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Old 07-22-2018, 03:37 PM   #1
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First Question...

I've lurked on here for a long time. Thought about converting a school bus, but I figured that the WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor) was too great to overcome.


Things have changed.


My DW recently saw the documentary "Expedition Happiness" by German filmmaker Felix Starck about building a skoolie with his girlfriend and traveling across America and Canada. It's on Amazon Prime.



My wife thought it looked like a great adventure. We'd already kind of decided to sell the house and go RVing for a few years once our youngest moves out (he's going to college this fall).


So a skoolie has been conditionally "green-lighted."


That leads to what I think is the first question - what size bus should I be looking at?


I'm a retired vet, living on a disability. So money isn't plentiful. I figure the larger the bus, the more expensive it will be to buy, convert, operate, and repair.


So is a short bus the best fit?


It's just going to be myself and my wife. And maybe 2 cats. Big ones, Maine Coons. And possibly from 1 to 3 dogs (approx. 50 lbs each).


Also, to begin with it will a weekender/vacation camper. I plan on keeping it simple to begin with, upgrading features and adding systems as we go.
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Old 07-22-2018, 03:42 PM   #2
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I have found that all buses, no matter the size are pretty close in price and the only difference in maintenance cost is a smaller bus might get better gas mileage. I actually find shorty's to be more expensive to buy.
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Old 07-22-2018, 04:13 PM   #3
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I did notice that size seems to have little impact on price. But I've just been checking craigslist, and that's probably not the best indicator.


But the bigger the bus, the greater the demo (more time) and the more material is needed to finish a conversion (more money).


Also, I would like to keep the open feeling of all of those windows. So floor-to-ceiling cabinetry, walls, etc., are pretty much out.



I don't want to feel like I'm in a dark, small box. Too many conversions strike me that way.



So furniture, cabinets, etc., should be no higher than the windows. That kind of pushes me to a bigger bus. But how big?
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Old 07-22-2018, 05:23 PM   #4
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I feel ya. I'm trying to keep the open format myself. Trying to keep all the tall cabinets, bathroom, etc. on the drivers side so I can keep the passenger side mirrors unobstructed. I will have a wall on the pass. side at the front of the bunkbed, but I may figure a way to keep that end of the bed open and not walled. I would stop limiting my upfront stuff. If you worry about a bigger bus costing a bid more that's not as bad as living in something too small and regretting it for the rest of it's life. Go to the floor plan thread and see what others are putting into their spaces and plan your size for your needs.
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Old 07-22-2018, 05:27 PM   #5
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Indeed a short bus will come at a premium, unless you're looking at a cutaway. Between 32 and 40ft the pricing will not really be impacted by the length.

Windows are great for light but awful for insulation factor. A lot of people just use thermal curtains and run a bar along the wall. which works OK if you never experience temperatures in either extreme

You really need to decide what functionality you expect from your bus to determine how big you need to go. The math is pretty doable, a bus interior will be about 80 inches, start adding things up.
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Old 07-22-2018, 05:36 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brokedown View Post
Indeed a short bus will come at a premium, unless you're looking at a cutaway. Between 32 and 40ft the pricing will not really be impacted by the length.

Windows are great for light but awful for insulation factor. A lot of people just use thermal curtains and run a bar along the wall. which works OK if you never experience temperatures in either extreme

You really need to decide what functionality you expect from your bus to determine how big you need to go. The math is pretty doable, a bus interior will be about 80 inches, start adding things up.
Aren't they 90"s?
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Old 07-22-2018, 07:12 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brokedown View Post
Indeed a short bus will come at a premium, unless you're looking at a cutaway. Between 32 and 40ft the pricing will not really be impacted by the length.
Thanks. That is really very useful information.


Quote:
Windows are great for light but awful for insulation factor. A lot of people just use thermal curtains and run a bar along the wall. which works OK if you never experience temperatures in either extreme
Understood.


Personally, we live in Central Florida. I am not going to be very concerned with cold. Neither of us are winter fans, this was reinforced last January and February when we had to go home to Chicago for a family medical emergency. We avoid cold like the plague.


I do think that I will insulate under the floor (helps with road noise too) as well as the side walls under the windows. This seems to be very standard practice for skoolies and I can see benefits.



I do have some thoughts about insulation of the windows, but that would probably need a dedicated thread.



Quote:
You really need to decide what functionality you expect from your bus to determine how big you need to go. The math is pretty doable, a bus interior will be about 80 inches, start adding things up.
You mean the interior width is 80 inches? I have a lot of loose ideas floating around in my head right now, but I haven't started to sketch layouts yet. Have to talk to the wife about what is and is not essential.
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Old 07-22-2018, 07:21 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Denny View Post
Thanks. That is really very useful information.


Understood.


Personally, we live in Central Florida. I am not going to be very concerned with cold. Neither of us are winter fans, this was reinforced last January and February when we had to go home to Chicago for a family medical emergency. We avoid cold like the plague.


I do think that I will insulate under the floor (helps with road noise too) as well as the side walls under the windows. This seems to be very standard practice for skoolies and I can see benefits.



I do have some thoughts about insulation of the windows, but that would probably need a dedicated thread.



You mean the interior width is 80 inches? I have a lot of loose ideas floating around in my head right now, but I haven't started to sketch layouts yet. Have to talk to the wife about what is and is not essential.
Most buses are 7'6" or 90", not 80". You'll need to properly insulate for the heat just as much as the cold.
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Old 07-22-2018, 07:54 PM   #9
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Sorry yes I meant the interior width is about 80 inches! If the heigjt were 80 there would be a lot fewer roof raises.
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Old 07-22-2018, 08:25 PM   #10
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Most buses are 7'6" or 90", not 80". You'll need to properly insulate for the heat just as much as the cold.
Since I need to tear up the floor anyway for rust repair, I will insulate there as I install a new floor.


Also, pulling off the side panels insulating the walls seems pretty straightforward when the bus is gutted.


Pulling the ceiling panels down to replace the existing insulation seems like a bear of a task. I plan instead to paint the roof with "Tropi-Cool" paint to minimize heat absorption. Working outdoors in Florida for over 20 years has taught me that simple air circulation can do wonders. So ceiling vents with fans are planned. Painting the entire bus white should also help in minimizing heat absorption.


I also thought that I might cut individual reflectex panels (like the parking sunscreens for auto windshields) to help with insulating individual windows. At least ones not open for ventilation.
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