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Old 06-05-2015, 12:37 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Vancouver Island, BC
Posts: 14
Year: 1984
Extra Curricular - coastal Canada mini

Hey there. I've stalked these pages for sometime and figured it's about time to share what I'm working with! I picked up a 1984 Chevy Vanguard bus back in Dec for $2000, it's a 350 gas with dual tires in the rear and sat around 225 000km. I was looking for a camper van for sometime but when I saw this I couldn't resist. Little did I know I was about to enter a society full of people who are converting school buses!

It was used as a bus until 2004 on Vancouver Island so it's nearly completely free of rust and in good shape. I did have to spent $280 to replace a front tire due to them plugging the side of the wheel (not only illegal but very dangerous), the transmission leak turned out to be a loose clamp and it does seem to burn/leak a bit of oil but not enough to worry me too much... it is something that needs to be repaired though. (All things I discovered after purchase). The previous owner had the intentions of converting it to a camper but only got as far as installing a stereo, a countertop and tossing a propane burner on it. I was pretty much starting from scratch, although I ended up using the counter in my conversion because it fit so perfectly and had a great rustic look to it.

I have zero house-building/carpentry experience so this is all a learning experience for me. That's why I'm taking it in a rustic/minimalist/off-the-grid direction. Less is more! I've been living and travelling in it for the past 4 months and couldn't be happier with it. I will be settling down a bit come Sept and have some more work to complete.

1984 Chevy Vanguard 4 window
Group 27 deep cycle battery
1500w power inverter
Wedgewood 4 burner stove/oven
Co-pilot chair with belt
twin size bed
love seat sofa



































































The circumstances regarding me moving into the bus seem pretty funny now. I broke up with my girlfriend and also quit my job so moving into a bus seemed like the best idea! this left me just a few weeks to make it a somewhat comfortable home.

I ripped out the rubber floor down to subfloor (wood seemed in good shape, a bit of rot in 1 corner). I put some primer on it then laid down a thin layer of foil/vapour barrier insulation then the cheapest laminate flooring I could buy. In the front I cut some carpet into shape and stuffed the edge under the lip of the laminate flooring. I also bolted in a seat from my friends Ford Econoline camper for co-pilot chair (swivels 360 degrees). Picked up a mint condition Wedgewood stove for cheap on a classified site and next to it is a 120v mini fridge. The captains bed frame was found on the side of the road, about to be thrown out, I keep all my clothing in the doors and behind the drawers is extra storage. My friend and I built the table and bench over the rear wheel well. I've also placed a love seat (not pictured) at the back of the bus.


The future:
wood stove installation. I already own a stove, a small homemade stove fashioned out of a propane tank, it will sit in the rear passenger side of the bus

running water. simple foot pump, compact sink with 50 gallon fresh and grey tanks

toilet/shower. The plan is to build a composting toilet using a seat and a bucket. Space is pretty limited inside so I was thinking I could have a permanent loo on the outside of the bus. The past few days I've been thinking how great it would be to create a bench that I could attach to the rear bumper with privacy shade/curtain and it would be my mobile outhouse! As for shower, it'll just be a basic gravity feed camp shower that I can fill with hot water when I need a shower.

Outdoor storage. A cage on the rear bumper to secure and safely use my 20lbs tank (only used on stove). And way down the line, a roof rack for bikes, skis, surfboard etc.

Door conversion. I removed the door actuator due to it being massive and in the way and have just been using a simple gate dead bolt to keep the door shut/locked. Eventually I'd like to convert this into a single hinge door with key lock.

Paint. Last but not least, something that makes it not look like a school bus.
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Old 06-05-2015, 12:51 PM   #2
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Welcome, I would love to see a picture of that wood stove you built from a propane tank.
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Old 06-05-2015, 01:01 PM   #3
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Winlcok, WA
Posts: 1,607
It looks like you have a great little bus with a very minimalist approach to the conversion.

The minimalist approach is actually a great idea since most of those little buses tend to be overweight. It isn't hard to overload the GVWR with so little tare weight with which to work.

The more stuff you put up on the roof the more parasitic drag you will have going down the road. More parasitic drag=more fuel use. If instead of just building racks it would be better to build a pod with an aerodynamic design to minimalize the drag. A pod with locks on the access doors would also tend to keep things secure from those who think they should be able to use your stuff without permission.

Keeping with the minimalist approach, painting need not be a big deal. It all depends upon what result you want to have. I have seen some outstanding paint jobs done with rollers. The important part of the process is prepping the surface first. If the prep isn't done properly the paint will not stick and the paint will soon be peeling off--not such a bad thing if it was rolled on but a really big deal if it is a $5,000.00 sprayed on paint job.

I have seen more than a couple of buses where the center hinge of the service door was fixed and a door jam was built into the door frame. Make sure that whatever latches you use are more automotive than household. The automotive/RV style latches are designed to stay closed and latched while bouncing down the road with the accompanying dissimilar movement between the door and the door jam. In the meantime, your solution is elegant and minimalist.

Good luck and happy trails.
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Old 06-05-2015, 01:32 PM   #4
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Vancouver Island, BC
Posts: 14
Year: 1984
Quote:
Originally Posted by leadsled01 View Post
Welcome, I would love to see a picture of that wood stove you built from a propane tank.
I need to clarify, I didn't build this. I purchased through a local ad from a man who built a number of wood stoves in different sizes. I picked this one up for $200. The picture is the same model installed in his camp/hunting trailer.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
It looks like you have a great little bus with a very minimalist approach to the conversion.
Thank you! Yes the long term goal is a small space I can comfortable live in with most household ammentieis just with a rustic twist.

As for the roof rack, I think an open storage would work for the things I want to carry. Things like a surfboard and skisY are flat and wouldn't create enough drag to notice, at least I don't think they would. Also my bike currently sits on the front grill on a cheap rack I bolted to the bumper.

Yes, the paint isn't a big concern for now, thanks for the advice on prep work! I recently painted a bike and now the paint comes off in flakes because I didn't prep the surface properly. I was thinking of just rolling on paint in horizontal stripes, using the skid bars as dividers. My friend suggest sunset colours and I agreed.

This door is a 2 piece that separates in the middle, opening outward. I was thinking I could secure the two pieces into one solid door, cut the hinges off of one side (keeping the other side) and then build a door jam with lock on the closing side of the door. If that makes sense.
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Old 06-05-2015, 01:47 PM   #5
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Welcome to the World of Skoolies! --- I'll second the applause ofr the minimalist approach. Keep it simple, keep it workin'.
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Old 08-28-2015, 04:46 PM   #6
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Vancouver Island, BC
Posts: 14
Year: 1984
I've been tinkering with some proper floor plan designs and want to make things a reality this winter. Any thoughts on my two designs so far?

Happy skoolings



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Old 08-29-2015, 08:31 AM   #7
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Location: Russell, Kansas
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You may find the second sketch a bit easier to live in unless you're a restless sleeper, i.e. squirmy-wormie. If you go for the second design, rotate the wood box *90 and put it between the couch and the heater - move the heater to the front corner like the picture you posted above (your friend's heater). You may find that a bit more economical use of the space.

Just my thoughts.....

M1031
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Old 08-29-2015, 12:28 PM   #8
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Posts: 100
Is there anyway you can keep the rear door available for exits?

Since your stove is in the front, in case of fire, it would be nice to exit from the back and not have to go through the stove lit fire to get out. I might just be overly precautious but I'd do it this way.

Bed right side, back, length wise and kitchen in front. Then sofa and stove facing each other further front.

Maybe it doesn't fit, I didn't measure...
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Old 08-29-2015, 12:46 PM   #9
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Keep the back door for easy access to getting under the bed storage!
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Old 08-30-2015, 05:40 PM   #10
Bus Crazy
 
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Location: Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
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Chassis: B3800 Short bus
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Just out of curiousity BCmini: where on the island are you located?
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