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School bus conversion to a RV
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Darrell Pawson    Posted 12-12-2001 at 12:26:10       [Reply]  [Send Email]
have a 1977 Ford bus on a F600 chassis with a 330ci V8 in it. Need any tune up info i can find. it has a 2bbl motorcraft carb on it so any tricks on that would be helpful. my father already converted a IH bus with great sucess. just need to get mine running so i can check the motor over good. uses points and condenser ignition. HELP

IHank    Posted 12-12-2001 at 13:13:10       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Darrell- You pushed one of my hot buttons... I got a '73 B-600 that is heading the same RV direction as you mention.

First thing to do is change the engine oil and filter. Please believe me on this!

The big block Ford engine series is very tough and reliable. You probably have a spl. 2 bbl carburetor that works with the distributor to function as an engine speed governor. If in doubt replace any old rubber vacuum hoses. Make sure that metal tubing between the distributor and carburetor is in good shape.

The points, condenser, cap, and rotor, are probably plain Ford V-8 ignition parts. Give the centrifugal advance mechanism and the little felt pad under the rotor a shot of penetrant oil and wipe off the excess before putting in the new points. Look for a specifications decal on the driver side valve cover. If can't find any, then set the point gap to 0.017", or to 28 degrees dwell.

Next,set the ignition timing to 6 degrees before top dead center. Make sure the vacuum advance is disconnected and the engine RPM is below 600 when setting the timing. With the vacuum advance disconnected give the engine a rev and watch the timing change to see that the centrifugal advance mechanism is working. Connect the vacuum advance and make sure the vacuum unit is working. If in doubt replace it and skip the head scratchers caused by leaking spark advance unit diaphrams.

Replace the fuel filter on the fuel pump by screwing off the can. The square cut O ring might try your patience and a coating of gun grease in the sealing and threads area of the can is helpful.

There's likely another little fine mesh filter on the back side of the carburetor brass fuel inlet fitting. Un-screw the fuel line. Un-screw the fitting and clean the screen. I like to install a steel can in-line fuel filter in the line as close to the carburetor as possible. It's easier to replace that in-line filter than to fiddle around with the fittings and little screen.

Use shop air to blow as much dirt and crap away from the spark plug recesses as possible. Good luck on screwing out them 18 MM taper seat plugs! "Read" the old plugs for engine condition problems and to get an idea about what heat range the new spark plug needs to be. Places that sell spark plugs usually have a color picture chart for this.

Get and use a "thread chaser" in the spark plug holes in the heads. Use generous amounts of penetrant oil while chasing the threads and to flush the grunge on thru and out of the cleaned threads.

Set the spark plug gap to 0.034", or the low number if you have a gap range to work with. Spark gap gets wider with wear. The only time I've seem 'em get narrower was when an engine shelled out!

Apply some anti-seize compound to the new spark plug threads. Run 'em in hand tight. Next, torque the new plugs to 20 foot pounds. Do not over torque!

Now is a good time to install new spark plug wires and a new distributor cap.

Fire it up and let it warm to normal operating temperature. Carefully adjust the idle mixture screws on the bottom front of the Motorcraft carb to give the smoothest and fastest idle. If the idle speed ends up to high, then back it down with the idle stop screw that contacts the throttle arm on the driver side of the carb. Work back and forth between the mixture screws and the idle speed screw several times to find the best running and correct speed adjustment.

Take the bus out for a road test. Dictate detailed observational notes to a helper. After an hour or so of operation change the engine oil and filter. Any good brand of 10W30 motor oil is just right. Please believe me on this!

As to creature comforts... Snoop around truck stops and RV shops and you'll find lots of gadgets and appliances that operate on 12 volt DC and/or propane.

Hope this long winded telling helps. IHank, with an '86 Chevy "Love Bus" and a '73 Ford bus project in work to back it up.

Chris Blake    Posted 09-19-2007 at 11:58:15       [Reply]  [Send Email]

Clemantine    Posted 12-13-2001 at 05:28:29       [Reply]  [No Email]
When I was a child (and rode the bus nearly 2 hours a day) I had a dream of turning one into an RV. So, I'm pleased to see you guys carry it through.

Hubby and I found an old affordable Caddy Limo for our travel car so that we can put that handy window up between us and the kids who have not yet flown the coop. We'd probably have been better off just keeping them 20 feet back behind us, tucked away in the back of a bus, huh? Oh well, there for a couple months this year we had fun cashing the unemployment checks at the drive-thru bank window in the Limo. Aside from "making a statement" the Limo idea was not so hot....

Good luck on those buses! Clem

big dan    Posted 04-15-2003 at 10:35:29       [Reply]  [Send Email]
nobody posted anything since 2001 hope still works ... I just bought a wayne lifestar 38` flat nose diesel powered school bus ... good shape auto tranny ...Ģi want to convert it into an rv anyone has sites that refers to this ..I dont mean the mega bucks site like pro bus converters ..
big dan

IHank    Posted 12-13-2001 at 06:34:49       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Clemantine- Thanks for the grins! No kidding now, them old school busses can be very affordable and very comfortable habitat and transport. Plus, you can change your neighborhood with the turn of the ignition key.

Back to affordable- Many rural area schools figger out their next year bus needs sometime about now, the end of the year. This is when they're ordering new busses and figgering out what to do with the old ones. My point is that if interested in getting a good deal on a used bus then one should watch the newspaper legal write ups about school board activity. I got my '86 Chevy and an older IH bus from an ad requesting sealed bids and taking delivery of the busses the following summer. Plus, I got lucky because my Chevy was gonna be an orphan gasoline burner in an all diesel fleet. So, they let it go long before they normally would so's to eliminate possible refueling confusion problems.

If you buy one directly from a school it has to be in reasonably good shape because their busses are subject to annual inspections. A used bus from an individual could be pretty well wore out and about run into the ground. Look at the inspection stickers and know when a bus was last used in school transportation service. Hope these thoughts help. IHank

Jerry B    Posted 12-13-2001 at 07:30:49       [Reply]  [No Email]

What about insurance? After the bus crash here in Kentucky several years ago where the church group lost so many lives, the cost of insuring a bus went through the roof. Of course insurance companies are constantly looking for a reason to raise premiums and this was a bonanza.

My hunting friends had to take the tags from their buses and park them because they could not afford the insurance that was required year round, for use only a few months of the year.

You don't see old buses around the flea markets here like you used to many years ago either.

IHank    Posted 12-13-2001 at 07:47:19       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Jerry- I don't know about where you're at. Here in Iowa there is a registration conversion option available. Once a bus leaves school service it is registered as a truck and the plate fee is based on loaded GVW per the truck schedule.

If one does the required list of conversions the bus can be registered as a Class A Motorhome. Here in Iowa that brings on a much lower plate fee and not having to do all the truck related requirements.

Insurance coverage depends on what one is gonna use the bus for. As you say, usage involving non-family people brings on astronomical rates, for those that can get coverage. For strictly personal use my agent classifies and insures it as a private farm truck, per how the state registers it for plates and fees. That means I gotta be careful about relationships and how many guests I have on board.

I don't know facts on it, but my guess is that the insurance rate will go up if insured as a Class A Motorhome. Farm trucks don't have many creature comforts like motor homes do. Either way, for strictly personal and family use insurance should be no problem.

Please, others jump in here and share any information and ideas and experiences they might have. Many thanks, IHank in Iowa

GaryK    Posted 09-29-2002 at 17:39:50       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Hello everybody, I have enjoyed your thoughts and info about School Bus conversions. I am looking for school bus seats, hopefully someone might be getting rid of good seats during a conversion. I am in southern California and would appreciate any info that might help me acquire some seats. Thank You, Gary

tim    Posted 08-21-2003 at 05:08:08       [Reply]  [Send Email]
I may be buying a bus, will have extra seats available, if you still need them.
Just curious, for what purpose?

Duey (IA) Wheeeew.....    Posted 12-12-2001 at 19:19:04       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Hank, did you even take a breath on that one? You might want to breathe in a paper bag for a little bit. Wow, he opened up your page didn't he? You know Hank, up here in Forest city, Winnebago Ind. has an outlet store that has just about anything you might need in doing a conversion but probably not all at the same time. A lot of damaged items that arn't too bad and a lot of new fabricated items that are a one of a kind. Cabinets, chassis parts that Winnebago doesn't use, carpet, gauges, tires, tanks, mirrors, cabinet doors, etc., even bins full of assorted bolts and screws and pieces and parts by the pound. Let me know if there is a special part you need or better yet come on up and I'll give you the tour. Duey

IHank    Posted 12-12-2001 at 20:23:31       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Duey- Thanks for yur post. I've heard some wild tales about a magic surplus store with hard to believe bargains run by Winnebago. After the first of the year I'm gonna get up to Forest City for a looksee. I'll give you a shout and thankfully take up your offer of the guided tour.

I'm wanting to keep my bus flexible as to what's inside. I want to be able to easily pull everything out and have a big cargo van on occasions. e.g., I used it to fetch and store boards and sheet metal up to 20' long when I built the shed I call hanger 19. It was nice dry, out of sight type, storage. Plus, the stock pile could be moved around with just the turn of the ignition key.

Lots of uses for them old busses. Plus, they are very affordable. IHank

JoeK    Posted 12-12-2001 at 14:33:40       [Reply]  [No Email]
Almost everthin' you need to know or want to.

Did some research awhile back,then th Drs got all my $$$.

Les...fortunate    Posted 12-12-2001 at 17:07:26       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Thanks for that research, Joe. I've put that into my favorites for future reference. That's always been one of my brilliant ideas for the future. Retirement isn't that far off and if I live long enough, that's something I'd like to have for going to Bluegrass Festivals.

Darrell Pawson    Posted 12-12-2001 at 15:41:09       [Reply]  [Send Email]
thanks for your help IHank. Darrell

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