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Old 07-02-2017, 02:22 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: Miami, Florida
Posts: 43
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: International 3600
Engine: T444E Diesel, Allison 545 Transmission
Help a Newbie Out!!! Skoolie Conversion Questions!

Hey everyone,

I've been following this website for a long time and finally saved up for my bus, signed up and I'm ready to ask for all you lovely people's help!

I'm based in the UK and I will be in Florida in August which is when I'd like to purchase the Bus to start the remodelling journey. I have a place to stay in Bal Harbour but not with space for the bus so I'll be looking for a space where renovation could be done and where it could be safe for 9 month (I would be coming in and out of Miami but have family there that could check up on it. I also have a car so anything within 30/45min range is fine!
How have you guys gone about space to keep your bus where you could do the renovation as well?

Also in terms bus I understand that older buses are better? Is that correct? I also should aim for diesel?
What are the Best makes? Best years? Best transmission? What would be an ideal bus? Things to look out for? Best websites to find buses in the Florida Region?

Do you think an 11 to 12 windows will have the space? The floorpan is to measure but I've never been on a Skoolie before so it might be crammed and I wouldn't know!

Toilet? Compost? Black tank? What are the best options? Same for Water and plumbing? Their would be 4 of us most of the time, sometimes 6.

Electricity. Solar Panels? How many would I need for 4 people? We'd have a Microwave, Kettle, Phone and computer charging, air dryer and straighteners, basic every day things.
Would I need another source of electricity?

Where can I find a skoolie where the title has been change to RV already? Being in the UK it would make my life a lot easier because I would have owned it for over a year by the time I want to bring it back to the UK which would make it tax free and would save me a lot of time which would equal a lot of money as London - Miami is not a cheap ride! ha

I'm a 28 years old Female, I've been an added Driver on 3 different Cars in Miami for over 6 years. Do I get no claims bonus? Will this help me for a Skoolie insurance? How much do you think it will cost to insure? I have a US address and I have to get a temporary drivers licence every time I go to drive a privately owned car. Can I drive the Bus with that Licence?

I wan't it to be as eco friendly as possible but within means (As much as I wish I did, I don't have unlimited cash flow!)

I have about $20000 saved up. Do you think it's doable? (I will be saving money as I build it as well do their will be extra for errors or things I might want to add on!)

Storage! Show me your smartest space efficient storage! I need Ideas!
The steps on the floor plan that lead to the roof will be all storage! Would it be possible to make the roof deck storage?

I will be doing this on my own so I will need help. How much do you reckon it would cost on Labor? I want it ready by August Next year which is plenty of time!

Anything to take into consideration when building it knowing I want to bring it back to the UK for Airbnb on a friends Land and rental for festival until I have enough money to do Europe and more?

Here's the Floor Plan and some photos to get an idea of what I'm thinking!
Attached Images
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File Type: jpg Bus 2 copy.jpg (148.2 KB, 31 views)
File Type: jpg BusRoom.jpg (57.2 KB, 24 views)
File Type: jpg Bus3.jpg (74.2 KB, 24 views)
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Old 07-02-2017, 07:14 AM   #2
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: May 2017
Location: Buffalo NY
Posts: 13
Year: 1993
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: International
Engine: 7.3
newbie also

Good luck I do not have place that close to Miami that is probably going to most difficult part of project. Look at the classifies section there are 2 or three 1/2 done projects there now. Fl also easy state to change title in
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Old 07-02-2017, 08:36 AM   #3
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Engine: 3116 Cat 250hp
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Hi and welcome. I'll try to answer some of your questions, or at least give you something more to think about. I can't help with any of the where to purchase/where to park questions, that's best to check with local people. Also can't help with "what bus should I buy" that's been hashed over a lot on this forum.

Do you think an 11 to 12 windows will have the space? The floorpan is to measure but I've never been on a Skoolie before so it might be crammed and I wouldn't know!
You indicate 4 to 6 people, I think a 40 footer would be best. You will have a space approximately 92 inches wide by, depending on model, 30 to 38 feet in length. Remember 40 feet is total length it it has a hood and fenders out front that is less living space.
Toilet? Compost? Black tank? What are the best options? Same for Water and plumbing? Their would be 4 of us most of the time, sometimes 6.
Do some research, will a composting toilet work for 6 people for any length of time? Will you be hooked up to campgrounds most of the time? Even if you take Navy showers (45 seconds of running water) 6 people use a lot of water in a week.

Electricity. Solar Panels? How many would I need for 4 people? We'd have a Microwave, Kettle, Phone and computer charging,
Again, this depends a lot on how you do things. You would also need some sort of battery bank with solar. Solar has maintenance requirements. Will you have enough sun to power all of that when you take it back to the UK? Will you be plugged in to shore power? What about food storage? Will you need air conditioning, it gets pretty hot in the southern US?

air dryer and straighteners, basic every day things.

Are these things really requirements? They are energy hogs.

Would I need another source of electricity?

For your needs I recommend a generator instead of solar.

Where can I find a skoolie where the title has been change to RV already?

Most if not all states have minimum requirements of things that need to be done before the title can be changed to "RV". Also, you will probably have to jump through a lot of hoops when you try to take it back home. There have been a couple of people on this forum who did it. The inspections in UK are a LOT different than anything here. In the US there is no federal one law fits everyone. Each state has their own rules, you have to follow the rules for the state it is registered in.



I'm a 28 years old Female, I've been an added Driver on 3 different Cars in Miami for over 6 years. Do I get no claims bonus?

More likely a "We won't charge you your first born because you have claims"
Will this help me for a Skoolie insurance?
It may make it POSSIBLE.
I have a US address and I have to get a temporary drivers licence every time I go to drive a privately owned car. Can I drive the Bus with that Licence? Best to ask whoever issued the temporary license.


I have about $20000 saved up. Do you think it's doable? (I will be saving money as I build it as well do their will be extra for errors or things I might want to add on!)
That all depends on what you want and how you shop and your're level of "do it yourself"

Would it be possible to make the roof deck storage?
As long as you stay under 13'6" tall for hiway use, that may be too tall for some campgrounds.

I will be doing this on my own so I will need help. How much do you reckon it would cost on Labor? I want it ready by August Next year which is plenty of time!

I've been working on mine for going on 6 years.

Anything to take into consideration when building it knowing I want to bring it back to the UK for Airbnb on a friends Land and rental for festival until I have enough money to do Europe and more?

Probably a lot of things that your local authorities can tell you more about.

Here's the Floor Plan and some photos to get an idea of what I'm thinking!

It looks like you are planning on cutting a long section out of one side of the roof for your stairs. That would cut a few of the ribs that make a school bus strong. Also how would you seal that huge opening from rain.

Just some thoughts.
Dick
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Old 07-02-2017, 01:11 PM   #4
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Location: Eustis FLORIDA
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In FL all you do is sign an affadavit saying its got 110v power, plumbing, etc. Its free, even.
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Old 07-02-2017, 02:02 PM   #5
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In the southeastern usa, i have found coach busses easier to procure for cheap price, n i think they are better deal than skoolie often times. not to mention one can get det 60 engine in them. lots of forums on other questions you ask.
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Old 07-02-2017, 02:59 PM   #6
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: Miami, Florida
Posts: 43
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: International 3600
Engine: T444E Diesel, Allison 545 Transmission
Hey! Thanks for the replies all!
For the electric power, we would use solar while we're road tripping but while static for Airbnb purpose it would also rely on a generator. While the bus is moving I would say for the most part it would be 4 of us apart for the occasional extra two once in a while.
For water, we're doing a road trip for two month stopping every two to three day, and then back in England the bus we'll be on a friends farm/equestrian centre so it will have access to water at all time.
I mean these guys worked out fine with 8 of them for 5 month on a 40ft with compost and shower so I'm not really sure why you seam to think it's unrealistic. They also completed the bus in under 6 months. I've also seen people running all their amenities through solar power. I'd say probably an average of 1 hour a day for hair dryer and 30 min for straightners (Trust me, if you suffered from psycho bob hair syndrome you'd deem it a necessity. I've scare ferocious wild life when I haven't had at least straighteners around.
Then it would probably phone charging for 4 once a day and then laptops every few days for work.

How 8 College Kids' DIY Project Made a School Bus a Dream Roadtrip Machine



For the affidavit, That sounds much easier than I thought!!! Is it as easy for someone not from the US?

Good to know Florida seems to be an easy state to change the title to!!
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Old 07-04-2017, 12:33 AM   #7
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Location: Central Florida
Posts: 891
Chassis: GMC or Chevrolet, I hope
Engine: gasser probably
Quote:
Originally Posted by annvp89 View Post
Hey everyone,
I have a place to stay in Bal Harbour but not with space for the bus so I'll be looking for a space where renovation could be done and where it could be safe for 9 month (I would be coming in and out of Miami but have family there that could check up on it. I also have a car so anything within 30/45min range is fine!
Finding a spot for your conversion will be tough.
30-45 min range from Bal Harbour. South you have Miami beach. North you have suny island and hallendalle. Your best bet is to move away from the beach, that would be west, which puts you in north Miami, Miami shores, opalocka locka. All those not very good neighborhoods.
Maybe I'm mistaken, I haven't been in the area in a while.
Probably the cheapest option would be to store in someone property. But inspectors might not like a bus in someone's backyard.

Best of luck,
Raul

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Old 07-04-2017, 01:05 AM   #8
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Join Date: May 2016
Location: Georgia
Posts: 1,469
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: IH
Engine: T444E
Rated Cap: 14
How have you guys gone about space to keep your bus where you could do the renovation as well?
I don't have room for a full length bus at my place, it's why I recently bought a shorty.

Also in terms bus I understand that older buses are better? Is that correct? I also should aim for diesel?
What are the Best makes? Best years? Best transmission? What would be an ideal bus? Things to look out for? Best websites to find buses in the Florida Region?

Diesel is generally preferable both in terms of fuel economy and longevity. They will provide more power than their gas powered counterparts (for the most part). IH/Navistar (same company) is a popular choice for many conversions. They are very common and easy to find parts for, as well as being pretty durable. I'd avoid anything newer than about 10 years old, since they have all the emissions stuff on 'em (more things to fail).

Electricity. Solar Panels? How many would I need for 4 people? We'd have a Microwave, Kettle, Phone and computer charging, air dryer and straighteners, basic every day things.
Would I need another source of electricity?

Solar is a good start and will work OK for moderate power needs such as computer and phone charging. When you get into powerful microwaves, hair dryers and such, you're getting into battery/inverter territory and at some point you'll exceed the capacity of solar and batteries. Yes, you'd need a generator.
You'll probably also need to consider power differences between U.S. and U.K., both voltage and frequency (hertz). No point setting it up for U.S. appliances if it will end up spending the rest of its time in the U.K.

I'm a 28 years old Female, I've been an added Driver on 3 different Cars in Miami for over 6 years. Do I get no claims bonus? Will this help me for a Skoolie insurance? How much do you think it will cost to insure? I have a US address and I have to get a temporary drivers licence every time I go to drive a privately owned car. Can I drive the Bus with that Licence?
I get my insurance from Progressive Commercial for about $45/month.

I have about $20000 saved up. Do you think it's doable? (I will be saving money as I build it as well do their will be extra for errors or things I might want to add on!)
Yes, though to what stage of completion, I cannot guess.

Storage! Show me your smartest space efficient storage! I need Ideas!
The steps on the floor plan that lead to the roof will be all storage! Would it be possible to make the roof deck storage?

Roof storage is possible, but I wouldn't cut through the body for a stairway. It is a place for leaks, and more importantly, it will degrade the structural integrity greatly. Also, it will increase how "top heavy" it will be. "Basement" (underfloor) storage is better at least for the heavy items. I might consider a spiral staircase and a back "porch" for rooftop access, or a rear ladder.

I will be doing this on my own so I will need help. How much do you reckon it would cost on Labor? I want it ready by August Next year which is plenty of time!
That depends on what you want done, and how professional you want it. For mechanical work, there are times when a local handyman is fine, but for some jobs, you're best off hiring a professional. Same holds true for gutting, framing, wiring and plumbing the inside. I consider myself handy, but ask me to install a solar system complete with batteries, inverter, battery charger and all the other various bits and I'll be utterly bewildered.
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Old 07-04-2017, 04:01 AM   #9
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: Miami, Florida
Posts: 43
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: International 3600
Engine: T444E Diesel, Allison 545 Transmission
Thanks

Hi Everyone!


Thanks again for all the replies!

$45 a month! That's a steal! You can't even get insured on a yaris as a first driver in the uk for that price. Why commercial? How did you go about it?

So Diesel, probably will need a generator. I reckon we could live with only 1h30 hour of hair drying for all of us every 3 to 4 days. Apart from that I guess it will only be computers and phones.

Is the microwave worth having? I'm a chef and I hate the things but I understand a lot of people would like one for convenience.

Also Gas or eletric? How long can a gas tank last you? Is it a bitch to change?

Toilet, again, what would you say are the pros and cons? Minding I'll try to keep us using facilities when we're out and about and we will also be getting a planet fitness membership so we will probably shower at least 1 to 3 times a week at gyms after a quick workout. They're all over the place!

So the roof seems to be an issue! The reason why I wanted the staircase inside is because I remember reading about someone who had huge problem getting it insured and road legal in the uk because of the patio at the back with spiral staircase!
I saw this guy who did this(photo attached) He hasn't mentioned any leeks as of yet! I'll pop him a message and see how he did and report back here to see what you think!!!

His insta is Big Larry Bus! I think his setting is pretty much what I'm looking for but I'm looking for as close to an apartment finish as I can as that's what it will be when it's not on the road!

Again thanks all for taking the time to reply you all have been super helpful!
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Old 07-04-2017, 04:28 AM   #10
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: Miami, Florida
Posts: 43
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: International 3600
Engine: T444E Diesel, Allison 545 Transmission
Electricity

Other ideas for Electricity.
Anyone heard of Thermoelectric generator? Would this help?(I am just trying to be as off gride as possible am with this floorplan)


I'm travelling with 3 very sporty friends. What if I had a static bike on the roof or just one that we can pop out on a stand to generate electricity? They get their workout, I get my phone charged. Ha I mean even if it's not much, every little help.

What about absortion fridge? What are you thoughts on that?
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