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Old 07-10-2019, 03:53 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: May 2019
Location: Grove Oklahoma
Posts: 22
Year: 1997
Coachwork: BlueBird
Chassis: Flat Nose 40 Footer
Engine: 5.9 Cummins
Rated Cap: 85
Thumbs up Fastest, Cheapest, best quality bus build if your in the right location!

So how can I make such a claim? Lucky, I guess. I happen to live close to one of the warehouses operated by "Fast Track Auctions" or "BidFTA.COM". My location I use is in Rogers Arkansas. This is a auction service that handles all of the returns, damaged or open boxes that these major retailers use to liquidate such merchandise. WALMART, LOWES, HOME DEPOT, WAYFAIR, AMAZON and several others to name a few. I purchased my 97 Bluebird 40' FE Flat nose in January of this year (2019) for $2,600. Had only 124,000 miles on it and drives like a dream. After doing the demolition, seats, heaters, etc., I started monitoring this site and was amazed at the bargains I was able to purchase for pennies on the dollar. $300 granite sinks for $20, Walnut T&G Flooring $.50 per foot, $300 Faucet $18, $260 water heater for $20. The list goes on and on and I'll be providing a complete list of all the items I've purchased for my build including their list price and the price I've paid. $1,500 vanity for $25! Projection screens for $5! Shades and 2" wood blinds for pennies! New leather padded bar stools $15, list for $250! Unreal and again only if you live in the general vicinity of one of their few dozen warehouses around the country.

You can watch my build at the website of my company, TheOaksmith.Com and click on my bus'es name the "TheNoRush" bus. I look forward to having my build done in a few more months and will be sharing more with you all as I go along. I just wanted to save you all some money where possible. I've purchased some pretty high end stuff so far and saved me a ton of labor by buying nice cabinets, shower doors, pumps, sinks, faucets, shades and other basic needs for a good conversion.

I'll be doing some very creative things with my skoolie and I encourage you to keep in touch with the build. I enjoy this site and all the members in it.

Hope this helps! Here is their link: https://www.bidfta.com/home
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Old 07-10-2019, 03:58 PM   #2
Bus Crazy
 
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Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: E Central Tejas
Posts: 1,625
Year: 1998
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: IH 3800, 8 window
Engine: T444E w/ Spicer 5-speed MT
Rated Cap: I prefer broad-brims hats
Sounds like it just might be helpful.
Could you include their link, while you're still in the timeframe to edit your post?
(Tap n go is much easier when using a cell fon...)
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Old 07-10-2019, 04:09 PM   #3
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: May 2019
Location: Grove Oklahoma
Posts: 22
Year: 1997
Coachwork: BlueBird
Chassis: Flat Nose 40 Footer
Engine: 5.9 Cummins
Rated Cap: 85
Thanks for asking. I added it. If I was going to build skoolies for a living, I'd move close to one of these locations. I purchased 125 sheets of new white v-groove wainscoting that Lowes has for $14 each and I paid $64 dollars for all of them. Pretty cool! I have many more examples I'll add later in my posts.

I forgot to add the link to my bus, here it is: Watch the building of our "Skoolie"
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Old 07-10-2019, 04:27 PM   #4
Bus Crazy
 
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Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: E Central Tejas
Posts: 1,625
Year: 1998
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: IH 3800, 8 window
Engine: T444E w/ Spicer 5-speed MT
Rated Cap: I prefer broad-brims hats
Thanx! I'll check it out, right after this reply.
What caught my eye in particular was the walnut Tongue & Groove.
I've been using pine TnG in my build (damn sight more'n $0.5/linear from Lowes), after staining it a light walnut...
D'oh!!!
How heinous are their S&H charges?
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Old 07-10-2019, 04:34 PM   #5
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: May 2019
Location: Grove Oklahoma
Posts: 22
Year: 1997
Coachwork: BlueBird
Chassis: Flat Nose 40 Footer
Engine: 5.9 Cummins
Rated Cap: 85
So patience is a virtue with this site. One day it's King size memory foam mattresses for $50 and the next day it's a 1,000 sq ft of Walnut T&G flooring new in the boxes on a pallet! I bought the whole pallet of 37 boxes for $410! I've done the floor the ceiling and have about 300 plus feet left to possible do my counter tops and maybe some on the walls. Seriously, don't get discouraged with the small things listed and the bargains will appear and you need to be ready to pounce on them.
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Old 07-10-2019, 06:21 PM   #6
Skoolie
 
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Join Date: Aug 2018
Location: Philadelpiha Pennsylvania
Posts: 236
Year: 2007
Coachwork: IC
Chassis: FE Bus
Engine: DT-466 7.6L Turbo Diesel
Rated Cap: 77
Do you have to pick up at the location or do they ship.
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Old 07-10-2019, 06:28 PM   #7
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: May 2019
Location: Grove Oklahoma
Posts: 22
Year: 1997
Coachwork: BlueBird
Chassis: Flat Nose 40 Footer
Engine: 5.9 Cummins
Rated Cap: 85
So it occurred to me that I addressed the "Cheap" part of the bus build so now lets talk about the "Fast" part. If you look at my bus on my website, I don't have a weeks word in it. I've seen others take four months to get that far sadly.

This is where I'll rub some people's fur backwards but I'd ask you to use common sense as well as be realistic about building a Skoolie. Before my current semi-retired job of being a handyman in a terrific market area that allows me to work and play as I wish, I was a Tooling and Application Engineer for the Metalworking Industry. I worked for the largest provider of such services in the world called Sandvik Coromant. My job was to analyze processes and recommend solutions to increase production and decrease costs, usually reducing cycle times which is where the money is made. So saving time is my thing while improving or maintaining quality. So that said, lets build a bus. Maybe not a perfect bus but the one you signed on for.

Ask yourself a few questions.

(1)How much do I want to spend on my bus?
(2)How long to I want to take to convert it?
(3)Am I going to drive around the USA and see the sites or just downsize into a very affordable tiny home and just move it occasionally?
(4)Am I looking to sell it in a few years once I've had my fun?

The answers here make a difference and here's why. You can Rip, strip, and clip your bus all you want to try to make it a brand new vehicle but it's still going to be an old bus. You won't have it 30 years later, you won't have it 20 years later, and if you still have it 10 years later you'll be in the top 5% of skoolie owners and not sure if that gives you bragging rights or not. Who will buy your 40 year old 400,00 mile bus? A scrap yard more than likely or your out of work nephew for a couple thousand dollars (if you let him make payments). Look at the people on YouTube already trying to sell their buses. They've got $25-35K in them and are just hoping to get even some of their money back. Breaks my heart and takes all the fun out of it if you ask me.

So here's the deal. You want your bus now, and you want to enjoy all the cool things about it as quick as possible, meaning build it in a few weeks or months instead of a year or two (which by then your neighbors are wanting to set it on fire). So here's the fast track method. Buy a reasonably good bus not rusted clear through and fraught with mechanical issues, engine, transmission, etc. Remove the seats using a cutoff wheel and angle grinder (this is still the best method I've seen to date). Should take you a day's work if your persistent. Won't be fun but it's the hardest part of the build.

DON'T pull up your floor or tare down your perfectly good metal ceiling! The bus is insulated to factory specs and replacing it won't gain you but 4 or 5 points R-Value wise. People brag about foams and bat insulation all day long but no-one can or will show you significantly reduced utility bills given the loss through there windows. Lay your sub-floor over the rubber membrane that acts as a moisture barrier already and then lay "true tongue and groove" laminate flooring, "NOT Click Lock". Click lock takes twice as long and you'll be done in one day! Staple every 3 rows and you'll be good.

The ceiling will be either painted or in my case, lay the same T&G Flooring using self-tapping metal screws (black painted heads) to attach it. Install the screws as you lay the planks but put them about 2-3 inches to the left or right of the main braces that are spaced about 28" apart. Keep them in line for a cool look. This eliminates the whole "questionable" thermal bridging issue. To this day I've never seen a video of the rainfall of drips that others claim you'll have. but installing the screws away from the braces is easier anyway. You'll finish the ceiling in another full days work. I'm building my bus completely solo so if you have help you'll go even faster.

Now for the walls. Leave them alone during the demo phase and put vertical (2x4) furring strips every 24" down the wall. This lets you easily install 4' wide panel pieces or wainscoting using a air stapler or finish nailer. You put 1 1/2" thick foam board insulation in between the furring strips, cutting them with a bread knife works great! Put 2x4 pieces over the vertical window frames and attach them by drilling a 1/2" hole about 3/4 the way through using a "Paddle bit". This leaves a small pilot hole and clearance for the same Metal Self-Tapping Screws you used on the ceiling. Three of them should hold nicely. Plug the holes with 1/2" wood dowels and cut them off flush with the 2x4. Sand and paint and your done. The trickiest part is adding a 3/4" x 4" pine ledge which you'll cut notches in to go around your aluminum vertical window frame pieces prier to your wood 2x4 vertical pieces.

So here you are now, you got a beautiful bus with awesome floor, ceiling and walls. The rest is up to you. Decorate as you wish and use the auction site I mentioned if you can. Don't stress out. It's supposed to be fun!

Best of luck to you all!

Not trying to start trouble here with design die-hards, just looking to take a load of some stressed out newbies. Everyone is different and so should their bus be.
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Old 07-10-2019, 06:47 PM   #8
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: May 2019
Location: Grove Oklahoma
Posts: 22
Year: 1997
Coachwork: BlueBird
Chassis: Flat Nose 40 Footer
Engine: 5.9 Cummins
Rated Cap: 85
Not sure about the shipping. I always pick my stuff up but I'm only an hour away. The plus about picking it up is you get to see it up close and if it's not what you wanted you can always just leave it there. Some times the item may be damaged in a way you don't like or not be what you thought it was. It happens but I've been pretty lucky so far and I view the pictures closely and read ALL the fine print such as "missing box 1 of 3" or "table top only", "Appears New", "Open Box", etc. These things are always buyer beware of course but it's well worth it I promise. I'll be doing a tour when I'm finished with my build and I'll point out what I paid for everything verses what it lists for.

It gets pretty addictive. Like a kid in a candy store!
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Old 07-10-2019, 07:14 PM   #9
Bus Crazy
 
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Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: E Central Tejas
Posts: 1,625
Year: 1998
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: IH 3800, 8 window
Engine: T444E w/ Spicer 5-speed MT
Rated Cap: I prefer broad-brims hats
I appreciate your take on how you're building out your bus. I'm taking a different route, and am a notorious dawdler, but I believe your essay will give a contrasting direction for the Noobs to consider.
As to the auction: Nearest one to me is 3+ hours away, in Dallas. I didn't see anywhere that shipping was an option. Bummer.
Don't reckon I'd do to well trying to transpo a pallet load of TnG in my New Beetle toad! But hope others may find one of the many auction locations near enough to take advantage of. Thanx for the head's up!
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Old 07-10-2019, 07:54 PM   #10
Bus Geek
 
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Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: Dawsonville, Ga.
Posts: 6,783
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Genesis
Chassis: International
Engine: DT466/3060
Rated Cap: 77
Got half way through and quite reading after all the bad advice. You are describing the sign in my shop. "We offer the following A-Quick Service
B-Quality Work
C-Cheap Prices
You can have 2 of the above.

Your job will be quicker because you are forfitting some of the most important steps to building a livable Skoolie. I see you're set in your plan so I won't even explain how wrong you are.
What is your ETA for completion.
Your recommendations to noobs will surely heighten their stress level up the road. I'll take crap for it, but this is a good example how not to build a Skoolie that is livable.
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