Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 09-11-2016, 10:52 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 19
Bus Virgin in Virginia

Hello out there!

I've been looking at buses now for nearly 2 years, scraping money together where I could and I've finally reached a point where buying a (reasonably priced) bus is now more than a simple pipe dream.

I've made a lot of decisions over the last year - what size I'm looking for, how far I'm willing to travel to get it, what I'm looking to have on the inside, how I'd like to power everything, etc. I've watched just about every youtube video on conversions and bus homes available - but they tend to lack one very important component.

The one setback I'm having is that I know absolutely nothing about engines. What is good, what is bad, what is reliable. This is going to be a long-term housing solution for me and I want to be as certain as I can be that I'm not putting myself into a money pit I can't afford to climb out of.

I'm single and I don't see that changing anytime in the near future. Affordable living for single people doesn't seem to be a thing in the U.S. right now. I started looking at Tiny Homes, but between the cost, need for a tow car and legality issues were a bit more than I was willing to bite off. So I started looking at RVs, which ultimately lead me to Skoolies and other bus conversions.

And I was hooked.

So now I'm looking, pretty seriously, at taking the plunge despite my absolute lack of practical knowledge - and equally absolute lack of any knowledgeable friends/colleagues.

Which is why I'm here! I'm eager to make some friends and learn some things.
SpecialAgentAce is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-11-2016, 11:19 AM   #2
Bus Geek
 
Tango's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Houston, Texas
Posts: 5,577
Year: 1946
Coachwork: Chevrolet/Wayne
Chassis: 1- 1/2 ton
Engine: Cummins 4BT
Rated Cap: 15
Welcome Ace! --- you are off to a good start by finding this place. Nearly all of us began our journey the same way as you. Just read as many build threads as you can cram in...make note of what seems to best fit your personal dream...and develop a plan. There are folks here who will provide as much support and info as you can find anywhere. We are all still learning.
Tango is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 09-11-2016, 12:23 PM   #3
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 19
Thanks for that really warm welcome Tango!

I've made a lot of decisions already about what I'm looking for.

Size: 5-7 window mid-size bus

I COULD go smaller (it's just me and possibly a little dog or cat) but my list of wants makes a minotaur/corbiel/4 window a bit of a tight squeeze.

A place to do crafts: I do a lot of sewing, so some space to do that as a source of mobile income is pretty important.

Seating: I don't need a lot - I don't foresee having a lot of people in and out of the bus itself.

Sleeping: Not so keen on the 'out in the open' in the back of the bus bed. I've got a couple ideas for the sleeping space - but I'm leaning pretty heavily toward inspiration from Romani Vardos, with an enclosed sleeping 'bunk' right behind the driver's seat for those cold winter nights and for privacy.

Entry: At the 'back' of the bus through the emergency door. I want a small patio, and if I can figure it out or find someone willing to help me figure it out, I want a dutch door with a small overhanging 'roof', a small fold-out patio and 'stairs' leading up into the bus.

Bathroom: I'd LIKE to have a small tub, if possible along with the shower. No black water tank if I can avoid it but cost might be an issue. A small on-demand hot-water heater and the ability to tie into RV park or city water or go off-grid. Composting toilet seems like a great option, but they're really expensive. The UK has these little compartmentalized toilets with removable tanks that I've been looking at, but import fees might make it not worth doing. And I'd like to place it just inside the 'front door' at the back of the bus to balance out the bed box at the other end.

Kitchen: I don't need much. 3-4 feet including counter space is PLENTY big enough. 2 burners is all I need. An oven would be nice, but I don't do a lot of baking, so I could live without it. I don't mind low-tech for things like coffee/tea but a coffee machine would be a nice little luxury to have.

Power: Solar, Propane and Generator for off-grid capabilities. I'd like to power almost everything with the Solar.

Lighting: LED for energy efficiency

Heating and Cooling: I'd really like to have a small wood-burning stove on board. Cooling is another can of worms altogether and I haven't really figured this one out. AC is power hungry and Solar has a hard time keeping up.

My biggest issues aren't ideas LOL I've got plenty of those. And enough ambition to try and tackle the interior construction pretty much on my own.

But some of my ideas would definitely require resources that are way outside of my realm of experience - Like possibly raising the roof a little or flattening the back end and installing a dutch door and small fold-down patio and trailer hitch to pull my every-day car with.

I'm really eager to dive in. IN fact, there are a few buses I"m looking at, but I don't know enough to know whether they're a good idea or not. So I'm currently ripping through the 'make and model' reviews and suggestions portion of the forum, looking for any advice or reviews. I just emailed someone on craigslist not too far from here selling two 7 window buses - 2004 Navistar Internationals that are the perfect size and in a price range I can feasibly afford.

There's so much besides the actual bus too.. insurance has me a little worried, but I'm poking through that part of the forums and there might be some hope of a not-too-difficult to implement policy.

Storage for while I'm working on it.

The daunting realization I'll be working on it almost entirely alone.

Where to park it once I'm done with it.

It's a lot to think about!!

The more I learn the less I know. ^__^
SpecialAgentAce is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-11-2016, 03:58 PM   #4
Bus Nut
 
M1031A1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: Katy, TX
Posts: 910
Year: 1989
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Saf-T-Liner ER
Engine: 3208 CAT/MT643 tranny
Rated Cap: 87
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpecialAgentAce View Post
Thanks for that really warm welcome Tango!

I've made a lot of decisions already about what I'm looking for.

Size: 5-7 window mid-size bus

I COULD go smaller (it's just me and possibly a little dog or cat) but my list of wants makes a minotaur/corbiel/4 window a bit of a tight squeeze.

A place to do crafts: I do a lot of sewing, so some space to do that as a source of mobile income is pretty important.

Seating: I don't need a lot - I don't foresee having a lot of people in and out of the bus itself.

Sleeping: Not so keen on the 'out in the open' in the back of the bus bed. I've got a couple ideas for the sleeping space - but I'm leaning pretty heavily toward inspiration from Romani Vardos, with an enclosed sleeping 'bunk' right behind the driver's seat for those cold winter nights and for privacy.

Entry: At the 'back' of the bus through the emergency door. I want a small patio, and if I can figure it out or find someone willing to help me figure it out, I want a dutch door with a small overhanging 'roof', a small fold-out patio and 'stairs' leading up into the bus.

Bathroom: I'd LIKE to have a small tub, if possible along with the shower. No black water tank if I can avoid it but cost might be an issue. A small on-demand hot-water heater and the ability to tie into RV park or city water or go off-grid. Composting toilet seems like a great option, but they're really expensive. The UK has these little compartmentalized toilets with removable tanks that I've been looking at, but import fees might make it not worth doing. And I'd like to place it just inside the 'front door' at the back of the bus to balance out the bed box at the other end.

Kitchen: I don't need much. 3-4 feet including counter space is PLENTY big enough. 2 burners is all I need. An oven would be nice, but I don't do a lot of baking, so I could live without it. I don't mind low-tech for things like coffee/tea but a coffee machine would be a nice little luxury to have.

Power: Solar, Propane and Generator for off-grid capabilities. I'd like to power almost everything with the Solar.

Lighting: LED for energy efficiency

Heating and Cooling: I'd really like to have a small wood-burning stove on board. Cooling is another can of worms altogether and I haven't really figured this one out. AC is power hungry and Solar has a hard time keeping up.

My biggest issues aren't ideas LOL I've got plenty of those. And enough ambition to try and tackle the interior construction pretty much on my own.

But some of my ideas would definitely require resources that are way outside of my realm of experience - Like possibly raising the roof a little or flattening the back end and installing a dutch door and small fold-down patio and trailer hitch to pull my every-day car with.

I'm really eager to dive in. IN fact, there are a few buses I"m looking at, but I don't know enough to know whether they're a good idea or not. So I'm currently ripping through the 'make and model' reviews and suggestions portion of the forum, looking for any advice or reviews. I just emailed someone on craigslist not too far from here selling two 7 window buses - 2004 Navistar Internationals that are the perfect size and in a price range I can feasibly afford.

There's so much besides the actual bus too.. insurance has me a little worried, but I'm poking through that part of the forums and there might be some hope of a not-too-difficult to implement policy.

Storage for while I'm working on it.

The daunting realization I'll be working on it almost entirely alone.

Where to park it once I'm done with it.

It's a lot to think about!!

The more I learn the less I know. ^__^
Ok, I'll take a stab at this to try and help a bit. Wife and I are going to full-time in our bus. We determined a bunch of things before even buying our bus.

1 - Had to have a shower

2 - NO black water tank - PERIOD. Her orders, not mine.

3 - She needs an office

4 - Comfortable bed

5 - Engine has to be in the back of the bus. She doesn't want to drive down the road and scream at me over the engine.

6 - Have space for a high quality kitchen to store all her kitchen goodies.

7 - Insulation - the more the better.

We went with a dry toilet - a 5 gallon bucket, plastic bag liner, and multi-cat clay litter. 100% disposable at any dumpster per DoT regs. So for about $50, we are set for our bathroom toilet.

Instead of propane, think alcohol stove/oven/heater. Yes, a bit more expensive, but LOW pressure, not HIGH pressure and less stable. One of our members had a horrible experience with his propane setup detonating and leaving him in the hospital for months. Alcohol is the SAFEST way to go.

We are going with a central air A/C set up provided by a window unit. With thick insulation the A/C demands will be substantially lower. Don't be afraid to strip the bus down to the bare ribs and insulate from there. That's what we're doing to get the highest "R" value for the money. The more we spend on insulation the less we spend on utilities.

Hope some of this helps......

M
__________________
Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself. They are the American people’s liberty teeth and keystone under independence. — George Washington
M1031A1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-11-2016, 04:47 PM   #5
Bus Nut
 
Jolly Roger's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: North carolina
Posts: 624
Year: 1986
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Ford
Engine: Detroit 8.2
Rated Cap: 60 bodies
Hi, there have been several discussions on here the last few days about the perfect engine/tranny combos. I meant to post this for carry town and few others in NC but forgot?
While looking for a truck for my teenagers this morning on Craigslist there was a 95-6 ish 7-window bus for sale in Elisabeth city n.c., international but I didn't see motor size/type or price but outside it looked good?
Good luck.
Jolly Roger is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-11-2016, 06:19 PM   #6
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 19
I hadn't thought of alcohol. The Propane does worry me, which was why I wanted to power just about everything I could on Solar, including things like the fridge and the hot water heater.

I've seen enough horror stories with Propane tanks to make me wary of using it as a main source of power. Thanks for the suggestion! I'll have to look into it.

Low Tech doesn't scare me. Often it's the best solution to a problem. The more moving parts there are the more can go wrong. Kitty litter, huh?

N.C. isn't too bad - the cost is what's limiting my choices (and the fact that the smaller you go the less common and more expensive they seem to become)! I've managed to save up about $2K for the actual bus - and about $1K for all the other stuff. Registration, titling, taxes, etc. So I'm looking for a nice bus in the 1500 - 2000 range.

I keep seeing stories of people getting buses for 500 and 800 dollars, but I haven't figured out how they did it, because everything I've seen so far has been WAYYYYY above that.

I also have the feeling that you get what you pay for. And I can't afford the upkeep on a 'bargain' bus. Cost is exactly why I'm looking at a bus in the first place (and of course having a mobile command center means I can go where the jobs are and not have to find a new home when I do).
SpecialAgentAce is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-13-2016, 01:34 PM   #7
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Virginia
Posts: 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpecialAgentAce View Post
There's so much besides the actual bus too.. insurance has me a little worried, but I'm poking through that part of the forums and there might be some hope of a not-too-difficult to implement policy.
If you have a bus that has already been converted I can probably help. I haven't had much luck finding coverage for a bus being converted, yet. But I'm still calling carriers and seeing what I can do for people.

As of right now I've covered two buses with National General here in VA. Both are state minimum liability only. I keep mentioning physical damage coverage to them though.
sutphinins is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-13-2016, 04:58 PM   #8
Bus Nut
 
Carytowncat's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Richmond Virginia
Posts: 902
Year: 1984
Engine: 366 Big block Chevy! :) w/ Stick shift
Welcome!

You've done your research alright One step at a time and it unfolds perfectly.

Isn't sitting by a hot wood stove in the winter just a wonderful thought?
I can hardly wait to put a pot of tea on the oven.

I am in Richmond. I am guessing you are in Nova?
Neighbors
Carytowncat is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-14-2016, 08:08 PM   #9
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 19
@sutphinins : Any bus I'd be looking at is going to be pre-conversion. I have some pretty good ideas what I want inside, and I haven't seen a bus, yet, that's already converted that has what I'm looking for.

There might be a reason for that, but I'm sure I'll find that out.

I really like the look of the Van Thompson's bus home - white and natural wood - and the bed box they have. It was part of my initial inspiration and lead me toward the Romani (Whom I studied for several years on independent interest - what a wonderful culture). If anybody knows how to pack an entire life into a mobile home, the Romani do.

So it's the registration and insurance prior to the conversion that has me pretty worried. I've seen some people use the 'personal use' commercial vehicle route - but I've also seen how expensive it can get and part of the point of Skoolie-living is to cut costs to something I can feasibly manage.

I'm happy for any and all help I can get in that department, though. There are several buses in the near vicinity that I'm eyeing but I haven't found a place to park, yet, either.

@Carytowncat : HOWDY Neighbor! Yup. About as North in Virginia as you can get and not actually be in Maryland. I'm only minutes away from the border. Which means it takes me forever to get anywhere.

I've never been down to Richmond - The furthest south in VA I've gone is Stafford. I've visited a few spots on NC, but never passed through Richmond to get there. I cheated and flew.

I can't WAIT to be sitting in my bus somewhere quiet and snowy, curled up with a good book and a cup of tea in front of the little wood-burning stove. Possibly working on a thesis or dissertation. I've got my eyes on a Master's degree in Art and History .. and I've got to cut down on the inevitable student loans SOMEHOW.
SpecialAgentAce is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-16-2016, 09:52 PM   #10
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 19
Opinions?

I've seen these buses listed, relatively locally, but I know nothing at all about the brand. I did a little digging, but I don't know enough to come up with anything useful.

These are exactly the size I'm looking for:

Bus 1 - 200K Miles for $2500

Bus 2: 170K miles for $3500

And there's a Shorty even closer - but it has a lot of miles on it at 300K + for $2000.

If I wanted a bigger bus, I'd have my pick for this area, but I'm in the market for the mid-size and could probably be convinced to go full-on Shorty for the right price and engine/miles. I am blind in one eye, and so already have vision and depth perception issues in a smaller vehicle - I'm wary of trying my luck at something larger than the mid-size.

Unfortunately, my Google-fu isn't very good when it comes to buses/vehicles. I've tried contacting the seller for the first two buses through email but haven't had any response. The VIN listed is incorrect, though consistent with the style of bus it is. They probably just mistyped it but that gives me some cause for doubt, too.
SpecialAgentAce 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


» Virginia Campgrounds

Reviews provided by

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 09:45 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.