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Author Topic: Mistakes made when planning your coach  (Read 5051 times)
JackConrad
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« on: November 30, 2007, 05:27:43 AM »

I am going to try a project for Bus Conversions Magazine.  Please reply to the following question: "What mistakes did you make when you planned your conversion and what happened? Quickly explain how you 
fixed or didn't fix it!"  Hopefully the replies can be compiled into an article.  Thanks, Jack
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« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2007, 05:30:33 AM »

I'll start with my own mistake.  I did not plan for everything that was added after the original plan was finalized. This has meant undoing much of what we built to install "unplanned stuff". So far everything has been do-able but has taken much more time.  Jack
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« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2007, 05:32:24 AM »

I started with a 3000 watt inverter, too small, went to a 5000, end of problem.>>>Dan
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« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2007, 06:06:55 AM »

Gee, where to start  Cheesy

One that comes to mind was a place to store the sewer hoses. When I built my tanks, I factored in space for valves, filters, pumps, pressure tanks, but forgot about the dump hoses. I rectified the problem by building a separage box that holds the hoses, and mounted it in the unused space above the valves and in front of the tanks. It swings out of the bay on a single hinge mounted on
the end of the frame. Makes it very easy to get into, and keeps drips out of the bay. I put a drain line on the back end of the box and routed it out the floor of the bay. The box is mounted at a slight angle back towards the drain. Works well and keeps the bay
clean.

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« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2007, 07:16:33 AM »

Item 1) On my second conversion, I though it would be cool to have all the breakers and control panel above the drivers seat, so it would look inpressive when you walked in. But what happen is I had to run twice as much wire to get it there, not just power, but wire to everything, Proably an extra 500 feet of wire, weight and cost. What a pain it was. Now I place the breakers and control panel above the refer, makes for easy short wire runs.

item 2) Another thing I did on my early conversion is  run wire and plumbing before I did my interior. I now plan and leave space for those items, but all electrical and plumbing is done after the rest of the interior is finished.
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Dreamscape
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« Reply #5 on: November 30, 2007, 08:23:25 AM »

When I made the initial layout for electrical 12v and 120v I did not allow for additions for later discovered needs and locations. Now I have to add circuits and wiring. I wish I had run the wiring after the basic interior walls were installed and the correct locations were determined.

What you think will work will most likely be moved, added or deleted. Especially as the years go by technology changes, size changes, more efficient units are available.

Thought I had the window leaks fixed before I started the insulation and progressing on the interior.....NOT.....Should have determined that first with a hose....Living in Southern California at the time I didn't have much rain to deal with, now I do even after living in Abilene Tx.

Paul

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ChuckMC9
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« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2007, 08:37:16 AM »

...when you planned your conversion...

What Planning?! Smiley LOL
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« Reply #7 on: November 30, 2007, 07:46:40 PM »

Are you kidding, Jack???  Smiley Most of us don't make mistakes...just adjustments, right?  Wink  In my own case, I usually do something, live with it a while, then "nail it"....or change it.  Intentional. 

I have worked on my conversion for 5.5 years and have changed a few things, but for the most part am pretty well satisfied with the original plan.

 What was changed?. For example, I have added lighting, but had plenty of wiring in place to do it.  I used 7 wire trailer cable for all 12 volt. ( Waytek)  Used the original chase above the windows down each side for all 12 volt.  Ran 120 volt at floor level or thereabouts. Therefore, up from the floor for 120; down from the chase ( or up as required) for 12 volt.

The Webasto has it's own 12 gage, 4 wire cable that runs in the chase ( also 12 volt, of course). I changed the location of the unit by a couple of feet,  but since the wiring was in place, not a significant move.

I added lighting in the closets and pantries that would automatically come on when the door is opened, but again, since the cables were in place, all 12 volt, not a big deal.   

Have also put in diverter valves at the lav and sink to run unused "hot" water to the original tank until it is hot enough to use at the faucet.  Not a big deal and well worth the expense. Takes getting used to by way of counting, or whatever, but saves mucho water.  We do not drink from the tanks, so the fact that hot is returned to the supply tank is no problem.

Many more things we have "changed" in one way or another, but in my few years of experience in renovating properties, (60 +-) it is just standard procedure to build it so that if can be changed easily, by someone if not by me. There is never ( my humble opinion) a perfect way....just fine for the moment. Refinement is just part of my makeup, I guess.

FWIW

RCB
'64 Crown Supercoach (HWC)

 
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« Reply #8 on: November 30, 2007, 08:15:58 PM »

Planning??

I bought a previous converted coach and skipped strait to the repairs/tweaking.  what better way to figure out what you want then by using it.  This was also my first RV, so i couldn't have had a clue about planning it anyway.
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« Reply #9 on: December 01, 2007, 03:29:50 AM »

I should have planned to buy a 10k gallon diesel storage tank and bought that fuel at $1.25 so now I could ride in my finished bus.
   I just cant afford the $3.50 fuel.... Sad
  I know, wah wah wah ......but who would have started the project knowing what fuel is now costing?
What about when the price doubles again? I guess I'll underpin mine and put skirting around it...........
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« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2007, 07:49:23 AM »

Being in warm weather all the time I did not install a heating system, (just blue flame and electric) now it will be harder to do.
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« Reply #11 on: December 01, 2007, 07:58:04 AM »

Being in warm weather all the time I did not install a heating system, (just blue flame and electric) now it will be harder to do.

Tell me about it. I am in the process of installing a ProHeat system in our fully converted coach at this time.  Jack
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« Reply #12 on: December 01, 2007, 09:23:12 AM »

As others have said. Where to start?  I was convinced 'portable' heat pumps were the way to go.  WRONG the manufacturer simply LIE about the performance. I ended up patching the holes I made to vent them and duct air into their condensers and replacing 2 of them with a ductless minisplit.  In installing the indoor portion of the minisplit I now wish I'd have put it on the curb side rather than behind the driver.  This wish is because where it is now the copilot gets the coolest air, if it was on the other side it would be the driver (me).  But the 18,000 BTU/h ductless minisplit is awesome, it cools the whole bus even while driving in 95 degree sunny weather and does it on only 13 amps of 120 which the inverter, and bus alternator,  comfortably supplies.  I started out using carpet for the living room but like the 'Pergo' now there much better.  I  thought I could use a 'taste and odor' (carbon block) filter on the whole water supply, bad idea, too much pressure drop for RV pumps. I now just have taste and odor filter on cold water in kitchen only with much better shower pressure.  Also great improvement in water flow by using the new Surflow 'extreme' pump rated at 5.7GPM. 
Regards
Jerry 4107 1120
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« Reply #13 on: December 01, 2007, 10:59:54 AM »

One of the reasons I bought my bus was the big windows.  I did remove the windows that would be covered over, but kept the rest.  It made for a difficult replace to Peninsula windows.  I wanted to use double pane, but because of the shape of the window opening, ended up with single pane screwed from the outside with no vanity ring inside.  I've since made the interior window complete with rubber molding.  In retrospect, I should have just sheeted the entire side and then recut windows to fit the windows I wanted. But-I do like the windows I have now.
Also, make sure you provide for additional items you want to add later.  About a year ago I ran 5-3 wire extension cords of different colors from the engine compartment to the drivers compartment.  Since I have an engine cradle that can be removed with the engine/transmission and radiator as one, I wanted the wiring also to be easily un plugged.  I cut the male end of the plug 5 ft from the end, then mounted the plugs near the engine fire wall so now I just have to unplug the extension cords and can easily replug them back together since they are colored differently.  So far I've powered my cruise control and tachometer with the new wires. Good Luck, TomC
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Nick Badame Refrig/ACC
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« Reply #14 on: December 01, 2007, 04:54:55 PM »

Hi Guy's,

The next bus, I will run extra wireing to all the bay's. 12v and 115v.

As it stands, I have one 115v outlet on the outside in the patio area, and nothing in the bays. That was a big mistake! I wish I roughed in

outlets in every bay for general purpose use. I can't tell you how many times I needed to run one thing or another. "power tools, heaters"

Live and learn...
Nick-

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« Reply #15 on: December 01, 2007, 05:26:42 PM »

1.  Not running enough wire for future use. Thought we ran enough extras. Wrong!

One the new bus, all the electrical chases will be easy to access with removable panels.  One will be along the floor and one behind the valances.  Pull cords area a real pain.

2.  Not rewiring the entire bus, GMC 4107. It had been butchered by a number of people along the way.  A lot of the breakers and panel positions could have been used for usefull things, if we only knew where the wires went.  Most of the removed items had their electric just cut loose.  Fixing things would be a lot easier if only we knew what they had done.

So we live with it, and make new wiring diagrams as we figure it out.

Don and Cary
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« Reply #16 on: December 03, 2007, 06:29:12 AM »

We have a new "bad" word in our family lexicon--LAYERS
It is really hard to determine what will be in the way.
We lived in the bus for a year with under powered electrical system, a garden hose for water supply, and only stovetop hot water.
We rebuilt the inside to reflect the use of the coach for a fulltime family of six. It is very helpful to write down complaints while using your coach and then be able to implement the changes.
In our case some of the improvements were done in the wrong order, layering over the top of things which had to be changed.
The bays don't get enough credit for their usefulness in everyday life.
Needs:
    Plugs in bays, and in the engine compartment. extension cords suck.
    heat your water supply areas or they will freeze eventually.
    If you pull the OTR A/C be ready to put in a lot of cooling power.
    INSULATE!!!

It is not feasible to fix an insulation problem after the fact. although I am trying. Sad
Also, It is hard to determine what wiring you will be adding later, so make sure you can get to the chases for new runs.

Devin


   

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« Reply #17 on: December 03, 2007, 09:00:37 PM »

i bought mine almost fully completed, just a few adjustments.  now i find out i've been listening to all these experts that made all these mistakes to make mine better.  Go figure!!   Grin Grin
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« Reply #18 on: December 04, 2007, 06:38:58 PM »

The biggist mistake I made was Planning to retire and travel.Now I have to keep working to pay for the things that my wife wants in it.  Maybe my biggest one was buying it to start with LOL..  Wouldn't have it no other way.  !!! Grin
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« Reply #19 on: December 05, 2007, 05:29:02 PM »

The most unforeseen mistake I made was not knowing where the air conditioner blowers were, before I put all the holding tanks and plumbing in.  When the blower motor was giving us problems we had to remove all the tanks to repair it.  It was a lot of work putting them in and taking them out.


Picture 1 & 2 will show the holding tanks on both sides of the bay
Picture 3 shows where the motors are at, oh what a good time we had doing it all over again. yea right!!!!
 
               Pete & Jean
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« Reply #20 on: December 05, 2007, 08:00:24 PM »

Nick...could be wrong, of course, but seems if you have access to an exterior outlet, from inside the coach,  it could be easily expanded to include all of your under floor space.....OR?

RCB
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« Reply #21 on: December 07, 2007, 12:00:39 AM »

Hello The main thing that bothered me was not taking the time to choose my bus properly and taking the word of the person I purchased it from. I don't know if this is inline with what you want but a person can not afford to trust anyone when purchasing a bus or anything else for that matter. That is what I would change the next time it will cost a lot less. All the best and we will see you at the rally.
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« Reply #22 on: December 07, 2007, 04:58:37 AM »

Mistakes I made before I got my coach but fixing her up now.
Going on 6 years nearly now!!!!

(1) IF you did not have your bus inspected before purchase for bad situations you will find when you get it home, shame on you.  I didn't do that either!!

(2) If the previous owner hands you the keys with one hand to the bus and takes your money with the other hand knowing you did not inspect your bus properly says, ("Just load her up and head her for California with confidence")!!! NOT!!!!!!!!!!! I have no more to say on that as you all know by now what situation I got "myself" into and try very often to prevent others from getting into.

This thread will make for some great information all in one package when published Jack, now lets all bone up and tell jack what you really wish you had done to your coach after getting her home for your conversion from day one, this could get lengthy but real informative. 

Gary

 
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« Reply #23 on: December 08, 2007, 10:04:02 AM »

Because of my pocket book at the time, I chose an AMGeneral Transit 10240.  It was a more difficult conversion but even with the engine/transmission being completely rebuilt, new tires, etc, the conversion has stayed at the $85,000 mark-compare that to what you can buy new-gas powered Class C?
The mistake is that my bus will not pull what I want, even with the bigger power now-mainly because the trailer hitch is mounted to the engine cradle.  So now I'm in the process of designing a Freightliner based (do figure since I sell them) coach/garage.  I want to find a used Argosy cabover with 101" cab, owner/operator specs-especially the powered entry steps, with either autoshift or Allison (not picky on engine) and convert it to a 40ft with garage in the back for a Mini with the master bedroom above.  Then I can pull a big 27ft trailerable cabin cruiser to float on the many inland waterways we have across our beautiful country.  Advantages- truck based-anyone can work on the drive train; make the living space with square walls so store bought cabinets can be used for a faster conversion; tandem drive axles for maximum traction and braking; if buying a new truck, will have up to date smog devices.
I'm designing the coach to be a full 13'6" tall so that even with 82" interior headroom will have 24" of tween space between the frame and the floor for actually more storage space than any bus could have (I'm including the garage space also). 
But-in the meantime, I'm still using the AMGeneral-which is a joy to drive now that Don Fairchild has bumped up the horsepower and everything in the engine compartment has been either rebuilt or is new.  Good Luck, TomC
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« Reply #24 on: December 08, 2007, 10:48:13 PM »

Plumbing!!! We had the coach gutted and had spent two weeks and prob. a dozen rolls of painters tape trying to find the perfect floor plan.After it was all said and done the shower drain was centered perfectly over the bulkhead in between the baggage compartments.This required a complete redesign setting the entire project back causing massive hair loss high blood pressure and the spilling of a beer Sad
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« Reply #25 on: December 09, 2007, 04:48:31 PM »

DON'T VENT GREY WATER TANK INTO BAY Shocked
also,

DONT USE PVC

 I bought mine this way so another one of the things i gotta fix.



« Last Edit: December 13, 2007, 06:41:23 PM by NewbeeMC9 » Logged

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« Reply #26 on: December 09, 2007, 06:38:19 PM »



[size=600pt]DON'T VENT GREY WATER TANK INTO BAY Shocked[/size]
also,

DONT USE PVC


 I bought mine this way so another one of the things i gotta fix.





Can I ask the problem w/the pvc ?
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« Reply #27 on: December 10, 2007, 03:39:25 AM »


Can I ask the problem w/the pvc ?

Freeze protection is not forgiving at all,  the PVC in my bus is so brittle that I couldn't even repair it.  Luckily i could use it for conduit to slide pex in behind the cabinets etc.

I know pvc is cheap and that makes it attractive.  But if you make a list of what you need to plumb your whole bus and price it out at the lowe/depot, the total with pex will only be a couple hundred dollars if that.  Less than a tank of fuel to plumb the whole bus. For the difference in quality, freeze forgiveness, and flexibility, (and pretty colors), I'd say its worth it.  But I've had to do repairs, YMMV   And there are many that use pvc and i guess don't have problems.  I am also suggesting using the slip fittings as opposed to the brass fitting and fancy tool. Then you can take your joints apart and put them back together. ( like when you change your mind on something else. Wink)

I would also tend to pex being more forgiving to vibration and bouncing down the road. 

I have no scientific data, only my bus and my opinion. Smiley
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« Reply #28 on: December 10, 2007, 01:20:12 PM »

Ulaff- I had the same problem with the shower pan, but in a different way.  Right where I wanted the shower is where the floor slopes upwards a bit towards the rear.  So a standard 36 x 36 shower pan with the drain in the middle of the pan would not work.  What I bought was a Kohler 36 x 36 shower pan with the drain in one corner with the pan sloped to that corner.  I would think that you could use a similar shower pan for your problem.  Good Luck, TomC
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« Reply #29 on: December 10, 2007, 01:22:39 PM »

   I think my biggest Problem was measuring and remeasuring trying to get everything to fit and that i didnt hit the frame running plumbing and wiring down to the bays. measure twice drill once .Also the furnace duct work was a night mare .
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« Reply #30 on: December 10, 2007, 04:41:35 PM »

From what I can glean from other conversion sites, lack of planning and lack of funding are the major pitfalls to the converter (especially the first timer). I know my project went overbudget, but I really didn't know what to expect. As an aside, I would also caution the first timer to make sure his (or her) passion does not exceed his (or her) mates (if applicable). Luckily, I only heard "I hate this bus" twice, but my wife is VERY patient with my illnesses.
      Doug Engel, Gunnison CO (-5 now, 2 more feet of snow due by tomorrow)
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« Reply #31 on: December 10, 2007, 07:26:10 PM »

Doug....not so sure I exactly agree with lack of planning or lack of funds, but I understand where you are coming from. 

My experience is that whether owning a home, an automobile, a truck, a snowmobile, boat, airplane or whatever, one always finds something they wish they had or could add, change,  etc, etc.  Seems to me that not all is bad in changing things.  Anticipating that possible change is probably part of the planning process, but in the meantime, one can usually live with a plan until one finds it necessary ( or prudent) to change the plan.
 
As Fast Fred always says, " do it your way"....and if things can be improved for you....or the next guy that owns the coach. it was well worth it.  And, besides, the more one changes things, the more one becomes familiar with the coach....and the easier it is next time. Grin  Huh Lips Sealed .

BTW, I owned and renovated a  property in Gunnison....12th and Ohio.... Great town, Mighty cold for 6 months of the year.  Lived there a year and a half....enuf.  left in 1996 for the sunny south of New Mexico.

RCB.
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« Reply #32 on: December 10, 2007, 08:15:08 PM »

All points well taken, all of these rigs are somewhat of a work in progress. We learn as we go. I don't know if mine will ever be "finished". I pretty much meant not to underestimate the magnitude of the project, it can be a little overwhelming once you get started. Like you said, you get my drift.
  Gunnison is a great place, too bad you left, I can always use some more help on my bus. Come by Gunnison Tire and say hi if you're ever around...I won't look for you till the lilacs bloom.
   Doug Engel, Gunnison,Co.
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« Reply #33 on: December 11, 2007, 11:39:41 AM »

I've had my bus for almost 2 years now, Used it as is when bought for some local camping at RV parks, had a lot of fun. I am now gutting it of everything inside to do the conversion. Just trying to figure out how some of the stuff is installed can be mind bogling. Finally got to the bathroom last night, next comes the holding tank and back tracing all the wiring from the over head racks and lighting. Should have it stripped by January. I would say just gutting it can be a a tough project. Then comes all the things you want to put into it.
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« Reply #34 on: December 11, 2007, 05:45:01 PM »

We bought this mistake.

The fresh water tanks are under the bed.  Not problem with that, if they don't leak.  A small leak, one at the top that only leaks when full or moving, only shows up after, say, five days?  Wet feet!! We ripped the tanks out and put a pan under them with a drain through the floor. They must have been leaking for years without coming out onto the carpet since the floor was rotten under the tanks.  These three tanks were connected to each other with PVC pipe at the top for venting.  They cracked at the top around the fittings.  There isn't any give for movement with pvc.

Don and Cary
GMC4107
Neoplan
AN340
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1973 05 Eagle
Neoplan AN340
rcbishop
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« Reply #35 on: December 11, 2007, 07:32:38 PM »

Doug... I used to trade at your shop...but don't think you owned it then...or? I remember it was the best gas price in town. North side of Tomichi, right?  Always friendly service and a dog or two to greet you.  I had a Mastiff at the time and she was always ready to greet friends... Smiley  We miss Gunnison in a number of ways, but not the 6 month winters.

Hope you have learned to snag Salmon or two on the Taylor!  Tongue

RCB
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ChuckMC9
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« Reply #36 on: December 12, 2007, 08:37:17 PM »

I just remembered a great quote that came from the skoolie.net forum:

Quote
"As for removal, I already took one piece off one of the walls to get inside the plywood for adding some electrical wiring. (Planning is for sissies)"
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goinnowherefast
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« Reply #37 on: December 13, 2007, 08:58:37 PM »

I have done 2 conversions so far and a 40' 52 GMC 671 and a 35' 63 Crown. number 2 was my last!!! Lots of work, lots of time and never quite done, but there is nothing quite like planning your bus and making it happen your way.

My first conversion mistakes:

Not leaving enough front end open space.

Not careful enough picking strong, light weight as possible building materials.

Adding too many deep cycle batteries to go with a brain, gen wiz to accomodate stackable interface Trace Inverters. The brain would see that the batteries were low and activate the genwiz which would start the generator and charge the batteries while unattended.

I never have used the Brain or Genwiz and didn't stop at my first downhill signal after 5 years of conversion on my maiden voyage. Luckily there was nobody else at the intersection. I was building a real survival bus. When my batteries were charged to 14.2 I could use all of the juice that I wanted, with the exception of the AC's and not recharge for a month. Notice that I am not mentioning just how many batteries were in my rack...
Lets just say I probably could have produced a hydrogen bomb from the gas when once a month when I equalized the batteries.

The 2nd bus was 100% different. All was made with 1 1/8" galvanized square tubing. Very light and strong. One thing I do suggest for anybody doing a conversion is a complete patio on top with a trap door and pull down latter inside. It makes a bus!!! Great view, Private, outside with no bears, scorpions, snakes or any other unwanted visitors.

Sorry probably been watching too much of forensic and cold case files. Anyway I would never have another bus without one, that is way to much wasted space upstairs to not take advantage of all of it...... I've always been infatuated with double decker buses. This was the only way too have it with no thought about height or extra worry about the wind.

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