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Old 10-07-2018, 05:44 PM   #1
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Are we completely crazy?

My husband and I have been dreaming for years about converting a short school bus into an RV and traveling about the country with our son. But the more I read on this forum, the more I am questioning whether what we want is truly achievable. We want a short bus, as many national parks and campgrounds have length limits. We also like the fact that bus roofs are so strong - we want to mount a Thule box and at least one canoe and one kayak and some solar to the roof. Hubby also wants a deck up there so we can camp on the roof. (I'm not completely sold on that plan.) And the extra room in a short bus versus a van means that the 3 of us can be comfortable rather than cramped.



Another reason for the bus is all the wonderful windows - we love light and sunshine and air. We don't want to be cooped up in the bus with the air conditioning running. In fact, we don't want air conditioning at all unless we are actually driving the bus. So we have to have windows to open to provide ventilation and breezes and also plan on some sort of fan that will bring the outside air in and cool things off. The real gotcha about all the windows, though, is that this bus will be a year-round bus...and we live in Maine. We thought a Dickinson propane stove would keep the bus warm, but reading the forums, now I'm not so sure. The other kicker is that there would have to be a way to keep the interior at least 45 degrees in winter and at least the same temp as the outside air in summer whether we are in the bus or not - so even if we are off hiking or biking or skiing, the bus would be a decent temp for our instruments, which are sensitive to temperature changes. And all this temp talk brings up the fresh, gray, and black water tanks. What do we do about those in the winter?



Then there's the bus itself. One of the things I love about traveling with the family are all the wonderful conversations we have and the cool tunes we listen to. But I've test driven a diesel short bus, and that ain't happening. I think we would all be deaf long before we went even 500 miles. And forget about hearing anything we say. I can't deal with all that noise, and I would be willing to give up gas mileage to be able to talk with my family...but then there's the seating - anyone have any success mounting another seat next to the driver's seat in the bus? I gotta have a spot for my navigator.



So, I ask you guys with all the experience, is our dream achievable, or should we start looking at a different plan? (Please, if you have specific advice, can you aim it at a newbie level? A lot of the terminology on this site just goes right over my head.)
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Old 10-07-2018, 06:37 PM   #2
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Questions,

I assume when in campgrounds you will use electric hookups? How about in Maine?

I also assume from what you have said this is to be an RV and a "tiny home" ?

For me the water tank is inside, and I drain it when not using it in freezing weather. black water has not frozen on me. grey drain it. Could put a bit of rv antifeeze in both grey and black if need be.
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Old 10-07-2018, 06:49 PM   #3
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Cold weather and living in metal can insulation will be your best buddy, windows will be your worst nightmare. Fresh water tank and lines inside your bus in the heated space, tank pads on your tanks under bus tanks.

When you said you test drove a short diesel bus, I assume it's a 4-5 window van type? If you find that too much noise, you might want to move up to bigger rear engine bus. I own a full sized front engine bus, sound level, talking to my passenger and playing tunes is not a problem for me.

With a bus conversion anything can be done seats can be added anywhere how much money and time are you willing to throw at it.





Quote:
Originally Posted by betsyme View Post
My husband and I have been dreaming for years about converting a short school bus into an RV and traveling about the country with our son. But the more I read on this forum, the more I am questioning whether what we want is truly achievable. We want a short bus, as many national parks and campgrounds have length limits. We also like the fact that bus roofs are so strong - we want to mount a Thule box and at least one canoe and one kayak and some solar to the roof. Hubby also wants a deck up there so we can camp on the roof. (I'm not completely sold on that plan.) And the extra room in a short bus versus a van means that the 3 of us can be comfortable rather than cramped.



Another reason for the bus is all the wonderful windows - we love light and sunshine and air. We don't want to be cooped up in the bus with the air conditioning running. In fact, we don't want air conditioning at all unless we are actually driving the bus. So we have to have windows to open to provide ventilation and breezes and also plan on some sort of fan that will bring the outside air in and cool things off. The real gotcha about all the windows, though, is that this bus will be a year-round bus...and we live in Maine. We thought a Dickinson propane stove would keep the bus warm, but reading the forums, now I'm not so sure. The other kicker is that there would have to be a way to keep the interior at least 45 degrees in winter and at least the same temp as the outside air in summer whether we are in the bus or not - so even if we are off hiking or biking or skiing, the bus would be a decent temp for our instruments, which are sensitive to temperature changes. And all this temp talk brings up the fresh, gray, and black water tanks. What do we do about those in the winter?



Then there's the bus itself. One of the things I love about traveling with the family are all the wonderful conversations we have and the cool tunes we listen to. But I've test driven a diesel short bus, and that ain't happening. I think we would all be deaf long before we went even 500 miles. And forget about hearing anything we say. I can't deal with all that noise, and I would be willing to give up gas mileage to be able to talk with my family...but then there's the seating - anyone have any success mounting another seat next to the driver's seat in the bus? I gotta have a spot for my navigator.



So, I ask you guys with all the experience, is our dream achievable, or should we start looking at a different plan? (Please, if you have specific advice, can you aim it at a newbie level? A lot of the terminology on this site just goes right over my head.)
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Old 10-07-2018, 08:45 PM   #4
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can you do it? I think so... here are a few thoughts

Noise levels.... Part of the noise is this giant tin can you are in, so, here are some ways to "fix it". Go to the internet and look up a product called "dynamat" use this on big flat metal surfaces. The metal that is the outer skin, you would place the dynamat on these parts, the additional mass of the dynamat changes the frequency of noise, lowers it. If you do some sort of insulation on the floor, in your best interest i think, and wood over that, attenuation will happen there already. Wind noise. You are going to become familiar with something called "seam sealer". Any place that has an air leak is going to be more road noise. Every window felt, and gasket will need to be top condition. There is a way to make "storm" windows for a bus that is not super expensive, but, you will likely replace them once every five years or so. They would help with wind noise and cold and heat. Any thing that sticks out in the air makes noise. Mirrors, top hatch covers, the bus it self, any gaps or loose seals on the doors. Tires, stuff with "blocks" make more noise than tires with ribs. Ever hear those big "mud" tires on trucks and jeeps sing goin down the highway? The bus tires can do the same thing.

Engine, you can have a quiet exhaust that works well. Might even think about more than one muffler. keep the exhaust hangers loose and flexible, they wont transmit so much noise to the cabin. Air intake system usually makes more noise than exhaust. Some times Adding weight - mass - to the exhaust tubes will deaden the higher frequencies too. This is common in passenger cars. ever see the inside of a recording studio? the acoustic foam placed on the inside of the bus will help too. Likely you will not see a big change from any one thing, all added together will make a difference.

Look at a product called "lizard skin" you can gain some some sound and temperature control using this on the inside of the outer skin.

Then work on the sound absorption in the engine/transmission area, think acoustic foam under the hood and any place around the engine/transmission.

have to go, I think you can do this. temperature control.... look at some thing called webasto coolant heater..... dry heat, build instrument locker like a humidor, control the temp and humidity in there for wood.

bye for now

william
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Old 10-07-2018, 08:49 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronnie View Post
Questions,

I assume when in campgrounds you will use electric hookups? How about in Maine?

I also assume from what you have said this is to be an RV and a "tiny home" ?

For me the water tank is inside, and I drain it when not using it in freezing weather. black water has not frozen on me. grey drain it. Could put a bit of rv antifeeze in both grey and black if need be.
We're not much for staying in campgrounds all the time. Free boondocking sites are more our style, hence the solar. And it would be somewhere between a tiny house and an RV - we would still have a home base, just not sure how often we will get back to it.
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Old 10-20-2018, 06:29 PM   #6
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So, I ask you guys with all the experience, is our dream achievable, or should we start looking at a different plan? (Please, if you have specific advice, can you aim it at a newbie level? A lot of the terminology on this site just goes right over my head.)[/QUOTE]


To answer the question in the subject of your post, YES, you are crazy. We are all a little nuts to convert a school bus into a motor home. It is the most challenging thing I have ever done in my entire life. But, I love her. One day she will be my permanent home, and she will have a good registration, and tags!
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Old 10-20-2018, 07:07 PM   #7
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You’re nuts. It’s more than achievable. We did like 20 National parks 33 states and New England winter with 5 people(3 kids).
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Old 10-20-2018, 08:37 PM   #8
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Just for the record...YES...you are indeed insane, mad, crazy.


Why else would you be here among all the other crazy people!


WELCOME to the madness!!!
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Old 10-20-2018, 09:00 PM   #9
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It is required to be at least partially crazy to live in a Skoolie, that's what makes it fun when it aint!

Good luck!
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Old 10-21-2018, 11:04 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by betsyme View Post
My husband and I have been dreaming for years about converting a short school bus into an RV and traveling about the country with our son. But the more I read on this forum, the more I am questioning...
Completely crazy? Join the club! We celebrate craziness here.

As for noise, I'm assuming you test-drove unmodified buses. They are devoid of sound insulation. Thanks to the responders for the ideas for silencing materials. Even my gas-powered Winnebago ('76 Dodge van cab) requires SHOUTING at 70 mph. It is low-tech by today's standards and was built in the 55-mph era (a velocity at which the radio is usable).

Best wishes for your adventure. Better to take the plunge than grow old wishing you did!
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