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Old 12-24-2016, 12:29 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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What's the longest bus that can "pull through" two parking spots?

Hey Skoolies!

I'm still trying to figure out what I want and need out of a Skoolie or other camper conversion, from how much space (and height) I need to how maneuverable I need the beast to be. I'm also trying to figure out how much I want to rely on parks or boondocking or even parking lots.

I do feel like I want to be able to fit into parking lots, so I'm wondering how much space a bus that (like the title says) can 'pull through' two parking spots. Assuming any buses can actually fit in the two parking spots, are any of them pull out if there's a vehicle near them in the parking lot?

Some info:
  • Most of the local lots I'm thinking of have enough space that I could take up several spots and not be in anyone's way. That's no guarantee it won't bother someone!
  • Most of the local lots I'm thinking of have parking spots laid out at a 45 degree angle rather than perpendicular to traffic.

Also, are there flat-front busses in this size category? Do I net a significant amount of internal space going with a flat-front in this class? Is it common or uncommon for there to be under-cab storage?

Thanks!
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Old 12-24-2016, 01:16 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scapegoatwax View Post
Hey Skoolies!

I'm still trying to figure out what I want and need out of a Skoolie or other camper conversion, from how much space (and height) I need to how maneuverable I need the beast to be. I'm also trying to figure out how much I want to rely on parks or boondocking or even parking lots.

I do feel like I want to be able to fit into parking lots, so I'm wondering how much space a bus that (like the title says) can 'pull through' two parking spots. Assuming any buses can actually fit in the two parking spots, are any of them pull out if there's a vehicle near them in the parking lot?

Some info:
  • Most of the local lots I'm thinking of have enough space that I could take up several spots and not be in anyone's way. That's no guarantee it won't bother someone!
  • Most of the local lots I'm thinking of have parking spots laid out at a 45 degree angle rather than perpendicular to traffic.

Also, are there flat-front busses in this size category? Do I net a significant amount of internal space going with a flat-front in this class? Is it common or uncommon for there to be under-cab storage?

Thanks!
That is a practical approach that is not as common as it should be. If it was I wouldn't own a 40' bus.......

My daily driver is a bit over 21' long and 8' 2" wide. I can almost fit in a typical parking space. I would think that a bus under 34' would fit in two spaces. The tough part would be getting into and out of that space.

My last bus was 40' as well and I lived & traveled in it for over six years. I spent enough time on parking lots that if you asked where I lived i may answer "Walmart".

I developed the habit of simply picking the farthest and emptiest part of the parking lot and taking 5-6 parking spots. I would also endeavor to park in a way that nobody could park in front of me. I would get sooo frustrated when I parked at the far and empty end of the parking lot only to come back out to my rig and find a car parked directly in front of me and one behind. Next time I go out on the road I am going to carry traffic cones and set them out to insure that I have room to leave.

As far a usable space for a given length bus, yes you will have notably more usable space in a "flat nose" than in a conventional. I think that the common consensus is that front engine buses have the most usable space for a given length. Rear engine runs a close second and conventional has the least space.

If you are going to be boondocking at BLM or State parks you may find that a number of the sites are limited to 30' or shorter RV's. I would suggest that you look into limitations on the places that you may want to stay.

You can comfortably parking lot/boondock in a 40' rig but your options and ease of parking would be better in a smaller rig.

I am rambling.... I hope that helps to answer some of your questions.

S.
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Old 12-24-2016, 02:07 PM   #3
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A few years ago I needed to mark a temporary parking lot for 100+ cars, so I asked Uncle Google.

"He" showed me a wide variety of architectural drawings with angles and measurements and oak leaf clusters.

Even the dinky little city where I live has specs for parking lots -- I can walk into City Hall and the Building Inspector will fix me right up.

In my personal experience, parking lots vary immensely.

I have the advantage of 27 years driving 18-wheelers, but even with Millicent I plan store-visits and other stops based on GETTING OUT of there.

With an unfamiliar place, I'll go around the block a few times if need be, to eyeball the lot before I drive in. If I don't see a way I can park with the front facing out to a wide enough access road or driveway, and zero possibility of anyone parking in front of me... I don't go there.

Of course, there are places where we don't have much choice.

Every year we do an all-day event in Jack London Square in Oakland, CA, and we are pretty much stuck with being buried in an overflowing parking lot.

So we arrive early enough to get in there, and plan to stay as long as it takes until we can get out.

Some years, a single car keeps us there a couple extra hours. We use the time to bring all the bicycles from our exhibit back to Millicent "the long way". Also, we eat and drink and play and sleep and have a fine time.

But most years we manage to get out pretty soon, and then we drive to the exhibit and load up the easy way.

There are so many variables, that I cannot really suggest an ideal length for your purpose. On most of our travels we are 65 feet long. Millicent is 40 and the trailer is 25. The circumstances matter more. Will hundreds of cars arrive at 7 a.m.?

I realize you are talking about camping overnight, and maybe even for many days. Living there.

And I believe... this is one of the reasons school buses are unwelcome so many places, and even difficult to get basic insurance for.

We, as a category, have an awful reputation for abusing other people's property and causing eyesores and perhaps even unsanitary conditions.

I also realize you did not ask for this type of advice.

But since you are in the early brainstorming stage of considering buying a bus, I ask you to consider all aspects of your plans.
The sad fact is, many of us buy a bus in a desperate attempt to cut living costs, and that may not be the best plan.

My trick knee hurts this week, so I'm a little grumpy.

But I'm turning 65, and I have a decade experience with Millicent and with this forum, so maybe it is time I dish out a little grandfatherly "tough love".

As always, anything I say is worth what you paid for it.

Hey! Have a fantabulous Christmas, will 'ya!

And build a snowman or something. Have fun!

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Old 12-24-2016, 06:04 PM   #4
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Thanks for the advice, both of you. Hope you are merry at least these last few days of the year.

No snowmen for me, Elliot! I just got back from skateboarding and it was 80 degrees in the house, I had to kick on the A/C. I won't dwell on the skateboarding, but I'll try to use it as an example for addressing one of your points. I stopped by my workplace and picked up our big shop broom so I could sweep down the skate park before I went skateboarding. I believe in taking care of the things you use, even if they are public or they belong to someone else.

Still, sometimes you can't get over people's preconceptions of you. It's a shame that some folks take advantage of others' properties as you say. Even more of a shame that it makes the rest of us look bad!

I ask this hoping not to totally derail the thread, but do you believe that it's Skoolies in particular that are looked at as eyesores or do you think any particular "camper conversion" is looked down upon?

I will say that, I've driven a Ram ProMaster for work and a big old Chevy van for my last job. More than the length or width of either of those bothered me, the poor visibility (and no rear-view) is what stressed me out the most. I think I could confidently drive a larger vehicle but I'd want to install better mirrors and possibly even cameras.

All that said, I don't mind working off of our best estimate at minimums! Do you have any idea how big parking spots are on average? That ProMaster is pretty hard to fit into one parking spot (the length is hard for me to gauge) but I'm sure I would get better with practice.
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Old 12-24-2016, 07:34 PM   #5
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Two things:

1) What Elliot says about "scoping out" your parking spots before committing will save you a world of grief.

2) Going on about 80 degree weather when some of us have been dealing with snow, ice and frozen pipes will NOT earn any points....

When I started driving larger rigs with "real" mirrors I forgot about the inside rearview mirror. Don't need it. I hate driving my wife's car because the mirrors are tiny.

My best advice for moving to larger vehicles: Don't be in a hurry. Drive much "further ahead" than you do driving a car. Always look at entry & exit options before committing to parking lots or any questionable routes.

One more thing I learned the hard way. Don't ask people driving cars "is this road/route advisable for my rig?". It took me a while to figure this one out. I think it was the time I took a scenic drive in AZ. Narrow, rough road and I got to a point that I could not go forward. I had to drop my towed and back up 3 MILES to a spot where I could turn around.
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Old 12-24-2016, 08:19 PM   #6
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Standard stalls are at least 8ft by 18ft. If it's employee parking, sometimes they may sqeeze as tight as 7'-6" wide. If it's public parking, they tend to be 9ft wide. Regardless, you'll have about 36ft in length if you take up 2 stalls.
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Old 12-25-2016, 03:40 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PNW_Steve View Post
... ...
When I started driving larger rigs with "real" mirrors I forgot about the inside rearview mirror. Don't need it. I hate driving my wife's car because the mirrors are tiny.... ...
Yes, absolutely vital to have proper mirrors, and have them adjusted correctly.
One tall flat and one quite-large convex on each side, with the convex below the flat.

The flats should "touch" the sides of the vehicle for reference, and the convex should take over where the flats quit -- while still "touching" the sides of the vehicle for reference.

You don't need to see much sky, but you want a little sky for reference.
(Reference points are important -- it doesn't help to see Stuff if you don't know where it is located in relation to the vehicle.)
Fine-tuning, I turn the left flat in a tiny bit extra, so I can see the road behind me.

And with a conventional, I like to have a convex on the right fender, since there are some extra feet down there where a small vehicle could hide.

The mirrors on each side should flow together in a logical panorama.
I have tried to use the small mirror at the top of the passenger door glass, which some trucks come with from the factory -- aimed to look down into the "blind spot". Well, that mirror is completely outside the logical panorama, and does nothing but confuse my brain.

But some passenger doors have a small window in the foot well, which is helpful. And school buses, of course, have windows down there.
Finally, the plastic wide-angle prisms that can be stuck onto that lower window... are somewhat helpful.

As for passenger cars and pickups.... I'm amazed the inside mirror in the middle of the windshield is legal. I routinely remove it -- so I can have a fighting chance of seeing what's in front of me! Of course, I'm six feet and like to sit upright.
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Old 12-27-2016, 09:11 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elliot Naess View Post
As for passenger cars and pickups.... I'm amazed the inside mirror in the middle of the windshield is legal. I routinely remove it -- so I can have a fighting chance of seeing what's in front of me! Of course, I'm six feet and like to sit upright.
Hey, I'm 6'0", too! I'm very dependent on my rear-view mirror (the one inside in the center) but that's kind of because of trauma. Early into my driving adventures I got rear-ended while stopped at a red light. Big box truck still going the 45MPH speed limit. My vehicle (Mercury Mariner) was totaled, of course but fortunately everyone was fine even though we managed to push the vehicle in front of me through the intersection.

So for the longest time, I'd watch the rear-view with paranoia. I'm over that now, but a lot of my comfort with driving is still based on having that visibility.

Still, what you say about having a cohesive "panorama" with your mirrors makes a lot of sense. And I definitely see the configuration of mirrors you mention more than any other.

Anyways, regarding your frustration with the rear-view mirrors inside of vehicles... are you sure you're adjusting your seats properly? I've noticed most people don't know how to adjust their seats and it honestly blows my mind. People who are shorter than me have their seats reclined and backed away to where I can't reach the wheel if I'm sitting in the chair. How do they not get a backache immediately? I'll never understand.

I adjust the seat to where, sitting straight up my lower back is supported, I can rest my head, and I can reach the steering wheel without needing to lock my arms or "reach." Sometimes it's a fine art, but usually it involves tilting the seat of the chair up in the front and down in the back. Only very occasionally do I find the rear-view mirror is blocking me and it is usually when I'm stopped at an intersection and have however long I need to look around it.
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Old 12-28-2016, 12:15 AM   #9
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Well, I'm almost offended now.
I also like the seat cushion low in back and relatively high in front. This is the opposite of airline seats, which are plumb flat and I'm always sliding forward and wedgeeing myself.

I must sit with my lower back firmly against the backrest, and I like a pronounced lumbar "bulge" -- but higher than what most seats have.

Cars will differ, of course. I drive a 1998 Dodge Dakota, and a 2001 Hyundai Santa Fe. Both inside mirrors blocked my forward vision severely.

The Santa Fe is not mine, and for now I have the mirror turned so it blocks my vision as little as possible. I still need to have the backrest more reclined than I like -- which means I have the seat rather far forward to reach the steering wheel.
Hopefully I will soon get around to removing that mirror. I just didn't see the "usual" set screw I am used to in domestic vehicles the first time I looked at it.

I was rear-ended once, though gently, in my Mazda Miata. A traffic light turned yellow, and since that car can stop on a dime, I did. The slob behind me apparently didn't have much brakes and barely slowed down.

I saw him coming in the right side mirror, so I stuffed it in gear and floored it. (The intersection was empty.) That reduced the impact a bit. In fact, there was just barely a scratch to see, so I simply got back in the car and left.

These Japanese cars have good brakes and are otherwise well built. My Dakota has lousy brakes and is constantly falling apart around me.

I think this is called thread drift. lol
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Old 12-28-2016, 12:37 PM   #10
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Having an exit route planned is big. I drive a pickup truck with a trailer more frequently than I do my bus, but it's a similar experience: although I can park both truck and trailer perfectly centered in two stalls, if the surrounding stalls were to fill I'd be stuck. The trailer would track farther in on the turn and would clip an adjacent car. Often I'll pull it in as if I were going to keep it in two stalls, then turn the truck sharply to one side to block a third stall in the direction I want to exit. The last pair of stalls on a row are nice because there's some automatic reserved space.

I also sometimes drive a Nissan NV3500 van. At 240 inches length it's a slightly longer than even the longest wheelbase ProMaster. The interior rear-view mirror is no help at all for maneuvering. I keep the side mirrors positioned similar to what Elliot described and I park it anywhere by always (ALWAYS!) backing into the parking stall. I'll save the "why backing in is better" rant for another time, but anyway once a person learns how to use the side mirrors in reverse it's easy to get parked straight and centered in any parking stall. I use the rear-view backup cam only for checking my depth in the stall. The van is so long that it must be parked just an inch or two off the rear line.

Based on the experience parking that 20 foot van, I'd say even a 40 foot bus could be put into two stalls virtually anywhere (assuming sufficient surrounding open space both for parking and for leaving). It'll extend a few feet farther into the aisle than any surrounding car does, but so long as the overhang is balanced equally on both ends it shouldn't be excessive.

Now... if you want to know "what's the longest bus that can be parked in two stalls, then pulled OUT of the stalls while cars are parked all around?" that's a much more difficult question! I'd guess 24 to 26 feet for 90 degree parking.
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