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Old 07-03-2020, 11:32 PM   #1
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Why a Skoolie vs an RV? Convincing a skeptic

Forgive me in advance, and please fill me up with your knowledge. Also, please move to a more appropriate forum if necessary.

My husband and I have five kids. He is mechanically inclined, and has Covid-related leave over the summer. Because of this, he's wanted to buy an RV. We haven't been able to pull the trigger on a purchase. Because of the size of our family, we'd need a class A, and the choices are limitless. The ones we're looking at are 100k+, which includes new or 1 - 2 year old gas, or 5 year old diesels.

I'm encouraging him to consider a skoolie. He could do much of the work himself. For me, they seem safer, cheaper, and we could have a customized coach for far less than the price-point we are looking at. He doesn't like the idea, remembering the school buses of yore - loud, slow, uncomfortable.

So...for all you brilliant folks out there - did you consider an RV, and go with a skoolie? Do school buses drive more than 40 mph? How fast can they go? I've already taken a look at a few resources - like hank bought a bus - to see the customization options. Are you able to rent them out during hot weekends?
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Old 07-03-2020, 11:35 PM   #2
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I realize a skoolie would be a project, probably a multi-year one. But it would give us something to do this summer, with a traveling coach for future years.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 07-04-2020, 12:11 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by cheerios View Post
Forgive me in advance, and please fill me up with your knowledge. Also, please move to a more appropriate forum if necessary.

My husband and I have five kids. He is mechanically inclined, and has Covid-related leave over the summer. Because of this, he's wanted to buy an RV. We haven't been able to pull the trigger on a purchase. Because of the size of our family, we'd need a class A, and the choices are limitless. The ones we're looking at are 100k+, which includes new or 1 - 2 year old gas, or 5 year old diesels.

I'm encouraging him to consider a skoolie. He could do much of the work himself. For me, they seem safer, cheaper, and we could have a customized coach for far less than the price-point we are looking at. He doesn't like the idea, remembering the school buses of yore - loud, slow, uncomfortable.

So...for all you brilliant folks out there - did you consider an RV, and go with a skoolie? Do school buses drive more than 40 mph? How fast can they go? I've already taken a look at a few resources - like hank bought a bus - to see the customization options. Are you able to rent them out during hot weekends?
Years ago I worked for several years helping a friend who owns an RV shop repairing water damaged and smashed Rv's, seeing the poor quality of construction and lack of safety was the single biggest deciding factor for me in my decision to build a school bus RV. Now over 20 years later at the age of 55 my wife and I are taking on that task and enjoying the ride.
image.jpg
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Old 07-04-2020, 12:12 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by cheerios View Post
I realize a skoolie would be a project, probably a multi-year one. But it would give us something to do this summer, with a traveling coach for future years.

Thanks in advance.
Excuse me! Welcome.
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Old 07-04-2020, 12:16 AM   #5
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my choice bus vs RV

my bus, 1954 ford/wayne body has a "cool" factor that is not possible with 99% of the RVs that exist. Need seats for at least six kids, tough to do in most RVs. I have seen way too many rvs with the insides falling apart from water damage/leaks. Many rvs are literally built with staples. Search photographs of wrecked busses and wrecked rvs. The amount of destruction will speak for it self.

That being said.... I have a brand new 1954 bus, new engine, new brakes, new transmission, I am not the usual skoolie builder. I expect to pass this on to one of the grandkids when I am dead.

With planning and some money, just about every bus out there could be driven at 70 mph safely. Most are on a budget that does not allow for this. Most school busses are over 200,000 miles by the time they are sold off. somebody else got the best out of the bus already. That is why I have spent so much on making my old new. I do not want to spend time fixing a broken bus on the side of the road.

The bigger busses are very much like a class A motor home but are a tougher vehicle. They are not cheap to repair. Hell, most cant afford new tires. watch and you will see quite a few get sold off before they are ever completed.

anyways...starting to ramble

william call if you wanna talk options 785 207 7600
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Old 07-04-2020, 12:28 AM   #6
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This collision picture sealed the deal for me image.jpeg
The truck is a large crane truck pulling a flat deck trailer. based on the distance travelled after the impact(looks like about 400') this looks like a very survivable crash. that's the kind of odds I'm looking for in an RV.
Good luck with your search and travel safe.
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Old 07-04-2020, 12:31 AM   #7
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our schoolie runs 80 plus mph as i was in illinois and did not want a ticket so i backed off before it topped out.
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Old 07-04-2020, 01:14 AM   #8
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Cost

Character/style
Robustness
How well suited they are to DIY modification
Customizability and community of likeminded DIY'ers


Are some of the reasons I'm drawn to them.
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Old 07-04-2020, 01:37 AM   #9
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You can get a big machine made out of steel for a few thousand bucks in a school bus. Converting one can be a fun project, if you like doing that sort of thing. With money, time, effort, and skill you can turn a school bus into a quality RV. Some great looking converted skoolies come up for sale from time to time, and are usually a bargain if you consider all the time and effort put into them. Lately, it seems, prices have risen. But you do have to choose wisely because you could find yourself with a big old .......

There is this old saying (attributed to an RV salesman, I assume) "If you want an RV, buy an RV."
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Old 07-04-2020, 01:45 AM   #10
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I just bought a ford shuttle bus. I have been looking at the cost and mostly time to convert it. But then I just look at older 5th wheels and think why would I not just buy one of those instead?
Particularly older ones that need refreshed, but have things like tanks, electrical, plumbing already. I just saw a somewhat gutted small 5th wheel trailer for $900!


I think a trailer is a much better option than a bus. A bus is GREAT when they are NEW and have a warranty. But I would not like to have my home tied intimately with an old bus.
If you have a trailer, and the tow truck dies, very easy to just replace it with another one if the cost to repair is too high.

The old buses are really cheap..for a reason. My free boat was the most expensive thing I've owned!
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Old 07-04-2020, 01:52 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by mmoore6856 View Post
our schoolie runs 80 plus mph as i was in illinois and did not want a ticket so i backed off before it topped out.
What kind of bus do you have? What is the engine, trans, gears? That is definitely a cruiser!
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Old 07-04-2020, 05:21 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by cheerios View Post
Are you able to rent them out during hot weekends?
Some people rent their skoolies out on airbnb, but as a fixed place to stay (i.e. they don't let people rent them and then drive them around, which would be a pretty terrible idea). To do this effectively, I think you'd need to have a regular flushable RV toilet rather than a "composting" toilet like a Nature's Head or DIY. My sister-in-law had big plans to borrow my skoolie sometimes until she learned about the toilet situation.
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Old 07-04-2020, 06:38 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by bridg73988 View Post
What kind of bus do you have? What is the engine, trans, gears? That is definitely a cruiser!
98 bb cat 3116 allison 545 was a 71 passenger 40 ft long. i dont have ecm so no electronic controls also i have no info on the gears as the tag on the rear end is gone
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Old 07-04-2020, 06:52 AM   #14
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We've using our bus for trips while working on it. Right now, I have the carpentry roughed in, a solid electrical and propane system, bunks, a living room couch, and kitchen. No plumbing yet. I'm less than halfway done after working on this 2 years.

However much work you think it is, multiply by 4. If you want an RV-type experience, you need to either find a junk RV to get parts or spend $30,000+. The folks that spend $2,000 on the conversion have extension cords for the electrical system and no insulation.
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Old 07-04-2020, 10:16 AM   #15
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If you pursue the dream of converting a school bus into a skoolie, it is best to start with as rust free a specimen as possible.
No idea what part of the country you are in, or are potentially shopping in, but nowhere in the rustbelt you'll find a good starting platform. Unless it wasn't driven in winter months on salt treated roadways.

I know this, as that's where I'm currently living. Searched for a couple years locally before going on govdeals.com to find a salt free sunbelt bus to convert.

Continue reading all of the posts on here you can, and the education you'll get should help in deciding if this is right for you and your family.

Good luck, and post up pics if you go the skoolie route...
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Old 07-04-2020, 10:35 AM   #16
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We are in a similar boat. We have 5 kids age 2-10 and have always wanted an RV. We were looking at Class C models for the extra bunk over the cab. The entry price is $30k+ for one that isn't terribly outdated and/or run into the ground.

The reasons we are leaning heavily towards a skoolie are safety, customization, and cost.

It's hard to find an RV with seat belts for 7. Even if you find enough seatbelts, look at how they are attached. Often the belt is just screwed into the plywood of the dinette or the floor, not attached to steel. Even if the seatbelts are bolted to steel, it doesn't help much if the entire cab comes apart in a wreck. I saw a photo of an RV that had rolled over, the frame was laying upside down directly on the pavement. The cab had disintegrated and was spread all across the road. Then there was a bad school bus wreck a year or two ago where a car hit the bus head on. The bus cab had shifted forward on the frame, but was intact. There were injuries and possibly fatalities, but the majority were ok.

Most RVs are fairly standard. Bunk over cab, dinette bed, couch bed, bedroom in the back. You might get a bunk room or an extra bunk bed in place of storage, but that's about it. I was going to put 2 kids above the cab, the smallest 2 on the dinette and my oldest on the couch. But when they are older it's gonna be hard to fit them all in!! Building a skoolie opens up a world of possibilities. I haven't decided my floorplan yet, but I thought of a single large bunk room in the back with queen over queen across the back and then twin bunks on both sides.

You said you are looking at spending $100k on a newer RV. For a third of that you can build your own Skoolie. For half you can get fancy. For $100k you could make the cover of Skoolie Magazine (if there was one). You could also hire a company to do the initial tear out and frame in, that way you can move forward with the actual build sooner and hit the road earlier.
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Old 07-05-2020, 06:12 AM   #17
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Cuz it is just plain FUN!


Structure is so much safer, of course.



We have 15 grandkids all under the age of 12 and, when one or two come over to visit, we let them help with the project. Sure, they get in the way sometimes. But how cool is it when you ask your 2 year old grandson to pass you the phillips head...and he DOES IT!



Sure, you may not be on the road with your kids this summer, but you just might have the time of your life next year when your kids remind you how they installed the drawer slides or helped plumb the sink.
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Old 07-05-2020, 07:26 AM   #18
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A skoolie stopped here overnight on their way home to Michigan after spending the winter in their skoolie in Florida. They had 8 of their 10 kids with them, looked like everyone had their own space. Very nice family.

I delivered RVs for a while, towables. One company it was standard practice for me to pile everything up that had fallen off during the trip, both inside and out. That is if I saw it and stopped to pick it up.

In eight years I have just over $50,000 in mine which, I think is fairly sophisticated. That includes everything,original purchase, fuel, insurance, taxes, campground fees. Twelve thousand of that was fuel. Roughly $33,000 for the conversion part. About $6,000 is solar with lithium house batteries.

I make payments on it, that is, when I get the money to add something I purchase it and make/install it. No bank involved and no interest.
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Old 07-05-2020, 09:42 AM   #19
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I just bought a 24ft shuttle bus and considered converting it to a motorhome.
However, after reviewing everything and spending hours watching videos, and signing up here, I think a trailer is a much much better option.

I wouldn't want all my long long hours and hard work building a house kept hostage to a very very expensive very old drivetrain.
At least for my shuttle bus, it uses a standard truck engine (A ford V10), and standard 16 inch truck tires, so that is not crazy expensive to maintain, fix, replace, but I still think having a trailer towed by a truck is the best way.
If the truck breaks down, you can just replace it.

In terms of safety, There is nothing more safe than a modern truck with airbags and seatbelts.
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Old 07-05-2020, 12:29 PM   #20
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Until modern truck get turned upside down because the camper it was towing gets blown over, and I have seen it.

Still think a skoolie is safest. To each there own...

I went skoolie after having two campers that both fell apart/wore out. I wanted durability. And what has been said about sticks and staples is so very true. That is really how an RV is made.

Speed it really depends on the bus you buy. Mine will comfortably cruise at 65. It will do more but 65 is the sweet spot.
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