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Old 01-24-2021, 11:52 PM   #1
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RV for 8

Hi. We're a family of 8. We are thinking about covering a bus to use as an RV. Our timeframe is to buy in 2022. In the meantime we are researching busses and finishing projects around our home.

Since we are looking to build an RV we were wondering if we could get away with a phased build.

We would start with demolishing seats, and painting the exterior. At that point couldn't we take it on the road as a big empty tent and stay in campgrounds?

Then we could keep continuously improving it and camping with it until it is the roof raised camping palace of our dreams.

Has this been done?
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Old 01-25-2021, 12:57 AM   #2
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In phases

Mine is set to haul up to 11. Toilet, sink, and refrigerator inside. Tents, sleeping on out side and inside. Some times we stay in motels some sleeping in the bus some sleeping inside. We use more as equipment/ people carrier. And work around needs/ wants.

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Old 01-25-2021, 05:09 PM   #3
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You know, it's funny you say that.

We've got a similar thing going now. We're hauling some large tents in a pop up we gutted and converted to a tailgate. So we sleep in the tents and but we have an air conditioned space in the tailgate.

It's really awesome once it's set up in good weather. Unfortunately it takes a lot of labor to set up and tear down. And if you put it away wet you have to do it all again in shifts at home to get everything dry.

I have cast many longing looks towards motorhomes because it looks very grab-n-go and a lot less rain sensitive.

But after watching some crazy youtubers gut and repair an old one I'm pretty unimpressed with what you get for your money with the big rigs.

I'm pretty set on wanting to sleep everyone inside an air conditioned shell and push more living, cooking, etc. to the outside.

We'd like to think that with a roof raise we could put a front loft bed in and then be able to pack 4 bunks and double in back with a tiny kitchen and bathroom all into a 35' bus. That's the dream anyway.
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Old 01-25-2021, 06:07 PM   #4
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Traveling with your kids in the back of a motorhome or diy school bus is just not safe for them. My dad was a teacher and our family of 7 spent every summer traveling all over the country in a 1970 suburban with a smallish trailer. Two of us sleep in the suburban.
You can get 3rd row seats now to fit 8. And good sized bumper pull trailers.
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Old 01-25-2021, 11:29 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darrint View Post
I'm pretty set on wanting to sleep everyone inside an air conditioned shell and push more living, cooking, etc. to the outside.
I've posted it here before, in some long forgotten thread, but here somewhere.

Converted School Bus Camper

I like his outdoor kitchen setup. Great use of space, easy to setup.
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Old 01-26-2021, 02:46 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by BeNimble View Post
Traveling with your kids in the back of a motorhome or diy school bus is just not safe for them.....
BeNimble,
Will you elaborate for so we might better understand how/why it is unsafe for kids. Some ideas on how kid safety be improved upon? Many of us have choosen the skoolie conversion as a safer alternative to conventional rvs and baby goat haulers.
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Old 01-26-2021, 02:26 PM   #7
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You, (OP), can go as far as you want in converting a bus to camper.
The only stumbling block might come at your DMV and insurance agency.

Most states require several RV accessories to be installed inside before changing title designation to motorhome.
Until/unless you satisfy those requirements, you might have issues getting it on the road as cost effectively as you could.

Good luck, and post pics if you go ahead with a project...
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Old 01-26-2021, 04:06 PM   #8
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Before you buy, you could:
Spend time with your tools and build the required items beforehand. Some of it you already have.

A cheap vanity with a sink.
Catch bucket inside.
Fresh water and pump next to it.
A composting toilet.
A futon, bunk bed or matress
A portable generator.
A camping propane cooktop.

Doesn't have to be pretty. Just build a prefab, pass-the-inspection, kit.

So many things can be done before you even find your bus. Depending on your local requirements, you could bring most 'required' items along when you pick it up from the auction and go directly to the inspection, insurance, dmv then go home as an rv. No worries on parking, insurance, registration, licensing.

Bring your tow rig along with all the specific camp gear inside and presto-chango....you've upgraded. Disabling the seat cushion bottoms is fast, whole bus five minutes, less.
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Old 01-27-2021, 03:28 PM   #9
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Hmmm. I'm also looking at the class B licensing. We're in Indiana so I expect we're on the lenient end of the spectrum.

Thanks for the helpful replies!
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Old 01-30-2021, 07:05 PM   #10
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Hmmm. I'm also looking at the class B licensing. We're in Indiana so I expect we're on the lenient end of the spectrum.

Thanks for the helpful replies!
Class b in Indiana?? Why?
Did I miss something in this thread
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Old 01-30-2021, 10:14 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DeMac View Post
BeNimble,
Will you elaborate for so we might better understand how/why it is unsafe for kids. Some ideas on how kid safety be improved upon? Many of us have choosen the skoolie conversion as a safer alternative to conventional rvs and baby goat haulers.
Being unsecured in an accident is unsafe. Like putting kids in the back of a pickup truck, not sure when that was made illegal in the usa.

It can be safe for kids if they have secured car seats with seat belts in the motorhome. Given a school bus is a custom built motorhome, it could be designed that way, but not that I've seen or noticed any.
Same with RV motorhomes, they only have a second passenger seat, which most skoolies don't seem to have even that as a school bus only has a drivers seat. There are some on this forum with a co-driver seat like a motorhome.
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Old 01-31-2021, 12:46 AM   #12
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Safety is a spectrum so pick a spot on the safety spectrum that you’re comfortable with. If you don’t have seatbelts then try helmets, if you don’t want helmets then maybe padded walls. Wearing life jackets in case you crash into water might be a life saver too!! You could also drive slower. But if you put your kids in seatbelts, helmets and life jackets and install padded walls then you’re laughing. Rigging up your own air bag system might be redundant if the walls are padded thoroughly. I don’t know how often stray bullets hit passing vehicles or how often bullets intended for your vehicle come flying but you might consider adding some side armour and bullet proof glass. Problem there is if you crash into a lake you might sink faster.
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Old 01-31-2021, 02:22 AM   #13
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Safest child transport:
Mommy's womb & school buses. Both kid tested & mom approved.

BNmbl, mothers don't need, a boy to tell us how to keep our babies safe. We got this.
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Old 01-31-2021, 09:01 AM   #14
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Our experience is that it is very hard to put / keep kids secured in their seat while they have a a place to walk or lay in a bed while driving.. in a vehicle like a car or a suburban there is no option so it's is easier to apply the rules...
Most RV' s do not have seatbelts besides the driver and that implies that what is so great about it that you are not confined in your seat but are really a home while travelling..
Similar trains and air planes do not require seatbelt besides take of / landing.

Haven broken the rules and common sense myself many..many..many times it seems that if you have kids and safety belts are important to you that it is easiest to comply to have a small van based bus with 8 seats and a caravan trailer behind..

I disturbingly know that when I flipped my van bus on black ice at 40 mph that the scenario as well personal as legally would have been very different if our kids would have been with me. Our dog and I were relatively ok but even now the thought of having a kid in that chaos would have been very upsetting.

Safe as has been said earlier is very ..very relative..

Most people here are traveling single or with two people...before or after kids...and have no problem traveling at 70 mph.
A truck / van with airbags and a 5th wheel is much easier for kids to keep complied with safety rules.

The concept that buses are safer is very skewed...
There speed is lower... Many laws protecting them from stupidity of other drivers...yellow color and lights...
In our cases... Speed is higher.. no laws protecting them.. no seatbelts that are actually used because that defies the whole purpose of an RV.. drivers not well trained to drive a rig like this and not mentally prepared with the precious cargo they have on board.
Yes they are studier but at 70 mph they are just a coffin on wheels.

My 0.02 cents

Johan
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Old 01-31-2021, 09:08 AM   #15
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Coachwork: 1. Corbeil & 2. Thomas
Chassis: 1 ford e350 2 mercedes
Engine: 7.3 powerstroke & MBE906
Our experience is that it is very hard to put / keep kids secured in their seat while they have a a place to walk or lay in a bed while driving.. in a vehicle like a car or a suburban there is no option so it's is easier to apply the rules...
Most RV' s do not have seatbelts besides the driver and that implies that what is so great about it that you are not confined in your seat but are really a home while travelling..
Similar trains and air planes do not require seatbelt besides take of / landing.

Haven broken the rules and common sense myself many..many..many times it seems that if you have kids and safety belts are important to you that it is easiest to comply to have a small van based bus with 8 seats and a caravan trailer behind..

I disturbingly know that when I flipped my van bus on black ice at 40 mph that the scenario as well personal as legally would have been very different if our kids would have been with me. Our dog and I were relatively ok but even now the thought of having a kid in that chaos would have been very upsetting.

Safe as has been said earlier is very ..very relative..

Most people here are traveling single or with two people...before or after kids...and have no problem traveling at 70 mph.
A truck / van with airbags and a 5th wheel is much easier for kids to keep complied with safety rules.

The concept that buses are safer is very skewed...
There speed is lower... Many laws protecting them from stupidity of other drivers...yellow color and lights...
In our cases... Speed is higher.. no laws protecting them.. no seatbelts that are actually used because that defies the whole purpose of an RV.. drivers not well trained to drive a rig like this and not mentally prepared with the precious cargo they have on board.
Yes they are studier but at 70 mph they are just a coffin on wheels.

My 0.02 cents

Johan
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Old 01-31-2021, 01:56 PM   #16
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This thread seems to be getting off track, but hey.... So i've got a family of 8 and we started 3 years ago with our conversion of an 8 window international. We did sort of build in phases, but i'd say didn't get much functionality until we actually had seats and beds inside. (I think driving without seats is probably beyond my personal threshhold of both fun and safe). In any case, we built a U shaped area of 3 bunks in the rear (to sleep 6 kids), and then 2 opposing couches towards the front, where we sit while driving and where mom/dad sleep at night. The bottom bunks fold up to reveal storage underneath, but in practicality, this is not as functional, and we end up sliding things underneath from the aisle as we left this open. I also built it so that one top bunk folds down, and the bunk underneath can be used for seating extra people. (On the safety note; we saved the seat belts from the old bus and bolted them into the couch so that we have 8 seat belts between 2 couches, and yes we use infant car seats, and yes the kids stay belted while riding down the road; come-on folks, its a skoolie but we're not all irresponsible drugged-out hippies). Back to the couches...The couches pull out to make a large bed, but we've learned its more functional to keep an aisle and we just sleep with them as-is. In the middle of the bus we have an apartment size fridge (11 cusqft i think), which runs on AC power --and runs full time from in inverter from the solar bank (yes we have 2 large 220 watt solar panels on the roof). We also have a transfer switch built in so that we can power the fridge off of shore power when pulled into the campground. Also in the mid-section of the bus is a small counter with deep sink, plumbed, with water inlet to attach city water when parked, with small bosch water heater, and outlet to grey water tank underneath the bus. No bathroom; we just use a custom mobile compost toilet (haha, bucket with sawdust; works amazingly well actually!) for nightime and emergencies, and use campground bathhouse otherwise. Only remaining free space between the fridge and bunks is a small storage area--can fit a pack-n-play at night for the baby, but otherwise houses storage totes of food, duffels, guitar, whatever. We did have a space allotted for a cooking area with one of those coleman camper oven/range combo's, but yeah, you're camping and you do all that stuff outside the bus. We have a standard extendable awning that we mounted to the roof just above the windows on passenger side and that gives us good shade/light rain protection. Overall, its been a great journey to construct this thing, and at this point we are at a really great functional level. Just added curtain rods to fully close off the windows for privacy (had been doing the jerry-rigged sheets option) and its starting to really feel finished. Looking back, if I had a flat nose 8 window instead of dog nose 8, I'd have gained about 6 feet of space, and boy that'd be awesome, but we've made it work. Didn't want the really long bus from the start to preserve maneuverability. Also, We're all short, so even with added flooring insulation, etc, we have plenty of head room at 6'2" floor to ceiling. A quick note on budget, we purchased the old bus for 2.5K, then put another 11K-ish into it, plus a major repair of 4K (injectors! yikes) we're about 15K into the project. Last thing was I knew nothing about good/bad transmissions when I bought my bus; this forum is quick to point out the AT 545 as 'not as great' for long highway distances or hills and I'll confirm (we overheated on a climb in eastern georgia), so if I was doing it again I'd go for one of the other tranny's if the option was there. I forget the numbers now, but the Allison tran that starts with an M, i think? or other ones. You can add transmission coolers and aux radiator fans to remedy some of these concerns though. That being said, depending on your usage (and frankly for ours, going to the lake for long weekends or to friends in the countryside w/in 1-3hrs away and on typical eastern seaboard/southern roads) its been great!
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Old 01-31-2021, 09:03 PM   #17
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Sorry to drift the thread further, -Capt, could you post pics of the bunk bed that converts to a couch for seating? I'd like to build something similar in my build, and haven't seen too many like that
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Old 02-01-2021, 02:19 PM   #18
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Lol skoontz no worries. Here ya go
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