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Old 04-25-2019, 06:06 PM   #1
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Near the bottom of the learning curve

Hi all. Been thinking about doing a school bus to motor home conversion for decades. Recently, decided to start doing the research and planning necessary to make it happen. My wife and I have some special needs pets that cannot be left with a sitter or in a kennel so we have not vacationed in a few years (much to the dismay of my daughter) and settled on a motor home as a solution.



I really don't like the awful construction of most motor homes that seem like a shed on a flatbed truck - not what I want my family in while doing 55mph down the highway. A school bus, however, has met much stricter standards for accident safety and makes me feel much more comfortable.



Found lots of awesome videos on youtube and it appears that the 'skoolie' crowd is made up of a lot of knowledgeable people that love to share the lessons of their experience with new folks.



I'm pretty sure that I am looking for a Bluebird Vision 48 passenger with side handicapped access door near the back. (I would love to make the back 4 feet into a motorcycle garage).



Luckily, I spent a decade as a carpenter and another decade as a maintenance mechanic so I should have the skills needed to do all of the work for the conversion. Researching the heck out of solar/inverter/battery banks and also gray water/black water RV setups as this is my weak spot.
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Old 04-25-2019, 08:13 PM   #2
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Welcome to the fun! I am a great diesel mechanic and know my bus, but all the living quarter stuff was new to me. We learn as we go.
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Old 04-26-2019, 12:36 AM   #3
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Thanks, Johnny. I just spent a couple hours reading through your conversion thread and watching the videos. Nice rig. I learned a lot too.
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Old 04-26-2019, 03:56 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by knightindullarmor View Post
Hi all. Been thinking about doing a school bus to motor home conversion for decades. Recently, decided to start doing the research and planning necessary to make it happen. My wife and I have some special needs pets that cannot be left with a sitter or in a kennel so we have not vacationed in a few years (much to the dismay of my daughter) and settled on a motor home as a solution.



I really don't like the awful construction of most motor homes that seem like a shed on a flatbed truck - not what I want my family in while doing 55mph down the highway. A school bus, however, has met much stricter standards for accident safety and makes me feel much more comfortable.



Found lots of awesome videos on youtube and it appears that the 'skoolie' crowd is made up of a lot of knowledgeable people that love to share the lessons of their experience with new folks.



I'm pretty sure that I am looking for a Bluebird Vision 48 passenger with side handicapped access door near the back. (I would love to make the back 4 feet into a motorcycle garage).



Luckily, I spent a decade as a carpenter and another decade as a maintenance mechanic so I should have the skills needed to do all of the work for the conversion. Researching the heck out of solar/inverter/battery banks and also gray water/black water RV setups as this is my weak spot.
Why a Vision?
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Old 04-26-2019, 06:36 AM   #5
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Warning!!

Right now its a vision but once you make that purchase your hooked!! The publicity and thrill of building and living in a skoolie will consume you. We all welcome you and will be glad to help in anyway we can but I am warning you this life is addictive and you will have a hard time looking back at a full size home. We have been full time for almost year and a half and love every minute of it.


Scott

www.skoolieadventures.com
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Old 04-26-2019, 06:51 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Ciscokid View Post
Right now its a vision but once you make that purchase your hooked!! The publicity and thrill of building and living in a skoolie will consume you. We all welcome you and will be glad to help in anyway we can but I am warning you this life is addictive and you will have a hard time looking back at a full size home. We have been full time for almost year and a half and love every minute of it.


Scott

www.skoolieadventures.com
"vision" is a model of Bluebird.
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Old 04-26-2019, 06:52 AM   #7
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Lol !!!!
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Old 04-29-2019, 06:17 PM   #8
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Yes, Bluebird Vision (International 3000 series). 30ish foot length and many have that rear passenger side HC door. I like the idea of dedicating the back 4 to 5 feet of the bus into a literal garage where I could ride a Harley right up a ramp and into it's living quarters, lol. Rear Side HC door means a 'garage' that only takes up 4 or 5 feet of length instead of 7 to 8 feet. Using the rear door for garage entrance means I would need a longer bus than I really want. I'm hoping to keep it under 31 feet total length to have more camping spots available.



However, some 2008 & 2009 trolleys showed up on govdeals.com today about 40 miles from my house. 28 feet long with Allison 300 transmissions and (i believe from research) Cummins B5.9 inline diesel engines. So I'm re-evaluating whether I'm deadset on a midsize International.
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Old 04-29-2019, 06:42 PM   #9
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Welcome. keep your options open. I have a IC (international) CE200 that is 29ft long and has a side rear handicap door. You can see the pics in my build thread (in my signature below)

Where are you located?
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Old 04-29-2019, 06:43 PM   #10
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2005-2007 Cummins 5.9 is 325HP and 610lbs/ft torque. THAT should pull up hills nicely in a 28 footer.
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Old 04-29-2019, 07:07 PM   #11
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You'll have a tough time putting a Harley in through the back door if you only have 4' of space. The handicap platform would need to be heavily modified to accept a bike that long. The header clearances on the doors need to be watched so you don't take the top of your head fof entering the door. My bus is 37', has an 8' motorcycle garage and leaves less room to build than I would like. Using the lift for a bike is awkward also, you ride it in, but can't turn it around, so it has to be backed out.

Most of us caution noobs about the perils of newer than 04 buses. Emission equipment issues are common and are hard to diagnose and expensive to repair
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Old 04-29-2019, 08:20 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by knightindullarmor View Post
Yes, Bluebird Vision (International 3000 series). 30ish foot length and many have that rear passenger side HC door. I like the idea of dedicating the back 4 to 5 feet of the bus into a literal garage where I could ride a Harley right up a ramp and into it's living quarters, lol. Rear Side HC door means a 'garage' that only takes up 4 or 5 feet of length instead of 7 to 8 feet. Using the rear door for garage entrance means I would need a longer bus than I really want. I'm hoping to keep it under 31 feet total length to have more camping spots available.



However, some 2008 & 2009 trolleys showed up on govdeals.com today about 40 miles from my house. 28 feet long with Allison 300 transmissions and (i believe from research) Cummins B5.9 inline diesel engines. So I'm re-evaluating whether I'm deadset on a midsize International.
Maybe look for a 2004 or older special needs bus.
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Old 04-29-2019, 09:22 PM   #13
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Thanks for all the advice. Still in the research phase. Might look at a few busses over the next couple weeks.


Unfortunately, one popped up on fakebook marketplace a couple days ago, about a mile from my house but was gone in only a few hours. $3k for a Bluebird International 35foot or so, and it was in great shape inside and out, new tires and brakes, red on white paint (which is required in Maryland for bus conversion - yellow is a nogo, lol).



Another grand nugget of poo that has plopped on my plans is Maryland's requiring of a non-commercial class A or B license for motorhomes over 26,000lbs.
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Old 04-29-2019, 09:32 PM   #14
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That explains why every Maryland skoolie I've seen is red and white.
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Old 04-29-2019, 10:39 PM   #15
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Welcome!
I bought a school bus two years ago for the same reason - I had 3 dogs who I could not leave at a kennel or with a pet sitter, so I did not vacation for over 8 years.
Then, after finishing my bus I sold my house and everything I had - and vacationed for over a year.
The bus is a great way to go! You'll find one. I went to several auctions - in person and online and finally found one at a used bus dealer for $4500. I could have gotten it cheaper, but I was happy. And my bus has traveled from Florida to Montana to Virginia, Texas, California, Arizona and now back in Montana.

Enjoy the adventure!!




Quote:
Originally Posted by knightindullarmor View Post
Hi all. Been thinking about doing a school bus to motor home conversion for decades. Recently, decided to start doing the research and planning necessary to make it happen. My wife and I have some special needs pets that cannot be left with a sitter or in a kennel so we have not vacationed in a few years (much to the dismay of my daughter) and settled on a motor home as a solution.



I really don't like the awful construction of most motor homes that seem like a shed on a flatbed truck - not what I want my family in while doing 55mph down the highway. A school bus, however, has met much stricter standards for accident safety and makes me feel much more comfortable.



Found lots of awesome videos on youtube and it appears that the 'skoolie' crowd is made up of a lot of knowledgeable people that love to share the lessons of their experience with new folks.



I'm pretty sure that I am looking for a Bluebird Vision 48 passenger with side handicapped access door near the back. (I would love to make the back 4 feet into a motorcycle garage).



Luckily, I spent a decade as a carpenter and another decade as a maintenance mechanic so I should have the skills needed to do all of the work for the conversion. Researching the heck out of solar/inverter/battery banks and also gray water/black water RV setups as this is my weak spot.
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Old 05-01-2019, 10:50 AM   #16
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Getting giddy... on Ebay of all places, I found a bus about 10 miles away from me. 85 International Bluebird dognose that appears to be a 35-footer. Current bid is at $1500.00 or so.



I like the idea of buying a bus for under $2500 at auction, but the idea of going to pick it up sight unseen with naught but a toolkit and a charged battery to undertake, perhaps, an interstate trip is daunting.



This one is currently tagged and I could drive it home without planning out a multi-person 2+ day roadtrip.



Starts hard, owner was told it needed glowplugs by a diesel mechanic. No biggie. Should be under $100 for a set of OEM plugs. But at least I can test drive it and kick the tires (literally, lol) before committing to a purchase.



Has 1985 6.9 & Spicer 5 speed. Engine only has 170HP so that is a bit concerning, but I'm sure folks here can help me squeeze out a few more ponies. Seller stated that engine was rebuilt about 10k ago so that's a huge plus in my book. I don't need to go super fast, but hopefully can pull up the Rockies at more than 30MPH, lol. Really want to do a 2 or 3 week family trip from Maryland to Sedona and Grand Canyon.
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Old 05-01-2019, 10:54 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by musigenesis View Post
That explains why every Maryland skoolie I've seen is red and white.

Red & white not required, but painting entire bus something other than yellow is required. Which is a shame, because I was thinking Bizarro Bus with all the black trim painted yellow and the yellow parts painted black.



Whenever I get a skoolie, I think I'm going for a rat-rod look with black primer or flat black paint as the main color. Maybe some gray trim too. Dunno. I like Johnny Mullet's bus paint, but don't want to copy or replicate.
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Old 05-01-2019, 11:41 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by knightindullarmor View Post
Getting giddy... on Ebay of all places, I found a bus about 10 miles away from me. 85 International Bluebird dognose that appears to be a 35-footer. Current bid is at $1500.00 or so.



I like the idea of buying a bus for under $2500 at auction, but the idea of going to pick it up sight unseen with naught but a toolkit and a charged battery to undertake, perhaps, an interstate trip is daunting.



This one is currently tagged and I could drive it home without planning out a multi-person 2+ day roadtrip.



Starts hard, owner was told it needed glowplugs by a diesel mechanic. No biggie. Should be under $100 for a set of OEM plugs. But at least I can test drive it and kick the tires (literally, lol) before committing to a purchase.



Has 1985 6.9 & Spicer 5 speed. Engine only has 170HP so that is a bit concerning, but I'm sure folks here can help me squeeze out a few more ponies. Seller stated that engine was rebuilt about 10k ago so that's a huge plus in my book. I don't need to go super fast, but hopefully can pull up the Rockies at more than 30MPH, lol. Really want to do a 2 or 3 week family trip from Maryland to Sedona and Grand Canyon.
Very few have gone this route and not ended up miserably disappointed. Where are you located? Go to the UserCP (upper left)and fill out your profile so we know where you are to better assist your questions. If you're in Maryland I guarantee a bus that old will have major rust on the floor if not elsewhere and to bid without personally inspecting it is very foolish.
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Old 05-01-2019, 01:02 PM   #19
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I agree. Which is why I think I am going to stick with a local bus. I need to at least test drive it in a parking lot to make sure everything seems ok.



This is going to limit me to craigslist, ebay, etc... and maybe one or two .gov agencies that have local depots within a 50 mile radius or so.



As long as it just has normal rust for a bus, it's not a big deal - I can weld.
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Old 05-01-2019, 01:50 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by knightindullarmor View Post
I agree. Which is why I think I am going to stick with a local bus. I need to at least test drive it in a parking lot to make sure everything seems ok.



This is going to limit me to craigslist, ebay, etc... and maybe one or two .gov agencies that have local depots within a 50 mile radius or so.



As long as it just has normal rust for a bus, it's not a big deal - I can weld.
Agree with what? You seem to want to do what your being advised against. Personally I would not even be interested in any bus from Maryland, part of the rust zone. I think many make the mistake of not calculating some travel time in their budget to buy. Why do $1500 worth of work to end up with a bus that's not as nice as one that could have been had for $1000 more. The Gov. actions don't have locations that they sell all these buses from. They merely list them from their current location.
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