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Old 12-24-2020, 08:05 AM   #41
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Common sense and research goes a long way in anything. I have seen people jump in a sink in lots of things classic cars, boats, custom motorcycles, businesses, etc.
This fall Craigslist in Colorado was littered in abandoned school bus projects and broke down buses that “just need _____” one more thing.

At the base of the equation you are investing in a school bus at the end of it's life span.

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Old 12-24-2020, 08:25 AM   #42
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Originally Posted by ACamper View Post

At the base of the equation you are investing in a school bus at the end of it's life span.



That is a good way to look at it. If you want to extend its life span, you must build it accordingly.
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Old 12-24-2020, 10:10 AM   #43
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It's the Christmas puppy syndrome. People jump on a fad or 'great' idea or read one feel-good article and make the leap without counting the cost or burning out too quickly and by the following year their great idea is left to wallow in the backyard neglected. I wouldn't blame the folks here on the forum however - we have no way of gauging a person's tenacity over the internet and the fact that they asked some questions first is a step in the right direction. If they give up or life circumstances derail them that's on them not the online community which tried to support them. If you'd prefer we shoot down every starry-eyed newb before they even start then you really will kill the community... from within!
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Old 12-24-2020, 11:52 AM   #44
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It's not about blaming anyone.

It's not about shooting them down, it's about asking the right questions to understand their situation and goals and helping them achieve those goals, even if it's tough. Support and encourage them but also help them when they may be doing something which isn't a good idea and sometimes even dangerous.

We don't have to slam anyone, just be honest and supportive, offer alternatives which may be within their budget and skill set.

Some cases just aren't gonna work out, I really hate it for those folks, thats just the way it is.
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Old 12-24-2020, 12:15 PM   #45
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There's a lot of good guidance here. One thing that's important (I think, anyway) is the willingness to dig into the mechanicals of the bus. We don't need to be heavy truck mechanics, but we have to be willing to crawl underneath and look and learn and fix...or to get creative. Anyone with the expectation that they'll not have the occasional hiccup is in for some surprises.


Just yesterday, for example, I had one of our rigs out and about for some washing and errands. I'd stopped at a hardware store to get a few bolts and when I tried to start her up, the starter just spun. Hmmm...not good. I crawled underneath and found the starter housing had cracked and the starter motor gear had pivoted down away from the reduction gear (which then drives the flywheel to crank the engine). Fortunately, I was at a hardware store and I was able to buy a ratchet strap and a BFH...a specific type of hammer that's handy in these situations...and I got the starter drive pivoted back up and was able to start the bus to get home. This isn't a permanent fix, but I'll be able to change out the starter myself...so this will end up being a sub-$300 fix.


There's a bit more to the story. This has an air starter and we'd planned to convert it to electric start anyway, so all this did was force the timing. If we'd had to rely on others, and get towed and buy a new $1500 air starter and pay installation, this might have been a $3000 hit. My wordy point, I guess, is that it's important to learn about the bus...dig into it...get all the manuals you can...and go for it, with some newfound independence.



photo_2020-12-23 20.22.12.jpeg

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Old 12-24-2020, 12:22 PM   #46
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There will always be starry eyed people who jump on the latest greatest thing all excited and then drop it just as quickly. hen there will always be those who have the staying power to see through whatever they are doing. And everything in between.


I have had my skoolie for 3 years now, 2 years now useable. First trip blew the engine. Oh well buy another and swap it out. Lost an exhaust valve a few weeks ago. yuck. In frame rebuild, back running again. It is an antique, I know it will take more to keep it going then a newer bus however it fits me. we love it and drive it/use it a lot. Not so sure I would want to be 100% on the road without a place to go back to for repairs and maintenance. Something much newer would be better for that.


To each their own. I do see more builds that look decent. Seems this bus thing is maturing, and more want a quality experience rather then just throw something together. Have to remember many who are starting out have no experience building anything. So might take them a bus or two and a lot of reworking what they have done to get a nice bus.
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Old 12-26-2020, 06:56 PM   #47
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Our approach to building out our bus has been a test of patience, but I believe in the dividends it will pay out on the back-end. Initial focus was on getting the bus mechanically sound, to include general maintenance, chassis lubrication, new tires, air system repair, and a thorough inspection. Before our first trip we'll complete the few remaining items on our 'make sure the bus is roadworthy' list, like servicing the tranny, new wipers, spare parts & tools, etc. But for the most part the mechanical issues were addressed up front.

Now that we're working on the conversion proper, we're doing our best - with a few exceptions - to take an outside-in, top-down approach to building. It's difficult to maintain enthusiasm at times, because it puts the 'fun' stuff off till last, but we believe in the end it will result in far less re-thinks, re-dos, and re-pairs. Everything we do is the foundation of the next thing to follow, so we do what we do right, so we don't have to undo many layers to fix it in the future. Some people are the rabbit. We're the turtle.

The amount of time we've spent actually building is but a small fraction of the time we've spent planning & preparing. It's for that reason that when we do build something, more often than not, it's gone pretty much exactly as we hoped. And the results pretty darned close to what we envisioned. It's kind of neat to have done things so many times in your head, exploring all the possible permutations & picking the best one, that when you work to bring that vision into reality, the pieces just seem to fall into place.
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Old 12-27-2020, 07:53 AM   #48
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The amount of time we've spent actually building is but a small fraction of the time we've spent planning & preparing. It's for that reason that when we do build something, more often than not, it's gone pretty much exactly as we hoped. And the results pretty darned close to what we envisioned. It's kind of neat to have done things so many times in your head, exploring all the possible permutations & picking the best one, that when you work to bring that vision into reality, the pieces just seem to fall into place.

Yup, this was the most rewarding aspect of our build, the actual seeing it come to fruition. Bonus was the nice little surprise solutions that presented themselves in such a way that the solutions were way better than what we had envisioned. It was a really fun and rewarding project for both of us and now, just about every day, we say to each other "I can't believe how well this worked and how functional this bus is as a home".
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Old 01-27-2021, 08:08 AM   #49
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Long of the short she didnít spend her money wisely

Was worried about having a plush place and not doing serious mechanical updates before she left for a life on the road. Didnít research cheap places to live and camp I donít feel sorry for her.
I do feel pity though.
I think an area where a lot of skoolie people/hopefuls turn a blind eye is maintenance and repairs. I know lots of people have had success buying a bus at auction but I have seen many more complain that they got 50 miles down the road and had a breakdown and needed a tow and unexpected expenses etc. We bought a 20 year old bus and got it from AAA bus because mechanically we are not versed in busses other than very basics. We trust Tony. He spent a lot of time with us and recently I have had to call him because of something I did and he walked me through fixing it. We also learned about tires. Ours are "legal" and pass inspection but they are also old. We plan on replacing them before we hit the road. Tires have a date code and will delaminate after too many years despite how much tread they have on them. I would rather spend money on tires before having a blowout and getting stranded somewhere on the side of the road. We will also have a full "go over" of the engine etc before we hit the road.

We also budget for maintenance on the bus as well. Some of the more routine stuff we plan on being able to do ourselves. But yeah, we will have a reserve for unexpected repairs.
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Old 01-27-2021, 08:13 AM   #50
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I see lots of people who come here and show absolutely no knowledge in what they are attempting yet so many here just cheer-lead them into the abyss.

Do gooders that do no good in the end.


true story: we park at an rv storage lot that allows us to work on the bus. one day we met one of our neighbors and were talking about our plans. the husband says "I wish I had 10% of the skills needed to do that." My reply "me too."

We hired out the roof raise. My husband learned to weld to build storage bins and hang water tanks. We are learning as we go. We also have the advantage of being able to hire out stuff that we really feel we need to. We may hire out the spray foaming if we can find someone. But the rest of it we are just learning as we go. And having 2 of us we can bounce ideas off each other as to how things should be done.
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Old 04-30-2021, 12:13 PM   #51
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This entire thread is making me feel better about my decision to take my time and investigate and plan everything before we even start looking to buy a bus. Honestly, the mechanics is what worries me the most - I'm currently trying to find a way to learn about "how a bus works" not only so I can fix it if I need to, but so I can make an informed choice about what kind of bus to buy in the first place. Honestly the "design" is the last thing on my mind.
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Old 04-30-2021, 03:07 PM   #52
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Interesting that this thread has been resurrected. I'm seeing a lot of people virtually pushed into into buying busses because "they're cute or" it's the perfect size" without regard to the specifics of the engine, trans, chassis, etc.. On Facebook getting a skoolie is the solution to all of life's trials and tribulations. People setting up go fund me accounts or, in some cases, outright pleading for someone to either give them a bus or a "really good deal" on one because they have no money. I've been chastised for mentioning the merely owning one costs money and how are you going to build it? What if later you blow a tire or lose a water pump? Nobody wants to hear any of that because "karma will save the day". I stopped early on looking for school busses an instead looked at, and bid on, bookmobiles and the like. Low mileage, far less windows, sometimes a generator etc. My bus has 64k on it and it drives like new. Still, I don't even go joy riding without a couple grand in my pocket.
People need to be realistic about this type of venture. A blown tire with no money to fix it will get you impounded and then what?
I may sound a bit crotchety but I'm losing what's left of my patience.

[\rant]
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Old 04-30-2021, 03:53 PM   #53
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If you get a trailer, there is no drivetrain to 'worry about'. A plain ole pickup truck that everyone at every billy bob autoshop can fix will tow it. But whatever, make life hard and expensive and complicated...so you can live the simple life.
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Old 04-30-2021, 05:14 PM   #54
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Originally Posted by Rwnielsen View Post
Interesting that this thread has been resurrected. I'm seeing a lot of people virtually pushed into into buying busses because "they're cute or" it's the perfect size" without regard to the specifics of the engine, trans, chassis, etc.. On Facebook getting a skoolie is the solution to all of life's trials and tribulations. People setting up go fund me accounts or, in some cases, outright pleading for someone to either give them a bus or a "really good deal" on one because they have no money. I've been chastised for mentioning the merely owning one costs money and how are you going to build it? What if later you blow a tire or lose a water pump? Nobody wants to hear any of that because "karma will save the day". I stopped early on looking for school busses an instead looked at, and bid on, bookmobiles and the like. Low mileage, far less windows, sometimes a generator etc. My bus has 64k on it and it drives like new. Still, I don't even go joy riding without a couple grand in my pocket.
People need to be realistic about this type of venture. A blown tire with no money to fix it will get you impounded and then what?
I may sound a bit crotchety but I'm losing what's left of my patience.

[\rant]
No- you sound like a very wise bus shopper who knows what to look for.
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Old 05-01-2021, 06:03 AM   #55
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Our truck won't pull a camper that is the size we want/has the amenities we want.

Besides, half the fun is the hard work! In the end, you get *exactly* what you want.
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Old 06-01-2021, 09:48 AM   #56
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Originally Posted by Rwnielsen View Post
Interesting that this thread has been resurrected. I'm seeing a lot of people virtually pushed into into buying busses because "they're cute or" it's the perfect size" without regard to the specifics of the engine, trans, chassis, etc.. On Facebook getting a skoolie is the solution to all of life's trials and tribulations. People setting up go fund me accounts or, in some cases, outright pleading for someone to either give them a bus or a "really good deal" on one because they have no money. I've been chastised for mentioning the merely owning one costs money and how are you going to build it? What if later you blow a tire or lose a water pump? Nobody wants to hear any of that because "karma will save the day". I stopped early on looking for school busses an instead looked at, and bid on, bookmobiles and the like. Low mileage, far less windows, sometimes a generator etc. My bus has 64k on it and it drives like new. Still, I don't even go joy riding without a couple grand in my pocket.
People need to be realistic about this type of venture. A blown tire with no money to fix it will get you impounded and then what?
I may sound a bit crotchety but I'm losing what's left of my patience.

[\rant]
Yeah the FB groups are pretty horrible.
There's a guy on the "Swarm" page who got pretty insulted that folks were telling him a 50 year old box truck that'd been sitting for decades and was inoperable isn't worth a thousand bucks and worth spending their life savings to resurrect. Ok pal, its your dime! lol People are chomping at the bit to play the skoolie game.
A fool and his money.

Funny- my bus has 64k on it too, drives like new!
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Old 06-01-2021, 09:56 AM   #57
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This is an interesting thread. Before I bought my first Crown (to convert into a motorhome) I had not even heard of them. I grew up in upstate New York and no Crowns were there. I had been given a Dodge van class C motorhome for free that costs me several thousand to fix, got six miles to the gallon, and still broke down. It was too small also, but I liked the idea of a temporary house on wheels, especially for while our retirement house was being built. The wife and I decided converting a bus was the way to go. I found a bunch of Crowns on eBay from Washington state, bid on one, won the auction, drove all day into the night to Auburn to get it. This became the beginning of an adventure and long term project. I had never driven a bus before the day I picked up the Crown, didn't know how far a tank of fuel went with it, never even had a diesel vehicle before that. I have a friend (old racing buddy) that is a diesel mechanic and he knew a lot about Crowns. He told me I had the Cadillac of school buses. I did most of the work myself, with my son helping on some of the fabrication. The wife and I had some great times with the Crown. Yes we had minor problems with it, some I fixed, others a garage fixed. You ask would I do it again? Absolutely! I am doing it again, with a bigger, faster Crown. Soon I will post the latest work being done. My brother came over to help again and spent the entire month helping me with the fabrication and fitting of the interior. Is it a lot of work? Yes! Will I ever get my money back? No! But I got to hang with my brother for a month. When done I will have a unique motor home. It is being done my way. And it will work!
My brother still thinks I over engineer everything, saying "your not going to Mars with this, you don't need to do it this way", but he still helps me do what I want with it.
Will the project ever be done? Maybe. Will I enjoy using it? Yes! Do I enjoy building it? Mostly.
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Old 06-01-2021, 10:49 AM   #58
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The amount of work you pay someone else to do on your bus is directly proportional to your chances of loosing your ass.
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Old 06-01-2021, 04:19 PM   #59
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Originally Posted by flattracker View Post
This is an interesting thread. Before I bought my first Crown (to convert into a motorhome) I had not even heard of them. I grew up in upstate New York and no Crowns were there. I had been given a Dodge van class C motorhome for free that costs me several thousand to fix, got six miles to the gallon, and still broke down. It was too small also, but I liked the idea of a temporary house on wheels, especially for while our retirement house was being built. The wife and I decided converting a bus was the way to go. I found a bunch of Crowns on eBay from Washington state, bid on one, won the auction, drove all day into the night to Auburn to get it. This became the beginning of an adventure and long term project. I had never driven a bus before the day I picked up the Crown, didn't know how far a tank of fuel went with it, never even had a diesel vehicle before that. I have a friend (old racing buddy) that is a diesel mechanic and he knew a lot about Crowns. He told me I had the Cadillac of school buses. I did most of the work myself, with my son helping on some of the fabrication. The wife and I had some great times with the Crown. Yes we had minor problems with it, some I fixed, others a garage fixed. You ask would I do it again? Absolutely! I am doing it again, with a bigger, faster Crown. Soon I will post the latest work being done. My brother came over to help again and spent the entire month helping me with the fabrication and fitting of the interior. Is it a lot of work? Yes! Will I ever get my money back? No! But I got to hang with my brother for a month. When done I will have a unique motor home. It is being done my way. And it will work!
My brother still thinks I over engineer everything, saying "your not going to Mars with this, you don't need to do it this way", but he still helps me do what I want with it.
Will the project ever be done? Maybe. Will I enjoy using it? Yes! Do I enjoy building it? Mostly.
A rare soul.

Most people fall way on the other side of the spectrum of design-build. More like build-hack-rebuild-hack.

I really enjoy the design-build aspect. I am pretty sure for every hour of actual labor applied I spend an hour in design. That's a lot of hours.
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Old 06-01-2021, 05:23 PM   #60
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Year: 2003
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Yeah, I spend an hour welding only to realize I wanted to add something else and therefore cut and modify for another three hours! In the end, I get it as I want it and it is bullet proof. Love the story with having your brother help. My friends ditched me once this bus came home. Sad but true. You really do find out who your friends are. My wife has been there for me doing anything she possibly can with no complaints. My 82 year old father in law offers to help even though he can barely stand. God bless them. I threw my back out hustling the 600lb generator in the garage prepping it to go into the bus on Friday. Ruined my limited working time this weekend, but there will be more time. So back to the subject. I too watch in horror how some FB posts paint a picture of some young kid getting a bus on his last pennies to do a conversion via dumpster dive and hits the road with a $1000 repair and looks for financial help. Crazy.
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