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Old 11-21-2018, 08:51 PM   #11
Almost There
RevyRev's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: Everywhere and Nowhere
Posts: 76
Year: 1992
Coachwork: Ward Senator
Chassis: International
Engine: DT466
Originally Posted by Dead pirate View Post
In other words its a hole in the highway for you to throw money into.
Haha!! So true!
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Old 11-21-2018, 09:09 PM   #12
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Southeast
Posts: 11
Year: 97
Engine: International 3800
More than you think

Budgeted 12k including bus purchase. Looking at around 15-16k prob before said and done. Its an 8 window,, so expect more for longer buses. It just adds up. We also dont have plumbing, just electric from solar/generators, and a fridge, using propane camp stove for cooking. Were just weekend users also, not full time living in the bus.
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Old 11-21-2018, 10:40 PM   #13
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Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 99
Because I have a rv my yearly vacations is a whole month instead of about a week.
I built mine for two reasons.
1 to avoid the high cost of motel rooms.
2. I could not afford a RV off a sales lot even if I thought they were acceptable.
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Old 11-22-2018, 02:02 AM   #14
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Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Winlcok, WA
Posts: 2,119
There is not real concrete amount for what a conversion will cost.

The most expensive single part of the conversion is the bus and getting the bus up to snuff. Since most used school buses are well used it isn't unusual for the school/operator who is selling the bus to put every worn out mismatched tire/wheel on the bus that going out the gate. Even if your bus is sold with decent rubber, if you take more than a couple of years to get the conversion done those good tires will be aging out. In other words, don't pass on a particular bus just because it has worn out tires and don't rush out to replace them right away. Once you get ready to hit the road you want the newest tires possible.

The next most expensive is getting the interior insulated and fitted out with your cabinets and walls.

Appliances, roof A/C units, tanks, furnace, hot water heater, gen set, etc can be purchased as a set in a wrecked RV for a fraction of what the individual items would cost.

A real low budget conversion could be made for under $10K. It would be very minimalist on amenities but the important stuff like running gear and insulation would be done.

Upgrading materials used in the floor coverings, cabinets, walls, and ceiling panels can add several thousand $$$ from the $10K figure.

Installing a solar array with an extensive battery pack with state of the art controllers, a state of the art invertor/convertor/smart charger can easily add an additional $10K.

A high end, single color professionally done paint job can start at $5K and double or triple that amount if you want anything besides something like fleet white.

Raising the roof, adding slides, or making any significant alterations to windows and doors can add thousands of $$$ onto the cost of the conversion.

The beauty of a DIY conversion is you don't need to pay out the whole chunk at one time like you would if you were purchasing a ready to go conversion or an RV.

The final cost of everything is wholly dependent upon purchasing the right bus at the start. Purchasing a low HP slow gear route bus is going to cost a lot more to upgrade to a high HP fast gear trip bus than if you spend the extra $$$ up front.

A rust bucket with great running gear may seem like a real bargain until you start having to deal with repairing the rust damage.

I suppose what I am saying is you need to first determine when you intend to use it (outside ambient temps will dictate how well you need to insulate, whether hot or cold), how you are going to use it (camping or living), who will be using it (a family has different requirements from a couple or a single), how many miles per year you intend to drive it (slow gearing can be tolerated if you only drive a couple thousand miles per year but can be a real aggravation if you are driving that many miles per month), and where you intend to drive it (staying in flyover country doesn't require nearly as much gradability as compared to crossing the Great Divide multiple times).

Good luck and keep us posted as to your progress.
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Old 11-26-2018, 11:48 PM   #15
Join Date: Feb 2018
Location: Stansbury Park, Utah
Posts: 122
Year: 2000
Coachwork: Amtran
Chassis: GA39530
Engine: DT466E 215hp 620tq
Rated Cap: 40
Wilma aint cheap

I have to say that if I get away for less than 25k, Ill be doing good. I look for deals and make compromises where I can.

I think the biggest expense is the repair and maintenance on the drive-train. I work in the trucking industry and see so many RV and Skoolie owners that have no idea how to fix the most basic mechanic issues and this turns into major expenses due to the hourly rate shops charge.

My recommendation, as an ex mechanic and truck shop service writer, learn to work on your rig or it will turn this whole experience in to a living hell. Even if you don't do all of the work, if you can do some or at least know what the shops are telling you, this will help mitigate the cost.

If you sink 20k into a skoolie then find out you toasted your engine for some simply issue, it all goes down the drain. Who here knows where all the grease zirks are on their rig and put a grease gun on them every 10k miles or so? Who carries extra fuel filters and checks their air filter regularly to make sure it is fitted properly and not letting dirt in the engine?

Sorry about the rant, I just see it too often and feel so bad when the proverbial cross country trip ends at my shop.

So keep that in mind when planning the build, these are not cheap rigs, just cheap to buy, not cheap to maintain and fix should it all fall apart.
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Old 11-27-2018, 07:52 AM   #16
Almost There
Join Date: May 2018
Location: Washington State
Posts: 80
Year: 2001
Coachwork: International
Chassis: Amtran
Engine: DT466E
I see people all the time that don't have a clue what their getting into and worse have never did any wrenching besides in a toilet. Sad to see someone pour so much into something only to find out it wont perform on the highway or doesn't for long then they have a huge overhaul bill.... You should always know how to do the basics...
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Old 11-27-2018, 08:14 AM   #17
Bus Geek
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Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Eustis FLORIDA
Posts: 17,745
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Freighliner FS65
Engine: Cat 3126
Rated Cap: 15
With my casual approach to bus ownership its easy to get to know the bus before spending money on it lol. Maybe that's why I keep upgrading!
Roll Your Own Build Thread
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Old 11-27-2018, 08:30 AM   #18
Bus Geek
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 11,359
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
to me, it seems that time is thje most importasnt thing.. and the most overlooked.. and what i mean is taking the time to do your homework before embarking..

im sorry if it sounds mean, but the posts i read where someoine has 22 days until their apartment lease expires and they are basically broke and going to live in a skoolie are the ones thayt make me shake my head..

if full timing it takes time to figure out how to make income, buy fuel, where to park, how to make repairs, not to mention determining what it is you want / need in your bus before building it..

the cost is surely part of it.. budgets here vary wildly just like in any segment of society but ultimately the most valuable thing is giving yourself time.. which oftentimes ends up in $$ saved.. in finding the right bus that runs right, installing the things you need.. learningto do the work yourself where you arent pressured..

when you have the time to research and learn. you will find that you can do much more on your bus than you thought you could..

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budget, cost, money, save

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