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Old 08-29-2019, 02:54 PM   #1
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Newbie needs a bus! Please Help!

Hey yall,

I'm a newbie to the skoolie.net community and I am feeling very overwhelmed. My nephew (currently 15) and I are planning to take a trip around the U.S. and Canada for a couple of months when he graduates....thankfully, that's still 3 years away, but I'm a planner and I like to be prepared.

We need:
  • a short bus (due to parking space constraints)
  • something with a good amount of head room (my nephew is already 6'3 and still growing)
  • enough space for a toilet and shower
  • enough space to sleep 2 on a regular basis (bunkbeds?) and 4 for short periods of time (some type of fold out couch?)

Does anyone know of a model we should be looking for? Should we go for a short school bus or a shuttle bus? My nephew and brother are planning on converting the bus to electric, while I'm in charge of the inside.

Any and all help would be greatly appreciated!

Cheers,
KatTravels
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Old 08-29-2019, 03:24 PM   #2
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The height is going to be an issue if you are looking for a school bus. You may want to look for a limo bus or a shuttle bus. I’m pretty sure Turtle Top and Krystal Koach have bodies that have a higher ceiling.
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Old 08-29-2019, 03:26 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by KatTravels View Post
My nephew and brother are planning on converting the bus to electric

Where will you charge it??? Each electric bus owned by a city transit system, school district, or airport shuttles have their very own, dedicated charging station. I've seen public charging stations at shopping centers, but none that you could park a 24 foot bus at. Also, it seems like the cost of the conversion would exceed the fuel costs of gas or diesel to circumnavigate North America several times.

Your plan is short term..."for a couple of months when he graduates". buy a used RV, and sell it after the trip. The bus will cost 10s of thousands, and have a very limited market when you're done with your trip, if it can be sold at all.
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Old 08-29-2019, 03:45 PM   #4
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my nephew is already 6'3 and still growing
A lot of buses are 6'5" or 6'6" down the middle, but if you're planning to insulate the floors and ceilings you will either have to raise the roof or encourage your nephew to slouch. Or get a low-floor diesel (like a city bus).

Converting the bus to electric is solidly in the crazy category.
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Old 08-29-2019, 03:53 PM   #5
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Converting the bus to electric is solidly in the crazy category.
I read that as “doing the electrical” converting to an electric motor lands in the Limitless Funds and Time category, not to mention finding charging stations. Yeah, not advisable.
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Old 08-29-2019, 04:02 PM   #6
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I read that as “doing the electrical”
I hope that's what she meant.
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Old 08-29-2019, 05:41 PM   #7
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Awesome! I'll definitely have a look at those models. Thank you so much!
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Old 08-29-2019, 05:56 PM   #8
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Going Green

Haha, nope, we're thinking of converting it...I think it's crazy too, but my brother and nephew are adamant they can do it. I told them they have to convert a car for my nephew before I'll even consider letting them do it to a bus. It would be amazing if they can do it in a cost effective way, but if they can't, that will also be good to find out as it will affect the shape the bus is in that we buy.

I realize I may not have given enough info in my initial post...After we return from our trip, I'm playing around with the idea of living in it long term so I can rent my house out and get it paid off as quickly as possible. My last apartment before I bought my house was only 300 sq ft. and I honestly didn't even use all of that most of the time, so I'm pretty comfortable living in small spaces.

Budget is definitely limited...$12000 all in is where I'd be comfortable.

I do have a friend who is in school for welding...does anyone have any experience with raising the roof of their bus? Was it worth it?
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Old 08-29-2019, 06:36 PM   #9
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I think it's crazy too
As a joke, I sometimes like to talk about my plans to make a skoolie out of a surplus Soviet ekranoplan. Converting a used school bus into an electric vehicle is in roughly the same category of probability. Especially when your total budget is $12,000 - you would be extremely fortunate to bring in a conventional skoolification for that little.
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Old 08-29-2019, 09:04 PM   #10
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������ I’ll let you know how it goes haha. I told them I thought it was a lot more involved than they think... my preference would be to snag something that is mechanically sound...lol they can try with the car and we’ll see if they are still motivated after that
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Old 08-29-2019, 09:19 PM   #11
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total budget is $12,000
That'll be enough for the batteries, maybe.
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Old 09-07-2019, 04:05 PM   #12
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I have a 1990 chevy G30 shorty. Bought it w short amount of mileage on a rebuilt engine from a school district. Unfortunately they didn't rebuild the tranny so its sitting in the shop in Trinidad Colorado where i brike down last year. Ive been making small payments as times have been hard. I need to sell it.but the mechanic has to be paid $2000 first hes a good guy. The rest of the price of the bus is negotiable but im hoping for $10,000 as it has 400 Watts of solar power. Batteries,3000w inverter, shore power,2 burner propane stove installed on copper counter top,dorm fridge,hand pump sink,full bed w storage underneath, shelves over windows, imitation insulated wood floor,old style door lever,w/c lift removed but nice side door, nice back door emergency exit,fan for driver but no a/c unfortunately,has 2 small antique dressers that can be removed. I was planning on a small composting toilet but didn't get that far. There's still enough room left in it's conversion to personalize w your own touch. Its hard to let go of but i have to.....
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Old 09-07-2019, 05:15 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KatTravels View Post
������ I’ll let you know how it goes haha. I told them I thought it was a lot more involved than they think... my preference would be to snag something that is mechanically sound...lol they can try with the car and we’ll see if they are still motivated after that
Range will be a real limiting factor as well as the cost of the conversion. You will easily find the cost of parts to covert you bus over the bus project budget. Batteries alone to do it right are go If to run more than a few thousand dollars.
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Old 09-07-2019, 05:28 PM   #14
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Don't want to rain on your parade or kill a dream but there's no way, in todays dollars, they're going to convert it for you with only 12K of funds.
As others have said, batteries will eat up most if not all of the $$ you have.

It'll likely cost you all 12K to convert the bus to a livable camper, and that will be using used components and probably won't get everything you want in it.

Convert a car & tow it behind the bus for transportation when you get to a campsite?
Other than that, good luck!!!
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Old 09-07-2019, 06:08 PM   #15
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Its all about choice. I bought mine from weld county school district. Did all changes w help from friends. I stated whats missing or needed. Cant do any more than that. Its for sale if anybody wants it. We can haggle ,as ive already said....
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Old 09-07-2019, 10:07 PM   #16
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Could, maybe, happen

3 friends and I bought a 97 international 8window for $2500. Initial conversion budget was 12K. That was 2 years ago, and we’ve spent closer to 13K purchase included. Bus has bunks, insulated subfloor, 2 solar panels and 500aH of batteries (which isn’t a lot but it powers the fridge), rooftop AC, generators built in underneath...etc. It’s not done, and it’s not pretty, and it’s not painted on the outside, and it’s not “raised”. But it has been great for weekend camping at the lake. I wouldn’t drive it across country. I gotta say I agree with most folks on here... 12K is a small budget, and you could do something small and decent, but doubt you could afford all the electric and/or want to live in it with only that much invested. That being said, if you can find a good deal on your initial purchase—do it! You’ll make the decisions later on about design/layout/electric... and maybe you’ll end up spending a little more than you thought... but it’ll be worth it!
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Old 09-07-2019, 10:19 PM   #17
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What an excellent and positive response! That's as real as it gets! It costs a bit more than you thought it would but its custom to suit your particular personality and the experience alone is worth every penny invested! You can buy an already converted and change it, finish a partially converted or start w the seats still inside and the whole thing is FUN! I used to grab my dogs and go cuddle in mine in the driveway each morning cuz i could hardly stand the wait to living in it!!!!
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Old 09-07-2019, 10:25 PM   #18
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...also mine is for sale for a negotiable$12,000 comes equipped with 400 watts solar power that operates a dorm fridge and television, phone charge and shore shore power.....
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Old 09-08-2019, 03:39 AM   #19
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Would be a big project... But amazing to get something like that accomplished. Imagine no engine, transmission, overheating, starting, fuel/air mixture, vacuum, temp, altitude, leaking, coolant, starter, injector problems?

To try and get back to your original question... A shuttle bus would be the logical starting point.
*Taller ceiling
*Much lighter
*Less metal to conduct electricity through the cabin in event of a short

You would want a bus that is structurally sound with the worst engine problems imaginable! Since you would throw away the engine (and probably the transmission) anyway. You might be able to pick up a decent shuttle bus with blown engine for a few hundred bucks.

But tell your nephew to get an after school job to save up for batteries and solar panels. You will need almost all of your initial budget on just batteries alone.

The good part is you would probably still qualify for the 30% solar tax credit for the cost of batteries, panels, DC motors, inverters and converter, etc.

Best of luck if you go down this path. Would be an amazing project and a priceless educational experience in an emerging technological field. Definitely more interesting than debating what kind of composting toilet to buy....

And as for those that are saying you are crazy!? Keep in mind, you're in a skoolie forum ... There is no shortage of crazy here long b4 you signed up lol
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Old 09-08-2019, 08:38 AM   #20
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I myself almost started w a shuttle bus! But bought mine from a school district so a was confident of their maintenance. It is tall enough for a 6' person.im 5"8". A shuttle bus would solve the 6'3"" height issue for sure but i think their bodies are fiberglass which wasnt sturdy enough for me. One younger driver plowed right into my bus,thank god she wasnt hurt! Didnt even dent my bus but her front auto body crumbled right before my eyes!
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