Howdy folks, short time lurker here. Found the site a few months ago during my scouring of the interwebs for short school bus info. It has been super helpful.
My wife and I just had a baby. We're both pretty used to getting out on weekends and day trips when it works. I work for a mountain bike company and have been racing bikes for a long time. I have some friends who have SMB sprinters, basic van campers and everything in between. In my line of work it's really common to have a vehicle of this sort due to the amount of travel required and what not.
Anyway, I discovered the short bus program and have been absolutely consumed by the idea of it for the last few months. A sprinter even at 200k mi is way out of our budget, so the short bus caught my eye. My needs are a vehicle that can transport all of our gear for trips and travel comfortably, and provide shelter and neutral zone for the baby on simple day trips where we're trading off kid/activity.
No plans to live aboard (unless Trump), so basic amenities are only necessary. But we do want to be comfortable.
I've read through most all the relevant posts and am amazed by all the rad projects everyone here is doing. So much inspiration, thank you!
I ended up searching for a vehicle that was freshly decommissioned from school district as it would have been maintained regularly and the chances of it being a lemon were pretty low. I found a guy selling a bus who was the Oregon and Idaho school district maintenance manager. I didn't catch the initial one he was selling on craigslist, but a week later he had a perfect candidate. GMC Thomas Minotour with 215k, and just decommissioned. 4 window, 6.5L diesel, no handicap door.
I flew down to Salem Friday am to pickup. I am glad it wasn't in poor condition as I only got a one way ticket! Drove it home, and was interesting. After the first 20 or so minutes on the highway, it began a pretty regular 'hiccup' like it was misfiring except there wasn't the pull loss like it was missing. Just patchy dead spots in RPM. Super intermittent etc. At one point about 4 hours in my 6 hour drive home it did something weird and completely lost power just as the check engine light came on. I immediately pulled off the fwy, almost had to floor it which kept me going about 15mph. I parked in a church parking lot and luckily across the road was a WalMart where I went and purchased some diesel fuel water elimination treatment stuff. Put that in the tank, flipped the battery cutoff switch in the engine compartment to clear the engine light, and drove home gingerly the rest of the way home. Pretty white knuckled the whole way. It seems to have helped.
The bus was in service for special needs and was only driven about 40min a day, and had been parked for the most part of 6 months before I purchased it. $2300 btw. It passed it's annual with flying colors , about 3 months prior to me buying it so it should be pretty mechanically sound.
Sat am I started cranking. Bellingham's climate is wet, but rarely below freezing, and not too harsh. So, I opted not to do the full gut like most do as it is structurally in fantastic shape. Not ha hint of rust, plywood floor super sturdy and intact. We basically want to use this as an enclosed tent so I wanted to save myself a month or two of buildout. Anyway, pretty stoked on the outcome so far,
Rear bunk bed with garage underneath. Bed floor raised by door for headroom in garage. Slide out bed floor to make for 60" total. Garage wall is 48" deep. Living space is covered in Teak vinyl. Leather Range rover bench seat on wall behind driver, sprinter swivel base with captains chair just behind entry door pass side (for baby's carseat and living space seating across from bench, sink and countertop from captains chair to bunk, and storage next to bench seats. Going to install a modular table for use in between seats on both sides of vehicle. Overhead water storage container to gravity feed sink faucet.
Hope you like it so far! 36 hours progress. Will start adding interior component's this week.
If anyone has insight, I'm perplexed by a few things-
Battery located on frame under body, what does this power? Is it just an additional in-line running battery? With all School safety functions disabled can this be converted to auxiliary battery?
They said all the safety lights etc fuses were pulled to disable, allowing for them to be repurposed for fog lights etc. But none of the fuses seem to be missing? None of these items work, perhaps just unplugged directly at the back of the switches? Not sure if theres a standardized procedure for this.
The passenger dome lights don't work? The one in the lid directly near the driver is activated by the driver door, and works, but none of the rear ones do?
Any tips for getting some of the electrical stuff working again for camping use would be appreciated.
Let me know if the pics don't load.