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Old 12-25-2017, 11:22 AM   #1
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Location: Ojai, CA
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Smile I've got the skoolie fever... Ojai, CA

Hi All!!

I'm new to the forum and excited begin the process of finding a bus! It is still undecided between my husband and I on buying a converted bus or doing it ourselves. Our ultimate goal is full-time bus living. I'm an advocate for building one, however, from what I've read on blogs it takes LOTs of time (like a year or more). I personally have limited building skills, but I do have an amazing community I can tap into, and my husband has some amazing skills to bring to the table. I usually work 60 hours a week and so does my husband. I'm willing to take time off for building, to live the dream life of a skoolie How did you all do it?!? I imagine the reward of living in something you worked so hard and challenged yourself to build is so worth it!

A big push for my change in habitation comes from the recent fires in my area. I'm sure you've all heard! My sleepy little town of Ojai, CA was almost engulfed in flames. Crazy. We're tired of dumping my money into apartments and not living the lifestyle we want. It may not be the normal for society, but it makes us feel better, more complete, to live simply. We want to stay in the area, but have the option of leaving for short periods of time.

I need some help convincing my husband to take the leap and build one ourselves! Or, if you think buying a converted bus is a better route, let me know! I'm excited to get to know this community, looking forward to hearing your opinions.

-Colleen
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Old 12-25-2017, 11:45 AM   #2
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For full-time living, the smart money would be on doing it yourself.

Way too many people skimp on the basics ... full strip, insulate, re-build.

For an occasional holiday, that might be fine but if you are living in a bus you need it done properly, which means all rust remediated, and as much insulation as you can cram inside.

Doing the basics is grunt-work, but it's not complicated and there is plenty of help available. You will never regret doing the job right.

Merry Christmas, enjoy the day, and the search for your new home.
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Old 12-25-2017, 11:46 AM   #3
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Welcome !

It sounds like you are ready for the LEAP, just not sure if you want DIY bus or Ready-to-roll.

DIY

Build to suit
Control over materials and quality
Pride of acomplishment
Less expensive(possibly)
Easily procurred

-Takes time to build
-Takes place to store while being built
-Chance of incompletion/lost interest


Ready-Made

Quickly usable
Road tested design
Save Rent now


-More expensive
-Harder to locate


There are also semi-completed skoolies available.

I've had mine a year, worked out most of the mechanical kinks, have the interior stripped, roof raised, spray foamed, genny/shore power run already. Inside is empty, blank slate ready for cabinets, flooring, lighting fixtures- the fun stuff. There are people that loose storage or interest at this level, so that is also an option. You would want to make very certain you weren't buying someone else's mistake, bad engine issue, transmission$$, etc.

So, that is the Spectrum of zero to Turn-key
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Old 12-25-2017, 08:35 PM   #4
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There are a good number of semi completed buses available that would take a lot of the manual labor out of the project for you. There are also many buses claiming to be converted, but they're not. Just because a bus has a sink and a bed doesn't mean it was converted and insulated properly.

Take a look at the way most of us do this. We buy a bus from the bus barn (school district) auction. You can look at them and even talk to the mechanics that worked on them. After purchasing a bus we strip the interior sheet metal panels and usually pull up all the floor too.

If you're looking at buses on Craigslist, beware of the buses that still have sheet metal interiors, as those are generally not insulated. Most likely someone simply removed the seats and moved in to avoid paying rent. Also, skoolies that have been parked for several years often have mold starting in them.

All these reason are why I'm saying spend some time here on this site doing some light reading before you make a decision. Choose a bus you like here, then read the build thread to see what is entailed. Simply put your questions on this thread and you will get a variety of answers, but not necessarily the answers you want. It's a fun process and it's not that hard to learn to care for your diesel. You can also post pics of buses you find as prospective rolling homes and most aspects of that year and model will come to light. Keep that skoolie fever. It's worth it in the end.
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Old 12-25-2017, 08:51 PM   #5
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No more high mortgage or leases

Thats reason enough to bust your tail to make it happen. You will love watching your bank account grow, trust me. I have lived in mine for two years and have no regrets. Good luck, we will help you with advice.
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Old 12-25-2017, 09:23 PM   #6
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You're right when you say it will take at least a year. I'm at year eight, and I've only just begun the interior! OK, I've been doing all the grunt stuff up to now, so it's not like I've been skiving off - I've installed all four tanks, the house batteries, solar system, the propane system, a generator, and I've done lots of remedial work on the bus itself (it took me almost a full year to completely rebuild my entire cooling system until it was working to my satisfaction, and I've still got something more I want to do to it!). Mind you, I am a perfectionist, so that's my excuse for taking so damn long for everything. If I have to spend days or weeks fussing over some seemingly inconsequential detail, so be it. It's my bus, and I'm going to do it right! Even if something is hidden from view, I still want to make it as best as possible. By the time I'm finished (are bus conversions ever truly finished?), I want it to look like a well-made professional conversion, with no obvious shortcuts or cheapnesses and with everything working completely right. I could have made a habitable tin tent in less than a year, but that's not the intention here. At this point in my life I have more time than money, and I have a useful amount of ability to do things myself, so why not convert time and skill into a tangible investment for the future? Its arguably the most challenging thing I've ever done up to now, but also it's probably the most rewarding as well.

Plan, think, design, think and plan some more, but be flexible and pragmatic in your work because nothing ever goes exactly according to plan. There are a few non-negotiables, such as location of tanks (which determines location of loo and shower), but otherwise most buses are a blank canvas. Just don't get into debt with it - do what you can afford when you can afford it, and if you need to wait and save before starting a big project then so be it. You'll still be far better off than those folk who pay god-knows-how-much each month for their shiny new POS RV that is depreciating way more than even a new car, and which may be worn out before they even finish paying for it.

Have fun!

John
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Old 12-25-2017, 10:12 PM   #7
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It should not take a year, I did mine in 3 and half months just one person working me. I would say I did 40 hours a week what a full time job would be no crazy hours or all nighters. Once you get past the demo work it’s all fun work and go’s really fast. I had a family illness that gave me plenty of time off to work on the bus.

No question do it your self a skill set you can use your entire life.

The sense of pride is overwhelming when you sit back on your couch and look around at your bus and know you did it all your self
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Old 12-26-2017, 09:17 AM   #8
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Lightbulb Thank You!!!!!

All of your inspiring words are so helpful right now! Thank you all for taking the time with your suggestions. Let the research begin, this is an amazing network. I can't wait to cruz the site and hopefully someday soon add my bus to it
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Old 01-03-2018, 11:56 PM   #9
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Engine: DT466
Also in Ojai, Also Got the Fever!

Hey Colleen,
We just started our shorty conversion today. Going to use it as a bit of a mobile classroom, hang out space for a program we run. Weíre in Upper Ojai at the summit. In fact, Iím on the SAR team with Charlie. You guys should come check it out. We are just diving in, reading heaps, having fun, and learning as we go.
Jim
Rock Tree Sky
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Old 01-04-2018, 04:26 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin97396 View Post
There are a good number of semi completed buses available that would take a lot of the manual labor out of the project for you. There are also many buses claiming to be converted, but they're not. Just because a bus has a sink and a bed doesn't mean it was converted and insulated properly.

Take a look at the way most of us do this. We buy a bus from the bus barn (school district) auction. You can look at them and even talk to the mechanics that worked on them. After purchasing a bus we strip the interior sheet metal panels and usually pull up all the floor too.

If you're looking at buses on Craigslist, beware of the buses that still have sheet metal interiors, as those are generally not insulated. Most likely someone simply removed the seats and moved in to avoid paying rent. Also, skoolies that have been parked for several years often have mold starting in them.

All these reason are why I'm saying spend some time here on this site doing some light reading before you make a decision. Choose a bus you like here, then read the build thread to see what is entailed. Simply put your questions on this thread and you will get a variety of answers, but not necessarily the answers you want. It's a fun process and it's not that hard to learn to care for your diesel. You can also post pics of buses you find as prospective rolling homes and most aspects of that year and model will come to light. Keep that skoolie fever. It's worth it in the end.
I'm more worried about the wiring...there's a lot of safety interlock circuits...one accidentally cut ground wire could cause a lot of drama

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