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Old 05-31-2005, 07:40 PM   #1
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Join Date: May 2005
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some new guy questions

hi all. well, the more i look at 5th wheels and motor homes the more disgusted i get. looked at a mh this weekend that was going for 200 plus, looked nice untill you started pulling drawers etc. underneath the flash , was still not impressed. thinking about doing a school bus. will probably set my retirement plans back a year or so, but oh well.

ok, on the long (dont know how many passenger) front engine busses, how much useable room for your floorplan?? i think these things are 8' wide, but how wide useable after insulation and sideing??

how much length do you have??

i have seen several under construction busses from various links and am curious about location of water heaters, genys, propane tanks etc. one i was looking at had everything inside the bus. wouldnt that cost you a lot of floor space?? why couldnt you build protective boxes and mount all that stuff underneath. seems it would be fairly easy to do so, but ive been in the auto body biz for 40 years and metal is my "thing" guess for others maybe not so easy.

have seen a few for sale at i think it was. they had some that had underneath storage and "high headroom". generally , how much headroom do these guys have?? im 6'2 in my sox and dont bend over as well as i used to. besides, i want to be able to stand up in my own house.

how many miles would be considered high and ready for a rebuild?? most i have seen have 100k plus miles. am leaning towards a dt 360 or 466 if i can find one, with a stick shift.

how fast will these things go on the highway?? i realize most of these busses werent made for highway use, but do you have any problems putting miles one em??

well, that should be enough for one post appreciate any enlightenment you folks care to provide. thanks for taking the time to readi this. regards, j.d.
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Old 05-31-2005, 09:50 PM   #2
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Posts: 382
Year: 1981
Coachwork: Crown
Chassis: Crown
Engine: 671 DD
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Welcome J.D. to the world of skoolie conversions, always glad to see new people.

J.D., the first thing that I would recommend is to buy, borrow, or steal two books. The books are titled "How to Build Low Cost MotorHomes" and "Select and Convert Your Bus Into a Motorhome on a Shoestring." These books can be bought at:

This site also has a bunch of good information and should help you in selecting a bus.

Now, to answer some of the questions (remember, these are my opinons and remember what they say about opinions)

Buses (commercial and skoolies) can run in size from about 14 feet all the way to 45 feet in length and 8 to 8.5 feet in width. The inside height of can run from about 5' 6" in an old skoolie to well over 6 feet in a transit. By the way, you can always raise the roof of a bus, but be careful, some buses don't take too well to roof raises.

The inside width of a bus can quickly disappear, depending on how much insulation, how wide the bus is to start off with, But the width starting off, with a 8 foot wide bus, is a little over 7 feet (my Crown started with about 7.5 feet).

Now, on highway speed. Don't expect to break any land speed records because a normal skoolie will only get about 60 mph. These buses were made forr a lot of stop and go so they are geared that way. You can always find on that has a two speed rear end and that will give you a higher speed. Now, the magic question: How fast do you want to go in a skoolie? Remember, you are using this on vacation and you should be relaxing.

Oh, I forgot, about the amount of miles. Highway coaches will run forever, depending on the maintanance. Remember, some highway coaches have more than a million miles before a comany gets rid of them. Skoolies, on the other hand, are disposed of early in their lives. School districts rather get rid of them instead of putting up with the liability or the extra cost of maintaining older equipment. So, you usually get a relatively new bus for a song.

Well, enough of my jabbering. Try buying the two books I mentioned, they will give you enough knowledge to make an educated decision.

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Old 06-01-2005, 02:25 PM   #3
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Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Salt Lake City, UT
Posts: 138
Year: 1989
Coachwork: Wayne
Chassis: Ford
Engine: 370
Rated Cap: 44
JD, welcome!! Get a Skoolie, they are the coolest;)

I'll answer a couple of your q's according to my experience so far...

I have a 1989 Wayne School Bus body on a Ford Chas. My workable floor space is 25' x 8'. Although I have a 1.5" rail that runs down both sides of the walls on the inside where the seats where mounted. Some people make a new wall covering those, and some just build their furnature around it. I'll build around it. There is also probably about 8" more room at the end, but the head room is cut about 1.5' cause that is where the exit door is. Anyway, the moral is, all buses are different. No matter what you get, you will adapt your plans to your liking with what you have.

Thats great that you can work with metal easily. I'm sure a lot of skoolie builders out there don't have that luxury. I however am one of them, but here is my plan for appliances. Keep in mind, i have x'ed the plumming for my current bus for lack of time, money, and use if i had it. Anywho, I will mount my generator under the bus, behind the rear axel, on the driver's side, this will keep the noise and exhaust away from my "outside living area, under my awning". For obvious reasons my furnace and AC will be mounted inside the bus in my "utility closet" with ductwork for the heat and the ac just sticking out of it. My battery bay will be located in the cargo box I made, closest to the original battery box, and the rest of the electrical controls will be built inside of my couch.

I hope i answered something for you, or at leasted inticed you to keep looking into it. It's a hard, but fun project. Good luck and keep us all posted.
'89 Ford 370-2V Wayne - Sold :(

Plotting the next project now. Looking for a clean diesel pusher with low rust/miles. Identical plans with plumming and biodiesel added :)
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Old 06-01-2005, 03:42 PM   #4
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 238
Yeap..I have a 1976 ford thats 8 foot wide and 30 foot from back door to back of drivers seat..I already have some built in undercarriage storage so thats not been a problem for me (yet). Mine came with a shower/toilet combo that is roughly three feet by four feet..I can ****, shower AND shave without getting up *S* I'm pretty tall and the only place thats easy and conferable to stand is dead center, but like he said above raiseing the roof is a fairly easy thing..and if you have done body work it should be cake for you.

I forgot to check where you live but if your near KS (kansas) I have a link to one you might email or swing by.
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Old 06-01-2005, 07:26 PM   #5
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first of all, thanks a lot for the input from all you guys. robert, i will go to the book store and see if i can find any of these books, be nice to get em NOW. lol, if not ill order em. good advice, thanks

Andy, good idea on the genny. if i do this i think ill put everything underneath that i can. shouldnt be a prob making some boxes and mounts for tanks etc. been drawing up some rough plans for water pumps etc.

Demonknight. man thats a lot of inside space. with that kind of room you could build a palace. have to see if i can find one of those critters. how many passenger is it. the adds i see dont list length, only how many it carries. i live here in glitter gulch, nevada. quite a ways from kansas. bummer is the online places that sell busses are mostly in the midwest or east. have a friend whos wife is a school teacher, shes going to see what they do with thier old busses in vegas. one good thing about the busses here is they have to have a/c, gets a little warm here in the summer. all the ones ive seen on the street are flat nose ones. mostly crowns. will do some more checking. want to buy the books robert suggested to give me some better ideas on what im really looking for.

anyway fellas, thanks a lot for the info. the more i think about this the better i like the idea. the finish results would make a mh look pretty sad. plus , you can have what you want where you want it, like that too. take care fellas and thanks again. best regards, j.d.
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Old 06-01-2005, 09:13 PM   #6
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If highway speed is something you want try to find a bus from a rual school dist. They usually have bigger engines and are geared for higher speeds since they spend a lot of time on the highways. When I was driving through WY a fully loaded BlueBird All American passed us and we were going 75MPH. The transit style or Forward Control skoolies tend to have more room inside and be more suited for highway use.

Living in the Denver area most of the buses around here are the transit style since they do a lot of highway and mountain driving. You might want to consider a crown since many of them have 10 speed road rangers in them. They are truly highway buses that are built more like tanks.
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Old 06-02-2005, 10:25 PM   #7
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 238
alas I have no came without seats so i have no idea how many it did have...I would bet though that the 70+ passenger is close to the size...speaking of fast buses..I was passed out here in CO by one while I was doing didn't take long to catch up OR disappear so it was moveing *S*

On a side note I lived in Bullhead az for a about HOT
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Old 06-03-2005, 09:19 PM   #8
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Location: Idaho
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Hey Demonknight, Did you get some nasty weather today? We sure did, the tornado sirens were something I had forgotten after living in Oregon.
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Old 06-03-2005, 11:35 PM   #9
Join Date: Jan 2005
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*LOL* nasty? well I guess most think of it that way.."I" grew up with it and MISSED it while liveing in Washington...there were tornado warnings out, but they were roughly 50 - 60 miles south of us. I was like a kid bounceing around the house looking out all the windows...
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Old 06-04-2005, 11:18 AM   #10
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Location: Grundy, Virginia
Posts: 632
Year: 1985
Coachwork: ThomasBuilt
Chassis: International Harvester S-1700
Engine: 9L IHC V-8 Diesel 180HP
Rated Cap: 60
Bus Dimensions

My bus is a 1985 Thomas 60 passenger bus. The distance from the rear edge of the front door (by the stepwell) to the back of the bus is 24' 6". The interior width is 90", but there is a seat rail on each side about 12" up from the floor that protrudes inward by a hair over 1".

I need to put my floorplan up, not that the bus is more or less finished and I have time to create one!

One thing to be prepared for is the plenty ready to make stuff up as you go along, and look for alternative uses for items that are not specifically designed for what you are going to use them for. Good example: sliding cabinet doors. Vinyl F-channel makes great tracks for sliding cabinet doors, and it's CHEAP at about $4.00 for a 12' section. If you use 1/4" plywood for the door, you can fit two doors in one 1/2" wide F-channel slot. If you use 1/2" plywood for the doors (which I did), you put one door in the slot, and then screw a wooden lip 1/2" behind the channel to create a slot for the other door -- the whole shebang fits in a 1 1/2" width, which works out well if you are using two-by material for framing your cabinetry.
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