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Hymnsinger 03-01-2014 11:23 AM

Towing a trailer with a Skoolie
After having exhausted my search for an affordable handicapped accessible class A RV, I have decided to buy a school bus with a lift already installed. My son and I are moving to Montana this summer and instead of trying to find a handicapped restroom everytime he needs to go, and an accessible motel every night, we will refit the bus. It will be minimal, since I don't have a lot of time to prepare.

The first question I have is which bus/chassis is best suited to pulling a trailer weighing between 6000 and 10,000 lbs?

I am purchasing the bus from my state school bus surplus yard. The one I'm looking at now is a 1998 Freightliner, 2 axle with an FX 65 Chassis.

My second question is will I need a non-commercial CDL for a bus this size, 26,001-33,000 LBS?

Thanks so much and I'm looking forward to being part of the skoolie community!

Franklin, NC

JakeC 03-01-2014 02:35 PM

Re: Towing a trailer with a Skoolie
If you look at my thread (in my sig), look towards the end you can see the trailer i pulled on my vacation. It dropped my fuel mileage, but otherwise pulled beautifully. The overhang can be an issue, but you just have to watch where you pull in. An RE would probably be best, but i was happy with the setup.

As long as you have it titled as an RV, you shouldn't need a CDL.

nat_ster 03-01-2014 05:01 PM

Re: Towing a trailer with a Skoolie
The tongue length from the trailer coupler to the trailer wheels needs to be at least as long as the rear overhang of the bus. This will help equal it all out.


Hymnsinger 03-02-2014 12:39 AM

Re: Towing a trailer with a Skoolie
Thank you Jake and Nat! Jake, I read almost your entire saga. You need to write a book! Really! If I wasn't in school full time and getting ready to tackle my own bus, I'd ghost write it with you! Seriously, look into it. But don't consider a publish yourself route. Look for an agent that will take you on. If you'd like to explore that option, I'd be glad to help. If it publishes, you and your family will get residuals for life. Can help pay for more vacations and maybe another book!

I'm going to start calling the county school transportation depots and asking about the busses that are available. I'm in NC and each school district sells their own busses. Some of the listed busses have been on there for nearly a year, so I need to ask if the lists are up to date.

Do you travel on MPG or GPH? I know MPG is near what a semi gets. Pulling a trailer I'll be lucky to get 5 MPG. I'm going to look for a bus similar to yours, but I'm leaning towards a Thomas body. I heard that they already have a plywood floor. Any advice you have to offer will be most welcome, and that goes for the rest of the gang as well.

I had an RV on deposit and went to an RV forum and told them I needed to install a 36" door with a lift, and remodel the inside and all they would say was don't do it. They kept coming up with reasons (excuses) why it wouldn't work! I knew it would work! However, I have decided to go with a bus that already has the door configuration I need and an open floor plan. For me, this will be a lot easier! It won't be pretty as yours, but it will get us to our new home!

How much weight will the roof bear? I'm thinking a 6 inch railing on a cargo space up top. Will I need to brace the ceiling to do that?

Nat, I will be pulling a two horse trailer, not a heavy Sundowner, but a lighter stock type trailer. Thanks for the tip on the tongue length. That makes a lot of sense. I will look for a chassis with a shorter tail.


JakeC 03-04-2014 10:26 AM

Re: Towing a trailer with a Skoolie
Haha, thanks!! We go by MPG. GPH would be too depressing :D I think I ended up averaging around 7MPG with the trailer. A little higher once I slowed down a bit. Depending on how you attach the rack, you shouldn't need to do any extra bracing of the roof. The supports for the rack could either be attached to the roof right over the ribs, or attached to the side supports. I have seen it both ways. Also, if you have horses in the trailer, they will appreciate the shorter rear overhang. My parents trailer handled the ride fine, but everything was jostled around if it wasn't secured well. The first time we stopped was funny. Everything loose was in a pile on the floor :lol:

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