Our 1985 Eagle 10 Bus Conversion Project

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Aqua Hot

Floor frame for AC Compartment

Transmission Cooler

Fuel filter and plumbing

The photo on the left shows the Aqua Hot heating system.  This system provides heat to three zones (each with its own thermostat) with 6 heat exchangers.  It also provides the domestic hot water.  Heat is provided by a Wabasto diesel fired "furnace".  The system can also pre-heat the engine, or when the engine is running, it provides heat energy to the system.  It also has a 1500 watt electrical heating unit which can provide some of the heating if you are plugged into shore power. 

The middle two photos show the conversion of the old bus air conditioning compartment into a multipurpose area.  The air system wet tank and the air dryer have been relocated to this compartment.  It will also have a 120 Volt air compressor to pre-air the bus air system in campgrounds so that I can avoid smogging out the neighbors.  Lastly, the compartment now contains a very large air to oil cooler for the Allison transmission.  I wanted to keep the heat load on the bus radiator to a minimum, so I decided to plumb that transmission to the auxiliary cooler.  The fans are controlled by a thermal switch in the transmission.

The photo of the right shows the Fuel Pro fuel filter.  This filter replaces the two original filters and allows you to see the condition of the fuel and filter.  It also makes it very easy to prime the engine if you run out of fuel.  The plumbing has three ball valves that allows shutting off the fuel to the engine and to permit hooking up an electrical fuel pump to prime the engine (doubt if I will ever need it) and to allow feeding the engine from the aux. tank in an emergency.  The hose between the aux. tank and the input to the filter is in place.  I also replace the check valve  in the main fuel line to make sure that fuel does not drain back to the tank.


Compactor and fridge


Washer and dryer

Under construction

The above photos show some of the interior work.  The left photo shows the compactor (we have always hated previous trash bag system and our house need a new compactor, so here is the perfectly good one in the bus).  The fridge is an 120 volt high efficiency house unit.  It is a side-by-side model with a water and ice dispenser.  It will run off the inverter and we have enough battery capacity that we should be able to run for a couple of days with several appliances without having a problem. 

We both hate Laundromats, so we put an apartment size washer and dryer in the bus.  It will make a good place to put dirty clothes and will sure make life a bunch easier when we are on the road for an extended period. 

The photo on the right is taken from the front of the bus looking towards the rear.  The cabinets on the right are lower than normal and will serve as our eating area and our computer desk (we both use our laptops on the road for fun and business).  The cabinets on the left are normal kitchen cabinets.  We will add overhead cabinet later

During February of 2004 I concentrated on getting the bus ready for traveling to various trade shows and fun trips in 2004.  As I began testing the transmission installation and some updates to the engine (to put it at a 350 HP rating), I noted what seemed to be heating problems and it was cool outside.  I knew it was not the radiator since I just put a rebuilt unit in it.  I first thought it was an air lock and then maybe bad thermostats.  On March 4 I put it to the test on one of our long uphill climbs and towards the end, the temperature jumped from 180 degrees to over 230 in less than a minute with large amounts of white smoke.  Needless to say, the engine was toast.  I think the engine had some damage when the emission test was performed, or on the way home (it overheated a bit, but did not seem to go into the danger zone).  The bus came home behind the hook for a second time!!

For the next two months I went into a funk and did a lot of thinking about what my options were.  A rebuilt from DD was over $14K and I did not find a good source for a local rebuilt.  As much as I love the sound of the two stroke, it is a fairly complicated and complex engine with some pretty old technology.


Series 60 and AutoShift transmission

'59 IHC BC-150 lifting engine

If you read earlier, you noted that I had made provisions to install a large four stroke engine - for the event of hitting the Lotto.  I was leaning very heavily in this direction, but the gearing on the Eagle was just not right for the slower running four stroke.  I had been studying the Eaton 10 speed AutoShift transmission for some time.  This is a standard truck 10 speed transmission that has been automated to make all of the shifts through a transmission/engine computer interface.  It has a good overdrive ratio (.73) and gives you a gear for any running condition.  You only have to use the clutch to start and stop and there is no complicated linkage to fabricate.  An added benefit of the AutoShift is that it is 4 1/2 inches shorter than the Allison HT740

So, on May 24, 2004 (with fear an trepidation), I purchased the engine and transmission from a local truck wrecking yard.  They were not mated together in the same truck, but all of the manuals indicate that the two units will talk to each other.  The cost of the engine and transmission was a little over half the cost of a rebuild.  I had new rod and main bearings installed and can only hope that the engine lives up to it's long life reputation.

Getting these units home was a real challenge.  The engine weighs about 2600 pounds (about 600 pounds more than the 6V92) and the wrecking yard left it in the frame (with legs welded to it) to make it easier to handle and to make sure I got all of the components I might need.  The picture on the left shows my old "binder" (IHC) lifting the engine off the trailer.  In this picture, I have the rear of the truck stabilized with a jack, but before I did that, one of the front wheels was six inches off the ground!  The "binder is another fun project of mine.  I have detailed some information on that project -- click here to see the details


Pulling bogey arm


Clutch pedal mount fabrication

Charge air cooler in AC compartment

One of the "fun" projects I had forgotten to document was "indexing" the bogey arms.  I had adjusted the Torsilastic springs on the front and drive wheels to give me the proper ride height.  While not a fun job, it is a matter a turning some very large nuts on a long threaded rod using a 1 7/8 wrench.  The bogeys, on the other hand, must be adjusted by removing the arm and re-indexing it on a fine spline.  Each side took a day to do.  You must have the Eagle book to learn how to do this properly.  BTW, be very careful as the parts are very heavy and could smash your thumb as shown above.

The second photo (above) shows the initial fabrication of the clutch pedal mounting system.  I am using a Volvo truck hydraulic system to eliminate the need for linkage fabrication.

The third photo shows the air to air (charge air cooler) mounted in the AC compartment.  The unit is from an IHC truck and seems to fit just fine.  I will use electric fans to cool the unit.  As I did with the previous Allison installation, I am using remote systems to keep the heat load off of the radiator and engine.


Plates for the bulkhead

Bulkhead plates in place

Rear frame reinforcement

Rear crossmember cut out

Since the Series  60 weighs about 600 pounds more than the 6V92, and since I wanted to add large trailer hauling capability, I decided to reinforce the engine mounting system.  I chose to tie the reinforcement into the rear bulkhead (just behind the rear wheels.  I made 3/16 plates which will be welded (and also use a through bolt to a clamp on the opposite side).  The second photo shows the plate bolted in place ready for welding.  You can see a square tube that runs from this plate to the rear of the engine rail and will be welded to the plate and each member it crosses.  The plate will also be used as a part of the leveling jack support system.  The third photo shows the 3X3.5X.25 angle that runs the full length of both engine rails.  It will be welded in place and the engine mounts will bolted to these rails. 

The last photo shows the rear cross member cut out so that the tall Series 60 can be installed.  This entailed removing all of the bus wiring (conversion uses very little of this wiring system) and then cutting out the cross member.  Earlier in site I showed how I had fabricated a heavy "bridge" above this cross member so that removing the bottom part would not weaken the structure.


Engine mount components.

I had done a great deal of research over the last several years concerning conversion to the four stroke (when the lottery came in <grin>).  One of the major concerns expressed by some, was vibration induced through the engine mounting system.  I got all kinds of suggestions on what to use.  I looked at several OEM buses that used Series 60 engines.  There were a huge number of different mounting system. 

Ultimately, I chose to use the system that Newell Coaches use.  The are, in my opinion, the premier builder of the top end coaches.  I was able to contact their VP of engineering and he was extremely helpful.  He even sent me a CAD drawing of the mounting system.  He told me that they found their system to be trouble and vibration free.  They have used this system for the past eight years.

The components shown above are part of their system.  The flywheel end engine mounts consist of Peterbuilt parts.  The Peterbuilt system uses two insulators per side.  The two bracket mount to the frame (obviously fabrication is required) are part number 05-15034M000 and the isolators are part number 05-10197.  I will adapt the Series 60 Freightliner Series 60 bracket to the double biscuit design.  The front mounts are IHC and are angled at 30 degrees from horizontal.  The part numbers are 1664726C2 and 1664724C3.  As I get further into the installation, I will document the conversion in detail.

That brings us up to date as of 8/7/04.  It seems like I have a mountain to climb, but once it is done and on the road, it will be my dream bus from a mechanical standpoint.

Update 2/17/05

Well, I did not make a lot of progress from August to Early January.  We spent quite a bit of this time attending RV related trade shows and other business (and some fun) activities.  After we returned from our last trade show (Bussin 2005 - held over the New Year Holiday in Arcadia FL), I decided I had better ratchet up my efforts.


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