My wife and I just moved from New Hampshire to Arkansas and in with my Dad. He just turned 90 this year, living alone and we decided that rather than be reactive we would be proactive. I quit my job, we sold our house and started our early retirement together with Dad.
When I was a pre-teen my parents loaded up the family wagon and we camped for weeks at a time making cross-country loops in a pop-up camper. We did this several summers and we saw a lot of America as a family. As an adult I wished more than ever to have that experience with my own children but it never happened and though many other good family events did, I never gave up the dream entirely.
My wife also had a dream. She had been romantisizing about a "Tiny House" after one of her childhood girlfriends decided to build one. My wife's idea of rough camping was a three star hotel without a continental breakfast.
...so you see where I'm going with this.
We began this school bus journey looking for a motor home we could fix up with new paint and updates but the more we looked the more it appeared we were purchasing someone else's headaches. Leaks, rot and delamination were seen over and over and if they didn't show those issues the owners were asking more than we could afford. Then there's the concern of a used power train and maxed out vehicle frame. Then I stumbled across a school bus. I thought, "I bet you could remove the seats and build in some stuff and make a rock solid camper out of one of these things! All steel, no rot, rugged chassis and Diesel engine! How could you go wrong?"
I hadn't seen a bus conversion yet.
I thought there was no way my wife was gonna buy into this crazy idea but she loved it and our search for the right bus was on! After a few weeks of scanning Craigslist in Arkansas and four neighboring states we ran across a 1990 24 passenger Ward schoolie in Oklahoma. It saw little to no road salt, showed very little rust anywhere, no accident damage... it was clean! After driving it around we made the purchase and drove it back 400 miles. No problems. She started easy, drove straight and ran fine all the way back.
It needs 5 new tires, a new windshield, one passenger window pane and one back brake cylinder is leaking. It does not have AC and the heater isn't working (It may need more antifreeze). All of the lights work and appear to be in good shape. Aside from those things, an oil and filter change, a radiator flush, fresh transmission oil and a new fuel filter, I think it!s ready to go road wise.
I found Skoolie.net and love the wealth of information and ideas here. I'll be participating as much as I can as I turn this beautiful bus into the fine camper she was always meant to be! Then we're going on a nice long road trip!
Ross and Shawne