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Old 08-18-2016, 03:24 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Apr 2016
Location: Central Oregon
Posts: 25
Year: 1995
Coachwork: Amtran
Chassis: Gensis
Second Star Skoolie

Let me first say this is an amazing community. I have been lurking here since the School Bus RV idea was lodged in my head and I owe a lot of thanks to a lot of you.

How Second Star came to be
Every great bus has a story so I want to take a few minutes to tell ours. My daughter, wife, and I live in beautiful Central Oregon. We both want to get our daughter out of the house and enjoy and fall in love with nature and camping and Oregon has some of the most amazing environments in one state you could find from sandy and rocky shores to wooded mountains and even rocky deserts. What better place to own an RV?

We had an awesome Appache Mesa popup but wanted something more. We decided to buy a travel trailer and proceeded to study and learn about them. After a couple of months we found one that we could agree upon and was in the price we wanted to pay. Unfortunately (well maybe fortunately) we struggled with the amount of money we would be paying for something we knew wasnt going to last 10+ years. We hated how they all seemed to get water damage regardless of how new it was and how cheap some felt.

Friday after work we had our 3rd look at the trailer we both agreed upon and Monday morning we were to sign the papers to our loan for it. I called my best friend to tell him we decided and I mentioned how the no rust no rot trailers were what we really wanted but who can afford those. Thats when, my best friend reveals to me that him and his wife had just bought 2 school buses and were building them into tiny houses to live in. I laughed... thinking he was kidding but he wasnt and then had me watch a youtube video (one with a hot chick of course) and while watching I realized I could build everything they did and loved the way theirs was compared to the hundreds of trailers we had just seen over the past few months. An hour later my wife gets home and I tell her "Honey were buying a bus" ... her response was "Oh Hell NO", then she watched the video... says ok play it again.. 3 hours later she is rattling off all the things we can do with it... during which we both had the same theme come into our heads and the name came to be, Second Star and straight on till morning. We have never regreted our decision.

Youtube Video link https://youtu.be/ncXXLjf235g

Picture of a styling we want our bus to look and feel like.


Where we got our Bus (where to look)
We went with the public auction site where school districts sell their buses direct. I knew I wanted one with a large handicap door and really wanted it in the back of the bus. I also wanted one that was about 30 feet long or so. To maximize space a flat nose bus would be the best option. I had the winning bid of $1650 5 minutes before the auction finished. After a bidding war I got the bus for $3200 including all the fees. One thing that may be of interest to people looking to buy a bus and the dificulties of financing is to do what we did. We opened a home equity line of credit. WIth essentially a very low interest rate, lower than I could acquire if it was a "commercial vehicle loan" and was flexible since I was bidding there was no set price. Using a HELoC i have a interest rate of like 6% or less and have the entire bus conversion financed from purchase to completion via credit card. Anyhow I digress. Buying from the school direct we were able to review the maintenance records. Our bus had become a spare when it turned 15 and sold at 20 years old. Drove up with my bus buddy, paid for the bus via check and drove home and parked it in the driveway.

Public Surplus link to buy buses direct from schools http://www.publicsurplus.com/

Insurance... not that difficult
I heard a lot of folks discuss having difficulties with insurance. My advice is to get on a first name basis with a local agent. We have an amazing insurance agent who we have used for almost 20 years. We added full covereage RV insruance for our bus with Progressive for cheap! All it took was a call and a vin. Going through an agent is always 100 times better than a web portal or toll free customer service center.

(Part 2 - Construction to be continued, pictures and links coming)
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Old 08-18-2016, 03:52 PM   #2
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Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Eustis FLORIDA
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Year: 1992
Coachwork: Ward/AmTran
Chassis: International
Engine: dt466
Rated Cap: 78
I don't know how they got around the "we do not insure converted school buses" part of Progressive's legal fine print. Congrats, hope it lasts!
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Old 08-18-2016, 04:24 PM   #3
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Apr 2016
Location: Central Oregon
Posts: 25
Year: 1995
Coachwork: Amtran
Chassis: Gensis
Second Star Skoolie - Part 2

Before I discuss construction I thought it would be good to describe my skill set. I am a Network Admin and avid gamer. I flunked woodshop in high school but as I got older my skills with engineering things and workworking and I guess general handy man have increased 10 fold. Cant sit in front of a computer all the time and working with my hands makes me very happy. My point is that no matter who you are, if you have a desire and willingness to learn you can remodel your house or build your own RV. It only takes patience and the internet is full of usefull information and Youtube is quickly becoming the definitive DIY guide.

Demo... should be named pain
Demo of the seats and floor was one of the hardest things I have done thus far. First off dont bother trying to sell the seats. I gave half away to a guy who used them for trailer rides and the rest went to the dump. The dump does some recycling but there really isnt a market for those things in my experience. Getting the seats out was painfully difficult. Twenty years of who knows what on them had them stuck in like glue. Impact driver and a flexi socket and you can get them out. I also used a grinder for the first time and cutting some of the bolts was also super easy. I got lucky with some bolts and could unbolt from underneath.

Demo of the floor is a whole new discussion and is where the pain comes from. First everyone has that moment when they wonder if pulling up the wood and rubber mat floor is worth it and after going through the pain my answer is yes. My floors looked good but under was not bad but still showed I had work to do. First thing is if your bus has handicap seat belts, the kind that lock into the floor, your either in for a world of work or your lucky and its ez. I had the world of work as the bolts used torque headed bolts which strip ultra ez. The seat belt bar is routed in to the wood then bolted through which is the good news. The floor and mat in mine was also glue down and screwed down. Using an 8 foot pry bar I managed to shred and pull up the ply wood except around the seat belt bars. I unscrewed the screws where possible. When it came to the seat belt bars I gave up on unscrewing them and used a long sawzaw blade and was able to get the blade through the wood and between the metal floor and seat belt bar. I cut the bolts and using various prybars was able to get them out. This took a long time.







I also removed the water heaters that sit in the back under the seats. I know some folks like them but with spending 5-7 grand on nice wood floors and interior... why have radiator fluid running inside your bus? If you get a leak your wasting a lot of money by keeping those in. Just my opinion. The hoses I just pulled outside and looped. Later I will have a mechanic do a better job.





Rust
Like many buses mine had a bit of rust under the wood floor and that is to be expected. My bus came from Seattle, was rinsed out with a hose when needing a cleaning, and has some leaks. The rust was not bad thankfully and only a couple small areas started to pit where everything else was surface rust. The reason I highly recommend removing the floor is because the rust showed me where water leakes were from.

I used some wire brush heads which attach to a drill and a scraper to remove lose bits and knock it smooth. Wear a mask when doing this as the one I used was brown just from breathing. Make sure you have good air flow when you do this. I also opted to use my leaf blower inside after I swept a few times. With the floor clean but still having rust I used Corroseal to stop the floor from rusting more. This stuff is awesome and you can get it on Amazon for less than $40 a gallon. One gallon was plenty to do my floors. After using it on the floors I then painted the floors with Rustoleum pure white.







Window Tint
My bus like many had normal non tinted windows. I had to have mine tinted for the heat reduction and privacy. I have to say that comparing the feeling temperature betwenn tinted and non tinted windows was noticable and the more windows that were tinted the cooler the bus became. I ended up getting 20% window tint and ordered online for a roll of some really awesome stuff for like $150. Picked up a large carpenters square, rolling paper cutter, measuring cutting board, and a glass coffee table top. I placed the film on the glass with the cutting board below so I had straight lines but the glass and cutting wheel made things easier. The tinting job was not the best or perfect but your really cant tell and looks great. I wanted to tint after I got the dust under control from the floors. I will post the link to the site I ordered my window tint from as the price was great and the product so far has been excellent and apparently is what a lot of local shops use as well.







I will be removing one window so it is not tinted however one window will be in the bathroom and instead I used some frosted window film to keep that day spa look. It adds privacy but also light since this is a closed in area.



Roof Paint and the amazing stuff it is
Because the floor hinted that there was rust possible running inside the bus I wanted to not only paint the roof but seal it. I know that buses actually shimmy a bit so I also needed something that was flexible. After a lot of review I settled on AMES Maximum stretch white rubber paint and the AMES Seam Tape products. I believe the Crabtrees used this same product.




While preasure washing the bus in preparation of paint I saw these circular spots that I thought was where paint had chipped off but noticed they were in strange clusters. A few moments later I realized they were actually algea spots from when it was in Seattle! Crazy that I had algea growing on my bus!



Once the bus was clean on the roof I used 3 rolls of seam tape on all of the seams then proceeded to paint. The Ames paint was really thick but when it was applied it rolled on very thin. This stuff is super strange as it acts unlike you would expect. We applied 5-6 coats of the paint and the only thing I will warn you is that it does strange things when applied in the heat. We have strange lines but now that we are basically finished with it the texture is awesome.

The Ames roofing paint is amazing stuff. It was 100 degrees outside and when I put my hand on the roof of the bus it was cool to the touch but the yellow sides were warm. Inside the bus the ceiling was cool to the touch but the sides of the bus was warm. The ames product stretches but also seals so any leaks or flexing of the bus should be fine and I can reapply in the future. The product is designed for metal and flat roofs. I bought both the paint and tape at Amazon. It took a couple of weekends to apply.





(Part 3 - RV parts - Pictures will be posted later)
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Old 08-18-2016, 07:17 PM   #4
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Join Date: May 2015
Location: Oklahoma aka "God's blind spot"
Posts: 1,919
Year: 1989
Coachwork: 1853FC International/Navistar
Chassis: 35' Retired Air Force Ambulance
Engine: DT466, MT643
Rated Cap: 6 souls and a driver
I read all that. And wondered... 5 to 7k for floors?!?!?
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Old 08-18-2016, 07:27 PM   #5
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Apr 2016
Location: Central Oregon
Posts: 25
Year: 1995
Coachwork: Amtran
Chassis: Gensis
Hah oops, I meant for all the remodel. No marble floors for me
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Old 08-18-2016, 08:31 PM   #6
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Join Date: May 2015
Location: Oklahoma aka "God's blind spot"
Posts: 1,919
Year: 1989
Coachwork: 1853FC International/Navistar
Chassis: 35' Retired Air Force Ambulance
Engine: DT466, MT643
Rated Cap: 6 souls and a driver
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crozz View Post
Hah oops, I meant for all the remodel. No marble floors for me

I also overlooked the "and interior"

I was thinking polished tongue & groove birdseye maple or pecan!
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Old 08-18-2016, 08:34 PM   #7
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Oklahoma City
Posts: 39
Really enjoying the narrative. Keep posting! I'm interested to read the rest of your remodel adventure. Also pics! We are a very visual group
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Old 08-19-2016, 11:39 AM   #8
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Apr 2016
Location: Central Oregon
Posts: 25
Year: 1995
Coachwork: Amtran
Chassis: Gensis
Second Star Skoolie - Part 3

One story that I think everyone has had something similar happen occured when my wife was helping me find a leak. I haven't started much on interior work because I have a couple leaks. Right after sealing the roof It rained and I saw remnants of water. With my wifes help i'm outside with the hose making it rain on my bus. Thinking analytically I keep the water to one side of the seam. Honey is it leaking yet?... Not yet.. Trying the other side... Honey how about now?... No nothing... How about now? Anything? ... Nope no leaks. After 15 minutes of making it rain (into the wind of course) I walk inside and there is a puddle at her feet! I'm like Honey it leaked... how did you miss it?

Ok I can do this better... Honey get on the ladder and make it rain on the bus. Smart this time I have a paper towel stretched out over the area. I am staring at the ceiling looking for signs of a leak. Of course I boasted how I was going to be smart with the paper towel to find it. After a few minutes I look down with my dry paper towel in hand to a puddle at my feet. Thankfully she loves me otherwise I could have starved to death that day!

Rear door leaks a tiny stream that widens up further down the floor. The rear door normally had a raised floor on one side with trim that forced the water outside.

RV Parts
The very first thing I picked up was a sleeper sofa. My boss who had no idea I was doing a skoolie bought a new sleeper sofa for his trailer. 2 Days later decided he wanted something different and was going to just sell the sleeper sofa on Craigslist. I atually had the sleeper sofa 2 weeks before I had my bus! He was so interested in what I was building he sold me the sleeper sofa (brand new) for $100.



On Craigslist I ran across a guy parting out an older Winniebago RV. I ended up picking up the grey / black water tanks, fresh water tanks, entry extension step, 3 of the windows already tinted, and an external cabinet door along with a side mounted propane tank with its door panel. I think I got all of this for about $150.

I also picked up an rv propane range / oven for $100 on Craigslist. It needs to be cleaned a bit. Apparently it came from a travel trailer whose roof collapsed from water damage. Imagine that!

Browsing Craigslist I found someone selling 2 nice RV chairs with seat belts attached. When I arrived to see them I discovered he had a skoolie for Burning Man and had just swapped these out. Was really cool to see because that was the first real "skoolie" we had seen in person. picked these up for about $100 as well.

Bathroom
For the bathroom we plan on a small bathtub / shower and are using a 2x3 foot black plastic water trough. Its just about the right size since we have limited space being only 30 foot long. The bathroom has been the hardest thing for us as everything in the bus is moved or adjusted around the bathroom.



We plan on using a composting toilet above the wheel well. This will be the most expensive purchase I believe with either of the "Head" toilets costing around $1000.

Kitchen
The kitchen area will have the stove but also a small dorm style fridge that we will run only when plugged in to shore power or other source. This will run us around $100 bucks. I also picked up a brand new small stainless steel kitchen sink from a restore for $15 bucks. On one of the front wheel wells i plan on building a frame around a cooler that will drain out of the bus. We will use the cooler for most camping trips etc and when it is framed in i will have the counter top lift to reveal the cooler underneath. Since ice is cheap and doesnt require power along with some of the advancements in insulation a cooler should work really well.

Counter Space
I taught myself a fair amount about wood staining. I found that creating vector graphics and using low tac vinyl stickers from a sign company make for amazing stained wood graphics. My intent is to use wood stained designs through out but on the counters I want to have theme based art. My neighbor works with a large wood press that will join wood together in a preasure oven along with plane and smooth it. I plan on using 2x12s or larger to join together for the counter tops then sealed.

Living Space
We also plan on having the front door sealed shut with one of the Winniebego windows put in place. The mid door we want to extend and put in a stair well. This will allow us to place both of the new rv chairs up front so I have a co-pilot for those long trips and after revamping the layout (again) the chairs will be in the living room area and swivel backwards.

Once the front door is removed we will use the original wheel well as a storage box for a battery bay and go either generator or solar.

Flooring and color palet
I will post the inspiration picture for what we want the inside to look like. I prepurchased just shy of 200 square feet of Pergo XD hickory flooring. We are going to use pink 1inch r5 insulation on the flooring with white r5 insulation on the sides of the bus. I will place 1/2 inch or 3/4 inch plywood and wrap both the insulation and wood in black plastic drop cloth as a vaper barier with the pergo going down next. I think this will help keep water from the insulation and wood.

The screw holes on the floor I will use epoxy and pennies to cover. I saw this done on another video and thought it was genius. We are trying to find pennies with siginifiance to our lives like marrage, births, etc.

The walls will be painted with an hvlp gun and using pure white rustoleum paint cut with acetone to make the paint harder and sprayable. The walls will also be done in wainescoat. I intend on painting the wainescoat all the way around prior to installing to help with any moisture swelling. We want a ll verticle space to be white with all horizontal space to be stained darker wood. Previous pictures shows the cream interior of the walls prior to spraying.





Bedroom
For a bed we are going to just replace our current queen matress for a new one. We wanted the large handicap door in the back so that we could open all of the doors when we have a nice private spot and relax on the bed. It will be a flat deck with the water tank underneath.

Patio
We also started to think about getting an upper deck attached. The skoolie we saw in person had one. The only complaint he had was that it had rust drip stains but otherwise was fine.

Lighting
Our intention is to use tape strip LED color variable light strips. I want to put these along the floor and the edges of the ceiling. Havent got this nailed down yet but I am expecting it to not be too difficult.

Electrical
I havent gotten this fully figured out yet.

Pluming
I have a general idea but nothing solid yet. I do have all of the pluming being contained within an arms reach radius as the kitchen area is across from the bathroom area near the bedroom.

Entertainment
We know we will probably put in a big screen tv. Gotta have our football ya know. Not sure where, if it will be mounted or temporary, or how we will run the sound system. Most of the time I expect we will be using portable devices like Ipads and such. I also think I might put in a wrt54g wireless router that is flashed (upgraded) so I have flexibility in rebroadcasting wireless or using it at the bus. May put in a tiny PC as a media server so we can have music, movies, and such available to all devices.

Exterior color
Not totally sure but we know the top half will be white. After buying an hvlp gun from harbor freight and a new air compressor for fathers day I think I will attempt to spray it.

All in all I hope to be under 10k.

Picture posting is coming up next.
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Old 08-19-2016, 05:41 PM   #9
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Apr 2016
Location: Central Oregon
Posts: 25
Year: 1995
Coachwork: Amtran
Chassis: Gensis
Second Star Skoolie - Part 4

Pictures

I have uploaded a set of pictures in the Photos section. I will look to edit and update the posts with photos. At the moment my edit button has wandered off...
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Old 08-31-2016, 05:34 PM   #10
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Apr 2016
Location: Central Oregon
Posts: 25
Year: 1995
Coachwork: Amtran
Chassis: Gensis
This weekend we painted the inside of the bus. This was a huge planning phase because we have the ceiling with the tiny holes through out and didnt want to fill them or have the inside look funky. There was also the challenge of paining a ceiling with an HVLP gun. I wanted a professional look or more factory per say. Our interior was a cream color that was soo dirty and scuffed up.

I posted a more detailed post about how I came to paint the interior in another thread. To be brief here I used rustoleum pure white thinned 80/20 with accetone and used the 64 oz Harbor Freight HVLP gun.

The entire cleaning, taping, and painting took 3 days. We also took out the windows when we painted because I wanted around the endges to be clean. We are also painting the top half of the bus white. Because the windows were out we also used a bead of latex white caulk to ensure no water was able to leak in. For the sides of the windows and top I used extra Large window foam strips which I got from Home Depot for about $4 a roll. 1 Roll covered 4 windows along the top only. I know a lot of folks use butel tape but it would have been too thin with the spacing plus the stuff that was there was 20 years old and still in good shape overall.

Going forward I will post most pictures in new threads and not in the first ones. The interior pictures however I already posted but you can see the cream color and white as pictures progress.

Happy to answer any questions for how I painted it. I also made a detailed post here about how I painted the ceiling. http://www.skoolie.net/forums/f10/me...tml#post161002
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