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Old 07-12-2020, 01:25 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2020
Location: Upstate South Carolina
Posts: 14
Brand New & Learning

Hi! We are brand new to skoolies and working on learning everything we can. Our situation seems (so far as I can find) somewhat unique. We're hoping to create our skoolie primarily to travel for scuba diving. Dive sites can be in weird, out of the way places with hotels that I'm not even willing to consider. I *think* the best option would be a 30 foot bus to balance space (two adults and a child) with the maneuverability to make it into marinas as well as inland dive locations. With three of us (though bunks are absolutely fine as we're not permanently living in it), I struggle to imagine anything much smaller accommodating use plus three divers' worth of gear and 6 tanks (the kid dives as well). Does anyone have any experience using a skoolie as a home base for diving?

General questions I'd be grateful for feedback on:

We live in Upstate SC so mountains are a thing depending upon which direction we head. I cross them at least once a year to visit family in MO. Is there an engine/transmission combination that is more likely to manage this well? Are there combinations we should avoid given this scenario?

Is older better when considering busses? In reading it looks like perhaps older engines may be easier to work on. One of us is handy though not with diesel. Is there an ideal range from an age standpoint?

I think this is my favorite bus I've found thus far: https://phoenix.craigslist.org/cph/c...146492206.html
Other than the price being likely too high (dealer so I suppose that's to be expected), any thoughts given the use we're looking at?

Thanks in advance for any thoughts or suggestions!
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Old 07-13-2020, 09:07 AM   #2
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Hi KWM2. I see nobody has responded to your post so I will. I've been looking for a bus to convert for several years. I recently found one locally, New Jersey, that I bought and am just beginning to strip for conversion.

The bus in the ad you posted would be a good chassis. A rust free bus is critical unless you are good at, and like, fixing rusty sheet metal. It's a flat floor too which removes the wheel wells from the equation when building it out. Being a flat nose provides more useable space inside in relation to overall length when compared to a bus with a 'dog house'

I was looking at a couple buses with Cat engines. Go to Youtube and search for 'adept ape' and learn about Cat engines. The Allison 2000 transmission is a 5 speed automatic, overdrive tranny which are ubiquitous, a good tranny (caveat, if properly maintained). 155K miles is low which is good. The overdrive gear will provide lower rpm at speed compared to a tranny, like the AT545, which is a 1:1 top gear.

One thing about the later engines that I studied a lot was the HUEI injection system. A number of engines used this system and proper engine oil maintenance intervals is critical.



The bus in the ad is a front engine (FE) so you can expect to get more noise than with a rear engine (RE) or dog house (conventional front engine). Personally I wouldn't be averse to a bus like that though maintenance on the engine might be tighter given that configuration when compared to a tilt nose (conventional bus).

When looking at a bus check the DOT age markings on the tires. It's very expensive to replace 6 bus tires if they're too old for safety.

Yes the bus in the ad is priced high. On the other hand if it's in good condition with good rubber, no rust, well maintained it could end up being less expensive than a clapped out rust bucket at half the money. If you're in the Phoenix area you might want to take some cash and see what you can do on getting the price down. If you're across the country it becomes more difficult, though there are folks that have found drivers that will deliver a bus across the country. My bus was owned by a bus company about 50 miles from where I needed it to be so I got the owner to have one of his drivers deliver the bus. I paid the driver $100 which was nothing compared to having it towed or driving without insurance which I wouldn't do under any circumstances.
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Old 07-13-2020, 09:10 AM   #3
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Location: Eustis FLORIDA
Posts: 22,233
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Chassis: Freighliner FS65
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kwm2 View Post
Hi! We are brand new to skoolies and working on learning everything we can. Our situation seems (so far as I can find) somewhat unique. We're hoping to create our skoolie primarily to travel for scuba diving. Dive sites can be in weird, out of the way places with hotels that I'm not even willing to consider. I *think* the best option would be a 30 foot bus to balance space (two adults and a child) with the maneuverability to make it into marinas as well as inland dive locations. With three of us (though bunks are absolutely fine as we're not permanently living in it), I struggle to imagine anything much smaller accommodating use plus three divers' worth of gear and 6 tanks (the kid dives as well). Does anyone have any experience using a skoolie as a home base for diving?

General questions I'd be grateful for feedback on:

We live in Upstate SC so mountains are a thing depending upon which direction we head. I cross them at least once a year to visit family in MO. Is there an engine/transmission combination that is more likely to manage this well? Are there combinations we should avoid given this scenario?

Is older better when considering busses? In reading it looks like perhaps older engines may be easier to work on. One of us is handy though not with diesel. Is there an ideal range from an age standpoint?

I think this is my favorite bus I've found thus far: https://phoenix.craigslist.org/cph/c...146492206.html
Other than the price being likely too high (dealer so I suppose that's to be expected), any thoughts given the use we're looking at?

Thanks in advance for any thoughts or suggestions!
A cat c7 buried in that FE layout wouldn't be much fun to work on. And older one would be less cluttered in the engine bay, but still not fun. CE and RE are the easier ones to get at the engine.
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Old 07-13-2020, 03:16 PM   #4
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2020
Location: Lake Forest, California
Posts: 10
Hi! We're brand new and learning, too, but your post definitely resonated in terms of needing to balance space and access. Our girls love rock climbing, so we're trying to find the right balance between making sure we can get to some of the dispersed camping and places we plan to go with the reality of having gear and not wanting to be on top of each other! We're planning bunks as well, for the same reason, that these will be shorter recreational trips for us, not our permanent living situation.

Anyways, I look forward to hearing what you guys end up with, and hopefully you can inspire us with your creative solutions!
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Old 07-13-2020, 06:30 PM   #5
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2020
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So much to learn yet! The gear really does seem to complicate the planning
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Old 07-13-2020, 06:33 PM   #6
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Duplicate message
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Old 07-13-2020, 06:36 PM   #7
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2020
Location: Upstate South Carolina
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Originally Posted by EastCoastCB View Post
A cat c7 buried in that FE layout wouldn't be much fun to work on. And older one would be less cluttered in the engine bay, but still not fun. CE and RE are the easier ones to get at the engine.
Thanks for your feedback! I assume well pay more in labor for repairs as a result. Do pushers in this configuration exist? My husband has a CDL and has driven school busses but were limited in length by the parking location.
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Old 07-13-2020, 07:24 PM   #8
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Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Eustis FLORIDA
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Chassis: Freighliner FS65
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Originally Posted by kwm2 View Post
Thanks for your feedback! I assume well pay more in labor for repairs as a result. Do pushers in this configuration exist? My husband has a CDL and has driven school busses but were limited in length by the parking location.
oh yeah. Pushers are out there for sure.
If you're limited in length how long you looking for? A rear engine bus is hard to find in shorter lengths.
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Old 07-13-2020, 07:45 PM   #9
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oh yeah. Pushers are out there for sure.
If you're limited in length how long you looking for? A rear engine bus is hard to find in shorter lengths.
EazstCoastCB, I sent you a PM a week or two ago and was wondering if you saw it?
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Old 07-13-2020, 08:01 PM   #10
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Location: Upstate South Carolina
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Originally Posted by EastCoastCB View Post
oh yeah. Pushers are out there for sure.
If you're limited in length how long you looking for? A rear engine bus is hard to find in shorter lengths.
About 32 would be max to park
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