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Old 06-07-2017, 05:08 AM   #1
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Hello from Nebraska!

Hey there!

I've been thinking about buying a bus for a few years, but a recent need to split my time between two cites has made the idea much more appealing. With a few years of thought behind it, I've got a ton of ideas on what I want to see in it in the long run, and a little bit of knowledge on how to get there, but still have a TON to learn! Hopefully, I can pick up a good chunk of that knowledge here!
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Old 06-07-2017, 04:45 PM   #2
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Hang On........and welcome.
There are a lot of amazing folks on this sight, and they are willing to offer help and advice.
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Old 06-07-2017, 04:53 PM   #3
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Well... First challenge is finding the right bus!


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Old 06-07-2017, 06:26 PM   #4
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Tell us what size and type of bus you're thinking of and why. As much as you've thought about this already I'm sure you probably have a specific bus model in mind.

Are you wanting to make a bus into an apartment for this other town or are you thinking of something you can drive back and forth?

Most of us define buses as either campers for weekend type trips or the more heavily built live-ins. Naturally there's every conceivable level of build in between too.

You've indicated this idea has been in your mind for a long while. Tell us more detail about what's in your mind. I know I was always looking at school buses I'd see driving around thinking about which ones would be best to convert. What kind of bus do you like?
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Old 06-07-2017, 06:59 PM   #5
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You aren't wrong... I am looking at it as mostly an apartment for the other town. I've got a friend who owns a ton of land out there and has offered to let me park there (he's got hookups already). It's an area that definitely falls under the "country" category, so a random bus parked on the someone's property wouldn't even attract attention.

That said... I do a fair bit of traveling, so the ability to have my apartment "mobile" is definitely attractive. Nothing that would be considered "long haul", but one or two states over happens several times a year.

Shockingly (maybe), I don't have a specific model in mind, mostly because despite a lot of thought, I don't know enough about most models to know what's what yet. Like I said... still learning. Originally, I'd been thinking about getting a pusher, simply because it negates the rear entrance (which wouldn't be overly useful with the layouts I've been considering), and would likely be quieter overall. Lately, I've been thinking that having the engine up front might actually be better because I'd like the option to tow and in my research, front engines tend to be better at towing (and with towing, if you did have a pusher, you'd be preventing easy access to the engine).

Given that it'd be a semi-long-term place of residence, and I'd be working out of it, bigger is better. As such, I've been focussing on the 60+ seat models, but beyond that, I don't have anything I'm super fixed on yet. I can save a bit of space on beds, as I'm single and don't intend to change that any time soon, so don't need to do the whole queen-plus-single-bunks thing that seems to be prevalent in the community.

Beyond that... I'm not sure what all I can provide info wise. All my layout stuff is super early drafts since I don't have a specific bus in mind (and therefore don't have internal dimensions yet). I know wet wall will be on the drivers side (common sense), I know I plan on "zoning" the bus ("cab", living/kitchen area, bathroom and bedroom separated by pocket doors), I plan on using flexible solar panels on the roof to augment power, etc.

I'm also (slowly) working on setting up a website to track the whole process (research through completion), but it's nowhere near ready yet. Web design is a significant part of my income, so you'd think it'd be easy... but it's painfully difficult designing for myself!
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Old 06-07-2017, 08:23 PM   #6
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It wouldn't be hard to find a 36-40' FE bus. Are you into something classic, like the Crown or Gillig buses? There has been a number of them on line lately, probably still listed in the for sale section of this site. Then again, location is important. How far are you willing to go to drive the right bus home? I found mine in my back yard, but normally a guy has to do some driving to get the bus to the right location.

So pretty muc you're looking for a full size FE. Most here will recommend you stick to a Cummins 8.3 or the Cornbinder 466. It's usually an Allison transmission and ideally you're looking for a 3060, but even a 2000 series would be good. Most of us have the Allison 545 which is an adequate 4 spd auto, but leaves us wanting. This 545 transmission basically freewheels on downhills while the newer transmissions have lockup on the gearing that uses engine speed to help slow your decent on hills, not to mention being 5 or 6 speed transmissions.

About the last real question is do you prefer a mechanical engine and transmission or do you prefer the computer controlled engine/transmission setup? Mine is a '97 and was the last year this model was produced with a mechanical engine and transmission. You'll learn to tell which engines are mechanical and which are electronic. This may have something to do with how good you are with computers or not.

It's a fun process but there will be times you'll want to do some back peddling. This is a good time of year to begin, hoping you can get your insulation in before the cold weather hits this fall. This sounds perfect, unless you'd rather buy a grandma's trailer and park it out there. Granny's trailer ain't much good for trips through.
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Old 06-08-2017, 02:09 AM   #7
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I'm not super set on style, so anything from the mid-late 90's on would probably work fine. I'm also definitely capable of driving something pretty far if necessary... but that brings up the logistical challenge either buying sight unseen, or doing a LOT of potential pre-purchase traveling to find something in good shape.

I'm very comfortable with technology, so not at all opposed to a computer controlled setup... but there's also still something to be said for tried and true (plus, mechanical tends to be easier to fix in my experience... at least with trucks).
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Old 06-08-2017, 11:29 AM   #8
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You're right, and these are simply trucks. You've obviously done enough reading here to have a good idea of what you want. Now it's just a matter of time until you find the right bus. You'll be popping rivets in no time.
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Old 06-08-2017, 01:06 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by dgriffiths View Post
I'm also (slowly) working on setting up a website to track the whole process (research through completion), but it's nowhere near ready yet. Web design is a significant part of my income, so you'd think it'd be easy... but it's painfully difficult designing for myself!
Been there done that. When you are your own customer it becomes impossible to nail the damn customer down to a set of agreed upon actionable requirements. Requirements creep is incredible in that scenario!
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Old 06-08-2017, 01:37 PM   #10
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It's definitely a difference, isn't it?? Super annoying. For that matter, I haven't even picked a name yet... hard to finish the site without a name for it!
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Old 06-09-2017, 04:53 AM   #11
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And... both my upcoming bus and website now have a name! (Consider this a teaser... I'll post the site as soon as I get a basic framework up)
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Old 06-09-2017, 08:12 AM   #12
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welcome to the community!

I'm pretty close to Nebraska, but i am still a Coloradoan. Sidney, NE is a few miles north of me and one of the bigger towns in the area.

i hope you find a bus and start your conversion. this forum is chocked full of people that have been there and done that.you come to the right place to ask questions.

good luck
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Old 08-06-2017, 02:31 AM   #13
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Well, I don't have a bus yet, but I've got all the local help I could want lined up! Been talking to friends in the area and I've got a diesel mechanic, certified (and certifiable...) electrician, and metal worker all chomping at the bit to get started helping with the conversion!

Say what you want about the conversion process itself... I can't imagine it's more difficult than choosing the right bus in the first place! Every time I think I know just what I'm looking for, I come up with a really good reason to look for something different.
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Old 10-20-2018, 09:42 PM   #14
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I'm still here!

I thought it was worthwhile to drop in and post an update, despite not having posting anything in ages. I know I haven't exactly posted enough to have anyone really following me, but I also know that when someone disappears I always wonder why, so though I'd post an update just in case.

I haven't managed to get my bus yet, but I haven't given up either. I lost my job last December, and have been sorta in transition ever since. Turns out I'm almost unemployable, so it's been a rough year. But, I'm still here! I have faith that I'll figure it all out eventually, and get back on track for building my bus.

If nothing else, that goal has helped me keep going!
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Old 10-20-2018, 10:36 PM   #15
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Well, dang! Get thee to a major metro area of some sort. "Unemployable web designer" should be a contradiction in terms in Da Big City.
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Old 10-20-2018, 11:53 PM   #16
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Well, dang! Get thee to a major metro area of some sort. "Unemployable web designer" should be a contradiction in terms in Da Big City.
That's what I thought. 10 years later, I still don't have a web software-engineer development job....

I was told as a kid in the 1980s that someday I could sit in a big open field of grass on a mountain top writing computer software on a laptop, connected to my office wirelessly. In 2006 I was thrilled surf the web using my Nokia cell-phone as a modem to begin to write websites while in living in a tent in the sand 20 feet from the ocean in Hawai'i, 30 minutes drive down a gnarly 4◊4 road, 20 minutes from there to town.

I know JavaScript like the back of my hand. HTML and CSS are like kindergarden stuff to me. I knew PHP pretty good, but it's been a few years, since I found JavaScript can do much more now-a-days.

But find someone who BELIEVES me and is willing to hire me for the foot-in-the-door.....

(sorry to jack your thread)
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Old 10-21-2018, 01:56 AM   #17
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That's what I thought. 10 years later, I still don't have a web software-engineer development job....

I was told as a kid in the 1980s that someday I could sit in a big open field of grass on a mountain top writing computer software on a laptop, connected to my office wirelessly. In 2006 I was thrilled surf the web using my Nokia cell-phone as a modem to begin to write websites while in living in a tent in the sand 20 feet from the ocean in Hawai'i, 30 minutes drive down a gnarly 4◊4 road, 20 minutes from there to town.

I know JavaScript like the back of my hand. HTML and CSS are like kindergarden stuff to me. I knew PHP pretty good, but it's been a few years, since I found JavaScript can do much more now-a-days.

But find someone who BELIEVES me and is willing to hire me for the foot-in-the-door.....

(sorry to jack your thread)
All good! That's been my experience too. Up until recently, I actually lived in a big city... didn't help. Now I live in the country (couldn't afford rent in the city anymore, and had friends out here), it's just as bad. Bad part is I can't even get a job outside of my field! I've tried pretty much everything, even down to fast food... everyone either says I'm too overqualified or too underqualified. It kinda sucks!
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Old 10-21-2018, 01:58 AM   #18
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As of now, my goal has gone from "build a bus" to "buy a bus"... in other words, if I can get a bus, at least I can start the build. Given my current situation, I'd rather live in a work in progress, than not even have a work in progress!
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Old 01-07-2019, 06:56 AM   #19
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Following up on my previous post, I've been couch surfing for the last few months, but I'm running out of time to do that. While I hate to ask, does anyone here know anyone looking for work? I'm ok with it being outside my normal wheelhouse. My normal work is in web and software development, but my background includes a number of years in the Marine Corps, so I'm not afraid of hard work.
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