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nat_ster 09-11-2015 03:17 AM

Skoolie built into a Boat
In a effort to be able to go places where no one else is and have amazing fishing, I'm thinking of building a bus into one of these.

I would remove the entire chassis, and just use the body. Floor would be removed from the chair rail down, and a new bottom built 6 inches wider on each side.

Cool idea, lots of work.

I would be after exploring the lakes here in northern Canada more than rivers. But being able to travel the rivers would take me to places beyond where the roads could.


montanatown 09-11-2015 04:31 AM

Hey Nat, have you considered leaving the floor and structure and seting it on to a framework using pontoons? 3 or 4 rows. I think that would be fun to build actually.

nat_ster 09-11-2015 04:40 AM

Building a barge sitting on pontoons and driving the bus onto it is likely what I will do.

The barge will be a trailer, with a main deck, and two fold down sides to add width and stability / deck space.

The barge has advantages.

The bus can be built normally as I was for normal road travel.

Barge can be left at home when not heading to the lake.

If one pontoon gets a leak, the bus won't sink like the river boat.

It keeps the bus out of the water.

I can still use my really large belly storage just like I'm on land.


My target weight calculation is 40,000 pounds. This is over kill, but when trying to float something, it's best to over calculate.

I have searched high and low for options. Everything from plastic floating dock sections to foam filled pontoons made for house boats. I even looked at using plastic rectangular water tanks.

Almost all are big $$$. Insane amounts of $$$.

Also I didn't like the size of the air chambers. If one gets a leak, I want redundancy for safety.

So for $20 each I can get blue plastic 55 gallon drums. Each one floats 450 pounds.

40,000 divided by 450 is around 100 drums.

Each drum is 24 inches in diameter, and 35 inches long. So to build a 45 foot long barge, you get 15 drums per row, and 4 rows per 8 feet of width.

That's 60 drums for the main deck of the barge. Each fold down side only needs 20 more drums each. Side will also be 8 feet wide to give a barge platform 24 feet wide by 45 feet long.

Drums weigh 22 pounds each. So that's 2200 pounds of plastic.
Structure for the barge would add another 2000 pounds.
Final weight for the barge should be around 4500 pounds.

That leaves 35,000 pounds for the bus to float.

Without any question, this would be more than stable enough to keep the bus from tipping / and stable on moderate waves.

Living on the water has all kinds of advantages. Like unlimited refrigeration in the cool northern water. A tank with a opening top would be my fridge.
I would use lake water directly from the lake. Waste water would only be grey. I would hold it for dumping on land and use only natural biodegradable soaps. No chemicals, same as I live now.

I can taste the fresh northern Canada fish already. Mmmm


montanatown 09-11-2015 05:37 AM

OH yeah! Even better. I like the way you think Nat.

Badger 09-13-2015 05:10 PM

I've thought about the same thing. I came across this guys stuff a while ago. Looks like the original website is down, but googling "myark barge" brought us pics and various threads from other forums.
But depending on how long your bus is, the length of bus + trailer could get loooong. So I thought about integrating fold down pontoons like these have. (conversion starts at about 3:20) These wouldn't allow a roof raise though. Also, they might not be able to support all the weight of the bus. Plus that would be a TON of fabrication.
What I REALLY want is one of these. But those are custom made from the ground up and cost big money. To try and do something like that with a skoolie would certainly be even more fab work. If it would even be possible. Less headache to just buy a nice used boat/houseboat and trailer it to the water.
This is almost exactly what you described. Has all the benefits you outlined. (bus is built normal, use of belly storage, etc.) Look at all the vids from that last guys account. Has many short clips about all the advantages of using barrels and going the route you are thinking of.

nat_ster 09-14-2015 08:35 PM

Great stuff.

Thx for adding to the thread.


jazty 09-14-2015 08:50 PM

I've had similar ideas myself! We have plenty of Coast Guard construction rigs around here and I had a fleeting dream to buy an old barge and park the bus on it. I was thinking it'd be cool to be able to disconnect the drive shaft from the axle and drop it down to a shaft that connects to a propeller. The front wheels could rest in saddles that control a rudder. Slow, steady schoolie barge bus!

Add an ice bubbler to that and your good all year round.

onenationundergoat 09-14-2015 09:16 PM

I've been thinking of getting into something like this in the future as well. I'll be keeping an eye on your progress, whenever it happen!

nat_ster 09-16-2015 10:48 PM


Originally Posted by jazty (Post 123962)
I was thinking it'd be cool to be able to disconnect the drive shaft from the axle and drop it down to a shaft that connects to a propeller. The front wheels could rest in saddles that control a rudder. Slow, steady schoolie barge bus!

Add an ice bubbler to that and your good all year round.

I may add a PTO output so I can connect to a propeller without having to disconnect the drive shaft. There is a whole bunch of things I would like to run off a good PTO.

The plastic barrels are tapered, making them rise when the ice freezes and expands. As long as I use enough so they are not floating to deep, with the water line passed the center of the barrels.

I just love the modular way this go's together.

This is likely the way I will build mine. Nice and simple, but without the upper deck. Upper deck will be on the bus roof.


CaptainInsaneo 09-17-2015 01:12 AM

I mean other than, because I can, Why? A skoolie is just way to over built for a bus and heavy for what you want. you could take the top off and use the engine toss the floor frame and transmission. But Why? All it will end up being is a $3k pilot house.

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