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 Post subject: Roxnadz's 1989 TMC RTS T80206 conversion
PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 11:30 am 
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Okay, since Dale and Mike have been nudging me to do this, I'm going to start my conversion thread. No pictures yet as I'm still sorting through them all. I'll post links here when they are ready.

Things have gone pretty well so far. The riser floors and seats are entirely out of the coach. Up next:

* Panel strip-down - going to get rid of the side panels and re-insulate.
* Interior lights (How did people get these out? I know there is a large bundle of wiring on the port side that I want to avoid damaging at all costs, but I don't know where it is with respect to the lighting itself)
* Remove wheelchair lift assembly (that's gonna be a job, any pointers are heartily welcomed)
* HVAC in the rear cap - It's pointless to use the bus HVAC (and it doesn't work anyway). Also, gives me a nice big space for a genset.
* Fuel and air tank relocation (any experience on how to handle this is also quite welcome)

Observations:
* She seems to run really well. GGT ran their 6V92s at 253 HP and for that low a rating it does surprisingly well up hills. I'm getting 6.7 mpg based on an informal analysis. Light white smoke during start, clears up pretty much immediately. Little bit of dark smoke under load. Mechanic thinks there might be an issue with one or more of my injectors. I've been running it as hard as I can as often as I can.

Thoughts on conversion:
* I actually want to retain the outside look of the bus, including the window profile and the rear door. I am very unlikely to reskin the bus unless where absolutely necessary.
* I have an air leak in my secondary air system. Any idea where (around the coach) to start looking for those leaks?

Other questions:
* Are there any sources for LED lights for the RTS? I know GGT was able to source some when they did their rehabs a while back, but if anyone knows of current sources, that'd be great.
* I don't have fuel or temp gauges. Any ideas of what to pick up to give me this information in the cockpit (and where to get it)?
* I'm gonna need tires soon. Are you guys getting new ones, or retreads? Where's the best place to source them at a decent price? I'm currently running 315-80R22.5s.
* More questions as I think them up! Pictures soon.


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 Post subject: Re: Roxnadz's 1989 TMC RTS T80206 conversion
PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 12:14 pm 
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First off, I am going to say that you have an issue because of your low fuel economy. I was able to get upwards of 9mpg with mine. Of course, to do that you have to stay in the 60-65 mph range, which you may not be doing since you have the same setup as mine and can go up into the 70s. Accounting for the black smoke, I am going to suggest replacing or removing your catalytic converter. Jeff had the same issue on my old bus and replacing the converter fixed it and also gave him more power. Personally, I would just remove it but people can make their own choices about that. I'm not sure about the 253hp number. I was told 277, but that small a difference wouldn't matter to the seat of your pants anyway. Did your bus have the DDECIV upgrade done? Mine did. Horsepower can be bumped to about 325 within the software if it was. (Did I send you the 'tricks' for maximizing the ZF transmission?)

The wires that you need to leave alone are in the driver's side wall going to the rear. As far as I know, there is nothing near the roof that you need to worry about. Someone else can chime in if they have a different experience.

The RTS is a beautiful bus. I know some RV conversions have skinned the entire side and then cut in RV style windows. I agree with you that the RTS windows look best. I just wish you could get them in a dual pane configuration. I always like the look of having a center section of windows removed. That is for cosmetics as well as function. Lots of people build walls inside while leaving their windows in. I guess there is nothing wrong with this except that stuff always finds a way to get through windows and you have no way to get it out. Plus it gives you more privacy in areas like dressing rooms and bathrooms. On the cosmetic side, it gives you space to add a design element if you want, plus it differentiates you from a city bus. You have no idea how many times I have seen people step up to the curb like I was going to pick them up!

I would look at the valves for the air leaks before I would the tanks or the bags. Sometimes it can be as simple as tightening a connection. If you find that you do need to replace something, I have sources for all of that.

For a fuel gauge, all you need is a good universal sending unit and gauge. There are tons of them on eBay...
http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_nkw=uni ... m270.l1313
When Jeff decided to tackle the issue of lack of gauges, he chose to go with SilverLeaf and bought the VMS240. This gives you all readings from the DDEC sort of like what you have on your Driver Information Center in your car. Pretty handy! He also handled the fuel gauge issue by adding their Accutrac sonar fuel level system. No floats to slosh around. This measures the level of the fuel in the tank with a sonar system and tells you exactly how much you have in gallons. I'm surprised that you don't have temp gauges. I had two separate one on my GGT bus.

Tires.. Personally, I wouldn't use retreads. They will sure tear the side of your bus up if one of them comes loose. You'll save money up front but it might cost you tons more in the future. Not worth it to me.

I can probably help you with the LEDs when the time comes...



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 Post subject: Re: Roxnadz's 1989 TMC RTS T80206 conversion
PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 12:49 pm 
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Hey Dale,

Yes, you did give me the ZF guide. It's worked well for me.

Wow, 9 mpg huh? I thought normal range was around 7 or so...this bus hasn't been run very much in the last 5 years so I'm thinking (hoping) that gas mileage will improve a bit over time. I've heard the 277 figure as well but I got the 253 figure from a guy who used to work as a GGT mechanic. So, obviously your mileage may vary with that. Any idea where to source the cat? Don't know if I have the DDECIV upgrades or not...what's the quickest way to find that out?

Re: stuff getting in through the windows and behind walls...yeah, I know that's a possibility but right now I'm strongly leaning toward keeping the original profile of the bus as much as possible - I'm even thinking about replacing the destination sign with something I can program (though I have no idea where to get that). There's just something about the way GGT spec'd these buses that gives me chills - the slider-slider-slider-slider-solid-solid pattern of windows is something I've always noticed (namely "Why in the world would they do it that way?!") when seeing these buses ply the streets of SF on their way to Marin County and I frankly don't want to change that. I do agree, it'd be nice if they had dual-pane windows.

I actually even want to keep the bi-part front door, and will, once I can figure out how - or if - I can put a lock on it. I'm not worried about boarders...they'll always be around. I had one who thought I was stopping for him when I was returning the bus to my storage space and was shaking his head no. ;)

Re: retreads - yeah, retreads are a bad idea. I'm gonna take it on the chin and go with new, or see if I can source some takeoffs. I'll replace them in phases - start with my inner duallies first and then work my way forward.

Where exactly is the cable along the driver-side wall? I'll need to be careful when working the side panels.


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 Post subject: Re: Roxnadz's 1989 TMC RTS T80206 conversion
PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 1:40 pm 
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This is the wiring bundle that stays. Some wires can be taken out but personally, I think I would just end up leaving them alone.

Image

I guess my wording could have been better last time. It goes along the driver's wall at the top but is not connected with the lighting wires.

7 mpg would be fairly normal for a regular RTS with the city gear and 730/731 trans. The better gearing and ZF 5-speed in the GGT offers a little better mileage. I think Jeff said he was actually getting around 9.7 on the interstate on his trip cross country. There is really not much way to tell about the DDEC upgrade. I got the original records from my bus so I had documentation of the upgrade. A Detroit shop should be able to tell you by hooking it up and reading it.

I'm checking on a couple of options for a cat for you.



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 Post subject: Re: Roxnadz's 1989 TMC RTS T80206 conversion
PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 1:59 pm 
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I just talked to Jeff and was telling him about your problem. His bus was doing the same thing. Robbing power, black smoke, killing fuel economy... He said to have you take the muffler off and there is a piece there about the size of a hockey puck. Knock it out and it should put you back where you need to be. Give that a shot first. Cats are in the neighborhood of $1500! I can get you a used one for $300 but I'd try the mod first. Jeff rounds up and says you should be getting 10 mpg since yours is the exact same bus.

And after looking back at my pictures, I was wrong... My bus didn't have a temp gauge either. That was one of my Eagles that had two temp gauges.



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 Post subject: Re: Roxnadz's 1989 TMC RTS T80206 conversion
PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 7:10 pm 
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Interesting. I'll take a look-see at that when I visit the bus this weekend.

I'm curious about how to get at the inside lights down at this point - I'm presuming it's all riveted in? Should I just start popping rivets and yanking things down?


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 Post subject: Re: Roxnadz's 1989 TMC RTS T80206 conversion
PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2011 2:55 pm 
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Any pointers on the overhead lights?


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 Post subject: Re: Roxnadz's 1989 TMC RTS T80206 conversion
PostPosted: Sun Nov 13, 2011 1:13 am 
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Well, we got the lights out and more. The bus is 1600 lb lighter as of this evening. We removed:

- overhead lights, fixtures, ballasts and HVAC conduit
- side panels including some of the insulation
- the remainder of the seats
- side destination sign (basically just a number pad)
- 550 lb of aluminum
- 950 lb of fiberglass, plastic, iron, glass, steel and other junk

There are still a number of things that need to be removed, namely:

- HVAC stuff in the very back (decided to leave it for now)
- Wheelchair lift
- Ceiling panels (didn't want to jack up the emergency exit hatches today)
- Rubber flooring (gonna need to take a heat gun or something to get this up)
- Front bulkheads on both sides
- Driver's surround (tons of wiring there and I need the bus to move under its own power for the short term)

Other things that need to happen:

- Find and fix a sizeable air leak in my secondary system (primary system seems to be fine, but I lose air fairly quickly after I shut the bus off on the secondary system)
- Figure out how to get the bus air out of the rear cap (I want to put a genset there)
- Figure out how to rearrange the air and fuel tanks to create room for battery, wet and storage bays
- Start stocking up on spare parts, coach-wide
- Start stocking up on LED lights
- Start drafting living quarters plans
- Start drafting electric layout plans
- Start drafting plumbing plans

Observations:

The lights were easier than I expected. The bulbs came out fairly painlessly, we set those aside. In each fixture there was a panel that opened with two Phillips screws that exposed the ballasts. Yanked those out, cut the wires, taped em off. Then we started taking hammers to the fixtures. Pulled the outer covers off, exposing the inner structure (including the conduit for the big cable) that was held up with screws on the upper edge and rivets on the lower edge. The rivets came out pretty quickly with a few whacks of a hammer onto a strategically placed flathead screwdriver. The screws came out even faster. Then there was the task of yanking the fixtures down without hurting the big cable and cutting around other cables. We got it though, and ended up with a big pile of fiberglass on the floor.

I'm trying to determine just how much of the bus I can preserve and how much I will unfortunately need to get rid of. I want to keep the front door if at all possible. I like the bi-part door and am not really a fan of the one-piece fab kits that are available. As much as I love the rear doors, I'm getting the sinking feeling that they won't be around for much longer. The wheelchair lift has to go; I want that space below the bus as part of the wet bay. The doors would be sort of unnecessary after that lower area is built up. We'll see.

I realize I have a long way to go but so far it's been fun! Pictures (and video) soon, I promise. I plan to take her out on another run tomorrow.


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 Post subject: Re: Roxnadz's 1989 TMC RTS T80206 conversion
PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2011 10:07 am 
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It is great how you are sharing/documenting your progress!

On the topic of air tanks/fuel tanks, what I've seen several talk of doing (but I haven't done with mine, but may one day): is move the air tanks back one bay to the center just inboard of the battery box. That still leaves you the outboard curb side after you remove the steps on the rear door for a tank. Then plumb the dump line over to the street side to be most compatible with RV campsites and dump stations.

Then move the fuel tank back one bay and turn it around so the filler neck is on the street side to be easier when fueling at truck stops.

That then leaves you with slots for cargo bays without frame member obstructions. On your 40'x102" bus each bay will be about 8' x 5' x 22", about 81 cubic feet each.

When you tackle the driver surround, be very careful. Some have ended up doing months of troubleshooting because they weren't careful enough. Study the wiring diagrams and maintenance manual descriptions of the functions of the circuits. Particularly in the right side of the surround. It contains interlock relays that if not dealt with correctly can render the bus immovable.

After studying, have the wiring diagrams right there with you and before you cut each wire, make sure you absolutely know what it is, where it is going to go after the remodel, and label it. Go slowly and make sure each is right because one mistake can cost you hours of troubleshooting and wire tracing.


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 Post subject: Re: Roxnadz's 1989 TMC RTS T80206 conversion
PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2012 10:47 am 
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Small update (man, it's been a while):

Currently not much has changed. We've gotten pretty much everything we can get out of the bus, save for the wheelchair lift, the HVAC and the drivers' surround. The bus has been in and out of the shop to get some engine and air system work done. In October, I'll most likely be driving it up to Paradise Coach Interiors in Oregon to begin the installation of the interior work, including fabrication of the bays and house systems.

I'm currently working on a few mockups for the boys up north. Once we've decided on a choice, the real work begins.

Pictures shortly.


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 Post subject: Re: Roxnadz's 1989 TMC RTS T80206 conversion
PostPosted: Fri Dec 21, 2012 2:33 am 
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Looking forward to seeing some of the updates you are doing!



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 Post subject: Re: Roxnadz's 1989 TMC RTS T80206 conversion
PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2013 9:27 pm 
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Slowly but surely, progress is happening.

Currently, the coach is up at Paradise Coach Interiors in Oregon. The bus drove up there wonderfully - not a single problem for a coach that sat on a lot for 6 years before I bought it. They've already pulled out the wheelchair lift and gutted the rest of the inside of the coach. Now, they're filling in the space created by the lift's removal and creating underfloor space for the bays, as well as spraying insulation into the crevices of the coach.

In May, we're going to meet up and really start talking about how to build out the interior. I've already given them ideas of what I want, and drew up a plan and a statement of work on how we'll get there. In May we'll walk through that list line by line and determine what works and what doesn't. Then, while they start framing out the interior, I get to spend $$$ on house systems.

It's a stretch, but I'm hoping that I'll be able to go for my first shakedown cruise in May 2014.


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 Post subject: Re: Roxnadz's 1989 TMC RTS T80206 conversion
PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 2:24 am 
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Glad to hear you are making progress! Hopefully we'll hear stories like this out of sore more folks soon!



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 Post subject: Re: Roxnadz's 1989 TMC RTS T80206 conversion
PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 12:31 pm 
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So far, so good. Keep up the good work!

Shawn



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