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Old 05-19-2022, 02:06 PM   #1
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Join Date: May 2022
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New Kids on the Block

Hi!

Please allow me to introduce myself since I'll likely be posting A LOT (of questions...and hopefully some day helping others too 😊)

For about a year now we've been talking about converting a bus, escaping Illinois, and seeing the beauty of this country first hand.

About three weeks ago my job changed to 100% virtual (PG's already was). Then two weeks ago my dad passed away unexpectedly at age 67. My mom was planning to retire next year so they could travel together. PG and I decided we are done waiting for someday because that day may never come. So we're taking the leap.

We've got a flexible layout "rough draft" for a 30-35 foot bus/coach for our family of 4 (5 when moms along). We need minimum 22' interior length and 7.5' interior width. A little extra would be great but we're not going above 35' exterior length, for multiple reasons, so we're limited.

I think a Van Hool CX35 would be our dream build but they move quickly and I always seem to be a day late on those unless I want to spend 100k (not happening).

We're currently looking at a Chevy M2 Defender. Based solely on known window width of 45" I'm estimating interior length of the 31' version to be 22-23' if it doesn't have a back storage area.

If you have suggestions on a bus/coach that meets our needs I greatly appreciate any insight - I'm not afraid of research but there is a whole lot out there and I'm definitly learning a new language here.

A big thanks to everyone for the great advice I've already picked up on here!

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Old 05-19-2022, 04:29 PM   #2
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Location: Western MT
Posts: 417
Year: 1990
Chassis: Crown Supercoach
Engine: Detroit 6-71TA, 10 sp.
Rated Cap: 90 (40')
Welcome to the forum. I'm very sorry to hear about your dad. There's never anything good about losing someone, but hopefully the new perspective on life that you mentioned will set you off on a good path.

From your two example buses, I'm guessing you like lots of windows. I agree with that wholeheartedly , but just make sure you take it into account when thinking of heating/cooling. You can't do too much to make glass more insulative. And sometimes those bigger windows don't open.

I don't know anything about coaches, but my impression is that they are a bit more complicated and generally require deeper pockets than a school bus to properly fix/maintain. See this current thread for one discussion about the pros/cons of coaches:https://www.skoolie.net/forums/f32/s...ost-39380.html

On page 2 of that thread Crown_Guy makes a good case for Gillig buses - one of those might also fit your needs.
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Old 05-19-2022, 05:23 PM   #3
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Hi Tejon7

Good point about the windows (and yes, I love the natural sunlight ��). Have you had any luck with insulating shades or window tint? My thought was to sew insulating window shades with magnets down the sides every few inches to help with holding heat in when needed, and to tint the windows to keep excess heat out when needed. Windows that open is a Must for me so that's good reminder to put that on the checklist!

I'll check out the thread on coaches and gilligs you shared - I've heard gilligs are awesome busses but I haven't seen one less than 40' -I will have to see what crown_guy says and continue my research.

Thanks for reaching out with your great thoughts!
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Old 05-19-2022, 09:45 PM   #4
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Join Date: Mar 2020
Location: Western MT
Posts: 417
Year: 1990
Chassis: Crown Supercoach
Engine: Detroit 6-71TA, 10 sp.
Rated Cap: 90 (40')
Talking

We're two years into our conversion, but still haven't gotten to the window insulating stage yet . I sure hope insulated shades work well, because that's what we're planning to mitigate heat transfer through our stock windows. We were gifted a bunch of "Warm Window" fabric from The Warm Company and plan to make magnetic curtains just like you described. I've seen a lady on YouTube make some nice curtains for her Sprinter van with this stuff and she said it made quite a difference.

I have tinted windows, and they help somewhat in bright sun, but not enough to keep you from cooking on a hot day. And they're no help at all in winter!

Our ideal temperature is 60 degrees and sunny. We'll chase that as best we can from Arizona to Canada. If your plans include extreme heat or cold, you may have to get a little more creative with insulating big panes of glass. You can come up with a solution for any problem - this is just one tiny consideration out of the millions of other things to keep in mind as you shop for and convert a bus.

I feel like I've detailed your introduction thread with all this window talk . Back to the point: welcome, nice to meet you, and good luck in your search!
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Old 05-20-2022, 07:08 AM   #5
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Location: Grayson County, VA
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Year: 1996
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Engine: DT466
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GraceThane View Post
Hi Tejon7

Good point about the windows (and yes, I love the natural sunlight ��). Have you had any luck with insulating shades or window tint? My thought was to sew insulating window shades with magnets down the sides every few inches to help with holding heat in when needed, and to tint the windows to keep excess heat out when needed. Windows that open is a Must for me so that's good reminder to put that on the checklist!

I'll check out the thread on coaches and gilligs you shared - I've heard gilligs are awesome busses but I haven't seen one less than 40' -I will have to see what crown_guy says and continue my research.

Thanks for reaching out with your great thoughts!



Hi Grace, welcome to the site. I can't help you on your bus choice, we went with a conventional school bus, but you can absolutely sew insulated shades for the windows. We did exactly that and they made a huge difference in regulating temps, as did having the ventilation from opening all those windows. We lived and traveled full time in our build for 2 years and never regretted leaving all those windows.
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Old 05-20-2022, 09:47 AM   #6
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Join Date: Feb 2019
Location: Communist State of New Jersey
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Year: 2004
Coachwork: IC
Chassis: CE200
Engine: T444e
Rated Cap: 27,500
Welcome to the forum.

There's a lot of good information about which bus to choose here on the forum and on YouTube. Search YouTube for which bus to choose for RV conversion and you'll get lots of videos to come up.

When I was searching for something to convert I also considered step vans and box trucks, either would be easy to convert since their living area is essentially square which is more conducive to interior builds.

I kinda wish I'd been able to find an 18 to 20 foot commercial box truck on a medium duty chassis. I my mind that would be about ideal, especially if it had a tailgate lift which could be used as a patio when parked.
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Old 05-20-2022, 12:48 PM   #7
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Location: Big Timber Montana
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Year: 2000
Coachwork: Bluebird
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Engine: M11
Rated Cap: 48,600#
I am a new kid 66 years young

I am a lifetime farmer and rancher from Montana. Spent time as an Army Tank company officer in the late 70s and have been ranching and farming most of my life. Now I got ew knees and a new hip and am a bus driver and substitute teacher. I bought then sold a Bluebird LTC40 and was recently driving it audit overheated. I have determined that the regulator in the hydraulic driven fan motor has filed so I am in the process of removing the radiator tottery to replace the hydraulic fan motor.
I am a farmer mechanic so I need help and advice form people who have been there and done that. Thanks for allowing me to join. Calvin
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Old 05-20-2022, 01:41 PM   #8
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I am a lifetime farmer and rancher from Montana. Spent time as an Army Tank company officer in the late 70s and have been ranching and farming most of my life. Now I got ew knees and a new hip and am a bus driver and substitute teacher. I bought then sold a Bluebird LTC40 and was recently driving it audit overheated. I have determined that the regulator in the hydraulic driven fan motor has filed so I am in the process of removing the radiator tottery to replace the hydraulic fan motor.
I am a farmer mechanic so I need help and advice form people who have been there and done that. Thanks for allowing me to join. Calvin
I suggest you start a new thread under the Mechanical and Drivetrain heading so more folks will see it. Putting it at the end of this thread might not get you the eyes on it you need. Anyway, welcome Calvin.
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Old 05-21-2022, 06:54 PM   #9
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Welcome to the forum.

There's a lot of good information about which bus to choose here on the forum and on YouTube. Search YouTube for which bus to choose for RV conversion and you'll get lots of videos to come up.

When I was searching for something to convert I also considered step vans and box trucks, either would be easy to convert since their living area is essentially square which is more conducive to interior builds.

I kinda wish I'd been able to find an 18 to 20 foot commercial box truck on a medium duty chassis. I my mind that would be about ideal, especially if it had a tailgate lift which could be used as a patio when parked.
I took a look at some of the videos as you recommended and I have to agree on the box truck. Those look like a fantastic alternative.

It would be short enough that I wouldn't have to leave all the driving up to my hubby (anything over 30') and I feel like the build out would be considerably easier with 90 angles plus slightly more room (12-6" more width). We don't want to raise the roof but need to have room for bunks and it seems like the extra height is already built in. I haven't checked yet but I'm interested to see what others on the forum have to say if they've already done one.

Thanks for the great idea! 😊
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Old 05-21-2022, 09:05 PM   #10
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Location: Communist State of New Jersey
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Engine: T444e
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GraceThane View Post
I took a look at some of the videos as you recommended and I have to agree on the box truck. Those look like a fantastic alternative.

It would be short enough that I wouldn't have to leave all the driving up to my hubby (anything over 30') and I feel like the build out would be considerably easier with 90 angles plus slightly more room (12-6" more width). We don't want to raise the roof but need to have room for bunks and it seems like the extra height is already built in. I haven't checked yet but I'm interested to see what others on the forum have to say if they've already done one.

Thanks for the great idea! 😊
Keep in mind this is a skoolie forum. Most here chose a school bus and likely don't have much interest in step vans or box trucks.
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Old 05-21-2022, 09:15 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Oldyeller View Post
I suggest you start a new thread under the Mechanical and Drivetrain heading so more folks will see it. Putting it at the end of this thread might not get you the eyes on it you need. Anyway, welcome Calvin.
I did make a post as you suggested. Thank you
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