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Old 01-12-2019, 05:06 PM   #1
New Member
Join Date: Jan 2019
Location: Indiana
Posts: 2
Having Trouble Deciding

Hey Y'all!

I just joined this forum (even though I've been youtubing skoolie and coach conversions for more than a year). I'm getting really close to starting my conversion, but I'm having trouble deciding between a vintage bus, a school bus or a box truck. Here's the main pro's & con's that I've narrowed down so far that are keeping me from deciding one way or the other:

School Bus:
Pro's - They're inexpensive and overbuilt. The ground clearance is great for when I boon dock on BLM land. The community surrounding skoolies is awesome!

Con's - There are some campgrounds that might not accept it. Doing the roof raise is going to be painful. Getting it properly insured (not just for if I get pulled over, but if something catastrophic should happen) is going to be difficult.

Vintage Coach:
Pro's - They're sooooo solid (if a decent one is found). Can't understate how beautiful they are to me. The ones I have looked at aren't as long or low as a modern coach. So, I can get into state parks and not have to worry about bottoming out on less than paved roads. Did I mention how gorgeous they are? The community surrounding vintage buses is really good!

Con's - Finding replacement parts for the body while restoring is probably going to slow me down quite a bit. Definitely more work in the preparation stage (since I'm not going to be able to spend a bajillion dollars to get an already restored one). Putting a modern engine and transmission in is going to be a gut punch to the budget. They're heavier than a skoolie and a box truck, so fuel consumption and potentially getting stuck boondocking on BLM land are concerns.

Box Truck:
Pro's - Already a blank canvas, no gutting needed. No roof raise needed. They're easiest to have repaired (if I get a Ford or GM make).

Con's - I'm concerned about the stability of the sides, as they'll need to be re-inforced. Finding proper insurance, again. There's really no community out there for box truck conversions. I know that one might seem silly, but it is important to me. And, I feel like I'm missing something really huge as to why more aren't done. It seems like a no-brainer, but I have a hard time finding box truck conversions out there. So, I'm worried that I'm overlooking something really big.

Those are the thoughts rattling around my brain. Your opinions? Wisecracks? Suggestions?

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Old 01-12-2019, 05:27 PM   #2
Bus Crazy
Drew Bru's Avatar
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Grayson County, VA
Posts: 1,402
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Amtran
Chassis: International
Engine: DT466
Rated Cap: 65
Welcome aboard. We'd considered converting an old transit bus or vintage Greyhound or Flxible, but the more we looked into it, the more it didn't look like it would work for us. We really liked the look of them, but a couple things: We wanted a bit more ground clearance for boondocking purposes. We'd also looked into the Detroit Diesel engines that most of them came with and it seemed like it might be a problem (an expensive one) if we needed to find someone to do the engine work. Repowering it seemed like it would be more money and hassle than we wanted to deal with. We circled back around to a school bus, after looking at all other options, and we're glad we did. We're not so worried about campground snobbery, those kinds of places would be the last resort for us.....I'd kinda rather stay in a Cracker Barrel parking lot, to be honest. I've heard those concerns are a bit overblown anyways.
Our Build:
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Old 01-12-2019, 05:43 PM   #3
Bus Geek
brokedown's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2016
Location: Weeki Wachee, FL
Posts: 3,028
Year: 1997
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: TC2000 FE
Engine: Cummins 5.9
Rated Cap: 72
I wrote an article with my thought on exactly that subject. Check it out.

BTW - You didn't mention where you are, insurance may or may not be a big deal depending on your location.
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Old 01-12-2019, 06:20 PM   #4
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Join Date: Jan 2019
Location: Indiana
Posts: 2
Drew - Those are definitely huge concerns for me, too. The vintage buses w/out a tag axle seem to have a higher ground clearance. But, those are also even older. The ones I'm looking at are mostly from the 40's. So... even harder to find parts. And, yeah, re-powering is going to be hugely expensive. In my mind, I've pretty much taken the vintage buses out of the running, but if the perfect one comes along, I want to stay open to it. So, that's why I kept them in the list. Soooooooooooo gorgeous, though.... *sighs* And, I'm doing this by complete choice, so aesthetics are still a huge thing for me.

Brokedown - Thanks for the link! I'm not so worried about stealth. So, I'd be cutting in windows, etc., into the box truck. Thereby, virtually killing my stealthiness. Besides, I have the worst time being subtle, anyway. LOL The stability of the sides of a box truck is a real concern. If I get into a wreck, it's gonna be a mess no matter what I choose. But, with a box truck, just doing evasive maneuvers would make me nervous unless I could find a way of really stabilizing the sides. The skoolie's ability to go over 55 mph is def a concern. But, you're right - if I did find one that was just electronically governed, that wouldn't be too bad to overcome.

I'm in Indiana, but I'd be changing my residency to one of the RV friendly states.

So....... I'm still tossed up.......
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