Originally Posted by Quest_techie
Okay, I have a vague sort of idea of what I want to do when I get a bus, I'm looking for a 60' (or whatever the exact dimension is, that is the vague estimation I had heard for the huge ones) or a 40' double decker, as you may have read elsewhere I want to make a "garage" in the back (internal) so that I have the freedom of hauling around my car.
Now I have no idea about bus engines or transmissions and though there is another thread addressing a similar issue in conversions, it doesn't seem to work as well for me because I don't have quite as many skills as System-f (I can't weld or fabricate things, hope to be able to by the time I have my bus, but...) I also know next to nothing about engines, I have only the most basic idea how they work
Wow...nicely loaded post!
The 60-footers are articlulated buses (they hinge in the middle); they are quite restricted in where they can operate (legally). They'll also be quite restricted by their road clearance and length. Kevin (Soul Trader) has a definite concept of where and how he'll use his 60-footer but it probably wouldn't work for most folks. Also, the engine on those buses is typically in the rear so you wouldn't be able to build a ramp for your hauled vehicle(s).
Depending on the height of the vehicle you want to haul I don't believe a double-decker (even if you could find one) would be the thing. I've no doubt that the upper floor (or ceiling if you will for the lower floor) is a structural member and cutting a big chunk out of it right at the tail of the bus and then cutting the back out of the bus to make a ramp would most likely not be a good thing from a strutural standpoint.
You really need to think about how you'll use your bus...the places you want to go, the number of folks you need to accommodate, etc. For instance, the Articulated bus and the Double Decker would both restrict the places you can go due to limited road clearance (on both) and overall height (on the double decker). So if you hope to get into a field to camp somewhere (race, air show, arts & crafts fair, concert, etc) you'll want a bit of road clearance. And if you want to get off onto small backroads you'll need to be mindful of the overall height; I've been a lot of places where 12-1/2' is the tallest you'd want to be (you can safely operate at 13-1/2' if you're willing to stay on the freeways and truck routes).
Do you want to pull a trailer in addition to hauling your vehicle inside? If not, then it would be a heck of a lot easier to tow your vehicle (on its feet, on a flatbed or in a car hauler) then to rebuild the bus to accommodate it. If you don't need the interior space that a full-sized (11-window) bus gives you and you're worried about overall length then get a shorter bus to tow your vehicle with.
If you're doing the hauler conversion for the 'coolness' factor (and I consider that quite legitimate) then make it a learning process and go take a welding class at the local community college; it ain't rocket science as they say!
If you do the work yourself I'd guesstimate that the bus conversion or a flatbed trailer will cost close to the same (the conversion maybe a bit more) if we're talking 'all new'. If you pay to have the conversion done I think you could buy an enclosed car hauler for less. If you can find a good used flatbed or enclosed car hauler I don't think you can do the conversion on the bus for less (unless you have ready access to awfully good deals on materials). A good DIY Scrounger could make this happen but it doesn't sound like you've morphed into that yet...but you certainly could!
There's enough engine information on this site to write a small book already!
I don't want to add more. A search should turn up more than you bargained for...