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Old 12-01-2015, 12:57 AM   #1
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Does size really matter?

I am finally have gotten things in order to buy my bus, convert it to totally for a full time traveling RV for my girlfriend and our 3 year old. We plan to travel up to Maine first, down to Florida the go explore the western third of the country before heading to Alaska, taking 2 years to do this before heading to Mexico indefinitely.

I have done a lot of research, and we are almost certainly buying a rear engine diesel pusher school bus.

My question is the length. We plane to have a queen size bed in the rear, two bunks, full bathroom with a shower, full kitchen, and dining/living area. Undecided on a washer. Also need to carry 2 scooters.

How many people have a 40 footer vs something shorter and what was the reasoning? Handling? Maneuverability? Parking? Acceptance at RV and other parks? I really think I'm going to need all that room, but don't want to regret it later considering I probably won't take it anywhere until its complete. Please weigh in and give your pros and cons. Thanks.
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Old 12-01-2015, 08:46 AM   #2
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Rear engine buses are surprisingly maneuverable. The biggest issue in my mind, especially considering roads in Mexico, might be the overhang in back. My BB had twelve feet hanging out behind the wheels. That is a lot to swing as well as to drag when you encounter dips and bumps.

That said, there are probably thousands of American school buses of all sizes that go to Mexico every year and make their way around just fine.
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Old 12-01-2015, 06:40 PM   #3
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Tango is right with concerns, I personally had to go with a front engine just because of getting high centered on roads/hill turn ins and rail road crossings

Next bus will be RE just with move clearance built in to middle of bus (less storage box ht)

I have scrapped front and rear bumpers before....a RE bus would still be stuck on the ferry and down by the river

Mine is 34 ft or so and I would love to have the extra 5 ft or so
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Old 12-01-2015, 07:22 PM   #4
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I have a 40'. I like it, love the big power, heavy truck chassis and love the ride going down the highway. LOVE IT in the snow/ice.

Its a highway bus though, you're not getting off the road much because of clearance and weight...long wheelbase

I'd take something shorter if it came along.
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Old 12-01-2015, 08:48 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by HighwayPirate View Post
We plane to have a queen size bed in the rear, two bunks, full bathroom with a shower, full kitchen, and dining/living area. Undecided on a washer. Also need to carry 2 scooters.
that's a load of stuff, even for a 40 footer. I have a 40' RE Thomas, it's smaller inside than I anticipated. Floor space on mine will shake out to 200 SF or so. And there is working around the wheel wells, which takes away some of the floor space. Check out the floor plans thread here and see how you can lay it out and then decide which bus will fit your needs.
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Old 12-01-2015, 09:41 PM   #6
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Try a floor plan.

I agree with checking out the floor plans. I have a 38' Blue Bird. I have about 35 usable feet minus the wheel wells as mentioned above.
My best advice is for you to draw a floor plan to scale. Include everything you would like to have in the bus. I think you will be surprised how small the usable area ends up being.
I had to allow 7' in the rear for a garage area to haul my motorcycle so I really had to maximize the space I had left. In a 38' bus I ended up with 28' usable living space.
Get some graph paper or a good ruler and get drawing.
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Old 12-01-2015, 10:15 PM   #7
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We have a 35' GMC coach. We decided in the shorter version so we can go anywhere, and we love the state parks. Buy just wait to hear what we ARE going to shove into this little space...

My wife and I, 3 boys AND 3 girls AND a standard poodle! Yup!

One big advantage though is, no wheel wells, rear engine, and a very large space above the drivers area. Rear queen bed room set sideways, side isle, 6x6 bunk room next for the boys, bath with shower, kitchen, two couches with a removable table in the middle and then a large bunk over the drivers area for the girls. The couches can be laid out to make another bed are if need be. Washer and dryer is going in the lower storage bays. I've laid it all out on the blank floor inside with tape along with the thickness of the walls and got it all to work =-O

So.... My point is a 40 ft should be plenty of room! You can do it!

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Old 12-02-2015, 06:27 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Roadrunner View Post
I agree with checking out the floor plans.

When my wife and I started thinking about getting a bus we were considering a full sized short bus (a 6 window dog nose). I drew out some floor plans with the wheel wells and we discovered that we weren't going to be able to do everything we wanted with such a short bus, so we ended up going with a 9 window bus.

I'd say to get the shortest bus that'll fit your needs. I like my short 12' wheel base. It's very maneuverable.
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