Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 10-04-2017, 04:21 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 10
20 y/o newbie here. I intend to present to you, from concept to cause, The Caboose!

Get your avocados and iPhones ready, because it's about to get VERY millennial up in here. Apologies in advance for the unreasonably long post.

Hopefully this is the right place to post all of this, I've done my best to lurk around the forum for a little over a week to figure out where stuff goes and this seems like the place for my initial post.

THE BACKSTORY: I'm a 20 y/o part-time student and full-time bartender in Austin, TX, and while I'm saving up most of my money to go to school full-time in the next year or so, any disposable income I have tends to go to concerts and/or music festivals. I play 11 instruments, so I have a pretty wide variety of taste in music that extends from Bruce Springsteen to Illenium, from Bobby Darin to Vampire Weekend, from The Shins to Chance The Rapper. All this is to say that music is very important to me, and I'm definitely one of those people for whom music is a full-on hobby.

As an extension of that hobby, I try to make it to as many music festivals as I can. They're a ton of fun, and the people I've met and connections I've made at some of these fests have been truly remarkable. Over time, I've gathered a group of about 20-25 folks, who have become nothing short of family, that attend fests and go on trips and whatnot together. We're an extremely tight-knit crew, and recently we've decided to fully investigate, research, group-fund, and renovate our own skoolie, which we will call "The Caboose".

Tacky picture of the entire group:



THE PURPOSE: The Caboose's purpose will be two-fold:
  1. Streamline the group's travel to and from festivals and other events
  2. Serve as a permanent safe haven, campsite, and party beacon

While we do intend to do some serious renovations on our bus to make it livable for weeks at a time, The Caboose will definitely be getting a solid amount of travel miles, so its function as a vehicle cannot be completely abandoned and this won't be full-on tiny home conversion. We won't be expecting to haul around all 25 of us all the time, and we will continue bringing tents and whatnot to have sleeping and camping space aside from the inside of the bus for festivals, but high passenger capacity and storage will definitely be valued over things like counter space and luxury utilities.

Ideally, we'd like to be able to sleep 10 inside and 10 outside if we need to, though keep in mind that we're a bunch of dumb kids who don't mind close quarters, which makes this more doable. I'd imagine that our final floorplan will likely include convertible couch futons pretty much up and down the length of the inside of the bus.

Because capacity is a major goal, we will be looking to buy a full-size, 35 ft+ vehicle.

THE BUDGET: As the group will be crowd funding this project for all intents and purposes, I'm expecting a budget of somewhere between $10k-$13k. Numbers will be finalized in the coming months as a concrete and itemized budget, plan, and payment schedule is finalized, but for simplicity's sake, the number we'll work with for now is $12,000

I'm more than happy to hear input on how realistic our build is for our budget. I like to think that I've kept everything within reason, and I've seen similar builds to what I'm planning ours to be everywhere in the $10k-$15k range, but if my head is in the clouds I'd rather know! That said, we will be building from the essentials out -- that is to say, we will be leaving luxury features like a stereo system or roof lounge until the end of the build, to be added as the budget allows.

THE PLANNED FEATURES (and lack thereof):

While we are still very much in the planning stages of this project, we've definitely got a shortlist of features and utilities that we want to include in our build, as well as some that we want to leave out. There will definitely be features included that are not listed such as bed systems and storage space, but these are the handful that take some planning and serious budgeting for. Please keep in mind that many of these are wants, and not needs, and will be left out if the budget doesn't allow them.
  • NO bathroom or shower. This is still a debated one, but at the moment the concensus is that we're already plenty used to using gas stations on the road and facilities at the fests, so it's not like we'd be losing something we've got, we'd just be maintaining our current norm. One issue we will likely encounter with this is that, as I've learned on this forum, most insurers require a bathroom in order to insure a skoolie as an RV.
  • NO kitchen area or utilities, aside from a refrigerator. The logic behind this is the same as the bathroom -- we're already used to only having coolers and dry food to eat, so sacrificing space for a kitchen or cooking utilities would be an upgrade that we don't necessarily need. If we have a fully-operational refrigerator, that alone would be a huge step up from dry ice and Coleman coolers. Personal stoves can always be brought along if we decide we need one.
  • Solar power setup. Not sure exactly the wattage that we'll need yet, but we hope to power a fridge, stereo system, outside and interior lights, A/C unit and a few outlets for hair dryers and phone charging and whatnot. Maybe a wall-mounted TV and DVD player if the budget somehow allows. I'm hoping a 200-watt panel setup will be enough based on research done here on the board, but we'll see.
  • Wall- or ceiling-mounted A/C unit. Don't necessarily need a monster here, but a basic unit capable of controlling and more importantly dehumidifying ~150 sq./ft would be lovely if we can make it work.
  • 20-inch roof raise. Unless we get lucky and buy a bus with already high ceilings, we'll almost definitely be committing to a 20-inch roof raise seeing as I'm 6'3 and not the tallest member of the group, not to mention the overhead storage space that the raise would allow us to create. Right now I think we'll remove the bus windows entirely and cut our own.
  • Rooftop lounge. Yup, this is another big one, almost its own separate project. Nothing too crazy, but I envision a wood-floored porch extending maybe two-thirds of the bus's length as a lounge area, with removable railing and anchor slots for a few 8x8 EZ-Ups to be inserted pole-to-pole, and a ladder to access.
  • Music system. Part of being dumb kids, we have to have some kickin' speakers and stereo system to make this party bus bump. Should be fun electrical work.

THE BUILD: As of right now, we plan to purchase a bus near me in Texas and do the renovation in Austin. One tricky part of our group is that we're pretty well spread across the South, with me being furthest west in Austin, and others living in New Orleans, Atlanta, central Florida, the Carolinas, Virginia, and D.C. While we currently intend to eventually make Fayetteville, NC, the bus's permanent home base, we feel that it makes the most sense to do the build here with me for reasons I'm about to get to. A few members of the group plan to spend May/June living with me in Austin to work on the bus as close to full-time as possible, and local friends of mine have also expressed interest in helping out as they're able.

There are a few reasons we want to do the build in Austin and then drive the bus home after the project is at least mostly completed. For one, I am one of three people who has very much spear-headed the project, and it makes sense to keep me in charge. Additionally, I'm lucky that the owner of the bar I work at has a lot he's willing to let us park and work on the bus at for multiple months, rent free. I'm even MORE lucky that one of my roommates works in a shop and has TONS of hours of experience with electrical work, wood paneling, and general hardware stuff, and he may even be able to save us some money on renting tools. Similarly, I'm familiar with a lot of local metal shops and maker spaces that I know would be extremely helpful for our build. Lastly, if The Caboose is going to be putting on hundreds (if not thousands) of miles a year with us, I think it makes sense to do an initial 2-3 person road trip to get a feel for the bus and identify any travelling/driving issues before we actually do a full festival trip as a group.

--------------

All this being said, like I said in the title, I intend to document this whole project here on the forum from budget to first fest. Since we've only just decided to try and do this thing, we're still firmly in the planning phase. The three of us that have decided to lead the project are spending much of our free time researching, brainstorming, and bookmarking relevant information. Right now we're closely watching Public Surplus as well as other listings, and I will later this week be contacting a guy about two hours from me in Texas who specifically collects, cleans, and deals school buses.

I'm hoping to stick to the following schedule:
  • Oct.-Dec.: Research and presentation prep. Do everything we can to convince as many group members as we can to sign on. The more fundraisers we have, the less each person needs to contribute -- best case scenario would be getting 20 people to contribute $600 each, to be payed in three installments of $200 over five months.
  • Late Dec./New Years: This is the next time the entire group will be gathered together in person, and there me and the other two guys leading the charge will present a comprehensive gameplan and budget, collect sign-ons, and begin fundraising.
  • January 15th: Complete first ~$4,000 of fundraising goal.
  • March 1st: Complete second ~$4,000 of fundraising goal. Begin zeroing in on final bus purchase targets.
  • April-May 1st: Purchase bus and begin renovations. Hopefully we can buy sooner rather than later, but either way for most of April and May renovation work will be part time, maybe 20 hours/week as school and work allow.
  • May 15th: Complete final ~$4,000 of fundraising goal.
  • May 20th: Move to full-time renovation. At least three of us will be working on renovations 40 hours/week with other local friends helping out as much as they like.
  • June 25th: Complete basic renovations, begin road trip to North Carolina.

I realize this is a highly ambitious project, and the prospect of getting 15+ young adults to commit to each separately putting forward hundreds of dollars may be the most daunting task of all. That said, I have a lot of faith in our group. When we've committed to something, we do an excellent job of going at it 100%, and I think The Caboose will prove that more than ever.

--------------

That's enough from me. If you have somehow made it through that wall of text, I'm happy to hear any and all input this board has on the project. Any particular things I should be looking for in a bus? Any major issues I've overlooked thus far? Tips and tricks to look out for? Places or threads on the board you'd specifically recommend checking out?

I've already greatly enjoyed browsing the board, and definitely look forward to sharing Project Caboose with you guys as it develops! There's so much helpful info around here its insane. Hopefully a year from now I'll be posting updates from a completed project for y'all.
MostlyJokes is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-04-2017, 05:35 AM   #2
Bus Geek
 
bansil's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: MNT CITY TN
Posts: 5,158
Welcome, good luck and have fun while young

and your first 5/10 posts will be moderated, so until you reach 11 posts, give them 24 hrs or so before reposting
__________________
Our build La Tortuga
Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory.
George S. Patton
bansil is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-04-2017, 05:43 AM   #3
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by bansil View Post
Welcome, good luck and have fun while young

and your first 5/10 posts will be moderated, so until you reach 11 posts, give them 24 hrs or so before reposting
Good to know! I was trying to figure out what was up and why the post was disappearing, that makes sense. Glad to be part of the community though!
MostlyJokes is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-04-2017, 06:09 AM   #4
Bus Crazy
 
Njsurf73's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2017
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 1,497
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: Bluebird
Engine: 5.9 Cummins 24v
Rated Cap: 72 pax
I feel your budget is very doable. One thing you can do to keep some "creature comforts" like shower and cooking is to utilize the exterior. Outdoor shower, and cooking space is easily done. A tarp and a few poles gives you an extended shelter to set up a "kitchen" area as well as a dry space for when those festivals turn into 3 days of mud! Think hard mounted 30" bunks and you can easily sleep 10 and have storage. Good luck.

Sent from my XT1254 using Tapatalk
Njsurf73 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-04-2017, 06:28 AM   #5
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 11,841
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
go for this!!!! and YES!!!! on A/C and stereo!! are you wanting A/C just to sleep or for driving too? if you want A/C for drivi ng.. you'll need more than a small unit.. buying texas busses you have a good chance at finding one already with factory A/C (for driving, runs off the engine like a car)...

look into a mini split unit for being parked.. they are battery-inverter friendly and since you wont have a lot of water tanks and stuff underneath, you will have good room to mount the condensing unit.

-Christopher
cadillackid is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-04-2017, 06:32 AM   #6
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Njsurf73 View Post
I feel your budget is very doable. One thing you can do to keep some "creature comforts" like shower and cooking is to utilize the exterior. Outdoor shower, and cooking space is easily done. A tarp and a few poles gives you an extended shelter to set up a "kitchen" area as well as a dry space for when those festivals turn into 3 days of mud! Think hard mounted 30" bunks and you can easily sleep 10 and have storage. Good luck.

Sent from my XT1254 using Tapatalk
Appreciate the input. If we skip the kitchen and whatnot inside, that outdoor plan is what we would do for sure since it's basically what we do right now. I'm toying around with designs for either an attachable or retractable shade structure built into the side of the bus, but that's also something we can easily save for last since it would be an exterior feature. Or we could just put EZ-Up tents against the bus, which again would basically what we already do, except with a bus instead of our tents haha.

Personally, I'm not big on cooking meals at fests anyway. Don't like dealing with plates, cutlery, equipment, etc. I usually just bring a few boxes of Clif bars and Ensure shakes, plus whatever snacks I want -- all that really matters to me with food at festivals is that I'm getting the nutrition and vitamins that my body needs to keep going strong. If I really need a hot meal, I don't mind buying something from the food trucks that are always around. Not everyone in the group is as low-maintenance as me though, haha.
MostlyJokes is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-04-2017, 06:42 AM   #7
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
go for this!!!! and YES!!!! on A/C and stereo!! are you wanting A/C just to sleep or for driving too? if you want A/C for drivi ng.. you'll need more than a small unit.. buying texas busses you have a good chance at finding one already with factory A/C (for driving, runs off the engine like a car)...

look into a mini split unit for being parked.. they are battery-inverter friendly and since you wont have a lot of water tanks and stuff underneath, you will have good room to mount the condensing unit.

-Christopher
I guess I'd like one for driving too, and what you mentioned about Texas buses actually crossed my mind -- I didn't ride the bus often as a kid, but when I did I'm pretty sure every bus I was in had A/C.

I've been doing a lot of research tonight on solar power and powering A/C units, and it seems everywhere I look that people are saying it doesn't make sense to try to go solar-only and have an A/C unit. I know the mini-splits are supposed to be a lot more efficient, but would they work with, say, a 1000W solar system? I've found these 335W panels (link here) that seem pretty affordable, and hopefully we could afford 3 of them if y'all think it would support a small, efficient A/C unit for 4-6 hours/day plus the appliances I mentioned in my original post.
MostlyJokes is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-04-2017, 08:01 AM   #8
Bus Crazy
 
Njsurf73's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2017
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 1,497
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: Bluebird
Engine: 5.9 Cummins 24v
Rated Cap: 72 pax
If you look around at salvage yards, or on Craig's list you may be able to find a functional awning that would bolt (more or less) directly on to the side of the bus. Save some space hauling the ez ups around. With the size of the party you are planning, space will be a premium. Think top deck/rack for anything that can travel in the weather.

Sent from my XT1254 using Tapatalk
Njsurf73 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-04-2017, 08:12 AM   #9
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Njsurf73 View Post
If you look around at salvage yards, or on Craig's list you may be able to find a functional awning that would bolt (more or less) directly on to the side of the bus. Save some space hauling the ez ups around. With the size of the party you are planning, space will be a premium. Think top deck/rack for anything that can travel in the weather.

Sent from my XT1254 using Tapatalk
Definitely will do...but gotta find a bus first! I'm hoping that more will come up for sale in Texas as the school year goes on, since there's slim pickings at the moment.
MostlyJokes is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-04-2017, 12:21 PM   #10
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: SW New Hampshire
Posts: 1,269
This sounds like a hell of a lot of fun, and my advice is to go for it! I'm old enough to remember the last time in history where young kids on a bus travelling the countryside was A Thing, and I'm stoked for you! I have a couple of observations.

1. This one is going to be the hardest sell. I think you should put together some sort of overall organization, and by that I mean an incorporated LLC or nonprofit or whatever. This is not as daunting or expensive as you think. Everyone will own a piece of it, and when a person pays their second installment the corp becomes worth $x more and that person's share is worth (old value + installment)/(new total). Spend a couple of days thinking it through and write some simple bylaws. What this buys you is the ability to have people leave and join the effort without arguments about money. You have a couple of folks spearheading it; there's your "board of directors" right there. When/if it's time to fold your tents, it's easy to liquidate and split the proceeds, or allow the hardcore few to buy you out.

2. Start gathering money ASAP, so you can jump on deals as you see them in advance of buying the bus.

2.5. You are planning to have bought your bus and starting to build it out right when the annual flood of skoolies show up. That starts in mid May. Think about it. There are always a lot of buses for sale, but there are a lot more for sale right near and and just after the end of the school year.

3. If you have 2 futons facing each other on opposite walls in the bus, you have your choice of which one can be opened up. Not both at the same time; it don't fit.

4. If you do any urban boondocking on your way to a festival (overnight in a parking lot) you're not going to sleep anybody outside.

5. Accept that your budget and scope of work will flex and change as this thing comes together. Nature of the beast.

6. I would think twice about cooping up two dozen people without some sort of toilet facility. All of them will be drinking something, and half of them more-or-less will have objections to peeing in a gallon milk jug. A roll-your-own composting toilet can be made from a 5 gallon Homer's bucket and 3x3 feet of floorspace. With that many passengers you will get much farther between stops with onboard relief facilities.

7. With a 20" roof raise you could consider stacking bunkbed space 3 deep. 21 feet of bus (a little more than half a full size bus) would allow for 3 bunk "pods" per side of the bus x 2 sides to the bus x 3 bunks per pod = 18 bunks. Look around this site and elsewhere, there are loads of imaginative ways to make bunks fold up out of the way.

8. With that many people, you are risking some damn cop somewhere thinking that you are "carrying passengers for hire" and harassing you for not having the proper CDL, registration and insurance. They'd be wrong, and you could likely beat the rap, but it's worth thinking out beforehand. The cutoff is 14 passengers IIRC. You GOTTA be an RV to do this.

9. Lots of us here are Lone Rangers, planning to spend the money and do the work all by ourselves. Also common is the husband-and-wife team. We're all planning to spend that kind of money on the project. With as many people as you have going for you, you guys could build a bus a year for a while and have one kickin' caravan going! Imagine 24 of you in 4 buses, living in style, with Bluetooth comms between for chat and music. That would rule, for sure!

Good luck, have fun, don't argue too much, and keep the pictures coming!
dan-fox is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


» Featured Campgrounds

Reviews provided by

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 09:01 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.