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Old 05-25-2019, 01:11 AM   #1
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Thumbs up New to the skoolie idea but I'm digging it!

So I've been looking for a way to travel and write (I have a blog and I'm also writing a novel). I lived in a sailboat for a year but that was just too much logistics for me at my level to fix up a boat to make it liveable in remote areas, learn to sail, and head off to the islands of other countries. I ended up (finally) selling the boat a few months ago. I was looking originally then at getting an RV but I don't like how they're built or how they look inside. Then I happened to see someone selling an old bus on craigslist that was converted and thought it looked pretty cool so I did some research.

Holy crap, this bus thing would work awesome for what I want to do with my life but I don't know anything about buses yet, so that's why I'm here - and watching video after video on youtube. This forum is a goldmine of information.



So here's my situation in a nutshell. Not sure what you may be interested to know from a newbie introducing himself at all so I'll just throw some stuff out there:

I can't buy anything until I sell my harley (I just put it up on craigslist but no idea how long it'll take to sell or for how much exactly) but then I'm hoping to get a bus, go over it at home, and take it for a 5300-mile shakedown run. I can park it in my back yard in Phoenix to fix it up, luckily. My budget for the bus, getting it road-worthy, and paying for gas and food for the trip will all have to come out of the sale of the bike. I can upgrade the insides later.

For my trip, I have some stuff in storage out in NC where my boat was that I need to pick up, then hit my parent's house in PA, then stop in OH to see my son who's now on his way home from his third tour in Afghanistan. Then it's CO to see my sister, and back here to AZ - 5300 miles.

One thing I'm not sure of is the logistics and considerations of buying a bus out of state, especially since I won't be driving directly back home with it unless I bought it in CO. I do like the prices at the auctions but not sure if it's worth the risk of buying it and immediately finding it needs $5k of work to get it drivable.

I'm perfectly fine with just taking out the seats in the bus, throwing some camping stuff in it, hanging up a couple of hammocks inside, and boondocking for the trip or just staying at Walmarts etc. What I'm not quite sure yet is what size bus I want, although it seems I'm probably going to be around 36'-40' (?) since I want something I can eventually get rid of my house and live in full time as I travel the country but still be able to boondock quite often (my blog has a lot of camping/survival kind of info in it so it's beneficial for me to stay out of town so I can test things and take better pics and eventually video).

So for a timeline of me buying a bus, the earliest would be after I sell my motorcycle. Preference would be to buy something in the next month or two and then drive it for the trip, but I may end up just taking my 4runner out there and buying a bus when I get back. I don't have a firm deadline for the trip but it costs me $60/mo every mo I keep my stuff in storage and I haven't seen my son since he left.

So that's me in a nutshell. Thank you for listening and stay classy.
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Old 05-25-2019, 03:59 AM   #2
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Nice introduction. Welcome to the Skoolie world!


[Note: You should be able to find some decent busses in Arizona.]
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Old 05-25-2019, 04:08 AM   #3
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Nice introduction. Welcome to the Skoolie world!
[Note: You should be able to find some decent busses in Arizona.]
Thank you. If skoolies are anything like sailboat cruisers, I think I'll fit in just fine and have a great time. Right now I don't even know yet what I don't know so I'm just trying to suck up every bit of knowledge I can. I'm planning on a trip out to AAA Bus Sales downtown next week to walk through some buses and ask a bunch of questions. The low-rust thing out here is definitely a plus.
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Old 05-25-2019, 04:11 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Sean MacTira View Post
Thank you. If skoolies are anything like sailboat cruisers, I think I'll fit in just fine and have a great time. Right now I don't even know yet what I don't know so I'm just trying to suck up every bit of knowledge I can. I'm planning on a trip out to AAA Bus Sales downtown next week to walk through some buses and ask a bunch of questions. The low-rust thing out here is definitely a plus.
Hey, while you are out there, ask for a few test drives. They may tell you a lot about what YOU are comfortable with as you search for your bus. Try all the types ... Front Engine, flat nosed ... rear engine, and conventional ... and even the cut-aways.
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Old 05-25-2019, 04:52 AM   #5
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I'll do that. I should be ok though, I was in the army for a long time and started driving deuce and a halfs and five tons etc at 17 and drove all kinds of vehicles over the years.
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Old 05-25-2019, 11:14 AM   #6
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It's difficult to do what you're looking to do in a short timeframe. Not to say it can't be done, with your full time dedication and perhaps the help of a friend.

As previously said, test drive as many styles and sizes as you can but try to steer clear, (pun intended), of the bus dealers. They have high profit margins built in and will rarely vary much on their inflated pricing.
Private sales, online auctions, etc. will generally get you the best bang for your buck, especially since you're relying on selling your bike in order to fund the adventure.

Good luck, and post pics of what you find if you decide to become a future "Skoolie"...
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Old 05-25-2019, 11:36 AM   #7
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I'll just say to be cautious of any bus made after '04, with all the emissions headaches. The 6.0 Ford engine ('05 and up) had some major issues which, if left unfixed, can cause catastrophic engine failure. Once remediated, though, they have pretty good reputations. The IH VT365 is the virtually same engine.


My suggestion would be to post any potential bus in this forum for feedback - try to provide information more than just vague "Diesel engine" and "Automatic transmission." Some engines are better than others, same for transmissions. Photos are *VERY* helpful. Good luck in your search!
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Old 05-25-2019, 12:10 PM   #8
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You're in luck because many of the really good buses we find are from Co, where they are set up usually for highway driving, don't use salt on the roads to rust them out. And prices are like everywhere else. Start searching auctions for Colo.buses.
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Old 05-25-2019, 03:35 PM   #9
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It's difficult to do what you're looking to do in a short timeframe. Not to say it can't be done, with your full time dedication and perhaps the help of a friend.

As previously said, test drive as many styles and sizes as you can but try to steer clear, (pun intended), of the bus dealers. They have high profit margins built in and will rarely vary much on their inflated pricing.
Private sales, online auctions, etc. will generally get you the best bang for your buck, especially since you're relying on selling your bike in order to fund the adventure.

Good luck, and post pics of what you find if you decide to become a future "Skoolie"...
Yeah, the timeline is a concern, especially not knowing how long it'll be to sell my bike. I'm hoping I can just figure out what length/engine/tranny/mpg etc I need and then find a reliable bus in that configuration either stock or without seats. I don't need anything more than that for this trip. I'll definitely be posting pics and asking questions.
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Old 05-25-2019, 03:38 PM   #10
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I'll just say to be cautious of any bus made after '04, with all the emissions headaches. The 6.0 Ford engine ('05 and up) had some major issues which, if left unfixed, can cause catastrophic engine failure. Once remediated, though, they have pretty good reputations. The IH VT365 is the virtually same engine.


My suggestion would be to post any potential bus in this forum for feedback - try to provide information more than just vague "Diesel engine" and "Automatic transmission." Some engines are better than others, same for transmissions. Photos are *VERY* helpful. Good luck in your search!
That's one of the things I'm trying to decide. I like the non-electronic engines as a matter of course but also love the old styling of crowns, 4104s, and flxibles etc but I don't know diesel mechanics or hydraulic systems yet so I may have to end up getting something newer but not super new. At the moment I'm really looking around 1997-2002 or so but that may change.
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Old 05-25-2019, 03:40 PM   #11
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You're in luck because many of the really good buses we find are from Co, where they are set up usually for highway driving, don't use salt on the roads to rust them out. And prices are like everywhere else. Start searching auctions for Colo.buses.
That's definitely something I need to look into more. My sister lives in Salida so there's probably nothing in the immediate area but I may be able to find something in Denver that I could fly in and then drive to her house. Not sure yet about how all the titling etc works with that and still have to check with my insurance company to see the differences in cost if it's titled as a passenger bus vs an RV (eventually).
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Old 05-25-2019, 03:59 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Sean MacTira View Post
Yeah, the timeline is a concern, especially not knowing how long it'll be to sell my bike. I'm hoping I can just figure out what length/engine/tranny/mpg etc I need and then find a reliable bus in that configuration either stock or without seats. I don't need anything more than that for this trip. I'll definitely be posting pics and asking questions.
I think one of the single biggest mistake new bus buyers make is not taking the time to do due diligence in searching. Just about every rush purchase ends up having major issues to deal with that cost more in the long run than a better bus would have. If you find a bus with the seats removed expect to pay $1000 more than one with seats. Is it worth a $1000 to remove seats? I paid a kid $10/hr for 19 hours to strip the floor, walls, and ceiling. In the meantime keep searching an dreading everything here until you know what you want in a bus and then don't compromise.
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Old 05-25-2019, 04:04 PM   #13
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Good to know about the seats. I'll definitely keep that in mind.
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Old 05-25-2019, 04:07 PM   #14
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Good to know about the seats. I'll definitely keep that in mind.
If the only thing missing is the seats, it's probably being sold by someone who bought it intentionally to flip it. Paid the same price we would have at auction, but then pulls the seats and marks it up $2K hoping to benefit off someone who doesn't want to do the work themselves.
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Old 05-25-2019, 04:27 PM   #15
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I think one of the single biggest mistake new bus buyers make is not taking the time to do due diligence in searching..............

In the meantime keep searching an dreading everything here until you know what you want in a bus and then don't compromise.
Good advice!

I knew that I wanted an RE with an 8.3, MD-3060 and reasonable miles.

I spent over a year checking the auction sites daily before I found mine.

Good luck!
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Old 05-25-2019, 05:44 PM   #16
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The old adage goes, "If you have to ask, you probably can't afford it."
Given. Especially since you expect to finance your Skoolie experience with it's sale.
I'm planning to get a bike to supplement my toad with a dinghy. Howzabout a pic of your scoot?
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Old 05-25-2019, 07:43 PM   #17
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Scoot Pics

@hazmat, Here are a few I've taken recently. It's a 2011 FLHTK Ultra Limited. Very awesome bike but I can't tow both it and a 4wd behind a bus so I have to let it go.

I bought it a few years ago with the intention to ride around the country and camp with it but it's just too cumbersome to spend hours each day loading/balancing everything and unloading it to set up camp. It's my daily driver now when it's not raining, which is pretty much always here in Phoenix. Only thing it "needs" is a radio but I never use it since the CFR pipes on it sound so good. It's on craigslist dropped now to $10850. My trip's gonna cost about $2k with gas and food If I end up taking a bus I'm thinking but it depends on mpg. It's about $1300 total if I take my 4runner again but that includes hotels.
Attached Images
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File Type: jpg Riding Harley.jpg (116.3 KB, 4 views)
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Old 05-25-2019, 08:20 PM   #18
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I know you don't want to hear it but a trailer would make life easy, load them both on it and go.
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Old 05-25-2019, 08:23 PM   #19
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Sean,
That
Is one
Sweet ride!
Orders of magnitude beyond my dinghy budget, but there'll be a buyer!
Happy thoughts!!! 🤞
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@hazmat, Here are a few I've taken recently. It's a 2011 FLHTK Ultra Limited. Very awesome bike but I can't tow both it and a 4wd behind a bus so I have to let it go.

I bought it a few years ago with the intention to ride around the country and camp with it but it's just too cumbersome to spend hours each day loading/balancing everything and unloading it to set up camp. It's my daily driver now when it's not raining, which is pretty much always here in Phoenix. Only thing it "needs" is a radio but I never use it since the CFR pipes on it sound so good. It's on craigslist dropped now to $10850. My trip's gonna cost about $2k with gas and food If I end up taking a bus I'm thinking but it depends on mpg. It's about $1300 total if I take my 4runner again but that includes hotels.
Thanx for posting her CV. With luck, with this wider audience, your dreams'll come true!
Belated welcome to the Looney Bin...
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Old 05-25-2019, 08:24 PM   #20
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That is my intentions...
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I know you don't want to hear it but a trailer would make life easy, load them both on it and go.
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