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Old 03-30-2008, 02:05 AM   #1
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Cost/Timeframe Friendly Build? (Newbie)

Hello all! I've long admired skoolies, and have been wanting to do a conversions myself. I've been looking at buying a trailer, but nothing I find is deserving of the $$$. And looking used, I don't see many as something I'd like to live in. And that's another thing, I'm looking at it as a home on wheels. I'm single and young, and haven't gotten a chance to travel much. So it's making a lot of sense to me that I should look seriously at building one of my own. I am a carpenter, and mechanically inclined, so I don't think I would have too much trouble putting one of these together.

I'm looking to have an RV for the road in May, '09. Moneywise, I'm looking at starting my project, Skoolie or truck for trailer, in June. I will have a steady flow of $ to put towards the project at that time, and lookin' at around $15 000 - $20 000 (cash) in the end. As for time, I figure on probably being able to spend 6 to 20 hours a week on it. Oh, and I'd preferably like to get a fairly large, front engine school bus.

So, what kind of money does it take to make a nice liveable skoolie?
And how many hours does it take to complete one?

Thanks for any help
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Old 03-30-2008, 09:34 AM   #2
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Re: Cost/Timeframe Friendly Build? (Newbie)

When I read this post, I thought it was me. I was thinking of building my own RV because I couldn't bring myself to spend the $$ on a lot of what is cheap crap. I was literally on the cusp of buying the steel and starting on the frame when I stumbled across this site and found a home. Also being a carpenter I was undaunted by the construction process. I'm not mechanically inclined but everyone else on this site is and that's where I get my help. As everyone on this site knows we(julie and I) jumped in with both feet and in typical construction fashion, hit the ground running. Having worked 90+ hour weeks for months on end I had saved and been saving $$ for an RV project when we started our skoolie. The budget you are talking about will definitely get you something VERY nice and your time frame sounds good with what you can devote to your project. I know we could have saved money in areas if we had a lot of time to beat the bushes for things, but 90+hr. weeks loom in our future and I want to finish. We've been at it pretty much every day for almost 4 months and are also building a home on wheels. I won't make any suggestions on what you should look for in a bus, I'll let the much more informed bunch on this site take that on. Ours is a 92 Thomas International with a DTA360 under the hood and an AT545 for the tranny (automatic and very common), 28' of space behind the driver's seat. Anyway, this a great forum and the people on this forum are friendly and ready to help. WELCOME! Get a bus! Get started! And post pics !
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Old 03-30-2008, 02:44 PM   #3
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Re: Cost/Timeframe Friendly Build? (Newbie)

do not get a bus that needs 10 coats of paint scraped off it takes alot of time to convert a bus ac,dc,plumbing,tanks,propane, everything thats in a house and a little more.but what a great reward when you are4 done (when are we done?are we done yet?) timbuk
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Old 03-31-2008, 04:52 PM   #4
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Re: Cost/Timeframe Friendly Build? (Newbie)


Welcome aboard, Country Boy!

Like Timbuk says, don't buy somebody else's given-up-on project. Buy a "fresh' bus from a school district. With your generous budget, you should start with a bus from the mid 1990s, straight off a school route, which will give you a minimum of mechanical grief. Your local school districts are your best source. Just walk into the bus barn and say hello. I have NEVER met a school district bus employee who wasn't fabulously friendly and helpful.

Time and money for the conversion is all over the map. That's one of the great things about conversions: You can do it Your Own Way.

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Old 04-01-2008, 04:14 AM   #5
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Re: Cost/Timeframe Friendly Build? (Newbie)

Well reprobate, you are a lucky guy. I'd love to find a girl who'd be into doin' this kinda stuff haha Your conversion is lookin' great and that entertainment unit in the front of the bus looks like a great idea to me, leaves a lot more floorspace for other things.

I was planning on checkin' out the school district here, I'd be right on time for the end of the school year. I'm sure some buses 'round here will be retiring from the district.

Also, I've noticed a few buses with slides. How difficult is this to do? It looks daunting to me for my timeframe, but it sure would be nice. Also, could you tow along a truck with a bus? Are these subjects for a different thread?

Thanks
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Old 04-02-2008, 01:36 PM   #6
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Re: Cost/Timeframe Friendly Build? (Newbie)

Hello newbie and welcome to a site that will make you think you can do anything, be careful! There is tons of experience here to help you get through anything so go for it. It took Joan and I about a year to do our bus conversion. Now that's every weekend for a year, a full week of vacation time and some evenings too. We spent about $8500 on it including the price of the bus. We got lots of stuff given to us, bought for little or nothing, etc. I gave $500 for the generator, $650 to upholster the seats, $1000 for body work and paint help, $50 for the cabinets, $35 for junk yard stuff, $50 for Cadillac seats, those were the high dollar things. The rest is nickle and dime stuff that does add up after a while. Free stuff: furnace, stove, water heater, toilet, the 18' awning I found on the side of the road believe it or not and of course I had to put new fabric in it. REMEMBER it always cost more than you thought and takes longer than expected. You better get started or next year will be here before you know it. sportyrick.
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Old 04-02-2008, 10:40 PM   #7
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Re: Cost/Timeframe Friendly Build? (Newbie)

Ya, next year feels like it'll be here in no time, and I'm itchin' to get started, but gotta wait 'til June. I suppose if it comes down to it, I might take time off work in April, '09 to get it done. Man, I sure hope I can find some good deals like the ones you got sportyrick, nice work! Do you have a gallery of your bus sportyrick? I'd like to see what you accomplished in your timeframe and budget.
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Old 04-03-2008, 10:19 AM   #8
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Re: Cost/Timeframe Friendly Build? (Newbie)

in the gallery on page 14. Joan and I spent months trying to find a donor RV and by asking around we found lots of stuff, were told about stuff, visited junk yards etc. You'd be suprised what you find if you just start turning over rocks. this is the kind of stuff you can do before you start doing the work, lining up the parts and somewhere to keep them. We got lucky and found a tent camper that a tree fell on, the guy just wanted the trailer part and gave us the rest. We also found a guy that was going to build an RV out of a box truck, had started buying parts at sales, he then got a deal on a used RV and sold a pickup load of stuff to us for $100 and a radio controlled airplane I ended up with. Put your nose into the wind and start sniffing, it's out there. sportyrick
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