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Old 12-26-2017, 08:03 PM   #1
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Talking Aloha from a veteran wanderer but skoolie noob

Howdy, new guy here who has been binge reading skoolie sites and watching bus related vids for the last month.

This February I am fixiní leave my island home where I have lived for the past decade to pursue a simpler, less costly and more nomadic way of life.

Since I am no stranger to travel, staying in ďalternativeĒ housing and living within my means, bus life looks very attractive and doable.

Also, the Skoolie lifestyle will allow me to retain a few creature comforts while still providing a somewhat anchor free nomadic lifestyle.

My plan when I return back to the mainland is to start searching school districts, auctions, Craigslist and eBay for a pre 1995 diesel chevy/gmc short bus or cutaway van.

I am choosing to go small at first in hopes of dodging some of the title and insurance woes I have been reading about.

Getting affordable insurance is my main concern because these factors will pretty much make or break this endeavor.

Another big challenge I will be facing is how to bring one of my two motorcycles along with me while I am on the move during the winter months.

A place to park and work on a bus is already sorted and I have access to several brilliant minds with skilled hands.

Although I am no slouch when it comes to working with tools and building things, I definitely spend more time in the right side of my brain.

Creativity is how I make my bread and butter and how will be financing my life on the road (along with whatever odd jobs I can find.)

My plan for 2018 also incudes posting progress and travel vids on my Youtube channel and maybe some light blogging on my website.

Thanks for reading this wordy first post and for all the valuable info passed along. I am looking forward to learning more and getting to know some of ya!
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Old 12-26-2017, 08:29 PM   #2
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Welcome Chongolio

We're always glad to see anyone come here at the conceptual stage. The normal way this works is we get you to tell us what you want to stuff into a bus and we'll try to help you do that with the right bus. You're talking about a cutaway bus, which is ok. You'll never find yourself complaining about having to much space even if you get a bigger bus.
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Old 12-26-2017, 08:42 PM   #3
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Hi Robin thanks for the welcome and reply.

I am all for having more space especially since I have motorcycles and art supplies to load up.

However, I sure don’t want to get stuck with an uninsurable bus or a project that becomes a financial burden that is hard to park.

Maybe a porch (added after I get insurance) or a small box trailer will be the solution...
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Old 12-26-2017, 08:47 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Chongolio View Post
Hi Robin thanks for the welcome and reply.

I am all for having more space especially since I have motorcycles and art supplies to load up.

However, I sure donít want to get stuck with an uninsurable bus or a project that becomes a financial burden that is hard to park ��

Maybe a porch (added after I get insurance) or a small box trailer will be the solution...��
Insurance problems usually stem from new owners uncertain of what to tell insurers.

There are no real problems, you just have to know where to go and what to say.

You need more space to carry bikes ... Look at some of the mid-size buses ... around 9 windows or so. They will give you more space and still be under the 26000 lb weight that scares folk.
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Old 12-26-2017, 09:07 PM   #5
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The more of the bus you devote to garage space, the less expensive the build is.

A chair lift in the rear of the bus is a good thing for bikes, wood stoves and refrigerators.
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Old 12-26-2017, 09:12 PM   #6
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Thanks for your input Steve. Perhaps I am over thinking the insurance bit, but there does seem to be a lot of horror stories regarding policies getting canceled or flat out denied.

I did pick up the vauable tip of only giving the insurer and DMV info that is asked for and little else.

A midsize bus does makes more sense and I am sure I could get the hang of driving and maneuvering one, however a smaller bus is also appealing for the ability to get into more fickle and space challenged camping spots found at the end of narrow weather beaten roads.

What type of make and model mid size would you look for? Engine and tranny preference for extra points
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Old 12-26-2017, 09:34 PM   #7
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All good points Robin. I have considered a bus with a lift my reservation is more moving parts with bits and bobs to repair, replace and maintain. That being said I am not very knowledgeable in regards to how a hydraulic lift functions or their mechanical complexity.
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Old 12-26-2017, 09:38 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Chongolio View Post
Thanks for your input Steve. Perhaps I am over thinking the insurance bit, but there does seem to be a lot of horror stories regarding policies getting canceled or flat out denied.

I did pick up the vauable tip of only giving the insurer and DMV info that is asked for and little else.

A midsize bus does makes more sense and I am sure I could get the hang of driving and maneuvering one, however a smaller bus is also appealing for the ability to get into more fickle and space challenged camping spots found at the end of narrow weather beaten roads.

What type of make and model mid size would you look for? Engine and tranny preference for extra points
If you want a rear garage, then you need a front-engined bus, either Transit or Conventional. Both will have a shortish wheelbase with long rear overhangs, but the transit will be shorter. Balance that with the engine right by your feet and the steer wheels behind you.

FWIW, I climbed into a Transit bus, 40' long with a massive 277" wheelbase, and the front wheels behind me ... and drove it 500 miles home with zero issues. First left and right turns were nervous affairs, after that I steadily relaxed all the way home ... and soooo quiet. Wheelbase decides manoeuvrability more than anything else.

Transit will have more useable space for the overall length, Conventional will be easier to work on. Whichever you choose it's a compromise.

In a bus of around 30-33 feet-ish, any of the engine/tranny combos will do a decent job.

I'd be looking for a DT466 engine with an Allison 1000, 2000, 3000 transmission. I'd avoid the AT545 transmission, although a vast number of buses have it (it's cheap), and those buses are a little cheaper.

There is nothing wrong with a CAT engine in good condition, but I'd want to see and hear it before buying.
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Old 12-26-2017, 10:09 PM   #9
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Thanks a bunch for all that info Twigg/ Steve, all good to know and added to my ever expanding notes.

I have owned, and lived in, several VW buses so have a working knowledge of driving a vehicle with no front end and sitting on top of the front wheel so I am fairly certain a larger bus would be similar in some aspects of steering and what not.

You and Robin have given me plenty to think about in between downsizing and shippingnwhat is left of my belongings back to the mainland.
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Old 12-26-2017, 10:14 PM   #10
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Canceled insurance policies happened to me several times, but that was because I contacted an insurance company and the eager but ignorant agent sold me a policy over the phone. When the big office plugs the vin# into the computer it comes back as a bus and that's a no go. They drop the policy without any information about where to go.
When you get a "commercial policy for private use" you don't get cancelled.

Coincidentally, my TC1000 is favorable 9 window model for a garage in the back utilizing the lift.
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