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Old 10-05-2022, 08:48 PM   #1
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Where to start?

Hi all,

This is something I have thought about doing for some time now. I have 4 kids and a wife that loves to travel to the mountains. We are based in Chicago. I have a general outline in my head if what I want this project to look like. Have a couple entry level questions and then would love some advice where to start?

1- having a large family… I am leaning going with a type C bus to maximize floor space but would like to take a separate vehicle with on trips. Is a trailer hitch a suitable option for a longer bus like a type C or I even thought a fun idea would be cut down the back third of the bus for a small vehicle to fit (would need to reinforce to support the weight and add a ramp). What’s ideal?

2- are there guides or outlines to give a somewhat handy person a sense of how begin after the bus is gutted and cleaned out?

3- is type B large enough to sleep 6? Assuming 2 sets of bunks and a Queen bed in back? Room for shower and kitchenette with that?

Thank you and I appreciate any help!!!

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Old 10-06-2022, 01:57 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Teschner View Post
3- is type B large enough to sleep 6? Assuming 2 sets of bunks and a Queen bed in back? Room for shower and kitchenette with that?

Thank you and I appreciate any help!!!

The FIRST thing to do is sit down and decide your "mission" for the bus. Weekend trips with the occasional longer trip? Two week long vacations? A month at a time? etc. And in what weather conditions? Up to the ski slopes and snow? Mountains in the summer? For how long will you have the rig (kids grow, probably best to plan for full sized "kids" even if their bed spaces are minimal bunks). Camp grounds and plug ins/water/sewer connections and public toilets/showers or "boondocking" with zero facilities? How tall are the people in your family, do you need to do a roof raise to be comfortable? Do you need air conditioning because you'll be camping in hot areas at times?

Each of these factors, and more, will determine what you need to incorporate into your build and how much space will be taken up.
ONLY after establishing a "mission" and "mission requirements" can you begin to determine what type and size rig you need to fit everything into it.



There are two of us with a 40' Rear Engine flat nose planning for full time living for 5 years or so.

With a queen bed in back, shower, toilet, bathroom sink, kitchen full size fridge (we will be full time), and an indoor living/working area, the full bus is taken up. With 6 in a bus you're going to be very tight on space even in a 40' rig.

I don't see a workable internal option for a vehicle that works for sleeping 6 unless you're okay with pulling the vehicle out to access beds....doable but a real pain for that one night stop). Towing 4 down is fine with the right vehicle. Or perhaps an electric bike or two?
If you're only doing weekend to a week trips in weather that allows you to spend most of your time outside you can probably manage in less than 40'. You will however need to minimize things like bathroom space (a 32/32 shower and using the kitchen sink to brush teeth is an example. Toss in a "composting" (YUCK) bucket type toilet that sits in the shower when not showering and you've save a lot of space. Minimal kitchen counter, small kitchen sink, small fridge, and you might be happy.


Good luck
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Old 10-06-2022, 03:30 PM   #3
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it's doable.
My first bus had a queen bed across the back and 2 sets of bunks over the wheel wells.
Bathroom with toilet and sink, no shower. (we figured at most we would be one day away from a shower either campground or a relative.) I used van seats, 2 benches with backs to the side of the bus and 2 buckets facing catty-corner forward. Dinette used 1 bus seat and 1 huge cooler/bench that could seat our kids. (ages 6, 9 and 11)
Downside of the queen across the back, climbing over each other to get out...(no queen bed in my current bus)
Lots of storage under that queen bed with access from the rear E exit and a small access hatch inside the bus.

1 final thought, another place to start is to talk to your doctor, tell him/her that you bumped your head real hard and now have this crazy urge to do a skoolie!

Good luck...keep us informed, we like knowing that their are other crazies out there.
Pics of my 1st bus are in my album. I haven't figured out how to share them.
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Old 10-06-2022, 04:39 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Teschner View Post
1- Is a trailer hitch a suitable option for a longer bus like a type C or I even thought a fun idea would be cut down the back third of the bus for a small vehicle to fit (would need to reinforce to support the weight and add a ramp). What’s ideal?
I've got a hitch on mine, but haven't used it to pull anything heavy. I've actually pulled my bus more with my Ranger than I've pulled my Ranger with the bus, to be perfectly honest with you. The most important thing I would say to look at would be how tow-able the toad actually is, and what kind of drivetrain you would need in a bus that's climbing mountains AND pulling a toad as well--plus 6 people and their possessions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Teschner View Post
2- are there guides or outlines to give a somewhat handy person a sense of how begin after the bus is gutted and cleaned out?
Not a general step-by-step yet, so far as I'm aware... Generally the kind of whacked-in-the-head types of people you find in this community are all at least half-crackpot inventors half-cocked with half an idea of what they're already wanting to do, and the rest gets figured out half-way through. The rest just kind of make it up as they go along.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Teschner View Post
3- is type B large enough to sleep 6? Assuming 2 sets of bunks and a Queen bed in back? Room for shower and kitchenette with that?
That's a tight squeeze, and I volunteered for submarine duty. If you're just going out to the woods, and going to spend all day outdoors, then you might alright with a mobile bunkhouse, but more than likely you'll run into some kind of inclement weather at some point that will have you wishing for more floor and roofline to do something else in.
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Old 10-06-2022, 04:47 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by HamSkoolie View Post
The FIRST thing to do is sit down and decide your "mission" for the bus. Weekend trips with the occasional longer trip? Two week long vacations? A month at a time? etc. And in what weather conditions? Up to the ski slopes and snow? Mountains in the summer? For how long will you have the rig (kids grow, probably best to plan for full sized "kids" even if their bed spaces are minimal bunks). Camp grounds and plug ins/water/sewer connections and public toilets/showers or "boondocking" with zero facilities? How tall are the people in your family, do you need to do a roof raise to be comfortable? Do you need air conditioning because you'll be camping in hot areas at times?

Each of these factors, and more, will determine what you need to incorporate into your build and how much space will be taken up.
ONLY after establishing a "mission" and "mission requirements" can you begin to determine what type and size rig you need to fit everything into it.



There are two of us with a 40' Rear Engine flat nose planning for full time living for 5 years or so.

With a queen bed in back, shower, toilet, bathroom sink, kitchen full size fridge (we will be full time), and an indoor living/working area, the full bus is taken up. With 6 in a bus you're going to be very tight on space even in a 40' rig.

I don't see a workable internal option for a vehicle that works for sleeping 6 unless you're okay with pulling the vehicle out to access beds....doable but a real pain for that one night stop). Towing 4 down is fine with the right vehicle. Or perhaps an electric bike or two?
If you're only doing weekend to a week trips in weather that allows you to spend most of your time outside you can probably manage in less than 40'. You will however need to minimize things like bathroom space (a 32/32 shower and using the kitchen sink to brush teeth is an example. Toss in a "composting" (YUCK) bucket type toilet that sits in the shower when not showering and you've save a lot of space. Minimal kitchen counter, small kitchen sink, small fridge, and you might be happy.


Good luck

My vision is a couple week long trips throughout the year and maybe an extended weekend a couple times. Largely a vacation vehicle. Wish list would include a shower, a bathroom with a small toilet and sink space, and a small kitchenette. I am hoping to draw up a blueprint later this weekend and get an idea of size and spacing.

Are there any good references for commonly used sizes for showers, bathrooms, beds, living spaces? I haveseen 28" for a shower and 75 inches for bed lengths... anywhere to find a comprehensive list?

I really appreciate all your insight. Looking to really gameplan and trying to find a good starting point.
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Old 10-06-2022, 04:51 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by BarnYardCamp View Post
it's doable.
My first bus had a queen bed across the back and 2 sets of bunks over the wheel wells.
Bathroom with toilet and sink, no shower. (we figured at most we would be one day away from a shower either campground or a relative.) I used van seats, 2 benches with backs to the side of the bus and 2 buckets facing catty-corner forward. Dinette used 1 bus seat and 1 huge cooler/bench that could seat our kids. (ages 6, 9 and 11)
Downside of the queen across the back, climbing over each other to get out...(no queen bed in my current bus)
Lots of storage under that queen bed with access from the rear E exit and a small access hatch inside the bus.

1 final thought, another place to start is to talk to your doctor, tell him/her that you bumped your head real hard and now have this crazy urge to do a skoolie!

Good luck...keep us informed, we like knowing that their are other crazies out there.
Pics of my 1st bus are in my album. I haven't figured out how to share them.
Thanks for this and I am glad someone has confirmed how crazy this sounds to me! I love it!

With the wheel well - is a bunk or any kind of bed the best way to utilize that space? Assuming with the hump it provides some challenges?
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Old 10-06-2022, 04:55 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Albatross View Post
I've got a hitch on mine, but haven't used it to pull anything heavy. I've actually pulled my bus more with my Ranger than I've pulled my Ranger with the bus, to be perfectly honest with you. The most important thing I would say to look at would be how tow-able the toad actually is, and what kind of drivetrain you would need in a bus that's climbing mountains AND pulling a toad as well--plus 6 people and their possessions.



Not a general step-by-step yet, so far as I'm aware... Generally the kind of whacked-in-the-head types of people you find in this community are all at least half-crackpot inventors half-cocked with half an idea of what they're already wanting to do, and the rest gets figured out half-way through. The rest just kind of make it up as they go along.



That's a tight squeeze, and I volunteered for submarine duty. If you're just going out to the woods, and going to spend all day outdoors, then you might alright with a mobile bunkhouse, but more than likely you'll run into some kind of inclement weather at some point that will have you wishing for more floor and roofline to do something else in.

Type B buses are pretty manuevable right? If you are wanting to go up mountains or at the very least get from park to park or even in out of restaurants and such? If thats the case, would need a car pulled along with it.

Re the tight squeeze... thats what I was afraid of. Love my kids but a rainy day and it would be a nightmare! I'll going to dig through the pictures and floorplans.

Thanks again for your insight!
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Old 10-06-2022, 05:29 PM   #8
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Something else to consider, some camp grounds and possibly some national parks are not able to accommodate large campers. I own a small camp ground and have turned away customers that had huge 5th wheels. If a Skoolie.net person shows up with a 84 passenger bus, I'll do what I can..provided they can back the thing up.
So I think HamSkoolie has it right...first thing, figure out the "mission of the bus"
If it's a camper/vacation adventure thing, do you really need all the comforts of home?
Reference your question about the wheel wells. Building the bunks over them was the best solution for me. Others have built storage over them.
With bunks over them, the wheel well challenge pretty much gets settled.
And you get a little more storage space.
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Old 10-06-2022, 11:43 PM   #9
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also think about how comfortable driving you want to be.. many school busses have no A/C for the road.. if thats something you want its much easier to hold out and find a bus with it vs adding it.. your layout should also include how yoiu plan to heat / cool your bus while camping.. if always at a campground then a couple rooftop A/C's running off of an RV power outlet work fine and you dont need solar.. but want to park and run A/C without a generator and be off grid? then you need lots of solar and Big battery banks to do it.. again not as much needed if you plan to generator..



tanks are another thought.. being able to shower regularly and without fancy systems that filter your dirty water and recycle it.. you'll need quite a bit of water capacity.. (or not so miuch if you plan to campground where you can fill up often)...


lhamskoolie has it right, build most for your use-case and really set out and plot out your most likely use-cases as far as how you plan to camp and how far away from society you plan to camp.. ie do you need to last 2 days, 3 days or a week without getting water, dumping tanks, refueling, etc as that will greatly affect how you design your bus.. your toilet type also affects your unbder-bus design.. (regular RV toilet with holding tank).. or a Cat-box (affectionately named COmpost type here).. style which you dont use a tank..
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Old 10-07-2022, 03:07 AM   #10
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I agree with all said in the posts to your question. In my case I am on my second skoolie, a 40 foot Crown with tandem axles. With my size bus I have good amounts of space for two people. With some modifications my floor plan would accommodate six people.

Given you have determined some of the parameters for using your bus the next step is drawing up a list of detailed requirements for the completed project. I posted my requirements list under the thread "The conversion of my 86 Crown Supercoach".

Another concern is your mechanical and fabrication abilities. Can you repair a broken bus? I experienced a major failure before I got very far into my project, a spun main bearing in the engine. I ended up replacing the engine.

Because I am converting a Crown, certain constraints in layout are required due to its being mid engine.

Some of the characteristics of my floor plan are a small kitchen, a small bathroom, and a small bedroom. The front room is the largest space.

My personal preference is a flat nose type bus where the driver's position is forward of the front wheels (as well as the front door)
I would read through some of the posts to understand which vintage and brand of bus to avoid. Some buses have weak transmissions, some have problematic engines. Also read up on where not to buy a bus from geographically. (like the "rust belt")
Not at all to discourage you, consider if a already manufactured motor home could be better for you and your family. I bought my current project bus (the "new Crown") in 2019 and am still working on it. It isn't yet ready for a trip yet still.
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Old 10-07-2022, 05:14 PM   #11
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Also read up on where not to buy a bus from geographically. (like the "rust belt")

ARRRRGH IT'S THE SALT BELT TO AVOID


The "rust belt" refers to the industrial infrastructure deterioration (thus the rust belt) in the north and northeast.


The "salt belt" refers to a large area where massive quantities of corrosive salt are used on winter roads and which cause serious rust on vehicles.


While the two overlap, they are not the same.
And it's a pet peeve that people use the term rust belt when they mean salt belt.
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Old 10-12-2022, 07:05 PM   #12
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Where to start?

You said vacation in mountains from Chicago. I thought of this recent thread.


Steep grade and mountain pass directory
https://r.tapatalk.com/shareLink/top...ink_source=app



Good luck.
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Old 10-15-2022, 06:26 AM   #13
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Rooftop Deck heat sheild

I didn't find any posts discussing this, so I guess I'll start. It would seem to me that a deck over the roof would help reduce the radiant heat reaching the rooftop, but I have no idea how beneficial that is. I would also think awnings on both sides would reduce the solar impact on the windows and walls. Does anyone have a way to quantify the value of either?
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Old 10-15-2022, 07:35 AM   #14
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My answer to Buster Crawdad....
Depending upon the intended use of your bus, other factors would need to be included in the equation.

Most buses are already under powered and have the aerodynamics of a barn, almost anything added to the roof will created additional drag. And the weight needs to be considered as well. Both will impact your fuel mileage thus increasing the cost of operation. Of course, if your bus is going to be stationary, none of this matters.

So, I'm not sure how you would come up with these values unless someone has before and after records of fuel consumption.
My bus is intended to be used for travel, vacations, not full time. When I drove my bus home I got an estimated 10mpg. If I drive 500 miles I'll use 50 gallons, $250 @ $5/gal
Once I get to my destination and plug into shore power maybe my electric over the course of a weekend will cost $10 (yes I'm guessing here) If I have a rooftop shade mechanism and awnings, the most I could save would be $10.
If the added weight and drag impacts my fuel consumption and I only get 9 mpg, my fuel cost for the same 500 mile trip just increased by $27.77.

If you haven't already done so, step 1 is to determine how you will use your bus. The answer to that question provides the basis for almost all other considerations.

While solar panels and high tech gadgets are really cool, they may not pass the cost/benefit analysis...which circles back to the intended use of the bus.
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Old 10-15-2022, 09:46 AM   #15
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My answer to Buster Crawdad....
Depending upon the intended use of your bus, other factors would need to be included in the equation.

Most buses are already under powered and have the aerodynamics of a barn, almost anything added to the roof will created additional drag. And the weight needs to be considered as well. Both will impact your fuel mileage thus increasing the cost of operation. Of course, if your bus is going to be stationary, none of this matters.

So, I'm not sure how you would come up with these values unless someone has before and after records of fuel consumption.
My bus is intended to be used for travel, vacations, not full time. When I drove my bus home I got an estimated 10mpg. If I drive 500 miles I'll use 50 gallons, $250 @ $5/gal
Once I get to my destination and plug into shore power maybe my electric over the course of a weekend will cost $10 (yes I'm guessing here) If I have a rooftop shade mechanism and awnings, the most I could save would be $10.
If the added weight and drag impacts my fuel consumption and I only get 9 mpg, my fuel cost for the same 500 mile trip just increased by $27.77.

If you haven't already done so, step 1 is to determine how you will use your bus. The answer to that question provides the basis for almost all other considerations.

While solar panels and high tech gadgets are really cool, they may not pass the cost/benefit analysis...which circles back to the intended use of the bus.
Thanks for the reply. I wasn't thinking about mileage and I'm sure the added wind drag would factor in on that, but I was thinking in terms of cooling energy possibly saved by having an effective canopy cover and awnings, to block direct sunlight where there is no natural canopy.
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Old 10-16-2022, 12:24 AM   #16
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Welcome. Everyone covered more than I know. All I could say is watch youtube for layouts or maybe take in a rv/camper show and look at the ones with no slides to get an idea of size wise. But by residential or build your own,don't buy any the rv stuff short of windows to use.
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Old 10-16-2022, 07:14 AM   #17
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Solar heat reduction

Thank you Miles and others, but I essentially was wondering about the cooling effect of shade; such that if my bus needs a 50K BTU DoE cooling system to stay comfortable in direct sunlight, with all windows un-shaded at 95F, what would it need if just the roof were shaded, or the sides and roof under canopy, be it natural or a deck with pull-out side awnings?



My bus is a 30' overall handicapped unit from the LA (CA) School District, with a total of 8 windows on the driver's side (including driver side and emergency exit) and a total of 6 windows on the passenger side (including wheelchair door window) and, of course, the main door windows. Of these 14 heat holes, 4 have been completely deleted with 1" foam & steel. In 5 of the remaining slider windows, the lower half glass has been removed and replaced with 1/4" Luan, 3mm foam underlayment (compromise to allow window opening) and 16 ga steel on the outside. When the sun shines on the steel outside, I can feel the warmth on the wood inside, which is no surprise. I suppose I could get a new IR gun and run some tests with and without EZ up along the side, but that doesn't get me to the BTU requirement directly.


I also have plans to make some "snap-in" foam/steel panels that will be removable as desired for visibility and ventilation.


I guess I didn't communicate my question well. Fuel Mileage is only something to worry about when in transit, and that's important, but creature comfort when stationary is of more concern to me. I'm thinking down in Bayou country where natural canopy is abundant, Deck & awnings wouldn't buy me much in temperature reduction, unless out in the open. But maybe up in the prairies in Montana, where it's all sky, all the time, it would buy a lot. But still, no idea how to quantify the benefit.



Thanks again, BC
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Old 10-17-2022, 12:46 AM   #18
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A few observations that might help -

On an 80 degree day with no clouds, I find I need to run my car's air conditioner on max to stay comfortable, especially if the sun is shining directly on me. On an 80 degree overcast day, I may not run it at all.

There was a thread on this site about a guy who repairs bikes at Burning Man. I recall that he found a noticeable improvement in comfort putting an awning about a foot higher than the van, open to allow airflow.

Since you're in the contruction phase, you can bolt hinged poles to the roof. The bus's roof curvature would work for this as a pole mounted here would stick out from the bus at a 30-45 degree angle. A 2 foot pole would probably give 9 to 12 inches of height over the top of the roof, but you might need shorter poles down the middle of the roof. These poles can be locked into place with a friction clamp for driving, and when hinged up a pin can hold them open, and you can attach tarps to the poles. If painted to match the roof, nobody would see them unless they were really looking. Cheap, easy to set up, effective shade for the top of your bus. Doesn't have to be cheap though, as once you have the poles in place and can take measurements you can also have an upholstery shop make a custom fit tarp to run across. This would give you an airgap with 360 degree airflow, and it would overlap any side awnings you wanted to put on. I would also put a hook on that would allow you to tie the tarp to the hooks, either on the poles or on the bus itself.
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Old 10-17-2022, 06:01 AM   #19
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The temperature effect of direct sunlight is enormous. When my bus is sitting out in the sun on a 95°F day, the roof outside (which is painted white) usually measures about 135°F. AC will have a much easier time battling a 25°F temperature gradient than a 65°F gradient. A canopy (or parking in the shade) would be well worth the effort.
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Old 10-17-2022, 07:29 AM   #20
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On page 4 of the build thread for "operation prison reform" there is a picture of the roof. That bus was built with a double roof, presumably as a means to keep the interior temps down. Although I would question the effectiveness of it being it looks like there was only an air gap of a few inches. But, it may inspire some creative thinking on your part.
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