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Old 07-26-2018, 12:05 AM   #1
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Join Date: Jul 2018
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2 x schoolie conversions, newbie in Texas

Howdy folks! Wow lots of traffic and great, great stuff on this forum. Please realize I did spent some time searching, and I did not find a thread common to my situation. Hopefully this really is a unique thread worth posting. If what I am looking for is already covered in an existing section, please point me the way!

I am a newbie to the skoolie thing, with what seems to be kind of a unique plan amongst you skoolie folks: I am looking to convert multiple skoolies to semi-permanent cabins for use here on the family ranch.

Some of you might ask, why not use used RV's or small cabins? Well, our part of Texas is overrun by 'dirty Steve's', our affectionate name for pack rats, raccoons, skunks, mice, possums, and other critters who thrive on moving into and gradually destroying infrequently-occupied wood-framed structures with tons of internal hiding places. We have multiple rotting trailers, old houses/cabins, and a couple of mobile homes folks have drug out here over the years: they are all falling apart.

One structure seems to hold up well while the others fail: an old 1957 shortie school bus parked out by the creek is still in great shape!

So I have found two 'new-to-me' buses to start with: a 1996 Carpenter and a 1996 Bluebird. At first I figured I would pull the engines and tranny's and sell for salvage, and just tow the buses into place after conversion. I now like the idea of the buses being able to move around a little, maybe even keep one road-legal for an occasional trip.

Both are dog-noses: I have started on the Carpenter. I pulled the seats, stripped the rubber floor, and just got done painting the floor for rust protection. The conversion is about to begin!

What I am asking for from the community is this: I need to use your knowledge and experience to make my project as efficient as possible. In exchange, I am wanting to give back or pay it forward in any way I can: barter, payment, whatever works for folks.

Here is my shortlist:
1) I need a typical Bill of Materials, and where best to order from. For example, I know I need an AC, fridge, stove, kitchen sink and faucet, bathroom shower and sink, toilet, fresh water tank, waste tank, etc., etc. etc. I did look on the forum: plenty of links for suppliers, but no lists I could find! Are there lists out there? Is anyone willing to share or barter for their proven lists, model numbers, and suppliers?
2) Walls - I need a simple, proven plan. I plan to keep most of my bus windows and only block out a few. My wife wants a high-quality interior to impress the air-bnb, adventurous 'glamping' crowd. I also need a solution for window screens (I think I have a solution but wanting to see what has worked for others).
3) Bathroom - I'm overwhelmed. I have owned trailers and RV's. I know what the bathroom needs to look like, I am sure I can make it happen if I have the parts, I just need to know what others have used and how they made it happen!
4) wood stove - yep, that is the plan for heat. I have an unlimited supply of mesquite wood for fuel. Suggestions for stoves? needed, but probably the easy part. Chimney, spark arrestor, tips and tricks for install in a bus: these are the things I don't know and don't want to have to teach myself the hard way...
5) Solar - there is no electric utility service here at the ranch. I live in an off-grid house. I know how to do a BIG solar, battery and back-up genny system, but mine is 10 years old. I don't know the modern equipment, especially the inverters, charge controllers, AGS, etc. best fit for skoolies and RV's...
6) porches and a roof deck - the permanent deck off of the rear emergency door seems to be common. I want to deck on the roof as well. Anybody tackled these and already have a proven solution?
7) Lastly, what am I missing? Please, save me from myself, and the mistakes I am about to make! My wife will be forever grateful!

This is a long post, and I do apologize. If some or all of this info is already here on the site, I really would appreciate anyone who can point me to the right places. If anyone feels like they can help, let's talk, and please include suggestions on how I can pay it forward.

Thank you all for your time, and I look forward to the conversations!

Meatfarmer: poor guy in Texas who now has two school buses and is starting to think he over-punted his coverage...
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Old 07-26-2018, 07:41 AM   #2
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Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Andrews,Indiana
Posts: 2,026
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: AARE
Engine: 3116 Cat 250hp
Rated Cap: Just the two of us.
Please don't take this the wrong way, just some observations based on what you have written. I don't know anything about you other than you live in Texas on a ranch and it must be large. Given the critter problem I would probably researched and gone the shipping container route. I've given them some thought. If constructed right they could be made movable within reason.

Quote:
One structure seems to hold up well while the others fail: an old 1957 shortie school bus parked out by the creek is still in great shape!
This seems like it might be made into a "quaint" cabin of some sort.


Quote:
1) I need a typical Bill of Materials, and where best to order from. For example, I know I need an AC, fridge, stove, kitchen sink and faucet, bathroom shower and sink, toilet, fresh water tank, waste tank, etc., etc. etc. I did look on the forum: plenty of links for suppliers, but no lists I could find! Are there lists out there?
That is your list, along with everything you need to make all of that stuff work. I'm sure everyone has a list of some sort. I even have a list with what I have paid for things. It wouldn't do you any good. As to where, I think this too is based on your location. I live within a couple hours drive from the "RV capitol of the world" There are at least 5 good RV surplus stores relatively near. You can order a lot of things online but shipping for many things will kill you. Many of us scour the internet looking for good deals on things. We either figure out how to use a "deal" or, decide what is needed and look for a deal on that item. Everyones "list" is different based on what your intended end use is.

Quote:
2) Walls - I need a simple, proven plan. I plan to keep most of my bus windows and only block out a few.
This again goes to everyone has a different use. I drew up my play before I started and, surprisingly it is quite close to that original plan. And, I am happy with it. It would NOT be suitable for your use.
Quote:
My wife wants a high-quality interior to impress the air-bnb, adventurous 'glamping' crowd.
I'm not sure who these people are but, I'm pretty sure they wouldn't want to deal with things like composting toilet, no AC, conserving water, minimum electricity, etc. And everything you build needs to be bullet proof and not need anything in the way of instructions to use.

Quote:
I also need a solution for window screens (I think I have a solution but wanting to see what has worked for others).
You've already got that one licked.

Quote:
3) Bathroom - I'm overwhelmed. I have owned trailers and RV's. I know what the bathroom needs to look like, I am sure I can make it happen if I have the parts
Quote:
We have multiple rotting trailers, old houses/cabins, and a couple of mobile homes folks have drug out here over the years: they are all falling apart.
You already have many of the parts, just repurpose what you have.

Quote:
4) wood stove - yep, that is the plan for heat.
Not sure where to go with this. The air-bnb crowd might be ok with this but, if it is the only source of heat don't think the glamping crowd would. I am assuming that you are doing this as some sort of rental thing, do you trust "Joe Blow" to everything safely? What if the try to start the fire by throwing a little gasoline in to get it going in a hurry? You grew up on a ranch and learned how to do stuff. City slicker who wants to experience "ranch" isn't likely to have been so fortunate, they've seen it on TV or learned how to do it on youtube which, as you know, is such a good source of information on how to do anything correctly .

Quote:
5) Solar - there is no electric utility service here at the ranch. I live in an off-grid house..
Early opinions about renters, not knowing how to live with the available resources apply. There is a learning curve associated with living this way, even for a short time.


Quote:
7) Lastly, what am I missing? Please, save me from myself, and the mistakes I am about to make! My wife will be forever grateful!
I'm sure that your insurance company is going to have some say about much of this, if anyone will even insure it. You don't want someone owning the ranch. I think you might get more useful information if you ask specific questions about one specific thing not, "how do I do everything?".

Dick
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Old 07-26-2018, 05:13 PM   #3
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Join Date: Mar 2016
Location: Greater Houston, Tx.
Posts: 569
Welcome to the forum, from another Texan. Several of us, across the state are here. By your "handle" I'm wondering if you happen be the owner of The Deep **** Ranch, up in Central Texas? I chuckle every time I pass that place.
Old RVs are a good source for kitchen and bathroom fixtures, and we all know they can be found on C/L. If you have means to transport the bus, there are always buses in auctions that are parts buses, and they go cheap. Any good hardware/big box store should have anything you need for basic building. A lot of people use recycled pallet wood for everything from walls to counters, to furniture. Google RV or Skoolie interiors for inspiration. Then just follow whatever your theme or dream will be. (or whatever the wife tells you to do)
I will advise you to be careful about choosing a wood burning fireplace. That Mesquite burns really hot, and the materials used in building a fireplace need to be able to withstand those temps.
We have a small place up near Cross Plains, Texas with a trailer on it now. I can't wait to get my build, so that I have options of places I want to be, without pulling anything.
Look forward to seeing what you come up with.
Look forward to seeing what you come up with.
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Old 07-28-2018, 11:23 AM   #4
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Join Date: Jul 2018
Location: North Central Texas
Posts: 3
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International
Engine: DT468 International Diesel
Rated Cap: 50 passenger
Also in Texas just joined site. We purchased a 1991 International / Carpenter and drove it home from Oregon. Getting ready for step #1 ? Pulling the seats. Have all the same questions ��
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