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Old 06-14-2016, 04:26 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: South Carolina
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Completely Clueless, but Doing it anyway

Hey everyone. I have been interested in traveling since forever, and before kids, i would just pick up and go.. I've lived in a lot of places in the US, and was basically a gypsy for many years. But I met a great guy who has roots.. and now 8 years and 3 kids later, i am realizing that traveling with 3 kids is NOT as easy or economical as I'd like. My mom van is NOT going to haul all we want to bring along, and long haul vacations would be easier if we had more real accommodations. I've looked at RVs, but they're so expensive and so flimsy. So I started looking at school buses.

My husband isn't really a traveler, and isn't really a tinkerer, but he is supportive of my desire to make this happen. Is the idea of converting a bus into an summer time travel RV really out of my league? I'm not afraid of getting a few scraped knuckles.. and i have some time and space to devote.. hell i even have money to devote to learning / buying tools.. but I don't want to make a huge mistake.

I feel like every post here is from a diesel mechanic or a craftsman builder.. please tell me that even ONE of you was a complete yahoo before doing this? please? or tell me there's some manual you all followed that i'm just overlooking? i need encouragement
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Old 06-14-2016, 04:48 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by SomeMomOutside View Post
Hey everyone. I have been interested in traveling since forever, and before kids, i would just pick up and go.. I've lived in a lot of places in the US, and was basically a gypsy for many years. But I met a great guy who has roots.. and now 8 years and 3 kids later, i am realizing that traveling with 3 kids is NOT as easy or economical as I'd like. My mom van is NOT going to haul all we want to bring along, and long haul vacations would be easier if we had more real accommodations. I've looked at RVs, but they're so expensive and so flimsy. So I started looking at school buses.

My husband isn't really a traveler, and isn't really a tinkerer, but he is supportive of my desire to make this happen. Is the idea of converting a bus into an summer time travel RV really out of my league? I'm not afraid of getting a few scraped knuckles.. and i have some time and space to devote.. hell i even have money to devote to learning / buying tools.. but I don't want to make a huge mistake.

I feel like every post here is from a diesel mechanic or a craftsman builder.. please tell me that even ONE of you was a complete yahoo before doing this? please? or tell me there's some manual you all followed that i'm just overlooking? i need encouragement
We are a varied group. Lots of IT people.
I'm an unemployed hippie type. I worked in steel fabrication for 12 years but I'm not any kind of expert on anything at all. Well-I can run a plasma cutter extremely well.
What's really required is having somewhere to do a conversion and store a bus. Its really much easier said than done for lots of us.
Are you good at finishing projects? If not, maybe start small and work your way up to the bus thing. IDK, I see a lot of folks start this process, and very few see it all the way through. I'm taking FOREVER with mine for various reasons. It takes determination, money, and lots and LOTS of sweat.
But YOU CAN DO IT!
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Old 06-14-2016, 05:59 PM   #3
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I like the title of this because once the bus found me i had such big plans and then i began to get uneasy and decided to just pull all the bus seats and then put some stuff in the bus and hang out and see what it feels like.

A few rugs, window blinds, coleman propane camping stove, 3 chairs, a bed... I dig it. In fact other than not having a well insulated living spot, it's a delightful space to hang out in, plus it runs and drives well. That was one thing i put at the top of my list; it had to run and drive, because i had puechased a prison bus this past winter and tried to get it running... it made me unhappy, and i'm quite handy w/ a wrench.

I just bought a 200w solar starter kit and installed the panels on the roof today and it works! lol Next to the drive home, it was the scariest task i have set out on, but it went fine. Mine is NOT a piano. In fact i prefer a bit more bus like, especially since i haven't the carpenter tools or skills to change that. lol

It's a leap but between all the experience and courage on this forum, i can't imagine not having fun with this adventure. Good luck!
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Old 06-14-2016, 06:35 PM   #4
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yes there are elaborate configurations in Busses..

BUT!

you dont have to have an elaborate bus.. a little creativity and you can rock n roll... I am not a camper so my bus isnt made to be an RV.. however lets say you want an RV but dont want to add toilets and such... you can still build beds pretty easily... bolt down a mioni frig and a camping stove.. ...

if you like clean showers ever yday get yourself a gynm membership to a national chain and theres your shower every day or two... laundromats are still pretty prevalent in cities so you can wash clothes... most grocery chains have large parking lots to park and get groceries..

you can definitely be minimalist about it and enjoy cruising the country in a bus..

if your state requires it not be yellow, theres plenty of posts about using rollers and paints to do a pretty nice looking paint job without spending 1000s at a body shop..

-Christopher
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Old 06-14-2016, 09:06 PM   #5
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If you are looking to have something in which you can travel during the times when school is not in session, if you don't think you can accomplish a full on conversion, and your significant other isn't 100% sold on the project you may find that doing a minimalist project is your short term answer.

If you were to purchase a good trip bus with pass through under the floor luggage compartments you would be well on the way to a great tin tent.

Taking out the seats and leaving enough for your family is a big job but can be accomplished in a weekend. Reinstalling a couple of the seats café style (facing another pair of seats) is a great way to make a dinette on the cheap.

Coleman makes a lot of products that you can use while camping including coolers, stoves, lanterns, camp kitchens, air beds, sleeping bags, etc. They can be carried in the luggage compartments with a pop up, a folding table, and some folding chairs and within a few minutes of stopping you can be fixing meals either inside your bus or al fresco.

After a few trips you will figure out what needs to be built in permanently into the bus and what you can live without.

Outside of the purchase of the bus there is no reason why you couldn't be hitting the road with less than $1K invested in your tin tent.

Short term you wouldn't even need to worry about insulation, roof raises, slide outs, bathrooms, water tanks, waste tanks, etc. Just pack up the junk and plunder, throw in the kids and significant other, and head out on an adventure.

Good luck and Happy Trails to you!
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Old 06-15-2016, 04:23 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by SomeMomOutside View Post
I feel like every post here is from a diesel mechanic or a craftsman builder.. please tell me that even ONE of you was a complete yahoo before doing this? please? or tell me there's some manual you all followed that i'm just overlooking? i need encouragement
Before??? Heck, I'm in the middle, and I'm still something of a complete yahoo! ... Well, OK, not really, but I don't have a manual. Google is your friend, make use of it. It may not tell you "how to make a bus into a camper", but it can tell you other vital info. Like, find a promising bus, get the VIN number. Run the VIN (DON'T PAY FOR THIS, there are free sites that give you the necessary info), see what engine, trans, brakes it has. Some engines are notoriously reliable, easy to fix and find parts for. Others are still good engines, though parts can be a bit more of a challenge or cost. And some engines are just not all that great. There's a ton of experience on this forum. Put it to use! Tell us what you found, what you plan, ask our input. Mobile internet connections are a thing, use those too! Break down somewhere? Hopefully not, but it happens. Tire services and road services are an internet search away. Be creative. If I plan to add tanks for water, would I go for RV style plastic tanks? NOT me! Why should I if I can get some salvaged fuel tanks and brackets? They'll be a lot more durable and the brackets will secure them ~Very~ nicely and safely.

Above all, have fun with it. Sure, there's going to be things that are a challenge, but finishing should be rewarding. If you're not enjoying it, then something's wrong. You can do it!
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Old 06-20-2016, 11:01 PM   #7
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Good thread going here. Just do whatever feels right with it. Like an earlier poster, Im not big into the RV scene. So i just pulled some seats, threw in a couple futons, tinted the windows (PITA!). Converted the wheelchair lift into a motorcycle lift. Now I'm installing a propane freezer and stove. My use is primarily to haul things, dirt bikes, mountain bikes, kayaks, ect. I don't really care how it looks, just how it feels for me. AND they are just plain fun to drive!
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Old 06-21-2016, 12:24 AM   #8
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: South Portland, ME, USA
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Year: 1990
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Chassis: Chevy P-30
Engine: Chevy 454 Big Block
Here's my $0.02:

I read somewhere in a yoga book that you are supposed to do each position up to the point that it starts to hurt and back off a little. You don't have reach the full position, just go at your own pace and find your level of comfort and expand from there, if you want to expand.

Kind of like this journey we all make with and on our journey-makers. The people on this forum are SMART and have really positive, "You can do it!" attitudes! If you get to a point in your stretching of knowledge that is painful, back off a little and ask for some assistance/guidance or take your time until you become more flexible with whatever step you are facing!

"Different strokes for different folks." is a good one. Buddhists have a saying about satisfaction being attained in the deed, not its outcome or reward. Do what you want because you enjoy doing it, the rest is a small exercise in determination and will power.

If you want to travel in a bus with your family, no one is going to do it for y'all, so get headed down your path as soon as you decide! There is nothing to it, but to do it! You have support and access to knowledge here, so make your own way now!

Btw, the posts above are right on, too. Just adding my redundant opinion ;)
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Old 06-21-2016, 02:18 PM   #9
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My first bus conversion took a couple of days to get the seats out (would have been quicker if I had the right tools at the beginning) and one day to do some 2x4 frames for beds and off we went for California (from TN). My kids still say it was the most fun vacation they've ever went on and that includes even their trips to Europe.

They'res a big appeal to going minimalist with a conversion. It's a step above pure camping out but it has the same satisfying feel to it.
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Old 06-30-2016, 03:33 AM   #10
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I love your question! I will be back to look at others' 2 cents' worth. I am so new here that I haven't even done a self-intro., because I am trying to figure out what to say. But becoming a gypsy again and the wanderlust are hitting me hard now that I've retired, and I want to do it before the knees give out, lol. But I am NOT a handy type. So will watch any more answers you get, and wish you well!
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