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Old 04-25-2017, 11:41 AM   #1
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Hello from Minnesota!

Hello,

My wife and I are looking to travel and live on the road. We are selling our house this spring and have not yet decided on what kind of vehicle/house we want to get. Decided to join and look up Skoolies!

A bit about our situation, It would be two adults and a cat living full time in the Bus/RV/Van (what ever we end up in)

We would like to be as "off grid" as possible. We want to be able to camp in BLM land as much as we can (free and lets us stack $$$)

We do plan on doing work camping, however the bulk of our income will be coming from my VA disability. This is one of the reasons we will be trying to keep our cost of living low.


While not trying to count our egg before they hatch, we are looking to clear about $50,000 from the sale of our house. Not sure how much it cost to get set up with a decent skoolie?

Anyways, im going to go look around the site now. Thanks
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Old 04-25-2017, 11:50 AM   #2
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Location: Duluth, MN
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Welcome! I'll speak up just because I'm in MN as well. My wife and I just started our conversion at the beginning of this month so we are still very early on in the project ourselves.

If you are looking to source a bus (somewhat) locally, I know a guy in the Duluth area who (as of a month ago) had a number of running buses for sale. He runs a bus depot and these are his backup buses. I'm sure you'll have a lot to look at and research in the meantime.

Many folks will recommend looking for a bus not from the MN for rust reasons and they are absolutely right. But if you are okay with a bit of rust, let me know! Maybe I can help you find one.

Either way welcome and read, read, read. I've been reading this forum nonstop for nearly 6 months now and I'm still learning new things everyday.
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Old 04-25-2017, 12:06 PM   #3
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Hello for Oregon.

You should have no problem building your conversion on your budget. Really fancy builds are pretty often done for $30,000. Most end up around $20k, and minimalists build for less than $10k. I'm talking about materials cost, not labor. You'd best get used to the idea that this will be a labor of love.

If you monitor these threads you're likely to find a nice bus at a good price, with all the mechanical advise you can stand. It's a lot of fun, and a little pain. Mostly physical pain from working overhead.

Good luck.
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Old 04-25-2017, 02:04 PM   #4
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We are looking to have one built for us or buy one already built. We do not have the space nor the tools to undertake a project like converting a bus to RV.
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Old 04-25-2017, 02:18 PM   #5
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Well that simplifies and complicates things at the same time. There have been some nice completed skoolies for sale here lately. The completed buses will definitely be further apart, to be able to see them in person. Many nicely completed skoolies sell for $20k, and recently there have been several $10k builds for sale. You're still easily within your budget.
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Old 04-25-2017, 04:20 PM   #6
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hello from minnesota as well! hope your travels go well, and sorry i dont have a bus for sale either. cant part ways with mine....yet
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Old 04-25-2017, 06:43 PM   #7
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Location: Bemidji MN
Posts: 185
Year: 1998
Coachwork: Carpenter Body
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Engine: DT466
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Hello from Minnesota (Bemidji) as well.
My first thing for new skoolie folks or researchers.
What type of living environment do you want?
Generally, I have found there to be four primary types of buses.

The "Quick Fix", seats removed, aluminum foil over windows, igloo cooler as a frig, hunters bucket as a toilet, futon bed couch, no real walls inside, everything is battery powered, a cheap start to finish skoolie in 19 days flat.

The "Good Low." It is an upgrade from the Quick Fix with real interior walls, properly covered windows, simple plumbing, AC power running and some purpose designed or made fixtures and furniture.

The "Customs" This one is more technical, the roof is raised, AC DC power, Solar, Heavy plumbing like RV style, Generator power, Custom built furniture and finish work.

Then you have the "Pros" these guys are on their seventh bus, they rip it down to the frame, rebuild the engine and tranny, they custom make everything, they have it down to a science and their skoolies end up in museums or retailing for $80,000.

So, my suggestion is to narrow it down. Outline what you want, what you need, the size you need and what you want to do with it. You said full time living and travel, you and the misses and the meow machine. If either of you are tall, you might need to make alterations, if you want a full bath, onboard washer dryer, size of electronics need, sorry to say just about everything. What must you have and what are you willing to give up haha.

Insulation in our region is important, replacing windows, reachable solar arrays, battery banks, under deck storage, towing a second small vehicle, all of that. Finding the right bus too, the right price, mechanical condition, body condition, handicap accessible, etc. Do you plan on having kids or house guests, everything. A guy in duluth got ahold of me here and he and his wife made lists of everything they needed and compared it to the size of bus they were looking into. They sat down and crossed out things on each others lists haha, good bye shoe collection, good bye stuffed northern, good buy this and that. It was actually pretty cool, they sacrificed space for a full bathroom. Mainly a full tub shower combo compared to an upright shower.

The wife was a gourmet chef and her huge kitchen shrunk down to like 50 inches of counter space not including sink and electric range which about drove her nuts going from gas.

I know it is a lot of info and a lot to think about but, once you get to planning and finding the balance it becomes very fun. Creativity becomes king, storage ideas pop up, little tricks and brilliant moments spring up. It is a lot of fun and this forum is the best resource in the world for exactly what you want to do. It has saved my butt countless times and I have only had my bus for 13 months. It is a learning experience and a labor of love.

If you are ever in my area, let me know. I will give you a tour of my bus and do my best to detail what I have done and why even if I dont understand some of it myself haha.
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Old 04-25-2017, 09:11 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ecto88mph View Post
We are looking to have one built for us or buy one already built. We do not have the space nor the tools to undertake a project like converting a bus to RV.
Look at Ames Iowa Craigslist.
A converted MCI for $4900.
I wouldn't recommend a northern Minnesota bus for a conversion.
School buses rust really bad in places you can't easily see.
Have fun.
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Old 04-25-2017, 09:32 PM   #9
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Location: Bemidji MN
Posts: 185
Year: 1998
Coachwork: Carpenter Body
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I have to second that.
My bus was put in service in the iron range, ended up buying it near Fosston.
$2,700 with about 88,000 (141,000 sorry my car has 88,000) miles on it.
1998 72 seat, standard full size.
There was rust on the corners of the rear door, a little but on rivets here and there.
Once, I started ripping the interior panels out I could see pin holes of day light in the exterior panels.
I dug a little further and it was all rotten.
The rub rails were barely hanging on, the exterior skin was cooked.
So, it changed my plans big time. Suddenly, I had to reskin the entire exterior minus the cab section and roof.
It ended up working well, I ripped the skin off, measured, did my planning, lowered the skirting about 9 inches and lifted the roof 16.5 inches.
It measured perfectly for an eight foot tall surface to apply new skin too.
It was a lot of extra work but, honestly I am glad I did it.
I found issues I didnt know where there and I basically started from the ground up with the body and structure.
Now, it looks great. Still rough primed and painted but, it is solid and completely changed the look and feel.
It is no longer a bus, it looks a lot more like an RV and a Greyhound had a little unholy child haha.
My bus is ready for interior construction. The floor is done, it is ready for insulation and I even have the windows and tanks ready to roll.
It would actually make a good platform to start your own bus project on.
A blank canvas so to speak.
Hell, If the price was right I would sell it.
Maybe, I dont know. I shouldnt say that.
I put a lot into it and it runs perfectly, plus I named it and have an emotional attachment too it.
It is the talk of the town but, has been replaced by my big mean green humvee machine parked next to it haha.
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