Free 7 Day Trial RV GPS App RV Trip Planner Campground Reviews RV Maintenance Free 7 Day Trial ×


Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 02-21-2021, 01:26 AM   #1
New Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2021
Posts: 3
What is the worst case scenario for a Skoolie?

Hello everyone!! I am currently debating between different alternative living situations. Skoolie life appeals to me but I worry about putting all of my money, time and energy into my bus to have it break down on me within a short period of time. So, what do you guys think are some of the worst things that can happen to a skoolie, and approximately how much do you think those situations would cost a person? (I.e. me, someone with no mechanical skills who would definitely have to hire a professional)

BrittanyMarie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-21-2021, 01:43 AM   #2
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2020
Posts: 128
Worst Thing: Big Accident
Cost To You: Death


Seriously, this line of thinking isn't really leading you to a useful answer whether skoolie or van life is for you.



Watch YouTube videos. Rent a Class C or van for a week and see if you like it. The "worst case" scenarios aren't very helpful. Figure a skoolie is cheaper than a house, but costlier than a van.



Just sayin'...
TomA is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-21-2021, 02:13 AM   #3
Traveling
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Virginia
Posts: 2,302
Year: None
Coachwork: None
Chassis: None
Engine: None
Rated Cap: None
You might also check out the threads linked in my sig for a little broader perspective on what you're really getting into. The DIY aspect is only one part that most don't realize has more to it than they might think.
CHEESE_WAGON is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-21-2021, 04:06 AM   #4
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: May 2019
Location: Lebanon, Indiana
Posts: 798
Year: 2000
Coachwork: Winnebago
Chassis: Ford F53
Engine: Ford Triton V-10
Rated Cap: currently 2
I agree with TomA, rent an RV or camper van and try the lifestyle for a week. If you actually enjoy it then you're on the right track and then you can start worrying about cost of ownership. If you don't enjoy it then you will have saved yourself the trouble of weighing pros and cons.
Sehnsucht is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-21-2021, 09:01 AM   #5
New Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2021
Posts: 3
Clarification

Hey guys. Thanks for your replies! I actually have lived tiny and out of a van before, so I know I would be quite happy with skoolie life. I am more trying to figure out if I should go with a skoolie or a tiny home on a trailer that I can tow.

The idea of a skoolie appeals to me more because of it's aesthetics, but I worry about if the engine failed me and am just wondering what my worst case costs are with mechanical issues, so I can weight the pros and cons of taking that risk... If a new engine would likely cost me a few thousand dollars, for instance, then I can definitely accept that risk.
BrittanyMarie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-21-2021, 09:06 AM   #6
Bus Geek
 
EastCoastCB's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Eustis FLORIDA
Posts: 23,335
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Freighliner FS65
Engine: Cat 3126
Rated Cap: 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by BrittanyMarie View Post
Hello everyone!! I am currently debating between different alternative living situations. Skoolie life appeals to me but I worry about putting all of my money, time and energy into my bus to have it break down on me within a short period of time. So, what do you guys think are some of the worst things that can happen to a skoolie, and approximately how much do you think those situations would cost a person? (I.e. me, someone with no mechanical skills who would definitely have to hire a professional)
Worst mechanical failure I've experienced or heard of is the timing cover erosion on 2001-2004 DT466E's. Its the biggest job on that engine. Even guys who work on em all the time say its a beotch of a job... watched one on Youtube. May as well buy a reman or used engine if you get this failure.
If paying for this repair is easily 8-12 grand.
Most repairs are going to be pretty expensive on a bus. Figure on 80-150 an hour depending on what shop.

Learning how to do your own maintenance will save you a ton and you'll get to know the engine and how it works more.
__________________
.
Wear A Mask- Stop the Spread!
EastCoastCB is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-21-2021, 09:21 AM   #7
Bus Crazy
 
somewhereinusa's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Andrews,Indiana
Posts: 2,297
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: AARE
Engine: 3116 Cat 250hp
Rated Cap: Just the two of us.
Quote:
Originally Posted by BrittanyMarie View Post
Hey guys. Thanks for your replies! I actually have lived tiny and out of a van before, so I know I would be quite happy with skoolie life. I am more trying to figure out if I should go with a skoolie or a tiny home on a trailer that I can tow.

The idea of a skoolie appeals to me more because of it's aesthetics, but I worry about if the engine failed me and am just wondering what my worst case costs are with mechanical issues, so I can weight the pros and cons of taking that risk... If a new engine would likely cost me a few thousand dollars, for instance, then I can definitely accept that risk.
Assuming you are not going to be buying a new truck the risk of engine failure or major breakdown would be about the same whether you are driving a bus or using a truck to pull a trailer.

Actually if you end up with a truck not suitably sized for the job, the truck would be more likely to break down.

One down side of a bus breakdown is if you are living in it and have someone else do the repairs you no longer have a place to live.

I've watched a lot of the tiny house videos, those things scare me. (I used to deliver RV's, some of them were scary) Many look to be built on trailers not heavy enough for the job, and they look to be top heavy. Some say they are building them to travel and see the sights. Where do they parK? I really doubt if ANY RV park would allow them in, don't know about state or national parks.
somewhereinusa is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-21-2021, 09:36 AM   #8
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Feb 2019
Location: New Hampshire
Posts: 1,182
Year: 1990
Coachwork: Thomas 4 window w/lift
Chassis: G30~Chevy cutaway
Engine: 5.7/350 Chevy Vortec
Rated Cap: Just me and my "stuff"?
Nothing runs or lasts forever.

Having said that, finding a bus that has had regular and good maintenance its entire life is a good starting point. While that is no guarantee, it helps if nothing more than peace of mind before starting a major conversion project.

If you are not mechanically inclined, find someone you can trust to evaluate any prospective bus that you are interested in.
Additionally, they will need to crawl underneath and give the undercarriage a thorough check for engine, transmission and rear axle fluid leaks, and any rust or rot.

Good luck...
peteg59 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-21-2021, 10:10 AM   #9
New Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2021
Posts: 3
Thanks!!

Thank you guys! Your responses are helpful. I had no idea a repair could cost up to 10k! I am thinking I will continue down the skoolie path but build most of my furniture so that it can be removable. That way in a worst case scenario, I can transfer alot if my work over to a new bus.

Do you happen to know if it's possible to get a maintenance history for a bus you buy at auction?
BrittanyMarie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-21-2021, 10:32 AM   #10
Bus Geek
 
EastCoastCB's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Eustis FLORIDA
Posts: 23,335
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Freighliner FS65
Engine: Cat 3126
Rated Cap: 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by BrittanyMarie View Post
Thank you guys! Your responses are helpful. I had no idea a repair could cost up to 10k! I am thinking I will continue down the skoolie path but build most of my furniture so that it can be removable. That way in a worst case scenario, I can transfer alot if my work over to a new bus.

Do you happen to know if it's possible to get a maintenance history for a bus you buy at auction?
I'd find a good bus and be ready to see it though and have all the mechanicals regularly maintained and serviced.

The supply of good buses at affordable prices is rapidly evaporating.
__________________
.
Wear A Mask- Stop the Spread!
EastCoastCB is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-21-2021, 11:17 AM   #11
Bus Nut
 
Rivetboy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: Huntington Beach CA.
Posts: 905
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: T/C 2000 28 foot Handy Bus
Engine: Cummins 5.9 Mechanical
Rated Cap: 2
Quote:
Originally Posted by BrittanyMarie View Post
Hello everyone!! I am currently debating between different alternative living situations. Skoolie life appeals to me but I worry about putting all of my money, time and energy into my bus to have it break down on me within a short period of time. So, what do you guys think are some of the worst things that can happen to a skoolie, and approximately how much do you think those situations would cost a person? (I.e. me, someone with no mechanical skills who would definitely have to hire a professional)
Where are you going to park it?
Where are you going to find people to repair it or modify it?
What are your insurance options if it has not been retitled from a school bus to an RV? I would agree that renting an rv might be the best way to get your feet wet.
Converting a bus is a tremendous amount of time not to mention the money for materials. The tools needed are not cheap and the physical size and weight of a 22.5 wheel and rim is a lot. Good luck
Rivetboy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-21-2021, 11:45 AM   #12
Bus Geek
 
musigenesis's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2019
Location: Philadelphia
Posts: 6,006
Year: 2003
Coachwork: International
Chassis: CE 300
Engine: DT466e
Rated Cap: 65C-43A
Quote:
Originally Posted by BrittanyMarie View Post
Do you happen to know if it's possible to get a maintenance history for a bus you buy at auction?
Sometimes, but not always. If you're buying at auction directly from a school system, then probably; from a private seller or dealer, probably not.
__________________
Rusty 87 build thread
musigenesis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-21-2021, 12:59 PM   #13
Bus Nut
 
BeNimble's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2020
Location: Sacramento
Posts: 994
Year: 1999
Just think about it the other way..the best case repair is oil change: $500
BeNimble is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-21-2021, 01:19 PM   #14
Bus Geek
 
EastCoastCB's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Eustis FLORIDA
Posts: 23,335
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Freighliner FS65
Engine: Cat 3126
Rated Cap: 15
Changing the oil in a bus isn't any harder than a car. Just more of it.
My oil changes cost me an hour of my time and $55 or so.
__________________
.
Wear A Mask- Stop the Spread!
EastCoastCB is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-21-2021, 02:04 PM   #15
Bus Nut
 
BeNimble's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2020
Location: Sacramento
Posts: 994
Year: 1999
Quote:
Originally Posted by EastCoastCB View Post
Changing the oil in a bus isn't any harder than a car. Just more of it.
My oil changes cost me an hour of my time and $55 or so.
Sure if you are a mechanic, then even an engine swap is no big deal..
even the pros can screw up just an oil change on a bus..

https://youtu.be/xV0cfYhSK64?t=224
BeNimble is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-21-2021, 02:24 PM   #16
Bus Geek
 
EastCoastCB's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Eustis FLORIDA
Posts: 23,335
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Freighliner FS65
Engine: Cat 3126
Rated Cap: 15
the average bus owner can change their own oil. doom... gloom... blah...
Why pay $500? the local STEALERSHIP only charges a couple hundo... but if "pros" can screw it up why even let them try when all ya gotta know how to do is drain and fill some fluid. Its literally so easy my mother could do it.
__________________
.
Wear A Mask- Stop the Spread!
EastCoastCB is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-21-2021, 02:44 PM   #17
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: May 2019
Location: Lebanon, Indiana
Posts: 798
Year: 2000
Coachwork: Winnebago
Chassis: Ford F53
Engine: Ford Triton V-10
Rated Cap: currently 2
Quote:
Originally Posted by EastCoastCB View Post
Changing the oil in a bus isn't any harder than a car. Just more of it.
My oil changes cost me an hour of my time and $55 or so.
Ehh. Agreed that the procedure to change oil in a bus engine isn't more complicated but depending on which engine is in the bus I wouldn't expect to get the job done for $55. A DT466 requires about 28 quarts of oil versus 5-8 quarts in an average personal vehicle and if you spring for a synthetic blended with longevity additives recommended by some engine manufacturers that stuff can run up to $30 per gallon!

Nevertheless, the cost of ownership or cost of a single breakdown is definitely the breaking point for many skoolie owners and the lucky ones have it happen at home instead of on the road where it leaves them stranded. I'm hoping that's what the OP is seeking info.
Sehnsucht is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-21-2021, 03:28 PM   #18
Bus Geek
 
EastCoastCB's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Eustis FLORIDA
Posts: 23,335
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Freighliner FS65
Engine: Cat 3126
Rated Cap: 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sehnsucht View Post
Ehh. Agreed that the procedure to change oil in a bus engine isn't more complicated but depending on which engine is in the bus I wouldn't expect to get the job done for $55. A DT466 requires about 28 quarts of oil versus 5-8 quarts in an average personal vehicle and if you spring for a synthetic blended with longevity additives recommended by some engine manufacturers that stuff can run up to $30 per gallon!

Nevertheless, the cost of ownership or cost of a single breakdown is definitely the breaking point for many skoolie owners and the lucky ones have it happen at home instead of on the road where it leaves them stranded. I'm hoping that's what the OP is seeking info.
5 gal buckets of 15w40 at the truck shop are $50. Usually you can even get Rotella. A couple gals extra and a filter- okay maybe $65-$75.
Still WAY better than paying out the nose for an oil change.
__________________
.
Wear A Mask- Stop the Spread!
EastCoastCB is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-21-2021, 03:35 PM   #19
Traveling
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Virginia
Posts: 2,302
Year: None
Coachwork: None
Chassis: None
Engine: None
Rated Cap: None
Quote:
Originally Posted by BeNimble View Post
Just think about it the other way..the best case repair is oil change: $500
BS. You can get oil changes for a road tractor done at some truck stops for $300, and those take around 12-15 gallons of oil.
CHEESE_WAGON is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-21-2021, 04:40 PM   #20
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: May 2019
Location: Lebanon, Indiana
Posts: 798
Year: 2000
Coachwork: Winnebago
Chassis: Ford F53
Engine: Ford Triton V-10
Rated Cap: currently 2
Quote:
Originally Posted by EastCoastCB View Post
5 gal buckets of 15w40 at the truck shop are $50. Usually you can even get Rotella. A couple gals extra and a filter- okay maybe $65-$75.
Still WAY better than paying out the nose for an oil change.
Oops, I do need to correct myself - I said $30 per gallon but yeah those buckets are FIVE gallons! Big difference obviously! Yeah I still think it's a better value to DIY but also important to gauge one's own skillset because a bad job is ultimately going to cost more in follow-up repairs.
Sehnsucht is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


» Featured Campgrounds

Reviews provided by

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 03:15 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.