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Old 03-24-2013, 11:57 AM   #1
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Introductions

Hey All,

My husband and I have decided it would be prudent to buy a bus to live in.

We have the wanderlust bad. The past few years we have been moving around from place to place. We hate apartments. We keep getting rid of everything we own to hit the road, and then we settle down for 6mo or a year, and get antsy to move again. We've spent large chunks of time living out of our 69 VW Bus (Betty), but there's really not enough room for us and our dog to live comfortably for long periods of time. We don't want to keep having to get rid of everything we own to hit the road. Last time we moved we rented a u-haul and I really don't want to do that again. Its cheaper to rent a lot at a campground for a month than pay rent at a shitty apartment complex. A bus is the natural solution.

Here's the vision. A medium/middle sized school bus. Not short, but definitely not the longest. We're leaning towards diesel. It needs to be able to tow Betty. We'd be full-timing, probably moving it a couple times a year. We lived in Betty just fine without plumbing or a refrigerator or electricity, so we do not plan on doing some super fancy high tech all out conversion. Maybe later on down the road, when the money is there... but for right now, we can go without all that. It must be an automatic. I will not suffer another leaky vehicle/home. I'm cool with a flat nose because I'm used to it from the VW.

Concerns: Mechanics... we fix our VW, but a diesel school bus is probably a-whole-nother beast. I do not want to get something that is going to break down a lot. We can't afford a lemon.
Money... I know we'll need a pot of money to get this going right. We have a 61 Ford Falcon we hope to sell/trade to get the bus. Before we can reasonably move into it, it needs to have a nice floor, and be painted outside. I guess the pot of money needs to be big enough to cover that. Oh, and gas money!
Time... I'm losing my job in August. Then we have to move again. I hate to do things on a time restriction, but if we don't make high expectations it should be do-able. Is, say, two months long enough to strip out seats, put in a decent floor, and paint the outside? It probably be weekend work.

We live in Atlanta right now. We want to buy a bus around here, by June, then we'll probably go up to Michigan for a little vacation, and then off to wherever the wind blows. If there is anyone in the area that could help introduce us to the skoolie world, it would be much appreciated.

I'm sure we'll have lots of questions as we progress with this. I hope to make some new friends around here!


ps. Whats the deal with certain e-mails not being accepted for registration?
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Old 03-24-2013, 05:03 PM   #2
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Re: Introductions

Quote:
Originally Posted by PowerCouple
Hey All,

My husband and I have decided it would be prudent to buy a bus to live in.

ps. Whats the deal with certain e-mails not being accepted for registration?
Spammers are known to use the Gmail, Ymail and others out there so our administrator black listed them.....
We average over 1,000 spam messages per day and someone must check and delete or approve each one......
I see you got registered so must not have been much of a problem.
Welcome aboard...
Look in the 'For Sale Section" here on the forum for a bus..
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Old 03-26-2013, 12:38 PM   #3
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Re: Introductions

Quote:
Originally Posted by PowerCouple
...
Concerns: Mechanics... we fix our VW, but a diesel school bus is probably a-whole-nother beast. I do not want to get something that is going to break down a lot. We can't afford a lemon.
Money... I know we'll need a pot of money to get this going right. We have a 61 Ford Falcon we hope to sell/trade to get the bus. Before we can reasonably move into it, it needs to have a nice floor, and be painted outside. I guess the pot of money needs to be big enough to cover that. Oh, and gas money!
Time... I'm losing my job in August. Then we have to move again. I hate to do things on a time restriction, but if we don't make high expectations it should be do-able. Is, say, two months long enough to strip out seats, put in a decent floor, and paint the outside? It probably be weekend work...
Welcome! Here is my feedback to your concerns:

Mechanics: Your VW bus is to a school bus as a ride-on lawn-mower is to a car. The good news is diesels are easier to trouble-shoot (in my opinion). But everything is scaled up in size of course, and more complex. I wouldn't hesitate to remove wheels from an old VW bus in order to do brake work, or even pull an engine and rebuild it, etc. But I would give that serious second thoughts for a school bus.
Money: you will need roughly $2,000 - $4,000 to get a decent bus. Also, if you will be living in it right away, won't you need some sort of toilet and running water at a minimum? If you have shore power to plug into, you can just run extension cords for electric in the beginning. Fuel economy sucks in a bus for sure. If you will be driving a lot, you might consider a smaller option like a shuttle van. A diesel bus will typically get no better than 10mpg (mine gets 8mpg), but I would think a diesel shuttle van might get closer to 15mpg.
Time: Whatever time you think it will take... it will take longer!

Good luck to you on finding what you need!
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Old 03-26-2013, 04:51 PM   #4
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Re: Introductions

This one sold for $2500. Interior looked very nice. My daughter would have loved to get this one. "School bus converted to rv has propane gas stove, kitchen sink, bathroom with shower, hot water heater, two roof a/cs. Hook up to electric, or generator."

If you are running on that tight of a timeframe, maybe you need to buy already converted...
$6K

Use http://www.searchTempest.com and plug in the miles away you are willing to drive.
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Old 03-26-2013, 08:49 PM   #5
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Re: Introductions

Lorna, that 1971 GMC bus that you posted a link to sounds like a good deal . It is already finished. It is interesting that a previous owner lived in it for nineteen years.

Granted that a Chevy 350 engine is good, I just wonder what the MPG would be. My first bus was a 1964 International with a 345 gas engine. The guy I got it from claimed that it got 10 MPG. I never drove it enough to find out.

Nevertheless, if I was to want to get into an already built bus, I would desire that 1971 GMG.

I have much more invested than that in my bus.
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Old 03-26-2013, 10:38 PM   #6
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Re: Introductions

Since we stay parked far more than we travel, mpg's is not a huge concern for us.

Our thoughts for our daughters bus is to (hopefully) get partially or fully converted bus with all the "hard" stuff done already or one that needs updating. The problem with stealth converting in a campground is that you typically can't be ripping out and filling in windows or doing major exterior construction work on it. I'm getting a "paid day" off because I was in the right place at the right time and sold a huge appliance order... because it was over 10K I got a paid day off to use whenever... I chose to take it in April on a Friday for a long weekend to go get the rest of our "stuff" and see the kids. We're staying in a hotel. OPB (Other People's Beds) ick! So we will be doing some discussing & planning with our daughter while there. Between the three of us, we've got to raise enough $$ to buy a bus/remodel bus if need be (hopefully that part can wait), tag/title/insure the bus, figure what to do with a non-towable aging Jeep (we will probably just drive it and replace in TX), sock back enough $$ to put fuel in everything AND have enough to live on for a couple months while I get rehired at a Home Depot again. I'll have to go to working fulltime in order to do all that (2 more years in NM?). I still want to get a washer & dryer to put in our bus soon. We are getting very close to "finished" on our conversion (getting down to the wants). Waiting to bring back the tile saw in April to do hearth & countertops. And I want to do a rather time consuming pattern on the floor using the vinyl composition tile (an original pattern I first drew up to make in stained glass but now using the pretty coloured tiles... my pattern that I need to adapt is in my junk in Socorro). As it is, we believe that we will be coming in at or slightly under $4K for the conversion itself (still keeping track of prices, sans tax). If we can do that for ourselves, we can pull off the same thing for our daughter. We would rather not to a "from scratch" conversion. But we may end up doing that. Just don't know where we will be at when we buy her bus.
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Old 03-27-2013, 07:22 AM   #7
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Re: Introductions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Diesel Dan
Welcome! Here is my feedback to your concerns:

Mechanics: Your VW bus is to a school bus as a ride-on lawn-mower is to a car. The good news is diesels are easier to trouble-shoot (in my opinion). But everything is scaled up in size of course, and more complex. I wouldn't hesitate to remove wheels from an old VW bus in order to do brake work, or even pull an engine and rebuild it, etc. But I would give that serious second thoughts for a school bus.
Money: you will need roughly $2,000 - $4,000 to get a decent bus. Also, if you will be living in it right away, won't you need some sort of toilet and running water at a minimum? If you have shore power to plug into, you can just run extension cords for electric in the beginning. Fuel economy sucks in a bus for sure. If you will be driving a lot, you might consider a smaller option like a shuttle van. A diesel bus will typically get no better than 10mpg (mine gets 8mpg), but I would think a diesel shuttle van might get closer to 15mpg.
Time: Whatever time you think it will take... it will take longer!

Good luck to you on finding what you need!
thanks for the helpful feedback, Dan. I'm really trying to not delude myself about being able to fix a school bus. The VW truly is like a lawn mower or motorcycle - so simple! We do brakes, and have pulled and rebuilt and engine.
We ran some numbers the other night and figured we will need at least 5,500 to actually fulfill this dream, unless we get lucky somewhere. Time to start selling **** and find more work!
We'll be fine without a toilet for a little while at least. We lived in the bus for months without one. Toilets are everywhere, including the woods. For water we have a 5 gallon jug that we refill along the way. I agree with the extension cords too - we've done that, but actually spend more time unplugged than anything else.
I'm worried about going too small, like a shuttle van. The VW is too small. We want something we could feasibly live in for 10 years without going crazy for more space. Maybe throw a kid or two into the future mix. We hopefully won't be driving too much. We have the VW for tooling around and seeing whats what. The school bus could stay parked seasonally.
We've also had a lesson or two in things taking longer than you think.... I'm a bit nervous about that one.
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Old 03-27-2013, 07:22 AM   #8
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Re: Introductions

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Originally Posted by Booger1k
Check out Wades on 985 in Alto, GA. You can pick up a good deal there. They are not open on the weekends & do not do Internet. Good luck.
Thanks for the tip. You have a phone number?
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Old 03-27-2013, 10:15 AM   #9
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Re: Introductions

Quote:
Originally Posted by PowerCouple
...I'm worried about going too small, like a shuttle van. The VW is too small. We want something we could feasibly live in for 10 years without going crazy for more space. Maybe throw a kid or two into the future mix...
I have a mid-size bus, and have a wife and three kids. The longest we've spent in the bus was a month at a time. It is very cramped. The only way we can deal with it is to be outside most of the time - or at least kick the kids out most of the time! When we are camped we have an outdoor kitchen as well, so indoors is mainly for sleeping and a living room space to get out of the elements and relax. Plus the bathroom - although if we have access to a public bathroom, we always prefer to use that. But the bathroom in my bus is still not really finished. If I ever go full time in the future I think I will have to get a full size 40ft bus. Even if it's just me and my wife at that point. But then I'm used to living in a house, so I guess it's a matter of perspective.
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