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Old 12-02-2004, 02:07 AM   #1
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Join Date: Dec 2004
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Why Skoolie?

Hello! This is the first time I am posting on this board and have only recently started looking at it. I have been following some of the other bus conversion boards for a while though. The ones I have been looking at are mainly populated by guys with intercity and some transit buses. My 1967 GMC Superior, which I've had for about 9 years, is a flat-nose diesel pusher that is of the band or team bus configuartation. My conversion is pretty traditional motorhome. Although not high end by any stretch, it has a standard design and amenities. We are not traveling in it much now so I am not going to do anything serious soon, but since it has an old V6 Toroflow engine and a manual transmission, I will probably be looking at either upgrading the drivetrain or switching buses at some point. This brings me to the question of what type of bus would be the right one to switch too. Therefore I wanted to ask why people here would consider skoolies the best choice for a conversion. Thanks in advance for your analysis. Lin

1967 GMC Superior
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Old 12-02-2004, 07:53 AM   #2
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Hi Lin This requires a very lengthy response as there are many variables involved. Most of your questions can be answered by reading the post below this one. Les is the man when it comes to qualified responses. Basically you just gather as much info as you can and the do what your pocket book will allow after taking into account the advice of others. You will instantly know if one kind or brand of bus is for you.

Good luck, J.B.
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Old 12-02-2004, 08:24 AM   #3
Join Date: Dec 2003
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Maybe I’m not qualified….but I’ll give this a go anyway.

Lin....The main reason people choose a Schoolie to convert over another type of bus is Cost.
We might qualify our choice by telling someone that Schoolies can go places no Prevost or whatever can …but the real bottom line is School Buses cost much less to buy than other types of buses do.

Are you questioning my Aaa-thoritttyy ?
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Old 12-02-2004, 11:15 AM   #4
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Yes, I expected cost to be one of the issues, but is the shell cost that significant when one considers the costs and serious labor to follow?
1967 GMC Superior
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Old 12-02-2004, 11:36 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Lin
Yes, I expected cost to be one of the issues, but is the shell cost that significant when one considers the costs and serious labor to follow?
......That would depend on how fancy you are going to go on your conversion. Sometimes poor resale value is a good thing - like when you're buying. Just don't get trapped into thinking it will be worth much more after you've done all that work to it. Skoolies are an adventure - not an investment!
I think the big advantage to skoolies, esp. if you get one from a district or fresh out of service, is that they have generally been well maintained. Look for the last inspection, most times they are inspected just before being sold. Also you will get the service records often, esp. if you ask for them. This is a great aid as you will know exactly what’s been fixed and what kind of problems to look out for...
With transits and such sometimes their history can be a bit cloudy.

One of the main things I like about skoolies over other bus types is that they really are structurally sound. I've seen too many RV's and even a few coaches that just disintegrated in crashes, esp. rollovers. I like having that "roll cage" all around me - when there's a mountain on one side and air on the other!

Have fun.......

"The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits" - Albert Einstein
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Old 12-02-2004, 02:41 PM   #6
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I haven't purchased my skoolie yet, but the main reason I am going with a skoolie is because many are available with the engines in the front. Since I plan to have the bus contain a vehicle inside of its interior and drive up through ramps on the back I can't have any drivetrain back there to block the passage. Also the ground clearance is a big deal for me as some roads I might take to get to certain camp sites are not transit bus friendly.
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Old 12-02-2004, 06:39 PM   #7
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Location: Whidbey Island, Washington (USA)
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Hi Lin,

J.B. said "Les is the man when it comes to qualified responses"; what he really meant was that I can type as much as I can talk...and that's a lot! There are actually quite a few folks in this group that have a lot more experience then I with these Skoolies; Soused Moose in particular has been an inspiration to me and has a great web site. Everyone contributes quite a lot here and guys like Steve (our group owner) and Lapeer keep us on the sorta straight and narrow. Every one seems to do something just a bit different and has a different goal in mind but that's great because one gets to learn and think about things in a way that might not have happened without this eclectic mix of folks.

I agree with Michael (Soused Moose); the underlying and unifying theme in all Skoolies is cost. If I do the same layout in a Prevost, MCI, GMC or other over-the-road coach as I do in the Skoolie my conversion costs (other than shell preparation) are going to be the same (unless I go nuts because I've got a big OTR coach, which is a distinct possibility!). Given that I bought a nice school bus that I really like for $2100 and that most OTR coaches I've considered (at the low end) seem to run in the $15K range that (about) $13K difference will always exist. Using new materials and installing a fair number of "niceties" in our conversion I'm going to be able to put my fully converted Skoolie on the road for less then the cost of the basic OTR coach shell. And that's NOT a slam on OTR coaches; for some folks they're the only way to go!

A close second for me was the ability to tailor the interior arrangement to our needs. Short of walking into Marathon Coach and handing them a million dollars plus (which I don't have ); I can't get a workable interior for our needs unless I do it my self.

A close third (after the close second) was the ability to travel off the beaten path with fewer concerns about getting the rig stuck because a) it's too low to the ground or b) the turning radius is too large because the wheelbase is so long that I can't turn around.

I started my bus seach with an OTR coach in mind but just couldn't pass up the perfect (for me) mix of road clearance, ease of maintenance, short turning radius, interior arrangement flexibility and cost savings attained by using a school bus as a conversion base.

In the long run I didn't (and don't) care about resale; I'll have little enough in the bus when converted (well under $20K) that after many years of traveling in it I'll be able drive it to a dump and feel like it gave me back every penny. More than likely it'll still have lots of life left in it and I'll be able to get a couple thousand (in todays' dollars) back for it. Shoot, I'd lose $20K in the first year of ownership if I bought a new modern motorhome (and I wouldn't be as safe on the road). I also wouldn't take a modern RV where I'm planning to take the bus.

Anyway, there's $.02 worth for now...
Les Lampman
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