Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 08-19-2019, 08:36 AM   #1
New Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2019
Posts: 7
Need guidance - shopping for a bus/skoolie

We are a family of 6. 2 adults and kids are 17, 13, 11, 10 months old currently. My son finishes high school this year and then we plan to hit the road, living full time in our bus. We have no mechanical experience.

Would you lean towards buying the 40 ft school bus or a big conversion bus (like the 1984 MCI Bus, Model – MC9, that appears to be in great condition - ready to roll now per the seller). We believe we want a rear engine flat nose with 8.3 cummins engine - we would put "master" bedroom in the back. Perhaps the Cummins 5.9 engine is "good enough" because it seems like it's the more frequently found engine in many of the buses I'm looking at.

We want solar to live off grid with composting toilet. Full size fridge. washer/dryer combo. shower. sink. toaster oven. 1 or 2 burners to cook on. "central A/C" and great insulation.

We are looking for an automatic - both adults never driven a stick (or a bus...). We want to boon dock and live off the grid as much as we can and have a very small budget.

Any advice/guidance is VERY appreciated as we begin this exciting journey!
rmelkbusorbust is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-19-2019, 08:59 AM   #2
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Eastern WA
Posts: 5,349
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: All American RE (A3RE)
Engine: Cummins ISC (8.3)
Rated Cap: 72
Welcome,

Regarding drive train choices:

The MCI will likely have a Detroit 8v71 or 6v92 or possibly an 8v92. If it has an automatic transmission it is likely an Allison HT-740. All good. I put 250k miles on a bus with the 8v71 & HT-740. It served me well and is still on the road with it's new owner.

As far as skoolies go, I assume that you are looking at a full size bus. If so, I would definitely stick with the 8.3 Cummins. I have owned several 5.9's and love them in a pickup. In a big bus the 8.3 is a better fit.

That's my $0.02
PNW_Steve is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-19-2019, 09:14 AM   #3
Bus Nut
 
TheHubbardBus's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2019
Location: Hotzona
Posts: 509
Year: 2003
Coachwork: IC
Chassis: 3800
Engine: Navistar T444e
Rated Cap: 24
I think the best thing you could do would be to spend as much time as possible reading as much as you can on this forum, watching YouTube videos, etc. Then you'll get a better sense for what's involved in a build, what you can afford and/or learn, what work you may need to farm out (and how much that will cost), etc. If you're anything like us, you'll end up realigning your expectations vs reality countless times throughout the process.


As an example, I can tell you right now... 'low budget' and 'a solar system that can run a full-size refrigerator, central AC, and a toaster oven' are two entirely incompatible concepts. No matter what your budget, that would be a tough nut to crack.
__________________
- Sharon & Jody
TheHubbardBus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-19-2019, 11:05 AM   #4
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Eastern WA
Posts: 5,349
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: All American RE (A3RE)
Engine: Cummins ISC (8.3)
Rated Cap: 72
Another long winded post consumed by the forum gremlins..... I hate it when that happens...

I pretty much agree with TheHubbardBus.

Big loads from solar can be expensive or completely impractical to support with solar alone.

On a tight budget you will find it necessary to run your generator to support the loads that you listed.

I shopped diligently for good buys on the components for my solar install. I will be sporting 1800 watts of panels on the roof and close to 600lbs of batteries. Even with that, I will be running the generator in the morning to support my coffee maker and SWMBO's hair dryer.

Finding ways to conserve energy will pay dividends when it comes to sizing your solar and generator.
PNW_Steve is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-19-2019, 11:21 AM   #5
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Eastern WA
Posts: 5,349
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: All American RE (A3RE)
Engine: Cummins ISC (8.3)
Rated Cap: 72
To give you something to compare to:

I have 300 watts of solar, MPPT controller and two GC-2's in series installed in my travel trailer.

When the batteries were brand new I could run my 10.8cu.ft. refrigerator, laptop for 1-2 hours and led lights for 2-3 hours daily without any trouble during the summer. Now that the batteries are pushing four years old they have lost some capacity and hit the low voltage disconnect around 5am and have to start the generator until I get good sun on the panels.

A tip on running a residential refrigerator from solar on your bus:

DIY or hire an appliance repair person to wire a disconnect switch on the auto defrost. The defrost cycle really hits the batteries. Turn it on when you have shore or generator power and turn it off when you are relying on Solar.
PNW_Steve is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


» Featured Campgrounds

Reviews provided by

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 02:42 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
×