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Old 11-29-2022, 04:02 PM   #1
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Join Date: Nov 2022
Location: Oregon
Posts: 1
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: 4-window
Engine: 6.6 Duramax diesel
Rated Cap: Not sure
Hello 👀

Hey everyone just stumbled upon this site became a member yesterday, just bought my first short bus or any bus for that matter! Iím super excited about it and canít wait to get things rolling .. iíve been trying to find more threads about people who opted not to rip everything out of their floor ceiling and walls and build over I have a 2002 Duramax diesel for window and itís in great shape the seats have already come out and theyíve already patch holes and I donít want to ruin something before I even get it built, Iíve read a lot of reasons why to rip it all out that I am partially handicapped and have financial and physical limitations so Iíd like to speak to people who decided not to rip everything out and how their bus bills are going thank you !!

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Old 11-29-2022, 07:25 PM   #2
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Join Date: Mar 2021
Location: New England
Posts: 98
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Michael Corbier
Chassis: GMC Savana 350
Engine: 6.5 Diesel
$ more than you think

My 1999 4 window shorty seemed like a bargain at first. Soon though, tools, materials, and lot parking fees added up. I left the bus ceiling b/c I didn't imagine working on the ceiling alone. I would suggest deciding where you want to travel and for what reasons. The level of comfort and style is up to you. Consider getting help, payed or not and have a time frame that matches your health and skill level. I'm almost 2 years in; livable but needs more comfort items. Be well!
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Old 11-29-2022, 07:29 PM   #3
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 17,517
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
whether you gut the interior to me depends on use-case.. is it a weekend warrior camper used for vacations and "mild-weather chasing" or is it a full time rig where you need to endure hot summers and cold winters..



ripping out the interior obviously is going to incur more upfront labor and costs but it can save you in heating and cooling costs if you are not going to be 100% off-grid...



let us know your use-case for the bus..
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Old 11-29-2022, 07:37 PM   #4
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Join Date: Jul 2019
Location: Suburbs of Winterset, OH
Posts: 602
Year: 2005
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: FS65
Engine: Mercedes 6.4L
Rated Cap: just the 2 of us
First, welcome to the site.
The intended use of your bus will answer some of your questions. Weekend trips, extended trips, fulltime in your bus?

Once you determine what the plan is, then some things become more or less important. If you are going to take short, fair weather trips, then you can skimp on insulation...(you'll want some just to quiet the beast down while driving.)

Most of us strip the interior down to bare metal because we know that most school buses have rust damage hidden under the wood/rubber floors. No point in spending time and effort building over a crappy foundation. Plus, once it's built, it would be significantly more work to have to later disassemble part to repair a rust hole in the floor. (Rust holes will only get worse) So stripping the floor down gives you a chance to remediate rust damage or if no rust, peace of mind. Then even a thin layer of insulation on the floor will make a big difference in road noise.

So, figure out the plan for the bus and have at it! Wishing you success!

(Looks like Caddy-kid is a faster typer than me)
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Old 11-29-2022, 10:04 PM   #5
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I'm using mine as-is.

While I appreciate the folks that go through the effort and expense to raise roofs and fully insulate it seems to be a lot more upfront cost involved.

And remember the skoolie thing may or may not be your bag... How much do you want to sink into a project that you won't be able to monetarily recover?

There are talented folks here that have off-grid/solar setups, but they've self-educated and became subject matter experts in power management, battery bank sizing, etc etc. And the 'off grid' solar requirements, to me seem breathtakingly expensive. Also with a short bus your solar panel space may never be enough to be self-sufficient.

My advice is to do a minimalist first build. What is the least you can get away with?

And you should have 5-10 thousand dollars set aside just for repairs. Learn from the many examples of people stranded with a broken down bus and no repair money who lose their entire investment to an expensive mechanical failure.

There is no 'free living in a skoolie' and in fact it can be as or more expensive than traditional housing. You mention partial disability and financial limitations, have you considered a camper van that's move-in ready? I'd hate for you to take the Instagram hoopla at face value and have the awful reality set in later when you're backed into a corner financially and have no options. Sorry to be a wet blanket but there are so many sad stories already, don't want yours to be one too.
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Old 11-30-2022, 09:35 PM   #6
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Join Date: Aug 2022
Location: Oregon
Posts: 43
Year: 2005
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: ford E350
Engine: 6.0 power stroke Diesel Navistar EFI
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Hey fellow Oregonian. i think i have done what you're thinking of? i kept it simple & clean. the guy before me started insulating the floor. then i finished with wood & vinyl from H.D. built a frame with no welding. only 90-degree brackets and self-tapping screws. all camping gear goes under the bed. i made sure the bed frame was tall enough for a propane tank. i left the walls and ceiling alone. i like all the room. no spice racks or cabinets LOL. when we are off grid, we heat with a buddy heater and on grid we simply plug in a room heater. it stays nice and warm. off grid i have just one car battery & a inverter. i run my 30'' TV, DVD player & charge phones/tablets for 7.5 hrs. nice and simple. 1 movie a night = 3 nights! then i just charge it when i get home. on grid RV parks we just plug in to the power and internet & fire up netflix. one extension into the bus with a power strip is all we use. nothing fancy. Harbor freight does sell a cool little solar panel kit for like $200 bucks we sometimes use. it came with 4 panels but i only use 2. it charges the one battery in like 4 hrs. we just stand them up facing the sun. not mounted. trying to show pics?
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