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Old 03-07-2019, 07:30 AM   #1
New Member
Join Date: May 2018
Posts: 5
Typical cost of conversion

Hello all,

I asked in a thread some months ago about converting a school bus to pull a bumper pull trailer with two horses (about 6,000 lbs added weight). I was given some great answers ( Now I am trying to do the math of the cost. See, I own a living quarters gooseneck horse trailer (for you not in the know, a living quarters horse trailer has a portion where you sleep, eat etc. - essentially RV kind) and a portion with stalls for horses. I pull this with a new Ford diesel truck. Overall, I have serious money trapped in this setup (my truck is fully paid off) and I am not even happy with the living quarters - already had a serious leak that was (luckily) covered under warranty but I am out of warranty now so.....

We are looking to de-clutter and save some money - hence the skoolie conversion. We own a bumper pull horse trailer as well (that is fully paid off) and I figured, if I converted a school bus, I would not need a big diesel truck, could probably get away with an older, used truck for farm chores.

Anyway, the missing link is the cost of converting the school bus - what can one expect to spend on the bus itself and then on the DIY conversion? I already have all the tools I need and am handy with them. In the original thread I asked for the smallest bus that will do the job - this is more for maneuverability reasons - getting to trailheads with an attached horse trailer may or may not be easy.

Thank you all for all your replies in advance!!

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Old 03-07-2019, 11:16 AM   #2
Bus Crazy
Ronnie's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Virginia
Posts: 2,325
Year: 1971
Coachwork: Wayne
Chassis: International Loadstar 1700
Engine: 345 international V-8
Can you give an idea of what you would want in the bus for it to be comfortable for your use?

A/c, generator, solar panels/batteries are biggies.
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Old 03-07-2019, 09:10 PM   #3
Bus Crazy
david.dgeorge07's Avatar
Join Date: May 2017
Location: Chattanooga, TN
Posts: 1,413
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Thomas
Engine: CAT 3126
$20k. Give or take.
My Build Thread:
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Old 03-07-2019, 09:47 PM   #4
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: Amarillo Tx
Posts: 142
Year: 1999
Coachwork: International
Chassis: 3800
Engine: T444EIEIO
Rated Cap: 8 window?

Been working consistently since November of 2018 and am really just beginning. So far it has cost me two bags of Home Depot receipts. I'll add it all up when I'm done. It would have been cheaper to buy a used 5th wheel. But I love doing this conversion. It will be worth it when I'm done. I'm hoping I can come in at a little under 20...maybe 19999.99
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Old 03-08-2019, 09:32 AM   #5
Bus Nut
Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: GA
Posts: 611
Year: 1998
Coachwork: Amtran RE
Chassis: International 3000
Engine: T444e 7.3L
$1000 - a couple mattresses, a minifridge, some folding tables and chairs, and a loud generator.

$100k - professional carpentry, custom windows, built like a luxury apartment.

Personally, I think I'll spend $20-30k by the time I finish.
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Old 03-08-2019, 12:35 PM   #6
Bus Crazy
Sleddgracer's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2018
Location: south east BC, close to the Canadian/US border
Posts: 2,265
Year: 1975
Coachwork: Chevy
Chassis: 8 window
Engine: 454 LS7
Rated Cap: 24,500
I'm HOPING I can come in way under $20 grand - have my own welder and all the stoves, fridges, furnaces, water tanks, grey tanks, black tanks, faucets, drains, propane connections, hoses and regulators, maybe even some windows from a motorhome, and an overhead back door from a cube van for the garage in back, etc, needed to turn a bus into a camper - I know where to buy a bus body for as little as $100 for spare ribs, body skins, etc, although it will cost more to go get it than the body will cost - I have all the painting gear I need to put 'lipstick on the pig', grinders, jacks, or access to jacks that I'll need - I have space to do the conversion right next to a power supply and my small workshop ( maybe I've been saving up for a conversion all along and didn't know it - lol ) - so mostly I'll be looking at the cost of insulation, wood for partitions, etc - if I can buy a local bus, it will already have snow tires on it or maybe talk my way to get some from the school district if it doesn't have them on it already - I've done enough renovations and remodeling to know how often a trip to the hardware store or lumber yard happens and how quickly the $'s add up - I do have one thing on my side, I'm not going for fancy or luxurious, just warmth, practicality and reliability
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Old 03-08-2019, 12:57 PM   #7
Bus Nut
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: Greenwood, Indiana
Posts: 670
Year: 1999
Coachwork: New Flyer
Chassis: D45HF "Viking"
Engine: 11.1L Detroit Diesel S60
Rated Cap: 51,600
I have to second the $20k "estimate" (remember, we aren't you, we don't know what you like and don't like, so our "estimate" will only marginally apply to you, if at all).

You may be better off "fixing" and "renovating" the 5th wheel trailer than building out a whole new living quarters in the skoolie....
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