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Old 06-06-2018, 04:01 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: May 2018
Location: Toronto
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Cool Introduction: Me and my current head scratch

Hello!

I've been reading and searching through this forum for sometime now, so thanks! Some days ago I made an account, and here I am, ready to start asking questions.

About my skoolie plans (at this moment):

My wife and I got turned on to this idea just over a year ago, when we realized that we didn't want to be tied down to any one place anymore, and that we were ready to try a different rhythm in life. Our plans have evolved throughout this past year as we keep learning about all the possibilities and limitations of living in a bus, and as we design the way we want live.

Although we would love a full size bus, with all its comforts, we're thinking now that this might not well suit our current needs. By next March we want to hit the road (We're starting off from Toronto, Ontario btw). Our plan is to for a minimum of a year drive throughout out Canada, East to West, not rushed, with time to stop and stay if we want to. See nature and meet new people and communities. Go around some of States as well.. all this and back.

The point is... for about a year we will be doing a lot of driving... and a full 40' bus, loaded with all the comforts and so on, I believe would really hurt the wallet and due to size might restrict us from certain places that we would like to visit?? So right now we are thinking smaller, with the rationale being that we'll save a lot on gas and will be easier to get into back roads. (Please tell me if you have a different opinion) Hopefully one day, find a place that we like where we can buy a property and park a fuller size bus, which would be parked for at least 6 months out of the year.

Below this are the options that I have considered so far for a road trip skoolie. I would appreciate any input on how these options vary in ongoing operating costs (gas, oil, general maintenance...), reliability on the road (not breaking down), ease of repairing, safety... basically, remember I'm looking for a bus that will do a lot of driving for more than a year.

Our basic needs are the following:
  • 12 MPG I would be happy with
  • Don't need a luxury setup - looking to keep things lights, but we do need a big water tank to last us and solar, and a kitchen.

I'm not concerned in up front costs, but I want to keep the operating cost down. Is there a difference between these?

Van Cutaway - Wheel chair accessible
cutaway extended.jpg
This is the smallest that I would consider.
Pros
Drives like a van (I never drove a bus)
Plenty to choose from
Easy to park anywhere

Cons
It is the smallest
Lower GVW - compromise on safety? Things will wear out faster

Shuttle
shuttle.JPG

Pros
Best MPG?
Lots to choose from
Quiet and easy to drive?

Cons
Don't seem sturdy enough
I see this getting stuck in a back road to a farm
Ugly and more expensive to maintain?

Short Bus (5-6 window-20' to 21') - This is what seems to be calling me, but at this point, should i just get a longer bus?
6 windows.jpg

Pros
Bigger interior space
Confidence in the strength of chassis
Better suited to leave a paved surface?
All mechanical parts seems to be easily accessible
Can probably even fit a shower!

Cons
Harder to find one. They are all across the border
Eats up more gas (which could be offset by the durability of the bus??)

This post became longer than intended.
Thank you all in advance!

Sebastian
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Old 06-06-2018, 04:33 PM   #2
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Welcome and hope your travels are fun.
If me, I'd go big first off with a conventional bus. They will do backroads pretty well as they turn much different than a car. Something in the steering geometry.
You will appreciate all the room you find inside once you build it out to suit you.
Fuel economy won't differ much from a big unit to something smaller either.
If yo haven't driven any buses, then get out and do so. Big and small.
Then find one with the right drivetrain for your cross country travels. You have lots of reading to do so I will let you get started.


John
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Old 06-06-2018, 04:41 PM   #3
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With your plans I would definitely go with a 40'er if you plan on being in it that long. The biggest buses still average around 10mpg and it does seem, from what I've seen, that the size matters much. We'd all love to average 12mpg in our buses, but that's not conceivable for most. I know some claim to get better, but I doubt it's a consistent figure. They tell me even new arrivals to Hawaii eventually get rock fever from being closed in. You'll appreciate all the space you'll have if you go larger. Go spend a day in your walk in closet with the door closed and figure out where your bed, toilet, etc, will go.
My 40' bus is smaller than my current bedroom (400sf)
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Old 06-06-2018, 05:19 PM   #4
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: May 2018
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Thank you for your replies so far.

So the consensus is that MPG doesn't differ much from a 40' down to a 21'? Or 21' to a van cutaway? Or its just not worth it to compromise living space?

My kitchen and nook is about the size of a small bus... I have been visualizing and getting a bit anxious about the tight space.

But again, the plan is to be more outside than in, we're just transporting a warm bed and cooking station.

Thanks again.
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Old 06-06-2018, 05:25 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Buenaventura View Post
Thank you for your replies so far.

So the consensus is that MPG doesn't differ much from a 40' down to a 21'? Or 21' to a van cutaway? Or its just not worth it to compromise living space?

My kitchen and nook is about the size of a small bus... I have been visualizing and getting a bit anxious about the tight space.

But again, the plan is to be more outside than in, we're just transporting a warm bed and cooking station.

Thanks again.
You'll spend more time in it than you think. Like every size space it isn't long before you fill and find you need more. I would err on the side of bigger and have more than I need than go too small and not ever be happy in it. I think everyone will agree buses suck for fuel mileage and there's not much difference for size.

I'm putting an 8' garage in the back, if you don't need something like that a 32" bus would work nice.
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Old 06-06-2018, 09:56 PM   #6
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: May 2018
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That is a valid point. Thank you.

Anyone out there with a shortie that could share their experiences?
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Old 06-06-2018, 11:25 PM   #7
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I have a 28 foot "dog-nose" bus. I did some research and found that 30' could fit into most state park campgrounds - and that the larger spots (if available) fill quickly.
The space works great for me. But everyone has different needs. I don't feel that I would want a bigger bus - even though there are times I wish I had more space... (eventually I will install a cargo bay or roof rack - or both). I like this size - and would consider a smaller size - (maybe 6 window versus 8 window).
I am doing a little renovation to make room for a wood stove - so I am changing the kitchen a little.
I have been living in my bus all time since October - and love everything about it.

IMG_7508.jpg

I also tow my car - so I am at about 50 feet when relocating.

IMG_8816.jpg
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Old 06-06-2018, 11:53 PM   #8
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I would look at a medium-length full-size bus.

I'm looking at a cutaway/van-chassis bus for a weekend camper. My floorplan is literally bed, "bathroom" (toilet), closet, couch, and a kitchen counter, with an aisle down the middle. Its. . .small. There's not a very big fridge, or a shower. I have no idea where exactly the batteries will go, or what to do for a hot water heater. The generator will eventually go on a rack on the back bumper. It will work - but not in a way that I'd want to be stuck with it for a full year.


I think the extra interior space that a full-size bus will give you will be well worth it. There are many options out there that will be big enough to be comfortable, but small enough to fit into most campgrounds. (Look for something 30 feet bumper-bumper.) The extra weight capacity of a larger bus also gives you some more options - water weights 8lbs/gallon. Get a 75 gallon tank, and that's 600lbs of water. A bigger bus gives you room for more batteries, and more solar on the roof.


I don't think the mileage will matter very much.
Lets call it 7500 miles round-trip.

I get about an $850 difference in fuel if you compare 12mpg/9mpg for a cutaway to a full-size bus. (In US$, accounting for higher-then-current fuel prices.) Compared to the cost of the overall trip, I think its worth it to have the extra space.
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Old 06-07-2018, 06:06 AM   #9
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We've been full time in a 5 window Vista for the last year and a half, including doing a lap around the US. It's probably the biggest bus you can park in front of a Starbucks.

We built it in a hurry and could have made better use of space, but there is only so much you can do with the amount of space you have. We're currently building a bigger bus.

It seems that MPG is more a function of how fast you're trying to go. Averaging 12 is unlikely on the interstate. Nearly all school buses will be geared for their normal use, driving around town at low speeds.
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Old 06-14-2018, 09:53 AM   #10
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: May 2018
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I'll confess something embarrassing... I was using an online fuel trip calculator to get an idea of fuel prices, but I didn't realize for days that it was calculating the round trip for every route I selected...

So my worries about MPG have subsided. Thank you all for your input.

This is a kind of bus I think I'm inclining for, but I believe they are asking too much. There is no electrical or plumbing, and only the front half of the bus is insulated... so its basically an old bus with some plywood selling for 15k CND (about 11.5K USD).. How would you reason with this seller for a realistic price? Would anyone spend that much on this?

https://whistler.craigslist.ca/cto/d...608011894.html
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Old 06-18-2018, 12:13 PM   #11
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Too much in my not very expert opinion. I overpaid, and unless you HAVE to have a bus quick, I'd suggest learning more about prices by watching auctions all the way thru to the end to see what different buses go for in the end. You can buy TWO of the same bus at auction for less than that easily and use one for replacement parts for the first and then sell the extra metal for scrap. Obviously that only works if you have space, but it's something to keep in mind.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Buenaventura View Post
I'll confess something embarrassing... I was using an online fuel trip calculator to get an idea of fuel prices, but I didn't realize for days that it was calculating the round trip for every route I selected...

So my worries about MPG have subsided. Thank you all for your input.

This is a kind of bus I think I'm inclining for, but I believe they are asking too much. There is no electrical or plumbing, and only the front half of the bus is insulated... so its basically an old bus with some plywood selling for 15k CND (about 11.5K USD).. How would you reason with this seller for a realistic price? Would anyone spend that much on this?

https://whistler.craigslist.ca/cto/d...608011894.html
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