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Old 09-10-2004, 10:08 AM   #11
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You can't tell the purple Bluebird in the gallery didn't significantly increase the value of the truck after the conversion. In fact I think it is better than the original Blue Bird Wanderlodges...
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Old 09-10-2004, 10:18 AM   #12
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I don't mean to generalize. I agree, that bus is near perfect and no doubt worth more, and rightly so. I am mostly refering to the shabby buses out there that don't look the part, like the moose said, their owners haven't taken any pride in their rigs. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that a simple, low buck schoolie doesn't have it's place among the heirarchy of RV's. That's in part why your gallery is so great.
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Old 09-10-2004, 11:41 AM   #13
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Why do you think there are so few Insurance companies that will touch a Schoolie Conversion?
Even the Insurance companies that will write a policy for a MCI , Prevost etc. wont insure a School Bus Conversion.

They’ll tell you…it’s an issue about safe installations, Blue Book Values and all sorts of dribble about how an MCI is designed for highway travel & a Schoolie isn’t.
But it’s really not about that stuff at all.

Over the years …Insurance Companies, The General Public, Police etc. have seen that the majority of Schoolie owners don’t much care about creating a quality ‘Rolling Home’.
They toss in a few simple items and head for the DMV to get licensed as an RV.
That’s not a generalization…that’s Reality.
I’ve seen it here in Alaska & all over the West & East Coasts.
It’s very rare in the world of Schoolies to see as much care as Vern , Steve & few other folks here took in their Conversions.

Then, where are you going to take those poorly converted rigs?
It would have to be the most Cheesy & Low-rent RV or Mobile Home Park in the world that would let someone stay who didn’t have a Holding Tank and a way to plumb into the parks sewer system.
They’re not going to put up with someone pouring their ‘you know what’ down the sewer hole or in the Bathrooms at all.

So you’ve just built yourself a rig that essentially prohibits you from staying anywhere other than in the a few out of the way BLM and National Forest areas and Truck stops & Sports Events (their not going to like you dumping your porta-pottie down their toilets either)


This sort of thing Bugs me for a number of reasons …
Being a Craftsman and very long-term Nomad , I don’t see the point of doing anything unless I can do the job right and as well as I can.

Then even more important are issues about the future of School Bus Conversions.
Right now the’ average’ person who buys a Schoolie to convert is mostly stuck with GMAC for an insurance policy.
If GMAC sees a continuation of poorly converted rigs and gets the info from Campgrounds and whoever that Schoolies are not valid ‘RV’s …then they’ll stop insuring them.


So as far as I’m concerned, anyone who cobbles together a Schoolie is DIRECTLY contributing to a future where no Insurance companies will insure Schoolies for personal use. …And is doing nothing other than validating the general publics bad attitude that Schoolie owners are just Hippy trash or Bums who cant afford a real RV.
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Old 09-10-2004, 05:37 PM   #14
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Yeah, what he said. No, seriously though. I don't see any point even buying a bus if you're not going to do a nice job on it. That's the problem though, people get a good deal on a bus (read: cheap) and do squat to it, and figure they're good to go. It makes it bad for guys like myself that are looking to get an RV by way of a schoolie, and plan to make it look as close to a factory conversion as I can, without spending a fortune, and I'm not a stranger around tools either. I figure that at the very least a decent paint job and remove and cover a few windows to take the blatant school bus look off. Nothing worse than seeing windows left in place with plywood visible inside or cheezy curtains hanging everywhere! A job worth doing is a job worth doing well. Hey a good lookin' bus is pretty cool lookin' out on the road, whether it's an MCI or a Bluebird. The whole insurance thing is another fiasco altogether. I think that soused moose just hit the nail on the head, I agree 110%. Way to go.
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Old 09-10-2004, 06:36 PM   #15
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Steve,

The inverter is an old "trippe lite" 550 Watt, which is about 20 years old. I'm not planning on really using it, will get another newer one before long.

Picacho is now insured by GMAC at a cost of $131/6 months. Next week I will get inspected, and have my emission test. Does anyone have experience in monkeying with their 2bbl motorcraft carbs to pass emissions testing? This is a '69 Ford 360 MD.

Incidentally, GMAC insures schoolies because they have a huge database on them that allows them to profitably underwrite policies. As long as it's profitable, they will continue to do so.

My schoolie will be mostly parked next to my home, where it can serve as a living space extension. I don't want bolt down furniture, I want maximum free space so things can be moved around, like in any home. It will occasionally be taken boondock camping when the weather cools. Ever hear the expression "you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear."? No matter what you do to a school bus, it will always look like a school bus.

Skoolies have many great virtues, and covering them is nonsensical. Take the wonderful windows all the way around. Wealthy people pay a fortune to have solid window glass all around their crystal mansions, but we have it on our schoolies for free. Very nice to see wonderful views all the way around without restriction. Creates a feelling of wide open spaces as well. Curtains or shutters can be used to block the sun selectively, I prefer shutters. I will keep my windows intact, thank you very much. Think of how much one would have to pay to have an ordinary motorhome glass all around. Be proud of the windows.

The high ground clearance is another, making for an excellent backroad and offroad vehicle. The solid steel construction is another, making a much safer structure. The heavy duty suspension is another blessing, making for comfortable living without jacking the thing up every time you stop. The slow speed driving nature is yet another virtue. Take back roads, enjoy the view, don't be in a hurry.

I'm planning on retiring in my skoolie in about 15 years, so will become a full timer then, to some degree. Keeping the design simple will allow me to decide what do as time goes on. I think that open space, fold up and take down/put away type furniture is much better than all the bolt downs, which I think look really cheasy.

I'm thinking about building a couple of big boxes, 3 feet wide, 16 inches tall, and 14 feet long, and placing these on either side at the front of the bus. I can store almost everything in them, which will make things low and accessible. On top, I'll use inflatable twin mattress pads, so can comfortably sleep 4.

Another really cool thing is to build a flat deck on top, with fold down side rails, and a canopy atop that. Doubling my floor area and having a nice bug free view would be worth the trouble. I plan on mostly parking, and not moving much.
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Old 09-13-2004, 01:37 AM   #16
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Picacho Work Continues, ready for inspection now.

Yesterday, I installed a spare twin bed in the bus, and a leatherette upholstered love seat, both temporaries to make the skoolie look more motorhomie. I managed to fix the busted left turn signal by squirting in some WD-40 and twisting the bulb slightly side to side. Must've been a bad contact and a frozen bayonette.

My big surprise was tonight, the four hour grueling tire inflation routine. I first spent several hours trying to figure out what inflation pressure to use. I thought the tires were almost fully inflated, the bus has been parked for 6 years without air added. I found the rear tires were all sitting at 5-20 psi, the front tires about 15 psi. I need to get a better valve adapter on my air compressor, which is a direct drive 1.5 HP model. Very hard to fill by inner dual. I managed to finally get all tires up to 70 psi, taking a total of four hours time. Those tires are big, and my compressor small. Had to let the compressor cool for a while in the middle of the job, otherwise it might burn out.

I decided to go with 70 psi based on a tire loading chart I find online. My front tires and outer dual are 9.00-20, and the inner duals are 12.00-20. 70 PSi should give max gross wt. around 16,000 lbs. I',m at about 14,000 now after conversion, will confirm this on the scales in a few days.

I had no luck trying to adjust my carburetor. Couldn't even find what looked like jets to adjust, only the throttle stop. I measured my fuel tank and confirmed it is a 30 gallon. I can see the top of the fuel looking into the tank so know I have about 24 gallons, which should be enough to get me inspected and emissions tested this week.

more later...
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Old 09-14-2004, 12:21 PM   #17
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This thread has actually made me reconsider purchasing a skoolie. i never really thought of what I would do with it after it got old or we wanted to upgrade. We re still looking though.
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Old 09-16-2004, 12:35 AM   #18
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Picacho has been SOLD

Last Tuesday night, I accepted a check for $2000 for the sale of Picacho. It was with a deep sadness that I accepted it. It was a really great bus. I drove it about 40 miles today on the interstate, and it handled really well. I had just finished the conversion, and it was fun.
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Old 09-20-2004, 08:45 PM   #19
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Makes ya Wonder

lot of talk about how a good convertion looks bad and simple is the way to go even some talk about how ya can not get your $ back out of it after converting but at a starting price of 1000 and 15 years later selling for 2000 seems like a hell of a profit to me anyone doing a skoolie convertion should take pride in there rig no matter how much they have to spend on it make it look good and u will not have to worry about getting your $ out of it
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Old 09-21-2004, 09:58 AM   #20
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Keeping things simple.

The reason I got a good price was that I found a buyer who could recognize the inherent value in the bus. Picacho is an antique that is in excellent mechanical condition and with very low mileage. If I had done a full conversion, I probably could not have sold for as much. It was worth more than $1000 when I bought it 12 years ago. The value has appreciated, because it wasn't used or abused.

Incidentally, the buyer was a person who had driven by and seen the for sale sign on the window of the bus, not seen one of my numerous internet ads, or newspaper ads.

I still recommend keeping conversions simple until you are sure that the skoolie is a keeper for you. They are noisey, vibrate your teeth out, uncomfortable to drive, and very tiring to manuever. These are usually the reasons people don't tend to keep them.
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