Hello Skoolie.net! First Post!
After lurking for months, a good amount of research (and tons more to come) we have a general plan to have our conversion "complete-ish" as soon as possible, with no specific time constraints - fingers crossed for 6mo - 1yr. We are building for full time, green, self sustaining for long term boondocking and as little plug up as possible for two people and two cats; as well as towing a 2 deck short stacker trailer for 1 small daily driver, 1 drift car.
In this thread I'll be posting the planning process as well as build process once we acquire the actual bus! Feedback, questions, comments and concerns are more than welcome - we're going to need all the help we can get! Speaking of help, I just found a local "techshop" where I can take classes on welding, machining and wood working for pretty cheap so I'll be jumping on that when the money is available, then just borrowing/renting any equipment we don't have.
We are planning on buying a 78 pass (minimum 40') Bus from the NC School Surplus this coming August. I suspect there will be more available at this time (right before the start of the school year.) From the what I've seen so far, there are similar skoolie's available for cheaper but are usually some distance away. We are going this week just to take a look at the Wake County buses to get a better idea of what we'll be dealing with (and the quality, rust, motors, size, etc.)
We will also be buying (new if we can afford it)/acquiring some of the larger appliances/equipment around the same time we get the bus to ensure reliability and the right fit.
Currently available buses at this size are primarily:
99-2001 Thomas 78 Passenger
$3750-$4000 (most are $4k)
From Left to Right (rear to front)
Bedroom w/queen bed in the rear, bathroom (Still deciding if we should have the bathroom on one side or split on either side of the main "walkway" to balance weight/roof height - it's fine for the 5'2 passenger, but might not be for the 5'10!), kitchen on drivers side, raised woodstove on the opposite, and living area behind the driver with desk/tv on drivers side, couch on opposite side. The kitchen has an L shape in the diagram which we like, but will most likely be shortened. The diagram does not include the Drivers chair and bus door. We tried to figure the appliances to oppose where we are hoping to put the under bus storage (to balance the weight) and still be able to hook up easily at RV parks when needed, and refill/easily access tanks/generator. There will be lots of storage cabinets above the windows and anywhere else we can manage - we won't be starting with a lot of junk but i know it can accumulate fast!
We are currently working on a layout design for the under storage (will know more once we've looked at an actual bus), and once we have a better idea, electrical and plumbing layouts.
Just noticed the diagram doesn't have the sink, oven, woodstove, etc so I'll upload a new one soon.
Stuff we think know we'll need:
Generator - Briggs and Stratton 5500w
Propane tanks - we would like to have 1 100lb and 2 20lb, one we can have refilled, two we can swap out when needed
Grey, Black and Fresh water tanks - recommendations for sizes? We drink a LOT of water, plus showering, watering the cats, cooking and laundry.
Deep cycle batteries (at least 6 with room for 10)
Accessable storage (tools, supplies, etc.)
Tankless Water heater - Atwood seems like a good one, but expensive.
Small standing shower
Refrigerator (we found one that uses very little power at Lowe's, about 5' tall)
Dual basin Sink
AC/LP Oven with cooktop (or only LP)
Lumber, Electrical supplies, plumbing, sheet metal, paint, corrugated roof materials for wood stove, that list goes on forever...
Air ride captains chair (if it doesn't have one!)
Possible Deck/Roof rack
Small wind turbine (foldable)
We are hoping to get a good bit done as only one of us works full time, so someone will be able to work during the day, then two
people at night and on weekends. We have plenty of space and access to a good variety of tools also.
Inspect/repair engine/compartment as needed
Remove and sheet over lights/logos/emblems, etc.
Strip out the seats (reuse/recycle and sell) and possibly rails
Pull up the flooring, grind and repair any damaged floor
Clean and repair underside of the bus
Install car hauler hitch set up
Insulate underside of floor
Install ventilated storage for generator, tanks, etc.
Spray underside of bus with heavy duty bedliner type stuff
Seal/Secure (or replace) Bus door
Insulate and install flooring (including stairwell block when door is closed from the inside)
Rough in/frame walls/cabinetry
Install electrical/plumbing/HVAC and vents for shower, stove, etc.
Remove/Skin over unused windows
Screen in remaining windows
Install/bolt down appliances/furniture/drivers chair
Finish cabinets/counter tops/lighting
Install window treatments/window tint/curtain between driver and rest of bus.
Not sure how to go about insulating the ceiling/roof. Read lots about using BusKote or similar product for inside and outside, but want to ensure we don't lose heat/stay cool and minimize road sound without losing headspace. Tallest passenger is 5'10, but still want to be comfortable. Definitely not going to do a roof raise.
Rear bedroom - if it's a puller, what do we do with the emergency door? Originally we were just going to close it off after all appliances were put in, but if something like the w/d needs to be replaced, we'll need it.
A/C - window units vs. roof units. pro's/cons to either?
Power usage (I'm trying to think of anything we plug in now)
In the kitchen we won't be using a microwave or coffee pot, only the fridge would be running consistently, oven daily, and occasionally a small george foreman (regular grill for nicer weather). Otherwise, tv (satellite), ps3, laptop, surround sound, a small lamp, occasional hair dryer, phone chargers, wifi charger, occasional sewing machine,washer/dryer (probably 1x a week). Lights will be LED and thats all we can think of for now. We want to use the genny and propane as little as possible, and want to charge the batteries with solar and wind power.
It's nice to meet you guys and we are looking forward to your input. We are really excited to get started with out skoolie adventure!