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Old 02-20-2016, 07:27 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Posts: 12
First step is admitting you have a problem...

Hi all, I'm Justin! Currently reside in Indiana, and I was bitten by the "skoolie" bug.

Very happy to have stumbled upon this board, hope one day to be able to provide as much insight as I intend to glean.

Like many of you, I dream of converting, traveling, and living in a bus! It's the culmination of years of trying to decide how to live in a way that I believe is both responsible and unfettered. I don't have many (or any) of the skills required to pull this project off at the moment, but am confident I can pick them up. I read this post on Tiny House Blog in which the writer refers to an interview with a tiny house owner, he says, "A valuable perspective she held was that her lack of experience wasn’t some kind of flaw – it was just the step before learning. So if other people can learn to build, then so can she." I very much identify with that statement.

Right now I'm saving for the bus + materials, and recently hit my first financial milestone- 1/3 of my budget (more on that below)! I'm in the early stages of planning....everything. Haven't decided on the type of bus or specific floor plan, but do know my "must haves", which will dictate decisions on the former. A shower, insulation (plan to live in Colorado), internet access, and, eventually, running on biodiesel (when it becomes an RV rather than a full-time home). I don't expect to have this all done in a crazy timeline, rather in stages.
  • At 1/3 of budget saved, begin research on type of bus to purchase.
  • At 2/3 of budget saved, purchase the bus and begin the tear down.
  • At 100% of budget saved, begin purchasing materials and building.
As I type, I realize I'm looking for some guidance as to where to start and what to expect.

  • Were there any useful workshops or other experiences that helped you learn the skills you needed to reach your goal?
  • Aside from Craigslist, ebay, or retail, what are some creative ways you've used to source materials?

Think I need to organize my thoughts before I can begin preparations in earnest. I'll definitely spend some time checking out the stickies as well as other posts to get ideas about what I should take into consideration in all phases of the project. Feel free to post anything you think would help!

Here's the first of what I'm sure will be many s!
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Old 02-21-2016, 02:22 AM   #2
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Location: Erie, PA
Posts: 60
I Am a jack of all trades, but a master of none. so i have a really good idea on how to get stuff done. the best way to learn any trade is by doing it. you WILL make mistakes, and they WILL cost you money, but at the end of the day you will learn from them and be way better off then having someone else do the work for you.

A good source for the RV appliances and furnishings is finding a DIRT cheap trailer or motorhome that has really bad water damage. the appliances, propane tanks, hookups, and odds and ends are usually still in good shape, but since many people dont bother to keep water out of them the chassis and body get ruined. So you buy it, strip everything useful, then fill it full of all the junk you dont want, then take it for scrap.
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Old 02-21-2016, 07:04 AM   #3
Bus Crazy
 
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Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Andrews,Indiana
Posts: 1,636
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: AARE
Engine: 3116 Cat 250hp
Rated Cap: Her, me and Molly
Where in Indiana? Northern Indiana has the best deals on surplus RV Parts of anywhere in the world. You are welcome to stop by and talk "bus" anytime.
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Old 02-21-2016, 01:42 PM   #4
Bus Geek
 
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Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Houston, Texas
Posts: 6,173
Year: 1946
Coachwork: Chevrolet/Wayne
Chassis: 1- 1/2 ton
Engine: Cummins 4BT
Rated Cap: 15
Welcome! --- I would suggest more research before committing to bio-diesel. Sounds green but has turned ugly on quite a number of folks. It is far more complex and demanding than most people want to admit.

And...if you are not already a welder...take a quick course at a local community college or some such along with some basic diesel mechanics courses. Those two skill sets come in real handy if you plan on building and living in a skoolie.

Best of luck on your hunt & build.
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Old 02-21-2016, 03:47 PM   #5
Bus Crazy
 
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Join Date: May 2010
Location: Farmington Hills, Mi (Detroit area)
Posts: 1,572
Year: 2000
Coachwork: Eldorado Aerotech 24'
Chassis: Ford E-450 Cutaway Bus
Engine: 7.3L Powerstroke
Rated Cap: 19
Our present house was bought as a "handyman special" for way under the neighborhood average. We had way more time than money and it quickly became clear that I could totally screw up a project, do it over and still pay less than having the same job contracted out.

"Experience gained is directly proportional to equipment ruined."
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Old 02-21-2016, 08:31 PM   #6
Skoolie
 
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Join Date: Feb 2016
Location: Ft. Smith Arkansas
Posts: 141
Rated Cap: 2+1
Most Home Depots have Saturday work shops on all kind of things, from sticking
To boards together and them staying that way to working with PVC pipe and copper tubing. Also they will show you some easy electrical stuff, also visit your local library
There are books for Dummies on every thing under the sun..( not saying you are one)
But really that is the name of the books.
Carpentry for dummies
Electric for dummies
Plumbing for dummies
Just a few...
I wish you the best of luck, and hope to meet you on the road sometime.
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Plus one fuzzy faced kid (Poopcee)
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Old 02-21-2016, 09:46 PM   #7
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Winlcok, WA
Posts: 1,607
In regards to your budget, it is a great idea. But I would plan on spending about 2x on what you originally planned to spend and about 4x the amount of time originally planned.

The $$$ can go very quickly even when you are being frugal.

As you prepare to spend your $$$, make sure you find the best bus for the $$$. Best is defined as no rust, an engine and transmission in good condition, and one that has a lot of options you are going to want (12" windows so you get the highest headroom, luggage compartments, big HP and highway gearing, air ride suspension, etc.). Yes you can find buses that cost less but you will spend a lot more after the fact updating than finding a bus that has all you want already.

Don't worry too much about the tires. If they are in good shape, great. But don't pass on a bus because it has tires with very little tread left. Even if you do travel a lot you won't put on that many miles and very little tread can equal 10K or 20K miles out on the highway.

Good luck and happy trails to you!
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Old 02-21-2016, 11:12 PM   #8
Bus Crazy
 
Stu & Filo. T's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Vacaville, Ca
Posts: 1,521
Year: 1988
Coachwork: Crown / Pusher
Engine: 8.3 Cummins
Quote:
Originally Posted by keiffith View Post
I Am a jack of all trades, but a master of none. so i have a really good idea on how to get stuff done. the best way to learn any trade is by doing it. you WILL make mistakes, and they WILL cost you money, but at the end of the day you will learn from them and be way better off then having someone else do the work for you..
LOL I started reading this & thought we had a master Ryhmer on board.
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Old 02-22-2016, 12:18 AM   #9
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Posts: 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by keiffith View Post
you WILL make mistakes, and they WILL cost you money, but at the end of the day you will learn from them and be way better off then having someone else do the work for you.
That's honest and good to hear because I can be a bit hard on myself. It's definitely something I'll remember throughout the process... hell, might even paint it on the bus somewhere!

Quote:
Originally Posted by somewhereinusa View Post
Where in Indiana? Northern Indiana has the best deals on surplus RV Parts of anywhere in the world. You are welcome to stop by and talk "bus" anytime.
Northeast of Indianapolis, little suburb called Geist. Actually moved back to my parents' place to save for this venture. They're very understanding and I'm lucky they didn't convert my old room into a craft room or something. Thanks for the welcome, I'll likely take you up on that at some point!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tango View Post
Welcome! --- I would suggest more research before committing to bio-diesel. Sounds green but has turned ugly on quite a number of folks. It is far more complex and demanding than most people want to admit.

And...if you are not already a welder...take a quick course at a local community college or some such along with some basic diesel mechanics courses. Those two skill sets come in real handy if you plan on building and living in a skoolie.

Best of luck on your hunt & build.
Hey, thanks! Yeah, the bio-diesel conversion is the least of my concerns at this point. I did more research after posting, learned about water in the fuel leading to corrosion and how it's not free anymore/much harder to acquire in the quantity necessary to fill a tank these days. Welding is on my list of skills to learn, diesel mechanics wasn't...which now seems like a ridiculous oversight.

Quote:
Originally Posted by roach711 View Post
"Experience gained is directly proportional to equipment ruined."
HA! Nice quote! That an original? I agree, not only will doing the work myself save me money up front... but if repairs or rework is necessary I'll have the skills.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Skoolydoo View Post
Most Home Depots have Saturday work shops on all kind of things, from sticking
To boards together and them staying that way to working with PVC pipe and copper tubing. Also they will show you some easy electrical stuff, also visit your local library
There are books for Dummies on every thing under the sun..( not saying you are one)
But really that is the name of the books.
Carpentry for dummies
Electric for dummies
Plumbing for dummies
Just a few...
I wish you the best of luck, and hope to meet you on the road sometime.
Cool! Didn't think about hardware stores having classes, but that seems like a great way to quickly learn some basics. Hope our paths cross on the road some day as well!

Quote:
Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
In regards to your budget, it is a great idea. But I would plan on spending about 2x on what you originally planned to spend and about 4x the amount of time originally planned.

As you prepare to spend your $$$, make sure you find the best bus for the $$$. Best is defined as no rust, an engine and transmission in good condition, and one that has a lot of options you are going to want (12" windows so you get the highest headroom, luggage compartments, big HP and highway gearing, air ride suspension, etc.).
Good points. The final third of my budget was actually intended to be emergency funds... basically I *plan* to spend $5k on a bus, $5k on the build, and have $5k in reserve. Last night I read some other "intro" threads, think I'm going to have to go with a RE bus with 300+ hp based on some advice I read there. Hadn't thought or read about the windows/headroom, but awesome tip! I'm not a tall guy, but more headroom is always great in a living space.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stu & Filo. T View Post
LOL I started reading this & thought we had a master Ryhmer on board.
HA! I didn't catch it on the first read, but went back and LOL'd!
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Old 02-22-2016, 11:08 PM   #10
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Olympia, Washington
Posts: 554
Year: 87
Coachwork: Wayne
Chassis: International s1700
Engine: 6.9 internatiional
Rated Cap: 65
I had a friend that lived in Geist. i actually used to live in Carmel, and went to high school there. i lived in Muncie for a few years, and down south of Broad Ripple for a couple of years before i moved west in the middle 90`s. Welcome Aboard, i hope you get your bus soon
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