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Blank Canvas

Discussions regarding bus to motorhome conversions are welcome here.

Blank Canvas

Postby Kappy » Tue Feb 23, 2016 12:39 am

Rather than add to other threads, thought I would start another.

I feel the Denning 4 cylinder is toast, I've looked a few rigs in person, and several on line as far away as NT, Qld and Vic.

Several seller's seem reluctant to provide pics and info I've requested and a couple just haven't responded or said they would call back and haven't.

So I've focused on more locally, the 4 cylinder seemed quite promising but in hindsight power, steering issues and gear box kill it and the layout not quite what I'd be happy with and would make wholesale changes, I know me.

So today I drove several Ex school buses, all with power steering and mostly syncro gearboxes, except 1st of course and one is even has a turbo.

The last one is a 95 Hino RG197 turbo owned by private contractor and has full service history. It was actually a joy to drive.

I can then sit on 80 -90 and give everyone the irites, but have the power to get out of the way if needed. Haha

So I think this is gonna be the one and the dollars are right so I'll start from scratch and put my personal touch to it.

Now I would appreciate some guidance on info where to start and tips on sourcing the necessary bits and pieces, plans, literature etc.

I have a basic idea whats needed and reasonably handy but there must a smart way go about the mission in a chronological manner.

Eagerly looking forward to all the wonderful and valuable advise.

Cheers
Kappy
Last edited by Kappy on Tue Feb 23, 2016 8:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Blank Canvas

Postby ax8 » Tue Feb 23, 2016 8:34 am

Sounds like a good way to go, it's a big job to do a bus conversion but if you have the time, go for it.

First place to start would be to have a chat to your local engineer or the person responsible for doing the certification side of things, things like gas and electricity certificates, seat belts and any body modifications like roof lift or slide-outs etc.

There are several ways to do a bus conversion, some just throw house hold furniture in and off they go or you can go the custom built road, that's what I have done, it takes a lot longer but a far better conversion in the end & better resale.

Have a good plan on where you want everything, keep an eye on weight distribution and remember you will get there in the end, just one job at a time.

The Hino RG197 looks like a good bus for a conversion.
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Re: Blank Canvas

Postby Kappy » Tue Feb 23, 2016 2:38 pm

No slide outs or roof lifts, basic flat floor and about 2 roof height excspt a bit lower where the bed will be.

Mainly the hard part is gas and electricity, not sure about water connections.

Gas and sparky's still need to provide certificates.

Don't if there are any cabinet makers over here that do Rv's

There is still a Scania in Victoria and a Merc in NT but I'm a bit iffy about the mid engine Merc.

So still looking for those in the know to point me in the right direction.

Cheers
Kappy
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Re: Blank Canvas

Postby bagmaker » Tue Feb 23, 2016 5:18 pm

Suggest you troll the internet kappy, there are a number of forums and websites regarding converted busses in Oz.
Aim to take twice as long as you think it will take and cost about double what you think too :)
Perhaps you could venture out to Bathurst for the upcoming CMCA rally and ask around a little, you might find interesting information, also caravan and camping shows, forums, etc.
And here of course!
When it comes to layouts and kitchens, bathrooms, just flat pack it from bunnings or Ikea or similar...........
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Re: Blank Canvas

Postby ax8 » Tue Feb 23, 2016 5:30 pm

My bus is a mid engine bus, the main difference is a little bit harder to work on.

If you have time on your side I would consider doing a conversion unless you find one fitted out the way you want.
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Re: Blank Canvas

Postby kelvin12 » Sat Feb 27, 2016 7:23 am

Couldn't agree more with Bagmaker. Costs just keep blowing out more and more along with the time taken. Even planning it out it just doesn't pan out. Not trying to put a damper on your project but make sure you are prepared to change your plans over and over again.

I would even be checking out the market and see what's available as an already started project. Might be a huge saving there.

Dirk
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Re: Blank Canvas

Postby qbb469 » Sun Feb 28, 2016 10:13 am

Saw a qbb bodied Volvo b10m in Victoria online the other day. Very easy to get parts for them and built like a bomb shelter. Very square internally which makes life a bit easier.

It is a big job but provided you talk to engineer and your other certifiers then do. It's relatively straight forward.
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Re: Blank Canvas

Postby Kappy » Sun Feb 28, 2016 4:10 pm

kelvin12 wrote:Couldn't agree more with Bagmaker. Costs just keep blowing out more and more along with the time taken. Even planning it out it just doesn't pan out. Not trying to put a damper on your project but make sure you are prepared to change your plans over and over again.

I would even be checking out the market and see what's available as an already started project. Might be a huge saving there.

Dirk

I couldn't agree more, already as I've looked and driven have changed direction several time.

I'm about to fly to Victoria next week to seriously look at a Scania K92, as its turbo straight 6, 5 speed with power steering off to a good start. The layout on this bus is the same as the Merc I scanned in the NT, just much too hot to consider driving back at this stage., plus the Merc has a mid engine and probably harder to work on?

Searching the internet really revealed nothing so I rang Scania Australia in Perth and was put onto a sales rep, who turned out to be a mechanic who started his apprenticeship on these very same rigs. And was heading home to Victoria and lived about 40 k's from where the bus lives and volunteered to check it out, how good is that?

He tells me the bus is straight and honest but also needs some cosmetic changes, don't they all. Maybe 10 to 20k, so depends on negotiation.

I guess its a personal thing wher to stop spending dollars, that in all probability may not come back, same can be said for Caravans .boats cars etc.I guess

The main issues is the stove, fridge and hot water system is 240v, so conversion to gas is necessary, I plan to just throw in a gas hob, I never use and oven anyway and then a Rinnai style gas HWS and the consider a 24v/240v fridge. There is 500w of solar panel system, that I can imagine adding to if required.

Also I see the awning may need to go, to simple, I'll want one I can turn into an annex, anyone wish to share what they have, please.

I believe the bedroom is a little poky, that can be modified I feel removal of some wardrobes, however there is no A/C opening windows in the bedroom only a split up
front,

So I'm open to suggestions/directions on whether to put a roof mounted A/C ( although friends tell me they nearly useless) roof vent, rear Split and or figuring how to install opening windows into already fixed glass panels.

I have friends who purchased a Hino purpose built RV and they continue to change things 8 years on.

So I know its an evolving process, but this could be it. if not another airfare back home and a little holiday in Victoria.

Cheers
Kappy
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Re: Blank Canvas

Postby ax8 » Sun Feb 28, 2016 6:02 pm

I would forget the roof mount AC, if you want AC go with a split system.
I've got two fantastic fan roof vents in my bus they would be worth a look as well.
Good luck with it, hope it works out for you.
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Re: Blank Canvas

Postby bagmaker » Sun Feb 28, 2016 7:23 pm

Hot water system can be gas or diesel heated, close call to which is currently favoured, diesel options do not have 240v element available as backup but the Truma or suburban type are a little small. Calorifier types are good but quite expensive.
fridge should definately stay 240v interter type, Gas fridges are not in favour nowadays.
A blank canvas would have the roof covered in PV solar panels and most, if not all appliances run on 240v through inverters.
Battery power would be LiFePo4 from 24 or 48v PV supply, excess charge is used to heat HWS @240v.
Aircon is split system inverter style.
I have an annex unused if you would like to purchase, made for bus but I am not using it -going for awning(s) instead. PM me if interested
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Re: Blank Canvas

Postby Kappy » Mon Feb 29, 2016 12:03 am

bagmaker wrote:Hot water system can be gas or diesel heated, close call to which is currently favoured, diesel options do not have 240v element available as backup but the Truma or suburban type are a little small. Calorifier types are good but quite expensive.
fridge should definately stay 240v interter type, Gas fridges are not in favour nowadays.
A blank canvas would have the roof covered in PV solar panels and most, if not all appliances run on 240v through inverters.
Battery power would be LiFePo4 from 24 or 48v PV supply, excess charge is used to heat HWS @240v.
Aircon is split system inverter style.
I have an annex unused if you would like to purchase, made for bus but I am not using it -going for awning(s) instead. PM me if interested
]
Thanks Bagmaker

Thats a bit of info to digest, will need to research LifePo4, there 500w of solar panels Atm, more is good, plus is insulation.

The guys says he runs the fridge 240v from an inverter??

Calorifoer is new to me as well.

I was thinking roof vent as well seeing changing the rear window may be difficult.

I was planning on an Awning that I can add an annex to, but I have an open mind. will PM

Cheers
Kappy
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Re: Blank Canvas

Postby qbb469 » Mon Feb 29, 2016 8:09 pm

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Re: Blank Canvas

Postby Kappy » Tue Mar 01, 2016 9:44 am

qbb469 wrote:http://www.gumtree.com.au/s-ad/epping/campervans-motorhomes/1990-volvo-b10m-qbb-sold-with-roadworthy-valid-until-20-3-20-/1104842288

Bus I mentioned earlier.


Thanks guys,

As this was a public transit bus with a low floor, how does one fit sufficient water storage tanks etc underneath.

Maybe I'm wrong But I doubt there would be suitable underfloor storage.

When I get my Bus this will be my permanent home for several years possibly, not a weekender.

Storage will be important me thinks.

But never say never.
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Re: Blank Canvas

Postby qbb469 » Wed Mar 02, 2016 11:21 pm

I live in mine it's not finished but there's room for 1t batteries and 1t water in the design. They're a mid floor not low floor. So about a metre of underfloor height to play with. Room for a huge boot too.

There's room underneath if you build it yourself. Most over the counter tanks etc aren't going to fit well. But that's most buses without storage bins. If that helps.
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Re: Blank Canvas

Postby Kappy » Fri Mar 04, 2016 10:47 am

ax8 wrote:My bus is a mid engine bus, the main difference is a little bit harder to work on.

If you have time on your side I would consider doing a conversion unless you find one fitted out the way you want.


Hi Ax8
What model make is your mid engined rig, I guess the donk is set between the chassis rail,and its really only access that is the real issue.

Do you happen to know where I could get info on a Merc OC 1621, I rand Nerc and I all I could get is the 16 is 16 tonne and the 21 is 210 horsepower.

Cheers
Kappy
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Re: Blank Canvas

Postby ax8 » Fri Mar 04, 2016 8:41 pm

Hi Kappy,

Mine is a Bedford YMT chassis which has been repowered with an Isuzu 6bg1 (180hp) and an Allison 4 speed auto AT545.

Yes the main issue is engine access, there are doors either side and also two hatches in the floor above engine and gearbox access is ok .

When planning to put storage bins either side of the engine you will need to be able to remove them to gain access and also in floor hatches would mean gaining access to them so can't build permanent structures over them.
It has worked ok with my build as I have gone for a centre aisle fitout with a centre door, lounge at the front both sides behind driver and passenger seats, then kitchen/storage both sides , then bathroom (shower cubicle, toilet and vanity) Right side, Bunks left side and queen double in the back.
I have Black, grey and fresh water tanks all behind rear axle as lots of room there due to no engine and rear axle carries the heaviest load.

Sorry not much info avalable on the OC1621, but if it's the one for sale for $70,000 in the NT, It looks to be a very simple fitout which you could do to any bus easily and cheap.
If you are handy and have the time a conversion would be a good option but if paying some one else to do the fitout then a bus semi or fully converted would be a better option.
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Re: Blank Canvas

Postby Kappy » Sat Mar 05, 2016 10:11 am

Thanks ax8.

Seems lie a rear engine option is the way to go.

I looked at Hino ex school drove real nice and has plenty of space still around engine bay and monstrous space behind skirts.

I think I have the skills/time to complete, I really like the layout of the NT merc, simple but tasteful.From experience could a fit out like this be done under the asking price,

Main advantage I see from doing it myself, is I do it to suit me and would then know how fix breakdown/hiccup issues when they arrive.

Is there info available to assist choosing the timber trilateral and maybe plan to assist with layout for wiring plumbing etc.

Cheers
Kappy
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Re: Blank Canvas

Postby ax8 » Sat Mar 05, 2016 5:07 pm

I could easily do a bus conversion similar to the Merc for far less than the asking price but that's me, if you think you can do it, I would go with that plan, the biggest issue would be the time it takes to do.

Plumbing and electrical would depend on your fitout plan but if you have a good idea on the layout you want, just draw up a basic plan where you want lights, power points etc.

A bus conversion can be fairly basic to extreme luxury, so make a plan of what you want, measure everything before hand so you know it's going to fit where you want it and take it one step at a time.

A rear engine bus is the best way to go.
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Re: Blank Canvas

Postby Kappy » Sat Mar 05, 2016 8:43 pm

Thanx ax8

Just got back from looking at a Merc OH1418 ex School bus, quite neat, not rust.
[img]
Merc%20(576x1024)%20(450x800).jpg
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Not a rocket ship but got 100k quite all right and once there sat on 90-100 easily and handled well as well.
This is speed limited to 100 and you could tell.

Does the limiter affect the whole range and economy.

The Hino RG 197 I drove the otherseemed to drive a little better and certainly didn't seem limited but had quite a bit of rust, may not be serious but who knows.
[img]
Hino%20(800x450).jpg
[/img]
Both the same dollars, The Merc is 50k away the Hino is 250k away, Both private family school bus companies.

So the next how big a deal is it to deal with the limiter?
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Merc (576x1024) (450x800).jpg (234.49 KiB) Viewed 3951 times
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Re: Blank Canvas

Postby ax8 » Sun Mar 06, 2016 9:36 am

The limiter may be able to be removed but speed limit is 100 anyway.

With rust what you can see is usually minor but can be far worse underneath, the less rust the better.
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Re: Blank Canvas

Postby Kappy » Sun Mar 06, 2016 3:18 pm

Yes rust can be present in anything this age.

Less the better.

I'm gonna take another look at the hino RG197, I feel its a better bus, 100k less although a year older.

Checking my photos of the Merc I now notice what could be a partial broken right rear spring, plus i noticed and occasional metal/metal clunk around left front wheel suspension, The owners knew about the klunk but can't why.

I feel I have the skills to attempt a conversion but was just wondering if there is any literature/guides on a methodical approach?

I have a couple of Collyn Rivers books.

Anyway the search continues.

Cheers
Kappy
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Re: Blank Canvas

Postby ax8 » Sun Mar 06, 2016 6:44 pm

I don't think you'll find a guide or book on the subject, only thing you'll find are websites or blogs of people who have gone down this road. here are 2 sites they may help.
http://www.mammothmotorhome.com/
http://www.motorhomeconversion.com.au/
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Re: Blank Canvas

Postby kelvin12 » Mon Mar 07, 2016 8:16 am

Whatever way you go watch the weighs and width factors. Very easy to keep adding stuff then you find you are to heavy overall weights or close to it so that limits you carrying water and waste tanks. Same goes for overwidths. NSW are into lazer test for overwide.

Dirk
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Re: Blank Canvas

Postby Kappy » Tue Mar 08, 2016 9:32 am

Hi Guys

Thanks for all the support.

Interestingly I stumbled across an ad that has been around fro a while and I only just spotted it on Sunday arvo.

So acting on impulse and am now the proud owner of 1991 Mercedes OH1418 nicely fitted out.

Not a pearl but a real honest rig that I can work with without having to spend a fortune and as is could head east tomorrow.

And best of all the dollars were right leaving some affordable cosmetic personalizing.

And it drives real nice.

More to revealed. Now I gotta pay for her and arrange collection.

So not long now and there'll be another bus clogging up the highway.

Cheers
Kappy
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Re: Blank Canvas

Postby ax8 » Tue Mar 08, 2016 1:32 pm

Congratulations on the purchase.
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