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Old 07-13-2012, 09:53 PM   #11
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Re: Total newbie, some pointers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeyBskunk
I have probably about $5,000 to spend on the raw (unconverted) bus
you can get a great sound running bus for much cheaper and still have 3/4 of that money for your conversion

Sorry to say but the days of picking up a great sound running bus that isn't rusted to hell for $1000-1500 are gone. Unless you've got some great side deal going on. They are worth that in scrap value and a bunch of those buses are going south of the border.
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Old 07-13-2012, 10:00 PM   #12
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Re: Total newbie, some pointers?

I've seen some on craigslist between $2000 and $3500 some of these were going to be race buses, but never got finished
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Old 07-13-2012, 10:26 PM   #13
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Re: Total newbie, some pointers?

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Originally Posted by atcc77
I've seen some on craigslist between $2000 and $3500 some of these were going to be race buses, but never got finished
That's more like it. Deals do come up every so often.
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Old 07-14-2012, 12:14 AM   #14
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Re: Total newbie, some pointers?

They're holding on to school buses longer now, IMO. So the buses entering the pipe are going to have more wear on them. They also use thinner sheet metal now (though better paint) in the bodies. The golden days of cheap buses was right after the crash, maybe for a year or two. 10 wheel Crowns with 6-71's went for about $3,000 (though, that's what they might be worth now--my dream bus ).
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Old 07-14-2012, 07:49 AM   #15
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Re: Total newbie, some pointers?

I actually found a 1997 Ford/Carpenter with 54(?) seats for $4000, with an extra set of 6 tires from the dealer down the road. I figure I wanted to spend only $3500 and he wanted $4000 and the tires (which he had sitting around doing nothing) are worth the difference. In NJ all school buses are mandatory retired after 12 years. It looks to be in decent shape, though the 1st step in the front is starting to rust, so I may redo the front steps, maybe have a stair 'dropdown' instead so I can have the room underneath. There's an odd wire that seems loose (plastic cap is broken so may need replacing) that ought to plug into a device that goes directly into the middle of the transmission pan. On a different note, the dealer says the fuel gauge "wasn't working" but I'll have to fill the tank up first to be sure. Other than a few hornet nests, a lot of dust, and a giant cicada (the windows were left open for a while), I can't see (yet) other problems. It has sat around for a few years and was abruptly abandoned (not even cleaned before selling!), so it had some surprises, including a hi-8 security camera (behind a false mirror), some dusty umbrellas, a tube of 'Guess' perfume, some kid winter gloves, the CB radio, etc.

In NJ, the motor vehicles said that the minimum requirements to convert the bus to an RV requires:

1) Painting the bus a color other than yellow
2) Removing the stop sign and flashers
3) Removing most of the seats
4) Adding a permanent stove
5) Adding a sink
6) Adding permanent beds

Seems simple enough but I'm realizing how all that's the tip of the iceberg - I have to consider facing rough winters (-5 degrees, 3 feet of snow, etc) and the pipes/tanks not freezing, and also being totally clueless how much 3 kids and 1 adult will consume water wise if we go boondocking quite a bit. That doesn't even cover the installation of a toilet, a water pump to pressurize the pipes, a hot water heater, or a place to store propane tanks (underneath) for a stove. Then there's insulating the bus at some point, but I'm hoping to do all this gradually/incrementally so I can at least get the thing registered ASAP without breaking the bank.
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Old 07-14-2012, 08:52 AM   #16
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Re: Total newbie, some pointers?

I have seen minus 25 in Raquette Lake NY. That is one of the finger lakes in upstate.

I have been living in vehicles for a long time. Even though my bus if fairly well insulated, there is no way that I could winter over in that kind of weather without a wood stove.

All of the tanks (water, grey, and black would have to be inside. The wood stove would have to be tended to constantly.

It can be done, however you must consider doing serious insulation in the whole inside of the bus. A lot of heat is lost through the windows.
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Old 07-14-2012, 09:05 AM   #17
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Re: Total newbie, some pointers?

if i were to live in a bus where the temp gets below zero, i would fab up some insulated skirting - like at least 4' high around the bus... and have a wood stove as mentioned above, and most likely have a a frame pole building over the bus.
i have owned property in alaska for years, and have even lived in a 8x12 raised tent while building my a frame cabin. with a wood stove going in a small room, as long as the room or bus is covered, it would pretty much heat it.. my small tent cabin only had plastic sheeting for a roof, but with the stove it was warm even in 15 below...
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Old 07-14-2012, 10:04 AM   #18
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Re: Total newbie, some pointers?

What seems to be a sufficient tank capacity for the drinking water and waste water, assuming we're 4 people (3 kids)? It would be nice to have the option to boondock full-time and just go into town twice a month to dump waste, get supplies, and re-fill the water supply. I may end up (winter) boondocking at the same one place, so I may end up building a small shed with extra water tanks, and anything else I need...

I don't have an option to put the tanks above the floor, but I might be able to use insulated panels for skirting and wrap the tanks with some insulation as well. And maybe add some high wattage light bulbs down there as well (if that helps at all).

And how long is it realistic before dumping waste or refilling the water tank? I'd like it, if at all possible, to last 2 weeks or more (for 4 people). I'm not sure if I could take it somewhere in the middle of the winter twice a week to deal with that. I still have to figure out where the best place to stay in the winter is - I may need to boondock only in the warmer months and stick to an RV park in the winter.

I may find out some of my ideas are unrealistic and so it would help to know now before I spend any money so I can plan my lifestyle (and budget) appropriately. Or I may just find myself down in Florida or in California for the winter months.
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Old 07-14-2012, 10:15 AM   #19
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Re: Total newbie, some pointers?

Hay bales doubled stacked up around the outside for skirting will work as insulation.., but the mice like em too.....
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Old 07-14-2012, 12:18 PM   #20
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Re: Total newbie, some pointers?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tomas_maly
I still have to figure out where the best place to stay in the winter is - I may need to boondock only in the warmer months and stick to an RV park in the winter.

I may find out some of my ideas are unrealistic and so it would help to know now before I spend any money so I can plan my lifestyle (and budget) appropriately. Or I may just find myself down in Florida or in California for the winter months.
I had a long link filled reply but I acidently hit the wrong button (who knows what button) and lost it all. So here's the "short", somewhat abrupt version. If it comes off sounding harsh, sorry, but this is the second type.

We homeschooled in TN under Family Christian Academy. We did not homeschool for religous reasons and TN required an umbrella school. We had to show up in Chattanooga (Our chosen "test" site... Stayed at Chester Frost County Park during the 3 day tests) for SATs in March or April. SAT's are given for 3rd, 6th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th grades. Last test is only two days. FCA kept all my "paperwork". The girls (25 yo now) have high school diplomas. We did not buy the diplomas, we did not pay the $$$ to partake in the HUGE graduation. But they most certainly did graduate (last SAT scores were both in the top 10% of US). We "unschooled" after the first two years (4th - SC & 5th - TN). I used one book consistently thru the whole thing and it was a math book (teachers edition) from an Adult Ed class. Check with Home School Legal Defense for the list of what states need what. You may find an outfit like FCA is best. My suggestion: use an umbrella school. Makes your life easier. I think the church schools will want a "bible" class. Just do it. Teach how you want. I basically taught my kids that there are various religions & they have all done much good & much bad. The "Golden Rule" is what you should follow and to come up with your own moral code (like knights did) and follow it even when it's not easy. Involved a lot of "What do you think of that person's actions? Why do you think they did that and what should they have done different?" for books, movies, TV shows, news.

If you go to FL you have better take lots of $$ and think about leaving your kids with others. FL RV parks are not kid friendly for long term. $1K & up per month. 14 to 18 per KWH metered electric (same in many snowbird states but $$ vary). We stayed in Cordele Ga (I-75 Exit 101) with few freezing winter nights. Did get cold enough to need jackets & heat but our tanks never froze like in Elizabethton TN. I did have one of my crappy tank valves on the Class C freeze and crack one GA night on a long cold spell. It was the black valve. Yuk! We put ball valves on the bus.

I will tell you what I told my daughter... look for an already converted bus with a floor plan you can live with. Get moved in and live with it for a year. Then do minor remodeling to get what you want. Lots of converted/partially converted buses for sale here & on craislist/ebay.

Boondocking is not free despite what you hear. It is a costly setup to get "free" power. You either are paying up front or a bit at a time but you will pay. Generators use LOTS of fuel. Fuel is $$ to go long distances into town. A private campground can get your nightly costs down to under $15 per night, give you full hookup and in some cases free wifi & free cable. I like full hookups, free wifi & free cable.

For example: we are in a campground that we pay $375 per month. We have full hookups, free wifi & free cable (no HBO here, but last campground had free HBO). There is a Redbox across the street at the convenience store for movie rentals. We have a nice onsite laundry ($1.75 to wash/$1.75 to dry... I want my own washer & dryer). We have nice bathhouse where I can take really long showers. For our personal "budget" we try to stay at/under $400/mo. That does not take into account LP fuel (gas range & small LP space heater). I am also only 3 miles from my job. With fuel prices lately it all adds up. Boondocking is nice if you don't have to work at a job that requires you to drive to it. and if you have a web based job, chances are you need a stable internet connection something that bookdocking often does not afford even with expensive aids.

BTW, jobs are not that scarce if you don't do drugs & show up for work. I work at Home Depot. Their complaint is the same as Family Dollar & Dollar Tree (where my daughter worked at). They have a hard time finding folks who can pass a drug test & when they do find someone & hire they, they don't up. I hope the new person shows up on Monday! Two of us have been doing the work of 4 for a month now. No one want to work our job's hours (4am - 8am M-F... NO WEEKENDS). I am so tired and I'm too old for this hard of work. But I do get paid better than any other place I have ever worked. HD pays based on your experience. I've got a lot of construction related experience.

Not telling you what to go, but the above things are what we have done/experienced. You really need to think and discuss with spouse, then with kids to get everyone's take. In a small space, if one person is miserable, then everyone is miserable. Oh, and many parks will not allow a tent on the same site as an RV. Gotta watch for that along with the number of additional vehicles allowed.
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