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LovelyLittleFamily 07-21-2017 08:50 PM

Single Mom and Toddler - Winterizing??
 
Hey everybody! I am sooo happy to find out this website existed!! I have so much reading to do!

I have been thinking of going tiny for years now, and just opened my own business a few months ago. Finances are tight, and I'm sick of dumping $1000 a month into rent in the ghetto where I don't feel safe walking outside, and my car is broken into habitually. I want to raise my 1.5 year old toddler to appreciate nature and be as submerged in it as possible, and I want to teach him the values of giving back by giving as much of the profit from my business to charity (Once it's profitable).

I'm giving notice to move out of our one bedroom apartment, and my question is how impossible would it be to winterize a school bus with very little time? I would like to get into one before the winter, even if it's just the bare necessities. I realize this might be too much to take on by myself all at once, and I'm most likely going to rent a cottage for the winter. They tend to be cheap during the off-season. Generally cheaper then what I am paying for rent now which will let me potentially save more money.

Thank you so much for your input, and I live in Southern Ontario to give you an idea of the temperature here. :smile:

Njsurf73 07-21-2017 08:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by LovelyLittleFamily (Post 215562)
Hey everybody! I am sooo happy to find out this website existed!! I have so much reading to do!

I have been thinking of going tiny for years now, and just opened my own business a few months ago. Finances are tight, and I'm sick of dumping $1000 a month into rent in the ghetto where I don't feel safe walking outside, and my car is broken into habitually. I want to raise my 1.5 year old toddler to appreciate nature and be as submerged in it as possible, and I want to teach him the values of giving back by giving as much of the profit from my business to charity (Once it's profitable).

I'm giving notice to move out of our one bedroom apartment, and my question is how impossible would it be to winterize a school bus with very little time? I would like to get into one before the winter, even if it's just the bare necessities. I realize this might be too much to take on by myself all at once, and I'm most likely going to rent a cottage for the winter. They tend to be cheap during the off-season. Generally cheaper then what I am paying for rent now which will let me potentially save more money.

Thank you so much for your input, and I live in Southern Ontario to give you an idea of the temperature here. [emoji2]

If you are going to be living in it you're going to want to insulate for you will be paying exorbitant amounts of money for fuel to heat. Depending on your skill set (or the skill set of your friends lol), you can have a conversion done fairly quickly. The toughest part is finding the right bus for you and then getting the inside stripped out and insulated. Just barebones you're going to need someplace to sleep, someplace to cook, some place to potty, and someplace to shower.
The bed is fairly easy...
The shower is a little more complicated and requires an on-board water tank if you don't have hookups, and a grey water tank. A composting toilet is fairly easy to construct ( lots of YouTube vids and threads on here)
For cooking you can use a camp stove and oven.
Initially if you have someplace to plug in and hook up to water I think after the installation it would be fairly easy to do.
One consideration that some folks forget to take into account... If you're living full-time in the winter your water tanks have to be either in a climate-controlled space or heated.
You can lay the groundwork for electricity and use extension cords in the short-term. As long as you're willing to do it I don't see any reason why you can't.

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brokedown 07-21-2017 09:05 PM

When you say winterize, are you meaning just preparing it to sit unused for a few months?

if so, there's just a few major points.

You need your cooling system to use an antifreeze capable of dealing with the temperatures of you area. If you have a gasoline engine, a winterizing fuel additive will help a lot. If it is diesel, your fuel will start to separate into wax and gel and that's pretty gross. Since you're in the Narth you might find that gas stations sell a winter diesel that can withstand lower temps. Either way, I'd say to have as little fuel as possible in the system that will still get you to a gas station, and try not to start it if its below freezing.

Your batteries would appreciate a trickle charger to keep them warm and full. 5 or 10 watts should be enough as long as you don't have any bonus power leak.

Sitting in one place can be bad for your tires as well. Just rolling a couple of feet every few weeks will go a long way towards preventing this damage.

Finally, starting the bus now and then when it's not stupid cold. Just let it run for a little bit, let the components warm up, move the fluids around, think of it as a nice mid-nap stretch.

jmcustom 07-21-2017 09:46 PM

During winter in Canada on a whole, you'd have a hard time finding a place where the fuel isn't winterized.

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LovelyLittleFamily 07-21-2017 09:46 PM

Sorry! I should have meant insulating!
 
No, I definitely meant insulating to live in for the winter. Bad wording there, sorry!

I have to be out of my apartment by October 1st, and I want to be able to live the winter in our bus. I have been perusing the local classifieds here, and I've actually been pleasantly surprised at the number of buses available for pretty cheap prices that have been partially insulated or at least had the seats taken out of already!

jmcustom 07-21-2017 09:50 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by LovelyLittleFamily (Post 215570)
No, I definitely meant insulating to live in for the winter. Bad wording there, sorry!

I have to be out of my apartment by October 1st, and I want to be able to live the winter in our bus. I have been perusing the local classifieds here, and I've actually been pleasantly surprised at the number of buses available for pretty cheap prices that have been partially insulated or at least had the seats taken out of already!

If you can find one that you like with the seats already out it'll save you a bunch of time.

My wife and I have an 84 passenger bus and it took us the better part of 2 solid days to get all of the seats removed and that was with my dad's help for the last 10 at the back.

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Steven UK 07-21-2017 10:18 PM

Best way to winterise may be to head south, just saying. Hope that wasn't too un-constructive, sorry.

LovelyLittleFamily 07-21-2017 10:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Steven UK (Post 215575)
Best way to winterise may be to head south, just saying. Hope that wasn't too un-constructive, sorry.

I think you missed the part where I said I just opened a business, not really possible to vanish for months lol. Thanks though! It would be a nice idea!!

milkmania 07-21-2017 10:38 PM

To prepare for an extremely northern area, it's going to be a large task to get it winterized for living. Not trying to discredit anything or anyone. Just speaking from experience where temps barely reach 32 F.

If I got into the teens last winter, I'd have needed to to plan B. Not to mention I was in an uninsulated shop building out of the rain, snow, ice, and most importantly the wind!

milkmania 07-21-2017 10:41 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by LovelyLittleFamily (Post 215578)
I think you missed the part where I said I just opened a business, not really possible to vanish for months lol. Thanks though! It would be a nice idea!!


Is your new business a brick & mortar shop? Where Plan B could be to spend a few of the colder nights inside?

My plan B was to set up camp inside the shop/warehouse where I work, if needed.

M1031A1 07-21-2017 11:02 PM

We had a 32' travel trailer we full-timed in Houston. In the winter it was COLD. Even with the heater system working full-tilt it still was COLD. We are spray-foaming the bus to be better insulated by foaming the first two inches that had fiberglass fill, replace the sheet metal, put wood 2X4s over the sheet metal, spray foam an additional 2 inches then 1/8th inch birch wood covering to give an excellent "R" value. We're in the second year of building, mostly by myself. So hopefully this gives you an idea of a good insulation plan. However, it seems you are in a pinch. I'd still get rid of the fiberglass insulation because it has next to no insulation value. Use some insulation board. The "R" value will be better than the fiberglass and quicker/cheaper than spray foam. In addition the fiberglass poses a health issue to get rid of. Shards of glass are not a healthy thing.

Just sayin'. Hope this helps.

M

LovelyLittleFamily 07-21-2017 11:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by M1031A1 (Post 215582)
We had a 32' travel trailer we full-timed in Houston. In the winter it was COLD. Even with the heater system working full-tilt it still was COLD. We are spray-foaming the bus to be better insulated by foaming the first two inches that had fiberglass fill, replace the sheet metal, put wood 2X4s over the sheet metal, spray foam an additional 2 inches then 1/8th inch birch wood covering to give an excellent "R" value. We're in the second year of building, mostly by myself. So hopefully this gives you an idea of a good insulation plan. However, it seems you are in a pinch. I'd still get rid of the fiberglass insulation because it has next to no insulation value. Use some insulation board. The "R" value will be better than the fiberglass and quicker/cheaper than spray foam. In addition the fiberglass poses a health issue to get rid of. Shards of glass are not a healthy thing.

Just sayin'. Hope this helps.

M

Thank you very much! That is very helpful. :)

chev49 07-22-2017 03:32 AM

since you are inexperienced at bus conversion, properly insulating a metal school bus to be warm in - 25 temp with 35 mph wind would most likely be a difficult task. Not many people would probably do it correctly the first time, and having lived in the bush in AK for a few yrs i know how cold it really gets for quite a while n the winter.

as far as insulation, your bus will need to be really sealed tight with lots of insulation whether foam board or several inches spray foam.
as far as the bus, you should have all the heaters for engine, batteries, transmission, etc.,l but most northern busses that are used come with that stuff already
i would also reccomend insulated plywood panels to be placed on the ground around the sides of the bus to keep the floor, etc warm. is same thing as mobile home skirting.
Dont know what u would do for heat, but even small size wood stove will most likely have a hard time keeping an entire bus warm when about january ...i found in AK that in extreme cold the small wood stove was very hot, yet the outside wall were cold, even with the insulation...

bubb, the real one 07-22-2017 09:49 AM

Cost n time
 
Another way to look at it,
If you work full time all year in a normal job the average person works 2000 hrs per year, gutting a bus, insulating it, making it look like a decent Cabin inside, adding minimal furnature kitchen and bath will probably take 200+ hours of work, if you have skills.
It will take a thousand dollars of tools, a thousand for insulation uninstalled, the money adds up quick.

Just something to think about..

brokedown 07-22-2017 11:28 AM

Without going all doom and gloom, the simple fact is that a metal frame bus is not designed with temperature control in mind. Steel on the outside connected to steel on the outside is an effective way of keeping the inside the same temp as the outside.

So the primary goal has to be to insulate yourself from that steel (and windows!). This doesn't need to be complicated, but it does need to be thorough! And in the grand scheme of things, the materials aren't expensive, but they're not cheap either.

Quick and dirty method: Get a few rolls of Reflectix insulation. Use it to cover every inch of the walls and ceiling. It's flexible so you can put it right up against the metal.

Next, get some insulating foam board. Well I say some but I mean a lot. It comes in 4x8 foot sheets. Use this to cover every inch of the reflectix. Avoid cutting it, when you need to go around a curve, score it so you can flex it around the curve. Use tape to seal the edges, you don't want free flowing air from behind it. Next, another layer of reflectix on top of that. As a bonus, a small amount of light (1 or 2 watt LED bulbs) will light up the whole place.

So most of your heat/cool escapes through the walls and ceiling, but with this much insulation you need to pay some attention to the floor. Some sort of skirt will indeed help a lot to keep the wind from pulling heat away, but also a layer of carpet will make a huge difference inside. You can get remnants, you can get mismatched, doesn't have to be expensive.

For the entrance.. Cut foam board to create a wall with a doorway. A couple hinges can make it into a real door, Covering both sides with reflectix (with overhang so you have flaps covering the gaps) will help a lot. Using thermal curtains inside to segment the sleeping area from the front will help too, keeping a small space warm is easier than keeping a large space warm.

A little wood stove should be bale to handle this setup now. Producing the heat isn't a big job if you can keep from losing it.

ambersimms87 07-22-2017 01:07 PM

Spray foam insulation is 100% the way to go. It will cost more upfront but it will probably keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer without consuming too much energy from a generator, solar, propane, and fire. Look up on YouTube skoolie conversions and regrets. Most will tell you that they regret cutting corners. There are so many great videos that you can learn from. I just bought my 1958 blue bird bus and will be converting it over the next year. I'm also a single mama and my daughter is 2.5 years old. Congratulations on opening up your new business and good luck!


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roach711 07-22-2017 02:50 PM

Do you have somewhere you can park your bus that has water & electrical hookups and neighbors/home owner associations that won't hassle you?

CaptSquid 07-22-2017 03:36 PM

I've survived two Montana winters in Brunhilde. So far, the insulation consists of 1" double-sided rigid foam on the sides and carpeting on the floor. I have electrical hook up, but my water consists of two 8 gal jugs. Heating is with a Wave 8 and a Wave 6 catalytic heater and two 40 gal propane tanks with an auto changeover. The first winter, I kept warm under about 1000 lbs of blankets. Winter 2 I got smarter - I purchased a German Federbett.

chev49 07-22-2017 06:37 PM

Someone in Billings should know... I have been there in winter... was just as cold as AK. Not to mention b4 car block heaters my parents had hard time starting the car n winter sometimes.

chev49 07-22-2017 06:42 PM

Spray foam is OK... but I prefer foam board and only spray in the edges, etc when my wiring and plumbing is roughed in. I do this because I often have to add more or change the wiring so even tho spray foam place is very close to me in oregon, is too much of hassle to deal with when working on the conversions.
Second reason I just drive by the foam place is that i do not like the finishing work that it requires


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