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Old 03-06-2008, 02:20 PM   #1
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Re: school bus or westy???

I would think you'd run out of room real quick with a van, a bus would be much more comfortable. The downside of course is that a bus is a lot more work to convert. I think that a budget of 6,000 is vary doable for a bus.

As far as being able to fit into fast food restaurants and such, maybe look into a mid size bus - maybe a 7-10 window length. I was bored so I threw together a small floor plan for a mid size bus.
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Old 03-06-2008, 03:12 PM   #2
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Re: school bus or westy???

The Honda EU2000 is a simple solution to power needs. It's a very fuel efficient generator. They can be a little pricey up front (900 bucks or so) but they use far less fuel than a traditional generator. They can run for something like 12 hours on a gallon of fuel. Your other option would be to get a bunch of batteries and an inverter. Then you have to find some way to charge them, store them ect.. plus when the batteries die your out of power, if the generator runs out of fuel you just get some more.

I think you could get a bus and a generator for less than 3,000... leaving you 3,000 to convert the interior. I think that's doable.

One last thing I forgot to mention is that an old school bus had a very rough ride... so rough it's difficult to sleep while someone is driving. I've heard that rear engine buses ride nicer, downside is that they are harder to find and seem to cost more.
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Old 03-06-2008, 03:28 PM   #3
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Re: school bus or westy???


(Speaking from having a solar panel array and a wind turbine on our bus for the past 20 months, living in it fulltime in the SW USA).
IMO, in wind vs. solar, solar will serve you better in all but the most windy conditions. In most locations, sunshine is more predictable and stable. Even when it is windy, having a turbine on a bus brings turbulence due to the low mounting position, so the output is not steady, and it's hard on the turbine. And it's kinda noisy, especially at night when trying to sleep.
There is a US gov't website that has wind maps for every state, so go there before spending $ on a turbine setup. Our Air-X turbine needs steady winds of at least 8 MPH to get going and at that speed, makes only a tiny bit of juice.

I guess my feeling on it is to think heavily & do lots of research before relying solely on a wind turbine for electricity (in addition to your engine/alternator). The first real step in that area is to estimate your electrical needs for a day. There are worksheets available all over the www. From there you can estimate battery needs, and from there, a recharging strategy.

Switching gears to bus size...
During our travels, we try to avoid any large cities, but when we do need to navigate a parking lot for a retaurant, grocery store, or gas visit, the driver just needs to be patient and plan ahead a little. We usually park far away from the entrance of the store/restaurant, because most cars are parked up close so people can avoid the walk. For fuel, I look for stations with high (or no) canopies that can accomodate big RVs. Our bus is 30' bumper to bumper, flat-front, front engine.

Good luck, keep us posted on what you decide to do. A fun future is in store with either a westy or a bus.

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Old 03-06-2008, 03:51 PM   #4
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Re: school bus or westy???

Originally Posted by phillbus914
I would think you'd run out of room real quick with a van, a bus would be much more comfortable. The downside of course is that a bus is a lot more work to convert. I think that a budget of 6,000 is vary doable for a bus.

As far as being able to fit into fast food restaurants and such, maybe look into a mid size bus - maybe a 7-10 window length. I was bored so I threw together a small floor plan for a mid size bus.
phill and i pull into fast food restaurants all the time with our buses. Both are 71 passenger full size skoolies. I never have much trouble parking. You get really good at maneuvering through tight spaces like gas stations and other obstacle coarse pretty quick. Having two people is a bonus because you can have a person get out and spot you if need be. More than once i've gone into McD's after parking the bus and they're like "it's just you?" i'm i say "yup" and they say something like "but we started cooking a bunch of extra meat and fries because we saw a bus pull in" Late at nite after the lobby is closed we've also used the drive through. at most restaurants there is an overhang where you pick up your food makingit necessary to get out of the bus, but nobody ever seems to mind.

one advantage of a van is that you'll get a lot better fuel mileage. I spend way more money every year in fuel than i paid for both of my first two buses combined. I would think that you definitely want a bus that can get 10 mpg, even if it costs you an extra $1k or so up front it's worth it in the long run. A van also will have a much more desirable cruising speed. 80 mph across montana in a van is no big're lucky if you get a full size bus to cruise over 65, and if it can fuel economy will suffer dramatically.

I think that bigger is better as far as skoolies. A 30 passenger vs a 80 passenger both on medium duty truck chassis will get approximately the same fuel mileage. 30 feet of space gets used up pretty fast when you're trying to fit everything you own inside.
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Old 03-06-2008, 06:37 PM   #5
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Re: school bus or westy???

I agree with Shortbus. Part of it comes down to how much personal "space" you need to feel comfortable, obviously. I used to have a '71 VW bus, and loved it, but myself plus one other person, and things got a bit cramped. Jason makes a very good point about mileage too, I don't remember what my van got for mileage, but it was tons better than even my shortbus now. If I were you, I'd go with a bus, especially with the little one.

I know, not much help with my post, just personal rambling. Good luck! Either decision you make, whether it's a skoolie or a VW, you'll be joining a good group of "friends" that'll help you out anywhere you go.
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Old 03-07-2008, 07:54 AM   #6
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Re: school bus or westy???

My girlfriend Julie and I have travelled and worked the last two years. We lived in a pop-up for 8 months in Florida. It was ok but you had stay on top of things. Ours had no bath or toilet. Like any small space you have to work out a system with your partner and your space, personal and occupied. And remember pulling the thing wil kill any fuel economy you might have had especially if what you have as a tow vehicle is on the underpowered side. Are you going to be on the road driving constantly or going to a location, working, staying and then moving on? If the latter I might go more for the comfort and space and let the fuel economy work itself out. If the former, then maybe economy. We are converting a large bus because we plan to travel, work, travel, work. You get the picture. And yeah we will have to bring along some other transportation (a definite consideration) Like us it sounds like travel is what you want to do, so whatever the case you will work out a way to deal with it. Everyone has given some great ideas in their posts, so good luck, welcome, and please keep us posted.
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Old 03-07-2008, 11:02 AM   #7
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Re: school bus or westy???

How do you plan on getting around once you get to your destination? Bicycles? If you want to get around in an automobile or truck then you might think about a trailer (I know you others will think I am a traitor but with a bus you are handicapped on travel). If you are going to just park and walk or bike everywhere (that's really the cheapest way) then a bus is ideal. Please don't take this the wrong way but judging by the questions you have asked you haven't read enough here. You need to read, read, read for months looking at everyones ideas and the process they went through to get their end result. You can't read enough or get enough ideas before tackling a job like this. Your skill level will be elevated as you work on the conversion so don't worry about that. The more time you spend on your enlightenment and the conversion the happier you will be in the end. There are plenty of people here who can answer your questions as well as I especially if it's related to metal so don't be shy. Good luck on your adventures and be sure to post pictures as you go. sportyrick
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Old 03-08-2008, 09:10 PM   #8
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Re: school bus or westy???

I will add that the short buses that I drive during the week (Fords with eldorado and startrans shuttle bodys) only do about 10 to 12 mpg depending on who is driving and how fast one goes and this is stop and go. One guy driving a 29 foot international 3400 eldorado body 19.5 rims managed to pull 12 mpg but I don't think he ever went over 45 to 50 mph.

The choice is yours not ours. If I was intending on traveling fo a year or two and I couldn't spend more than 6000 on the vehicle I will be doing it in I would go with a extended cargo van. Why because I'm already on a low budget to begin with and what happens in the event of a break down.

I actually want to take a extended 2 week trip to California sometime soon. And I just bought a regular size 1998 ford e350 cargo with a diesel for 2000 which I'll put a bed in the back to cheap out on hotels every night. It will be only two of us on the trip. I am only hoping for around 15 mpg so I figuring my fuel cost on that right now but I'll have a more accurate idea on the mpg it gets before I go. I also tend to add an extra dollar to the price per gallon in my estimated fuel cost for the trip so I know I will be safe.

And if you are planning two year you might want to think about what the fuel cost might be during the trip to the end of the trip. You can't rely on rent money from renters you don't have yet or do have but maybe they may neglect to pay and then the possibility the they may really stiff you after not paying and trash your house. I don't mean to scare you but it could happen.
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