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Old 09-04-2017, 06:25 PM   #1
Almost There
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 96
Year: 1999
Coachwork: International
Engine: 3800 T444E
Rated Cap: 72
Budget Barbie Camper

Hello everyone. I'm evaluating doing a skoolie for part-time travel with the hopes of going full-time. My partner is retired, and I run a IT business.

I rented a 24ft RV and loved it. I loved the dinette while someone drove. I loved sleeping and driving in shifts. I loves having a restroom available for emergencies. We did rent a small car for driving, and I plan on pulling a Hyundia Accent - small, cheap, fuel efficient, light weight.

I did not like the RV construction. MDF with paper veneers, fermica, really small bathroom, shower was useless. The construction I would compare to a trailer park home. Finally, I really don't like those because I could not maintain it.

I'm planning on a 13 window bus - or 78 passengers. We are looking to accommodate at most 4 people including ourselves. We have to pets. Most of the full-time will just be us. I'll need TV, AC, full kitchen, a nice sized bathroom, queen sized bed, two full-size dinettes at front with seat belts - these re metal framed to make secure for seat belts.

It includes a washer dryer (looking for feedback).

I want to build this over the next two years. I'm working on floor plans and designs. I'm doing the drawings in Sketch Up. They'll be attached.

I'm planning on two / three electrical systems - RV 12V, Bus 12V, and 115V. We'll have two ACs, so a 6000W generator for both ACs, coffee pot, and laptop.

We should be able to have 2-3 days of generator power. Cooking with propane.

I'm saving the back 3ft of the us for mechanical. It'll have a 1hr firewall make from dry wall. The generator will go there. The propane and gas storage will be in separate compartments left and right with a 1hr firewall.

Right now I'm in a planning stages. I'm working on overall floor plans, appliances, weights. Next step will be electrical and then plumbing. I have some experience with marine systems, and am considering using marine circuit panels as they are compact, simple, and provide AMPed breakers.

For an awning, I'm thinking a square shade sail
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File Type: png Dinette.PNG (11.8 KB, 38 views)
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File Type: pdf RV4 Costs.pdf (346.6 KB, 17 views)
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Old 09-04-2017, 09:30 PM   #2
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Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 96
Year: 1999
Coachwork: International
Engine: 3800 T444E
Rated Cap: 72
Updated Floor Plans & Cost & Weight

I've updated the floor planes so the circle Ps (P) are 15 power outlets, (L) are lights, (H) is hot water, (C) is cold water, (2) is a two switch outlet.
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Old 09-05-2017, 02:44 AM   #3
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Winlcok, WA
Posts: 2,212
Drywall in a bus is not such a great idea. It isn't going to stand up to the rockin', rollin', bouncing, jouncing, and bangin' that goes on in a bus as you are going down the road. No matter how soft the suspension is you will still encounter the expansion joints, pot holes, and broken pavement. And those encounters will turn your drywall to dust.

I am not exactly sure why you are wasting floor space for a mechanical room. Every school bus I have ever seen has plenty of room under the floor to mount gensets and fuel tanks. If you scrounge around enough you might be able to find USDOT approved vehicle tanks that have an added safety factor built into them above and beyond the normal RV tanks.

If you are going to permanently mount your genset I would suggest you shop around for a used one that came out of a moho that ran on propane. Or diesel. A gasoline tank is not a great addition to a diesel powered bus.

Before I spent the big $$$$ on an RV compatible washer/dryer I would read up on the reviews. Most of them use quite a bit of water and the combination ones that have 110-vac heating units take forever and a day to dry the clothes. Over the years I have known a lot of people who full timed in their RV. Every single one of them, without exception, did their laundry at a laundermat. Every town and KOA have them. You can put a LOT of quarters through someone else's machine before you ever pay for an RV washer/dryer. On the days you know you will want to do laundry pick a campground with a spot close to the laundry so you don't have to schelp stuff as far.

I would also suggest that after you purchase your bus and after you remove all of the seats that you lay out your floor plan with blue tape and cardboard. And then take it camping for a few weekends. What works on paper may not translate well into an actual floor plan. Moving stuff around when it is just tape and cardboard is a lot easier than after it is steel and wood screwed that is screwed down tight.
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Old 09-05-2017, 08:07 AM   #4
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Posts: 96
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Engine: 3800 T444E
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
Drywall in a bus is not such a great idea. It isn't going to stand up to the rockin', rollin', bouncing, jouncing, and bangin' that goes on in a bus as you are going down the road. No matter how soft the suspension is you will still encounter the expansion joints, pot holes, and broken pavement. And those encounters will turn your drywall to dust.

I am not exactly sure why you are wasting floor space for a mechanical room. Every school bus I have ever seen has plenty of room under the floor to mount gensets and fuel tanks. If you scrounge around enough you might be able to find USDOT approved vehicle tanks that have an added safety factor built into them above and beyond the normal RV tanks.

If you are going to permanently mount your genset I would suggest you shop around for a used one that came out of a moho that ran on propane. Or diesel. A gasoline tank is not a great addition to a diesel powered bus.
I had looked at a gas to propane conversion on the Onan - but the tank required for 3 days - huge. Diesel would be ideal, but gas is 1/2 the cost... oyyy I'm cheap. But if I isolate the tank outside the RV, that eliminates ventilation. Mont propane under, and again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
I would also suggest that after you purchase your bus and after you remove all of the seats that you lay out your floor plan with blue tape and cardboard. And then take it camping for a few weekends. What works on paper may not translate well into an actual floor plan. Moving stuff around when it is just tape and cardboard is a lot easier than after it is steel and wood screwed that is screwed down tight.
I'm evaluating the project - bus space needed, pricing, weights, to make sure I'm within realistic means - money, time, weight. I completely understand that things will need adjusted as the bus get built out. Cabinets are off the shelf... So stuff being built is what will give... but this give me an idea of what I might be able to fit in a reasonable space: 2.5ft per window, and 7.5ft wide. I'll defiantly need to find a bus that's 6'4" or slight taller on the inside. The last river aft trip I went on had one. But the sailboat is only 6'2 in some most spots.

As for the washer and dryer - gone.
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Old 09-05-2017, 01:41 PM   #5
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Winlcok, WA
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Buses with the 12" windows will have a higher headroom than the ones with 9" windows.

They are easily identified I pictures. The 9" window buses have the top edge of the windows even with the top of the driver's window and the top of the service door. The 12" window buses have the top edge of the windows above the top of the driver's window and the top of the service door.

As for a propane or diesel genset, check out used moho's. There are a lot of moho's for sale all the time that have a genset. Sometimes they are propane and sometimes they are diesel. But in all cases you can purchase the moho for less than what it would cost for a used genset. In addition you will have all of the necessary stuff for your conversion. Stuff like potable water tank and pump, black and grey tanks, propane tank, fixtures, appliances, and even some soft stuff like sofas, beds, chairs, and driver/co-pilot seats.
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Old 09-05-2017, 04:14 PM   #6
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Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 96
Year: 1999
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Engine: 3800 T444E
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
Buses with the 12" windows will have a higher headroom than the ones with 9" windows.

They are easily identified I pictures. The 9" window buses have the top edge of the windows even with the top of the driver's window and the top of the service door. The 12" window buses have the top edge of the windows above the top of the driver's window and the top of the service door.

As for a propane or diesel genset, check out used moho's. There are a lot of moho's for sale all the time that have a genset. Sometimes they are propane and sometimes they are diesel. But in all cases you can purchase the moho for less than what it would cost for a used genset. In addition you will have all of the necessary stuff for your conversion. Stuff like potable water tank and pump, black and grey tanks, propane tank, fixtures, appliances, and even some soft stuff like sofas, beds, chairs, and driver/co-pilot seats.

I'm looking at diesel. I'm pricing new at retailers so I don't have availability issues... I'm looking at:

Generac XD 5,000-Watt Diesel Powered Electric Start Portable Generator-6864 - The Home Depot

The Mini Split AC's 12K BTU @ 15A. That's 1800W each - 3600W. That'll leave some room to make coffee while the vehicle is underway and ACed. =) I'm a big coffee person, especially while driving/traveling.

But, based on a 32 hour run on 12 gallons, if I were to connect tat to the bus tank... LOL. 66 gallons at 0.375 gallons per hour. Leave 1/4 tank reserve... That's 120 hour (5 days) run time. My goal was something like 48-72 hour. Gas didn't get me there, diesel does.

It saves some weight - don't need extra fuel or tanks. I can "sound proof" the enclosure assuming I leave breathing room.
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Old 09-05-2017, 04:27 PM   #7
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Join Date: Aug 2017
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Posts: 96
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Coachwork: International
Engine: 3800 T444E
Rated Cap: 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
Buses with the 12" windows will have a higher headroom than the ones with 9" windows.

They are easily identified I pictures. The 9" window buses have the top edge of the windows even with the top of the driver's window and the top of the service door. The 12" window buses have the top edge of the windows above the top of the driver's window and the top of the service door.
Awesome - mental note.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
As for a propane or diesel genset, check out used moho's. There are a lot of moho's for sale all the time that have a genset. Sometimes they are propane and sometimes they are diesel.
I'm quoting out a diesel:

Generac XD 5,000-Watt Diesel Powered Electric Start Portable Generator-6864 - The Home Depot

I can sound proof the enclosure assuming I provide room to breath. I like diesel - the bus will have PLUNTY. Less fuel to carry since I'm not carring another type for limited use.

Hooked up with a 25% reserve on a 66 gallon tank... that's about 5 days run time. I was initially hoping for 3 days (weekend), but 5 days. Untethered freedom.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
But in all cases you can purchase the moho for less than what it would cost for a used genset. In addition you will have all of the necessary stuff for your conversion. Stuff like potable water tank and pump, black and grey tanks, propane tank, fixtures, appliances, and even some soft stuff like sofas, beds, chairs, and driver/co-pilot seats.
I did not consider cannibalizing an existing mobile home... But I'm not happy with a lot of the "trailer" quality items. I'd want more home grade stuff - uses more power, but that's why I'm stuck on a beefy genny - otherwise we will have shore power.

I really need to break down everything into three major groupings:

1) Cost
2) Weight
3) Watts

Part of the reason I'm quoting retail items is for statistical data on weights, gallons per hours, hookup manuals, etc.
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Old 09-05-2017, 07:51 PM   #8
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Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 96
Year: 1999
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Engine: 3800 T444E
Rated Cap: 72
I'm looking at a two year timeline. I'd really like to get a bus with less than 100k miles on it. I've seen some cheap buses, but to get one under 100k miles will probably require paying more than basement bottom prices.

Here are the locations for bus sales that look appealing. I'll keep replying to this as I find more vendors. I'm just trying to find site with 77 passengers buses, less then 100K miles, and less than $10k. I'm skipping sites that don't have prices, or don't have mileage.

Used School Buses | MacAllister Transportation

https://houston.craigslist.org/searc...ery=school+bus

Public Surplus: School Bus

Public Surplus: Transit Bus

2004 International Blue Bird School Bus

Used School Buses For Sale - Better Buses @ Better Prices - We deliver school buses nation wide

Used 2001 Thomas Thomas - Swansea IL Near Nixa MO - Midwest Transit

Used School Buses for sale | Pre Owned School Bus dealer

Don Brown Bus Sales : Used Archives - Don Brown Bus Sales

2001 THOMAS THOMAS School Bus for Sale | #521183

https://www.taylorbus.com/search.htm...y&Bus.lift=any

https://www.govdeals.com/index.cfm?f...=10&StartRow=1


Any other idea's and sites?
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Old 09-07-2017, 07:02 AM   #9
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: 14623
Posts: 30
Year: 1986
Coachwork: International
Chassis: S1800
Engine: 9.0
Govdeals.com

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Old 09-07-2017, 07:16 AM   #10
Site Team
 
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Location: The West
Posts: 1,189
Year: 1998
Coachwork: MCI
Chassis: 102 EL3
Engine: DD 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by syntel View Post
Hello everyone. I'm evaluating doing a skoolie for part-time travel with the hopes of going full-time.
Howdy and welcome Syntel!

Planning is always good - always! However; buses present many 'interesting' challenges that often ruin the plan (or did for me). It is not square inside, sometimes there is no space under the floor for a drain/access/etc which requires moving a thing, roof escape hatches may fall in the wrong place, etc... So, be flexible (but don't stop planning). I now have a new admiration for RV designers.

The smaller, vented washer/dryer combos (like Splendide) work well. I am in the process of installing a residential size combo (Kenmore 41003) - details here.

My only real suggestion is to plan some solar. It really isn't all that expensive and is SOOO AWESOME!!
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Missy - 1998 MCI 102-EL3 - 1.7kW Solar - 10kWh Lithium
My Adventures & Build
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Old 09-07-2017, 09:32 AM   #11
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Kansas
Posts: 224
Year: 1995
Coachwork: Thomas
Engine: 8.3 Cummins, 643
Look here

https://www.purplewave.com

This site sells lots of buses in the Midwest, finding something with less than 100k may be challenging no matter where you are looking but I would encourage you to consider more miles. A good Diesel engine with proper maintenance should last a lot more than 100k and it will be more likely to be pre emissions which is very good for reliability. Best of luck finding a bus!
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Old 09-07-2017, 09:39 AM   #12
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 13,619
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
cowlitz - not always.. only the bluebirds and some older amtrans have taller than driver-window on the seats windows.. my carpenter is a tall-top and the driver window is tall also... as is thew service door...

thomas busses are a mix... some have the taller ceiling and a short driver window.. others not.. generally you can tell because the seat windows "look taller" than wider.. whereas a low ceiling bus the seat windows look wider than tall.
-Christopher
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Old 09-07-2017, 07:40 PM   #13
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Join Date: Aug 2017
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Posts: 96
Year: 1999
Coachwork: International
Engine: 3800 T444E
Rated Cap: 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
Buses with the 12" windows will have a higher headroom than the ones with 9" windows.

They are easily identified I pictures. The 9" window buses have the top edge of the windows even with the top of the driver's window and the top of the service door. The 12" window buses have the top edge of the windows above the top of the driver's window and the top of the service door.

As for a propane or diesel genset, check out used moho's. There are a lot of moho's for sale all the time that have a genset. Sometimes they are propane and sometimes they are diesel. But in all cases you can purchase the moho for less than what it would cost for a used genset. In addition you will have all of the necessary stuff for your conversion. Stuff like potable water tank and pump, black and grey tanks, propane tank, fixtures, appliances, and even some soft stuff like sofas, beds, chairs, and driver/co-pilot seats.

Thanks... It's something I'm focused on now - the window height.
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Old 09-08-2017, 01:29 PM   #14
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Posts: 96
Year: 1999
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jacob View Post
https://www.purplewave.com

This site sells lots of buses in the Midwest, finding something with less than 100k may be challenging no matter where you are looking but I would encourage you to consider more miles. A good Diesel engine with proper maintenance should last a lot more than 100k and it will be more likely to be pre emissions which is very good for reliability. Best of luck finding a bus!
I've found a few at auction. Looking at the retail values - a bus about 80-90, less than 100K... I've put a bid on one for 92K miles. They has it's cousin with 108K. I'm considering it. I put a bid on it - was out big. I'm putting it on my calendar to watch as the auction ends. No need to run up the price early.
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Old 09-08-2017, 03:46 PM   #15
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: SW New Hampshire
Posts: 1,331
As we tell most folk who walk in through the front door here, read Read READ the build threads! Lots of good information. Many many of us have bought used buses with twice your target mileage and had very good luck with them.

Also, consider that diesel emissions systems got very complex and expensive to repair ~2001. The first ones moreso than the more recent as some bugs get worked out, but they are still expensive, and when they throw a code you are dead in the water at 10:30 on a Saturday night 44 miles outside of Dogfish Head, Montana. This is because the manufacturers are much more scared of the EPA than they are of their customers.

Please don't spend $38.5K on a low miles used 2009 without knowing what you're doing.
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Old 09-08-2017, 03:50 PM   #16
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 13,619
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
miles dont mean as much on a school bus as you think... one of my busses had 144K when i got it.. im at 156k now a year later... a forum member here bought a bus similar to mine with 211K on it.. sitting side by side both busses run and act identically.. both engines seem to be pretty equal.. theres 60k difference.. thats a lot of travelling for most people here.. if you spend $15k more for that elusive "low miles" bus than you do for a High miles bus.. then you have just bought more than an engine rebuild costs for a DT-466...
-Christopher
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Old 09-08-2017, 05:55 PM   #17
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Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 96
Year: 1999
Coachwork: International
Engine: 3800 T444E
Rated Cap: 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by JDOnTheGo View Post
Howdy and welcome Syntel!

Planning is always good - always! However; buses present many 'interesting' challenges that often ruin the plan (or did for me). It is not square inside, sometimes there is no space under the floor for a drain/access/etc which requires moving a thing, roof escape hatches may fall in the wrong place, etc... So, be flexible (but don't stop planning). I now have a new admiration for RV designers.

The smaller, vented washer/dryer combos (like Splendide) work well. I am in the process of installing a residential size combo (Kenmore 41003) - details here.

My only real suggestion is to plan some solar. It really isn't all that expensive and is SOOO AWESOME!!
my objective would be to run AC on solar... thats a hard feat... lots of panels. but I would like to be anle to crawl on to tp star watch. Big reason we planned trips to big bend.
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Old 09-08-2017, 05:58 PM   #18
Almost There
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 96
Year: 1999
Coachwork: International
Engine: 3800 T444E
Rated Cap: 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by dan-fox View Post
As we tell most folk who walk in through the front door here, read Read READ the build threads! Lots of good information. Many many of us have bought used buses with twice your target mileage and had very good luck with them.

Also, consider that diesel emissions systems got very complex and expensive to repair ~2001. The first ones moreso than the more recent as some bugs get worked out, but they are still expensive, and when they throw a code you are dead in the water at 10:30 on a Saturday night 44 miles outside of Dogfish Head, Montana. This is because the manufacturers are much more scared of the EPA than they are of their customers.

Please don't spend $38.5K on a low miles used 2009 without knowing what you're doing.
no. im looking to stay around 5k on the purchase. prefferable 90 to 110k miles, just over 10 yrs old... which would make 2000 to 2007
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Old 09-08-2017, 09:33 PM   #19
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Posts: 96
Year: 1999
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Engine: 3800 T444E
Rated Cap: 72
Paint & Design
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Old 09-12-2017, 08:44 PM   #20
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Rated Cap: 72
We have secured a location for our bus. I found some storage place in Houston where 40ft x 11ft vehicle parking for $90/month. Also, looking into Houston parking rules, apparently I can road park for up the three days assuming that it's not in a residential neighborhood (300 ft from a house). I was going to store the bus, then drive and park to work on it by my house on a 'commercial' road that gets no traffic (their are some empty streets by my office - at some point, someone built roads and then left the land undeveloped). I have a 4x8 trailer that I can load up and haul off so their is no illegal dumping/littering. I'm sure a cop would eventually ask questions though.

Ultimately, my partner did get the committal from his brother - and with a monthly storage fee we don't feel like free loaders. So, we have a space about 30 minutes from the house where we can park and wwok on the bus.

So, we have picked a few buses in San Antonio that have the action end tomorrow. Their is a low mileage (2007) bus, but it's already over $2000. I did find some 1999 International 3800 with about 150K miles: these are currently about $600. So, we will be bidding on those tomorrow. Hopefully by noon I'll own a bus!

My partner is on board - he's even talking about getting a job to help pay for it. =) (retired before the age 50) I'm not sure how flamboyant we are going to make the bus... I'm considering using the build for a blog site, a corporate sponsorship... This has tax advantages (write-offs), and possible publicity / SEO weight having a high PR site linking back to the company. Plus I've had an employee express interest in using it - but he loves the Barbie theme. Millennials.

My good friend has a 500+ acre Texas Hill Country ranch that he said we can put the bus on if we pay for a hunting lease. This will probably become her home... we keep our 4 wheelers there as well.
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