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Old 08-11-2015, 09:20 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
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Getting ready to take the jump

Hi all! Philadelphia guy here, looking at potentially taking the jump and buying a bus in a couple of weeks—I've been poking around this forum and some other great web resources trying to prepare myself. I still have a few questions, though, and maybe you could help me out?

-I've actually never bought a car before... what do I need for the title transfer? I imagine I need insurance, even if it's just to drive the bus home, where I'll be working on it for the next 4-6 weeks. Do people get one-day policies for that original drive, and does it need to be a bus policy because seats are in the car? What states do I need a CDL to operate a bus (with or without seats)?
-What are the biggest things to look out for when inspecting a bus for sale?
-I'm handy and have done a fair amount of construction/electrical, but never plumbing. My plan is to quit my job and work on this thing full time—is it completely ridiculous to try and do an entire conversion in 4-6 weeks?

Thank you!
Tim
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Old 08-11-2015, 10:39 AM   #2
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Uh-oh

Well, a few more questions. Looks like PA is one of the biggest PITA states for paperwork for these things... here's where I am, any help sorting through this mess will be greatly appreciated.

1. PA resident with a MA driver's license (not CDL), just because I haven't gotten around to getting the PA license yet. I'm happy to do that, though.
2. Looking at busses in NJ & NY. If I buy a car out-of-state, what do I need? I can probably find a friend with a CDL to drive it back to PA for me, as long as I can get the title.
3. Then, I guess I need to do a fair amount of work to pass PA's relatively stringent requirements for a motorhome before I can register it as such. Does it need to be registered at all while I'm working on it?

Oof, I wasn't anticipating so many formalities...
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Old 08-11-2015, 10:43 AM   #3
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Buying a Car in Pennsylvania

I think the 4-6 weeks is very ambitious, to be kind.
For a REAL conversion you're looking at MUCH longer.
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Old 08-11-2015, 11:05 AM   #4
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Location: Houston, Texas
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Year: 1946
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"Time to build" will likely come down to a combination of considerations.

1. What is "required" in your state or province to qualify for RV title status.
2. What your expectations are. (Porta-a-potty & mattress on the floor...vs...total demo & foamed in insulation, full kitchen, bath, slide out, roof raise, etc.)
3. Your skill levels & resources (including cash, tools, TIME, place to work)

We have seen a few (make that very few) surprisingly good jobs done in a month or so, but the majority are probably calculated in years, with many (like mine) in multiple years.

Do some homework, set your goals and go for it is about all I can offer.
Best of luck and please do keep us up on your progress.
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Old 08-11-2015, 11:08 AM   #5
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Goals aren't too ambitious—would want to insulate the thing, not trying to raise the roof or anything. A portable toilet is fine, would want a sink and gas or electric stove, would build a bed and kitchen area.

I know that many people spend a year or more on these, but it's hard to gauge how often they're actually working on it during the year. I've definitely seen people talk about these multi-year projects, but what does that mean? Working every day? Just weekends? Just a few hours every weekend?
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Old 08-11-2015, 12:05 PM   #6
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Good catch. I just went back and added "TIME" to the "resource" list as it may be one of the biggest factors. The jobs that were completed in a month or so do appear to have been worked on pretty much around the clock for that period. Many of us can only apply a couple of hours a week which obviously extends the whole process. I have been very off & on with mine. Might spend a couple of months working almost daily...then go a few more months with no contact at all.
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Old 08-11-2015, 12:06 PM   #7
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MOST "conversions" end up half finished on CL or the for sale section on here.
Things take time to build, source, etc.
I'm sure if you're wealthy, have a large indoor shop, and are a master fabricator/craftsman you could pull it off in a few weeks.
Took me several weeks just to get the seats and all the paneling out. ymmv of course.
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Old 08-11-2015, 12:11 PM   #8
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I think that the people taking years to work on the conversion are probably working other jobs, and/or have family matters to attend to.

If your plan is to quit your job and make the conversion a full time thing, then I'd calculate for a couple of months at least. It really depends on the rust and mechanical problems you might find.
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Old 08-11-2015, 12:11 PM   #9
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Actually, the more and more I read the more I'm realizing that the biggest hassle looks like it's going to be paperwork. I think the path of least resistance may be to buy one of these half-finished builds, with seats removed... I don't want to buy a finished product, I really want to do a lot of work myself, but in Pennsylvania it's going to be a PITA to re-title a bus to an RV, so if I can find something that I can buy with a motorhome title, that'll be the move. Parking is also an issue—I actually live in Philadelphia, but in West Phillly, so there's ample street parking. It's legal for me to park an RV for up to 30 days, but not to park a bus, so it'll be hard for me to start working until it has motorhome plates. I have a nice garage & tools, but no driveway, and it won't fit in the garage.
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Old 08-11-2015, 12:15 PM   #10
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not a bad plan, but don't buy one with too much work done, or you may end up having to correct others' shoddy mistakes.
And one thing that seems to be a constant is folks wanting WAY more money than they're worth.
I'm finally getting the inside of mine finished all up and its at the metal tent stage. Will be shooting the entire inside with primer soon and moving to the actual BUILD process. I just like to take my time and go at a comfortable pace.
How tall are you??
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