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Old 01-19-2023, 04:51 PM   #1
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Join Date: Feb 2022
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Shuttle Bus Conversion COMPLETE- Colorado

Greetings everybody. I've completed my shuttle bus conversion and wold like to give back to the community here if anybody has any questions or tips. Here is a bit of what I did:

- Well, the bus is finally complete. It is now a fully converted RV. I have a few minor touches to add and, as any RV owner will agree, there are always changes and upgrades to make along the way.

I purchased the bus from a mobile dog grooming company. They had purchased it from the city where it was a wheelchair bus in its original life. I completely gutted and disassembled the interior, reframed it, and insulated it. Ripped out all the original wiring (probably a few miles worth) and rewired the entire bus. New walls, ceiling, and floors. New kitchen cabinets, butcher block top, sink, microwave, and gas cooktop with exhaust hood. Completely plumbed the sink and shower to new tanks. Built in the bathroom and full shower with an instant hot water heater.

For power, I have all the 12v and 120v lines running to a converter, which also runs to a bank of 3 Marine/Lithium batteries. It is also plumbed for solar if I decide to add panels in the future. Finally, I purchased a 4500w inverter generator with remote and auto start that runs on both gas and propane (user choice). So, in total, it has 4 power sources- shore power (plug into a 30amp outlet at a campsite, etc.) running to the converter, a bank of house batteries, a dual fuel generator, and solar. I also have an inverter in the circuit to convert the battery power from the 3 house batteries to 120v power if necessary.

I built cabinets custom, built the rear bed custom, and purchased a new jackknife couch (converts to a bed) and a new wall hugger leather recliner. Installed speakers and a TV. New carpet and flooring throughout. Fresh paint throughout the interior. Lots more, but these are the major details.

For the exterior/mechanical, I put in a new transmission and serviced up the engine, new brakes, hubs, rotors, seals, and bearings all around. Serviced the rear diff. Rebuilt the driveshaft with new u joints and carrier bearing and balanced it all. Added new fresh and grey water tanks custom mounted. Removed the rear bumper and welded in frame extensions and a new Mount-n-Lock bumper and full cargo carrier. All new LED's on the rear including replacing all the original wiring with new. Ran propane lines. Installed 6 new 10 ply tires and stainless wheels.

For the body, I took the original paint down. Completed all necessary body and fiberglass repairs. Clean and prep sol'd the crap out of the entire body, then sprayed 2 coats of high build primer, with sanding in between coats, then 3 coats of fresh Classic White paint. After it cured, I clay-bared it down. I plan to wet sand it down in the Spring to correct everything, but it is pretty sharp for now.

It is titled, registered, and insured as a Colorado RV now, and the conversion is complete, so it's now officially, legally, and legitimately an RV. Lots of work, especially considering that 98% of the build was custom, but great therapy for me. I did the entire build myself with no outside help except the transmission and driveshaft rebuild which were done at a local shops.

A couple major questions I had when I was doing my build that others may have as well: In regards to insurance and to help people trying to gauge that cost, I pay $55 per month for liability, and full coverage wold be roughly $150 per month through the insurer I am using. My annual registration in Colorado is $41.50.

I'm open to constructive comments, and look forward to taking the bus out to hit as many natl parks as possible this year.
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Old 01-19-2023, 05:07 PM   #2
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Great Job

Looks great. That's tons of work and done right.
You might want to consider a non-flammable back splash behind the burner.
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Old 01-19-2023, 05:47 PM   #3
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Really nice, you did a great job. I was surprised how roomy it is inside, I wouldn't have thought it from the outside. I like the stealth aspect of it, you can park anywhere and no one would even think it is an RV.
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Old 01-19-2023, 06:08 PM   #4
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Beautiful job. You must be so proud. You may have to put one of those "not for commercial use" signs on it (like you see on semi's that haul the large 5th wheels) to keep people from trying to get you to shuttle them somewhere. Or just don't park outside a buffet restaurant.
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Old 01-20-2023, 02:00 AM   #5
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Paul D- Thank you. It was a lot of work, but it was great therapy versus visiting a shrink at the VA. Haha. The backsplash is real stone, glass, and metal (not the junk self-adhesive type, so it should fare pretty well with heat, but I agree with you and had thought about putting up a 12”x12” piece of stainless steel on the wall behind the burners. I guess if all else fails, I have three fire extinguishers onboard.

Argosy- Thank you. I really had to get creative with the design to use every inch of space in a functional and efficient way. My goal was to try to build in everything I had in my class A (functionality wise) but in a smaller package. I agree with the stealth, which was one of the reasons I chose this model and configuration. The size is about perfect for me and my two small mutts, it’s easy to park, and is small enough to enter and get through natl parks, etc.

NLOVNIT- Thank you. I might need to give a ride here and there to cover my gas (6.8 engine). Just joking, I’m hoping my barking mutts will keep most people away. I figure buffets won’t be my problem- it will be parking outside of bingo halls and nursing homes that might land me an unwanted passenger or two.
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Old 01-20-2023, 03:32 AM   #6

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Very well done! How long did it take you? What sort of shop space did you have?
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Old 01-20-2023, 01:50 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Fotoryder View Post
Very well done! How long did it take you? What sort of shop space did you have?
Thanks Fotoryder. Aside from sitting at transmission shop for a few weeks, COVID chaos, and other distractions, the project took me roughly 7 months, mainly good weather months (no winter). I did everything outside where it sits in the photos. Even the paint and welding work were done outside- I built a portable booth around it and used a Fuji HVLP system to keep overspray down versus my compressor setup. I lucked out and had perfect painting weather for three days in a row- no precipitation, wind, partial cloud cover, low humidity. It can be done without a shop, as long as you have good neighbors that like you and you are respectful in regards to noise and making sure you leave no messes as you go.
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Old 01-20-2023, 02:36 PM   #8
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VERY nice! Great job.
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Old 01-20-2023, 09:52 PM   #9
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Impressive! Very well done. What is your AC/heat setup? I’m not seeing the outdoor unit anywhere.
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Old 01-21-2023, 03:14 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Rob_M View Post
VERY nice! Great job.
Thanks Rob. It was a lot of work, but it was enjoyable and now I can say Iíve done one.
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Old 01-21-2023, 03:28 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by MarvinG View Post
Impressive! Very well done. What is your AC/heat setup? Iím not seeing the outdoor unit anywhere.
Thanks Marvin. I have attached a tagged up photo to show where the ac and heat is.

For A/C: A/C 1 in the picture is the roof mount Carrier system. It is powered by an auxiliary compressor on the engine. The condenser, coils, and fans are under the silver grate just aft of the drivers side door in the picture (not external roof like a typical Dometic or similar type RV roof A/C unit). This A/C only operates when the engine is running.

A/C 2- This is an 8000btu portable unit mounted in a rack I built that attaches it to the cabinets. It vents to the outside and runs on 110 power, so when Iím parked and have the engine turned off, I can run the portable off my generator or off 30A shore power, both of which run through a PD converter.

A/C 3- normal A/C through the front dash.

I also have 3 stainless fans throughout to help circulate the air.

For heat: The arrow in the picture points to under the bed frame on the drivers side of the bus. There is a hydroponic heater that runs off the engine coolant. It resembles a radiator. It works really well, but only works when the engine is running. Obviously.there is also the dash heat as well. For a third and fourth heat source, I have a small diesel heater and a plug in ceramic heater.

Overall, the space is small enough and designed to heat and cool rather quickly. Add to that the 2Ē insulation I did on the walls, ceiling, and floor, and it is easy to maintain temperature.
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Old 01-21-2023, 08:26 AM   #12
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Iím impressed again.

And your generator is stored/hid/runs from where?
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Old 01-21-2023, 12:46 PM   #13
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I built a box that runs most the length of the carrier on the back bumper (box not pictured, the cargo carrier is folded up and unused in the picture). To mount the new bumper, I had to weld in extenders/c channel to strengthen everything. The carrier and bumper are rated at 500lbs, and the generator, box, fuel can/propane tanks are well under 160lbs, which leaves some room for basic gear storage.

The box I built fully contains everything and the top lid opens for access. I installed vents on the front side,. I also installed a puller fan on one end and a pusher fan on the other side to keep things cool when the gen is running, both of which power on as soon as the gen does (they are tied in). My generator is a Westinghouse IGEN 4500 dual fuel.

I have a regular dedicated 30A power cord tied into my converter via a switch and it runs along the chassis and attaches through the box to plug into the generator. That way the generator can be fired up and down on the move via a remote fob and it is tied into my electrical system.

The propane tanks also mount in the box that mounts on the rear cargo carrier, and my propane lines are all terminated to the box with quick connects/disconnects. So propane exchanges are easy and (relatively) inexpensive because they are the typical bbq style tanks available everywhere.

I know it might be hard to picture, but I will snap some photos of the box on when the snow clears away here and provide a visual depiction.
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Old 02-01-2023, 12:44 PM   #14
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I am interested in how you designed and installed the 3 holding tanks and associated plumbing. I've read about several bus conversions, but none explain that in detail.
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