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Old 07-02-2018, 07:51 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: Bellevue, WA
Posts: 22
Year: 1998
Chassis: Thomas
Engine: Cummins 6CTA
Williwong Ranch Conversion Adventure

Hey there! I transplanted to the Seattle area 5 years ago for college with my husband. In the time it's taken me to graduate, I've watched the housing market nearly jump out of reach. We're not having kids, so worrying about making ends meet every month just feels like a wasted life. I've been day dreaming about living on wheels for over a year and have iterated through pretty much every possibility twice over while slowly pulling my husband on board.

To be honest, I don't like the term "tiny house movement." Sounds too much like a sales slogan for an expensive supplement nobody needs. I fell in love with the skoolie community a few months ago, seeing more folks that felt like my people. Unlike the miniature houses on trailers, a search for skoolie still returns mostly diy projects owned by people with callouses. The ingenuity of you folks is astounding! So thank you all for taking the time to share your work and knowledge. The day we found this forum was when I finally saw the light go on for my husband.

SOOOO.....fast forward to Thursday, we jumped in! We're now the proud owners of a huge 98 Thomas pusher with a Cummins 8.3L engine, an MT643 transmission, and less miles than all 3 of our other vehicles (around 150k). The seats and flooring were already out, and people, this bus is clean! No repairs needed so far. We'll be moving in next summer. This still feels surreal.

The best photos are on the hubs phone, but here's what I've currently got. I'll be posting our build here, so I hope y'all like what we do and I look forward to your comments or critiques.
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Old 07-02-2018, 07:53 PM   #2
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Join Date: Mar 2018
Location: Upstate, SC
Posts: 162
Year: 1992
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: International
Engine: DTA360
Welcome and congrats! Bus looks great.
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Old 07-02-2018, 08:06 PM   #3
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: Bellevue, WA
Posts: 22
Year: 1998
Chassis: Thomas
Engine: Cummins 6CTA
Here's Derek (husbad) welding the bolt holes closed. I spent the day prying off pallet wood and staining it to make a fence surround. The city we live in is so stuck up you can't have an rv unless you fence it off. Already had one obnoxious neighbor complain how it's going to hurt their property value if they sell in the next 6 months. Please. Their 60's rambler that's been in the family since it was built is worth nearly $700k now. Folks, this housing market is insane. Looking forward to not having permanent neighbors.
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Old 07-02-2018, 08:16 PM   #4
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: Bellevue, WA
Posts: 22
Year: 1998
Chassis: Thomas
Engine: Cummins 6CTA
Oh, forgot to mention Williwong Ranch is what we named the bus. We don't share last names and Williwong was the best of all terrible attempts from friends to combine them. It's become a joke name over the years, like celebrating the anniversary of Williwong Incorporated or Williwong Partners in law. We've driven by a number of properties with overly pretentious entry arches declaring themselves a ranch or estate. Calling our non-pretentious old bus a "ranch" tickled my funny bone. So that's the story. We'll probably get it engraved into a plaque for the side 😂
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Old 07-02-2018, 08:31 PM   #5
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Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: Dawsonville, Ga.
Posts: 3,289
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Genesis
Chassis: International
Engine: DT466/3060
Rated Cap: 77
Welcome. Spent my first few days in the bus on Bainbridge Island. It was difficult even finding a place big enough to park a bus on that island. The first night I parked on a dirt pullover and left a sign saying it was overheating and would have it gone by noon. As I was leaving was when the officer pulled in. He was cool with it and didn't give me crap about no tag. Here's my 40' FE in my brothers, Derek, driveway. If I stepped back any further to take the pic I would have fallen into the Puget Sound.
You mention housing costs, you're looking at a $1m house.
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Old 07-02-2018, 08:48 PM   #6
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Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Houston, Texas
Posts: 7,623
Year: 1946
Coachwork: Chevrolet/Wayne
Chassis: 1- 1/2 ton
Engine: Cummins 4BT
Rated Cap: 15
Welcome to the Madhouse! Sounds like you guys made a great find. That is a superb engine/tranny combo. Best of luck with the build and please do keep the pix coming. We LOVE watching other people work!
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Old 07-02-2018, 09:21 PM   #7
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Location: Picton,Ont, Can.
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Year: 1997
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Chassis: GMC
Engine: Cat 3116
Rated Cap: 72
Welcome to you both and what a great find for your platform to build. You will love having no neighbours!
Hey Derek, when you use that grinder, use eye protection. They are hard to replace.


All the best,


John
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Old 07-03-2018, 01:24 AM   #8
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: Bellevue, WA
Posts: 22
Year: 1998
Chassis: Thomas
Engine: Cummins 6CTA
Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackJohn View Post
Welcome to you both and what a great find for your platform to build. You will love having no neighbours!
Hey Derek, when you use that grinder, use eye protection. They are hard to replace.


All the best,


John
Thanks for the safety reminder! Super important. We try to look after each other in case one of us forgets to wear the right gear. He actually did have eye goggles on, but I can see it's hard to tell from the pic.
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Old 07-03-2018, 01:32 AM   #9
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: Bellevue, WA
Posts: 22
Year: 1998
Chassis: Thomas
Engine: Cummins 6CTA
Quote:
Originally Posted by o1marc View Post
Welcome. Spent my first few days in the bus on Bainbridge Island. It was difficult even finding a place big enough to park a bus on that island. The first night I parked on a dirt pullover and left a sign saying it was overheating and would have it gone by noon. As I was leaving was when the officer pulled in. He was cool with it and didn't give me crap about no tag. Here's my 40' FE in my brothers, Derek, driveway. If I stepped back any further to take the pic I would have fallen into the Puget Sound.
You mention housing costs, you're looking at a $1m house.
If that house is water front, I'm surprised it's ONLY 1 mill, lol. Our friends said they couldn't afford to buy their house at today's value and they only bought it 4 years ago.

Did you leave your bus unatended or were you sleeping inside? It'll be interesting finding all the areas we can and can't pull to the side over night. Our build is going to be self sufficient for frequent boondocking so we can explore more of Washington.
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Old 07-03-2018, 09:47 AM   #10
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Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: Pacific NW
Posts: 94
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Welcome! Also a Seattle-ish resident here, we're gonna be empty nesters in a few years, at 39 I've got a lot of good years left and don't plan to spend them mowing the lawn for the neighbors' approval.
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