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Old 08-06-2015, 08:31 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Got the bug in Oklahoma!

Hello, everyone. I have always been intrigued by homes built in unusual places, including vehicles, and darned if I didn't suddenly come down with schoolie fever! Seems like I just can't stop thinking about converting a bus into an economical, mortgage free tiny home with built-in transportation! I'm on here, reading and learning, surfing Pinterest for ideas, and watching buses for sale on eBay so I can see how much different types of buses are going for. This seems like a great online community, and I look forward to a long association and learning a lot from you all. My goal is to save up to buy within a year, and then to convert over the course of another year, using bargain-priced or scrounged materials whenever possible. I've got a lot of newbie questions, but I'm sure most of the info is already on here, so in the meantime, I'll just keep reading and learning. May God bless you all.
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Old 08-07-2015, 04:37 AM   #2
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Welcome.

Something else to consider in the early planning stages would be where you intend to keep it. An rv park can be nearly as expensive as rent.
Maybe look into some cheap, undeveloped land on the outskirts of town or something like that.
Mortgage payments suck. I paid cash for my nice block house when the market crashed. Most folks I know spend as much on their pickup truck as I did this house. I'd never pay a mortgage. But I'd also never want to pay $450 to live in a trailer park, either.
I'm looking around and finding 1-3 acre lots on dirt roads for less than 10 grand... A bus without a FEW good places to keep it can become a real headache.

You sound like you're realistic though. Saving up for things and planning to take a while building.... Sounds like you're thinking clearly!
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Old 08-08-2015, 04:06 AM   #3
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Hi, EastCoast! My parents have some land that I can park on to get started. I hope to finish my degree and get a job, so where I end up is completely up in the air. Since I have cats, having a tiny home on wheels seems to be the best choice for me; it is hard to find a place to rent when you have multiple cats. I like buses because they already come with a motor and wheels, walls, a ceiling, a floor and windows. Building from scratch on a trailer is an option, and would give me wheels, but then I'd need to buy a truck to haul it. I also prefer the security of being able to travel and rest without having to get out of my vehicle. I know I have a lot to learn, and maybe after I've been here long enough, I will decide a bus conversion is not for me, who knows? But that's what I'm here, in part, to find out.
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Old 08-08-2015, 07:34 AM   #4
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Yeah my three cats are part of why I went with a forty footer.
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Old 08-08-2015, 04:29 PM   #5
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Thumbs up

Yep! I've got to have my furbabies!
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Old 08-09-2015, 01:34 AM   #6
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hello, I'm new to the forum and have just started a new skoolie project but I'm not new to the arena. I have been a medium/heavy duty vehicle mechanic and I built my own mobile catering company out of 2 40' straight trucks. I would personally say that a 24-30 foot box truck is the easier conversion and provides many advantages overall. Many are even the same chassis setup as the conventional school bus. There are some draw backs to either vehicle but both can turn out spectacular. There are many factors to consider like size, state laws, insurance just as a sample. Don't be discouraged either way it is an adventure and an accomplishment of a lifetime that can't be beat and people are always willing to help.

As a side note eBay is one place to look for a bus if thats the direction you choose to go. I however would recommend looking at one of the large bus dealers. They can often find you just what you want and have many available at a good price. I used Midwest Transit and they had tons of units to pick from. Depending on your needs some as low as $3000 I believe.
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Old 08-09-2015, 08:20 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by montanatown View Post
As a side note eBay is one place to look for a bus if thats the direction you choose to go. I however would recommend looking at one of the large bus dealers. They can often find you just what you want and have many available at a good price. I used Midwest Transit and they had tons of units to pick from. Depending on your needs some as low as $3000 I believe.
eBay can be hit or miss. I got lucky on my bus, but some of the others I was watching (including a coach that started out at about 500 bucks) quickly snowballed. The better auction sites are GovDeals and PublicSurplus, especially since they're coming out of either a school district or municipal use.
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Old 08-09-2015, 11:35 AM   #8
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All I can say is don't get discouraged. I started planning my conversion about three years ago and joined this forum two years ago, started saving and something always comes up that requires the savings more than the bus lol. But it's GOING to happen. You also may want to think about life changes. Take my situation for example I have four kids (won't go into how many dogs lol)but my oldest is 14 and my youngest are 6 (twins) so initiall thought was bunk beds but the kids won't be around forever and bunk beds take lots and lots of space, so my idea is I'm going to ad cleats to the wall to hold hammocks that can be removed when not needed.
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Old 08-10-2015, 11:03 PM   #9
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Good advice, all 3 of you, so thanks! I have been watching some of the bus sales on eBay just to see what buses are going for, and from the little I've learned so far, some of those buses seem overpriced. Good tip, though, about the other sites to watch. I looked locally at some school web sites, and none of them were selling buses--properties, yes, but no buses. I'm not going to rush it, though, especially as I really have to save up for it--no sense going into debt to buy something that I hope will help me get out of debt.
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Old 08-10-2015, 11:16 PM   #10
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Invisicat,

I've been in the government surplus business since '99. The price for a bus depends upon who is willing to pay what. Right now it's a buyer's market. I picked up a bus worth about $4,500 for $2K. Not all deals will be like mine. However, if you plan out your needs, then figure out the type of bus that will fit those needs, then have the patience to find that bus up for auction, you're way ahead of most everyone else.

It took me more than three years to find my bus. Most people aren't that patient. Sounds like being a family man you kinda have to be..... So take some time to figure out your family needs, then figure out the correct bus that will work for your family, and everyone (especially the wife) will be very happy with your decision. It's the route I took.......

Just sayin'.

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Old 08-11-2015, 12:08 AM   #11
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Cool

Well, I'm a single-again woman, M1031A1, and my children all have 4 legs and fur, but, heck, yeah, I can be patient!

I've been working out sketches of how much room I want/need, considering what things I'm not willing to compromise on (a real bed and mattress!) and what things I can live without (washing machine & dishwasher, t.v.).

I understand the advantages of a rear-engine bus, but I just keep coming back to the dog-nose style, for several reasons, both practical and aesthetic. And I probably want a pretty long one, so the cats have plenty of space without getting constantly on each others' nerves and I can get up and pace when I'm thinking about something, or just if I want some exercise during inclement weather. Since I don't plan on traveling frequently (though I'd like having that option), slightly lower gas mileage and heat coming from the engine shouldn't be a problem I'll have to face very often. So, yes, good advice, thanks, and I'm definitely narrowing things down.
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Old 08-11-2015, 05:13 AM   #12
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What M1031 said. And ignore eBay and Craigslist. You may find charmer there, but your better bets are Gov Deals and Public Surplus. I saw a sweet 70+ pax FE transit on Gov Deals that was garage kept in the winter in Latham, NY (Thomas or BB, I think). Even though I was looking for an RE, had my bid lost out on eBay, I probably would have gone for it.
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Old 08-11-2015, 09:31 AM   #13
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Howdy & Welcome --- Not sure how they handle sales in OK but many school districts here in Texas can sell direct. Big advantages are...
no middleman = lower cost....chance to acquire maintenance logs (gold)...and, if you work it a little...opportunity to talk directly with the tech(s) who maintained the units and get "the pick of the litter".

It is the "unknowns" that come back to haunt most buyers and buying direct can help eliminate most of those. The maintenance techs will know every unit intimately and can give you the lowdown not only on the basics, but any little quirks that that could be game changers.

It continues to amaze me when I read some of the threads here where people are all excited to have just bought a bus, but have no idea what they bought. Engine? Transmission? Weight? MPG? Speed? Miles on unit?...

This forum is the place to start. Read as many "build threads" as possible. Ask questions (and don't get put off by varied opinions or friendly smartasses)...and begin to build a picture of what will meet your needs. What will work (for you) and what to avoid. From there you should be able to narrow the field down and define what constitutes the best bus all around to fit your needs & wishes.


Best of luck on your hunt.
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Old 08-11-2015, 09:51 AM   #14
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Tango always gives GOOD advice!

Actually there is a lot of that on this thread from all!
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Old 08-11-2015, 11:28 PM   #15
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Thank you, Tango and EastCoast! I appreciate the warm welcome and the advice.

I've been reading several of the build threads, and subscribed to a few I want especially to keep track of. And I've been a bit of a curbside shopper for years, but now I have a definite goal. This past week I found a really nice IKEA cutting board and some lovely like new wooden baseboards and door trim. I'm sure I can put those to good use. I'm also watching all kinds of videos on YouTube--some with practical information, some that are just showing off, but I learn something from pretty much each of them.
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Old 08-12-2015, 06:45 AM   #16
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Don't forget the Restore. Items change by location and keep checking back. Stuff comes in from a variety of sources and prices are great. I go just to get my brain working on ideas.
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Old 08-12-2015, 02:14 PM   #17
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Sorry, HolyBus, I'm not familiar with that. Is that a store or an online market?
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Old 08-14-2015, 06:32 AM   #18
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ReStore is a real brick and mortar store. They sell items that have been removed from buildings during upgrades such as hotels. They also carry new old stock items from closed businesses such as hardware or plumbing places. Its a great sources for furniture or fixtures.
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Old 08-14-2015, 08:05 PM   #19
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The ReStore is a store whose proceeds support HABITAT FOR HUMANITY. It is staffed by volunteers from that program. All items in the store are as mentioned above, either donation from private individuals or businesses.

The island in our bus came from there, it's solid oak with 2 slide out drawers and 2 doors with 2 slide out shelves in each. We got it for $70. I found a gallon of Behr paint unopened and unused in the color I had planned to paint the inside for $5. I bought 3 brand new harnesses for my dogs (2 large, 1 medium) for $8 & $6 each, have seen the exact same things in a pet store for $26 & $22 each. I found "poop bags" in rolls (bought 6 of them) for $2 a roll. I have used 1 roll so far emptying my cats box every nite for the past year & a half. I figure there are probably at least 500 bags in each roll. I bought 3 boxes of laminate flooring unopened for $15 each that I used on the hidden walls in the bus to cover the insulation. I bought my stainless steel sink for $5. It's an undercounter mount as it has no holes for faucet but I can't convince Clint of that so it is going to be installed this weekend above the tile. At the same time they had a stainless double sink with a very expensive faucet & fixtures that went for the same price $5, all sinks that weekend were $5.

I could go on & on, but bottom line, check & see if there are any ReStores around you and shop there at least twice a week (you'll be surprised at the things you can find and with a good imagination use in your build).
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Old 08-14-2015, 11:39 PM   #20
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Oh, okay. I know we have one of those, because my parents have been to it. I just didn't know that was the name of it.
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