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Old 12-10-2010, 08:57 PM   #1
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Best "RV" Option for a Woman?

I've been thinking recently about full-timing for a few years. Reading the "newbie" posts here (and blogs elsewhere) has been somewhat helpful, but not with my most basic question: "Should I even consider converting a school bus at all?" I am a single woman, aged 30, with no mechanical experience. I don't actually need a great deal of room. I'm quite small (5' 3" and 125lbs). I also am a major loner, so I do not need/want to add in extra space for anyone else. Ideally, I want to be self-sufficent for at least a few days at a time. My original plan was to park at free or cheap parks/campgrounds as much as possible to conserve money. I'd buy a motorcycle rack for the back and tool around in a Ninja (or something similar) for errands/trips/etc. In any case, I thought about the following options:

Buy an old rv. From my research, I could expect to buy an old rv for around $10,000 if I shop around and find a good deal. It might still need repair work to be serviceable. The gas mileage would suck. If I get in a significant wreck, my "home" would pretty much be destroyed.

Buy an old Dodge van and convert it. I could probably buy one for around $2000. Gas mileage would be better (10-18 city/hwy). I could drive the darn thing without much fuss. Could stealth camp if I wanted. However, I'm female. I like showers and my own bathroom. I've seen a few pro jobs (my grandparents actually owned one). I recall it being too "snug" for me to have positive feelings about full-timing in such a thing (or if it would be self-sufficent).

Buy a school bus and convert it. I could probably buy one for around $2000. I have no idea how much it would cost to convert it though. Gas mileage would suck. I might need a different license to drive it. Might need more driving "confidence" to manage it. Might be a magnet for "chatters" due to the novelty of what I was driving. Might have problems insuring (seems GMAC is an inconstant company with skoolies here). Might have more room than I need (though I'm a horrible pacer so it might be good for me). Might take me FOREVER to convert. Ideally,I'd buy one around the same time I had my savings in order. Then quit my job and work full time on the thing until done.

I've read a few blogs by now of the process, and it all seems very daunting. I am very book "smart" (I was a GT kid, high IQ, taught myself chemistry at 14), but in my mind, mechnical aptitude is a whole different kettle of fish (as disparate as sports ability). Mechanical "smarts" is something I've always considered far removed from books and something I do not have. Not sure I can learn enough from a book to be helpful. My dad does know how to weld, and he fixes up houses. He might be willing to help. As far as breaking down on the road, I can always just unload my bike, lock up my skoolie, and drive to the next town.

I throw myself at the mercy of the readers here. Anyone have a feeling on these options for an odd duck like me?
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Old 12-11-2010, 05:25 PM   #2
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Re: Best "RV" Option for a Woman?

Thanks, smitty, for the reply and for the homework assignment! Also, I'm glad you were able to buy your bus (I perused your site last night).

Strangely enough, I started making lists of what I really use in a living space up to a year ago. A minimalist by nature, I've been interested in the tiny house movement for ages and have kept track of things that I use and things that I do not use. I also moved a few months ago and have a good idea of what I own. So...Things I need (to be content): dependable heating/cooling, bed (full or queen), toilet, hot water, shower, laptop, fridge/freezer (small), microwave, kitchen sink, stove top burner (perhaps two), small washer/dryer (if I can not easily park at a laundry mat). Things I do not need or want at all: TV/DVD (I have my laptop for that), oven (I rarely use it), dishwasher (I never use them), dinning room table/nook (never eat at them), seating for more than one (rarely have guests), coffee pots/blenders/toaster/toaster oven/etc, cold weather traveling (I'm a pansy in the cold and don't know how to drive in snow anyway).

Habits that I have that consume a lot of resources: I like to keep my habitat at around 72 (winter) to 78 (summer), I take long showers. I spend vast amounts of time online. A lot of my food is frozen or refrigerated and then microwaved when I'm ready to eat. I only drink water. I pace a lot (space considerations). Habits that I have that do not consume resources: I do not fool around with tv/cable/sat (that's what the net is for ). I do not have space-consuming hobbies. I also rarely use a hair dryer.

Self-sufficiency means that I do not need to rely on hook-ups for power, water, and sewage. I have no idea how much power and water I need and only a dim idea about what is possible since many situations are unique. One person mentioned converting their skoolie to go for two weeks at a time without hook-ups. I have no idea about his particulars though. I've looked at a few charts about how much power certain appliances drain, but I don't know what sort of power solutions skoolies/van conversions utilize and what direction is best for me (which is why my answer above might be a bit detailed and tedious...I just wanted to give a lot of information so I could get suggestions). When I mentioned parks and campgrounds, I meant National and State Parks, not rv parks. I'm speaking about the ones that are free (with no facilities or hookups). I'd like to stay there (quieter, less people, and no fuss). Lonergirl is a loner. Lonergirl is also quite frugal. Plus, I mostly just like to write, read, and study. I need quiet for that. Perhaps maybe I'd stay at one of the parks with hookups once a week to fill up and recharge and such (you can do that right?).

And, meh, I can hold a tool. I haven't really built much of anything. I can use a sewing machine though. Maybe if I thought of each tool as a really loud, angry, and potentially-deadly sewing machine, then I'd be better off.
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Old 12-11-2010, 06:14 PM   #3
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Re: Best "RV" Option for a Woman?

I'm a little biased... go for the skoolie. Join Escapees (they will let your skoolie in their campgrounds) and start talking to the folks on the Solo RVers thread.

I am currently living in an RV (1977 Class C). We've been full-timing since 2006. We have modified it a touch and remodeled it a little to suit us. We repaired water damage. Mechanically.... cleaned out the carborator, put a tune up on it and have replaced all the tires (the hard way ). We bought our Class C in 2006 for $2000 plus David traded out a little bit of labour (which he would have done anyway).

We bought the BlueBird for $1400. We drove it out to NM (1600 miles) and had the radiator rebuilt on the way out (not long after we crossed into TX). The bus cost more than the RV in repairs so far. Had no problems with the Class C on the trip out. As for fuel mileage... the bus gets better mileage than the Class C. But I have no problem getting the Class C up to 80MPH. The bus stops better than the Class C.

We will convert the bus (in the process of doing that now... on a shoestring). We do not consider the RV a good choice. We have torn into enough of it and rebuilt enough of it to know they are unsafe. I would rather my daughter be in a skoolie than an RV. When we finish the bus, she will be in the Class C until we find her a bus and she can move into it.
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Old 12-11-2010, 06:22 PM   #4
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Re: Best "RV" Option for a Woman?

You may want to look into a Road-Trek or something similar..."Class B" motorhomes, they're fullsized vans (RoadTrek has Dodges, GMC's, and Dodge/Mercedes Sprinters) set up as mini-motorhomes.

However, a washer/dryer in anything except a high-end class A or trailer just isn't happening unless you convert one yourself.

Might also want to check out the Vandwellers.
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Old 12-11-2010, 07:03 PM   #5
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Re: Best "RV" Option for a Woman?

But they WILL allow them in their SKP parks when alot of other places won't. I would hope that my skoolie isn't a "real RV"... it will be much much better! Did you ever get that apology?
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Old 12-11-2010, 07:13 PM   #6
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Re: Best "RV" Option for a Woman?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Smitty
lol,
Here's my washing machine:



http://www.laundry-alternative.com/

I've yet to use it, because I'm still doing laundry at my dads....and plan to delay using the little machine as long as possible , I'll hang clothes to line-dry.
I have used mine OFTEN. Line dry and use detergent (low sudsing type for the HE machines) in very small amounts.

Quote:
Oh, and if you'd ever see me trying to use a sewing machine....you'd know infact, they ARE deadly machines Smitty
I used to sew blue jeans (Wrangler & Rustler) for a living. Hard to believe but they had the best insurance in town and David and I had planned to a "A" kid (just one... no more... that didn't happen!). And yes I sewed my finger. I used to operate a "bar tacker" (those long over stitched spots on the pockets and there are two on the zipper) and I was talking and made the mistake of looking up for too long. My other job while there was serging "white pockets". Pay was good but the work was incredibly BORING! I don't sew much now.
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Old 12-11-2010, 07:46 PM   #7
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Re: Best "RV" Option for a Woman?

Hiya LonerGirl! Another woman here to add her thoughts to the fray...

A little over a year ago I was in the same decision loop you're in. After doing a little research online - especially looking at images of accidents involving RV's and some involving school buses - I decided to buy a bus (BOB) and start conversion. Buses are just built SO much better than RV's. I also like the fact I could make my own decision where to put things, or whether to include them at all. Buses are also easier to drive than I thought! Yes, it takes getting used to the extra length, but it is quickly intuitive. They sit higher, which means better chances of getting down a park's dirt road, and the steel construction just makes them feel more secure. Those were the major selling points for me.

Unfortunately, as I was newly divorced and trying to cover a mortgage on a single income at the same time, it cost more to store/license/insure than I could afford, and had to give it up until the housing market improves. However, in that time, there were some "lessons learned" I can share...

1) Don't let the build be intimidating. It's just your first bus. It doesn't have to be your last bus. It doesn't have to be perfect. What you learn in your first build will make the second build better!

2) Don't worry if you can't build a lot of furniture stuff. There's nothing wrong with using a standard futon, or a lazyboy recliner, or premade cabinets from the local hardware store (Lowes or Home Depot around here), or any other bit you find in a recycle bin that catches your fancy. As long as it can be fastened down, you're good to go!

3) Take the time to find a bus in good mechanical working order. I bought BOB on a whim - and to be perfectly honest, at a low point where I really just needed something to work on. I should have taken the time to go over it better, but was just too desperate to care at that point.
If you are not a mechanic, find a truck shop you feel comfortable going to. Take a guy with you the first time you scope the place out if you're afraid they might give you a line of BS. Also, read up on diesel engines and how they work so you'll know what they're talking about. I did that a little after the fact, and while I still don't know enough to fix an engine, I at least understand what a lot of the parts are and what they're supposed to do.

4) I found I really liked the relatively short wheel base of my bus. My next one will be a short little flat nose FE handicap bus (that I've always wanted!) After the bus is built, I'll add a trailer to the back to garage my motorcycle (Nomad) and any extra "stuff" I've not found a home for yet.

5) Be flexible in your design ideas and style of living. Reading your needs, I think your biggest challenge will be the shower and frozen food stuff. But as Smitty suggested, a little compromise doesn't mean you have to give up all the comforts! You may have to have to be hooked up longer than you like, or go out to get supplies more often than you expect, but that's not a deal killer. Just be prepared for them. Some stuff you can already do at home to get you in the habit and psychologically prepared for the final move. For instance, I've effectively moved into only 1 room of my house. I do everything except cook and wash in a 10 x 12 space. And if I put a hot plate in here, or a microwave, I'd cook in here too. But this exercise has taught me that A) I can live in a tiny space, and B) 120 sqft isn't quite enough to do absolutely everything comfortably. I will need that extra space for the kitchen and bathroom. So I'll need at least 20' behind the driver's seat.

You get the drift. I tried. I failed. I learned. I'm experimenting again. I'll try again. I'll succeed.
If it's what you want, go for it. If it doesn't work out, fall back, regroup, and try, try again!
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Old 12-11-2010, 11:14 PM   #8
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Re: Best "RV" Option for a Woman?

My, youíve all been very helpful! Youíve given me tons of stuff to think about!

Lorna: The clincher is that you do not want your daughter in an RV. That gives me pause. The Escapees website is a bit social for my tastes and arenít in the states Iíll probably travel through (Texas to California, then up the coast and into the Pacific NorthwestÖperhaps down to Colorado). Iíll dig up the Solo RVers thread.

Jarlaxle: RA Salvatore fan? Iíve been to the VanDwellers site. Thanks. Iíve also visited the Road Trek web site and studied the floor plans (and my grandparents owned one). They seem to snug for full-timing.

Smitty: I do have a good grasp on my possessions. All my things fit in my dadís work van (and some in my PT). It was mostly furniture and shelving and books (all of which Iím getting rid). Except for that, I donít actually own much. I donít like ďstuff.Ē I enjoy getting rid of it. Iíll probably give away most of my clothes since I only have them for my job. In any case, Iím staying in a guestroom at my folks house (canít find an apartment). The bulk of my stuff is in storage. The closet and bureaus are filled with their stuff, so Iím only able to use about half the room. I donít mind. Iíll probably give away the stuff in storage (since I havenít used it since Iíve been here). Thanks for the info on the Verizon card (been looking into the carriers and wanted more info). I have run the numbers. I like to stream; that is my downfall. Iíll have to save that for wireless at RV parks. Also, I saw your toilet. Not sure if I could be that gung-ho.

Tyger: Thanks for your reply. Iíll look into those crash pics. Also, I did get used to my PTís limited visibility. It freaked me out a little at first, but I got used to it. I might be able to adapt. Also, I wanted to take a basic car mechanic class, but the local community college did not have one to take. Iím also doing a similar experiment, and Iím not phased by it.

Youíve all given me a lot to think about. I donít want to stick to warmer climates, I just want to avoid really cold ones in the winter. I want to get away from the Texas heat during the summer, too. I try to modulate my AC/heat to decrease my electricity bill, but Iím a pansy. I do the best I can. I thought that I should insulate the heck out of a bus so that it would retain the cool/warm air if using AC or heat. Am I incorrect?

In any case, I have reasons for the freezer, but might be able to get around them. I just sometimes get really fussy with food and stop wanting to eat anything at all. The energy to make food Iím not interested in leads me to stop eating much at all, so I go for easy, quick, and novel until I snap out of it. Itís possible I could go without the freezer. Iím not sure about the microwave though. Need to meditate on that one and experiment.

In any case, I do not making trips to town. My only concern is in ease of parking (for the Laundromat). I used laundry facilities for about 12 years, so it wouldnít phase me. The shower might be slightly more problematic, but after a few searches I realized how much you use in a regular shower. Iíd like to cut down on general principle. I probably take a 12 minute shower. I need to bathe every 24-36 hours. Any longer and my hair turns really nasty. I should start timing myself and see how long it takes me. Lots to think aboutÖ
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Old 12-11-2010, 11:18 PM   #9
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Re: Best "RV" Option for a Woman?

Quote:
Originally Posted by TygerCub
Hiya LonerGirl! ... I tried. I failed. I learned. I'm experimenting again. I'll try again. I'll succeed.
If it's what you want, go for it. If it doesn't work out, fall back, regroup, and try, try again!
You did not fail. If you learn something, that is not failure. You just learned a way that didn't work out.

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"I have not failed 700 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 700 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work."
IF, IF, IF you have a place that you can do it, buy a junker RV. Trailer would be your best bet. Make sure the holding tanks are solid along with the toilet. WATER DAMAGED IS GOOD! You want to pay next to nothing for it. Nothing would be better. you just need it to get from where it is currently parked to where you need to park it for stripping (some folks will buy the trailer frame CHEAP after you are done with it). Pull parts off the trailer and use inside your skoolie. Sell off what you don't use. This is probably the cheapest way to convert a skoolie. The first skoolie we ever looked at, we thought was a BlueBird Wanderlodge. It was gorgeous, very professional and loaded with chrome. Guy who did it had picked up a travel trailer thru an insurance company (friend) that had been "totaled" by the insurance company. He used most of the stuff from the travel trailer in his conversion. Over time, he also upgraded a few things. I wish we had bought it back then.

While most of the RV stuff in kinda junk, you are also limited in what you can use. I would suggest you opt for a residential refrigerator and a freezer. Don't use the RV kind. They have a tendency to catch fire. Sofas/chairs/etc can always be upgraded at some point down the road. You can put a full size bed in the back of a bus with a narrow walkway around it (headboard at the rear exit door). Any larger and you are pushing it up to the wall. Makes it hard to make up with clean sheets like that. And if you share the bed, you have to crawl over the other person. Unless you use a different furnace/heat source, and RV furnace will work okay. Just add a catalytic heater for boondocking. We don't run our LP furnace if we don't pay for electric. If we pay for electric, I run the numbers thru the KWHvrsPropane program that I have. It tells you if LP or the campground metered electric is cheaper. Currently, we are using a little electric heater at night because our site rental includes all hookups (W/E/S/CATV/WiFi). But the old RV furnace in the Class C can flat heat it up in just a few minutes. I plan on building a little solar "can" heater to generate heat during the day. A word of warning. If you plan on installing something Large.. like big refrigerator, freezer or Washer/dryer, don't forget that at some point you will need to move it back out. Allow for it. We decided the rear door will work to move large appliances in/out. So our bed will have to be able to be removed in order to access the rear emergency door. And the partion walls have door openings wide enough to allow my full size range to move from the kitchen thru to the rear of the bus. This is something that you will have to plan ahead for. You don't want to have to tear walls apart (or remove the front windshield) because an appliance craps out or because you have to replace the sofa.
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Old 12-12-2010, 02:05 AM   #10
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Re: Best "RV" Option for a Woman?

Whatever you choose, it WILL need work. If you follow the travels of the "social" types on Escapees, you will find that at least one RV in any group of friends is down for repairs at any given time. I have relatives that were full-timers, and are now part-timers. The last time they were up this way, they told about their best friends who bought a brand-new coach from what is arguably the best manufacturer out there. They mentioned how everybody raves about how nice they are treated when they bring their coaches back to that factory for repair . . . but they all go back to the factory for repair! My relatives' Class A is due for a new rubber roof now.

A ten-thousand dollar RV will probably need a new roof, and will probably have water damage and possibly mildew from the leak. RV refrigerators fail or catch fire, water pumps and battery chargers can go bad, etc. Look at pages 24 and 25 of Elliot's "Millicent Chronicles," where he tears apart his donor trailer with his hands: http://www.skoolie.net/forum/viewtop...1709&start=345 Fixing all the systems in an old one of these might be almost as much work as building a skoolie!

If you build your own wandering home, you will know how it all goes together. You can overbuild or use higher quality parts than would be used in a commercial unit that was slapped together (and some of them are really 'slapped' together). Building a home into a bus, especially with plumbing, is not a small undertaking, but if that is what you choose, when it is done you will know what you are up against should the need for repairs arise. You will not have to be at the mercy of "experts" that require money to be thrown at them whether they know what they are doing or not. Every time I help someone with something as complex as RV systems, i ask myself, "What was the designer/engineer thinking when they put this together?" If you built it yourself, you would know.

You are right about insulation. Good or even "overdone" insulation will save energy on both heating and cooling. Smitty will love you for asking. He has a heating/cooling background, and bangs his wooden spoon on his washtub to preach insulation to whoever will listen.

The showers without hookups will be a problem. I like 5 or 6 minute showers at about 2 gallons per minute, although where I am now I think I use less than 10 gallons because we are at the end of a water line, and the pressure isn't what it should be. It would mean carrying a lot of water when I get my bus, if i want to maintain that part of my "lifestyle."

By the way, good to hear from you again, TygerCub!
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Old 12-12-2010, 08:44 AM   #11
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Re: Best "RV" Option for a Woman?

The bus I'm aiming to buy will eventually be for little ole me only. Was gonna scrap 'em but frankly I love to travel too much to give up a mobile house. Your goals are similar to mine so here is what I am looking for

School bus with (preferred) high undercarriage clearance so I can store tanks. More water I can store the longer I don't have to deal with civilization. Shuttle bus might work but no undercarriage.

I know school buses get worse mileage than some RVs or roadtreks or even vans, but those things don't have the room I want. Trade off is the room and durability (have you seen an rv vs a school bus crash?) for mpg. BUT... if I'm staying put for a week at a time then mpg isn't that big of a deal.

You can carry a lot more in a school bus. Greater weight limits. I don't own a lot of anything but I do have a nice self-reliant setup (canning supplies, preps, etc).

And that seals the deal.... schoolie because it gives me the space and ability to carry weight = Solitude and self-reliance. Plus a school bus has the ability to go places a lot of RVs bottom out, like national forests and other free places. I've noticed many places I want to go don't like things over 30' so I'm aiming for less than.
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Old 12-12-2010, 08:47 AM   #12
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Re: Best "RV" Option for a Woman?

Quote:
Jarlaxle: RA Salvatore fan?
I'm posting as "Jarlaxle"! Of course! Useless trivia: he lives in Massachusetts & went to Fitchburg State College. He's a genuinely nice guy...I met him a few years ago at a book signing. (I have hardbacks of Legacy, Starless Night, Seige of Darkness, and Passage to Dawn that he signed.)

Quote:
Iíve been to the VanDwellers site. Thanks. Iíve also visited the Road Trek web site and studied the floor plans (and my grandparents owned one). They seem to snug for full-timing.
From what you posted, the problem for you will be their small tankage. I have seen people FT in tiny rigs (saw a married couple who had full-timed for 5+ years in a tiny Toyota Dolphin), but it sounds to me like you need to go a bit bigger.

Quote:
Thanks for the info on the Verizon card (been looking into the carriers and wanted more info). I have run the numbers. I like to stream; that is my downfall. Iíll have to save that for wireless at RV parks.
I am NOT the one to ask about technology...I know that I don't know much about it. However: if there's one nearby, I suggest hitting Radio Shack and Best Buy--they sell all sorts of cell phones and plans. Several companies have prepaid monthly plans with 3G coverage and UNLIMITED talk, text, and most importantly for you, data; most will run you no more than $5-10 more than just the Verizon aircard. You can hook a laptop to some of the phones...I didn't ask about that because I don't do it.

Quote:
Tyger: Thanks for your reply. Iíll look into those crash pics. Also, I did get used to my PTís limited visibility. It freaked me out a little at first, but I got used to it. I might be able to adapt
Simple test: can you drive a big moving van? I don't mean a small one, I mean the BIG 24 or 26' Jumbo Hauler or Mega Mover from U-Haul. If so...you should be fine in a skoolie or a motorhome.

Quote:
Youíve all given me a lot to think about. I donít want to stick to warmer climates, I just want to avoid really cold ones in the winter. I want to get away from the Texas heat during the summer, too. I try to modulate my AC/heat to decrease my electricity bill, but Iím a pansy. I do the best I can. I thought that I should insulate the heck out of a bus so that it would retain the cool/warm air if using AC or heat. Am I incorrect?
No, you're 100% on the mark! Paint the roof white or silver and insulate EVERYTHING! I spent lots of time & effort insulating my B-700...and the result is a bus that stayed 75 degrees parked in the sun in 104-degree heat (Montgomery, Alabama). It also stays warm in sub-freezing temps.

Quote:
In any case, I do not making trips to town. My only concern is in ease of parking (for the Laundromat). I used laundry facilities for about 12 years, so it wouldnít phase me.
Well...if you keep your PT, you can tow that & use it for laundry trips. If not...well, best bet might be to find a laundromat in a shopping plaza, park the bus in the back-40, and just accept that you'll have to do some walking on laundry day.

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The shower might be slightly more problematic, but after a few searches I realized how much you use in a regular shower. Iíd like to cut down on general principle. I probably take a 12 minute shower.
With a low-flow showerhead, that's 24 gallons of water. Workable with some care and a rig with large water tanks.

Quote:
I need to bathe every 24-36 hours. Any longer and my hair turns really nasty. I should start timing myself and see how long it takes me. Lots to think aboutÖ
My wife is the same way...her hair used to be longer, now it barely reaches her knees unbound and her waist when in its usual topknot. I just built large tankage into both buses (150 fresh/100 gray for the B-700). She greatly reduced the "nasty" factor by switching shampoo brands, though.

Regarding a fridge...I just could not convince myself to use a residential fridge. The ability to stay cool with no hookups is very important for me (I boondock)...my B-700 has an elderly 3-way (LP/120V/12V) reefer that still works perfectly, I'm hunting for another one for my Genesis. I agree that the newer reefers (Dometic or Norcold) are pretty crappy...they seem to have greatly cheapened them in the last 10 years or so.

I have already stripped one old trailer for my Genesis and will be doing another one as soon as the weather permits...it has stuff I will use and I plan to make a cargo trailer out of the frame & axles.
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Old 12-12-2010, 11:27 AM   #13
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Re: Best "RV" Option for a Woman?

Quote:
Originally Posted by LonerGirl
Lorna: The clincher is that you do not want your daughter in an RV. That gives me pause. The Escapees website is a bit social for my tastes and arenít in the states Iíll probably travel through (Texas to California, then up the coast and into the Pacific NorthwestÖperhaps down to Colorado). Iíll dig up the Solo RVers thread...
One of the best things about the RV forums (any of them) is to read about the problems they have with some of the various appliances, electronics, electrical and plumbing, We have changed a lot of things based on our own experiences (we've been in mostly public campgrounds since 1979) and what we've read of others experiences. you pick out what's best for you. BTW, Escapees is based in Livingston TX and has one of the best mail-forwarding setups out there. I also post on IRV2.com... they have a good vintage forum. But like Smitty said, most RVer's (and coach-type bus conversion owners) do not think of a skoolie as a "real" RV or "Bus conversion". Many Private campgrounds don't want them in especially if they look like a school bus or a "Hippie" bus. That is part of the reason I have always leaned towards a Blue Bird flat nosed bus.... I think I can get it into more private parks... and I like the looks of the flat fronted buses. For us, in our current situation, we have to have access to an HD approved water & commercial sewer system. So until I win the Lottery, we have to work and that involves private campgrounds (and some pavement parking).

BTW, I'm in Central NM. Temps last week during the day were nice... low to mid 60's for high... but at night it hits freezing (it's the desert). No matter where you go, during the winter, you will have to deal with an overnight freeze occasionally, even in TX (we had overnight freezes last winter in Corpus a couple of times). You can also hit freezing temps while traveling in high altitudes. Insulate your pipes, sediment filter (always run a sediment filter... sand is everywhere) and fresh/waste tanks. Don't forget to insulate the hookups as well. Build you a short (12 ft or so) heat-taped-&-pipe-insulation-wrapped water hose. Like the boy scouts... "Be Prepared"
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Old 12-12-2010, 11:45 AM   #14
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Re: Best "RV" Option for a Woman?

Quote:
It's just your first bus. It doesn't have to be your last bus. It doesn't have to be perfect.
You know what? Thatís very true, and itís a great way of looking at it.

Quote:
Don't worry if you can't build a lot of furniture stuffÖas long as it can be fastened down, you're good to go!
Also true, and itís a good point.

Quote:
Buy a junker RV. Pull parts off the trailer and use inside your skoolie. Sell off what you don't use.
My dad has a whole garage area where he works on his own projects. Iíd have the room; I just donít see any rv interiors that are aesthetically appealing to me (far from it).

Quote:
I would suggest you opt for a residential refrigerator and a freezer. Don't use the RV kind. They have a tendency to catch fire.
:shocked

Quote:
You can put a full size bed in the back of a bus with a narrow walkway around itÖa word of warning. If you plan on installing something Large.. like big refrigerator, freezer or Washer/dryer, don't forget that at some point you will need to move it back out. Allow for it.
Oh yeah, I already snagged onto ďthe real bedĒ pro as a reason to convert my own! Thanks for the Ďduhí warning. I wasnít even thinking about that.

Quote:
Fixing all the systems in an old one of these might be almost as much work as building a skoolie! If you build your own wandering home, you will know how it all goes together. You can overbuild or use higher quality parts than would be used in a commercial unitÖ
Agreed.

Quote:
Here in the midwest, "warmer climates" just means those that remain above freezing.
Oh! Yes, it rarely dips below freezing. If it dips here, the weathermen usually remind everyone to go cover their pipes and bring the pets in.

Quote:
If you hadn't noticed, ALL my plumbing (including tanks, other than the secondary water tank on the roof) are inside the bus. This was another reason I didn't want a black tank, or the related piping for the dump valve under the bus where it could be exposed to freezing temps.
Yes, I noticed that. I liked the idea of it actually. One less thing to worry about, and no pests (human or animal) might bother them.

Quote:
Another option for cooking (though certainly not a quick one) is a solar oven. YouTube is loaded with instructional videos of all sorts of solar powered projects, from water heaters, PV panels, and cooking (and more).
Iíll look into what that is. I have no idea.

Quote:
As far as the possessions you plan to get rid of.....heck, sell them and put the profits in the bus (or what ever you decide on) fund.
Meh, the amount Iíd get for books and clothes is negligible. The local library in this town is awful and could use the books, and needy families here could use the clothes and furniture. Iím blessed to have a job. Iíll just pay it forward. Iíll have lots of savings by the time I decide to embark on my adventure.

Quote:
Regarding the 5G limit which is the industry standard on the air cards, some people even get 2 accounts. It gives them 2X the data, but comes with 2X the cost naturally.
Another idea that I didnít even think about.

You may have converted me on this. Iíve repeatedly been annoyed by the way we (in developed countries) pee and poo in clean drinking water. Iíve been waiting for new solutions to become more widespread, But if I really believe in the premise, then how could not employ a feasible solution that is already out there? Although, to bring up a point from your conversion thread, where do you dump the stuff? Also, where do you clean your bucket?

Quote:
Try thisÖ
Or I could just run the water for one minute into a bucket and multiply that amount by my average shower time.

Quote:
(I have less than $600 total in my stove and 'fridge, both have warranty)
How much has your conversion cost so far? Just curious.

Quote:
I'll throw this out for anyone to consider.....look at my "portable" shower (I called my "winter shower"), I think I had about $30 invested in it.
Wait, where was this? I donít recall it in your conversion thread.

Quote:
(have you seen an rv vs a school bus crash?)
Where can I find some pics? Iíve done a few searches, but I donít want to pull up anything graphic.

Quote:
Plus a school bus has the ability to go places a lot of RVs bottom out, like national forests and other free places. I've noticed many places I want to go don't like things over 30' so I'm aiming for less than.
I do not understand this. Can you explain it differently?

Quote:
I'm posting as "Jarlaxle"! Of course!
BwahahaaÖ

Quote:
Simple test: can you drive a big moving van? I don't mean a small one, I mean the BIG 24 or 26' Jumbo Hauler or Mega Mover from U-Haul.
I have never tried. I have a male best friend. It makes him feel all manly and important when I ask him to do manly things. So I pretend to be a bit helpless on these things to boost his ego. Itís manipulative, but it makes him feel good.

Quote:
No, you're 100% on the mark! Paint the roof white or silver and insulate EVERYTHING! I spent lots of time & effort insulating my B-700...and the result is a bus that stayed 75 degrees parked in the sun in 104-degree heat (Montgomery, Alabama). It also stays warm in sub-freezing temps.
Wow! Thatís a blazing endorsement. Iíd like to paint it gunmetal gray though. I really liked how Smittyís skoolie looked (before he added the wood trim). It really did look like some sort of SWAT team bus.

Quote:
Well...if you keep your PT, you can tow that & use it for laundry trips.
HrmmÖwell, thatís an idea. Iím not thrilled at the prospect of towing it though. Plus, I think the decreased gas mileage might not be worth it. I really, really love my PT, but itís nearly 10 years old now. Itís likely it wonít last for another few years anyway.

Once again, lots of things to think about. Iíve pretty much changed my mind on the flush toilet, freezer, and washer/dryer. I only do laundry twice a month, so I suspect that I could find a Laundromat that I could pull into every couple of weeks (right?). Otherwise, I could pull into a campground and do it by hand and line dry it.
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Old 12-12-2010, 11:55 AM   #15
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Re: Best "RV" Option for a Woman?

Quote:
But like Smitty said, most RVer's (and coach-type bus conversion owners) do not think of a skoolie as a "real" RV or "Bus conversion". Many Private campgrounds don't want them in especially if they look like a school bus or a "Hippie" bus. That is part of the reason I have always leaned towards a Blue Bird flat nosed bus.... I think I can get it into more private parks... and I like the looks of the flat fronted buses.
Meh, that doesn't bother me so much. My grandparents stay in private rv campgrounds, and those places suck my will to live. I don't know why. I guess I'm not a joiner and I don't especially like being packed in on top of fifty other people with only eight feet of space on either side. Not unless there is a very, very good reason.

I don't like the look of hippie buses either. Until I saw smitty's gunmetal gray bus, I was thinking I'd never like the look of one. I could make it look less hippy. You know, maybe add some barbed wire around the whole thing. Maybe make a huge skull and cross bones hood ornament, and set my tail light in a worked metal skull. I don't think anyone would call my skoolie a hippy bus then. At least not to my face.
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Old 12-12-2010, 12:05 PM   #16
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Re: Best "RV" Option for a Woman?

also that fabled craigs list and other freebie sites help sometimes. If you're worried about a toilet walmart sells the port a potty type for 100$
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Old 12-12-2010, 03:42 PM   #17
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Re: Best "RV" Option for a Woman?

Quote:
Originally Posted by in reference to using a composting toilet
Although, to bring up a point from your conversion thread, where do you dump the stuff? Also, where do you clean your bucket?
If you do not have personal property to compost the manure, bag it and throw it in the trash. It's no different than throwing out a bag full of baby diapers, or cat litter - though not be as smelly ( new baby poo should be classified as weapon's grade material!!!).
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Old 12-12-2010, 08:24 PM   #18
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Re: Best "RV" Option for a Woman?

Quote:
My dad has a whole garage area where he works on his own projects. Iíd have the room; I just donít see any rv interiors that are aesthetically appealing to me (far from it).
I'm not stripping trailers for interior stuff, though one will donate sofa cushions...I'm plowing out a local upholstery shop this winter in exchange for having them make washable covers that can cover up the avocado green. (Who ever actually thought avocado green looked good, anyway?!) I'm getting water tanks, A/C units, maybe water heaters, a toilet (new and never hooked up), and possibly a sink & a shower. The chassis of one will become a cargo trailer. (The other was a bust, having a cracked frame.)

Quote:
[quote:3eojgf0n]I would suggest you opt for a residential refrigerator and a freezer. Don't use the RV kind. They have a tendency to catch fire.
:shocked:[/quote:3eojgf0n]

No kidding...though the older ones seem to hold up better. The one in my B-700 is easily 25 years old. It's a Dometic.

Quote:
Oh yeah, I already snagged onto ďthe real bedĒ pro as a reason to convert my own! Thanks for the Ďduhí warning. I wasnít even thinking about that.
I originally built my B700 with a super-single (sometimes called a "three quarter") bed...it's mostly a waterbed size. I built the platform in the bus using a bunkboard as a template. The couple that bought my bus wanted a full-sized bed...I kept the super-single mattress & bunkboard & it will be reused in the Genesis. It's a little tight for 2 people (especially two people and three cats), but works fine. If you have storage underneath (I did), it's also lighter to lift than a full or queen. Note: do not do this unless you are sure you and your partner can sleep in a super-single bed! (Liz and I have shared a twin bed several times, so no problem.)

Quote:
[quote:3eojgf0n]Plus a school bus has the ability to go places a lot of RVs bottom out, like national forests and other free places. I've noticed many places I want to go don't like things over 30' so I'm aiming for less than.
I do not understand this. Can you explain it differently?[/quote:3eojgf0n]

I think I can: check some pictures of motorhomes, then look at some pictures of school buses about the same length. The school buses will have more (often, LOTS more) ground clearance, especially on the rear overhang. Also, bottoming out a school bus is generally minor unless you take out dump valves or the fuel tank (not easy, but I would have to say possible)...scraped bumper, scraped trailer hitch, maybe a dent in the side skirts or a bent exhaust pipe. Bottoming out a motorhome even at low speeds can cost thousands to repair.

Quote:
I have never tried. I have a male best friend. It makes him feel all manly and important when I ask him to do manly things. So I pretend to be a bit helpless on these things to boost his ego. Itís manipulative, but it makes him feel good.
I suggest asking him to teach you to drive (notably: back up) a large truck. Shouldn't take more than a day or two.

Quote:
Wow! Thatís a blazing endorsement. Iíd like to paint it gunmetal gray though. I really liked how Smittyís skoolie looked (before he added the wood trim). It really did look like some sort of SWAT team bus.
The most important is the roof...my B700 is light gray with very dark maroon trim, black wheels, and black bumpers, but everything above the raingutters is white to reflect heat. The difference is staggering...on a hot day, the roof is warm, the sides are a little warmer, the trim is hot, the bumpers & wheels are too hot to touch. I went with the maroon trim because I DIDN'T want it to look like a SWAT team bus.

Quote:
HrmmÖwell, thatís an idea. Iím not thrilled at the prospect of towing it though. Plus, I think the decreased gas mileage might not be worth it. I really, really love my PT, but itís nearly 10 years old now. Itís likely it wonít last for another few years anyway.
10 years isn't that old...take care of it and it will last a long time. Sometimes, you will want a vehicle that fits in parking spaces & tight driveways. Also, it can double as a way to get help in an emergency. A PT is light enough the extra fuel will be minimal.

Quote:
Once again, lots of things to think about. Iíve pretty much changed my mind on the flush toilet, freezer, and washer/dryer. I only do laundry twice a month, so I suspect that I could find a Laundromat that I could pull into every couple of weeks (right?). Otherwise, I could pull into a campground and do it by hand and line dry it.
Laundromats are common enough almost everywhere...most truck stops have one on-site or nearby, many campgrounds have laundry rooms. Not sure they'd let you line-dry at the site, though.
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Old 12-12-2010, 10:57 PM   #19
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Re: Best "RV" Option for a Woman?

I have hung up clothes in the bathroom and strung a clothes line inside the RV. Don't you know you can make it rain just by hanging the clothes out to dry? Lots of campgrounds don't let you have clotheslines. I have a little trick that I use, I attach a long chain made up of big plastic links (got from either Lowes or Home Depot) to the open awning with bungee codes on each end. then I have clothes clips (like what you put on plastic hangers) that I use for towels, underthings, socks and pants. For shirts, I put those on Hangers. Looks like I'm airing out a few shirts.
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Old 12-13-2010, 09:17 AM   #20
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Re: Best "RV" Option for a Woman?

Lorna answered most. As to why I want it shorter than 30' is because many spots on the free camping lists/sites, the boondocking, and especially with National campgrounds that aren't as crowded as the uber popular resort ones--don't fit bus/rv's longer than 30'. Some places won't let you even drive the roads due to hairpin curves and what not.

Besides, under 30' is easy to drive. A luxary car is generally 18' long, just add a few feet Plus with a slightly smaller one you can pull little trailers when you need to, like for hauling a boat or ATVs then store them all in storage when you don't need 'em.
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