Hey all, some of you may remember me from a few years ago when I was looking to get into the skoolie world and purchase a bus for conversion. Some things came up and plans changed but once again they're changing and it's looking like a conversion may be in my future! I'm going into this with way
more planning this time, and more logical reasons.
I'm now entertaining the idea of full timing in a conversion, probably for 2-3 years at which point I'd be looking to settle down into a house but keep the bus for trips to far away lands. There's a few reasons I'm looking at full timing and one of them is that I'll be in college and for less the cost of living in a small apartment for two years I can purchase a bus and convert it. Both are small living spaces but at least I get to make this one mine, and beyond that it would be mobile so for trips I can just drive my house to where I want to be. Another point is that during the summers I'll be doing a lot of traveling (like, across the country and back over the course of some months) and having all my belongings in a familiar setting would be advantageous to me (I do motorsport photography/videoography and having a tower and rack of HDDs would make my life easier than editing with a laptop).
So now comes the fun part, the choices that have to be made and how to go about building a suitable conversion for my needs which are many.
I need to be able to tow a second vehicle so I plan to get an enclosed trailer to tow it behind my bus, I'll probably get a slightly larger than required trailer so I can use the trailer to store other gear like skis, mountain bikes, climbing equipment etc... so that I don't tie up the storage space on the bus. Anybody have experience adding hitches to buses or towing with them? How do they do? I'm probably looking at getting a coach bus which means a pusher, hopefully that won't be an issue.
As for the interior, the floorplan currently looks a little like this:
Each block is 1'x1'
This is just a rough layout and would most likely change a bit once I had a physical bus in my driveway but it's based upon an MCI 102A3 floorplan (or my best guess of one).
The design makes use of hidden doors which slide into the walls, the couches up front will be expandable for sleeping quarters. The one on the drivers side will simply have cushions beneath it that can be taken out and put along side, the other couch will simply extend lengthwise and be more of a lounge chair when not in sleep mode (the cushions will be individually able to be propped up to form a chair back). There is also a large desk for homework and media editing. I currently use a 32'' TV as a second monitor for my laptop so one of the screens there will double as a monitor as well.
Under the counter on the drivers side there is a dishwasher, ample food preparation area next to the refrigerator and between the sink and stove. Further back in the bathroom area there is a washer/drier combo that will have a pantry above it most likely facing into the kitchen area.
I plan to use a traditional toilet not a composting unit in the bathroom, there's not bathroom closet but under the sink will have some storage and I may double the pantry as storage in the bathroom as well since there's enough room to split it 50/50 between the spaces. The bedroom has a small closet (two feet wide and 18'' deep) for basic shirts, pants, and the like. Under the bed will be where my clothes and shoes are kept and above the headboard will have more storage. There is a small nightstand drawer on the passenger side of the coach as well.
In the design I made an effort to guesstimate the space used by the engine compartment and cockpit. I've found posts saying there's 37' dashboard to engine cover on the interior in the MCI 102A3 which is the coach I'd most likely use. The 102 is 102'' wide or 8.5 feet which with 6'' walls on either side leaves 7.5' of usable space inside which is what I designed for.
For heat I'm hoping to use radiant floor heat but it may be too resource intensive for off-grid use with a generator but most of my travel is in the warmer months except for the occasional ski trip so who knows how much heating it will need to do when mobile. I plan to remove the bus windows and reskin the sides of the bus and then install RV double pane windows. One on either side of the bedroom, one in the bathroom, one above the food prep area, and then the front end will have a few for natural light in the living area. The walls and roof will be insulated with closed cell spray in foam and the floor will be rigid foam with the radiant system on top of that (I will remove the entire existing floor and build up from there).
The radiant system may also get tied into the motor to act as a block heater as well which will be helpful in colder months. I estimate using two of the three cargo bays under the coach for system storage (water heater, water tanks, sewage, generator, propane...) which leaves me with just one bay which should be enough for most things, the rest can be stored in the enclosed trailer.
I'm looking at picking up a coach for ~$10,000 and spending $15,000 converting it. Using used equipment and doing the labor myself should make this possible. I also have access to a lot of "scrap" that will be useful in the small spaces of the bus, my father owns a construction company and there's a lot of leftover materials in our shop that are up for grabs. I don't plan to design with an ornamental look that is common in a lot of RVs but rather a modern look, simple sharp edges, white, black, and stainless surfaces.
So now the search is on, time to start scouring eBay for good candidates and figure out if I can get a 40' bus around the bend in my driveway...If you have any tips let me know, I'm hoping to overdesign this baby so that she holds up to the test of time, that all starts with finding a bus to strip that's in good condition.