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Old 01-30-2013, 05:23 PM   #1
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Default "Big John" Bus Build

After we built our last bus, we wanted to go at it again and apply everything we learned to a new one. There were a couple things here and there that we felt were lacking form the old bus to really make it perfect for us, so we decided to go at it again.

The old bus is a 1982 Thomas rear engine that was a Texas A&M transportation bus that was well maintained by the university before we got it. Everyone in on it graduated from Texas A&M, so we kept the color theme the same on the outside and incorporated it inside was well. It is reliable, but we were just looking for something different once done.

The new bus is a 1996 bluebird rear engine with only 146,000 miles on the Cummins 8.3L. It is rated to tow a combined 50,000lbs with it's current setup, but could tow more. Once it is all said and done the total weight with the trailer attached will be in the 40,000 lb range, so we should be in the clear. The three big things that the 1996 has over the 1982 is it is four feet longer, has under bus storage compartments, and the more powerful motor.

The weird thing about when we bought it I was looking all over eBay in Iowa and North Carolina and the one I ended up buying happened to be about 10 miles down the road. I called the guy with the number posted in the ad, as it just said Houston, and the place happened to be right down the road form me. 45 minutes after that phone call I had the title to a new bus.

The inside has already been gutted, the outside painted, and replacement welded bumpers have been made for the front and rear. Those still need to get powder coated, but I am waiting to finish up the bull bar design I have for it.

The whole thing should be ready by May and used for our June TWS ChumpCar race.

Excuse the first round of pictures as all I had at the time was my phone.









We got a killer deal on this generator and it is diesel, so it is powerful and doesn't need a separate fuel source. It will power both a/c units and pretty much everything else at the same time.









Insulating the hell out of the walls helps immensely and can not be overstated how important this is.



The back of the bus is the bedroom and the middle part is the bathroom. you can see the framing for the walls here:


We were stoked to find an overhead lighting fixture that would fit in the ceiling. There is only about 2" to work with up there, so this is our only option. In our old bus all of the lighting had to come from the side, which isn't really that big of a deal, but these fit the bill quite well.



Better shot of the front bumper:




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"Big John" Bus Build-2012-08-30_13-09-53_528.jpg   "Big John" Bus Build-2012-09-22_18-24-41_676.jpg   "Big John" Bus Build-2012-09-22_18-26-15_397.jpg  
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Old 01-30-2013, 05:24 PM   #2
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Updating all the exterior lighting to LED's isn't cheap, but makes the bus look a lot newer. I have a picture with the LED clearance lights, but can't find it right now.



Interior lights installed:




Early stages of bedroom:
http://101.imagebam.com/download/Bdi...-22-05_910.jpg

We wanted to keep one of the side emergency exit doors to load the bus easier, but had to make it look halfway decent. David did a bang up job on it.




Breaker box. The wires will be cleaned up and organized a lot better once we make sure everything is good.



Installing the roof A/Cs is fairly easy, but you have to make a support system under it or you will just crush the two layers of the roof together and make a valley for water to pool. I put a couple 2x4's through a table saw to get enough 1.5x2" pieces to space it correctly:





Black A/Cs are installed now:


Bedroom coming together:


Old bus and new bus with back at same point:




The rest of my pictures I will try to take with my Nikon D3100, but no guarantees.
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"Big John" Bus Build-2012-12-30_17-21-13_976.jpg   "Big John" Bus Build-2012-12-30_17-23-24_195.jpg   "Big John" Bus Build-2012-12-30_17-23-33_486.jpg   "Big John" Bus Build-2012-12-31_13-04-30_273.jpg   "Big John" Bus Build-2012-12-31_13-04-52_316.jpg  

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Old 01-30-2013, 05:24 PM
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Old 01-30-2013, 05:29 PM   #3
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So what did you pay for the bus? How many MPG does it get? How is overall maintenance on them?
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Old 01-30-2013, 05:34 PM   #4
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Take this to burning man and hang out with fae.
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Old 01-30-2013, 05:38 PM   #5
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Awesome build...what is for?
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Old 01-30-2013, 05:39 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shuiend View Post
So what did you pay for the bus? How many MPG does it get? How is overall maintenance on them?
$4000 for the bus itself. It gets somewhere between 8-10mpg. Overall maintenance isn't all that bad. Everything is different that what I am used to, but incredibly simple. If you can think mechanically, then you are golden. These are meant to have a very long and hard service life, so they are built to last.
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Old 01-30-2013, 05:41 PM   #7
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Awesome build...what is for?
Slingin leg and we wanted something fun to tow the cars to the track with that we could sleep in.
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Old 01-30-2013, 05:57 PM   #8
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Slingin leg and we wanted something fun to tow the cars to the track with that we could sleep in.
Awesome. That would make a perfect tow vehicle. Thoughts about having a drive in ramp to store the car inside? Stripper pole?
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Old 01-30-2013, 07:03 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rharris19 View Post
$4000 for the bus itself. It gets somewhere between 8-10mpg. Overall maintenance isn't all that bad. Everything is different that what I am used to, but incredibly simple. If you can think mechanically, then you are golden. These are meant to have a very long and hard service life, so they are built to last.
That is honestly very reasonable. I did not realize that they were so cheap. You might have convinced me to go with a bus over a rape van. Do you need a special license to operate the bus?

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Originally Posted by MicaCeli View Post
Awesome. That would make a perfect tow vehicle. Thoughts about having a drive in ramp to store the car inside? Stripper pole?
I have thought about using ramps to load a car in the back of the bus. The problem on a lot of buses is that you have the humps in the back where the 2 rear wheels are. So you would have to build something to hold the car above those.
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Old 01-30-2013, 07:16 PM   #10
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Quote:
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Slingin leg and we wanted something fun to tow the cars to the track with that we could sleep in.
I brang the methane.
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Old 01-30-2013, 07:16 PM   #11
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I want to do this with a short-bus and ramp the car into the back. Not sure how I'll do that though. There has to be an Aggie around who can help me with this.
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Old 01-30-2013, 07:17 PM   #12
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hahaha, it looks so ******* scary:
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Old 01-30-2013, 07:21 PM   #13
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Where are the mirrors? I have an old set of 1.6 mirrors if you want them.
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Old 01-30-2013, 07:37 PM   #14
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My dad and I built a motor home from a school bus when I was in my early teens, it worked out well and was later sold for a profit. Built because it was significantly cheaper than a motor home and could easily tow his boat.

My dad wants to build another bus with a cabin / living area front and motorcycle storage in the rear. It probably won't happen but seems much more feasible that loading cars safely; you can't easily add a box truck style elevator to lift cars like you could with bikes.
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Old 01-30-2013, 07:57 PM   #15
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Those roof top A/C units might not cool too well sitting still in the later months of the year.

Just a thought. Black on Black + Texas sun
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Old 01-30-2013, 07:57 PM   #16
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hahaha, it looks so ******* scary:

Indeed. I thought you were prepping for the ZA. You should theme it that way your half way there. This is for Chump car or for track events?

Needs a Johny Cab in the pass seat.

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Old 01-30-2013, 07:59 PM   #17
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Subscribed.
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Old 01-30-2013, 10:54 PM   #18
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Quote:
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I want to do this with a short-bus and ramp the car into the back. Not sure how I'll do that though. There has to be an Aggie around who can help me with this.
What about something that slides out like a flatbed?

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Old 01-30-2013, 11:01 PM   #19
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hahaha, it looks so ******* scary:
My thoughts exactly. I kind of expect it to have steel bars over the windshield, a battering-ram or scoop on the front, embrasure on both sides, some kind of spikey things sticking out from the wheel hubs, and a trapdoor on the roof out of which rises one of these:




Looks pretty cool, though. If you don't mind my asking, what does the overall budget for this build look like?
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Old 01-30-2013, 11:30 PM   #20
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This is badass!
Back when I was in SAE (the car club, not the frat, lol), we had a bus kitted out like this with bunks, a toilet, diesel generator, etc. It's what we used to tow the trailor with the race cars and tools in, while we drove around the country during the summer to the different race locations.
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