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Old 04-29-2016, 11:18 PM   #1
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Former and Future Skoolie

Hello Skoolies! I'm looking for a bus, slowly and carefully.

We lived in a 40' converted Ward for several years while building our home. Sold it, and miss it. I'm a woodworker and photographer looking for a platform for extended photo field projects in the west (old school large format film), and a highway runner for extended trips.

Currently doing my research on getting another bus and converting it myself. I'm definitely learning how much I don't know! This site is such a great resource. Spending hours reading through posts here really drives home how important it is to make a good choice in the initial purchase, and how much work (and $$$) to expect in doing the conversion.

Currently thinking along the lines of a shorter bus (need something a little more nimble than a 40', and something I can get into parks), rear engine, Automatic with driveline retarder for mountain grades, air brakes and a strong engine (8.3?) for possible towing. Yeah, I'm looking at you Colorado! I don't know if the perfect bus with all this is actually out there but I'm taking my time to do my research and find the right one, and willing to invest a bit more up front to save myself down the line. Not sure but it looks like an "activity bus" geared for the highway with larger coach style Windows might end up being a good match?

Interior cabinetry is going to incorporate some gypsy wagon (Vardo) designs. I've got a lot of dried walnut, maple and alder set aside. Well, those are my dreams at least.

Cheers!

- Tom in Western Washington
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Old 04-30-2016, 10:56 AM   #2
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Welcome Tom
You've definitely got the right approach toward getting the right bus to start with. You're also in a good location for getting a nice rust free bus.
I can understand looking for a pusher with lots of ponies, but can you do that and avoid the 40' length? Personally I'd love a short pusher with a big engine.
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Old 04-30-2016, 12:03 PM   #3
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I can understand looking for a pusher with lots of ponies, but can you do that and avoid the 40' length? Personally I'd love a short pusher with a big engine.
I know, right? Don't know if that exists, likely have to compromise somewhere. One of the reasons I'd like the RE is the extra space underneath. I see some of the "activity" buses already have that framed in coach style. The BB All American Activity Buses look really nice but don't know the shortest length out there.

I did see a 31' wanderlodge that seemed perfect length but FE. I think the shortest RE wanderlodge was a 35'. Likely can't afford a wanderlodge anyway but fun to look.
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Old 04-30-2016, 01:20 PM   #4
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You just missed a nice Wanderlodge a few weeks ago. It was a bout 20 miles away from me. The guy had it for sale for $10k for a couple years but finally lowered it to $3,500 and it sold pretty quickly. It was a nice looking rig but still had the big gasser in it.




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Pretty nice for $3,500.
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Old 04-30-2016, 01:46 PM   #5
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You just missed a nice Wanderlodge a few weeks ago. It was a bout 20 miles away from me. The guy had it for sale for $10k for a couple years but finally lowered it to $3,500 and it sold pretty quickly. It was a nice looking rig but still had the big gasser in it. [/URL]
Nice price! But that gasser would kill on fuel costs! Plan to be on the road quite a bit. I did confirm the shortest RE diesel wanderlodge was 35' from the 80s. But long for my taste. I see they called the 31' FE the "state park" model because it could get into most parks.

Great resource on wanderlodge models by year, including length and specs, here.
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Old 04-30-2016, 06:50 PM   #6
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Interesting, thanks.

That Lodge still might come my way. I don't know why it's still on the market, or why it's again on the market. I'm on about my fourth version of speculation if you'd care to hear it?
Yes, I agree. The engine should be taken out and made into some kind of shrine from when gas was cheap, and when you got change back from a $20 bill after filling up the tank. Might have taken more in an RV. This is all exploratory to me. I didn't know WanderLodges existed before I heard about them on this forum. Then one pops up twenty miles away at near half the price compared to what I've got in my bus already. Sure I'm kicking myself, but I've never been invited over to look at it so I've never really had the chance to purchase it yet.
I guess the trick here is everything from my bus should fit on or in the very similarly sized Wanderlodge to make it fully diesel. If the wheelbase is the same switching chassies might be the fastest way to get an RV with the durability of a diesel bus.

Later, if you put the spare parts back together there's going to be one school bus looking expensive gasser for sale.
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Old 05-01-2016, 11:43 AM   #7
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It's tempting to go with a wanderlodge, especially one in good running condition with an interior that needs work, but functional, to knock down the price. You'd have something useable out of the gate while opportunity to remodel and potentially high resale value. But, I suppose, you'd also have an awful lot of complexity and systems to break down.

I'm really leaning toward waiting to find a good activity bus, or bookmobile - with high ceilings, high HP and good trans. Finding a RE that isn't full length might be next to impossible, though. I've seen some really nice shorter FE transit/handicap buses with tinted coach style windows.

This is nice but no idea on drivetrain (and not at that price).

Just looking around to see what's out there. Trying not to rush in.

I didn't realize until I read more threads here that Washington State is one of the better areas to pick up a bus, and that a lot of them go up for auction here with the 13 year rotation districts have. Feeling lucky for that.
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Old 05-01-2016, 02:18 PM   #8
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The older Wanderlodges are fantastic units. Just make sure to go diesel.

PS...and they were all built on Blue Bird's "All American" school bus chassis, BTW.
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Old 05-01-2016, 05:16 PM   #9
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The older Wanderlodges are fantastic units. Just make sure to go diesel.

PS...and they were all built on Blue Bird's "All American" school bus chassis, BTW.
I'm amazed by the range of prices for comparable units. From 18k to 55k.
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