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Old 01-20-2022, 05:27 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Bus Conversion Companies?

Here goes...

I know it's much more cost effective to convert your own bus, but for those who know they can't and are willing to pay those who can, which are the better rated skoolie conversion companies still in business now? It's a real shame there's so many van mod companies out there whereas bus conversion companies seem to be a bit thin on the ground...

Sorry if this has been posted before. I did search for it but not much came up. Most likely I'm not using the right magical keywords. Probably should've posted this in the general section, though I'm a short bus/shuttle type.

I like the idea of putting mostly marine-grade utilities in for longevity & peace of mind's sake. But of course that will be expensive to do.

I can just hear, "why don't you just get a Class A/B/C then?"

Thanks 4 Listening,
CrownBirdie

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Old 01-20-2022, 06:32 PM   #2
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Dunno who to use, but have a look at this thread to see who NOT to use.
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Old 01-20-2022, 06:33 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drew Bru View Post
Dunno who to use, but have a look at this thread to see who NOT to use.
We did our own build out. The OP of the thread I linked may build skoolies, maybe PM him?
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Old 01-20-2022, 08:08 PM   #4
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Hopefully somebody out there can comment on a good experience they've had with professional skoolie converters, because I've only ever heard tales ranging from mild disappointment to downright catastrophies (see the video Drew Bru mentioned).

If it were me, I'd go with Ross. If he charges what his work is worth, I'd start by budgeting a cool million for a basic conversion.

Edit: I meant that as a funny way to say that Ross has serious skills, but I'm not sure it was clear. If you actually have a million to spend on a bus, I have a very nice partial Crown conversion with your name on it
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Old 01-21-2022, 06:03 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tejon7 View Post
Hopefully somebody out there can comment on a good experience they've had with professional skoolie converters, because I've only ever heard tales ranging from mild disappointment to downright catastrophies (see the video Drew Bru mentioned).

If it were me, I'd go with Ross. If he charges what his work is worth, I'd start by budgeting a cool million for a basic conversion.

Edit: I meant that as a funny way to say that Ross has serious skills, but I'm not sure it was clear. If you actually have a million to spend on a bus, I have a very nice partial Crown conversion with your name on it
I agree with you. The sheer amount of man hours required to gut a bus and properly convert it means that it makes little economic sense to pay someone else to do the entire build unless said person has 6 figures burning a hole in their pocket.

As we've seen with these conversion companies, they charge an arm and a leg for what is a basic conversion job at best.

If people are unwilling to DIY at all and don't have the time to do a conversion then they're better off just buying an RV, to be honest.
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Old 01-21-2022, 06:24 AM   #6
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Hi CrownBirdie and thanks, Drew_Bru and Tejon7 for the support. I agree with the sentiment, as WIbluebird elaborated on, that it doesn't make much sense to farm out a full conversion. And, while I've done full conversions (and am in the midst of one now), my preference is to do the systems which the owners are uncomfortable with...and leave the interior work and decorating to the owners. My wife calls it, "making the bus Ikea ready."

I love woodworking and so my hesitance isn't to avoid those parts of the build. It's just that it's hard to feel good about charging what would truly be required to do a full build. So, I prefer to do the systems (solar, electric, plumbing) and mechanical mods (like hitches or roof raises and such). I think a big part of the whole concept of a skoolie build is that the owner do the bulk of the build...for both financial and personal satisfaction reasons. Nobody will care as much about your build as you do.
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Old 01-21-2022, 10:29 AM   #7
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I'm not a very trusting person, but from RossVTaylor's (who I don't yet know personally) posts / comments / videos / demeanor, I'd be inclined to believe he's the real deal. And in the bus conversion biz, that appears from my admittedly-limited perspective to be a rarity. Any professional converter that will tell you straight-up it's probably not the best path to hand me a wad of cash and wait for God-knows-how-long to get something out of it is worthy of at least listening to. If I was looking for someone to build a bus for me, and I had the cash/time, I'd hit him up to at least discuss the idea. He may tell you exactly what you don't want to hear, but sometimes that's better than the alternative.
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Old 01-21-2022, 11:03 AM   #8
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Heck Tejon7, if I had a million I'd just get myself a Newmar 3408!
Then I'd use the leftover $ for whatever breaks down on it.
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Old 01-21-2022, 11:18 AM   #9
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Hey Guys, you're right. In my case it is best to either:

a) Just get a used RV
b) buy a pre-stripped & cleaned model & pay for IKEA readiness.
or c) buy an already converted bus & go from there.

My key attraction to buses is safety & relative dependability when compared to the milk carton RV crud that's being rolled out nowadays. Guess I can say the same about older RVs as long as they're relatively clean (with doable TLC fixes), though even those aren't built as sturdy as buses.

Bus (<--that a real Freudian slip there!) - but I hear you guys, I hear you.
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Old 01-21-2022, 01:07 PM   #10
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I live in the same town as Yetibus and have seen their work. They do a very nice job and charge accordingly. They have been pumping out van conversions recently because that's where the money is, but their original market was busses.
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Old 01-21-2022, 01:27 PM   #11
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Lone Star Skoolies in Texas did this bus-
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Old 01-21-2022, 01:27 PM   #12
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Judging by the way they trolled on here and their Yelp reviews i'd say "skoolie Homes" in TN is to be avoided as well.
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Old 01-21-2022, 09:33 PM   #13
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Thanks very much for letting me know, PeakBus! I will certainly check out Yetibus.

How is it going in Sandpoint? I love Idaho & Sandpoint was one of my fave towns. Is "Wolf People" still inbetween SP & Coeur d'Alene? Last time I visited them, I had no idea they were within spitting distance of a Klansman sanctuary.

Really enjoyed the college town-vibe of Moscow as well. Considering the overall political spectrum of ID, I was sort of amazed that town with that name even existed there.
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Old 01-21-2022, 09:42 PM   #14
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EastCoastCB View Post
Judging by the way they trolled on here and their Yelp reviews i'd say "skoolie Homes" in TN is to be avoided as well.
I appreciate you warning me about those two, EastCoastCB. I will certainly steer clear of them. Probably the most likely way I'll obtain a bus is to take an already renovated one off someone's hands once they're ready to sell.

Right now, I'm in no hurry. I have a few years to go to save up & know when its finally time to sell the house.

Thanks Fellas.
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Old 01-22-2022, 08:25 AM   #15
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people in the coach world farm out full conversions all the time.. its expensive yes but they want the stability, longevity , and safety of a bus (coach) vs a class A/B/C..


Farber Custom coach in columbus ohio has built quite a few over the decades.. no idea if they will convert a school bus or not..



I do know back in 2003 that 3/4 million got you a pretty high end Prevost conversion turn-key brand new..



I dare say If I were going to spend lots of coin on farming out a skoolie conversion that I would probably also spend lots of coin on updating the bus first..



I would look for a mid 00's bus and then have the engine / trans / suspension re-done so as to be ready to last decades...



then once you find the right company to do a full conversion you have a rig thats essentially "brand new" but you have a bus and not a staple-gun special...
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Old 01-22-2022, 08:29 AM   #16
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now.. that said.. if I were crown-birdie... I would sell the house on the "west coast" now and get the &*^% out of there.. Move to a country place in the midwest (yes our weather SUCKS).. that has a little land to build on.. maybe even rent vs buy unless the Real estate market crashes..



you can make great profit on selling a house right now.. live someplace cheap and build your bus yourself over a nice long period of time.. farming out pieces you need help with such as raising the roof or skinning/ insulation, etc..



there have been several here that have been succesful in having as roof raise professionally done.. and having someone install their RV windows.. and then having their spray foam profesionally done..



there are people who can come install your minisplit.. or once you have a driveable shell, drive it to skoolie events.. ive seen people there who offer services for helping others on their builds and are good at it..
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Old 01-22-2022, 08:55 AM   #17
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Thanks Charlie, Ross.

Interesting video.

There are a lot of labor hours and material in that shitty conversion.
It seems that the buyers picked it up unfinished.

Without the owners building specification and money amount it is hard to know what is going on.

It is really cool to have a full wooden slab countertop. Properly executed and nicely finished that would be a 35 or more hour job.. so $1600??? alone for that.

The front tire problem does not specify what is going on. But if the builder needed it towed during the whatever failure then their is $1000 right there.

Not being able to open the electrical panel is bad but why did the owner accept the bus like that??

Missing lenses...loose fridge.. all a sign that the bus was not ready. Hurry on breakers, wire nuts and wiring.

It is most hilarious that with code and UL listing we can by 50 amp to 30 amp converter cables. How is that for a fire danger and wire protection..Laughable..

The builder is to blame but however nice the buyers are they did not do their homework.

Would be nice the see the building spec..money and builders perspective.

Johan
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Old 01-22-2022, 11:18 AM   #18
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I should clarify that a 50 amp RV receptacle is actually 50A 240V, so the plug adapter only picks up one leg of that...for 25A. I was a bit in awe of all the crappy work so I got that part wrong until I thought about it later. Be even with 30A input, that panel and the breakers are wrong.

In defense of the customer...and the many other victims...Lone Star is listed in an online article as being the #1 bus converter (a paid placement...but not made clear to readers) and they take a 75% deposit. They promise 4-6 week turnaround and then seem to drag things out a bit...in this case, 14 months...so the customers finally just get fed up and want their bus. I spoke with another customer this week and she gave them $75k towards a $100k build and they finally just took their bus, in the existing condition, without paying the final $25k...just to move on with life. Here's her video:

https://youtu.be/dbAqn3laW84
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Old 01-22-2022, 11:45 AM   #19
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'Finished' or not, there's no amount of extra work or effort that would have changed anything. Were they going to finish the breaker box by adding in a main breaker, and swapping out the 12G wire for something appropriate? Of course not. Were they going to finish the walls they didn't fully paint because stuff was in the way by tearing out the obstructive plumbing and appliances and starting over? Nope. Were they going to finish the bus electric panel by ripping out the wall they built over it?

There's no amount of rationalization that can explain that bus as anything other than what it is - an (extremely) amateur effort for a professional price.
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Old 01-22-2022, 03:14 PM   #20
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I am not sure but a 50 amp 240 plug is still 50 amp. So even with one leg at 50 amp it would potentially overload the 30 amp entrance connector and entrance cable before the main breaker..
Clearly there is a market for that converter cable, that why it is sold.
Code is just code, in Europe you would never ever bond neutral and ground in the box. Neutral and ground are going all the way back to the main power transformer. Bonding is considered unsafe ..here in the usa it is required ??
But anyhow that is outside the thread.

Clearly it is a crappy build but buses are not easy to custom convert, only if you specialize in one aspect and maybe one layout then maybe you can make money. There have been plenty discussions here about people thinking how to make money of this market.

Standard stick and staples are premodelled layouts so you can put them together fast and cheap. Not so with custom work.

If I go to custom welding shop then that is $90 to $ 125 hour. Two weeks straight labor $8000 + material.
I have thought more then a week how to do my solar and that is without actually putting it on.. the another week of designing the floor heat .etc..etc

110 hours to put a 4*4 conversion under an E350.

Most people cannot afford a professional conversion so then you will get a crappy job.
Buses are like wooden boats.

Here we are all the time moaning about how badly the sticks and staples are build..
That is why you do this yourself or farm very specific details out to someone else. A roof raise,. Or only a solar system.

The damaged wires is bad, 30 amp breakers in a bus ??? Who need a 30 amp single group in a bus?

There is no defending that company but if the buyer had a solid detailed contract and work description and would have done proper research with a good final acceptance document then a lawyer would get that money back real quick.

I can see that the buyers got anxious and pulled the bus because they did not see a way out.

It is sad but partially a result of the bus craze.

If I would count the hours I put in our buses then it will far exceed the $100000 and my work is only up to my specification. I sure could not make a living doing that.

I am sure Ross does a way better job but I doubt he would like to take on a full conversion from scratch that would pass his perspective of quality.

Quality is also in the eye of the beholder. Some here have done fabulous jobs but none of them would want to do full bus conversion professionally. Their standards are to high to be able to make money and the market is to small.

Others are perfectly happy with 2x4 interiors without insulation.

Buyer beware.
Johan
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