G'day, thanks for letting me join, here is our story. For years my wife and I have been dreaming of getting out of the rent market and buying an old Bus and doing it up into a motorhome, well 2 years ago this dream came true. After looking for many years at Buses from the 60's through to the 90's most of the cheaper ones 10k or so had not been driven for a while or they'd been sitting in a paddock somewhere, and had many issues, later models were just out of reach financially.
We found ourselves at our local Bus Depo, finally we found a Bus in our price range.1985 Volvo B10M Bendy Bus (articulated) you know, the ones that bend in the middle like a banana (concertina centre), some people here call them Banana Buses, anyhow the local Bus Depo were selling their fleet of 30 so they could buy newer models, so out they went at $5,500 each. 19m long, thats almost 63 feet, Turbo Diesel 6 cylinder Volvo motor, air bagged, mechanical rear steer wheels, serviced every 6 months for the last 30 years, with a seating capacity of 79 and 50 standing, a total of 129 people is how many it could legally carry, this bus is HUGE, flat floors all the way up with 6.4 ceiling hight, old Alum Windows that slide open fully like a house window, on both sides, so a huge ventilation plus, a GMV 23.7 tons, we worked out with the seats out it is 11 tons, so we have a lot to play with here.
We arrived at the local Bus Depo in our car which is a 1961 Cadillac, the director of the Bus Depo loved American classic cars, so we did a deal, if we bought a bus he had to deliver it as I still have not got my HR license yet, and I would drop him back to his place in my 61 Cadillac, so a deal was done, he also squeezed in the deal for us to buy two buses at $8,800.00, then we could sell one for what ever price we wanted to, and all we had to pay was the balance, so within 3 days I sold one using Facebook for $5,500.00, so we ended up getting ours for $3,300.00.
He took us out for a test drive and showed us some of the features of the Bus, and how good they are, he drove on the old school route, which is out the back of a city called Brisbane, very hilly, some grades at 22%, and it raced up the hills with no problem at all, being its an auto it had a retarder which was handy for when your going down steep grades. We had a ball, after a couple of weeks we went back with the 3.3k and bought our Bus, the other one we sold for 5.5k and it was already gone and paid for, we were very very happy.
So the director of the Bus lines and I picked a date to deliver our Bus and park it up beside our rental home, and as I worked from home I could fit it out at my leisure, our home has a grass drive way up the side that is 22m long past the front of the house, but the only drawback was that the bus is 98 inches wide (2.5m), and between the house gutter and fence is 104 inches so space width wise is not good, in fact only 3 inches each side. Using Google Maps I set up a plan on how to get the bus in, and that was to drive it in using my neighbor across the roads drive way as well as most of the road to get her in,we are talking about a very suburban street here my plan worked and now she is home and right where I wanted it, we did take out a down pipe off the gutter of the house with the mirror, but thats it, she fits, but only just, see pics.
The seats were the first thing to come out all 34 double seats, gee those fine threaded bolts were hard to get out, and a a couple of inches of fine thread, so glad I had a good rattle gun, was not too bad, striped the seats down and plan to recycle some of the steel from the seats, the legs are just perfect for the deck above the roof we have planned, while I prep the roof for Thermal Paint I have to cut holes in the roof just above the side wall frame so I can then bolt and weld the legs to the side wall frame, the seat leg mounts are a perfect fit on the frame and have a great base for a solid mount, so much better than a gutter mount pack rack, will be a real deck, solid, the seat legs are the perfect hight out of the roof too then I will build the deck base onto these mounting points, on both roofs too, with access through 3 major man holes onto the roof, this should be relatively good access for items we may not have to see that often, a number of tools boxes, front one will have solar panels and maybe air con units, rear one plenty of storage and plenty of room for a few chairs and a lounge for my wife to sun bake on, should be great, especially parked in a nice spot with a view. So once the holes are done, the mounts are down and sealed the holes I'll finish the prep and then apply the Thermal Paint which should not only keep a lot of the heat out but also should do well sealing it from the wet stuff.
After the huge job of doing the Decks and the roof i can then start on the internals, I have around 50 draft plans my wife and I have gone through and the final one is it, number 51, so the entire rear will be the Master Bedroom and Ensuite, with a Queen size bed and heaps of storage, wardrobes and draws taking up half, the other will be a full size bathroom with double vanity, full sized shower and a standard sized toilet. The middle with the concertina will be walled off with doors either side and be used for the laundry and storage area.
The front first half over the main drive wheels will be a Bindery 2 large benches with a ton of storage under and above, I am a Bookbinder by trade and I work at home restoring and custom binding new books using leather and book cloth, this is what we will be doing to earn a living I have been for the last 20 years, its a very rare trade and being that there are not many doing this these days there is a ton of work out there, in fact we should easily be able to work our way around Australia, it will be the only Mobile Bindery in the World, if you want to check out what I do, check out my website, Home
I also taught my wife the trade for 10 years, so we will both do this, not only that we plan to teach schools around the country the art of bookbinding.
The rest of the front part of the bus will be living/dining and kitchen, should work out well I think, we do have a lot of space, even so we still have to plan it carefully the outside will have all the windows tinted, we like the windows so don't plan to sheet them out, well maybe one or two, then will protect the windows and secure the bus using a "Shark Mesh" type insect screen over the windows, this will make us feel safer. The lower outer panels will be polished aluminum, like the old bus look, keeping in with the old school theme, and yes our 61 Cadillac is coming along too, on the back of this we have a fiberglass full size replica rear half of a 59 Cadillac, you know, the one with the largest fins, well they usually turn these things into couches, but I turned this one into a trailer, we towed it across Australia in 2014, was a great trip all 7500 miles of it, so when we got home from this trip we decided to extend the trailer and put up front a Custom Built Tear Drop Camper that has a Queen Size bed and a heap of cupboards for storage, the trunk opens to revel a fully equipped galley style kitchen, my wife and I love camping, so we will be using this set up a lot, especially when we are on the road permanently.
My wife will be driving the Caddy and Camper (which is 37 feet long with it hooked up) a d I will drive the bus, we won't be traveling very far, as every town will bring new jobs, could take us a couple of decades just to cover one side of our country, its a very big place over here. The bus will be parked in a central location, show grounds or even a school, since we'll be teaching kids, where ever it is, we can then leave this and explore the area in our caddy, and go camping.
Anyway, wish us luck, the build has started, we expect it to take 3 to 5 years, as we are working people with jobs, at 52 years young and my wife 7 years younger than I its lucky we have some time, God willing.
By the way, if you would like to see the video (sped up version) of us getting it in our driveway, check it out here: