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Old 08-28-2012, 03:17 PM   #1
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Location: Quebec, Canada
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Hi! new here with a few Questions...

We are thinking about embarking on this Skoolie adventure. We are very much in the first stages... I mean... we haven't even found our bus yet!

We are a family of 6 (hubby and I and our 4 kids ages 10, 8, 5 and 2) and we would be selling the house and living in the bus full time for a while.
I would LOVE to get any advice you could give me! What should I look for in a bus? What are the minimums for a large family? I am in Quebec, Canada BTW so there is less choice I find then in other places. I can't seem to find much as a decent price.

Also, though we don't have the bus yet, one of my biggest factors is keeping the kids safe with full seatbelts. I have the opportunity to get a Sprinter 3 seat bench for cheap that have integrated seatbelts. Should I get it? The only problem I see with it is that it is quite wide however at 55-60 inches (without or with armrests)... but at the price that I could get it, I feel as though I would regret it if I don't...

Thanks so much!

This is truly going to be a learning curve and tons of work but our freedom will be so worth it!
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Old 08-28-2012, 04:56 PM   #2
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Re: Hi! new here with a few Questions...

If i had 4 children, i would want something like either a 40' coach or school bus that long. Second, i would need it completely converted before the children had to live in it. Barring that, i would purchase a long fifth wheel or pull trailer and live in that until the bus was done.
So, unless you plan to sell your house after a bus conversion, and you really want a bus conversion now, you might look at some of the busses esp coach busses that are converted for somewhere around 5 to 10K. The children will need quite a bit of room for their own stuff and life.
Been there myself...
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Old 08-28-2012, 05:15 PM   #3
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Re: Hi! new here with a few Questions...

With that many kids, I would buy an already converted bus plus a small travel trailer to use as a "bunk room" for the kids & their toys.
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Old 08-28-2012, 08:21 PM   #4
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Re: Hi! new here with a few Questions...

I agree with both posts except the $5-10k motor coach . At that price, there's a good chance it's a roach and will cost you a ton in repairs. But you never know, you might get lucky. Also,my guess would be that you would have a better chance finding what you want in the US.
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Old 08-28-2012, 10:05 PM   #5
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Location: Austin, TX
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Year: 1996
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Re: Hi! new here with a few Questions...

Like others said, the order in which you sell the house, buy the bus, etc., will make a difference in what you buy and when. I agree living in the bus with 4 kids while converting it is not going to be fun. At all. And remember, the conversion process takes a long time. Even if you have the luxury of working on it full time, it will likely take several months. If you have to work at a job and convert in your spare time, it could be more like a year or longer. Like others said as well, with 4 kids you will want a 40 footer - or perhaps a short bus pulling a travel trailer, or some such combination. Good luck! Keep us posted if you go ahead with it.
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Old 08-29-2012, 07:52 AM   #6
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Re: Hi! new here with a few Questions...

oh... I wasn't planning on living in the bus while converting it... ummm... I am not that crazy! but I would be if I attempted that

We had put the house up for sale already (by owner) and we were planning on my husband just quitting his job once it sold and then leaving and changing province, but where we are heading, housing for 6 is expensive, and hard to find, and the uncertainty of not finding a job right away is a bit too scary. I have always loved the idea of converting a bus and travelling with the family but until recently my husband was not on board. Now though, he thinks that it is a great idea as we can find a place to park and live where we are heading and we can take our time to get there. So we took the for sale signs down for now and we are going to work on this project.

I have seen a few conversions locally but I think that they would be more work to make what we need it to be as we would have to rip everything out and they seem to be made to minimum standards. If we could just find a shell that would be great, but I don't mind starting from scratch even if it a lot more work. My mom's boyfriend has a farm and was a truck mechanic until he lost his arm in an accident. However, he still has the tools, the space and the knowledge to help us out (and my mom can watch the kids while we are working). We are also planning on getting a trailer to pull as we have things that we do not want to part with or we will need (books, kitchen things, bikes, my sewing stuff etc)

We are now actively looking for a 40" bus at the moment. Again, is their any minimums in Engine? Is Automatic OK or should I learn to drive manual if I can? Should I buy that seat that I mentioned above?

Oh... Also, I am not completely unexperienced in living in a small space... When I was a kid, my mom and I lived full time in a 62' Ford Econoline named "Gypsy June" and travelled the West Coast of BC and the United States for more than a year
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Old 08-29-2012, 10:31 AM   #7
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Re: Hi! new here with a few Questions...

If i were doing it, i would get the newest bus that i could afford so that i would have less maintenence troubles. And also not get one that has rust on the chassis parts. There are busses out there that do not have any rust, like eastern washington, and some central us states.
As far as engines, most diesel engines are fine, but i would suggest something like if in a school bus like a mt643 allison instead of the 500 series, and if you buy a coach bus, the series 60 engines are really good but maintenance costs are over double of a school bus.
With any bus, always have an adequate amount of cash or credit card while traveling as a repair can use up $5000.
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Old 08-29-2012, 12:58 PM   #8
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Re: Hi! new here with a few Questions...

I'm with chev49's first post. I have seen some real deals on coach buses between $4-10 grand. I'm sure there's some turds in the same price range. You would save yourself a ton of money traveling for the right bus that's done already. Buy one and spend 6 months still in the house working 2 jobs to build an emergency fund for the road. My 2 cents.
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Old 08-29-2012, 04:40 PM   #9
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Re: Hi! new here with a few Questions...

I will add this... you have to be committed even when the Burnout phase hits. I went through it after a 2 month mad dash to get in it. For about a month I didn't do anything and got into a lull (burnout) then got knee deep back into it. I think what I did in 2mo may have placed in the top 10 at least on conversion progress... since then I have been in a more even pace. I literally worked early mornings, to work, when I could on Lunch, then after the kids were down I would work to 11pm or midnight getting it ready. So that is my experience alone. I'm a workaholic so be prepared to work hard and work often to achieve any progress goals if they are short.
It (for me) has been very rewarding and I like to see and hear good responses from people who see it. Yesterday Eve... worked on bus, this eve... work on bus, tomorrow eve, work on bus~!!!!
The top things I did are as follows:
1. Insulation - 1/2" Foam Board under 1/2" Plywood under 3/8" Solid Bamboo Floors, Spray in Foam Insulation on walls and rear engine cowling, Ceramic coating on Roof (HUGE difference)
2. The Bamboo Floors - Resists Water and cleans up well - looks GREAT as well
3. Rear Engine... So glad I got a Pusher~! So much more room and looks better. Is very quiet. After spray in insulation all I hear when driving is Turbo Whistle...


Good Luck... again be prepared to work hard but also be rewarded with NO BILLS!!!!!!!!!!!! Woo Hoo!~
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Old 09-08-2012, 10:12 PM   #10
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Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Quebec, Canada
Posts: 50
Year: 1992
Coachwork: BlueBird
Chassis: All Canadian
Engine: 8.3 Cummins
Rated Cap: 72
Re: Hi! new here with a few Questions...

So, I think we have found the bus! I am asking for more details and pictures but I have a good feeling about it. It is a 1992 diesel coach with nearly all of the seats out and lots of underneath storage space. It was a military coach before the current owner bought it and used it to move across the country.

http://newbrunswick.kijiji.ca/c-ViewAdL ... ageIndex=1
What do you think?

I would love to find a bus that was already converted but I just can't find anything that has the layout that we need if we plan on full timing for a while. And the buses that i did find, i think would need more work because i would need to tear everything out and start over again to make sure that it is well inslulated. Also, It seems Quebec regulations changed in the last years and makes it VERY hard to get a bus registered as an RV, especially when you are choosing a few green options like a composting toilet (it seems inspectors say that a composting toilet wouldn't be used in a house, so it isn't acceptable for the a mobile house) so getting a bus from another province that is already registered as an RV will make things much easier for us.

I have been pouring over information and websites etc and literally dreaming about plumbing and layouts while I sleep and I am not disillusioned that it won't be a lot of work. This is our dream though and I am willing to work for it. It also helps that I am a stay at home, homeschooling mom and I am the handy one of the family. So while the hubby is at work I will be able to work on the bus slowly with the kids and it will be a great project for them too as we will be learning a lot together... Yes, I am crazy but we like being crazy
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