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Old 07-12-2019, 02:03 PM   #1
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Join Date: Jul 2019
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Thank You All!!

Hi! My name is Ted and I'm from MN. My family of 4 (2 young kids, wife, and I) are giving serious consideration to the skoolie life. We are planning a move to San Diego to live full time on our theoretical bus. We have a million questions, but I have construction, mechanical, and a little bit of diesel experience, so I'm confident that we can figure out most any issue - we will get by with a little help from our friends.

We are planning to build the biggest flat-nose FE we can find and make it as fully off-grid ready as we can. We will do a roof raise, fully insulate, heat and cool, solar, composting toilet, shower, and full kitchen. We want to build a rooftop deck, too, and pull a trailer with our car, kayaks, and bikes.

We will live on the bus full-time in San Diego (if we can figure out where to park it so our kids can go to public school) and travel as often as possible. We would love any and all advice. I'll be lurking heavily until we make a bus purchase. Then I'll probably be consistently posting and asking questions over the course of the next two years while we build our bus. I'm looking forward to getting to know you all and making new friends who are sharing similar journeys.
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Old 07-12-2019, 03:23 PM   #2
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Location: Virginia
Posts: 401
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Welcome aboard the crazy bus! A few thoughts to help in your journey... Consider that a front-engine bus is hotter and noisier for the driver than a conventional dog-nose or a rear-engine pusher. However, rear-engine pushers have their own special set of nuances, some having cooling issues due to the radiator having insufficient airflow under certain conditions.

I'm not saying NOT to buy a front-engine flatnose, just know up-front that it would be wise to insulate and/or DynaMat the doghouse.

Also, know that these are school buses, not over-the-road coaches. Most top out around 55-60 flat-out, and don't expect to get great fuel economy. These are big, heavy vehicles with commercial diesel engines. You don't say specifically what your experience with diesel is, but most of these engines probably weigh more than any vehicle you've driven before. Not meant as an insult, mind you. I don't assume what people DO know any more than I assume what they DON"T know. It's a different world -- ask lots of questions, there are more than enough friendly folks here who are all too happy to guide you.

Also know that it is wise to seek advice here before jumping on a purchase -- Some people are scammers, and there are even a few that lurk here from time to time, trying to peddle junk, though we do our best to run them out of town on a rail. Just because someone is a bus 'dealer', doesn't mean their wares are worthy. A former member here bought one from a self-professed 'honorable' and 'reputable' dealer, only to have the transmission die within a month (not covered by the seller's 'tail light warranty'). A 'tail light warranty', by the way, expires when the tail lights have disappeared from the seller's view.

And don't take government auction listings at their word -- I bought an ex-police car through online government auction that was listed as being serviceable and only being retired due to age. An $1180 bid got me an engine that was shot and cost $1800 to replace. It drove home, so I guess that was their definition of being 'serviceable'. Anyway, look before you leap... Inspect in-person, and it helps to have a knowledgeable bus or heavy truck mechanic available, especially if they can tag along to look it over for you in person. Remember, once you buy it, it's yours -- including any problems it may have. More zeroes when a bus or heavy truck has problems.

Also, if you get one that has air brakes... Please do your diligence in education on how these systems work... Air brakes are not complicated as long as everything works the way it is supposed to, but there are certain things you need to know in order to keep your bus, yourself, and others around you, safe. I happen to be a CDL holder with 4 years experience over-the-road, and there are at least three other members I know of here that are happy to help with experienced advice on this particular aspect.

Happy hunting!
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Old 07-12-2019, 03:37 PM   #3
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Join Date: Feb 2019
Location: New Hampshire
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Welcome to the site Ted.
Hope you are able to live your dream in the future.
Not to belay any negative vibes into your plans but while not having lived in SD in 40 years it is my understanding that southern Ca now, is fairly skoolie unfriendly.
Hopefully there are places in or around that city that accept converted school bus parking and living in their midst?
Good luck...
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