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Old 10-27-2021, 08:07 PM   #1
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Skoolie vs Shuttle bus for conversion

"Why We Bought a Shuttle Bus and NOT A School Bus For Our Bus Conversion-Ep. 48"




His video makes great points. I chose to go with the latter, a shuttle bus for some of the same reasons but added new ones also.

His main points are:

1. Higher interior height (Not sure if entirely correct)
2. Fiberglass body construction
3. Extra storage (garage space) -- not sure about that as skoolies can be huge with the same overall amount of space available.
4. Better looks - and easier access to engine. - this is actually one of the most important points, the latter part. Specifically, a F550/F650 chassis makes access to the engine much easier versus either an E-series or an A-class or a many skoolies. Unless the skoolie also has a dog-nose.

The most important pro he missed, IMO is the stealth factor. Major cities are full of shuttle buses, commercial ones and it's a piece of cake to do stealth full-timing. Paint some business logo on the sides and if fits right in.
A skoolie or a RV or an A/B/C class scream "Someone full times here". Unless it's a stealth sprinter van configured to look like a Amazon delivery vehicle.
Or a cargo van and neither one is appealing to me as much as a shuttle bus.

Bottom line, in many places you cannot run a skoolie for the purpose of stealth 'urban living', but a shuttle bus is a great candidate. There are many business parks that have myriad shuttle buses and another one would fit right in.

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Old 10-27-2021, 08:21 PM   #2
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I'm with ya on all points.
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Old 10-27-2021, 08:24 PM   #3
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That makes sense to me, the stealth factor especially.
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Old 10-27-2021, 09:15 PM   #4
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I would say the major downside to the shuttle bus is cost, they cost considerably more than a skoolie. A nice one begins around 20-25K.. and that for 2010-2012, while 2016 up goes up very steeply in price, 50K is not uncommon ones that are 5 years old.
Whereas a skoolie you know you can get for much less. Arguably a skoolie is a better value since you usually get more space, 38 passenger versus 28-30 in a typical shuttle bus.

I still prefer shuttle buses over skoolies all for the reasons stated but it may not be the most frugal option.

The thing is, I wanted a very specific configuration that was almost unicorn rare as it turns out.

32 passenger
V10 6.8L
F550 or F650 chassis
under 60K miles
No rust or body damage

I found one but it took months amazingly.

If you are not picky and stealth camping is irrelevant, shuttle buses do not make much sense.
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Old 10-28-2021, 02:49 PM   #5
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I have watched that video. Some of his thoughts do apply. One big thing he never covered or anyone else has talked about in any videos.

Where does you partner ride? Most schoolies and shuttles have no second passenger front seating. That is taken out by the front door placement. In my searching a couple of months ago. I found two shuttles with front seat provisions for two. Both of those shuttles were way over priced for what was left and the milage shown.

I never found a side by side schoolie.

I ended up stepping into a old shuttle bus that had room for a second seat position. The wife had stated. Side by side seating. ONLY

I found a 92 Collins 25' shuttle with low milage. It has room to do a second seat position. It needs more work than a later rig. But the wife will be happy in our travels setting up beside me.
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Old 10-28-2021, 03:22 PM   #6
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I would hope whatever bus I bought that it would be well maintained and not need of "constant" engine work that would make my decision on whether it be an FE, RE, or Dognose for ease of working on it. My decision would be based on what would be done most often, living in it, or working on it. Just sayin

If planning on spending considerable time in it, I would want one bigger than they make. Mine has an 8' garage in the back, 8' of space I could have used for living area. A shuttle for me would just have everything too close.
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Old 10-28-2021, 06:26 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilipE View Post
I have watched that video. Some of his thoughts do apply. One big thing he never covered or anyone else has talked about in any videos.

Where does you partner ride? Most schoolies and shuttles have no second passenger front seating. That is taken out by the front door placement. In my searching a couple of months ago. I found two shuttles with front seat provisions for two. Both of those shuttles were way over priced for what was left and the milage shown.

I never found a side by side schoolie.

I ended up stepping into a old shuttle bus that had room for a second seat position. The wife had stated. Side by side seating. ONLY

I found a 92 Collins 25' shuttle with low milage. It has room to do a second seat position. It needs more work than a later rig. But the wife will be happy in our travels setting up beside me.
Our copilot seat is on the passenger side but slightly behind the driver's seat.
Close enough to talk almost normally.
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Old 10-29-2021, 03:42 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by o1marc View Post
I would hope whatever bus I bought that it would be well maintained and not need of "constant" engine work that would make my decision on whether it be an FE, RE, or Dognose for ease of working on it. My decision would be based on what would be done most often, living in it, or working on it. Just sayin

The whole vibe of converting whatever vehicle into a full-timing rig, be it a skoolie or a shuttle bus or a cargo van, or one of these Sprinter vans - for many that means go out there in the middle of nowhere and travel vast distances to get there. Or it may mean a trek to the beach.

The thing is, mechanical things break, belts snap well before they are supposed to, alternators wear out, water pumps, radiator hoses. Sometimes you can nurse it back to life long enough to limp to the nearest service station. it's the whole vibe of Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance, you develop a relationship with your machine and take care of it. I do. I am not a great mechanic, I only do some very basic things, - belts, oil, brakes, spark plugs, stuff like that.

The problem is, somewhere along the way, the powers that be created the E-series with the recessed nose and half the engine inside the unit, in the 'dog-house'. This makes the vibe of Do-it-yourself much harder, sometimes you have to wrench half-blind. Even if you are not a DIY person, mechanics charge more.

For me, ease of repair is a major factor. Gas is simpler than diesel with unreliable turbos and you can find gas easier than diesel and a F550 front is easier to fix than an A-class or a skoolie. Although sometimes the latter have a pretty open design as well.

I would be very worried trekking out there in the middle of nowhere and having some simple part fail and be stranded. Not that I can manufacture a water pump out of paper clips on the spot but all things being equal, I am more likely to fix a gas engine configuration in a truck front than a diesel in a class A/skoolie configuration.

Plus gasoline is more readily available, especially in places like Alaska.

the advantages of diesel skoolies which are - better MPG, better torque are I think overshadowed by the disadvantages. However a gas skoolie with a dog nose front is an interesting consideration.
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Old 11-13-2021, 09:40 PM   #9
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Let's not forgit the "Ease of Conversion" between a large Shuttle bus as described in the vid and a school bus. Typically more square walls for easier build out, already tall enough, heat & A/C already there in most Shuttle bus's.

The argument about the "Cost of Admission" buying a good Shuttle bus versus a school bus (Much Cheaper) in my opinion is where most folks make their first and biggest mistake. All the time we read about folks buying their bus and all the things that break or were broken when bought the bus. Bus repair is a Hellofalot "Mo Money" to repair than a Shuttle.

Personally "I" think for every $1,000 EXTRA you spend buying a better bus/shuttle gits you $2,000 worth of extra value as in a much better vehicle. Of course that also depends upon your knowledge/ability to know what you are looking at to determine just how good a vehicle you are purchasing. Reading through a lot of threads here that knowledge is limited and very few want to pay someone who has the knowledge to look at a bus for em and help them find what they really want.

And what's with all these newby Skoolies living on one coast of the USA buying a bus on the opposite coast of the USA and THEN worrying about shipping or transporting their new to them bus? That can be as much as $2,000-$4,000 for shipping. Why not spend that extra money buying a BETTER BUS close to home?

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Old 11-14-2021, 01:05 AM   #10
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Hey, I have a ‘92 Collins also. Not sure what to do with it. The gas was old when I got it and now it’s 2 years older. Currently I prefer small windows so the large windows on the shuttle are a issue. I like panel vans currently. So it’s currently used as a storage shed. Oh well, I only paid $750.
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Old 11-14-2021, 01:15 AM   #11
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Everyone always talks about stealth living. Oooooooohhhhh scary.... sorry but I don't get it... why??? Don't you ever leave the city?
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Old 11-14-2021, 12:31 PM   #12
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One thing no one has talked about.....fiberglass.... it's a whole different direction for changes one might want to make to their skoolie than steel. Being a welder makes me want something that I can work on with my chosen discipline. Poking holes in fiberglass is not a problem but adding something and then trying to blend it back in will be a challenge unless you have been working on boats most your life. I'll take steel because it's way easier with my 50 years of welding experience.
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Old 11-15-2021, 09:19 PM   #13
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Quote:
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Everyone always talks about stealth living. Oooooooohhhhh scary.... sorry but I don't get it... why??? Don't you ever leave the city?
You ask a great question.

Stealth for some mean 'so I can sleep in it in the expensive neighborhoods and not be out in the boondocks, literally or figuratively'.

For me, stealth means 'hey there, I'm not an expensive RV for you to break in, just another shuttle bus, nothing to see here...'

Makes me want to find a youtube video named 'stealth design principles'.
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Old 11-15-2021, 10:35 PM   #14
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Everyone always talks about stealth living... sorry but I don't get it... why???

That's okay, everyone has different experiences. I'll try to explain the value it would add to my use case.



Don't you ever leave the city?[/QUOTE]


#1

I leave the cities. In fact I'm very rarely in cities.

My travel is a mix shorter trips (weekend, week long) and long term travel (month+ to multi-year in one case). When I travel, 95% of it is outside of large cities, and probably 80% of it is outside of large towns. That said, while I might 'leave the city' I would never choose to avoid cities, especially on my long term, long distance trips, skipping cities would mean I am missing out on a piece of the geography, and the culture, and experience, of a region that I might not ever be back through. Having a vehicle you can drive and sleep in in cities, can significantly reduce the cost of visiting cities, where lodging (and sometimes food) can be pretty expensive.



NYC for instance can be pretty expensive if you have to pay for lodging and do all the fancy things, it can also be an amazing vibrant nearly dirt cheap experience if you've got a discrete/non-descript van or something to sleep in, and enjoy gourmet cheap eats (pizza, bagels, the 1000 different ethnic cuisines you can find, etc)


#2
For many nomadic folks, many of us rarely have solid plans more than a few days out, itineraries, reservations, etc. There is great value and comfort and much less stress to have a vehicle that maximizes your ability to pull over wherever (using common sense and experience of course) and minimizes the chance of sticking out/looking too out of place/raising someones suspicion. That said I think for most people "stealth" is both overemphasized and unrealistic. People think they want/need stealth and some do, but realistically, I think what is more practical is either something discrete / blending in, or plausible deniability. For the most part just dont stick out, don't be obvious, and especially don't be obnoxious or a bad neighbor (and don't park in neighborhoods with lots of bad neighbors/busybodies/window-peakers).


In my eyes it really really comes down to your style of travel, if you mostly stay in RV parks, or visit family, or stay in Gov't campgrounds, or camp on BLM land, not worth losing any sleep over these concerns. But if your travel takes you through all environment types from rural to urban to small town (some small towns can actually be more of a challenge than urban environments) blending in does have some value for some people, and it can be just as useful an attribute outside of cities (a trailhead, rest area, or unofficial pullout by a river for instance) as in them. What can be difficult is finding a vehicle that doesn't look out of place in all of these scenarios.


Thats my 2c at least. But hey, I'm looking for a skoolie, which is pretty far from 'stealth', so clearly its not the highest priority on my list. For the most part, don't be a dick, don't be oblivious, don't be obnoxious, and stay away from rich dicks, and people will leave you alone or be downright friendly
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Old 11-16-2021, 11:52 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by dzl_ View Post
That's okay, everyone has different experiences. I'll try to explain the value it would add to my use case.



Don't you ever leave the city?

#1

I leave the cities. In fact I'm very rarely in cities.

My travel is a mix shorter trips (weekend, week long) and long term travel (month+ to multi-year in one case). When I travel, 95% of it is outside of large cities, and probably 80% of it is outside of large towns. That said, while I might 'leave the city' I would never choose to avoid cities, especially on my long term, long distance trips, skipping cities would mean I am missing out on a piece of the geography, and the culture, and experience, of a region that I might not ever be back through. Having a vehicle you can drive and sleep in in cities, can significantly reduce the cost of visiting cities, where lodging (and sometimes food) can be pretty expensive.



NYC for instance can be pretty expensive if you have to pay for lodging and do all the fancy things, it can also be an amazing vibrant nearly dirt cheap experience if you've got a discrete/non-descript van or something to sleep in, and enjoy gourmet cheap eats (pizza, bagels, the 1000 different ethnic cuisines you can find, etc)


#2
For many nomadic folks, many of us rarely have solid plans more than a few days out, itineraries, reservations, etc. There is great value and comfort and much less stress to have a vehicle that maximizes your ability to pull over wherever (using common sense and experience of course) and minimizes the chance of sticking out/looking too out of place/raising someones suspicion. That said I think for most people "stealth" is both overemphasized and unrealistic. People think they want/need stealth and some do, but realistically, I think what is more practical is either something discrete / blending in, or plausible deniability. For the most part just dont stick out, don't be obvious, and especially don't be obnoxious or a bad neighbor (and don't park in neighborhoods with lots of bad neighbors/busybodies/window-peakers).


In my eyes it really really comes down to your style of travel, if you mostly stay in RV parks, or visit family, or stay in Gov't campgrounds, or camp on BLM land, not worth losing any sleep over these concerns. But if your travel takes you through all environment types from rural to urban to small town (some small towns can actually be more of a challenge than urban environments) blending in does have some value for some people, and it can be just as useful an attribute outside of cities (a trailhead, rest area, or unofficial pullout by a river for instance) as in them. What can be difficult is finding a vehicle that doesn't look out of place in all of these scenarios.


Thats my 2c at least. But hey, I'm looking for a skoolie, which is pretty far from 'stealth', so clearly its not the highest priority on my list. For the most part, don't be a dick, don't be oblivious, don't be obnoxious, and stay away from rich dicks, and people will leave you alone or be downright friendly[/QUOTE]

Certainly "different strokes . . . ." comes into play here.

I haven't gone out in my bus yet (as anyone who has followed my build thread knows) but I have absolutely no desire to be anywhere near anything that could be termed "urban" in a bus. Having driven into Manhattan for many years nothing strikes me as less desirable, stealthing in a bus or not. It was bad enough to drive and park a full size pickup truck in Manhattan much less a 30 to 40' bus.
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Old 11-16-2021, 12:20 PM   #16
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Quote:
I haven't gone out in my bus yet (as anyone who has followed my build thread knows) but I have absolutely no desire to be anywhere near anything that could be termed "urban" in a bus. Having driven into Manhattan for many years nothing strikes me as less desirable, stealthing in a bus or not. It was bad enough to drive and park a full size pickup truck in Manhattan much less a 30 to 40' bus.

I totally agree! The amount of stress and tension just the thought of driving a fullsize bus or RV in NYC or SF or even a medium sized city, is enough to make me grimmace. Just driving a van or pickup in an urban center can be stressful. A 30' or 40' foot brick with a long wheelbase sounds horrible. This (along with similar considerations with size/weight in more wild/forested or untrodden areas, are some of the reasons, my search is staying restricted to <25' and ideally <22'


I've always been in awe of the competence and the calm of urban bus drivers.
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Old 11-16-2021, 05:53 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by dzl_ View Post
I totally agree! The amount of stress and tension just the thought of driving a fullsize bus or RV in NYC or SF or even a medium sized city, is enough to make me grimmace. Just driving a van or pickup in an urban center can be stressful. A 30' or 40' foot brick with a long wheelbase sounds horrible. This (along with similar considerations with size/weight in more wild/forested or untrodden areas, are some of the reasons, my search is staying restricted to <25' and ideally <22'


I've always been in awe of the competence and the calm of urban bus drivers.
To the point of shuttle vs. school bus, before I bought my bus, I had my eye on a shuttle built on a Kodiak chassis with the 6.6 diesel. If I had been closer I'd have had a go at trying to buy it. The steel body of a school bus would be stronger but I would have taken the fiberglass body of a shuttle bus in a minute if the deal were to be had.
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