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Old 04-09-2020, 03:50 PM   #1
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Newbie with Epic Plans

Hello all, my name is Amanda here in Maine. My husband and I are going to convert a skoolie in the next 3 months to live in full time with our 2 year old daughter.

We sell collectible books online for a living and are taking that show on the road too.

We are on the hunt for a 40 ft school bus. Plans to raise the roof, build multiple decks, loft, and have many, many creative ideas we are excited to implement. Going to be fully off-grid. We also need to tow a small car. My husband and I are both handy, he at especially at carpentry, and we are recruiting some fellow Mainers who are far more experienced than us at planning, building, construction, electrical, plumbing etc.

Our lease is up at the end of June so the clock is ticking.

Right now, I am looking for suggestions on busses we are considering purchasing. Is there a good spot on the forum I could post our potential purchases and get some advice/opinions?

I have learned so much here already and plan to use it throughout our build, and I am particularly looking forward to learning ourselves and being able to give back with our experiences once we've had them. Thanks everyone!
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Old 04-09-2020, 04:05 PM   #2
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End of June...2020? That's not enough time!
Good luck!
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Old 04-09-2020, 04:09 PM   #3
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Haha you got it. Unless we find somewhere else for temporary stay... Hence the helper recruitment. Thanks for the welcome!
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Old 04-09-2020, 04:44 PM   #4
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Welcome! I recommend craigslist (search for school bus or just bus) for your area and major metro areas that you could fly to. Also search of school bus dealerships near you. That's where I found mine (a school bus dealership) but I had to fly to LA to pick it up (I'm in NorCal).
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Old 04-10-2020, 01:46 AM   #5
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Having not yet purchased a bus, you definitely are on a tight schedule.


First, take your time finding a solid bus with a drivetrain that fits your useage needs. Even if it takes you through mid May, you will be much better off. You *can* work on the bus while living in it ... it is just so much harder. Remember that in the current state of affairs (due to COVID-19), finding transportation to pick up the bus may be difficult. Since you are in Maine, your choice of local buses may not be rust-free.



Next, you should find the place where you will build it. This may be an interesting search, maybe not.


Next, determine what features you NEED to at least live in the bus. Will a 5-gallon bucket and kitty litter work at first? Will an extension cord run from an outlet be good enough? Etc. By the time you have the minimums you may be out of time for that June deadline.


Also ... for everyone's sake, please fill out your profile by clicking on "UserCP" at the top left of the page. We'll then know where you are and any other details you might care to share. Might even put in the sort of bus you are searching for (like a 40 foot rear-engine).


Good luck!
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Old 04-10-2020, 02:55 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mandinee1 View Post
Hello all, my name is Amanda here in Maine. My husband and I are going to convert a skoolie in the next 3 months to live in full time with our 2 year old daughter.

We sell collectible books online for a living and are taking that show on the road too.

We are on the hunt for a 40 ft school bus. Plans to raise the roof, build multiple decks, loft, and have many, many creative ideas we are excited to implement. Going to be fully off-grid. We also need to tow a small car. My husband and I are both handy, he at especially at carpentry, and we are recruiting some fellow Mainers who are far more experienced than us at planning, building, construction, electrical, plumbing etc.

Our lease is up at the end of June so the clock is ticking.

Right now, I am looking for suggestions on busses we are considering purchasing. Is there a good spot on the forum I could post our potential purchases and get some advice/opinions?

I have learned so much here already and plan to use it throughout our build, and I am particularly looking forward to learning ourselves and being able to give back with our experiences once we've had them. Thanks everyone!
Other than corona spreading around right now it sounds like an ok plan. Me personally I wouldn't think of trying to do all that in 3 months. I'd buy a travel trailer and adapt to that since its already built.
But I'm an shut in with anxiety over all this pandemic stuff.

What kind of books do you usually sell? I collect books, sorta.
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Old 04-10-2020, 10:14 AM   #7
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This is unrelated to skoolies, but one of my proudest possessions is a first edition English print of Antoine de St Exupery's Wind, Sand, and Stars, complete with illustrations too.
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Old 04-10-2020, 02:41 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mandinee1 View Post
Hello all, my name is Amanda here in Maine. My husband and I are going to convert a skoolie in the next 3 months to live in full time with our 2 year old daughter.

We sell collectible books online for a living and are taking that show on the road too.

We are on the hunt for a 40 ft school bus. Plans to raise the roof, build multiple decks, loft, and have many, many creative ideas we are excited to implement. Going to be fully off-grid. We also need to tow a small car. My husband and I are both handy, he at especially at carpentry, and we are recruiting some fellow Mainers who are far more experienced than us at planning, building, construction, electrical, plumbing etc.

Our lease is up at the end of June so the clock is ticking.

Right now, I am looking for suggestions on busses we are considering purchasing. Is there a good spot on the forum I could post our potential purchases and get some advice/opinions?

I have learned so much here already and plan to use it throughout our build, and I am particularly looking forward to learning ourselves and being able to give back with our experiences once we've had them. Thanks everyone!

Hi Mandinee1
I am in Scarborough, where in Maine are you? If we're close I might be able to offer some help. I'm a pretty good mechanic and a career electrician. I'm just getting my bus uncovered from being tarped for the winter- the leaky windows are first on my to-do list.

I looked at over a dozen rotted, local busses before finally flying to CA and buying a bus to drive across country. Nerve-wracking, but fun.


Best of luck
Rich
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Old 04-13-2020, 10:46 AM   #9
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Other than corona spreading around right now it sounds like an ok plan. Me personally I wouldn't think of trying to do all that in 3 months. I'd buy a travel trailer and adapt to that since its already built.
Solid advice here. Not having the bus yet either is a potentially huge problem, as to find one without rust you're probably going to have to go south/west. There's also legal hoops to jump through. A CDL might make things easier, but... insurance, retitling and registration are usually slow processes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phantom5824 View Post
Hi Mandinee1I am in Scarborough, where in Maine are you? If we're close I might be able to offer some help. I'm a pretty good mechanic and a career electrician. I'm just getting my bus uncovered from being tarped for the winter- the leaky windows are first on my to-do list.
I'd offer as well but being in southern NH might make it really difficult depending on where you are.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phantom5824 View Post
I looked at over a dozen rotted, local busses before finally flying to CA and buying a bus to drive across country. Nerve-wracking, but fun.
^^^ I went looking for buses locally as well and one in RI I found would not have made the right turn out of the driveway- the cabin would have rolled right off from rusted out joists. Mine is from the west coast and has virtually no rust compared to _any_ bus I've seen around here.

To meet your timeline you need to solve the no-bus problem in the next couple of weeks. This creates a huge pressure to find something quickly and that will not lead you to good places. Do NOT buy rusty no matter what!
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Old 04-18-2020, 04:07 PM   #10
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I would say check out the bus companies that haul for the schools near you.
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Old 04-18-2020, 04:55 PM   #11
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This is unrelated to skoolies, but one of my proudest possessions is a first edition English print of Antoine de St Exupery's Wind, Sand, and Stars, complete with illustrations too.
Hi! I'm sorry, I wasn't getting these notifications. Really appreciate all the responses. We are working hard, actively, every day searching for a bus. We haven't bothered looking at any local bus dealerships because we know we won't find a rust-free bus anywhere around here. We figured we just need to bite the bullet and pay to have it transported from wherever it is, or one of us bite the bullet and travel and drive it back here. We have taken everyone's advice from the forums and are not settling. The bus is going to be the foundation for all the hard work we do so we ARE holding out to find the right one. Nothing has fit the bill so far (right engine/trans based on all the recs I've gotten here, 40 ft, rear engine, rust-free...). I suppose it's a tall order but we are keeping on our search. Gov auctions, craigslist, Ebay, these forums, every. single. day. Multiple times a day.

Rich- we are in Midcoast Maine- Hope, outside of Camden. Congrats on your bus! What kind of bus did you get? We are definitely interested in teaming up. We will need help and do not have your expertise. How about any leads on a summer rental? We are open to living anywhere in Maine and are really trying hard to find a place to rent so we can take our time with the bus. Not going to finish it before July at this point.*Kazetsukai, would be interested in your help as well. Either of you versed in a roof raise? Other than that we will need advice/help pretty much every step of the way and knowing some skoolie community folks relatively near by would be wonderful.

Books! So happy to see book interest! We sell mainly out of print hardcovers, literature, history, sci-fi, fine sets, and have moved into higher-end first editions. We recently teamed up with a wonderful antiquarian book store in Portland that was not online and forced to close due to the virus so we have been making great online sales for them (way higher tier books than we've ever encountered before) and also buying books of theirs at a discount to sell for ourselves. St. Exupery's Wind Sand and Stars is a favorite of ours- we come across it from time to time and it's a nice sell. If you had any other edition/copy of it you'd be interested in I'd be happy to procure one for you and give you a great skoolie discount!

Can all the individuals I'm responding to see these responses or do I need to reply to their posts directly somehow?
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Old 04-18-2020, 05:09 PM   #12
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Also, can someone tell me where would be an appropriate place on the forums to post "How about this bus..." or "Should I buy this one.." or "About to buy this one, quick! Is it a gem or a mistake?!"
I already have one I'm curious about...
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Old 04-18-2020, 05:14 PM   #13
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General skoolie or really anywhere will do. I'm usually game for the "should I buy this bus" threads. But virtually NO ONE takes the advice we give. Its usually someone looking for purchase assurance for something they're already going to buy or bought.
But lots of good advice is freely given by great forum folks if asked.
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Old 04-18-2020, 05:18 PM   #14
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Hey, throwing out one more thing. There seem to be a good amount of busses on Facebook marketplace but I can't really see them in one place. I didn't have Facebook so started an account but they still won't let me access it (I have to be an actual, engaged member apparently... Which I'm not going to be). Does anyone know any way for me to see the bus market on there? Is it worth pursuing anyway? My mind keeps imagining there is just a bounty of beautiful shining 40 ft rust free busses there that I can't access... someone just disspell that so I don't ever have to deal with FB please.
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Old 04-18-2020, 05:32 PM   #15
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I think until the schools are open and hauling kids around there won't be as much stuff at the auctions. Nows the time to dig HARD and be patient. Don't force this. Buying the wrong bus can be life-crushing, IMO. I've went through 5 buses. Some good some not as good.
Starting out with something clean, straight, and rust free is crucial to getting it right the first time. I almost think its a requisite to travel for a good one. Also make sure you get one that's been well maintained and has a desirable engine and transmission.
I dont get too hung up on a certain style, brand, length, or that kinda stuff. A REAL nice bus is worth adapting plans around.
For $1600 on public surplus I got a real dreamy bus. rust free, all kinds of cool options. And its got 65k original miles. Alternate bus for a rural route that picked up handicap students, IIRC. As close to a new bus as I'll ever own.
The pictures of it were real shitty and the auction listing sucked. It scared the other bidders away and I stole this shorty!
not everyone will get that lucky, but if you take your time and be ready when a REAL good one presents itself you'll end up happy.
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Old 04-18-2020, 05:42 PM   #16
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I'm here to take advice. There is slim to no chance I will buy a bus that is strongly advised against by this community.
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Old 04-18-2020, 05:56 PM   #17
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If your timeline is really that tight, but your budget is less tight, keep an eye on this site's classifieds. Some good rigs go through there, though A: I wouldn't expect anything local to pop up, so B: Be ready to travel and C: they're usually at least partially converted. My rig came from this site, seats out.

I didn't do a roof raise. It is definitely a good idea and solves a lot of problems. I will say, I was pretty excited when I first started getting into this, and found myself chasing too many angles all at once... and I see a little bit of that here. What will I do with my floor, what will I do with the windows, where will the bathroom be, all before I even had a rig. That's all fine in moderation, but there are problems that can be solved simultaneously (in parallel) and then there are problems that can only be solved sequentially (in order). There's no roof raise without a bus. There's no floor without a bus. There's really no anything without a bus. Sometimes it may help to devoting your energy in one direction. Finding a good rig takes attention to detail and patience. Some advice.

Also, I didn't even have a place to park a bus at my home, so I had a step zero before even step one: getting new section of driveway paved. Something to think about for sure (where it will go), as these 30-40 footers aren't small!
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Old 04-18-2020, 06:02 PM   #18
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My #1 focus is just getting a bus. We do have a place to park it. My husband is drawing out plans, we talk about plans all the time, we needed to have some idea of what we want so as to know where to start in bus search, and I have since then done a ton of research through this site so as to guide me a bit. However, right now we are aware we just need to get the bus and then start from there one step at a time. We don't have enough money to do more than that anyway, it has to be gradual. We gave up the 2 month timeline idea once we realized we needed a lot more time to find the right bus and get started. We can work anywhere so we just need to find someplace to live once our lease ends, but if we could stay around here we do have a place to park the bus which is conveniently at our neighbor's house who is a builder and has agreed to help us work on the bus.
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Old 04-18-2020, 06:20 PM   #19
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I'm here to take advice. There is slim to no chance I will buy a bus that is strongly advised against by this community.
YOu sound very reasonable and willing to listen.
Most folks show us a rusted out Vista with 350k miles someone wants 10 grand for and get insulted when we tell them to run away.
Folks in this "hobby" or lifestyle are very independent a lot of the time. That can also mean a bit hard headed. But that's ok. No one has to take anyone's free advice here haha.
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Old 04-18-2020, 06:22 PM   #20
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We don't have enough money to do more than that anyway, it has to be gradual.
I hear ya. We first were looking at Tiny Houses (on wheels / trailers). We looked at a local company that builds them out (THNE- Tiny House North East) and the starting price for trailers of the size we were looking for were $7k new. The final price tags were $20k to $50k, which was just too much to fork over all at once.

So when I found skoolies starting as low as $2k with not only something as big as the trailer platform but with an engine attached and a roof already over my head- yeah, I was pretty enthusiastic about it. Now 3 years later I've put somewhere between those figures (~$35k) into my rig, but it has been a gradual expense rather than an all-at-once expense. Up front it just wouldn't have been possible. Also, I originally planned for 1 and a half year build... Not saying tight timelines can't be done...

Being in New England presents some challenges as well. How many skoolie videos have you seen? Notice a lot of youtuber skoolies with the bus windows still in, the original ceiling? If you want to be warm in winter, you've gotta rip up the floor, rip out the windows, and rip off the ceiling. One really clever couple I think avoided all of that by building a single room that was very well insulated- where they put the bed. That, and they had a full size wood stove and stuck with _very_ simple plumbing. But if you want a comfy bus, this is one area you can't cut corners. It just adds a lot to our baseline workloads.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mandinee1 View Post
We can work anywhere so we just need to find someplace to live once our lease ends[...]
You know what I've seen?
https://nh.craigslist.org/sub/d/land...102430671.html

Sometimes stuff like that pops up... If you keep an eye out chances are you'll find something. Hard work and research tends to be rewarded.
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