Well, I've been lurking for years and finally found The One! Bought the bus from PublicSurplus from Bend, OR and got her home yesterday at midnight.
Thus, I give you DARV: Dog-Appropriate Recreational Vehicle.
DARV and I had a decent start. For some reason (I expect operator error) I had difficulty getting over 20mph for a few blocks, like it didn't want to shift out of first. Warmed up some and was fine. Got on the road and was having a blast before one of the inner rear tire tread sluffed off and gave me a fright. Luckily we were six minutes from the nearest town with a whole bunch of tire centers so we waltzed out four brand new rear tires richer and nine hundred dollars poorer- which wouldn't have been quite as sad had the tires not been described as "good" when I bid on the bus. Turns out they're 10 years old. But an auction is an auction and that's totally on me to verify. To their credit the front ones are still in great shape.
Although I had no actual trouble with the brakes, we did get the brake pressure warning on and off. My 'chase car' told me my brake lights were flickering occasionally during those periods as well. I'd pull over and turn off the bus for a while and it would be fine. Sometimes it would be 150 miles before the warning came on again and other times it was 60 miles. Ran up the cascades without breaking a sweat and cruises at 65 comfortably.
Scale was relative and illuminating. When I parked at a rest stop among the big rigs I was marveling at how petite and adorable the bus looked. Then I parked it in my suburban driveway next to my 'dad van' and realized how massive it actually was.
Anyway, DARV is a flat-floor beauty. Short of new tires and a trip to the mechanic to see whats up with my brake system I couldn't be happier. Interior panels are all screws (
) and aside from the dash illumination all the electric works AOK. Roof is in great shape! We drove through decent rain and I haven't found any leaky spots yet.
Scared and intimidated by what I've chosen to take on but super excited. The goal is a vehicle outfitted to travel with 3-6 dogs. I trial and show (and camp) and my van just isn't big enough to sleep in with all the dogs. Build goal is to have a 'garage' in back (accessed via a half wall through the main body of the bus and from both emergency access doors) for crates and muddy gear/dogs and a living area with a small bathroom/shower, bed, kitchenette, and desk. I'm not game enough to try a black tank or electric pump plumbing so it'll be oldschool hand pump water and boiling water for showers on this rig. I expect this will be slow-going so I apologize in advance for that.