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Old 12-13-2010, 05:14 PM   #21
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Re: Best "RV" Option for a Woman?

Lonergirl,
I haven't read all the responses in detail so please forgive me if this post is redundant:

One habit you'll need to change if you plan on boondocking is your long showers. Get used to this routine--on, quick wet, off, soap, on, quick rinse, off. In other words, a Navy shower. Anything longer and you'll use your on board fresh water in no time, especially in a stick'n'staple RV.

RVs have a very narrow load range, meaning that their almost maxed out--empty. You can't put a large water tank in a typical RV. Most Class A RVs I've seen limit your total cargo weight to 2000 pounds or less. That's luggage, water, fuel, propane and people--everything you carry.

However, buses are built to carry a lot of people (and luggage in the case of coaches and activity buses). The gap between their tare (empty) weight and GVWR can be substantial. I could load up my Crown bus with over 11,000 pounds of cargo and still be below max. And that's with all the seats still in. I'm not sure, but I think school buses are among the best in this regard. Get a diesel and you save on fuel cost too.

Let's say you bought a similar bus and loaded it up with a generous 5000 pounds of built-in amenities. That would still leave you over 6000 pounds to play with. 200 gallons of water would only tap 1600 pounds of that capacity. A typical older RV might have only 50 gallons of fresh water capacity, if that.

Something to consider....

Edit:
Safety is another important consideration. School buses are among the safest vehicles on the road, constructed of Steel, Steel, and More Steel (Skin, Ribs, and inner wall.) Stick'n'staple RVs are exactly that: 1x2 and 2x2 sticks, stapled together and sanwiched between a thin outer fiberglass layer and a thin inner paneling layer. In a collision between the two, I'd definitely rather be an occupant of the bus. One would disintegrate the other--guess which one.
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Old 12-13-2010, 09:11 PM   #22
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Re: Best "RV" Option for a Woman?

Quote:
also that fabled craigs list and other freebie sites help sometimes. If you're worried about a toilet walmart sells the port a potty type for 100$
Iíll keep that in mind when I am ready for a conversion.

Quote:
It's no different than throwing out a bag full of baby diapers, or cat litter - though not be as smelly ( new baby poo should be classified as weapon's grade material!!!).
I have never been in a position to find out, and I hope to continue that trend.

Quote:
I'm getting water tanks, A/C units, maybe water heaters, a toilet (new and never hooked up), and possibly a sink & a shower. The chassis of one will become a cargo trailer. (The other was a bust, having a cracked frame.)
I suppose it depends on the cost-benefit ratio. And if you know enough about what you are doing to tear it out, transfer it, AND put it back in. Iím not so sure Iím in that category.

Quote:
I suggest asking him to teach you to drive (notably: back up) a large truck. Shouldn't take more than a day or two.
Nah, I moved away. But I know people at work that could give me lessonsÖ

Quote:
I kinda stopped keeping track at about $25K + However almost $9K of it was PV panels, batteries, inverter, charge controller, wire, and misc materials. Also, I was on the fast-track to complete the bus, and didn't even attempt to shop for deals, or used/salvaged stuff. About the only thing I may have considered buying used, would have been lumber. I didn't want used appliances.
Holy %#@$%@$!!! 25k??? I did a little searching last night on the forum and found others who had completed their conversion for $5-7k, but Iím a bit concerned though because I have no idea if those guys were converting with the expectations of full-timing. I will not have that much money to spend at all. It would blow through all of my savings, which defeats the main purpose of doing this in the first place. I was hoping that I could buy the bus and do the conversion for a max of $6,000-$7,000. If that's unrealistic, then perhaps I need to rethink the whole idea.

Quote:
My winter shower:
http://skoolwheelz.proboards.com/index. ... hread=1904
Oh, duh, no I remember that now. It seems more efficient actually.

Quote:
As to why I want it shorter than 30' is because many spots on the free camping lists/sites, the boondocking, and especially with National campgrounds that aren't as crowded as the uber popular resort ones--don't fit bus/rv's longer than 30'. Some places won't let you even drive the roads due to hairpin curves and what not.
Wait, what??? I went and researched a littleÖI didnít know there could be length restrictions!


AgainÖlots of stuff to think aboutÖ

Oh, I did time my shower this morning. Nine minutes. Itís fairly accurate since I was sleepy and hung out in it for a bit too long (as usual). If I was more awake when I took them and did not let myself dawdle, I would probably average around 6-7 minutes and not feel hurried.

I'm trying to start researching the things that I would need to be self-sufficient for a week at a time (if I can do this at all), but I'm not sure what to research. I don't understand much about the generator, inverter, battery, solar...I know that I would need power to run lights, refridgerator, laptop, and water heater I suppose. I just don't know what sort of power that equates to and what solution that would entail. I don't even know where to get started with all of that. [I really HAVE been reading threads dealing with that stuff, it just goes over my head right now. I was trying to start first with how much power I would expect to use, then find the best solution for that. But I can't even figure out how I would go about estimating that. Plus when you turn on an appliance, they draw much more energy right then. So, how do you figure that out? I'm a little lost.] Plus, I don't even know what sort of equipment I'd be looking for with my list of chosen activities. And how do you make sure you're able to reach the wires after your conversion in case there is some problem with the wiring? I know that a really stupid question, but if the wires are behind a wall, then if you have a problem, you have to cut open that wall, don't you? It's not like in a house where you can easily fix any cosmetic damage if you have to dig into the wall to get to them.

You can just throw links at me if these questions have been asked over and over. I am learning some from going through project threads as well (like smitty and dan and others). It just seems like everyone else has a knowledge base already to pull from that I don't have (yet).
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Old 12-13-2010, 09:36 PM   #23
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Re: Best "RV" Option for a Woman?

Okay, so here is my newly updated list.

My own requirements for self-sufficieny that require power/resouces even while "boondocking:"
AC/heat system
stove top
lights
laptop
refrigerator
microwave (considering removing this since I'd have a stove-top...I shouldn't be THAT lazy if I'm not even having a proper shower)
water for water tank (for showering, washing, kitchen sink, etc)

Possible energy solution: Generator & Fuel Tank (as smitty recommended)

What else am I missing? Pumps for water? That might be a really stupid quesion...but I'll ask it anyway.
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Old 12-14-2010, 01:11 PM   #24
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Re: Best "RV" Option for a Woman?

At my work we have a plastic 55gallon barrel that is the source of water for our toilet out here (remote location, yet i can get high speed lol) anyhow if its yellow let it mellow, if its brown flush it down! with that philosophy a barrel can last me probably a month at work and that is with a residential style toilet, not an RV. Also i would never use that water in the barrel for cooking...
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Old 12-15-2010, 03:59 PM   #25
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Re: Best "RV" Option for a Woman?

I agree with Smitty. Start bargain hunting now as long as you are still managing to save funds for the bus purchase I've been $ hunting for over a year now and have a whole heck of a lot of things to put on the bus------ IF I ever find the right bus to buy.
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Old 12-17-2010, 09:12 PM   #26
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Re: Best "RV" Option for a Woman?

After reading many sources extol the virtues of a 30í or smaller rig, I have decided to plan for that size. I will have an interior space of 20í. As such, Iíve spent several days reviewing my interior design links for small spaces, downloading pictures for features I wish to include, and fighting valiantly with that infernal Google Sketchup program (oh, how we mutually loathe each other). The end result is that I now have my basic floor plan and theme (beach minimalism). Itís different than conventional designs, which makes me wonder if Iím missing some design flaws inherent in such an arrangement. I just donít like how most RVs are structured and ordered. Traditional rvs are entirely too cramped and claustrophobic for me. I like well-designed cozy rooms with space, not rooms crammed full of shelves and tables. Conventional RV designs seem to be about cramming more storage into the space, rather than using the small space to its visual advantage. I am only one person AND I donít own much stuff, so I can get away with a less cramped design.

I am a bit flummoxed by the placement of the back wheel well though. I believe they are between the 2-3 windows (when counted from the back of the bus), but I am not sure to what measurement that equates. Also, I donít know where all the tanks will end up going. I originally thought I might put them inside to protect them against the elements, but since I have no plans on traveling anywhere cold or snowy, then Iíd rather protect my precious interior space. Winter will find me in the warmest place I can find (most likely Texas). As such, I neglected to incorporate the tanks and such in my design. Iíve seen many conversions now where individuals put the tanks, generators, and batteries all outside the bus.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Smitty
Keep in mind that I also raised my roof 18" as well as used a fair amount of steel on the roof deck, rear deck, and window framing , maximized insulation, removed and sheeted window openings, installed new windows, had $800 in cushions made, went a different route than most on my ceiling (tray ceiling requiring specially built trusses, which required additional materials), carry about 4x the fresh water as most, and have additional things like security cameras, an elevator to get me to the roof.
True, I forgot about all that. I do not require an elevator, nor do I need to raise the roof. I donít want a deck, custom cushions, or a special ceiling. I DO want to create an rv that is comfortable, livable, and space efficient.

Thanks for the links, Smitty. I spent a couple of days perusing the sites and was able to figure out what sort of generator, batteries, and inverter I might need. I have struck solar from my list. While I do intend on rolling up and down the California coast (to visit beaches), I am more intrigued with the Pacific Northwest (I am considering moving there at some point). The shade and the clouds would render solar fairly inefficient for my purposes.
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Old 12-18-2010, 02:10 PM   #27
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Re: Best "RV" Option for a Woman?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Smitty
...no comment from Lorna ).
Who. me?

On our bus the rear wheel wells are 48" long and 8" to 9" high... about 21 deep... I think. When it comes to immovable objects, like wheel wells, you plop a cabinet on top and plan around. We placed a closet (30" clothes + 18" linen & dirty clothes storage) on top or each of our rear wheel wells (David has his closet and I have mine). We have a flat nosed Bluebird so we also have wheel wells in the front... just not as wide). I have an old fireplace mantle that will go over the passenger side and we built a "deck" over the drivers side that the chairs will sit on (with my little old rock maple end table between the chairs).

Until you get a bus, you can only do generalizations. Being shy 1 inch can throw all your plans off. There are certain things that you are locked in on. Your wheel well placement, range size, sink size, shower pan size (allow 32" X 32" of you will end up spending lots of time & energy retrofitting... also you can just buy an pan from Home Depot/Lowes for around $100 and put in fiberglass/tile board sheet walls) holding tankage. You need to try to keep a straight drop on the black tank from the toilet. Try to insulate/heat your holding tanks (if you use a forced air furnace, just drop a insulated duct to the insulated boxes around the holding tanks). We hit freezing temps last year in Corpus Christi. They are hitting freezing temps in South FL this past week. We froze up once in SC (Table Rock State Park) in April because a freak cold front blew thru. Heat tape/insulate your fresh water pipes that are under the chassis. You will want to insulate and protect your tanks from over the road debris. We came out west from NC over an 11 day period (left out July 3) in a Factory built, slightly modified vintage Class C (and the bus was a "moving van"). We didn't have to turn on our water heater to take showers because the fresh water tank (insulated with 3/4" poly iso sheathing) was HOT. It was a comfortable shower for me since I like to take really hot showers. My daughter enjoyed a nice hot shower as well. All from the 21 gallon COLD water. The heat from the interstate cooked our uninsulated gray and black tanks. That trip taught us the importance of insulating the tanks, even if we plan on being in warmer areas for the winter. You need to plan to be able to set up in campgrounds. Boondocking is nice if you have enough money that you don't need to work a job that requires you to live in town. Boondocking sites tend to be far from work areas. And the places with less facilities are not always cheaper. For example. There is a city park not far from us. You pay by the night (bathroom but no showers) for a max stay of 14 days. Once you figure in the water and electric you will be paying more than what we pay for a monthly site in a campground ($350 per month includes water/electric/sewer/CATV and wi-fi). You do need a bathroom/shower setup. Many campgrounds will either close down their bathroom/shower facilities in the winter or they are doing away with them all together (as is the case with the campground we are in). Most of our camping has been done in the South Eastern US (public campgrounds) and we were in a popup camper. We preferred to camp during the winter (empty campgrounds). There were many campgrounds that we did not use during the winter months because they shut down all the water (no bathrooms, no showers) but allowed boondocking at reduced rates. So far since we came back to NM in June, we have had the city water system shut down due to breaks in the lines three times. We lost water twice in Corpus Christi. You really need a minimum amount of water and hold tanks. If you want to boondock (for how long) you need to work out a conservative amount of tankage you would need. For traveling, we figure we will pull into a campground or rest area to dump/refill every three days. coming out here, we tried to dump daily since I was worried about the dump stations. I had more sources to refill my fresh water than I did to dump my waste tanks (they were only 18 gal each... trust me, you need bigger)
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Old 12-18-2010, 09:42 PM   #28
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Re: Best "RV" Option for a Woman?

Quote:
Originally Posted by LonerGirl
After reading many sources extol the virtues of a 30í or smaller rig, I have decided to plan for that size. I will have an interior space of 20í.
This raises several BIG questions! (Sorry.) First: what type of bus? In that size, you have three possibilities: a mini-bus (skoolie or shuttle on a cutaway van, usually Ford, chassis), a shorty conventional (truck front end), or a shorty flat-front bus (a skoolie or one of the various shuttle buses, which are on Ford, GM, or Freightliner chassis). A flat-front skoolie is the most efficient use of space...a shorty Conventional bus probably the least. You'll pay more for a flat-front shorty Blue Bird or Thomas, but they are much stronger than the cutaway vans and FAR tougher than any of the shuttle buses. Also, there's one other factor: anyone who has not driven a shorty Blue Bird cannot truly appreciate how nimble they are. I have (a 1998 TC1000), and it is astounding...that big (about 30') bus will make a turn in LESS space than a full-sized 15-passenger van. It will turn tighter than a cutaway Econoline two-thirds its length. It won't QUITE do a U-turn in its own length, but it's pretty close. Also, the TC1000 has plenty of weight capacity (GVWR on the one I drove was 25,000lbs), and the one I drove had enough headroom for a 6'3" adult to stand upright wearing jump boots. It also had a totally flat floor front to back...the only intrusion was the engine doghouse. Bonus: with a 24-valve 5.9 Cummins, a lockup Allison, 3.54 gears, and 265/70R19.5 tires, it got about 12MPG. Might do better if the driver didn't like to cruise at 70MPH.

Quote:
As such, Iíve spent several days reviewing my interior design links for small spaces, downloading pictures for features I wish to include, and fighting valiantly with that infernal Google Sketchup program (oh, how we mutually loathe each other). The end result is that I now have my basic floor plan and theme (beach minimalism). Itís different than conventional designs, which makes me wonder if Iím missing some design flaws inherent in such an arrangement. I just donít like how most RVs are structured and ordered. Traditional rvs are entirely too cramped and claustrophobic for me. I like well-designed cozy rooms with space, not rooms crammed full of shelves and tables. Conventional RV designs seem to be about cramming more storage into the space, rather than using the small space to its visual advantage. I am only one person AND I donít own much stuff, so I can get away with a less cramped design.
You will need storage space. Remember: EVERYTHING needs to be secured so it doesn't go flying on a hard bump!

Quote:
I am a bit flummoxed by the placement of the back wheel well though. I believe they are between the 2-3 windows (when counted from the back of the bus), but I am not sure to what measurement that equates.
Varies bus to bus...though some (like my Genesis and the TC1000) have flat floors.

Quote:
Also, I donít know where all the tanks will end up going. I originally thought I might put them inside to protect them against the elements, but since I have no plans on traveling anywhere cold or snowy, then Iíd rather protect my precious interior space. Winter will find me in the warmest place I can find (most likely Texas). As such, I neglected to incorporate the tanks and such in my design. Iíve seen many conversions now where individuals put the tanks, generators, and batteries all outside the bus.
You want to be able to heat the tanks. They were in the bus on my B-700, will be underneath in an insulated & heated bay in the Genesis.

Quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smitty
Keep in mind that I also raised my roof 18" as well as used a fair amount of steel on the roof deck, rear deck, and window framing , maximized insulation, removed and sheeted window openings, installed new windows, had $800 in cushions made, went a different route than most on my ceiling (tray ceiling requiring specially built trusses, which required additional materials), carry about 4x the fresh water as most, and have additional things like security cameras, an elevator to get me to the roof.
True, I forgot about all that. I do not require an elevator, nor do I need to raise the roof. I donít want a deck, custom cushions, or a special ceiling. I DO want to create an rv that is comfortable, livable, and space efficient.

Thanks for the links, Smitty. I spent a couple of days perusing the sites and was able to figure out what sort of generator, batteries, and inverter I might need. I have struck solar from my list. While I do intend on rolling up and down the California coast (to visit beaches), I am more intrigued with the Pacific Northwest (I am considering moving there at some point). The shade and the clouds would render solar fairly inefficient for my purposes.
You will never regret extra battery capacity, and you will never regret extra tankage!

Raising the roof is a personal preference...I didn't want the extra drag, and I'm just not comfortable with that much surgery on structural pieces. I would never under any circumstances consider selling a raised-roof bus...the liability risk is just too much.
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Old 12-19-2010, 12:52 PM   #29
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Re: Best "RV" Option for a Woman?

LG, you might consider designing a layout with more open feel by placing storage under things. Make things serve two or more purposes. Like with a bed, you can do a day bed and use the underspace for storage, have a small shelf above it for books or what not. This way it leaves more eye level spaces open, even to windows if you're not covering them. Far less cramped feeling, imo. Think less walls, more hidden storage doing double time.
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