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Old 11-05-2017, 09:55 PM   #1
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Join Date: Nov 2017
Location: Seattle, WA
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Question New Here & Unsure Where to Begin

Greetings everyone, My name is Guy (No really it is my name) and I have joined this site as one of my first steps in doing a Skoolie bus conversion.

So, a little background first. I am 31 years old and due mostly to my fathers job have lived all over the USA. I think that is why after a few years anywhere I tend to get the itch to move. This is one of the big reasons I have decided to do a bus conversion not to mention being able to see even more of the world any time I like. The other big reason being because half my paycheck now just goes to rent each month so it seems like it may be a much more cost effective option in the long run (Especially since there is no way I can own a place in Seattle, WA). In the end though I have some crazy ideas that I am thinking about that could lead me to quitting my job and taking the bus on the road full time.

I am super excited about the prospect of doing this bus conversion, but I am not sure where/how to begin. There are some things that I think a lot is covered on this site such as electrical, roof weight limitations, how to get a few more mph on highways, but others I know I just need to ask.

So...
  1. How to choose a bus?
    So I know what I need and want in a bus I just don't know which ones would fit my criteria.
    Musts are:
    • A bus that someone 6ft can stand in without raising the roof.
    • A diesel engine that can handle mountain passes like the I5 in Washington/Oregon or I70 in Colorado without over heating too much. (I just want to be sure I can get to Ski areas with it)
    Things I would prefer:
    • Longer the better (I may be single but I don't intend to be alone)
    • Font engine that sticks out (not a flat front).
    Bonus:
    • A wheelchair lift in the back, but only in the back. (Could make things a lot easier renovating and also be used for loading & unloading a motorcycle)
  2. Navigating the laws of Washington state.
  3. Finding a place to park and work on it around/outside Seattle WA,. (Got one friend who is looking for a place and is willing to help, but they think it may be a few years before they find something)
  4. Also does anyone know any mechanic around/outside Seattle WA willing to work on buses?
  5. Any other advice or things I should look into before I get started?
  6. Are there any Skoolie meetup coming up in / around the Seattle area? I would love to check out what others have done in person sometime.

Thanks for all your help and if I should create a separate posts for the questions elsewhere pleas point me in the right direction for each one.

Also feel free to ask me anything.

Thanks again,
Guy
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Old 11-05-2017, 10:21 PM   #2
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Join Date: Dec 2016
Location: Anaconda,MT
Posts: 231
Year: 1995
Coachwork: Amtran
Chassis: International
Engine: DT466 Turbo
Rated Cap: 90
So you would be looking for a full sized dog nose school bus with a DT466 / E (not t444/E or 5.9 Cummins) and a trans like the MD3060 or MT643 (not the AT545). You should have good luck finding one. Most I think want the flat noise bus's. As for high head room look at the first row of windows behind the door and drivers seat if the windows are higher then, likely a high celling bus but not always.

Good lucking finding a place to do the conversion (it's hard), but make sure that's in place before you buy the bus.






Quote:
Originally Posted by ThatOneGuy View Post
Greetings everyone, My name is Guy (No really it is my name) and I have joined this site as one of my first steps in doing a Skoolie bus conversion.

So, a little background first. I am 31 years old and due mostly to my fathers job have lived all over the USA. I think that is why after a few years anywhere I tend to get the itch to move. This is one of the big reasons I have decided to do a bus conversion not to mention being able to see even more of the world any time I like. The other big reason being because half my paycheck now just goes to rent each month so it seems like it may be a much more cost effective option in the long run (Especially since there is no way I can own a place in Seattle, WA). In the end though I have some crazy ideas that I am thinking about that could lead me to quitting my job and taking the bus on the road full time.

I am super excited about the prospect of doing this bus conversion, but I am not sure where/how to begin. There are some things that I think a lot is covered on this site such as electrical, roof weight limitations, how to get a few more mph on highways, but others I know I just need to ask.

So...
  1. How to choose a bus?
    So I know what I need and want in a bus I just don't know which ones would fit my criteria.
    Musts are:
    • A bus that someone 6ft can stand in without raising the roof.
    • A diesel engine that can handle mountain passes like the I5 in Washington/Oregon or I70 in Colorado without over heating too much. (I just want to be sure I can get to Ski areas with it)
    Things I would prefer:
    • Longer the better (I may be single but I don't intend to be alone)
    • Font engine that sticks out (not a flat front).
    Bonus:
    • A wheelchair lift in the back, but only in the back. (Could make things a lot easier renovating and also be used for loading & unloading a motorcycle)
  2. Navigating the laws of Washington state.
  3. Finding a place to park and work on it around/outside Seattle WA,. (Got one friend who is looking for a place and is willing to help, but they think it may be a few years before they find something)
  4. Also does anyone know any mechanic around/outside Seattle WA willing to work on buses?
  5. Any other advice or things I should look into before I get started?
  6. Are there any Skoolie meetup coming up in / around the Seattle area? I would love to check out what others have done in person sometime.

Thanks for all your help and if I should create a separate posts for the questions elsewhere pleas point me in the right direction for each one.

Also feel free to ask me anything.

Thanks again,
Guy
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Old 11-06-2017, 08:21 AM   #3
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Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: iowa
Posts: 238
Year: 1998
Coachwork: bluebird
Chassis: chevy
Engine: 3116 catapillar
Rated Cap: formerly 71 now 2 or 4
do not buy for at least 6 months. read here every nite paying close attention to the complaints so you can avoid those pitfalls. make a list of what you want in it . now shorten that list to half by want or need categorys. make a adjustable floor plan that will fit different sizes of buses. start looking at prices of buses once again do not buy until you see what 100 of them go for then arrange your money and you will recognize a good deal then jump on it. if you dont have basic welding skills check into a nite class then go up in the space needle and look out all around.....welcome home
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Old 11-06-2017, 08:32 AM   #4
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Location: Houston, Texas
Posts: 8,462
Year: 1946
Coachwork: Chevrolet/Wayne
Chassis: 1- 1/2 ton
Engine: Cummins 4BT
Rated Cap: 15
Welcome Guy --- My advice...read everything on this forum. It will help create a picture of what will work best for you and your situation. Then...take your time and find the very best bus that fits your wants, needs and wishes. Don't let a cheap price suck you in to a rust bucket or money pit. And...before you buy, make sure you have a place to store/work on your rig. I am constantly amazed how many people jump in, buy a bus (in case you haven't noticed, most are fairly large)..then have to dump it because their neighbors whined to the neighborhood association or local authorities.

Do lots of homework and you should be fine. Looking forward to following along.
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Old 11-06-2017, 08:48 AM   #5
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 11,651
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Coachwork: Carpenter
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Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
DEFINITELY come up with a plan of where to full-time in your bus.. campgrounds are pricey.. and the local walmart parking lot may be great for a night or two but not for a month or two...

I see more than one as tango mentioned.. even after they finish building their bus.. of where to go when full-timing.. if you have a plot of land, make sure a mobile structure is allowed.. we had one member who got nailed by the county because he was living in a bus on his own land..

and of course if you are using it as your main tran sportation to work and back, groceries, errands... think about the route to get there, where to park, etc..

-Christopher
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Old 11-06-2017, 08:23 PM   #6
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Posts: 3
First of thank you for all the great info so far everyone. ^_^

Now one on one


Quote:
Originally Posted by bigskypc50 View Post
So you would be looking for a full sized dog nose school bus with a DT466 / E (not t444/E or 5.9 Cummins) and a trans like the MD3060 or MT643 (not the AT545). You should have good luck finding one. Most I think want the flat noise bus's. As for high head room look at the first row of windows behind the door and drivers seat if the windows are higher then, likely a high celling bus but not always.
Thank you very much this is Is great info and really helps me figure out what to aim for.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigskypc50 View Post
Good lucking finding a place to do the conversion (it's hard), but make sure that's in place before you buy the bus.
Yeah, I know that is something I need to work out before I put money towards anything. For now though I can look, price, plan, and learn though.


---------------------------------------------------------------------

Quote:
Originally Posted by mmoore6856 View Post
do not buy for at least 6 months. read here every nite paying close attention to the complaints so you can avoid those pitfalls. make a list of what you want in it . now shorten that list to half by want or need categorys. make a adjustable floor plan that will fit different sizes of buses. start looking at prices of buses once again do not buy until you see what 100 of them go for then arrange your money and you will recognize a good deal then jump on it. if you don't have basic welding skills check into a nite class then go up in the space needle and look out all around.....welcome home
Thanks but so far it's looking like the lack of a place to work on it is going to keep me from starting for a while anyways.

As for complaints I have seen a number of things that I have already worked out work arounds or different ways of doing things, but I am going to keep looking of course.

As for my list of what I want in it I have a long list but I have large portions that can be cut depending on the size I have available to me. This is why I only listed the basics of what I am looking for in a bus. (Examples: would like enough room for a garrage/workshop in the back, would like to have enough room for a few twin XL bunks. Both of these are huge items that can easily be cut. There is a laundry list of other things I can cut out if I must and some that are a hard cut but if I have to will.)

Floor plan I have purposely not made yet because I need a better idea of dimensions but given what google says I guest I have something like "40-foot (12.19 m) long, 102-inch (2.59 m) wide coach" to work with?

As for welding I have started looking into it via online tutorials and while I will have to practice a bit before i try anything I am confident I can figure it out. I also already have some good experience wood working that should come in handy and working on remodeling houses.

---------------------------------------------------------------------

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tango View Post
Welcome Guy --- My advice...read everything on this forum. It will help create a picture of what will work best for you and your situation. Then...take your time and find the very best bus that fits your wants, needs and wishes. Don't let a cheap price suck you in to a rust bucket or money pit. And...before you buy, make sure you have a place to store/work on your rig. I am constantly amazed how many people jump in, buy a bus (in case you haven't noticed, most are fairly large)..then have to dump it because their neighbors whined to the neighborhood association or local authorities.

Do lots of homework and you should be fine. Looking forward to following along.
Thanks, there is lots to read but I am working on it. I still have to get a place lined up to park and work on it before I can put any money towards a bus. However in the meantime it gives me lots of time to figure out what I am going to do.

--------------------------------------------------------------------

Quote:
Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
DEFINITELY come up with a plan of where to full-time in your bus.. campgrounds are pricey.. and the local walmart parking lot may be great for a night or two but not for a month or two...

I see more than one as tango mentioned.. even after they finish building their bus.. of where to go when full-timing.. if you have a plot of land, make sure a mobile structure is allowed.. we had one member who got nailed by the county because he was living in a bus on his own land..

and of course if you are using it as your main tran sportation to work and back, groceries, errands... think about the route to get there, where to park, etc..

-Christopher
Yeah, finding a place to park it long term may be one of the hardest parts. I know one person that is looking for a place right now with property and would love to have me park ther and work on it since they want to make one as well but I don't know how long it will be till that is possible.

As for transportation to work thankfully I can work mostly from home, but to get to work I may have to get a motorcycle at some point so I can put it on a rack to take with me. (I know some have towed cars behind their buses but I would really rather not if I can help it.

--------------------------------------------------------------------

Thanks again Everyone.
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Old 11-06-2017, 10:11 PM   #7
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Coachwork: Bluebird
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tango View Post
Welcome Guy --- My advice...read everything on this forum.
This.

I haven't met a single person on this forum yet, but they are so full of information that they probably squeak when they walk. Any time you can spend here will be invaluable in helping you decide which bus to buy.

I've been looking for over a year for my particular Holy Grail. There have been times I've been tempted to pull the trigger on a lesser bus (I'm fairly impatient by nature), but have been stayed by something I read here that made me rethink my baser urges. My hat's off to all of you for your willingness to spend your time sharing your knowledge.


Don
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Old 11-07-2017, 02:01 AM   #8
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Year: 1984
Engine: 366 Big block Chevy! :) w/ Stick shift
Busses have a way of finding us when we are ready, mine sure did, and oddly it came to me shortly after i was about to go to PA to buy my "perfeect bus" when i invited guidance from the unseen and received a message "wait, something better is ahead"
I was like "no way there is ever going to be anything better than my ideal bus for $1200 !"
But the message was clear so i waited and figured busses just werent for me. To my shock a few weeks later that nearly identical bus came my way, with less miles and 500 miles closer to me, for $1000. I drove it home, moved in that night lol and have been full time ever since.

Good luck!
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Old 11-07-2017, 04:32 AM   #9
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your dimensions are a bit off, OP.
A school bus isn't 102" wide, more like 90" from wall to wall. the most floorspace you'll get would be about 36 feet.
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Old 11-16-2017, 01:44 AM   #10
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Location: Seattle, WA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by plfking View Post
This.

I haven't met a single person on this forum yet, but they are so full of information that they probably squeak when they walk. Any time you can spend here will be invaluable in helping you decide which bus to buy.

I've been looking for over a year for my particular Holy Grail. There have been times I've been tempted to pull the trigger on a lesser bus (I'm fairly impatient by nature), but have been stayed by something I read here that made me rethink my baser urges. My hat's off to all of you for your willingness to spend your time sharing your knowledge.


Don
Thanks Don,

I am curious what you read that changed your mind but I am in no rush actually. I have way to much I need to figure out before I buy a bus and plus I kinda want to wait for spring at least. I am hoping to be able to live in it to an extent while I work on it... maybe...

In any case between here and videos online there is a lot to take in.

I am even thinking of taking a welding class at a local community college.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Carytowncat View Post
Busses have a way of finding us when we are ready, mine sure did, and oddly it came to me shortly after i was about to go to PA to buy my "perfeect bus" when i invited guidance from the unseen and received a message "wait, something better is ahead"
I was like "no way there is ever going to be anything better than my ideal bus for $1200 !"
But the message was clear so i waited and figured busses just werent for me. To my shock a few weeks later that nearly identical bus came my way, with less miles and 500 miles closer to me, for $1000. I drove it home, moved in that night lol and have been full time ever since.

Good luck!
Awesome, thanks.

Thankfully I a not in a huge rush. I am planning to try and get one around spring so I have some time to look and price things out in the meantime.

I may even wait longer as I should probably stay where I am for the time being and haven't even figured out a place to park it and work on it.

Thanks again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by EastCoastCB View Post
your dimensions are a bit off, OP.
A school bus isn't 102" wide, more like 90" from wall to wall. the most floorspace you'll get would be about 36 feet.
It was google so I am not at all surprised. Still a lot to work with though, thanks. I've already started trying to work out a floor plan.

I may post this soon or if I go really crazy maybe I will 3D model it. XD

Thanks Again Everyone!
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