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Old 03-22-2017, 01:56 PM   #1
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Location: Oakland, CA
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I'm new and looking for a short bus!

Hey everyone!
I live in oakland ca and i'm looking for a short bus! I want to turn it into a mobile photo studio for portraits / an adventure camping mobile so that I can take it on extended road trips all over the USA.

I'm looking to gut the entirety of the bus and start from scratch with my own storage/ sleeping area / desk area. Bonus builds for roof deck. not necessarily needing too much living qualities out of it other than some potential insulation, window covers, mostly a work vehicle with the capacity to camp out with and ideally some sort of solar power or batter converters to charge the necessary equipment.

I'm trying to figure out what kind of bus I am looking for and how to find the best deal. Does anyone have any links for what I should know when I go to check out buses? Damage and wear and tear that I should look for?

One but I have found looks great, but needs a new engine and is in socal - I've heard towing is expensive, does anyone have advice on this? I'm looking to buy hopefully in the next month.

I'm really excited to start on this project and I'd love any input that anyone has. Also if anyone is in Oakland I'd love to meet up in person to chat about bus life!

thanks in advance - ya'll are inspiring
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Old 03-22-2017, 02:48 PM   #2
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Year: 1997
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Welcome sbloom

People here will help you figure out what works best for you, and even help you with the auction selections of that type of bus.

Have you been bus shopping yet? What length are you leaning towards? Put some information out here which will get people started helping you. Nobody likes to tease the information out of new buyers one reply at a time. It's excellent that you started at this point rather than buying a bus that doesn't fit you well.
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Old 03-22-2017, 04:14 PM   #3
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thanks!

Thanks Robin for the info.

I suppose as far as details go -
I'm looking for a 22-26ft bus
I'd like to spend 2500-5000 on the bus and have room for repairs and rebuilding

I have not gone bus shopping yet just been looking for things online mostly via craigslist. I'm doing this mostly solo so trying to do some research and talk to people to know what I'm looking for before I go talk to people.

Thanks for responding. If you have any other insights i'm all ears
-s
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Old 03-22-2017, 04:42 PM   #4
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Location: St Petersburg, FL
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Year: 1995
Coachwork: Thomas Vista
Chassis: International 3600
Engine: Navistar T444E 7.3 Turbo Diesel
Our bus is 25 feet long and has a stubby dog nose. It's a Thomas Vista 3600 which is fairly uncommon but uses common components.

I wouldn't get a bus that needs a motor. There are lots of buses ready to drive. Generally speaking, the parts they used in these buses should last a very long time. If you find one with a major issue it probably has more major issues because it was not well maintained or otherwise abused.

With a short bus, you really need to prioritize what functionality you need and what functionality is more optional. For example, If you really want a big comfortable bed, you will have to do without some other things to make that a reality.

You can use one of those floorplan layout tools but remember that everything is bigger in real life!
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Old 03-22-2017, 05:32 PM   #5
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Location: Willamina, Oregon
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Year: 1997
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Mine is a 26 foot Bluebird TC1000 handicap bus that I bought on Public Surplus for about $2,500 in October of 2015. This has a completely flat floor (no wheel wells) on the interior specially to accommodate wheelchairs, thus the 19.5" wheels. Looks like a brick on wheels with an eleven foot wheel base. It's a front engine flatnose bus, still yellow on the exterior. I'm tipping the scales at about $8k at this point on this build.
The TC2000 appears to come in several lengths, one of which is also about 26 feet long, but it has interior wheel wells and 22.5" wheels. There's so many options.
You somehow need to be fairly certain about how much floor space it takes to make you comfortable.
I live alone, so my 26 footer is big enough that I even have a small garage in the back for a quad or dual sport. It's seems to be more than enough room for me, but then some say I'm a minimalist. If this is a road trip vehicle and something happens on the opposite coast I don't want to have a lot of sentimental items with me that I'd feel bad about leaving behind. After living in this bus for a year, clutter makes things very difficult, so I don't put things in the bus if I don't regularly use them. If this bus blows an engine far from home I'm basically going to dispose of it and walk away. If it blows an engine close to home I have some transplant replacements in mind.
The relatively short wheel base on this type bus allows it to make very tight turns, however sitting three or four feet in front of the steering axle takes a bit of getting used to. There's advantages and disadvantage to each model.
It's all a learning experience.

View these links;

Public Surplus: Browse all categories

Government Surplus Auctions at Government Liquidation

https://www.govdeals.com/

Buses are where you find them. Not always on these sites. Craigslist is ok, but lots of resellers are on there with a considerable markup after they bought from Public Surplus. Let the fun begin.
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Old 03-22-2017, 06:59 PM   #6
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Thank you so much, that info is super helpful! I'm so excited to find a bus and dig into this project!
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Old 03-25-2017, 06:47 AM   #7
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Hey all newbie from Vancouver BC

Looking for help to figure what size schoolie to get for myself and my lady. absolutely new to this form of living arrangement.
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Old 03-25-2017, 11:37 AM   #8
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Read everything here. You'll get a good idea. Should take 100-300 hours or so.
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Old 03-25-2017, 11:37 AM   #9
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Welcom ahome wit my love
What size bus you need depends on you. If you like all the creature comforts you're going to need a big bus. If you get a short bus you'll likely be struggling for space all the time. It depends on how you intend to use your bus.

Are you thinking of having a washer and dryer? Bathroom and shower? Garage in the back? Nobody knows what you envision but you at this point.

The more information you put out here will determine how many people respond from this site. Don't be shy. Generally speaking we are all restricted by our budgets. Some ideas here won't fit your build but we like to examine all ideas.
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Old 03-31-2017, 01:01 PM   #10
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Location: Oakland, CA
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Hi robin,
Thanks for your advice. So what I am aiming to do is turn this bus into a mobile photo studio / photobooth with the capacity to sleep and do week to month long road trips in.

At least for phase 1, i'm not looking to live out of it - more as an adjunct vehicle that I can take on the road or to events. So I want it to have some hidden storage, perhaps a platform where photo's are taken then a murphy still bed as the wall or underneath the platform, as well as a desk, some storage and a cool funky space in which to take pictures.

I have enough money to buy a bus now so I am actively looking for a shorter bus, but will start a kick starter to revamp it. I'm still trying to find out what the average cost of a bus is what I should be looking for when I buy it in terms of assessing the bus and how well it has been maintained.
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