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Old 02-27-2017, 05:29 PM   #1
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Too Tall for a Skoolie?

Hello! My boyfriend and I are in the market for a bus for a skoolie conversion, but are having trouble finding one that my 6'3" boyfriend can stand in! We are apprehensive about raising the roof, but willing to do it if left with no other options. We've heard mixed things about the structural integrity of the bus post-roof raise and have also heard that flat front buses are more difficult to work on/get parts for. It seems to us, those might have a taller interior height. We are feeling a little confused, needless to say, and welcome any advice on the subject!! Thanks!!
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Old 02-27-2017, 05:41 PM   #2
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Hello! My boyfriend and I are in the market for a bus for a skoolie conversion, but are having trouble finding one that my 6'3" boyfriend can stand in! We are apprehensive about raising the roof, but willing to do it if left with no other options. We've heard mixed things about the structural integrity of the bus post-roof raise and have also heard that flat front buses are more difficult to work on/get parts for. It seems to us, those might have a taller interior height. We are feeling a little confused, needless to say, and welcome any advice on the subject!! Thanks!!
Son't listen to the nay-sayers. A bus roof is fairly easy to raise.
The things are incredibly strong.
They're simply OVER-BUILT due to the liability of hauling kids.
I'm 5'10 and just raised mine 10". Its 85" without floors or ceilings. If I were 6'3, I'd plan on more like a 16" raise.
The extra room REALLY makes it feel more livable in there. I used to really feel hunched over and cramped in my bus before. Now I'm excited to work in it.
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Old 02-27-2017, 05:46 PM   #3
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I'm 6'3" & can stand in my bus with no problems. The PO is 6'5" & made due. Its a 93 Blue Bird & just a once a month camper not a full time home but I could swing it.
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Old 02-27-2017, 06:00 PM   #4
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Thanks so much! We are planning in living in it full time so we probably will want to raise it... it's just so intimidating! If we only raised it about 16" (as opposed to the max height) that would save us some money and surely be enough room! What material did you use? Did you weld it? There seems to be too many options to wrap my head around!
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Old 02-27-2017, 06:00 PM   #5
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I wpuld say your bus is as strong if not stronger after a roof raise...

1. you are likely going to get rid of alot of windows.. and have them replaced with either stronger RV windows, or metal sheets..

2. a taller Bus has a Lot tougher time landing on its roof as opposed to its side... granted you can careen off a bridge or embankment but even a stock skoolie will have a huge time staying together in that situation...

having been on site during ECCB's recent race I can attest to the strength of the bus post-raise when the raise is done with planning , thought, and the correct materials...

-Christopher
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Old 02-27-2017, 06:03 PM   #6
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Thanks so much! We are planning in living in it full time so we probably will want to raise it... it's just so intimidating! If we only raised it about 16" (as opposed to the max height) that would save us some money and surely be enough room! What material did you use? Did you weld it? There seems to be too many options to wrap my head around!
There's really no one way to do it.
I had some extensions made that fit in the ribs, so when I lifted it we just had to clamp em and weld em.
You could rivet or bolt em, too.
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Old 02-27-2017, 06:04 PM   #7
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Thanks guys! I feel more optimistic already!! Now to actually buy the bus.... We've got a few days carved out around St. Patrick's Day to run around the midwest and pick one out! Is there any make/model/year that would make raising the roof easier?
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Old 02-27-2017, 06:09 PM   #8
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I like AmTran/International. Bluebird are good, too. Thomas builds good buses as well but they have an extra bend to the sides and rear that makes a good raise a bit trickier. So if you're raising it, I'd have to suggest what I know- My AmTran roof raise went as well as could be hoped for and I had virtually no issues with settling or warping after cutting the roof off.
Plan on spending a couple grand if you do it yourself, 5-10 grand if you farm out the work.
Try to look for a bus at an auction in Colorado, Idaho, Utah, or further west. They have NICE buses out west, and better-funded schools.
Colorado buses are my favorite. Happy hunting!
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Old 02-27-2017, 06:14 PM   #9
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If we only raised it about 16" (as opposed to the max height) that would save us some money and surely be enough room!
While at first glance it seems more inches of raise should cost more dollars, in practice it's not so linear. Because materials come in certain standard sizes the cost of a raise may be effectively the same for a range of raise heights. I raised mine 16 inches because it was enough to be comfortable, enough to fit a 3-high bunk bed, etc. I figured the cost difference would have been negligible to go as much as 24 inches of raise but I felt I didn't want to add that much even though the additional 8 inches would have been nearly free.
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Old 02-27-2017, 06:16 PM   #10
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...have also heard that flat front buses are more difficult to work on/get parts for.
Depends on what the engine layout is, and who the powerplant manufacturer is. Cummins and Navistar parts can be found with better availability than CAT or MB. And that will be true of both Class C and D buses

Its all a trade-off. Class D (transit-style) FEs give you maximum useful floor space, a big door in the back, but may require contortionist skills to work on the engine, and require you to hang your tanks outboard of the frame rails. Class D REs give you the next best in floor space use and a smaller door on the side (or two), but give you better access to the engine than an FE, and can allow you to hang your tanks inboard of the frame rails and as close to the center of gravity as you can get. Class C's (conventionals) give you the best engine access, the big rear door; but reduced (relatively) floor space, and the requirement to hang your tanks outboard, and a relatively larger turning radius, but better ground clearance.
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Old 02-27-2017, 06:23 PM   #11
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While at first glance it seems more inches of raise should cost more dollars, in practice it's not so linear. Because materials come in certain standard sizes the cost of a raise may be effectively the same for a range of raise heights. I raised mine 16 inches because it was enough to be comfortable, enough to fit a 3-high bunk bed, etc. I figured the cost difference would have been negligible to go as much as 24 inches of raise but I felt I didn't want to add that much even though the additional 8 inches would have been nearly free.
Good to know!! Makes total sense, but I would not have thought about it!!
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Old 02-27-2017, 06:24 PM   #12
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Depends on what the engine layout is, and who the powerplant manufacturer is. Cummins and Navistar parts can be found with better availability than CAT or MB. And that will be true of both Class C and D buses

Its all a trade-off. Class D (transit-style) FEs give you maximum useful floor space, a big door in the back, but may require contortionist skills to work on the engine, and require you to hang your tanks outboard of the frame rails. Class D REs give you the next best in floor space use and a smaller door on the side (or two), but give you better access to the engine than an FE, and can allow you to hang your tanks inboard of the frame rails and as close to the center of gravity as you can get. Class C's (conventionals) give you the best engine access, the big rear door; but reduced (relatively) floor space, and the requirement to hang your tanks outboard, and a relatively larger turning radius, but better ground clearance.
Ahhhhh!! Thank you!! That clears up so many things for us!!
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Old 02-27-2017, 06:28 PM   #13
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also remember midwestern busses tend to have quite a bit of rust.. ECCB says Kentucky yields nice busses.. id concur as his came fro mthere with a hill-capable drivetrain amd very minimal rust.

I was just on looking at some from PA and jersey and there was Quite a bit rust on the undersides...

alot of what you look to buy depends on how you plan to use it... drive a lot, drive not much.. drive on flat ground? drive in the rockies.. ..

typically in late april then in may and june as school-years come to a close, it seems lots of busses come up on the auction sites...
-Christopher
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Old 02-27-2017, 06:35 PM   #14
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Thanks, Christopher! We definitely plan on driving it a lot and eventually getting some land to settle down on, but as far as the terrain goes.... I have no idea!! This is definitely the biggest and most important purchase we've ever made and dropping so much money on something I'm not an expert on makes me so nervous!! We're on craigslit and ebay all the time, but never.... pull the trigger!! The one we're looking at now is a 1992 Thomas built International, DT466, with Allison transmission. 120,000 miles for $2600.... seems like a pretty good deal to me, but we've only seen pictures so far and nothing from the underside.... it is in Indiana so probably rusty lol
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Old 02-27-2017, 06:46 PM   #15
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Thanks, Christopher! We definitely plan on driving it a lot and eventually getting some land to settle down on, but as far as the terrain goes.... I have no idea!! This is definitely the biggest and most important purchase we've ever made and dropping so much money on something I'm not an expert on makes me so nervous!! We're on craigslit and ebay all the time, but never.... pull the trigger!! The one we're looking at now is a 1992 Thomas built International, DT466, with Allison transmission. 120,000 miles for $2600.... seems like a pretty good deal to me, but we've only seen pictures so far and nothing from the underside.... it is in Indiana so probably rusty lol
This is something I, as a "monetarily challenged individual", don't get.
I've gotten two great buses for a total investment of $3800.
I know people who spend more than that for a year of app-based "gaming". I know folks who blow more money on lottery tickets in a month than my last bus cost. I guess its all relative, though.
I popped 28 grand for a car that uses more oil than my buses, and was supposed to be "car of the year".
In my experience, buying used school buses from auctions online is one of the last real bargains out there to be found on motor vehicles.
Again, if you plan to raise- I'd definitely look for an AmTran/IC bus.
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Old 02-27-2017, 06:54 PM   #16
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EastCoastCB,
I am definitely monetarily challenged, hence the panic lol but I also understand this is an investment and worth spending some dollars on! The online auctions do tempt me, but without seeing them first I get so scared!! I will certainly take your advice though and check them out... I'm guessing you don't think that's a solid deal, then? regardless of the roof-raise? I wish we could take our time with this, but we are desperately trying to not renew our lease!
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Old 02-27-2017, 07:00 PM   #17
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I don't follow... What roof raise?
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Old 02-27-2017, 07:02 PM   #18
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like if we were not going to do the roof raise, would that still be a bad deal? PS- looking for AmTrans as we speak!!
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Old 02-27-2017, 07:21 PM   #19
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I think rushing things is where people get in trouble.. I look at my own self last year... " I need a bus now, now, dont have time, have goals t oset".. went to a dealer boiught a bus... it runs good I made goals.. but I spent WAYYY too much $$$ for what I actually have.. ive done a ton of stuff to it and it runs and drives great and looks decent.. if I was monetarily challenged I wouldve been SUNK.. if I was Mionetarily smart I couldve had one heck of a bus for 1/2 what I have in that one...

ECCB - took his time found the right bus.. and then took even more time to read, research, watch videos and learn about roof raises.. and then making friends as well who could help with said raise.. sure it took a long time but he has a SOlid roof raise for a really reasonable price..

his short bus? patiemce and time and finally the right bus, the right price came along..

i'll probably be flamed by some folk.. but when you set goals of "im not renewing my lease!" you automatically put on the pressure that you Must find, buy, and convert a bus on a timeline.. something usually gives... the bus quality, the bus cost, the quality of the build, or ends up costing alot more because you need to source materials and / or labor / mechasnical repairs / tools, etc on a lot shorter timeline..

-Christopher
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Old 02-27-2017, 07:36 PM   #20
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i'll probably be flamed by some folk.. but when you set goals of "im not renewing my lease!" you automatically put on the pressure that you Must find, buy, and convert a bus on a timeline.. something usually gives... the bus quality, the bus cost, the quality of the build, or ends up costing alot more because you need to source materials and / or labor / mechasnical repairs / tools, etc on a lot shorter timeline..

-Christopher
You are NOT wrong about the pressure or the value in taking the time to do something right. At a certain point though, you have to stop shopping, deal with your purchase, and move on!! We've been researching for over a year and shopping since September... we just keep getting contradictory information and cold feet!! I think we may just have to jump in soon or we never will!!
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