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Author Topic: Biggest Fail  (Read 3187 times)
Seangie
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« on: December 13, 2013, 05:45:47 AM »

Through the process of converting our bus we have had some fails but the biggest fail for us was the HVAC.  Mostly because of my lack of knowledge and not enough time spent on pre-planning and then installing late in the process.  On top of this there were countless issues with vendors and shipping....etc.  All in all it cost me about 3k.  Burning that 3k in one dollar bills in the campfire would have been more productive and less stressful.

Next conversion the first thing I'm doing is putting a solid plan together for the HVAC and getting that installed, tested and working before continuing with the rest of the build.

How about you...what was your biggest/costliest fail?

-Sean



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« Reply #1 on: December 13, 2013, 05:50:58 AM »

  ...   How about you...what was your biggest/costliest fail?

     Getting started in the first place ....
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Bruce H; Wallace (near Wilmington) NC
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« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2013, 06:24:11 AM »

Well, I asked her to....  OH! You mean on my bus! Embarrassed
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« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2013, 06:53:33 AM »

It's not a failure it is just a setback Sean you are not the 1st to have a costly mistake on a HVAC system and probably won't be the last when you try and reinvent the wheel you pay BTDT 

I think those units are going to be fine for buses the owners do not put many miles on each year and are parked most of the time a bus on the move like you is a different environment payment temperatures plays a big factor like here in Aug when the blacktop temps will reach 150 degrees + JMO 
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« Reply #4 on: December 13, 2013, 07:05:49 AM »

I don't have room on the roof for A/C's (to tall). So I took 15,000btu Penguins and converted them to basement models. I did this since a bought basement unit costs twice what a roof top costs and has the same equipment in it. So far, they work well-but time will tell.

When you're making a custom conversion with everything made by hand, glitches are bound to happen. Conversions many times take years to do. The best advice-keep it simple and use as much equipment you can that is standardized that is easily obtainable on the road. Good Luck, TomC
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« Reply #5 on: December 13, 2013, 07:10:14 AM »

It's not a failure it is just a setback Sean you are not the 1st to have a costly mistake on a HVAC system and probably won't be the last when you try and reinvent the wheel you pay BTDT 

I think those units are going to be fine for buses the owners do not put many miles on each year and are parked most of the time a bus on the move like you is a different environment payment temperatures plays a big factor like here in Aug when the blacktop temps will reach 150 degrees + JMO 

ditto that ^^  honestly, I think in time mini splits will be made to withstand vibrations. Roof-top airs are pretty sinking reliable (ours get's used like crazy and just keeps on truckin)...transfer the vibration proof technology and fittings to minisplits and we'll have a winner. I, for one, hate the noise and looks of my roof airs. our next conversion will not have them...but after watching you go through what you did sean, we will research the living daylights out of what we want before we install it. Our biggest fail (sean already knows this) was attempting to side our bus after removing the windows with filon FRP. sheet. We spent almost $1100 to buy a sheet of it 40 ft. long. We sliced into two pieces and attempted to rivet it to our coach. Needless to say, wrong material, wrong application. Within 24 hours of purchasing it, we through it all in a dumpster cracked, broken, and we ourselves bleeding. Again, it would have been much easier to take that $1100 and dump it directly into the trash bin.
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« Reply #6 on: December 13, 2013, 07:46:02 AM »

Hi Sean, my biggest and most expensive mistake, involved reacting and not researching. After just buying the bus, I took her to a RV place that had done good work to my previous class A. The phone call was, why is your bus spewing heavy black smoke and has now power? We can't move it, but, I said it was working fine when I dropped it off. Of course now I know the mechanic was lying when he said he knew how to start a mci, and he had flipped the emergency shutdown switch. What's worse, I took their recomendation as to where to bring the bus to fix the smoking bus they caused. Later I did find wwwilliams and an old DD mechanic Chuck who not only fixed my bus issues but explained a great deal, about DD engines. Lvmci...
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« Reply #7 on: December 13, 2013, 08:09:52 AM »

I do not know your particular HVAC story but it would seem to be one of those life lessons. If you are real young, it will be useful.  If you are real old, it proves that you are still young.  I think that most of us could say that this Board saved them from making numerous mistakes by having the members experiences as a resource.  Now, that does not mean that you can not go where others have not gone before, but rather you should be very careful when doing so.
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« Reply #8 on: December 13, 2013, 01:00:44 PM »

Lost the transmission in  a GM Vdrive. Sounded as if we were rolling a small car underneath the bus. Shop changed out the transmission. I provided technical pages for install and checks, phone numbers and names of experts to assist. Took a test drive and all was well. Paid the bill with a credit card, thank you God. Less than 400 miles transmission  failed. When we pulledthe transmission there was the pump drive gear laying in the bottom of the bell housing. The credit card  company needed about four pages of paper to rescind the payment. What was really upsetting was at least three different people cautioned the shop owner to verify the oil pump drive gear alingement prior to setting the transmission against the engine.

Bill
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« Reply #9 on: December 13, 2013, 06:34:23 PM »

Hello All.  The biggest failure in my bus project is that I didn't measure the height of my bus carefully enough when I did the frame swap.  I have to flatten the outer tires (duallies) and deflate the inners EVERY time I want to move the bus into or out of the garage.  The city requires that rvs be parked inside--they also have a max ceiling height for those garages so I'm stuck.  I'm thinking about saw cutting the floor and making trenches for the wheels to drop into.  Thankfully the garage floor isn't one of those pre (or is it post) tensioned jobbies so if I do cut the floor I don't have to worry about the garage falling down LOL.

What's the old saying?  measure twice, cut once? Its obvious I just don't get that one!
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« Reply #10 on: December 14, 2013, 05:05:43 AM »

Sean :you have put the DEATH BLOW on the mini-split.. so explain to me and others   why and where your failure was exactly.  so we may learn and not make the same mistake.  How many units did you have and what brand so we may avoid that maker. Did you try  to multiplex system?   Bob   
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« Reply #11 on: December 14, 2013, 05:09:21 AM »

The whole story--was first shipment -the indoor and outdoor unit of different technology and not capable of communicating with each other?  Install on 2nd condenser ?
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« Reply #12 on: December 14, 2013, 06:44:38 AM »

When I bought my bus I didn't think about my better half driving it. I got a standard with the detroit.

Buy a bus that will not require a repower.

A worthwhile upgrade but the single biggest error in our selection of what to buy.

HTH

Melbo
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« Reply #13 on: December 14, 2013, 06:47:56 AM »

Probably the biggest fail on my entire bus was buying a generator that has a head with brushes in it.  I've been battling issues with the generator head since 2011.  I'm on my third set of brushes now.  The extremely dusty environment I go to every year is not helping things.  I had no idea there were even different types of heads when I bought the generator.

I am not sure where I am going to go from here with the generator.  I would really like to see if I could replace the entire head with a brushless one, but everyone says a brushless head would be too big to fit in the enclosure.  I might just buy/build a slide for the generator and keep a couple sets of brushes on hand.  Changing or fixing the brushes would be much easier with a slide.
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« Reply #14 on: December 14, 2013, 07:01:40 AM »

Quote
Sean :you have put the DEATH BLOW on the mini-split.. so explain to me and others   why and where your failure was exactly.  so we may learn and not make the same mistake.  How many units did you have and what brand so we may avoid that maker. Did you try  to multiplex system?   Bob 

Bob - I m not trying to put the death blow on the mini-split.  To be honest they were awesome and when I do another coach I am seriously considering using them again.  Mine kept failing at the line connections on the outside unit.  No matter how tight (properly torqued and then slightly overt torqued and then crammed on) the flare fittings would keep failing. If I was an AC guy I would have kept on with it but not having the tools to evacuate and refill the system with freon every time got to be a pain.  On top of that...most of the people in the HVAC business wouldn't touch it.  I think the general assumption in the HVAC world is that if they do the work then they will have to fix it later for free when it fails again... even after explaining to them that I wouldn't expect them to warranty the work I still couldn't find someone to pull a vaccuum and put in more freon.

 I also had a strange road that got me to the point of pulling the old system out.  Mostly the company that sold me the 1st and 2nd system (which had great customer service) just couldn't get the parts and pieces right.  1st shipment was heavily damaged, they stopped making those units so I had to send everything back, 2nd shipment was all the wrong parts, they comped the whole thing, the 3rd time they sold me parts they did not have in stock and after 2 weeks I canceled the order and went with another company just to get something in the bus.  So 2 installs and 3 refills later, I was just not wanting to deal with it anymore and went with the roof airs which I got for pretty cheap.  Remember we are fulltime on the road and we need heat/air and I just don't have the time and resources to repair it while we are rolling.

I encourage anyone to give it a shot.  The systems are fairly cheap they work excellent at cooling, heating and they automatically have dehumidifiers built in so they are the best system hands down for our application.  There may be a better type of connector to use in place of the flare fittings.  I think if they were brazed on it might not have been an issue.  I would love to meet someone else who is fulltimimg and has mini-splits as a reliable source for heat and air.  It seems people are quick to tell you what they are using and what works but they never post anything when it all goes bad so we only ever hear the success stories at the beginning and not the 12 month follow up with all the gory details (An example to this might be that someone says that they have been using them for 3 years with no problems but they don't mention that once a year they pull a vaccuum and refill the freon).  And that is not just here on the bus boards....that goes with any online community I have ever been involved with.  I think its just human nature that we don't want to talk about our failures.

Thanks for taking the initiative to ask questions.  The board is a great resource and you (Bob) have been super helpful in all I have done to my bus, answerign questions, taking phone calls, etc.  For anyone else reading this and considering mini-splits - plan, plan, plan, plan and then plan some more.  They are awesome when they work.

-Sean

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« Reply #15 on: December 14, 2013, 07:22:33 AM »

Not the biggest but ...I installed a 9000 btu mini split a/c heat unit in the coach and it has been working great for 3 years now . I chose the 9000 unit so I could use it with my 2000 watt inverter when on the road and it works good but I have learned that after 3 hrs the batteries get a really good work out and now if I know I need it on for a long time I start the gene . When it fails I will replace it with a bigger unit 12000 btu and just use the gene to power it when on the road .    dave 
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« Reply #16 on: December 14, 2013, 08:15:39 AM »

You are not the only that has had a problem Sean there is just not enough around in mobile installs to judge the units I don't think you personally hurt the mini/splits myself,Bob is passionate about the units all of us are about one thing or the other it can be engines or a cook top.

Me I would like to  know about the warranty if a problem arises I know Carrier is very plain about the warrant in a mobile use but that could be because they manufacture a package unit for office trailers who knows  

Then when I read the install directions on one I ask myself how do you keep one level and 1 ft away from any obstruction in a bus bay ?  

The first person I ever heard of using a mini/split in a bus was Ace that was over 10 years ago so it not new territory we are talking about here his H has roof tops fwiw  

 I have a new condensation pump like the Carrier uses if one of you mini/split installers need one it's new and free for only the shipping
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« Reply #17 on: December 14, 2013, 11:08:10 AM »

Thanks Sean for the feed back. The  failure point.. I paid particular attention to that point as I found one of my units when shipped did not have that factory connection anchored within the unit. I also over tightened a nut and cracked a flare on the copper line myself causing a slow leak..  I  like the technology  It just needs to be made into a package unit like a roof top for general use.. Again thank you for the answer.   Bob
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« Reply #18 on: December 14, 2013, 11:17:55 AM »

Was assuming when changing transmission types that the rear end ratio would be OK since both were Overdrive... wrong!! when doing the final numbers it required a change.. that required a extensive  amount of research because of Prevost having their housings built to their spec ..  finally ended up with a gear set from a local gear head that said I recognize that set up...  Went from 4:56  to 3:07....(the abs was the problem)  I considered it a adjustment   or bump in road... as nothing has been a fail just the cost of education or learning what is on the other side of the hill...  We share can smooth the ride out a little----Bob
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« Reply #19 on: December 14, 2013, 12:04:36 PM »

Thanks Sean for the feed back. The  failure point.. I paid particular attention to that point as I found one of my units when shipped did not have that factory connection anchored within the unit. I also over tightened a nut and cracked a flare on the copper line myself causing a slow leak..  I  like the technology  It just needs to be made into a package unit like a roof top for general use.. Again thank you for the answer.   Bob

Is it the inverter technology that should be put in rooftop A/C units?  Could they do it for the same cost as a current rooftop unit?  Cost is the biggest driving factor for most rooftop A/C units as most are purchased by RV manufacturers and RV buyers rarely buy RVs based on which rooftop A/C is on the unit.  Those of us who are converting buses and actually carefully pick an A/C unit are the exception.

I would love a better rooftop A/C unit that is more powerful with lower amp draw, but it probably isn't happening.  It takes more power to run the three rooftop A/C units on my bus than it takes to run the central A/C in my 2,700 square foot house.  Now, my house is way better insulated, but the rooftops are just not that efficient.
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« Reply #20 on: December 14, 2013, 01:00:40 PM »

The Aislu roof top Monaco is using now is a inverter type fwiw comes from the same people in China that makes all brands mini/splits
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« Reply #21 on: December 14, 2013, 07:53:17 PM »

Has a picture of a penguin all over the literature--- very interesting.. to late for me..  Bob
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« Reply #22 on: December 14, 2013, 09:12:34 PM »

What needs to be done to convert a rooftop to a basement air type of unit? Can you flip the compressor and flip the unit upside down and push the air through floor ducts?


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Scott & Heather
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« Reply #23 on: December 15, 2013, 05:35:37 AM »

  What needs to be done to convert a rooftop to a basement air type of unit? Can you flip the compressor and flip the unit upside down and push the air through floor ducts? 

     Scott - Tom has done a beautiful job on his install and certainly he should be the fount of all detailed answers, but -- as I understood his photos -- his setup is based upon ducting, not flipping the units over.   (And from my reading on the rooftops, they would not operate upside down or even at any angle greater than 15 degrees from horizontal.)  But what keeps droppin shop rags in my turbo is the fact that Penguin quotes a "normal run" amperage of 14.5 Amp for a 12.5 Btu unit and the mini-splits are quoted as 8.5 amps (both 120V - AC only/not "heat pump") for the 12.5 unit.   That is a very substantial difference.  I wouldn't mind running two mini-splits off a 30Amp shore power plug (if that was all that was available) but 30Amp wouldn't run two rooftops.

      Also, I have a "dead space" right at the front of my bus that would be perfect for the location of the evaporator units to mini-splits.  One could be placed in the top of the space and (with minimal ducting) would be in a perfect position to blow cold air into the living room upstairs.  It would also be easy to add a second duct with a low-amp fan to direct cold air to the bedroom area.  The second evap unit would direct cold air directly downwards along the ("downstairs") windshield into the driver/passenger area.   With an efficient packaging of the compressor units (remember, I don't have bays under my bus) I'd have 25K Btu of cooling at less than 20 Amp of current draw.*

      On the other hand, the rooftops are dead reliable (even in the hands of an electrical idiot -- "Guilty as charged, your Honor") and the mini-splits have been plagued with quality and installation issues. 

      So, it looks like there are good solutions out there but there's no perfect solution.  And I want it perfect!   BH   

(* Regarding installation, however, Tom's setup for the rooftops "indoors" could be arranged so that they're upstairs right over the driver's compartment.  With easy, compact ducting, they could be setup to blow cold air from both units into the driver's area for comfort for the driver and The Management on those summer afternoon drives heading west when all the sun in the world is coming right into the windshield.  When parked, flip a baffle on each unit and direct the output upstairs for the living room/bedroom.   Or set the baffles "half and half" if that works best.  So, the mini-split installation isn't a slam-dunk certainty.)

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« Reply #24 on: December 15, 2013, 05:50:46 AM »

Just buy the Cruisair packaged unit Scott people here over look the Cruisair they are good units I installed 3 in the Eagle and never looked back they are a popular unit with the Prevost converters a little pricey but they do the job

 One has to design a HVAC for their use I forgot where I read it but most RV's are designed more for cooling,like you need heat and heat rises so ducts in the floor should work good

 When trying to move cold air up it will take more cfm,power and btu's to accomplish the task kinda a catch 22 anyway you go at it

good luck
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« Reply #25 on: December 15, 2013, 11:34:17 AM »

When trying to move cold air up it will take more cfm, power and btu's to accomplish the task. Kinda a catch 22 anyway you go at it.

Ideally A/C vents in the ceiling, heating vents in the floor.

Easy, right?

 Cheesy
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« Reply #26 on: December 15, 2013, 01:55:03 PM »

Getting back to the original subject. My biggest fail was my entire conversion ! I spent so much time and money converting a bus that is essentially obsolete  ?!
I have no one to blame but myself ! I started the conversion long before I discovered this forum Sad
If I could turn back time. When I got my bus I thought the MC9 was the work horse of the industry and that parts and mechanics would be no problem.
Wrong !!!! Turns out and any shop I call or visit, once I tell them I have an 1984 MC9, they pretty much laugh in my face and tell me I have a relic and that I should scrap it !!!

If I could do it all over, I would start with a modern bus with a modern drive train. A series 60 Detroit and a B500 Allison.
Oh well. What can I do ? I've developed a thick skin for when guys laugh at me for building a conversion on an "old relic "
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« Reply #27 on: December 15, 2013, 02:21:35 PM »

   If I did it all over, I'd have a 4905....oh wait; never mind.
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« Reply #28 on: December 16, 2013, 05:34:27 AM »

Interesting. Thanks for humoring me during my slight thread hack diversion. Checking cruise air out. In response to the above post, heather and I have had rare moments during our build that we considered buying and converting our bus a "fail" of sorts. But now that we have been full timing in it for two and a half years, and are nearing completion, we have found that we are daily falling in love with our coach. Literally several times a week you can hear us musing "sigh, I just love our bus" in a dreamy voice. Seriously. When you're giving 12 or 13 concert events in a month and some of your days are 22 hour days and you've been on the road and are just tired...you walk into your coach...and just feel "home". I just told heather yesterday that I honesty wonder how we could live any other way. She feels the same. So, though we experience some major fails during the process, converting and living in a bus has been absolutely one of the best decisions we've ever made...and can fully
Be summed up as a huge "success" more than a "fail".


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Scott & Heather
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« Reply #29 on: December 16, 2013, 07:02:10 AM »

I would say my biggest fail so far is insulation.  When I had an empty shell I colud not "afford" to have it spray foamed.  I actually could have afforded it but i was ready to move on the conversion and chose to spend my money elsewhere.  I did insulate with the rigid foam board and it works OK but the spray foam would have been better. Less air leaks, tighter install etc.  It really makes a difference going down the road, the small air leaks here and there add up. I have gone back and resolved most of the issues but I would be more satisfied had I gone with the spray foam.

I also run two minisplits, installed one in 2008 and another in 2010.  Both have worked flawlessly so far.

My bus is a 40' GMC Fishbowl and there have been a few times that I wish I had gone with a different bus but overall I am pleased.  The project has turned out better than I ever expected and I really love the style of the GMC Transits and the nearly 7' of headroom that they have. 
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1972 GMC T6H-5308A #024

Brandon Stewart - Martinez, GA
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« Reply #30 on: December 16, 2013, 07:34:15 AM »

In spite of my "principles": I prefer a stock looking MCI, I ended up with one with a roof raise and after market windows... It is a great coach, very well done: professionally converted in '89. Well insulated, spacey, all the bells and whistles, good power train (6V92TA, HT740). Works really well driving or camping and we are happy with it. Only knowledgeable bus people notice that it is a bus. Most people just see it as another motor home, which is great in a way for the incognito factor. We really enjoyed the Courier 96 for a few years: it was mostly stock, other than the awning. The original converter did a good job that way, and kept it mostly unmolested. It was such a classic! We got a lot of attention everywhere we went. I regret selling it at times. Just for looks, and in keeping with my tastes as an old bus driver and MCI aficionado, I would prefer a stock looking MC5, or 7, because that is what we drove daily in the '70s in the Canadian Rockies. I don't care for Prevost, and don't know anything about Eagles or GM, other than what I have been reading on the boards. To me, MCIs rule! Am I opinionated, or what, LOL.

JC
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JC
Invermere, BC
1977 MC5C, 6V92/HT740
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« Reply #31 on: December 16, 2013, 11:37:37 AM »

I have an '82 GMC RTS with a MUI 350HP 6V92TA and V730 and 4:10 rear end to take me up to 80MPH and nobody laughs at me if I were ever to take it to a shop for repairs because my bus has not been in any shop expect my own in 12 years.  I have most of the fancy electronic readers for trucks and buses-- cost me a bundle to get modern, and it hasn't paid off.  Just one of those necessary things a diesel shop needs to have available or look stupid.  The young mechanics can't live without computer readers, and most can't figure out a mechanical problem without guessing at changing parts.

--Geoff
General Diesel Service
Prescott, AZ
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Geoff
'82 RTS AZ
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« Reply #32 on: December 16, 2013, 11:56:03 AM »

Don't no why anyone would giggle about an MC9.  I understand it is not as cool as a 5a, but still nothing to scoff at.
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« Reply #33 on: December 16, 2013, 06:23:34 PM »

I agree! I think an MC9 is a pretty cool bus ! As Geoff mentioned, Its mainly young guys that are used to working on the late model buses and when the open up my engine compartment they just look puzzled.
It doesn't bother me anymore, I still love my bus. Unfortunately I don't have a shop to work on it, so I'm at the mercy of outside shops.
It's nice to be here and be around other guys the appreciate these older beauties Smiley
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New York City
1984 MC9 6v92T
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« Reply #34 on: December 17, 2013, 04:01:10 PM »

Great replies!  Grin Grin Grin

I love my MC-8, I do wish it was a 9 just because of the bigger windows but maybe Ill replace them some day... Roll Eyes

My biggest fail was my custom shower pan. Long story short it leaked right after I finished the bathroom. I had to pull up all the pebble tile and the bottom row of tiles to put in a custom fiberglass shower pan that goes up the walls. Not it does not leak but it was a huge pain in my a$$!

Overall my conversion was a huge success! ITS ALMOST DONE!!!!  Roll Eyes I still need some trim and a couple more cabinets, and I am going to put an island, and needs an AC, and an awning would be good, and a deck on the top with ladder and hot tub... I could keep going jeez!

Here is a pic!
« Last Edit: December 17, 2013, 04:04:50 PM by Oregonconversion » Logged

1977 MC8
8V92 HT740
Scott Bennett
Scott & Heather MCI-9
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« Reply #35 on: December 18, 2013, 12:02:48 PM »

That's a HUGE bathroom!!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk. Clumsy fingers may contribute to mistakes.
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Scott & Heather
1984 MCI9 6V92-turbo with 9 inch roof raise & conversion in progress.
http://www.scottmichaelbennett.com/p/our-bus.html
˙ǝɯoɔlǝʍ suoıʇɐuop ˙snq ʍǝu ɐ pǝǝu ʎlqɐqoɹd ll,ǝʍ 'sıɥʇ pɐǝɹ uɐɔ noʎ ɟı
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