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Old 08-18-2021, 10:08 AM   #1
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Help me decide if a Skoolie conversion is right for me and my kids.

My name is Leo and this is my first post. First I would like to say that this community is fantastic. Between reading these forums and watching YouTube channels I've learned so much. You guys are great!

My wife and I want to do a conversion. We saw several buses here in the Northeast. We are in PA but most buses we saw were in NJ. We want a short bus. We saw one we really liked. It was 21ft long and had a handicap door, wide body, 140k miles, priced decently.

We want a shirt bus because my wife is the primary driver and we would like to think that at 21ft we wouldn't have too much of a hard time parking at different locations.

Here are some of our dilemmas:

1. The bus has non working rear ac. We will be using for recreation only. Also primarily during the summer months since we both teach public schools. We like to chase warn weather: beaches, lakes, places like Virginia, South Carolina, Florida, etc. How is travelling with kids age 12 and 13 be like having no ac while driving? We do plan to add some sort of cooling (mini split, portable ac, etc when we are connected to shore power). But what about driving in that heat? How do you guys manage that? Those with passengers in the back.

2. Because of the size limitations of a short bus, we are planning a bed in the back and planning to either secure sideways a sofa bed like a friheten from IKEA (beefed up with additional wood) or build our own sofa bed where the two kids can sleep. Naturally I want to mount lapbelts mounted to the floor. Do any of you travel with kids seated sideways with lapbelts? I'm not sure if I'm overthinking but should I be worried about their safety seated like that?

Thank you

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Old 08-18-2021, 12:41 PM   #2
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Location: Dawsonville, Ga.
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My first recommendation is to not be looking for a bus in N.E. You're almost garaunteed to have rust issues on the floor that may not be visible on inspection. It pays to travel to find a rust free example to start with. No AC in the back will be uncomfortable for those riding back there. If it has a non working AC, that's a plus, as it can be repaired easier than installing a new one.
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Old 08-18-2021, 01:55 PM   #3
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Join Date: May 2018
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Rated Cap: 20? five rows of 4?
short busses AC and seats

I am going to talk busses, not van cutaway chassis, not shuttle busses, not transit busses.

Metal boxes with the floors around 30 inches off the ground.

side impact --- That floor is the biggest part of side impact protection. It is not going to be of much use against a train, or other medium or heavy duty trucks.

In a side impact, the usual front/rear facing seats and three point belts are not going to do much.... Now if you were sideways...

Let me give you an example of likely injuries in side impact when you sit on a couch in a motorhome/bus.

you are sitting on the left side, you head is four inches away from the window/wall. A 3/4 ton truck with a trailer hits the drivers side - left side of the bus..... the back of your head is going to smack what ever is behind it.
your body is likely to rebound forward - that is towards the right side of the bus when bus quits moving sideways from the impact. A lap belt only is going to hurt the soft belly parts of the humans, likely, the extent of damage depends on a bunch of variables. A three point belt will help but then there is still the head/neck dynamics that will still occur and also how good of a three point belt was used and how well it was installed. Then there is , was a person reclined? sitting straight up? feet propped up? sleeping? aware of impending collision?

I have been involved with the study of car/truck/airplane/motorcycle crashes since the late 1980's How tires grip the road, what happens to the body/chassis of the vehicle during the crash, what happens to the human body during a crash, within the first 60 minutes of a crash, and up to three years after a crash. working a crash backwards to figure out what is likely to have happened to initiate the crash. I think if most people under stood what happens with steering wheels during a crash, most of us would be smart to let go during the crash event. broken fingers, wrists, forearms, dislocated shoulders... broken legs, feet, ankles because, in the head on wreck, the passenger up front was bracing for the impact like crazy during the big hit.

okay, that being said... I am playing the statistical odds, every one is seated front/back when moving. every one seated has a three point belt. All seats have built in seat belts. all seats are four inches away from walls. all the walls are padded where heads are likely to hit. not the glass, but the walls.
It is legal to be sitting on couches with no belts in a motor home. There are no standards for rollover or crash tests of any kind. School busses are a different matter... There have been standards since the 1930's _ I think that was around the first get togethers for standards. There was a biggish industry change in the mid 70's. bus bodies are meant NOT to be bolted to the frame of the truck.... the body is meant to move around, and even separate from the truck part of things. every time you connect something to the body of the bus AND the frame, think about that.

For the most part everything get put in a cage or strapped down with big big straps in the inside.... I think you could pickup my bus with the steel toilet, yea that kind of bolted down. **** goes flying around in wrecks, that stupid little ceramic doggy that weighs one pound whacking someone in the base of the skull is not going to end well, that brick covered in knitting used to prop open the door has reasonable chance to cause injury, That 10lb fire extinguisher will have a force 40 times more, 400 lbs!, during crash is going to rip those two itty bitty screws Get the idea?

A member here on the site tipped his bus over on the side... I dont recall how or why. I dont think is was a high speed event all. More like a roll over that barely happened. see how stuff came out of place in that easy tip over.

okay enough about that.

I have at lease five little ones with me - gran kids, all but one are girls.
I have to have a working toilet. You know that thing when a woman gets up to go to the restroom and says "lets go to the ladies room?" yea that starts at age three. when one has to go to the bathroom at least one other, if not all of them, have to go. So I have this steel prison toilet on the bus. We pull off the road and they all go. I dont allow toilet to be used while on the road. IN an emergency like maybe gonna puke or mess themselves.... but usually never unbelted while in motion, if stopped in fog, traffic jam or such belts. Steel toilet has only one moving part and easy to keep clean.

AC and heat. Used to be until the 1960's nothin on the road had air conditioning cept rich folks or really creative home built stuff. Window mounted swamp coolers were a thing. You can find them on ebay and antique car swap meets, I've seen some at flea markets from time to time. I bought a ceiling mount ac system from another skoolie owner. I have that and one on the dash board, two AC compressors on the engine. My bus is just under 24 feet bumper to bumper. I want grumpy kids, and my wife to be comfortable for hot weather trips, makes travel so much nicer. Big big heaters for cold weather too. There is a person here on the Skoolie named CadillacKid he has done some of the best custom work I have ever seen -- bar none. He has some articles about bus air conditioning. This dude is an all rounder. One of the most intelligent people I have ever met. I try to copy what he has done because he does it so very well.

I dont anticipate being near ac plug in places and my bus is more of a travel vehicle... If it gets that stinking hot... I will start the bus or we will get hotel rooms.

william
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Old 08-18-2021, 02:56 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leoesu View Post
My name is Leo and this is my first post. First I would like to say that this community is fantastic. Between reading these forums and watching YouTube channels I've learned so much. You guys are great!

My wife and I want to do a conversion. We saw several buses here in the Northeast. We are in PA but most buses we saw were in NJ. We want a short bus. We saw one we really liked. It was 21ft long and had a handicap door, wide body, 140k miles, priced decently.

We want a shirt bus because my wife is the primary driver and we would like to think that at 21ft we wouldn't have too much of a hard time parking at different locations.

Here are some of our dilemmas:

1. The bus has non working rear ac. We will be using for recreation only. Also primarily during the summer months since we both teach public schools. We like to chase warn weather: beaches, lakes, places like Virginia, South Carolina, Florida, etc. How is travelling with kids age 12 and 13 be like having no ac while driving? We do plan to add some sort of cooling (mini split, portable ac, etc when we are connected to shore power). But what about driving in that heat? How do you guys manage that? Those with passengers in the back.
If you want to enjoy the trip, I suggest you MUST have A/C while driving, especially with kids. I would wait for a bus with functioning AC, powered by the engine. They usually can make the interior the same temp as a meat locker.

If this is THE bus, and you are DYING to get going, add a mini-split system into the plan. You'll need lots of battery and a reasonably beefy electrical system to run it.

I rented an RV last year and it did not have AC other than the dashboard.
Completely inadequate. We drove with the generator running and blasted the roof AC. Barely made a difference.

Others here have more experience with the efficacy of the mini-split while driving.


Quote:
Originally Posted by leoesu View Post

2. Because of the size limitations of a short bus, we are planning a bed in the back and planning to either secure sideways a sofa bed like a friheten from IKEA (beefed up with additional wood) or build our own sofa bed where the two kids can sleep. Naturally I want to mount lapbelts mounted to the floor. Do any of you travel with kids seated sideways with lapbelts? I'm not sure if I'm overthinking but should I be worried about their safety seated like that?
Makes sense to have lap belts, even if not strictly required. I'd first want to nail down every object that could fly in an accident. But equally, having lap belts is reasonable.

Our rig is built for 3 people, and each will have a full shoulder strap seat belt. One of the passenger seats swivels, the other one faces forward. That's my comfort zone on passenger security.
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Old 08-18-2021, 03:15 PM   #5
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Location: Florida
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Chassis: RE-300 42ft
Engine: 466ci
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Top three buyers/builders remorse, I see on this site:

- Rusty bus from the salt belt.
- No AC &/or heat while driving.
- Problematic engine &/or trans.

Runners up:
- No steel ribs in fiberglass shell.
- No steel floor in cutaway bus.

The threads below may help you to avoid some of the mistakes we have made as a collective.

Skoolie Commandments
https://www.skoolie.net/forums/f10/t...nts-35502.html

Factory AC
https://www.skoolie.net/forums/f9/th...a-c-27952.html

Salt Belt:
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Salt-Belt.svg.jpg (91.1 KB, 3 views)
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Old 08-19-2021, 01:17 PM   #6
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Thanks to everyone who replied. I've decided to not settle for a bus without working AC. As for the salt belt, well, I will keep my eyes peeled for buses in other areas.
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Old 08-19-2021, 04:36 PM   #7
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the cut aways with the collins midbus body have a corrugated tin floor that is better than some manufacturers but i would be reluctant about just putting screws or lag bolts in it.
i used carriage bolts with backer rings(3"x3"x1/4" square washers galvanized) but that was because i had access to plenty of them.
this bus is not in my profile because it is be built for my wife and she follows the facebook thing and i dont? anyway it was easier to build safer in a full on skoolie bus than a cutaway but at least collins/midbus did put SOME metal down?
myself?
i wouldnt even put that stuff on a barn roof even temporary? but to me its better than just a wood floor exposed to the elements. especially under a vehicle.
good luck
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Old 08-19-2021, 05:07 PM   #8
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Join Date: Aug 2019
Location: Auburn, WA
Posts: 758
Year: 2000
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Chassis: 3000 / 33' Flat Nose
Engine: IC T444E / Allison MT643
Rated Cap: 72 Kids / 48 Adults
This person, RossVTaylor, who is a really great person IMHO, has recently dealt with a California company and bought two ~27' buses that both had AC, working. He drove both of them from CA to AZ with no mechanical issues. He delivered another one from AZ to Reno via Las Vegas with the AC blasting with no mechanical problems.

He would be able to give you some good input. I suggest you PM him.

Per seating, My suggestion is to retain at least two of the original seats and, if they have them, seatbelts. Set them up facing each other. That way you can put a table, or convert into a bed, while still using them as seats for the kids.

These seats and the hardware that secures them are already tested and approved for use, so not much to worry about from that point. If the original bus does not have seatbelts, you can always buy some.

Hope this helps.
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