Journey with Confidence RV GPS App RV Trip Planner RV LIFE Campground Reviews RV Maintenance Take a Speed Test Free 7 Day Trial ×


Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 05-14-2022, 07:39 PM   #1
New Member
 
Join Date: May 2022
Location: Navarre, FL
Posts: 9
Bus-less for now

Hello all,

I've been dreaming of building a skoolie for at least the last 7 years or so, but realized that my kids are only getting older and I'm losing time with them quickly. For that reason, I'm currently in the market for a skoolie to start road tripping with them while they're still young. I think I have a decent idea of what I'm looking for (Mid 2000s All American, 466 + Allison) but I have to sell my motorcycle to fund the acquisition.

I'll be in the market for a 40', but my main concern is the height. I'm 6'4" so the extra height seems like a must have. So, here's my super-noob question:

I've seen/heard of roof raises, but is there any possibility of dropping the floor instead? I'm mainly focused on RE layouts and I'm really only considering dropping the middle about 6-9" and 24-30" wide to the back axle. There shouldn't be any driveline components in the way, but would the floor supports be too much of a hurdle? Could they be mounted to the bottoms of the frame rails instead of the top?

I'm just trying figure out if there are high-top alternatives since they're either too far away, too much money, or have too many miles for me.

The current notional floor plan is a rear queen with two sets of battleship style bunk beds on either sides, preferably over the rear wheel wells. The floor drop would go back to the sleeping quarters, but no further.

Open to all comments, opinions, and criticisms. I have thick skin so if I'm an idiot then just say so.

Thanks all.

btw, anybody wanna buy a brand new Ducati? ;) Bus life seems way cooler!

STS23 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-14-2022, 08:12 PM   #2
Bus Nut
 
fo4imtippin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2021
Location: Jax Beach, FL
Posts: 267
Year: 2003
Coachwork: BlueBird
Chassis: TC2000 28ft
Engine: Cummins ISB 5.9 24v, MD3060
Rated Cap: 14
In my short opinion, some level of floor drop is possible, but its only about 30 in between the frame rails. Which are 10in btw (you could mount below them, but there is cross bracing between. For a rear engine, there are going to be things like coolant, power steering, power wires, gauges, ignitions, interlocks, etc that would need to be rerouted.. A roof raise is easier. If you are considering a drop floor design, i would take a look at a city transit bus. They basically come the way you want to make it, and they might already handle someone 6'4" better than a school bus.


I have seen a lot of transit busses for sale at auction lately in Florida. Some have Detroit, some have Cummins M-11, ISC or other. Based on what i have read (but not experienced), you would want to look for Allison transmission over Voith or ZF because its easier to find parts and service.
fo4imtippin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-14-2022, 08:45 PM   #3
Bus Geek
 
musigenesis's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2019
Location: Philadelphia
Posts: 6,355
Year: 2003
Coachwork: International
Chassis: CE 300
Engine: DT466e
Rated Cap: 65C-43A
I dropped my floor 3" over an 8' section around my rear wheel wells, plus a shower and a closet against the outer walls that each go about 1' below the floor. You can't go further down than 3" (the distance between the original body floor and the tops of the chassis rails, which aren't going anywhere) unless you do it between the chassis rails (which aren't all that far apart as the album I linked shows, and the many cross-members will prevent you from going much further than 3" anyway) or outside of them (like I did with the shower and the closet).

A roof raise might seem like a lot of work but it's a lot less than a dropped floor. My project was really only feasible because I had to rebuild that part of my floor anyway - and arguably it would have made more sense to not buy a rusted-out bus in the first place. Also, I'm 6'0" and that's about as tall as you would want to be in my bus. A 6'4" dude would have a tough time, and my bus was 6'7" to start with, a size that is not at all common in school buses.
__________________
Rusty 87 build thread
musigenesis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-15-2022, 08:35 AM   #4
New Member
 
Join Date: May 2022
Location: Navarre, FL
Posts: 9
I hadn't really considered a transit bus yet. That's going to be plan A for now. Some of the ones that are currently listed look kinda rough for my budget. I'm looking to be sub-$10k for the bus. At that price point it seems like most have tons of miles or are in pretty rough shape. I'll certainly keep looking though.

That floor drop project looks pretty extensive. I hate rust! I'll be prioritizing rust free and good running over almost all else. I'd rather have a clean and good running bus than a comfortable bus. I know that may sound naÔve, but I'm pretty accommodating. Being a parent of 4 and a former Marine has made me pretty easy going and self-sacrificing.

I may have to wait until I find a factory high-roof and pony up the extra coin for it.

Next question: Which basic config gives the most square footage behind the driver's seat? RE, FE Flat nose, or conventional?

In my notional RE build, I'm putting the queen longitudinally over the engine in the rear. I don't want to climb over the wife in the night.

FWIW, the intent of the bus is extensive long distance road trips with 4 kids (current ages 3, 10, 11, 15) for thousands of miles at a time. Hitting the lower 48 in 40 days type of thing. We need a highway runner that can sleep us and give us a place to eat meals, and that's about it. Nothing fancy. May have a toad, but not likely.
STS23 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-22-2022, 05:20 PM   #5
New Member
 
Join Date: May 2022
Location: Navarre, FL
Posts: 9
It looks like I have a buyer lined up for the bike so my skoolie fantasy can start to morph into my skoolie reality.

I know the topic has been beat to death, so forgive me for taking one more whack, but hopefully someone can confirm my assumptions::

1. 14 window All Americans of roughly the same era will be roughly (within a foot or so) the same size (usable interior volume) whether itís dog-nosed, FE, or RE. ***Iím not set on BB, just using a recognizable model***

2. Most folks agree that thereís no replacement for displacement for highway rigs. The 8.3 Cummins + Allison 3060 is a pretty good combo on paper. Especially if 6th is unlocked.

3. Mercedes engines should be avoided.

4. Skoolie folks enjoy a better quality of life because skoolies are way cooler than using someone elseís design using crappy materials (as seen in sticks and staples builds)

5. Take your budget and notional timeline and double them and add 43%.

If these suspicions are correct then I think I may be beginning the search but with a little more vigor and a little more direction.

I looked into the transit style busses, but for every Gillig for sale thereís at least 20 BlueBirds and Thomases with half the miles. I still like the idea, but Iíll prolly end up settling.
STS23 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-22-2022, 08:04 PM   #6
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Posts: 157
Year: 1992
Coachwork: Bluebird Mini-Bird 24'
Chassis: Chevy P30
Engine: Chevy 6.2L Diesel
Quote:
Originally Posted by STS23 View Post
I looked into the transit style busses, but for every Gillig for sale thereís at least 20 BlueBirds and Thomases with half the miles. I still like the idea, but Iíll prolly end up settling.
Most of the other stuff has been beat to death, yes.
And you're mostly right.

I would add, if you have any familiarity with engines at all, don't discount an engine that looks familiar to you, or looks easier to work on for any reason whatsoever.

That said, you should also keep in mind that skoolies mileage is not like regular mileage on other automobiles that you're familiar with.

Skoolies are a great platform to begin with because of how tough they are built, because they are designed to go basically anywhere, in the roughest conditions, snow, sleet, hail, flooding, as well as down roads that most would break most modern passenger vehicles because of how rough they are. While carrying children. With random/substitute drivers. While being maintained by guys with a high school education that possibly couldn't get a job anywhere else.

While there are some school districts that take care of their roads, and actually spend money on hiring quality people, the engineering of (school) buses to live up to these demands is there for a reason... And that's because, more often than not, this is the reality of life for these heavy-duty work vehicles.

Oh, and they're job is literally start'n'stop traffic, all day, every day, low speed, up and down hills, and through the winter salt and the spring mud.

Skoolies are usually low miles because to effectively compare them, mileage on a skoolie should be at least doubled if not tripled to compare to most autos that people are familiar with.
Albatross is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-22-2022, 08:45 PM   #7
New Member
 
Join Date: May 2022
Location: Navarre, FL
Posts: 9
I’m fairly handy. I’ve been an aircraft mechanic for a while, including about a decade as a federally certificated airframe and powerplant mechanic. Almost all of my experience on vehicles is repairing, maintaining, and restoring. Not much converting experience. But I love a challenge and it excites me to get cracking. My brother is an ASE master mechanic, and my FIL was a diesel truck mechanic for about 20 years. I’m sure that whatever is broke can be fixed as long as I’m close to home, but if one is more reliable (or parts are cheaper/more available, etc) then I’d rather go that route. My real fear is being broke down 1500 miles from home with limited resources. I’d hate to overheat crossing the Moab and be stranded with my 4 kids and wife and have to pay a $8k shop bill because I bought an underpowered turd.
STS23 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-22-2022, 08:50 PM   #8
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Posts: 157
Year: 1992
Coachwork: Bluebird Mini-Bird 24'
Chassis: Chevy P30
Engine: Chevy 6.2L Diesel
Then you should be fine.

I've got a 24' shorty that I bought largely because it's built on an old Chevy P-30 chassis. 6.2L "Detroit by Chevy" Diesel motor with a 4L80E auto tranny in it. It's got the mechanical injectors, so it won't stop, but without a turbo it's just a gutless PoS.

Mostly I bought it because parts availability on that thing should be in every auto parts store I come across. So far, haven't really been let down. But it sucks up hills.
Albatross is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-25-2022, 11:25 AM   #9
New Member
 
Join Date: May 2022
Location: Navarre, FL
Posts: 9
Well, the bike is gone. Now the hunt begins with a little more vigor.

I’m not really looking to spend this much or travel 1800 miles… but these two buses seem fairly similar. Pretty equal mileage, same size/layout, but the ISC is $4k more than the Cat. Is that a fair premium? Or is it Blue Bird vs. Thomas? Doesn’t seem like 2004 vs. 2002 is that big of a difference. Obviously I don’t have much experience buying used school buses! Any input is appreciated.

https://www.rwcgroup.com/default.asp...=xallinventory

https://www.rwcgroup.com/default.asp...=xallinventory
STS23 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-26-2022, 08:23 AM   #10
Bus Nut
 
DeMac's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2020
Location: Florida
Posts: 827
Coachwork: Integrated Coach Corp.
Chassis: RE-300 42ft
Engine: 466ci
Rated Cap: 90
Wait - Patiently

Lots of picked over stock sitting on the shelf, gathering dust until a newbie buyer pays the price on the sticker.

Waiting for new quality stock to arrive can be difficult for those who have fire in their pockets. Excited, first-timers often blow their load on the first good paint job that crosses their path.

Take your time.

The best buses never make it to the shelf and demand higher bids at the auctions.
__________________
Frederick Douglass: "If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground.Ē
DeMac is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-26-2022, 08:32 AM   #11
New Member
 
Join Date: May 2022
Location: Navarre, FL
Posts: 9
Agreed, and that’s great advice. I’m anticipating more buses becoming available now that summer has hit. I recognize that those prices are pretty high and I’m hoping to reserve more of my funds for the build and fuel than the initial acquisition. However, given the current market, a decent bus seems like it will be significantly more expensive for those of us trying to enter then game now vice 5 years ago. From looking at that seemingly “apples to apples” comparison, is the Cummins worth a 50% premium over the Cat? Seems high, but maybe it’s worth it. FWIW, I won’t be buying either of those buses, but I’m looking for something very similar to those.
STS23 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-26-2022, 09:43 PM   #12
Mini-Skoolie
 
ManDogBus's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2022
Location: Tucson Arizona
Posts: 24
Year: 2007
I'd heard several people suggest I lower my floor instead of raising my roof. The underside of a bus is not uniformly shaped, and would have led to some cramped spots and some properly tall spots (I'm 6'3).

I wanted extensive insulation, so I went with raising the roof 12", because I was likely to lose about 4" from the floor and ceiling with my plans.

I don't know if this is still relevant information, but raising my bus roof was very easy, comparatively. My bus is small (14' inside), so I had a heck of a lot less cutting to do compared to if you're going full size.

I was able to raise the roof completely on my own in about 6 hours. This is just for raising and placing the new hat channels, and excludes the time for planning, cutting, welding on the temporary supports, welding in the new hat channels, window deleting, new panels for the empty space you just created, etc.




Converting a full sized school bus on your own will probably take you 6 months if you do a full demo and raise or lower anything, probably longer if you are taking breaks and still have a full time job.

Good luck! If it all works out, your kids will be very lucky to have that experience. I'm about 3.5 months done, just added my new walls.
ManDogBus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-26-2022, 09:52 PM   #13
New Member
 
Join Date: May 2022
Location: Navarre, FL
Posts: 9
Definitely food for thought. Thanks. Iím not really a welder and Iíd rather suffer some height cramps than leaks and structural damage from my shoddy welds.

Iím incredibly blessed to have a really great job that affords me a good deal of time off. I typically work 9 weeks on followed by 9 weeks off. I have a dream schedule of getting the bus near the end of July if possible so I have all of August to start demo, planning, and infrastructure. My next break will start early Nov. but Iím in FL so we donít really have a winter. Iíd love to be at least 90% complete with my minimalist build by the end of March 2023.
STS23 is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


» Featured Campgrounds

Reviews provided by

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 07:19 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2022, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.