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Old 08-01-2016, 02:37 AM   #1
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School bus versus Step van

I'm planning a conversion of either a medium length school bus, 40-50 passengers, or a 16 foot step van in to an RV. It's going to be me, a single guy doing the traveling and I plan on living in my conversion about a year, maybe longer. I need a bit of storage room in my conversion for a business I run. I Want it to have a toilet, and a shower would be nice, but not needed. I work out a lot and can just hit up gyms for shower needs.
My business requires me to visit cities a lot, so I want something with the best maneuverability, and the ability to sleep in it covertly. That is why I'm leaning towards a step van. Plus no seats to remove, or windows to have to worry about. I would ideally add some roof vents and some windows for more ventilation. Seems like the conversion would be a bit faster and easier.
Ideally, I want a small propane heater, for very cold nights, and a a small generator paired with some solar panels to run a small air conditioner for hotter months. I love the idea of wiring up a bunch of LEDs to make the inside nice and bright and using my iPad for a small TV during downtime.
I'm really leaning towards a step van versus a bus, but, am I missing something?
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Old 08-01-2016, 09:43 AM   #2
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I think a lot of people choose a bus (full chassis) even short ones because of the under-side space available between the floor and the bottom of the skirting to mount things.. plumbing, tanks, generators, wire-chases, etc..

a step fan sits lower to the ground so underside space is limited.. but if you arent planning on full plumbing it may work better.. you would still need to insulate it as the step vans ive seen are often just metal with zero insulation.. my bus is stock and has some inuslation and is still tough to cool if its parked in the sun...

the drivetrain on a step van will likely be easier to maintain as they are similar to a standard van or pickup truck so getting parts is often easier...

you might also consider a cut-away bus.. they are short school busses where the front part is like a standard chevy or ford van.. you can have niceities such as dashboard A/C and such perhaps already installed....

obviously manyu choose a bus for the space, stand-up height and length (if they are building a home or family camper)...

there are some extended length step vans out there (like the MAC-tools trucks)..

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Old 08-01-2016, 03:53 PM   #3
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I am glad that it doesn't seem as crazy an idea as I was thinking. It just seems a lot less commonly done, so I was nervous there was something I was missing. But I have seen some great conversions online.
I read a lot here about black water versus composting, and I just can't see a benefit to black water. Plus I'm a tree hugger, so i like the idea of making compost.
I was planning on making a small platform for the back of the van, with a water tank, and a box containing a small generator. I could also see mounting the water tank to the roof. But I will need to verify that won't make the vehicle too tall, and I need to make sure I can properly seal everything..
At this point this is all in the planning stages, and I have a spread sheet with pros and cons of each possible starter vehicle.
Thanks for the input, and I'll take a look at cutaway buses. that would seem to be a good option also.
BTW, this was the kind of step van I was looking at:
2002 Workhorse P42 Step Van FL Cargo 1 Owner 6 5L Diesel Food Truck Mail P30 RV | eBay
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Old 08-02-2016, 02:56 PM   #4
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The roof on stepvans aren't nearly as sturdy, i wouldnt put a water tank up there. Decent bit of room under the p30 chassis, leading to their popularity as food trucks
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Old 08-02-2016, 04:28 PM   #5
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Water up high can be tricky. At about 8-1/2 pounds a gallon, when in motion it will exert quite a bit of force at the top of the CG lever. Down low is much stable.
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