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Old 05-06-2011, 09:43 AM   #11
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Re: Some thoughts on converting a bus to an RV

Maybe I'm harsh about the refrigeration, but really, it's easy to adapt, and in the winter (in the northern 2/3 of the US) there's plenty of refrigeration available for free. But the reality is that refrigeration is easy to do without if you learn how to live without it. Most people (not all) live in places where they pass grocery stores at least once a day, which means that fresh meat and dairy products can be had without a need for refrigeration at home -- just stop by the store and pick stuff up. Fresh veggies keep without refrigeration for a day or two with no problem if you keep them out of direct heat. Root crops keep well without a fridge. Many fruits will keep quite nicely without refrigeration, too (raisins, apples, oranges, etc.), as long as you don't buy more than you can eat in a week or two. Eggs? They keep quite well without refrigeration, for at least a week (yes, even the ones that have already been refrigerated.) Milk? Powdered milk is great for baking, and for using as coffee creamer, and also for cereal -- you don't have to make more than you need to use at any given time. Dried foods, such as beans, lentils, peas, and, pasta requires no refrigeration whatsoever. If you need to store meat, canned chicken and ham are easy to use in stir-fry dishes. Tuna in a can does not require refrigeration, and mixed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, pickle relish (does not require refrigeration), and some onion and salt and pepper, it makes a very tasty tuna salad -- without refrigeration.

My biggest beef with refrigeration, particularly in a bus/RV, is the constant energy input required for the "benefit" of having cold food at your fingertips 24/7, when it's simple to get fresh food (unless you are in the boonies -- where you have energy access issues to begin with.) I'd consider Icy Balls as an alternative, if I could heat them with solar power ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Icy_Ball ).

Food poisoning results from improper handling and storage of food, not from learning how to live without refrigeration. Buy your hot-dogs on the way home, cook them and eat them. No food poisoning. I've never experienced food poisoning as a result of living without refrigeration, even though I may push the envelope sometimes (cook steak/stir-fry for dinner, eat half, and leave half covered in the frying pan for the next morning.)

Certainly it's a matter of choice, and certainly not everyone has to give up refrigeration, but most people are so dependent on this modern convenience that they don't even know there are options. And it makes designing, outfitting, and, living in a bus much easier when you don't have to deal with a refrigeration system and it's support systems.

Like I said, IMHO, YMMV, and, I've only done this for 6 years.
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Old 05-06-2011, 11:21 AM   #12
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Re: Some thoughts on converting a bus to an RV

Im a big fan of fresh food, but, Im a bigger fan of cold beer in the summer heat.

just my 2 cents

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Old 05-06-2011, 12:12 PM   #13
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Re: Some thoughts on converting a bus to an RV

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric von Kleist
... Food poisoning results from improper handling and storage of food, not from learning how to live without refrigeration. Buy your hot-dogs on the way home, cook them and eat them....
Sorry, but I don't think we could get our customers to buy hot dogs (or our other sandwiches) right after we bought them from our supplier (we got home last night from Albuquerque doing that at 11PM). Plus I'm sure that while NM is pretty lax on the rules, the Health Inspector would have a fit.

Look if it works for you, great. But I have no intention of living without a fridge or freezer. I want my clothes washed when I want them washed... so a washer and LP dryer is planned (since I tend to do laundry at night). I like to have my computer and TV (I like movies). We will run mostly off of a battery bank with a few inverters. For things like the automatic Dishwasher (I loathe putting my hands in dirty dishwater), washer/dryer (I hate doing laundry too) and the air conditioner, they will only be used when plugged into shore power. Unlike many on the forum, we stay hooked up to a power post. We are "unplugged" while traveling. We stay in parking lots and stop in a campground every 2nd or 3rd night (when possible) to dump tanks and refill water plus get a good night's sleep. We also operate a food business. Our needs are a tad different than many other folks. That is part of the reason why we are converting a bus. To build something that suits US rather than anyone else. As for A/C... I don't want to be in the upper 2/3 of the US. It was plenty cold here over the winter and the stories David told me about the Michigan winters he grew up in were enough to tell him I would NEVER move North of the Mason-Dixon. The TN & NC winters in the mountains are too cold for us now (but the summers are nice). But my home has wheels and it rolls down the road to... wherever. Only thing that ties us slightly to any one area is the food cart and the annual licensing fees... plus the cost of diesel!

We have tent camped & RVed since 1979. At 50 yo, I want a soft bed and all the comforts of "home" since this is my home. David has a bad back and is even older than I am. We have "roughed it" and done without for too much of our life. The line in the sand has been drawn. We are working a business that is often a 12+ hour day/7 day a week job. And we are supposed to be semi-retired. I'll do cushy over hard any day. I am not a domestic diva. The only thing domestic about me is that I used to live in a house. I do not like "shopping" and David is even worse about it than I am. I got better things to do than wander around the grocery store looking for stuff that I have to cook. Cooking is something I do simply because I like to eat good food and all the local restaurants around here suck. And then I have to stick my hands in dirty water to wash the dirty dishes... yuk.

No matter what your thoughts are on refrigeration or anything else, if you are going to the effort, time and expense of converting a bus, then you need to do it to suit your needs not someone else's. These are CUSTOM conversions. Not cookie cutter RVs. I think more thought needs to be put into not only HOW the bus conversion will be used in the near future but how it will be used down the road. I also think some of you single guys need to talk to a few female friends to see what a woman thinks about toilets and showers. Easier to at least plan for the possibility of a full bathroom and allow for the remodel in a few years than have to buy/build another bus. Skoolies are built extremely well. It is not unreasonable to expect them to still be running down the road 50 yrs from now (hey I'm currently in a 30 yo sticks-n-staples RV that can outrun most other new Class C's). That is how we are converting the bus... with an eye to living in it until we wake up dead. The folks in my family have a long history of living well into their upper 90's (and are still pretty healthy & mobile). I've told my kids they will have to chase me down to get my keys away from me! They would have to find me first...

The only "MUST DO" things that I would tell someone converting is to make sure they use heavy wiring. Don't use any electrical wire that is less than 12 gauge (smaller the # the larger the wire). You can buy 12/3 and 10/3 heavy duty extension cords fairly cheap (Lowes has a 100 ft 12/3 for $60 and a 100 ft 10/3 for $120 to give you some idea on pricing), especially after Christmas when everyone puts the green holiday cords on sale. Since you will just be cutting them up, look for them at yard sales and flea markets. "TIn" the cut wires before attaching them to the receptacles, etc (better yet, tin and use electrical connectors) . Use no smaller than #4 to hook up your inverters. You don't want to have to tear out your walls, etc to upgrade your wiring. And to use Smoke/Fire, CO and LP detectors. Everything else I feel is really up to the converter. You don't 'have" to vent your holding tanks, but you will regret not venting them at some point. You don't have to do lots of things but there are things you should do.

Rant over!
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Old 05-06-2011, 12:42 PM   #14
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Re: Some thoughts on converting a bus to an RV

I live in Central Texas, where for months on end temps are around 100F most days. Even at night it's still 90 degrees at bedtime, and only cools to 80 degrees by morning. We have 3 very active kids. Air conditioning is not optional, but a requirement for survival and sanity in my situation. Regarding refrigeration, I've decided to just use an ice chest for now, since we have limited space and typically won't use the bus for more than a few days at a time, and I also don't want the constant energy drain of a refrigerator. The AC can be turned off when ambient temps are cooler, but once you commit to a refrigerator, you have to keep it running all the time. I can always retrofit a fridge later without too much trouble if our needs should change, but we would have to sacrifice seating to expand the kitchen. Like Lorna said, it's a good idea to build with the thought that things may change, and modifications may be necessary. But I don't think I would go without refrigeration of some sort, especially since, as gbstewart pointed out, cold beer is of paramount importance in the summer!
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Old 05-06-2011, 11:37 PM   #15
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Re: Some thoughts on converting a bus to an RV

I didn't mean to sound...absolutist about the refrigeration thing. It's not for everybody. But consider it. Lorna hit the nail on the head when she said it's about customizing to suit your needs -- any other approach is sure to end in dissatisfaction at the very least.

But...let me suggest that when you go into converting a bus for living quarters, examine your *needs* very closely -- don't be constrained by what you are accustomed to.

IMHO, YMMV.
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Old 05-07-2011, 12:30 AM   #16
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Re: Some thoughts on converting a bus to an RV

That's eye-opening stuff about refrigerators. The one in my '76 Winnie works great on ac current; hasn't needed service. I haven't run it on gas and the warnings here give me pause!

Dorm/apt. fridges don't need the vent holes cut in the side and roof, either. A plus.

Suggestions on how to mount the apartment fridge securely would be welcome: screws, bracket types, etc., to keep that heavy object from breaking loose and smashing me or a passenger in a crash.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric von Kleist
Refrigeration? It's evil. Unless you have medicine that needs it, do without. Buy fresh, let the grocer pay for the electricity and hardware.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric von Kleist
A/C? 2x as evil as refrigeration. Enjoy the weather. No, seriously, A/C is eviler than refrigeration by far. Drop about 150# and spend some time outdoors, and you won't really notice the heat.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric von Kleist
Oh, yeah, ditch your TV. TV is evil. Video as a medium is not, but TV is.
Gee...I thought the Amish shunned motorized vehicles as well.

OK, that was un-called-for. You like TV as much as I like Facebook, Twitter, et al.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric von Kleist
Every time people come over to my bus they say, "You know what you need...?" I use to listen politely and then ignore them. Now I just tell them that there's nothing that they could think of that I haven't already thought of -- and if they don't see it already in the bus, that's because it won't work for me.
I hear you! Unsolicited advice about anything is waaaay up on my pet peeves. When it comes to comebacks, I'm a slow gun, but I usually want to give a verbal equivalent to skunk spray and a glass of shutthehellup.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric von Kleist
Futon -- WTF? I like sleeping on the floor and having a full 8x10 space to work in when I take up my bed. A futon is just a goddamn big piece of furniture that would take up 3'x7' in my bus, whether I was using it or not, and I would have to fold and unfold it constantly. Screw that. Same goes for most other pieces of furniture. Right now, I could build a canoe INSIDE my bus (or store my kayak in it) because I left it as open as possible.

Hammocks -- Have you ever slept in a hammock long term? It might work for 18th century swabs between the decks of a man-o-war, but it ain't a practical item for a bus or for daily sleeping.

Hanging pots and pans -- Brilliant! Like there's not enough **** banging around every time I drive the bus. If you're going to put something on a wall or suspend it from the ceiling, lock it down!

Refrigerator -- "You should get one of those little ones they have for dorms." Dude, you obviously have no idea what kind of energy requirement that takes. Life does not oblige you to refrigerate things, and I have better uses for the space than to tote around a 2x2x2 foot container for science experiments that requires a constant high energy input.
No you shouldn't...because you don't want 'em! With rare exceptions, the only time I want to hear a "You should..." is if I first ask, "What should I...?"

Quote:
Originally Posted by gbstewart
Im a big fan of fresh food, but, Im a bigger fan of cold beer in the summer heat.

just my 2 cents

gbstewart
Me too! When I want a cold one I want to be able to just walk across the room/RV/house, without the inconveniences of an ice chest.

I grew up around my Winnebago (which I inherited) and have a sentimental fondness for them. Lord prevent me from getting in a wreck though. My skoolie's interior will have Winnie-like styling combined with my own ideas. It's not intended to be "cheap;" I'm attracted to the sturdy bus construction and, well, the looks.

The Skunky Bus will be a lot different from Paradigm Shift...which is different from the Magic Bus...which is different from Birdee 662...is this a great country or what?
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Old 05-09-2011, 11:52 AM   #17
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Re: Some thoughts on converting a bus to an RV

Quote:
Originally Posted by Skunky Bus
Dorm/apt. fridges don't need the vent holes cut in the side and roof, either. A plus.
On second thought, provision must be made somewhere so the coils on the back of the unit can dissipate heat.

On third thought, although an empty school bus (which my girlfriend calls a "blank canvas") lets loose your inner designer, some constraints still exist. If you use an LP-powered RV fridge, don't put it right above the gas tank filler. Too easy to forget to shut the LP flame off before filling up - with fumes wafting up past the vent.
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Old 05-09-2011, 02:21 PM   #18
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Re: Some thoughts on converting a bus to an RV

We use a dorm fridge and an undercounter freezer in the Class C. We kept the roof top vent and turned the access vent panel into an intake vent. We placed a small AC desktop fan in with the units to where it will move the air. It helped keep our units cooler during the extremely hot (100F and up) summers both here in NM and in S GA. Both our units are Energy Star units (refrigerator 252kwh/yr.... freezer 258 kwh/yr) . For the bus, the refrigerator is a 4.4 cf Aficionado by Hair (I would have to find the paper work as this is a fridge that we have been using for a few years now) and is also enerystar rated. The 12 cf upright freezer is also energy star rated and both units have vents in the side walls. We have been using it for a few years now so it's not new either. These appliances were not designed to be built in so we have to allow 1"-2" air space in the tops/sides as that is where the coils now run (not in the rear of the units).


http://www.energystar.gov

http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?..._refrigerators
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Old 05-12-2011, 09:36 PM   #19
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Re: Some thoughts on converting a bus to an RV

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric von Kleist
IMHO YMMV -- I'm not really a grouchy old man...most of the time I manage to smile and be very patient when explaining my lifestyle, and generally people amuse me with their ideas, usually because it shows how much they are conditioned to think inside the box...but sometimes the same old "neat ideas"get aggravating, so sorry if I sound a bit grouchy in this post.

My 2 cents. Of course, I've been living in a bus for 6 years now, so maybe I don't know anything.

Refrigeration? It's evil. Unless you have medicine that needs it, do without. Buy fresh, let the grocer pay for the electricity and hardware.
OK, howzabout YOU eat eggs that haven't been refrigerated! Or milk. Or meat. Ye gods.

Quote:
A/C? 2x as evil as refrigeration. Enjoy the weather. No, seriously, A/C is eviler than refrigeration by far. Drop about 150# and spend some time outdoors, and you won't really notice the heat.
Last June I was in Alabama...104 in the shade & there wasn't any, heat index 130+. Even my wife (born in Cuba, grew up in Florida, generally unaffected by heat) was grateful for air conditioning. Nope, I have two roof A/C units, keeping them!

Quote:
Water heater? Go with a 5 gallon marine hot water heater that has a heat exchanger for the engine coolant to heat the water. Then hook that up to a solar hot water panel on the roof. Also hook it to your underfloor heating. I haven't gotten the last two done yet, but soon, soon...
No underfloor heating (eats too much space), no engine heat exchanger (didn't want the plumbing hassles)...tankless hot water for me.

Quote:
Oh yeah, most RV stuff is crap. If you're fitting out a bus, avoid it. Use household hardware and fixtures where possible. Also use recycled/used stuff where possible.

And another thing. Don't build stuff in if you don't have to. Leave as much of your bus as open as you can -- it will seem bigger, and you can use the space for more than one purpose if you don't build in dedicated things like...couches...TV nooks...etc.
Yeah, except that unsecured objects (like, say, couches!) tend to go flying!

Quote:
Every time people come over to my bus they say, "You know what you need...?" I use to listen politely and then ignore them. Now I just tell them that there's nothing that they could think of that I haven't already thought of -- and if they don't see it already in the bus, that's because it won't work for me. Things that I keep getting told I need:

Futon -- WTF? I like sleeping on the floor and having a full 8x10 space to work in when I take up my bed. A futon is just a goddamn big piece of furniture that would take up 3'x7' in my bus, whether I was using it or not, and I would have to fold and unfold it constantly. Screw that. Same goes for most other pieces of furniture. Right now, I could build a canoe INSIDE my bus (or store my kayak in it) because I left it as open as possible.

Hammocks -- Have you ever slept in a hammock long term? It might work for 18th century swabs between the decks of a man-o-war, but it ain't a practical item for a bus or for daily sleeping.

Hanging pots and pans -- Brilliant! Like there's not enough **** banging around every time I drive the bus. If you're going to put something on a wall or suspend it from the ceiling, lock it down!
Not practical for me, but I've seen it work...just have to secure them properly.

Quote:
Refrigerator -- "You should get one of those little ones they have for dorms." Dude, you obviously have no idea what kind of energy requirement that takes. Life does not oblige you to refrigerate things, and I have better uses for the space than to tote around a 2x2x2 foot container for science experiments that requires a constant high energy input.
Actually, I DO know how much energy they use...and that is, not much! The new ones (Energy-Star) are very efficient, especially the small ones. Once cold, they'll stay that way for days with minimal power use.

Quote:
Anything that requires cutting holes in the roof -- NO, dipweed, the roof is solid to keep rain OUT, not to let it in.
Plumbing vents, A/C units, vent fans, maybe the furnace...sometimes, the best way IS out the top! (Having said that, I did decide to not reinvent the wheel and ran the furnace exhausts out the sides, as they were designed.)
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Old 05-14-2011, 08:51 AM   #20
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Re: Some thoughts on converting a bus to an RV

Another central Texas habitant says A/C is not a luxury. I like the idea of split models but the rv ones will have to do. I took a chest freezer and added a thermostat to it and it runs via a converter from the batteries. Works real good. It keeps ice in ice form and the beer cold without freezing. Bought the whole setup on Craigslist $100.
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