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Old 04-28-2019, 09:22 PM   #1
Skoolie
 
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I hardly know anything, so here I am!

Life has brought some interesting changes and it looks likely that I'll be living in a schoolbus within the next few months! I hardly know anything so I'm starting here with the few things I am aware of:

Some buses are better than others.
Engine type matters for speed ability.
Avoid rust.
Be prepared to do a lot of work.
Mistakes are going to happen.
Don't drive the bus off a cliff or into a ditch.
Front engine is much louder than rear engine.
Roof can be heightened to make it more comfortable for tall friends.
Measure twice, cut once.
Ask for help.

I'm looking for a bus that I can keep a few seats up front so friends can have seatbelts and then remove the rest and make it have sleeping, kitchen, and toilet space. I'd like to have two small sleeping areas with doors because I snore sometimes and don't want to wake anyone else who might be along for the ride.

Budget is $30-50k.

I'm used to living in some fairly rough conditions, so it's fine for me if the bus is a work in progress for a long period of time. I don't have a CDL though, so I'd like to get whatever bus it ends up being registered as a motorhome ASAP. I'll likely be towing a small car behind the bus, at least until I learn how to navigate well in cities.

Please let me know where you recommend to begin my education! Thank you!
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Old 04-28-2019, 09:55 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OlgaAK View Post
Life has brought some interesting changes and it looks likely that I'll be living in a schoolbus within the next few months! I hardly know anything so I'm starting here with the few things I am aware of:

Some buses are better than others.
Engine type matters for speed ability.
Avoid rust.
Be prepared to do a lot of work.
Mistakes are going to happen.
Don't drive the bus off a cliff or into a ditch.
Front engine is much louder than rear engine.
Roof can be heightened to make it more comfortable for tall friends.
Measure twice, cut once.
Ask for help.

I'm looking for a bus that I can keep a few seats up front so friends can have seatbelts and then remove the rest and make it have sleeping, kitchen, and toilet space. I'd like to have two small sleeping areas with doors because I snore sometimes and don't want to wake anyone else who might be along for the ride.

Budget is $30-50k.

I'm used to living in some fairly rough conditions, so it's fine for me if the bus is a work in progress for a long period of time. I don't have a CDL though, so I'd like to get whatever bus it ends up being registered as a motorhome ASAP. I'll likely be towing a small car behind the bus, at least until I learn how to navigate well in cities.

Please let me know where you recommend to begin my education! Thank you!
Once there is not seating for 16 passengers a CDL is not required in most states. I assume you are in Ak.? Fill out your profile in the UserCP in the upper left here. If the CDL issue is waived was there any other reason to get it registered as a motorhome. Be aware that if it's registered as a MH , but the conversion to MH has not been completed it will be difficult to insure it as such.

Your education begins here, get ready to spend some time viewing all the build threads here. Welcome to the addiction.
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Old 04-28-2019, 10:40 PM   #3
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Hello! I hope that you are well. Thank you for the reply.

I filled out of my some of the info, as requested. Currently I am a California resident. I'd like to return to AK at some point but would need a very well insulated bus and a wood stove to handle the cold weather.

I think I would like a standard 40' bus, and my understanding is that those require a MH registration to be legal in California because of the weight.

How does an insurance company determine when a conversion is "complete"? I imagine that this is going to be an ongoing project with many incremental upgrades as I learn more skills or meet people who are interested in skill trading.
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Old 04-28-2019, 11:35 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OlgaAK View Post

How does an insurance company determine when a conversion is "complete"? I imagine that this is going to be an ongoing project with many incremental upgrades as I learn more skills or meet people who are interested in skill trading.
Most states use the following requirements to convert to an RV.
You only have to have 4 of the 6:

*Perm inside cooking (propane or electrical)
*Refrigeration
*Toilet with exterior exhaust vent and service
*AC & Heating with separate power source the the vehicles power
*Potable water source to include (sink, faucet, and tanks with exterior service points)
*External power source (generator, solar, etc.
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Old 04-29-2019, 05:45 AM   #5
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Don't tell folks you have fifty grand to spend. Remove a zero and tell em five.
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Old 04-29-2019, 06:58 AM   #6
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Quote:
Engine type matters for speed ability.
Engine type is more about getting an engine that won't cost you many many thousands of dollars to fix. Speed is more a product of the transmission and the rear axle.

Quote:
I'm looking for a bus that I can keep a few seats up front so friends can have seatbelts
You'll probably find this doesn't really work. Many buses don't have seat belts at all, and those that do are usually only lap belts, so for at least some safety you'd have to keep the front row of seats and the padded face-smashers, all of which takes up a lot of interior space. Alternatively, you can remove all the seats and install something like Ford Transit Van seats, which are easily bolted to the floor and have integrated shoulder belts.
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Old 04-29-2019, 07:07 AM   #7
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I've got a pile of school bus seats with belts.
They're god-awful to ride in for more than half an hour though.
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Old 04-29-2019, 08:09 AM   #8
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Don't tell folks you have fifty grand to spend. Remove a zero and tell em five.
I was warned that bus repair for a single issue can easily be $5,000 alone. My budget is intended to cover the initial bus, conversion work, and repairs.

Regarding seatbelts, this needs to be a safe way to travel for a group of people including some over 80 and others under 5. I will look into how to buy just the seats from that other vehicle you all mentioned.
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Old 04-29-2019, 08:27 AM   #9
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You're correct in that buses can be very costly to repair.
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Old 04-29-2019, 09:04 AM   #10
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Quote:
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I was warned that bus repair for a single issue can easily be $5,000 alone. My budget is intended to cover the initial bus, conversion work, and repairs.

Regarding seatbelts, this needs to be a safe way to travel for a group of people including some over 80 and others under 5. I will look into how to buy just the seats from that other vehicle you all mentioned.
Here is an example of the seat bench I'm referring to: https://www.ebay.com/itm/Ford-Transi...d/282408196279

I bought one of this type for my bus and although I haven't installed it yet I have sat in it. It would be profoundly uncomfortable to sit in this for any great length of time, and almost unbearable if you had two people packed into 31" like that. I'm putting it in just so I can take people safely on short trips without losing too much interior space (I'm mounting this as far forward as possible so riders' feet will be in the stepwell). If you wanted to take riders on long trips comfortably, you'd really have to sacrifice a lot more space (and spend a lot more) to buy and install larger seats. Personally, I think it would work better to bring additional people along in another vehicle - the fuel consumption would be minor compared to the bus' anyway, you'd have a more convenient vehicle on hand when you get there, and you won't give up otherwise-unused living space in your bus.

If you go with the transit van seat, definitely check Craiglist before buying one on eBay. With shipping one might be over $400 on eBay, but I found one locally for sale on CL for $200.
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Old 04-29-2019, 10:10 AM   #11
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Cool to see other Alaskans on here, even if you are outside. Best of luck to you. Best advice I can offer has nothing to do actual conversion skills...

Be patient, persistent, read, learn from your mistakes then do over better...& have fun! You'll figure it out as you go.
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Old 04-29-2019, 10:12 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OlgaAK View Post
Engine type matters for speed ability.
Quote:
Originally Posted by musigenesis View Post
Engine type is more about getting an engine that won't cost you many many thousands of dollars to fix. Speed is more a product of the transmission and the rear axle.

Not entirely true. While I agree that some engines have better reliability reputations than others, engine choice in a bus has just as much to do with "speed ability" as it would in any other vehicle. Take, for example, a 4-cylinder engine in a car. While it may move the car at speeds exceeding 80 MPH, put that same engine in a truck with a car trailer, and it will woefully underpowered. Put that same engine in a bus and it will struggle to even move. By the same coin, put a low-end bus engine in a road tractor and it will struggle with even light loads.


There is one forum member with a DT466 equipped bus (I forget his HP rating). His build ended up weighing like 36K and even he is looking for more power. In his case, he might have been better starting with a coach with a high horsepower motor.


An empty bus with a 175 HP T444E engine might (with proper transmission and gearing) achieve 75+ on a flat road, but loaded, going up a hill, it absolutely won't maintain that speed. Swap that motor with an ISX Cummins turned up to about 600 HP and it'll shag on up that hill with even the heaviest load.
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Old 05-03-2019, 12:19 AM   #13
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So... convert to RV title/registration instead of bus title/registration... doesn't that make the 'bus loophole' to the carseat under 8 rule go out the window?



I think more inline with the OP. Need a seat with seatbelts for the <5y/o riders that was specified in the OP. Im in the same boat. Nephew is 2. Sister & BiL will never let him ride in skoolie without properly mounted carseat & I don't blame them.



"It's not very comfortable" - who gives a crap? At least if the concern is for young'uns that need to be in a carseat per law unless on a public transportation or school bus. And any skoolie that is not registered as a commercial intrastate/interstate passenger vehicle and undergoes regular strict inspections does not count as such.



Whatever bus I wind up with, it will have a couple of captain's chairs from a donor van that are complete with seatbelts (all bolted into frame crossmembers if i have to weld in crossmembers myself) so that at least the more vulnerable members of my family have some protection in case of an accident.
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Old 05-03-2019, 08:14 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by knightindullarmor View Post



Whatever bus I wind up with, it will have a couple of captain's chairs from a donor van that are complete with seatbelts (all bolted into frame crossmembers if i have to weld in crossmembers myself) so that at least the more vulnerable members of my family have some protection in case of an accident.
Unless you have a cutaway bus, please don't bolt to the frame. The body is not bolted to the frame and in a collision the body moves in relation to the frame. The body is held on by clips. Watch a school bus crash test vid and you will see.

I am not a safety expert, just a guy with a bus.
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Old 05-03-2019, 10:17 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2kool4skool View Post
Unless you have a cutaway bus, please don't bolt to the frame. The body is not bolted to the frame and in a collision the body moves in relation to the frame. The body is held on by clips. Watch a school bus crash test vid and you will see.

I am not a safety expert, just a guy with a bus.
good thought
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Old 05-03-2019, 11:02 AM   #16
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Just a note about registering your bus as an RV---Most license facilities take your word on the qualifications required to register a bus as an RV.
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Old 05-03-2019, 12:42 PM   #17
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Just a note about registering your bus as an RV---Most license facilities take your word on the qualifications required to register a bus as an RV.
What does it gain you to tell them it's an RV when it is not? How will you insure it, because unlike license facilities, they will check to see if the conversion is complete.
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Old 05-06-2019, 12:05 PM   #18
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What does it gain you to tell them it's an RV when it is not? How will you insure it, because unlike license facilities, they will check to see if the conversion is complete.
Depends on the laws in your particular state and particulars of your bus.

OP: Check your local regs.

Here in was I would have to get a CDL to drive my bus if it was not titled/registered as an RV. Here anything that seats 16 OR has a gvrw over 26k requires a CDL.

RV's are exempt.

Solution: Title as an RV immediately while keeping "commercial for personal" insurance until the conversion meets my insurance companies standards then switch to RV insurance.

I have discussed this at length with my insurance agent and they don't care what the body type on the title/registration's. This is the third bus I have done this with and had good success


Good luck!!
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Old 05-06-2019, 01:31 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by PNW_Steve View Post
Depends on the laws in your particular state and particulars of your bus.

OP: Check your local regs.

Here in was I would have to get a CDL to drive my bus if it was not titled/registered as an RV. Here anything that seats 16 OR has a gvrw over 26k requires a CDL.

RV's are exempt.

Solution: Title as an RV immediately while keeping "commercial for personal" insurance until the conversion meets my insurance companies standards then switch to RV insurance.

I have discussed this at length with my insurance agent and they don't care what the body type on the title/registration's. This is the third bus I have done this with and had good success


Good luck!!
Same here, more or less.
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Old 05-07-2019, 12:44 PM   #20
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Ok, so I've done some more research and I'm thinking of looking for a 40' bus with rear engine, high top, pre-electric era. I still do not really understand the transmission/engine thing. I will be mostly driving on highways. There will be some mountain climbing, but I don't mind going slow.

Can anyone help me narrow this down to specific models or years to be looking at?
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