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Old 11-03-2017, 11:18 AM   #1
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Question What would it take to create an articulated school bus?

There is a good school bus for $1500 here in town, and a guy with parted out buses about 45 miles away who would sell super cheap or possibly free. I have 4 children. We will be homeschooling on the bus. Occasionally would have a couple relatives stay with us. I want the extra space for either a larger kitchen and dining area, a classroom, extra bunk space for company, or possibly a garage to haul our car in. I've not settled on what I want to use it for until I know it is a real possibility for us to do it.

So what exactly would we need to do to convert one school bus and a half of another into an articulated bus?

Any advice you have or resources you know of are greatly appreciated!
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Old 11-03-2017, 04:36 PM   #2
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Anything is possible with enough time and money! If you want the thing to drive then you are talking some big bucks. I know overseas articulated bus' are pretty common, they are in the states but you are again talking some big bucks.

Don't know your budget, maybe find a nice bus put a big hitch on it and make a trailer out of the 2nd bus, or tow around a legit RV type trailer. Weight would quickly become a problem. chop the front off a rear engine bus use that for the trailer and somehow link the throttle and etc, much like locomotives do.
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Old 11-03-2017, 05:05 PM   #3
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My first thought would be a trailer as well and another bus would be Heavy. Maybe a set of steps that fold down from your back door and onto the tongue of an enclosed trailer which could have a door in the front, possibly an awning to go over the transition once stationary. Poor man articulated but usable/portable
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Old 11-03-2017, 05:36 PM   #4
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one of the issues you likely would run into in an articulated bus is building it such that it can pass inspection to receive licnse and tags for it.. you are altering its weight class and number of axles beyond what it was manufactured with and will require re-classification and full state inspection in your state..

a trailer is considered a temporary attachment and can be removed so it does not affect the weight class of the vehicle itself.. the trailer is registered separately.

if space is a concern you may want to look into a coach instead of a school bus.. typically coaches can be boguth up to 45 feet with more powerful drivetrains that can even pull a nice car hauler if you want.. coaches have lots of under-belly storage you can usefor tank, generators, extra storage, etc..

yes you'll pay more for a coach, however by the time you took 2 busses, married them, made it registerable and inspection-worthy for an articulated bus youd have LOTS of $$$ and fabrication in it..

there may also be maximum lengths in some states for RVs which means you would be in CDL terrirory to drive such a rig..
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Old 11-03-2017, 05:49 PM   #5
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You could buy an articulated bus and refurbish the whole bus for way less than you'd spend building one essentially from scratch.
A much less innovative, yet practical idea would be to tow a nice travel trailer behind a midsize bus.
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Old 11-03-2017, 06:14 PM   #6
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You could buy an articulated bus and refurbish the whole bus for way less than you'd spend building one essentially from scratch.
A much less innovative, yet practical idea would be to tow a nice travel trailer behind a midsize bus.
Although I do like the idea of building that travel trailer from the back half of a second bus. As you wouldn't need the power-train, a donor could be had for next to nothing.

It would be one tough trailer and look awesome. Drive rig would need good power, and the brakes would have to be linked, but let's be honest .... we would all be either admiring, or jealous, or both
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Old 11-03-2017, 06:22 PM   #7
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Although I do like the idea of building that travel trailer from the back half of a second bus. As you wouldn't need the power-train, a donor could be had for next to nothing.

It would be one tough trailer and look awesome. Drive rig would need good power, and the brakes would have to be linked, but let's be honest .... we would all be either admiring, or jealous, or both
That WOULD be cool!
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Old 11-03-2017, 07:49 PM   #8
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Old 11-04-2017, 07:10 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by bigskypc50 View Post
Anything is possible with enough time and money! If you want the thing to drive then you are talking some big bucks. I know overseas articulated bus' are pretty common, they are in the states but you are again talking some big bucks.

Don't know your budget, maybe find a nice bus put a big hitch on it and make a trailer out of the 2nd bus, or tow around a legit RV type trailer. Weight would quickly become a problem. chop the front off a rear engine bus use that for the trailer and somehow link the throttle and etc, much like locomotives do.
If you really wanna go to the trouble , how about the king pin plate from a trailer (salvage yard) and a 5th wheel.
Then all you'd need is the accordion like some of the city transit buses have. Good luck. Find some thick rubber soft durometer rated accordion material.

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Old 11-04-2017, 01:33 PM   #10
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The cheapest articulated bus I've been able to find was $70,000. I'd have to pay for inspection and delivery, then conversion into living space. Would it really be more expensive as a DIY, starting with about $2000 for the buses? (That's not sarcasm, I need the wisdom of all you experienced folks! ��)

We had also discussed the possibility of turning the (half) second bus into a travel trailer or toy hauler of sorts. We even (half-jokingly) talked about "reversing" the front end of the second bus, so that "backing out" would essentially entail just driving the second bus lol. Mostly being silly on that one, but it would be cool. I was hoping to avoid having to leave one bus to go to the other. No big deal except when it's extremely cold out. Having to bundle up myself and four children just to walk 20 feet isn't an appealing idea ��, but if it gives us the extra space, it may be worth it. The option of having a walkway from one to the other via the back exit also came up. Maybe register it as an rv and separate trailer and just add the accordion-style walls as something that can be used just when parked for protection from weather?

Thank you all for your help, guys!
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Old 11-04-2017, 03:25 PM   #11
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Im sure a full articulated bus could be hand built but it would be a huge undertaking and I'm not really sure how you would go about insuring or tagging a vehicle so highly modified, not saying it would be impossible it very well could be done. That said I'm not sure the added benefit of the two spaces being permanently attached would be worth the amount of effort creating it would take and what if you don't need the whole thing for a trip! Would be nice to just take the front

If you aren't against a trailer type extension I have thought more about using a second bus and it seems reasonably practical.

With the floors being at the same level and the rooflines being the same something that would fold out across the void could be made and larger doors on both sides. A tarp that was removable could be drawn over both bodies. This would create a wind block when traveling from one section to another. If the axle was moved forward the correct amount leaving some weight on the front of the "trailer" portion it would be much friendlier to tow. You should be able to just register the back portion as a home built trailer seperately from the bus.

Some possible problems with this may be getting the trailer registered, the two would have to be on fairly level ground to connect, Im not sure how well a trailer that tall and heavy with a single axle would pull from a bumper hitch and a fifth wheel wouldn't work. And finally the weight/finding a bus with a drivetrain that can pull two buses.

That being said creating a fully articulated bus would be extremely impressive and probably one of the coolest things going down the road
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Old 11-04-2017, 09:19 PM   #12
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We have 4 kids and will be homeschooling in ours. We opted for a 45' coach bus vs. a skoolie (although it was a very tough decision). The coach (at least in my opinion) is more expensive and harder to convert than a skoolie, but we think it will be much more suited to what we need.

We also looked into double-deckers, but found them either out of our price range (way outside) or in such terrible shape that it would take too long (well, for us) and cost too much to get it "up and running". I will say the idea of a double-decker was pretty cool.

"Necessity is the mother of invention." You might be able to look into the small apartments in Japan and the tiny house movement in the U.S. for inspiration on how to build out something that can "transform". For example, we're considering murphy beds. Also, Amtrak's sleeper cars are pretty neat. These open up the area that they're in and you can "stick" a desk on the underside of the bed so when its up its a desk and when its down its a bed.

But don't get me wrong - this "transformation" ability is also a headache. If you have to push things around to live your life, it'll get old pretty quickly. So we are following the adage that the "transformability" should occur in "special" circumstances, like when company comes to stay, or when I need to "work from home". However, we may need to compromise on that to have places for the kids to do their work. We haven't decided that yet.

Just some musings for you to consider. Please keep us updated on what you come up with. That's what is special about the skoolie community - being able to "bounce ideas off others." I've found it invaluable, and I'm still in the demolition phase!
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Old 11-04-2017, 10:47 PM   #13
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Oh yes, we have researched transforming furniture for a WHILE now (I build and refurbish furniture as a hobby and was interested in the concept) so it was one of the first things that came to mind! We also decided on murphy beds. I hadn't thought of sleeper cars! Another (probably crazy) option we'd thought about is something similar to the camper vans that expand from the rear. Anyone have thoughts on that idea?
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Old 11-04-2017, 10:59 PM   #14
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Oh yes, we have researched transforming furniture for a WHILE now (I build and refurbish furniture as a hobby and was interested in the concept) so it was one of the first things that came to mind! We also decided on murphy beds. I hadn't thought of sleeper cars! Another (probably crazy) option we'd thought about is something similar to the camper vans that expand from the rear. Anyone have thoughts on that idea?
Normally referred to as "slide-outs".

Common in RVs, less so in Skoolies but it has been done. It's not a cheap thing to do, and you have to think carefully about the engineering ... but it is definitely possible.

A 10' long and 3' deep slide-out would increase the living space by 30 sq ft and give you a living room over 10' wide. Combine it with a roof raise and your bus would be palatial.
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Old 11-04-2017, 11:01 PM   #15
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Ol 'Trunt has a beauty of a slide out he built into his 1935 Chevy. Check it out.
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