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Old 11-20-2015, 10:24 PM   #1
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Bit by the Skoolie bug but kinda overwhelmed lol

So I've been an active visitor for the past few months and keeping on eye on the build threads and gotta say... I'm impressed! So I made up my mind to build one for myself. Ideally, I'd like to build something I can live in full time and I've come up with a few drawings (I'm old school and still use pencil and graph paper lol). Where I'm lost though is what type of bus and drivetrain to look for. When it comes to diesel drivetrain combinations and bus bodies I get pretty confused. So here is what I would like to build and maybe (hopefully) I can get a few suggestions from y'all. Please

I want to build a front engine (dog nose from what I understand) body style and do a roof raise. Reason for the dog nose is I intend to build a storage area under the master bed in the rear of the bus to store my forge, anvil and tools (I'm an amateur blacksmith and even if I don't go full time there are some awesome conventions across the country that it would be great to travel to and have all my own tools with me.) I also want it to be something I can boondock with and go full time if wanted. My biggest concern are breakdowns during travel so I'd like to find a bus with a Cummins or International that I might at least have a shot of finding parts for at a local parts store and not have to find a truck dealer. I'm even thinking of doing a 4x4 conversion but nothing insane like a monster truck. I just like the idea do being able to get around during snow or being able to travel down a fire road with confidence. So with all that said, any ideas on brands I should keep an eye out for? I'm planning on a two year build and look forward to adding it to the many other cool build threads here. Thanks in advance!
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Old 11-21-2015, 08:50 AM   #2
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If you want 4x4 its going to be a lot cheaper to shop for one WITH that feature. That's one mod that is horrendously expensive to undertake.
Much cheaper if using a van chassis vs a medium duty chassis like school buses are built on. The small school buses built on vans could be converted a lot easier and cheaper but they aren't going to be nearly as stout.
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Old 11-21-2015, 09:59 AM   #3
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Thanks EastCoastCB,
I thought about doing a short bus but I don't think it would give me the living/storage space I would like to have. The 4 wheel drive is something of a desire but not a need. I'm pretty fortunate if I wanted to go that route because I've helped to build some wicked 4x4 conversions over the years and have a local fab shop that loves the crazy 4x4 conversions. 4x4 isn't a necessity for me though, just a want. It would be the last thing I do, if even at all. I've grown pretty weary of the the traditional rat race of working just to pay for a home I'll eventually own in 30 years if I don't move to another area of the country. I really like the idea of living full time in a tiny home on wheels which is what got me interested in skoolies. So hopefully this build will give me the freedom I desire I'm not planning on buying the actual bus until spring. I have friends that are bus drivers for local school districts and they've told me that they have a few international buses going up for sale/auction at the end of the year. Unless I happen across one on a somewhat local auction or sale before then.
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Old 11-21-2015, 10:05 AM   #4
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In that case, I'd go with any good dog nose conventional school bus with a straight six diesel.
I prefer Internationals, some like Cummins. Both are good and very easy to find parts for.

Whats local for you?
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Old 11-21-2015, 10:13 AM   #5
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I live in lower Delaware. Mostly farmland and small towns until you get to the beach lol. So far I haven't seen many builds near my area where I could ask to check them out. But, we do have some campgrounds nearby that are right next to the beach so the thought of waking up to the sound of the ocean without the astronomical price tag is pretty enticing lol.
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Old 11-21-2015, 10:23 AM   #6
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Ahhh, that does sound good.

Have you priced the campground rates? Some of the beachfront parks cost more for a week than rent in a regular house for a month!
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Old 11-21-2015, 10:40 AM   #7
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I've not done the rv camping before so I'm assuming the rates are daily but I may be wrong but for example, a full hookup site at the Indian River Inlet (which is literally a two minute walk from the best surf fishing beach area I know) is $30 from November thru Feb then rises to 40 during spring and fall months and 45 during the peak summer months. It's an additional five bucks for out of state residents. This is one of the nicer state parks with full amenities on site. While it would be pricey to stay there full time around 900 per month during the off season if it is a daily rate), its a great place to go for a week or so to do laundry and pump out to then go boondock in one of our many other campgrounds for a while. Obviously they shut down the public showers in winter to prevent freezing but our winters here can be very mild or bitter cold. There's no weather like Delmarva weather lol. There are other campgrounds too that are privately owned and I don't know their rates off hand. This is the highest rate state park we have and the rest are cheaper. Most sites are full hookup but also have partial and no hookup parking for even cheaper. Not sure about the rates of other campgrounds in eastern shore MD.
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Old 11-21-2015, 03:10 PM   #8
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A few of points. DON'T buy a bus from an area where they salt the roads. Try to stay with a mechanical engine for ease of maintenance and repairs. MT643 or MD3060 for the trans. In CA, many parks don't let you stay more than 2 weeks to one month. They don't want you to become a renter with all the rights that it brings. Different if they rent by the month.
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Old 11-21-2015, 04:10 PM   #9
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Bluebird TC2000 or All American with the 5.9 Cummins would be a great choice esp if you're doing to do a roof raise. They're also better at getting around tight campgrounds than a dognose bus with a hood.
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Old 11-22-2015, 07:20 AM   #10
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Thanks for the heads up Crazycal. I'll have to check on limits but I wouldn't want to stay there very long anyways. I'd like to be able to save some money at least comparing rent to rent lol. And the rust issue is something very concerning to me. I'd like to find a local bus but here in lower Delaware Deldot doesn't plow, they brine haha. 2" of snow and we go into a state of emergency it seems. What do you think of the Ford chassis'? I'm a Ford guy when it comes to my regular vehicles (Don't hate me lol)
Wibluebird, I've seen some pretty amazing builds here on the flat nose buses but I really like the dog nose ones for what I want to build. Mainly for the engine being in front of me rather than under my feet or in the rear where I want to make rather large storage compartment. I need to use the frame rails to support it due to weight. My anvil and stand combo alone weighs a little over 200 pounds and I really don't want to have to wrestle that anvil out of an underbody box every time I want to do a little smithing lol.
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