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the fun begins

Discussions regarding bus to motorhome conversions are welcome here.

the fun begins

Postby ash w » Sat Jun 10, 2017 1:44 pm

Hello to all out there. I am new both to this site and the joys of motorhome conversion/ ownership. I recently purchased a Mercedes 0303 coach with the intention of converting to a motor home. As registration is much cheaper for a motor home I wish to do the minimum required to pass the requirements as soon as practicable. I am currently in WA and intend to drive the bus to QLD around October using it to transport our furniture to our new home there. When I finally get there I will continue with my conversion and hopefully enjoy the bus for many years to come.
My first problem is getting the relevant regs for fitting a gas cooktop to a motorhome so I can install the cooktop prior to getting a gas fitter to fit pipework and certify the fitting. Next is opinions on how best to tackle the head height issue encountered IE dropping floor as opposed to raising roof height either of which will be done in QLD.
Any suggestions would be very much appreciated thanks Ash
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Re: the fun begins

Postby Denv12 » Sat Jun 10, 2017 4:24 pm

I would suggest look at these:

http://www.cmca.net.au/default.aspx

http://www.motorhomesaustralia.net/
http://www.motorhomesaustralia.net/links.html

http://caravanandmotorhomebooks.com/

http://www.motorhomeconversion.com.au/

There have been a variety of 0303's converted.You'll see them for sale in the monthly magazine:
"Motorhome & Caravan Trader".

There are books and magazines available too.
http://www.busconversions.com/store/index.php?cPath=27
Amazon books have got some too.Try USA and UK stores.
"Build your own Motorcaravan" by John Wickersham.A Haynes book.
"The motorcaravan manual." By John Wickersham. A Haynes book.
"Motorcaravanning handbook".By John Wickersham,also a Haynes book.

Can you upload some photos of your vehicle and your progress? Thanks.

Good luck with your vehicle.
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Re: the fun begins

Postby rustbucket » Thu Jun 15, 2017 6:51 am

I am in Queensland and if you do the roof raise (don't even consider dropping the floor unless you have a hi deck) you will need an Authorised Modification Officer to certify it, not too hard as some are pretty easy. BUT you may find that blue plate is not recognised in some other states, especially NSW. Some have had issues.
Having said that, once it is registered here it becomes OK to register it in other states, something we are looking at now as Queensland has very high rego costs.
If you can keep it under 16 tonnes it can be privately certified each year, does not go over the pits.
And it can be certified privately for the initial rego as well.

We tossed the gas cooktop along time ago and use an induction cooktop now, 2 weeks ago I purchased a benchtop oven (elec) as well, only gas we have now is for the bbq. Would be far simpler to buy a single induction cooktop and an inverter big enough to run it, even if you ran it off the cranks for inspection, then NO gas to worry about at all. Lithium batteries are a game changer.

Whereabouts in Qld you moving to ?

William
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Re: the fun begins

Postby ash w » Thu Jun 22, 2017 8:02 pm

Hi William as you suggested I am thinking of going with electric for my cooking as it will be easier and safer in the long run. When I move I will be in boonooroo which is about 20k from maryborough.
To licence the bus as a camper in wa I need to fit some form of cooking, a fridge, table to eat at and a bed. This shouldn't be to difficult but today I removed the step that holds the seats and runs along the side wall of the bus. It rained pretty heavy last night and that showed up all the leaking windows and a wet spot at the back which turned out to be a badly deteriorated exhaust housing which is completely rusted out and no longer has any heat shield material. I'm glad it happened as it was obviously a safety concern and it will be good to have it fixed prior to setting off for qld. The housing in question is the boxed in section in the back right hand corner and if I could figure out how to load picks on here I would load one along with a pick of the bus.
My next dilemma is do I bite the bullet and sheet the sides rather than resealing windows and what is the best material to use. I spoke to a guy in QLD about continuous fiberglass sheet but he say that it would distort to much with heat and appear wavy when it was hot. This is going to happen with metal to I would think and probably worse than fiberglass.
Any thoughts on these issues would be much appreciated especially the whole loading pics thing as I'm sure people would like to see some.
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Re: the fun begins

Postby rustbucket » Fri Jun 23, 2017 1:14 pm

Fix it first, the first job you want done is to keep the structure free of more rust.
As for sheeting, VP now has a fibreglass body, totally, no ripples. But then I did use coremat sheets which end up about 6mm thick but are way stiffer than just fg sheets which are 2-3mm.
Other option is colourbond steel, you fasten it to one end, get all your mates with blow lamps to warm the sheet, then you drive the forklift with side shift you have attached to the other end forward (after putting adhesive on all the ribs). Sideshift away to keep tight and let it set, will show no ripples.
Dunno if I would try it myself just on this description though, better to pay someone who has done it before, and no, I am not available.
Upright exhausts on the rear corners of busses have caused more fires than you would imagine, I saw one once that did not last 24 hours, and had been fitted by an experienced bus company, so be bloody careful.
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Re: the fun begins

Postby ash w » Mon Jul 03, 2017 9:57 am

Yesterday we deleted the exhaust and ran it out under the rear r/h corner. I only have a small area of rust to repair which we will do next weekend as my son is a welder and is only available to help on the weekend. The inside work I will do myself converting the external corner to an internal creating more space for a bedside chest.
Thanks for the feedback on the sheeting. I was of the opinion that fiberglass would probably have less expansion issues than a single metal sheet. The fiberglass is probably the way ill go how did you fix your sheeting? I am thinking of mechanical fixings top and bottom under the existing strips and adhesive to the rest of the frame.

Thanks again Ashton
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Re: the fun begins

Postby rustbucket » Tue Jul 04, 2017 9:29 am

As we used the coremat FG we were left with an edge to cover, we did this with aluminium angle around all the doors, it is not too intrusive to the clean look we were after (no bin door handles, all internal air locks)
Along the top edge of the bins we just used a piece of flat, looks the same.
Other than that the windows extend out over the holes cut for them so no issue there.
We use a bostik product, seal and flex by memory, though selleys now have a similar one aout I think is called Armourflex or similar.
Either way Sika is too dear, buy it by the box from Industrial Rubber is the only way to do it
And then just glue the sides on, we ran a grinder down the ribs just before then put the glue on the untained section.
Must roughen inside of FG if you use it as well otherwise the waxy surface does not key to the glue as well.
As an idea I would suggest you have a look at the mammoth motorhome website, white FG below, black on top around the windows
The black is a series of small pieces joined with black Sika type material, I thought was one piece until it was pointed out to me. No cover strips as everything is brought up to the same level.
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Re: the fun begins

Postby ash w » Tue Jul 04, 2017 9:00 pm

Had a fun day today. I went to the transport dept to find out why my transfer papers had not arrived. After much ado they informed me that I can not transfer the bus in to my name as it is registered as an omnibus and I am not a licensed omnibus operator (have to have a license to operate charter vehicles). In order to transfer it to my name I have to have it inspected basically because a bus carrying paying passengers has to have safety items such as fire extinguishers and exit signs etc whereas a bus which is not carrying paying passengers doesn't. This is where it gets just a little ludicrous I don't have to remove anything or change anything to have it inspected but I have to have it inspected and pay somebody to tell me I haven't changed anything but now its just a bus. This is now not possible as I have removed the seats and the seat rail along the right hand side so I am left with no option other than to hand the plates in and start from scratch as get this either a panelvan or motorhome. Both of these options requires another full inspection which I'm told it had 3 months prior to me purchasing it so hopefully wont be a problem just a hassle as I now will need permits to take it anywhere gotta love bureaucrats. :x
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Re: the fun begins

Postby rustbucket » Wed Jul 05, 2017 9:26 am

Wow, this seems to happen again and again, motorhomes or would be ones are a problem for all rego boys, they don't seem to handle the transition well.
Gives you the chance to "comply" with their requirements before you get it inspected again.
Of course, if you get a permit to drive over here it is a bit easier, first inspection is done by a private certifier, don't need to go near Transport Dept till you pay. Then subsequent inspections go over the pits if over 16 tonnes, private certifier if under.
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Re: the fun begins

Postby ash w » Wed Jul 05, 2017 12:08 pm

You mentioned that rego cost are pretty high in QLD what sort of figure would I be looking at for a tag axle bus.
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Re: the fun begins

Postby rustbucket » Wed Jul 05, 2017 8:01 pm

Can't remember exactly but I think around $1600, you can get an accurate quote on the Qld Tranny website though, so yeah more expensive than some states but easier to get plates on, many people then rego somewhere else.
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Re: the fun begins

Postby ash w » Sat Jul 08, 2017 9:32 am

That's not much different to WA. This weekend we are going to do the rust and resheet the corner so hopefully I can think about the next step which is to get the bus category changed and relicense it. As you mentioned going to electrical cooking and battery power rather than gas maybe you can help me with my choice of inverter.
I am thinking I am going to need maybe 2 air cons in the bus and then there is the fridge plus appliances which means the inverter is going to need to be quite large. What brand would you recommend? Another thought is diesel cooking and heating but it is fairly expensive and I haven't seen much feedback as to reliability and satisfaction did you consider it at any time?
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Re: the fun begins

Postby bagmaker » Sat Jul 08, 2017 12:22 pm

Diesel heating is a must. Plenty of fuel available from the bus tank, 2 litres runs it all day anyway.
A/C (reverse cycle) split system is the better way to do cooling, ensure you get an "inverter" style to minimise start up loads and electrical use. With a roof full of solar panels you can run the A/C OK through Lithium batteries. No need to park in the shade :shock: Providing you have a good inverter a couple of $20 AC house fans will keep you cool enough for 90% of the time.
A few of us run diesel heaters directly to water heating and use this for both the hot water service ( storage tank via heat exchanger) and cabin heating (hydronic using motor coolant system). The smaller air to air diesel heaters are fine, you need about 5kw for a bus, the 2kw ones are a bit too small. Aliexpress has them cheapest at the moment, bought a 5kw one for a mate under $600 last week.
Consider a Victron inverter if you have deep pockets.
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Re: the fun begins

Postby ash w » Sat Jul 08, 2017 2:09 pm

I have seen 8000w inverters on ebay for as low as $385 out of china but I'm not sure I trust something that cheap and they say they have EC certification but I wouldn't trust that either. As for the A/C I was thinking of going with the dometic van style and popping them in where the roof vents are. We had a coaster with an early dometic and it was run off a selectronic inverter on 24v. At the time I was recovering from an injury and as early coasters come standard with rust issues I was unable to keep it up and we swapped it for a holden combo and cash. We took the combo all the way up to hedland and roeburn and spent 12 days living in it had a fat time and it took us everywhere including all through karajini and up into some spots I found when I was towing vans in to exploration camps.
The diesel idea sounds good to me what system have you found to work best? I have seen the convection cookers with the heater lid and wasn't over fussed with the heater although the option of using just 1 fuel source is appealing specially one as stable as diesel so spending a bit extra at the beginning makes sense to me.
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Re: the fun begins

Postby rustbucket » Sat Jul 08, 2017 8:55 pm

No to diesel heaters for us, we us reverse cycle aircons to do that job.
We use Rich Electric inverters but no longer available here.
We have several cheap chingnon inverters you can try and resurrect if you like but they have been out in the weather where I tossd them, you get where I am going with this yet ?
You have 24 sqm of real estate, fill it with solar panels and put some on your trailer too.
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Re: the fun begins

Postby ash w » Sun Jul 09, 2017 8:24 am

I researched rich electric and they have an enquiries link on their webs sight. It doesn't allow you to ask specific questions but does allow general enquiry so I'm hoping they will get back to me for more info and that will allow me to go in to more detail. Working on approximately 42 amps per 1kw draw on 24 volts the system would be working pretty hard when running an ac and fridge plus things like heating or cooking devices on top. Assuming you were running a 5 kw inverter at max you would be pulling 210 amps that's a lot of draw on batteries and a lot of heat produced in the inverter
As far as solar goes I have seen different setups including the thin film panels that stick down. This approach would mean less penetrations meaning less chance of leakage has anyone tried this?
With regard to ac normal house split system v van roof type what works best and in the case of split where is the outside unit best situated.
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Re: the fun begins

Postby ash w » Sat Oct 07, 2017 8:47 am

Well I finally got the bus registered as a camper. the mods are pretty basic to start but that will all change when we have made it to QLD with our gear. I fitted a microwave, bar fridge both running off a cheap inverter and a bed, cupboard and table. When I took it for the initial inspection they knocked me back on a dicky indicator switch and also wanted cargo barriers fitted behind the remaining seats and dining area. At the second inspection it went through without a hitch. As for cost in WA it cost $967.45 for 12mths so I'm happy with that.
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Re: the fun begins

Postby CCCC » Sat Oct 07, 2017 9:11 pm

ash w wrote:Well I finally got the bus registered as a camper. the mods are pretty basic to start but that will all change when we have made it to QLD with our gear. I fitted a microwave, bar fridge both running off a cheap inverter and a bed, cupboard and table. When I took it for the initial inspection they knocked me back on a dicky indicator switch and also wanted cargo barriers fitted behind the remaining seats and dining area. At the second inspection it went through without a hitch. As for cost in WA it cost $967.45 for 12mths so I'm happy with that.



Got any pics
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