Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 04-13-2016, 08:32 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Apr 2016
Location: The mythical land of hills
Posts: 15
Hello Everbody, I'm the new guy.

Hi all,

I'm the new guy around here. I've always had a love for school buses for as long as I can remember. As a young child I can remember riding to school, bouncing around on those smelly vinyl seats, up and down old worn out roads on my way to school every morning. The bus was the best neighborhood hangout for those 2 half hour trips each day, and lots of good memories from a day gone past.

I've always been fascinated with how school buses are constructed. Take a nice medium duty chassis and drop a steel cage on top. sheet steel and tons of rivets, there aren't many vehicles out there as robust and yet simple as a school bus.

Now lets fast forward. It's a few too many years later and now I'm sitting on the couch with the wife and a toddler while the teenager is upstairs doing homework and trying to get the most likes on "the book." The wife seems to think I'm and endless source of money and we need to buy a vacation property by a lake. . . . . nope, can't afford it, not happening, I'm eating a styrofoam cup of noodles.

So we settle on the idea of a travel trailer. First a pop up was cute, but where do I poop and shower? next a full size trailer, I like the bathroom. . . . too heavy for my aging pickup to pull. Motorhome? Hey I can drive that too. . . .wait, is that really that much bigger than your pickup? Ok you drive.

So after a long and rather obscure debate on camping tactics, She's sold on the idea but thinks I'm crazy. . . We're going to buy a bus and convert it into a weekend to month-long capable camper.

Now hi, it's my turn. I havn't purchased a bus yet. Been looking at the 3 major types, dog-nose, flat nose front engine and the rear engine transit style. Been to the local bus company to poke around and get the feel. I'm really liking anything built on the fs-65 freightliner or the blue bird visions. I know they are probably still out of my price range, but my bus will definately be a conventional dog nose bus. I'm a truck driver for work, so I want the biggest bus I can afford since I'm comfortable handling larger trucks.

Conversion ways. . . .I'd like to have a sofa and entertainment center up front, kitchen with a dinette, toilet and shower in a completely separate bathroom and 2 single beds in the back. Some big box kitchen cabinets and apartment size appliances. Sleeping for the total 4 would be with a convertible dinette and another sleeping on the couch at night with our 2 beds in the back, maybe a nice screen across the rear emergency exit to enjoy a nice summer breeze. can we fit all this in a conventional?

So thats about it for now. Everyone on here is great. Been doing my research and homework and can't wait to share my piece of the pie with all you. Thank you and goodnight.
homemadeheadache is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-13-2016, 08:43 PM   #2
Bus Geek
 
Robin97396's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Location: Willamina, Oregon
Posts: 4,944
Year: 1997
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: TC 1000
Engine: 5.9
Send a message via Yahoo to Robin97396
Hello Homey
Yeah, most of us here have some type of deep psychological hangup with buses. It's relatively healthy compared to a lot of other hangups.
Your money issues seem reminiscent of my past. Besides, she wanted to limit how many buses I could have.
Robin97396 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-13-2016, 09:01 PM   #3
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 7,945
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International S3800
Engine: DT360
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
welcome to the Bus stop!!! yeah like others have said everyone in here is into busses somehow..

funy thing is that you may THINK your friends will call you crazy for buying a bus.. but TRUTH is everyone will tell you how cool it is when you tell them you bought a bus... !

-Christopher
cadillackid is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-15-2016, 10:55 PM   #4
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Apr 2016
Location: The mythical land of hills
Posts: 15
Hello people,

And a big thank you for such a warm welcome to the site. I gotta say, the more I bounce the idea off of people, the better the idea seems to look. I've heard it all in the last day or so about how impressive such a difficult but simple undertaking may be.

One guy told me how cool it would be to convert the bus to a liveable motorhome but style it something along the ways to fight off a zombie apocalypse. Now I'm not knocking him or anyone else on that matter, being the guy who told me this actually does makeup and set mock ups for zombie and horror type tv and movie shows. But I don't think a jet black school bus with a snow plow and caged out windows would go over too well with the wife. Though with my basic woodworking and welding skills, I would love to help him build a few props for a show.

An older gentleman from a time gone past said he would love to see a modern interpretation of a vintage hippie bus. Yes, all the comfort amenities, but lets paint the sides and interior with bright decorative 60's style rolling artwork. Now I love all that custom painting done to cars and trucks, but thats just not me. Though I give awesome credit to the people that have taken the time to do such detailed artwork on not just the buses, but also the people with cars and trucks with that art.

I guess since I grew up around RV's, saw them go from tin to fiberglass and narrow long boxes to miniature homes when all those slides are deployed, I'm partial to the stereotypical RV look. I'd love to have the roof and hood painted white and then maybe do the sides in a nice deep blue or green. Then throw some of those full length graphic stripes on the sides. and since space is always limited on a bus, I want a nice long awning on the side to have a shady out door eating and lounging area. And I gotta say I love the look of a parked RV when it has the awning out and all the windows have the matching smaller awnings above them. and you gotta have some color matching astroturf or an old persian style rug for the outdoor patio area. Love that look.

I give tons of credit to those who have done roof raises, paneled out the sides and installed RV windows, I want the bus, minus color, to still look like a school bus. No roof raise for me, so I'm hoping to find a bus with 6'2" of headroom or higher. I'm 6'1" in the morning, but after a long day of work I'm 6 feet even. Windows will remain the top drop bus type and just a few spans of sheet to cover where windows aren't needed. Not only is that the look I like, it's about as far as I can go with my skills.

Ok thats enough for tonight. Going to do some more bus shopping next week.
Goodnight all.
homemadeheadache is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-16-2016, 11:23 AM   #5
Bus Geek
 
Robin97396's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Location: Willamina, Oregon
Posts: 4,944
Year: 1997
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: TC 1000
Engine: 5.9
Send a message via Yahoo to Robin97396
Sounds like you're on your way, and at least you know what you like. Not always the case with noobs.

I'm thinking short people have a definite advantage with buses, but then most of the true skoolie buses weren't made for adults. I think you may be looking for one of those buses with the adult style seats.
Robin97396 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-16-2016, 02:18 PM   #6
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Winlcok, WA
Posts: 1,607
The buses with the most interior volume are Type 'D' FE (front engine) buses (transit style with the service door in front of the front axle).

The least expensive buses are Type 'C' buses (buses built on medium duty truck chassis with the engine under a tilt hood outside and the service door behind the front axle).

The most expensive buses are Type 'D' RE (RE) buses. When new they cost about $20K more than a Type 'C' bus equipped the same way.

If you want high headroom look for a bus with 12" windows. IC has had them standard across the board since about 2003. Blue Bird and Thomas still have 9" windows as standard and 12" windows as an option.

Before you purchase anything you need to narrow your choices down which is going to be determined how you intend to use the bus after you convert it.

If the plan is to only drive it at most a few hundred miles per year big HP and highway gearing is not going to be that important.

If the plan is to drive several thousand miles per year so you can visit all of the National Parks or every NASCAR raceway or every major league baseball park then you need to be looking for a bus with big HP and highway gearing. A Type 'D' bus with luggage compartments is more than likely to have 12" windows, big HP, and highway gearing--a bus with luggage compartments was usually purchased to be a trip bus and most trip buses have a top speed of more than 55 MPH.

It is much easier and much less expensive to purchase a bus set up the right way at purchase time than to upgrade later on. In the pre-electronic era upgrading or repowering wasn't a big issue. In the new multiplexed computer driven era upgrading or repowering can become a major headache.

You need to decide if you want air brakes or hydraulic brakes. Hydraulic brakes are less expensive to purchase but over time can be more problematic than air brakes. Air brakes also have a much more positive parking/emergency brake and also usually have much more braking surface.

Regardless of which type of bus you decide is best for you DO NOT consider any bus that has rust issues. Rust is the gift that keeps on giving, or rather taking away. No matter what you do it will always get worse.

Do not reject out of hand a bus that meets all of your criteria just because it has tires with very little life left in them. Most people have found that because the conversion takes about 2x-5x as much time as what they thought it would take the tires that were in pretty good shape when the bus was purchased have timed out and need replacing when the conversion has been completed. Use the lack of good rubber as a negotiating tool to lower your purchase price. A new set of rubber, even if you use cheap Chinese knock-offs, is going to cost over $500.00 per tire.

Everyone has their preferences as to which bus body is the better body. From an operator's stand point I would stay away from an older Thomas Saf-T-Liner C3 (the newer body style Type 'C' bus on the Freightliner chassis) because they have had some really bad problems with the electrical wiring. The same can be said about the early Blue Bird Vision buses (which are known as lack of vision buses). For whatever reason IC has not had problems with their multiplexing. All of the bus OEM's started to do some multiplexing in about 2003. The older style Thomas FS65 and the pre-Vision Blue Birds never had electrical problems unless they happened to have been built after noon on a Friday or before noon on Monday or the first day after a holiday.

Everyone has their preferences for power packages. If you like the Freightliner chassis the Cummins engine is the preferred engine. Try to stay away from Mercedes-Benz engines--parts and service for them are difficult at best. Some people really like the Cat engines. I don't like them mostly because they don't call it Caterpillar gold for nothing.

Good luck and happy trails to you!
cowlitzcoach is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-16-2016, 05:25 PM   #7
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 7,945
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International S3800
Engine: DT360
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
Quote:
Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
The buses with the most interior volume are Type 'D' FE (front engine) buses (transit style with the service door in front of the front axle).

The least expensive buses are Type 'C' buses (buses built on medium duty truck chassis with the engine under a tilt hood outside and the service door behind the front axle).

The most expensive buses are Type 'D' RE (RE) buses. When new they cost about $20K more than a Type 'C' bus equipped the same way.

If you want high headroom look for a bus with 12" windows. IC has had them standard across the board since about 2003. Blue Bird and Thomas still have 9" windows as standard and 12" windows as an option.

Before you purchase anything you need to narrow your choices down which is going to be determined how you intend to use the bus after you convert it.

If the plan is to only drive it at most a few hundred miles per year big HP and highway gearing is not going to be that important.

If the plan is to drive several thousand miles per year so you can visit all of the National Parks or every NASCAR raceway or every major league baseball park then you need to be looking for a bus with big HP and highway gearing. A Type 'D' bus with luggage compartments is more than likely to have 12" windows, big HP, and highway gearing--a bus with luggage compartments was usually purchased to be a trip bus and most trip buses have a top speed of more than 55 MPH.

It is much easier and much less expensive to purchase a bus set up the right way at purchase time than to upgrade later on. In the pre-electronic era upgrading or repowering wasn't a big issue. In the new multiplexed computer driven era upgrading or repowering can become a major headache.

You need to decide if you want air brakes or hydraulic brakes. Hydraulic brakes are less expensive to purchase but over time can be more problematic than air brakes. Air brakes also have a much more positive parking/emergency brake and also usually have much more braking surface.

Regardless of which type of bus you decide is best for you DO NOT consider any bus that has rust issues. Rust is the gift that keeps on giving, or rather taking away. No matter what you do it will always get worse.

Do not reject out of hand a bus that meets all of your criteria just because it has tires with very little life left in them. Most people have found that because the conversion takes about 2x-5x as much time as what they thought it would take the tires that were in pretty good shape when the bus was purchased have timed out and need replacing when the conversion has been completed. Use the lack of good rubber as a negotiating tool to lower your purchase price. A new set of rubber, even if you use cheap Chinese knock-offs, is going to cost over $500.00 per tire.

Everyone has their preferences as to which bus body is the better body. From an operator's stand point I would stay away from an older Thomas Saf-T-Liner C3 (the newer body style Type 'C' bus on the Freightliner chassis) because they have had some really bad problems with the electrical wiring. The same can be said about the early Blue Bird Vision buses (which are known as lack of vision buses). For whatever reason IC has not had problems with their multiplexing. All of the bus OEM's started to do some multiplexing in about 2003. The older style Thomas FS65 and the pre-Vision Blue Birds never had electrical problems unless they happened to have been built after noon on a Friday or before noon on Monday or the first day after a holiday.

Everyone has their preferences for power packages. If you like the Freightliner chassis the Cummins engine is the preferred engine. Try to stay away from Mercedes-Benz engines--parts and service for them are difficult at best. Some people really like the Cat engines. I don't like them mostly because they don't call it Caterpillar gold for nothing.

Good luck and happy trails to you!
isit true that handicap busses often have taller ceilings? my 91 carpenter seems to be really tall indside.. I think it has 12" windows.. the windows seem taller than some of the bluebirds ands thomas's..

-Christopher
cadillackid is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-16-2016, 06:16 PM   #8
Bus Geek
 
Robin97396's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Location: Willamina, Oregon
Posts: 4,944
Year: 1997
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: TC 1000
Engine: 5.9
Send a message via Yahoo to Robin97396
This is my first special needs bus so I'm no expert. My ceiling height is just about 6', which is about four inches over my head luckily.

If you're talking about the height of the individual pains of glass being 12", mine are the 12" windows. Way to much glass and way to low. I like to cover the bottom half of the windows.
Robin97396 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-16-2016, 06:22 PM   #9
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 7,945
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International S3800
Engine: DT360
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin97396 View Post
This is my first special needs bus so I'm no expert. My ceiling height is just about 6', which is about four inches over my head luckily.

If you're talking about the height of the individual pains of glass being 12", mine are the 12" windows. Way to much glass and way to low. I like to cover the bottom half of the windows.
maybe just different bsses could be ordered with different rooflines.. I am 5'9 and it seems like my ceiling is at least 6'3 or more..

for me personally i like the tall windows.. I supposed they will prove harder to keep my Bus A/C'd.. and I agreee if I were making a camper I would want windows that set higher up , esp where cabinets and such would go..
-Christopher
cadillackid is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-16-2016, 09:07 PM   #10
Bus Geek
 
Robin97396's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Location: Willamina, Oregon
Posts: 4,944
Year: 1997
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: TC 1000
Engine: 5.9
Send a message via Yahoo to Robin97396
Exactly. It looks junky when you can see cabinets or whatever from the outside. If the bottom of the windows was at least waist I'd be happy. Sometimes I like to prance around in my underwear.
Robin97396 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 02:29 AM.


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