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Old 06-20-2020, 01:21 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2020
Location: Evansville, Indiana USA
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The beginning of a long ride...

Hey folks, I'm Tim, I'm from southern Indiana where I own a coffee roasting company, play music, build stuff, and fix most of the things I break. My wife and I are just beginning this Skoolie journey. I've wanted to have some type of road-ready home for a while, for shorter jaunts. But now my wife (gawd, I love her) is totally on-board with the idea and wants to go full-blown, off-grid, rolling home that we can live in, now that the kids are adults and I'll be retiring in a few years.

So, yeah, I'm very new to all of this. I have a thousand questions. I get sort of obsessive and analytical about whatever has my current interest. I'll buy all the books, watch al the videos, and listen to you kind people and learn.

We went and looked at some busses yesterday (with friends who are also looking to do the same) to get a feel for what we want. I'm not too concerned about budget at this point, as the cost is manageable, we already have tools (oh, so many tools) and we've done a few small build projects, including building a cottage/studio, a motorcycle garage, and refurbed a framed-in barn into a recording studio.

I've framed our needs this way: We need a bus that we can park on our property, which means backing down a 300' gravel drive from a 20' wide road. It looks like my longest wheelbase will be around 218" to make this work. That sets our upper limit. Next, we need to develop a floorplan that will include what we think is absolutely essential. That will give us our lower limit. I'm aiming for a 7-10 window bus, if the wheelbase is short enough, but I know so little at this point. That's my intro, thanks!
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Old 06-20-2020, 01:30 PM   #2
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Welcome!

I remember some really cool state parks in southern Indiana during my travels...

So with an 18' wheelbase that's a good size bus. I highly recommend a backup camera -- they saved my life in Kuwait City!

Will you have a bean roaster on board?! I'm not the only one who will want to know...
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Old 06-20-2020, 01:36 PM   #3
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2020
Location: Evansville, Indiana USA
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Chassis: All American RE
Engine: Cummins 3126
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So with an 18' wheelbase that's a good size bus. I highly recommend a backup camera
If we're going to live in this thing, we need some space, but it will also need to be maneuverable. A backup camera is essential just to get down our driveway!!! It's not straight, it's very wooded, and there is a bridge we'll have to cross while angling towards the parking area.
Will you have a bean roaster on board?
It's highly likely!! My smallest roaster is one I can lift. I'd love to have the full setup, including the espresso machine, but there will be compromises.
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Old 06-20-2020, 01:42 PM   #4
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Love that you'll be roasting coffee on-board!

Any possibility that you can do a turn-around (even if it's on grass) near the parking area instead of backing over a bridge and through the woods?
(sounds like you won't come home at night to park!)
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Old 06-20-2020, 01:58 PM   #5
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by banman View Post
Any possibility that you can do a turn-around (even if it's on grass) near the parking area instead of backing over a bridge and through the woods?
It's possible, as I've only done some simple models of the access and various wheelbase dimensions, but I don't think so. With the 218" I would have to start on the right side of the road, pull a few feet into a driveway diagonally across from mine, and then back down the driveway. It's actually far less complicated than trying to pull in and then turn around. Beyond the driveway we have land, but not "this will support the weight of a bus" land. I've gotten my pick-up and garden tractor stuck during the wet season.
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Old 06-20-2020, 05:52 PM   #6
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someone else should address this....but, I think you may find that flat nosed buses have better turning radius's....that's why you see so many in urban areas.
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Old 06-20-2020, 06:06 PM   #7
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BarnYardCamp View Post
someone else should address this....but, I think you may find that flat nosed buses have better turning radius's....that's why you see so many in urban areas.
I did read that. Two considerations: I'm not familiar with any flat nose bus configurations that are 7-10 window, at least I have not seen any yet. Second, it's the tightness of the turning radius is determined by the distance between the front wheels and back wheels. I go from pavement to ditch on both sides of my driveway, on both sides of the road, and both sides of the driveway that is across from my property. The two driveways are 10' wide each, and the road is 20' wide. Because the edge of the driveway across the street begins where the edge of mine ends, there is just enough offset to make a maneuver that has me swinging a few feet into their driveway and then backing (or driving) down mine.
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Old 06-20-2020, 06:13 PM   #8
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Welcome CoffeeGuy! I too am in southern Indiana and
also starting my bus Journey. I found a few buses just not pulled the trigger yet. I have found a few flat nose short wheelbase buses. send me a private message and I'll send you some links
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Old 06-20-2020, 06:48 PM   #9
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Welcome COFFEEGUY- I've got a 37 foot FE Blue Bird, 18 foot wheel base. My driveway is just a tad under 37 feet long by 18 feet wide. The turning radius made it possible to park sideways in my driveway with a little bit of maneuvering. RE's are more desirable but also have longer wheel bases.Conventional are the down fall when it comes to turning radius.if you're looking for maximum space stick to RE or FE. Once you get the bus of your liking you will find ALL the info you need here on anything you don't know.
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Old 06-20-2020, 11:02 PM   #10
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimburke77502 View Post
Welcome COFFEEGUY- I've got a 37 foot FE Blue Bird, 18 foot wheel base.
Do you need a CDL for your Blue Bird FE?

I've been trying to find the GVRW on the 141 / 169 wheelbase Blue Bird FE All Americans, but all I can find listed is "up to 36,000+" which covers the largest All Americans, but doesn't indicate the weight on the smallest models. I would really like to know if they're under the limit for non-CDL. I don't mind getting a class C CDL, but it's something I'd like to be able to plan for.
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Old 06-20-2020, 11:03 PM   #11
Mini-Skoolie
 
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oh, and thank you!

I appreciate the welcome and all of the great feedback, folks! I'm sort of digging myself into the rabbit hole and forgetting to be courteous. So in case I missed it, THANK YOU! THANK YOU!
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Old 06-21-2020, 12:46 AM   #12
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My concern would be the weight limit of the bridge. Based on the description of your road/drive/neighbor drive setup, I do not think you would have any problem getting most any skoollie down your driveway. Like Banman said, a backup camera would serve you well for this.
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Old 06-21-2020, 12:59 AM   #13
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Engine: Cummins 3126
Rated Cap: 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by Native View Post
My concern would be the weight limit of the bridge. Based on the description of your road/drive/neighbor drive setup, I do not think you would have any problem getting most any skoollie down your driveway.
Bridge should not be a problem, it's a 3'x5' squash pipe + a 24" pipe encased in stone and concrete. I've had a mid-size dump truck loaded with gravel on it with zero issues.

I am not confident a longer wheelbase would work. Sure, the road is 240" wide, but there's nothing past the pavement to keep the wheels from sliding into a ditch so I need to be absolutely certain. Turning a 254" wheelbase (for instance) perpendicular without hitting trees or sliding into ditches seems improbable, but I'm happy to have any bus owners come by and prove me wrong.
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Old 06-21-2020, 06:52 AM   #14
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Coachwork: 1991 bluebird
LOL!!! I'm not saying that I didn't drive on the grass at all. I laid 3/4 plywood for where I did. My only reason for parking it sideways was to satisfy code enforcement because of blocking the sidewalk. The code enforcement issue is a whole other story. On your CDL question, more than likely you won't need to get one. Although you will have to check your state to make sure. If it's going to be classified as a motorhome than more than likely you won't need the CDL. At most, maybe an airbrake certification. Motorhomes fall under the personal vehicle area. Because you're doing a conversion, the big issue is getting it registered as a motorhome and not a school bus. Vermont has made that REALLY easy. Like what seems to be just about everyone here, I did my registration through Vermont. Everything included it came to a whopping 190.00.
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Old 06-21-2020, 08:27 AM   #15
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Maybe a load of bentonite would be cheaper and easier to harden a turn-around spot... (you said wet season was the issue...)

Post some pics of your proposed parking area to give a better idea of the limitations.
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Old 06-27-2020, 04:05 PM   #16
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We live in Decatur Indiana if you want to come up and check out our bus. Bluebird 24 feet we have put 40,000 miles on Gus since we started 3 years ago.
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Old 06-27-2020, 04:22 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CoffeeGuy View Post
Do you need a CDL for your Blue Bird FE?

I've been trying to find the GVRW on the 141 / 169 wheelbase Blue Bird FE All Americans, but all I can find listed is "up to 36,000+" which covers the largest All Americans, but doesn't indicate the weight on the smallest models. I would really like to know if they're under the limit for non-CDL. I don't mind getting a class C CDL, but it's something I'd like to be able to plan for.
There are FE buses that are shorter. I was looking at a couple. I've posted a link to one so you can see it. I got to the dealer a day after they sold the one I was interested in. The one pictured in this ad is exactly the same configuration. If you look at the pictures you'll see the GVWR is 30,000 lb.

Being that I'm a coffee kind-a-sewer, I'd be interested to try something you roast.

In a week or so I expect to start work on my own bus. I intend to be on the road this fall (leaving NJ) even if it's in an empty bus with a sleeping bag - but I'll have my stuff for making coffee.

https://charlottesville.craigslist.o...144538275.html
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Old 06-27-2020, 06:01 PM   #18
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Location: St Petersburg FL
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We have a flat nose 10 window. 2003 bluebird tc2000 FE.
This is short wheel base, very tight turning radius. We were surprised how easy she handles. This gives you an overall length of 30ft, so it's easier to find parking because if you catch find 2 places nose to nose, you can pull though.
The buildable living space is 23 feet. It was a little challenging when we were working on our floor plan, but we are about 30% into our build and she's looking good!
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Old 06-27-2020, 07:49 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Oldyeller View Post
If it truely is air ride
That is a good deal 03/2003 production date.
Unless it has a 545
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Old 06-27-2020, 11:58 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Seriousracer View Post
If it truely is air ride
That is a good deal 03/2003 production date.
Unless it has a 545
Build labels indicate that it has the 2000 trans.
Says it's a C7 in the listing but with production date of 03/03 I think could be 3126
If it's a 3126 and not a 545 its starting to look like a better deal
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