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Old 08-26-2020, 11:13 AM   #1
Join Date: Aug 2020
Location: Nomad
Posts: 10
Newbie Bus Help

Hello everyone!

First post here for me. A little background to set the stage. I currently travel in a 26 foot Airstream full-time with my family (wife & 2 kids ages 5,2) and work M-F remote from the rig. The Airstream is very nice but we find its not really laid out how we want and are inspired to build out a bus to maximize space and enjoyment. I'd also like to further my skills to repair and maintain our rig. I am a complete bus newbie and need some advice from those of you much wiser than I about how to start this process.

I've been looking at Govdeals and public surplus but am overwhelmed. Any other places I should be looking?

1. Ideas for bus models / years / engine-tranny combinations?
We would prefer to be between 30 to 35 feet so that we can more easily fit into state/county/etc campgrounds and to make boondocking a little easier. We've heard that being 40 feet makes it tougher to find spots.
We want to tow a Jeep with a 6K GVWR
I prefer not to have to deal with DEF so I think a model year less than 2010 is what we're looking for.
Prefer the bus is not so old that its hard to find parts, etc.
Doesn't have to be a school bus. Would consider city/transit bus as long as it has enough ground clearance for forest roads to boondocking spots.
I think I prefer a flat nose rear engine bus.
We primarily live in the west and will do mountain driving somewhat regularly and want to be able to make it over passes.
2. Any ideas where we would be able to do the build?
We don't have a permanent home anymore and family and friends aren't an option as none of their properties are suitable.
Would prefer to be in a place that is nice-ish year round.
I'd like to do a lot of the work myself but am not against hiring help for things that are above my skill grade, which is not that high at the moment. It would be nice to be near someone that has some expertise so that I can learn from them.
Thanks for your thoughts and time!!!

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Old 08-26-2020, 02:25 PM   #2
Bus Geek
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Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: Dawsonville, Ga.
Posts: 10,472
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Genesis
Chassis: International
Engine: DT466/3060
Rated Cap: 77
Welcome to the addiction. Go to the UserCP and fill out your profile, it'll help answer questions that may be location oriented.
EPA came in in 04 and added a bunch of emission stuff that can be problematic, hard to diagnose, and expensive to repair. So we normally look for 03 and earlier models. Parts are still plentiful.
Build location is an issue for many, and I have no solutions. Fortunate to have a piece of property that has room for the bus build.
I Thank God That He Gifted Me with Common Sense
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Old 09-18-2020, 09:29 PM   #3
Join Date: Aug 2020
Location: New York
Posts: 19
Year: 2004
Coachwork: International
Engine: DT466e
Welcome to the community!! This is a helpful blog post about where to buy a skoolie, and this is another helpful post about how to figure out how long of a rig you need! The blog has a lot of other cool posts about good brands to feature in your conversion for appliances and products, how to get your bus sponsored by companies, etc. Check them out, and good luck with your build!
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Old 09-18-2020, 10:38 PM   #4
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Virginia
Posts: 2,302
Year: None
Coachwork: None
Chassis: None
Engine: None
Rated Cap: None
To help you get started

Delete - was intended as PM
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Old 09-19-2020, 02:50 AM   #5
Bus Geek
Join Date: Sep 2015
Posts: 3,853
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Thomas Built Bus
Chassis: Freightliner FS65
Engine: Caterpillar 3126E Diesel
Rated Cap: 71 Passenger- 30,000 lbs.
There are a couple of places you can build and live.

Cabello Loco Ranch in Arizona (about 45 minutes outside of Tucson).

Aussom Possum in Graham, Texas. [Youtube video]
Native is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-20-2020, 04:08 AM   #6
Bus Nut
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Join Date: Jun 2020
Location: Long Beach, CA
Posts: 701
Year: 1998
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: TC1000, 40' MPV
Engine: 5.9 Cummins/B300 trans
Rated Cap: U/K
Originally Posted by Native View Post
There are a couple of places you can build and live.

Cabello Loco Ranch in Arizona (about 45 minutes outside of Tucson).

Aussom Possum in Graham, Texas. [Youtube video]
Those 2 links are great. What's been holding me back from buying a bus is an affordable place to build it. Around here (Los Angeles area) I was looking at around $400/mo.
Thank you!
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