some mechanical work in the past and  some in progress, we havenít really started the  conversion on our Ď89 102A3.  We retired last year and want to get on the road full time before the polar caps melt. 

The window skinning, floor plan, furniture, etc. have been cast in stone for some time.   In fact, except for the generator and Motosat, everything (appliances, sinks, lights, etc.), has been purchased  on sale and is sitting in storage. 

We are looking for someone to skin 4 windows on each side, and do the interior wood work.  No deep gloss hand rubbed cherry or rose wood styling.  We want some nice looking white wood cabinets and white walls in a side isle design with enclosed bath.  Some Ozite or something similar on the ceiling, with Corian counter tops.  I will do the AC/DC and electronic wiring and plumbing -- things I do well.

I donít have a clue what the costs of  farmed out conversion work would be.  Iíve only talked to one converter so far, and I realize I havenít gone into a lot of detail about our plan here, which is nothing out of the ordinary, but I have been quoted around $50K for skinning windows and interior wood work.  That seems somewhat steep to me, but then I really donít know.  Exterior painting , tires and wheels are not included in the above price.

I would appreciate comments / advice from anyone with knowledge or experience in the conversion field and realistic costs associated with it.    Thank you,  Chuck
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1989 MCI 102A3, Series 50, DDEC III, Allison 740D
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« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2009, 08:26:06 PM »

Chuck that seems way to HIGH to me. However that said I have never done it, or had it done!
But I can garuntee you that if you go to a rally or 2 and ask around you'll find plenty of experienced hands who would be willing to help or do it for much cheaper!  And I know for a fact a good rally to come to is coming up!   
http://www.busconversions.com/bbs/index.php?topic=12698.0

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« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2009, 08:41:33 PM »

Chuck, 50 grand sounds high but not bad to me from a converter cabinets are a pain in a bus and and am sure you will have cabinets and closets in the bath and bedroom with Corian costing around 50 to 75 bucks a square foot installed it will cost money.
In to days economy I would check with a cabinet maker in your area maybe you could cut a deal or hire a cabinet maker by the hour.   

good luck
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« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2009, 09:00:15 PM »

I'm not sure $50,000 is at all out of line.  Before we bought the frenchy-bus I got pretty serious with a converter in Ontario.  After I supplied him with a chassis there was still about $100k of parts and labour and I think more of that was labour than parts but that's over 5 years ago now and I've drank a lot of scotch in between.  You guys that do the work yourself discount just how many hours you actually put into these things.
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« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2009, 09:03:43 PM »

Material is certainly a factor but the greatest cost is the actual time spent creating a cabinet that fits, there are no straight lines in a bus and the imaginary straight lines that you create to work from change every couple of feet as the curves of the bus change.
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Jerry32
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« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2009, 09:43:52 PM »

Yes it seem like a lot of money but then why are custom coaches so spendy ? I think for work farmed out it is a bargain price for all the work that has to be done. Just tearing the bus down is a job in itself. I think it would take more than one person to do the job in a reasonable amount of time.
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« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2009, 09:52:24 PM »

I have not gotten to the finish work yet and have to say time is the factor here. I takes time to make things fit in a bus. With bus, gen, windows, siding, plumbing and a good start on electrical. I have not figured in any of my time and I am in about 30 grand and one and a half years of part time spent. To each his own but 50 k sounds high to me but I can do this kind of work. If one is looking for someone else to do it the wage to do it will be high.
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« Reply #7 on: August 12, 2009, 03:45:49 AM »

I can't comment on the price of having the work you describe done by a professional converter. All I can say is doing the work is a lot of work! The cost of materials is probably 1/3, the other 2/3 is labor. As I could not afford it to be done by someone else I took the low road and did it myself. Is the quality as good, nope. I have made a lot of mistakes and learn as I go. I am doing this for the experience and my labor is cheap.

Remember you pay for what you get.

Get some more estimates, but keep in mind not everyone will do the work exactly the same way. It's a matter of how deep you pocket is. If you can afford it, go for it. Get the contract in writing so you know upfront if there will be any add ons that don't surprise you on the final bill.

Good Luck and really hope you get the coach of your dreams finished to your liking.

One more thing, do you have any pictures? I have a friend that has a 102A3 that might get inspired with ideas on yours, maybe he will follow your post and ask himself, huh Doug. Wink

Paul
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« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2009, 05:05:20 AM »

I am not sure where you are located, but let me chime in.

If you are on the East coast, I know of one shop not to use. Don't use Star Jet, in Columbus OH. They are a well known shop, and I think that they would do just fine just painting (they did fine, not great, on our paint job). However their other work was terrible. I can go into details if you want, but if you don't live near enough to consider them, then I won't bother.

About the price. I would say that for just the skinning should be a total of 10K max for the skinning, and maybe a solid color paint job, or maybe some more for the paint job.

Cabinets? I really don't know, but that price does sound steep. If the guy tells you that materials are so expensive (which they are), then if you are savvy about some of the stuff, provide your own materials (except for the wood, he can usually get a better price on that). We purchased "rejected" oak, and milled it ourselves, which was way cheaper. We actually framed the whole bus out in 2X2 oak sticks. Needless to say, our bus is built solid. Sometime I will try to post pics, but our bunks are built with the idea that in the event of a wreck, they wouldn't collapse (we know another group that had a wreck, and all of their bunks collapsed.

BTW, we got our kitchen counter, for 50 dollars. The guy who we purchased it from, said that it cost him 200, and he would have sold it for 400, but he had been storing it for two years, and basically gave it to us. It is 7ft long and 30 inches wide. It is some sort of man made, silicone based, unbreakable counter top. We got it from a nice counter top dealer. So I would check with a counter top dealer in you area, and be flexible with what you get.

HTH

God bless,

John
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MCI 1995 DL3. DD S60 with a Allison B500.
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« Reply #9 on: August 12, 2009, 05:30:47 AM »

Chuck...My name is Thomas Winterhalter. I have taught the Bus Conversions Workshops for the Bus Conversions Magazine.  Currently I am working on some articles for the magazine, and your bus project would be a great one to write about.

Where are you located? I live in Tulsa, OK.
Contact me at:   busdesigner@aol.com
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« Reply #10 on: August 12, 2009, 06:24:58 AM »

Probably many of you don't know tom (busdesigner).  He is a fantastic person, great teacher, and skilled in most phases of bus conversion. 

Tom, are you still in the business of doing conversions? 

If so, he would be an excellent candidate!!

Jim
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Jim Shepherd
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« Reply #11 on: August 12, 2009, 06:37:21 AM »

Chuck, 2 friends of mine also have their cabinet and furniture work done at good prices from a Amish cabinet maker in OK between Wagoner and Pryor.
 But I don't have any idea how to reach them.
I know he also did work for Vogue on their Prevost conversions and his name is Miller that is about all the info I have on him.
If you know any one in the Tulsa area they might help the only thing I remember about the location was he had a phone booth in his front yard out side the fence on hi way 169    



good luck


« Last Edit: August 12, 2009, 06:54:04 AM by luvrbus » Logged

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cody
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« Reply #12 on: August 12, 2009, 06:49:49 AM »

Just offhand I can't think of any good cabinetmakers, I know a few mediocre ones but none that are really good at what they do.  I know one that was offered 75K to do the cabinetry in a prevo from key west and he turned them down when it turned out they had 2 prevos they wanted done for the money.
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DaveG
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« Reply #13 on: August 12, 2009, 06:52:48 AM »

I don't think the Amish have phones, might be hard to reach them.
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luvrbus
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« Reply #14 on: August 12, 2009, 07:03:04 AM »

I know the Amish in OK don't have phones in the home but on a Sat they line up to use the phones at Wal-Mart in Pryor but this guy had a phone booth outside his yard.   

good luck
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