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Old 12-20-2017, 03:10 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Schoolbus vs Transit/City Bus?

Hey!

I came really close to buying a "fixer-upper" house, and just can't seem to justify signing my life over to banks and a loan and whatnot, and so my conviction to live in some sort of camper conversion has been renewed!

So, I've been putting thought into what I want out of a vehicle. Busses and box trucks seem the most appealing, I like that box trucks are ubiquitous and it's pretty safe to assume you can find someone to work on it if you need it. I like that busses are basically "camper skeletons" and that the "driver section" is part of the bus' cabin rather than separate like most box trucks. There's something more comfortable about busses that's drawing me in, so I'm trying to figure out whether I should be shopping for School busses or for Transit/City busses.

The main draw to city-style busses is their low floor. I'm a lot more comfortable with the idea of such a large vehicle being lower to the ground, and as a 6'0" person who is romanticizing the idea of a loft sleeping area... the lower the floor of the vehicle is, the more likely I can utilize space under the sleeping loft. That said, I have a lot of learning to do about understanding how "city" busses are geared!

I am imagining that most of my bus driving will be done on highways/interstates. The idea in my head is that my bus will get me to a location where I'll hang out for a while and that I'll do short range commutes using something like a motorcycle. So, being able to get to highway speeds of ~70+MPH is definitely ideal.

So, do you have any thoughts on the different kinds of bus? I found this discussion from like seven years ago and people mostly seemed to like transit busses.

Are there any extra or different things I should be doing homework on if I'm going to go for a transit rather than a skoolie?
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Old 12-20-2017, 04:08 PM   #2
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I went with a high-floor city bus because I'm going to be carting around 6 people (and more for short-term excursions). The high-floor gives me major under-floor (i.e. "basement") storage for tanks, batteries, grills, hydraulics, etc., that you won't find in a skoolie. I'm looking for longer-term boondocking.

However, the skoolies are smaller and more agile. You can get them into more places than a 45' coach bus will go. In my opinion, skoolies are easier to mod (roof raise being the prime example) than a coach.

As for a low-floor city bus, they are better on headroom than the other types, but much worse on storage (at least in my opinion). Some people who are going to stay in a colder climate like them because tankage and whatnot are inside the insulation envelope. The longest low-floor bus I've seen is 40'.
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Old 12-20-2017, 04:16 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by MarkyDee View Post
I went with a high-floor city bus because I'm going to be carting around 6 people (and more for short-term excursions). The high-floor gives me major under-floor (i.e. "basement") storage for tanks, batteries, grills, hydraulics, etc., that you won't find in a skoolie. I'm looking for longer-term boondocking.
Hmmm.

My School bus has 10' of pass-through storage bays, or thereabouts.
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Old 12-20-2017, 04:29 PM   #4
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I can appreciate the utility of the under-floor storage. I know I've seen folks use it for things like batteries and tanks but I forgot to consider that! In my head, I was imagining putting them in out-of-the-way parts of the innards of the bus, but it's definitely worth thinking about having the room to put them under and outside.

"Agility" isn't too much of a concern to me, I'm sure at some point I'd appreciate being able to climb and crawl into an interesting spot, but I really don't mind leaving the bus in more accessible places. Like I said, I currently intend to have a secondary vehicle to do most of my "daily" driving with.

That's all good food for thought, though, thanks!

What makes you say coaches are harder to mod than skoolies?
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Old 12-20-2017, 04:38 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Twigg View Post
Hmmm.

My School bus has 10' of pass-through storage bays, or thereabouts.
I don't want to turn this into a "well mine is bigger!"

But, if you want to go there....

I have 4 bays that are 4.75' long x 8' wide x 50" tall each. I have the wheelchair lift in 1/2 of one of the bays (most of it will be coming out, though - I'll be repurposing the hydraulics for "landing gear").

I've not seen a skoolie yet that has that kind of basement storage.... But a skoolie can maneuver into places I won't be able to - that was the trade-off....
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Old 12-20-2017, 04:53 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by scapegoatwax View Post
What makes you say coaches are harder to mod than skoolies?
A lot of skoolies' walls go straight up. A straight-wall roof-raise can be done "through the windows" (cutting through the frame at the window-level).

My coach bus' walls slant in (as does all of the coaches I've seen). Doing a roof-raise on a slant-wall must be done down where the slant starts (usually at the chair rail or a little lower). If you try to do it anywhere else it'll look, well, stupid (slant, straight, slant), so you'll end up lifting a whole lot more weight.

Also, my coach has a roof-mounted HVAC unit, so if I want to do a roof-raise (which I do), I've got additional weight to lift, as well as potential extra complexity surrounding the HVAC lines.

I'm not saying it can't be done, just that its going to be more complex to execute.

In my case my wife isn't liking the extra complexity and is trying to get me to not do it (she'll probably win this point in the end). Her priority here is a quicker finish than more headroom (even if its only an extra 2-3 inches, which is really all we need - I want 4", though).
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Old 12-20-2017, 04:53 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkyDee View Post
I don't want to turn this into a "well mine is bigger!"

But, if you want to go there....

I have 4 bays that are 4.75' long x 8' wide x 50" tall each. I have the wheelchair lift in 1/2 of one of the bays (most of it will be coming out, though - I'll be repurposing the hydraulics for "landing gear").

I've not seen a skoolie yet that has that kind of basement storage.... But a skoolie can maneuver into places I won't be able to - that was the trade-off....
Oh yes ... coaches have more bays and they are bigger. Some School buses have storage bays that are not too shabby is all I was saying.
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Old 12-20-2017, 05:04 PM   #8
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Mr Undecided Myself here
I have gone from converted ambulance, to enclosed trailer, now looking for a unicorn of a shuttle bus while considering "real" schoolie bus type as well. Wait for it...........Nope, still havent decided/ found my ideal yet
Some of us take 8+ months to FINALLY decide through all the pros and cons of each
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Old 12-20-2017, 05:09 PM   #9
Bus Nut
 
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Originally Posted by Twigg View Post
Oh yes ... coaches have more bays and they are bigger. Some School buses have storage bays that are not too shabby is all I was saying.
I wholeheartedly agree - they aren't shabby. I really wasn't meaning that. (I hope you took most of my post as lighthearted as I wrote it....) And this is where our different design choices come into play....

(Getting a little serious now....)

I was looking for a possible long-term boondocking bus for 6 people, so I wanted the max space I could get. For what I was wanting to accomplish, the skoolie that topped out at 38'-40' long and 1/2 the basement space I could get in a coach wasn't going to do the job that the coach could.

If my priorities were even a little different than they are, then the coach would have been knocked out of contention pretty fast due to its overall size. I really would like to get into some of those campgrounds out West that I won't be able to in a 45' behemoth. (JDFinley, however, is giving me hope that we'll find even more amazing places to visit!)
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Old 12-20-2017, 05:19 PM   #10
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Defjr333 View Post
Mr Undecided Myself here
I have gone from converted ambulance, to enclosed trailer, now looking for a unicorn of a shuttle bus while considering "real" schoolie bus type as well. Wait for it...........Nope, still havent decided/ found my ideal yet
Some of us take 8+ months to FINALLY decide through all the pros and cons of each
Doug
TAKE YOUR TIME! This is a big commitment (as I'm slowing finding out how big...)!

If you factor in all the time I spent looking at "tiny homes" and stuff like that, I probably have about 4 years in this before I "pulled the trigger" on the bus I have. I created the list of priorities and desires I wanted fulfilled during the time I was researching "tiny homes".
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