Originally Posted by Westward
... With a little background given, here are some of the questions I have.
1. At 40 feet being the max bus length, has anyone had much trouble finding rv sites to accommodate that length?
2. Many of the buses I have found so far are Thomas and BlueBird. Are there any particular body manufacturers that are easier to convert than others?
3. I read on here that you can estimate a buses length by window count (2.5 ft per window), is that still a good standard?
We bought our 40 ft BlueBird All American (flatfront) off of the Asheville/Western NC Iwanna. I watched it for months before calling. This was in 2009. The bus itself was sitting in Almond NC. We were in Franklin, NC. It was originally $1800, dropped to $1600 and we offered $1400. We went to look at it with the full purchase price in our pockets (good thing I used a backpack for a purse. $1600 in $20's are a lot). I like the look of a Bluebird Wanderlodge back when they looked (and were) built on a school bus chassis. Before we bought the BlueBird, we were in the process of converting a 40 ft Eagle 05 highway coach (David's choice of bus... 2nd bus was MY choice). Worked on it for years trying to get past the rust to start converting. Rust won. During that time we camped in a popup and later fulltimed in a Class C. Our fav campgrounds are public. So we seriously checked out possible problems involved with having a large, low slung coach pulling into some of those campgrounds. I would look at the ones that I found posts saying "length limits" and "hard/impossible to get into". Since Nantahala, Cherokee and Chattahoochee NFs were basically our back yard I concentrated on those. Actually at one point one of our homes was backed up to the Nantahala NF.
Of the developed campgrounds listed for Clayton GA, I would only avoid Wildcat 1 & 2. Getting in/out of the campground entrance is an accident waiting to happen. Entrance is on a blind curve. Usually there are pieces of vehicles/RVs laying on the side of the road. For SIZE, making the last very sharp turn into Sandy Bottom (Tate, Sandy Bottom & Tallulah River are all on Persimmon Rd off Hwy 76) may be rough. As for length they will all handle a 40 ft RV, just not ALL the sites in the campground will handle a 40 ft. But you do have two others to choose from! Rabun Beach (also Clayton) is across the road from Lake Rabun Recereation Area (the "beach"). This is one of our FAV campgrounds in the area. We have camped here VERY often over the years. You can get a 40 ft bus in ANY of the RV sites.
No problems with Cable Cove (Fontana Village), Standing Indian (Frankllin), Jackrabbit (Hayesville & the one most crowed during the summer), Van Hook Glade (between Highlands & Franklin) DO NOT TAKE AN RV OR BUS PAST VAN HOOK! If you want to drive up to the waterfalls, take a car.
We have only looked at the campgrounds on our way to/from the Cherohala Parkway. these are listed under Telico Plains. No problems there either. Ones like Indian Boundary are huge and will definitely take 40 footers.
This does not take into account the State, county and COE parks. When you figure what size pad you will fit on remember this... The bus does not have to sit on the "PAD" currently our bus is sitting with the back wheel almost (not quite) touching the back of the pad (telephone pole at the back of the pad). The WHEELS must stay on the pad, the BODY can hang out past if there isn't a tree in the way. So measure from the front of the bus to the back of your rear wheels. That is the size pad you can fit on. Making the turns is the biggie although even the tiny campgrounds have had their roads widened in the late 70's -early 90's to accommodate the idiots who can't drive their monster RVs towing their luxury SUV's.
If you are using the Forest Camping website I've linked to, chances are you will have no problem driving into any of the campgrounds listed there. Otherwise it will say. Also, while Wildcat 1 & 2 are, in my opinion, dangerous to get in/out of, you should have no problems with the rough interior roads with a high riding skoolie. I think that Rabun Beach (lake swimming with life guards for the kids) and the Persimmon Road (flat sites next to the river) campgrounds are better choices for camping .
If you are using a directory like Don Wright's Free & Cheap, then I would strongly suggest that you take a toad in to explore before committing the bus. We have checked out several and for the most part had no problem. Nor would we have a problem getting the bus into the ones we looked at (although low limbs might be a problem... we have no "stuff" on our roof, except for the black tank vent pipe, for a reason). EXCEPT for Warwoman Dell (east side of Clayton GA). We could not get my 4WD Jeep up the gravel road! We actually were sliding backwards a few times. and we had a hard time finding a place big enough to turn the Jeep around. I knew the road was rough but I didn't realize it was that bad.
We are now fulltiming in the bus conversion (work in progress). We've only had it in two campgrounds (NM). No problems with either. Our biggest problem has been getting a food cart (which we have stopped operating... might turn it into a storage trailer for junking when we go back east) PLUS the 40 ft bus PLUS my Jeep all squeezed into the same pull-thru site. We are currently in a back-in site and there is no problem getting them all on the site.
IF you are in Western NC, you may want to take a drive out to Franklin NC. At the intersection of the Old Murphy Road & Roller Mill Rd to the west of the gas station/convenience store is a mechanics building (corner of Old Murphy Rd & Gillespie) where they will sometimes have a few buses for sale sitting near the chain link fence. Sometimes they have a few buses other times they have a lot. I don't know the name of the business but they are not there on weekends. I think they are part of the school bus garage (opposite side of the street across from the veterinarian's place).
Look up 1427 State Road 1442, Franklin, NC 28734 on Google maps and look at the street view there.
On edit: when we left Franklin in July 2009, they had three buses sitting next to the fence for sale. They all had $2000 written on the windshields. $2K was more than we wanted to pay for a bus to use as a moving van.