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Old 01-30-2018, 12:20 AM   #1
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Medium size bus designs

So I'll start with what I think I want. I'm looking for a 9-10 window bus, high headroom. What I want in the bus - back row will be a small garage so a fe bus, then queen sized bed (possibly smaller, but not by much), a shower and a composting toilet on opposite sides of bus, kitchen with an oven/stove, sink with counter space on each side of sink,and fridge with a collapsible table on opposite wall so its more open when not eating, doubles as workspace. Then at the front an L style couch on one side that pulls out to the bed and tv opposite on wall mount.

The plan is to be full timing for awhile, and running solar with option for grid tied. My main question is do y all think I'm looking for the right size bus? It'll be just me and a dog but I want enough space to not feel like I'm in 1 room. Also, is there an easy way to tell if a bus I'm looking at is the high headroom model? I'm 6'3" and am trying to talk myself out of a roof raise.

Any and all help is appreciated!
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Old 01-30-2018, 01:50 AM   #2
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So I'll start with what I think I want. I'm looking for a 9-10 window bus, high headroom. What I want in the bus - back row will be a small garage so a fe bus, then queen sized bed (possibly smaller, but not by much), a shower and a composting toilet on opposite sides of bus, kitchen with an oven/stove, sink with counter space on each side of sink,and fridge with a collapsible table on opposite wall so its more open when not eating, doubles as workspace. Then at the front an L style couch on one side that pulls out to the bed and tv opposite on wall mount.

The plan is to be full timing for awhile, and running solar with option for grid tied. My main question is do y all think I'm looking for the right size bus? It'll be just me and a dog but I want enough space to not feel like I'm in 1 room. Also, is there an easy way to tell if a bus I'm looking at is the high headroom model? I'm 6'3" and am trying to talk myself out of a roof raise.

Any and all help is appreciated!
The roof is your sticking point...just ain't many buses with extended roofs

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Old 01-30-2018, 01:55 AM   #3
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The roof is your sticking point...just ain't many buses with extended roofs

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Look for transit buses...they all have lots of headroom

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Old 01-30-2018, 02:03 AM   #4
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That sounds kind of like what I made, except for the bathroom and plumbing and stuff. Consider mine a 9 window FE with a garage in the back for a motorcycle loaded through the chair lift. It's simple by intention. Meant to be relatively clean looking without smelling like money, so I gave up on the idea of the alloy bus wheels. Trying to look clean enough to get past the leo and still not look like a financial target.
I've divided mine into three sections, like an orange and black catapillar. The center section is the warmest and darkest during the winter. You can have a view or you can be warm.

I never really came up with a floorplan. I move things around now and then. As I've worked on one end or the other I've always had to shuffle my things to the opposite end. Ate a bit of insulation during that phase.

This is a nice size for one person, but my available storage space would change dramatically with the addition of a bathroom. To me having those permanent structures in here would make me feel closed in. On the other hand a shower and a throne would be convenient at times.

I'll be interested in seeing what you come up with.
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Old 01-30-2018, 07:24 AM   #5
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What are the main differences between school bus versus transit? Haven't looked at them much because I heard they involved more work and most I've seen have a lot of mileage. Like a lot.

I'm gonna try and sketch out a rough floor plan today
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Old 01-30-2018, 07:54 AM   #6
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What are the main differences between school bus versus transit? Haven't looked at them much because I heard they involved more work and most I've seen have a lot of mileage. Like a lot.

I'm gonna try and sketch out a rough floor plan today
School bus is simpler. Also is MUCH more capable on dirt roads and back roads.
I couldn't get a transit bus into the driveway where I keep my buses.
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Old 01-30-2018, 08:45 AM   #7
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School bus is simpler. Also is MUCH more capable on dirt roads and back roads.
I couldn't get a transit bus into the driveway where I keep my buses.
That right there makes me think no to a transit. Sounds like it wouldn't even make it to the land I'll be using to store it while building. New Mexico dirt roads going to 20 acres in middle of nowhere
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Old 01-30-2018, 09:09 AM   #8
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That right there makes me think no to a transit. Sounds like it wouldn't even make it to the land I'll be using to store it while building. New Mexico dirt roads going to 20 acres in middle of nowhere
If its flat dirt or clay roads you'd be fine. I've got sugar sand and lots of ruts to drive up through.
Ground clearance is the only real negative I can think of with the transits. I like school buses because of how basic and utilitarian they are. Transit buses are designed to operate in urban, paved environments. School buses are designed for a variety of roads and surfaces. That said there are "lowrider" school buses with limited ground clearance. But most school buses have plenty of ground clearance and with open shoulder rear tires will get to anywhere you'd reasonably want to go.
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Old 01-30-2018, 09:33 AM   #9
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What are the main differences between school bus versus transit? Haven't looked at them much because I heard they involved more work and most I've seen have a lot of mileage. Like a lot.

I'm gonna try and sketch out a rough floor plan today
Transit buses have high ceilings...that's their biggest advantage...the windows are huge...they have no underbelly to speak of...I flip flop b/t transit and school...when I get there money will be what drives my decision

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Old 01-30-2018, 09:48 AM   #10
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Old 01-30-2018, 09:50 AM   #11
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Skoolies are typically built on medium to heavy duty truck chassis and will have the associated engines, running gear & brakes. As noted above they will usually have very good ground clearance and are adaptable to almost any type of road. Transits are totally different animals. Mission built for either urban streets or highways. Most are very low to the ground and geared to their purpose. They will also usually have very high amp alternators and very high capacity A/C systems.

As a general rule, "City Buses" make poor platforms for RV type conversions while Intercity buses can make excellent custom coaches but are pretty much limited to paved roads.

Skoolies are much more adaptable as far as their range of operations. That is one of the reasons we have to compete with Mexico to buy decent school buses. The poor quality of the roads make anything but Skoolies impractical to drive in most areas there.
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Old 01-30-2018, 11:45 AM   #12
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How big will your garage be? I'm doing the same and want an 8' shop, that's why I want all of 40' so I'm not cramped using 8' off the back.
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Old 01-30-2018, 12:25 PM   #13
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The roads to get to my friends land in new Mexico, which I have permission to stay on anytime rent free, are all old dirt roads, lots of rocks and ruts, and not a comfortable ride. The length of the transit bus would definitely make high centering and scraping ground extremely high. We got a full-size school bus shell (motor/tranny gutted) towed out there and the guy had to get a running start and push it backwards through the dirt to get it to its spot because the bumper hut the incline way before the wheels so I'm gonna need the ground clearance.

I was only planning a small garage, 1 or 2 windows max. Just for tools, hiking/camp gear, whatever else I need it for. Haven't thought of any reason why I'd need any bigger yet. I wouldn't be using my miter saw or table saw inside the bus ever.
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Old 01-30-2018, 12:36 PM   #14
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Are the differences in a 9 window and 12 windows Dow as far as driving them significant? I'm a little intimidated by the length, having never driven large vehicles before, which is mainly why I started looking at short wheel base midsize buses
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Old 01-30-2018, 01:32 PM   #15
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Skoolies are typically built on medium to heavy duty truck chassis and will have the associated engines, running gear & brakes. As noted above they will usually have very good ground clearance and are adaptable to almost any type of road. Transits are totally different animals. Mission built for either urban streets or highways. Most are very low to the ground and geared to their purpose. They will also usually have very high amp alternators and very high capacity A/C systems.

As a general rule, "City Buses" make poor platforms for RV type conversions while Intercity buses can make excellent custom coaches but are pretty much limited to paved roads.

Skoolies are much more adaptable as far as their range of operations. That is one of the reasons we have to compete with Mexico to buy decent school buses. The poor quality of the roads make anything but Skoolies impractical to drive in most areas there.
This video might be useful
https://youtu.be/_ICdKbqNRsQ

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Old 01-30-2018, 02:04 PM   #16
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This video might be useful
https://youtu.be/_ICdKbqNRsQ

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Didn't hear em mention the driving differences. Just the obvious physical differences.
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Old 01-30-2018, 02:48 PM   #17
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Didn't hear em mention the driving differences. Just the obvious physical differences.
Lol...they probably don't drive either

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Old 01-30-2018, 04:38 PM   #18
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Are the differences in a 9 window and 12 windows Dow as far as driving them significant? I'm a little intimidated by the length, having never driven large vehicles before, which is mainly why I started looking at short wheel base midsize buses
It's all about the wheelbase and format.

Conventional buses have the steer wheels in a familiar position, so they drive pretty much as you expect them to. Turning corners depends on the wheelbase, but as they are all front-engined, the wb is usually pretty short. You have to watch the rear as the long overhang behind the rear axle swings out a long way.

That said, we have an 80-year-old lady who drives one daily, through neighborhoods picking up a whole bunch of kids.

The transit style buses are a little different. The steer wheels are about four feet behind the driving position. This is a little weird until you get used to it. It means that you have to emerge into intersections before starting your turn. With a front-engine they can still have fairly short wb, so turning isn't a problem but again you have that tail-swing to remember.

The real fun is Transit, RE, and the longer it is the trickier it can be.

The engine is right at the back. To accomodate that weight they move the rear axle back and the wheelbase can be very long. In my 40' Thomas, the distance between the axles is 23 feet (277").

This has implications. It means you have to make wide turns, especially right turns. On narrower roads you need both lanes of the road you are turning into to miss the nearside kerb with the rear wheels. SOmetimes you have to wait for opposing cars to give you the space. On the other hand, the overhang is small so you don't have to worry too much about clipping other vehicles with the rear.

We have a narrow road outside the house, and a tight turn into the yard. It's doable, but fun
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Old 01-30-2018, 05:41 PM   #19
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Agree with you on 99.9% of what you said.

I used to drive for a living - a Freightliner Century Class VIII tractor and a 53' dry van or reefer behind that. When I got my Thomas, it was very little difference in driving. Granted, I had to wait until my butt got past the corner before I started my turns, but the biggest change was opening the door's air supply before dismounting. I do love the insignificant overhang in the front and getting right on the four-wheeler's rear bumper is a joy!

I'd love to get it where I can operate the kid-whacker bar as a separate entity.
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Old 01-30-2018, 08:56 PM   #20
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Okay, so that leads me to believe a fe 12 window may not be that much worse, just pay attention to wheelbase while I'm searching. The rear overhang was what concerned me the most, but now I'm thinking I'm gonna have learn how to drive any size bus, so maybe a bit bigger wouldn't be an issue .

Didn't do anything with a floor plan, but I did build a kids play table for my sister's daycare, which got me thinking more about a bigger garage if go with a bigger bus, in case I ever have a project it'd be nice to have a good workspace (no miter saws inside still probably, just small stuff)
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