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Old 05-19-2019, 06:20 PM   #21
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How long have you been in business or are you just getting started.
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Old 05-19-2019, 06:36 PM   #22
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Old 05-19-2019, 07:00 PM   #23
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38 years I started with a electro-mechanical engineering degree. Started converting OTR buses. I have converted over 200 buses to-date. We also build tiny houses on bus chassis. I own bus conversion park in Frenchtown MT.
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Old 05-19-2019, 07:54 PM   #24
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38 years I started with a electro-mechanical engineering degree. Started converting OTR buses. I have converted over 200 buses to-date. We also build tiny houses on bus chassis. I own bus conversion park in Frenchtown MT.
Dang you've converted 70 since you launched your site?
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Old 05-19-2019, 07:56 PM   #25
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We should be asking you where to get shells
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Old 05-20-2019, 03:14 PM   #26
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I have a few different thoughts on this but let me start by offering the resource which you are seeking. Check out www.wesellschoolbuses.com aka BGA in Tampa which offers Southern buses in whatever stage of conversion you desire. Now, here's the part you may not like... they are going to charge you for all that prep work and paying for stuff is not in the skoolie lexicon. Their website is very straightforward and simple cafeteria style so if you decide what needs done that you're not wanting to do yourself then go shopping, you're going to find out that you'll be paying them more money for the prep work than the purchase price of the bus alone AND you'll already have more money in it than anyone is going to be willing to pay and that's BEFORE you've even done your value-added service. But that's the best resource I can offer you for what you requested.

I know where you're coming from on several fronts. I've had the same idea about a 'bus prepping' company but I couldn't make the math add up to make it a viable business model geared towards financial success. I've outlined a 6-stage menu of conversion-ready preparations but it all comes down to the reality that people who want to do these types of conversions want to do it for themselves and on a budget so paying someone else to do it is anathema. I even designed a DIY roof raise kit but until I build one for demonstrations no one's going to buy it. So that's the two-strike bad news.

I would also suggest that just getting a clean Southern bus already gutted is a smaller part of the equation than what is the right bus for the potential customer. Do they want to count mileposts in every state or setup a primitive off-the-grid lakeside retreat? Do they want to take the entire family and pets on vacation or are they looking for an empty-nesters mobile home? Towing a car or boat or racing trailer? What's their state going to require in order to re-title the vehicle as an RV? The variables are numerous and that makes finding the right bus for them the first challenge, then comes the gutting and prep work.

I don't want to seem like I'm being a downer on your idea but I'm offering some of my past experience in the hopes that it may help you decide if you're on the right path with your biz idea. As far as I have been able to surmise there's no one out there doing skoolie builds-to-order on any large scale that could be called a actual custom skoolie business although there are a number of members here who have the experience and skillsets to do a heckuva nice build for the right price. It's just important to remember that this is a niche market and is notoriously thrifty, frugal, and creative whereas the type of people who are in the market for a finished RV product they can just drive aware are simply going to go to an RV dealership.
Thanks so very much for your input, and just to let you know, since I wrote the first paragraph, asking for information, well, my husband and I have been doing nothing but research about Skoolies and every other type of vehicle which warrants itself to a conversion of some sort. We agree with everything you are saying and you have certainly covered many aspects which we did not know about last week. We are in Boston, so we're thinking that vehicles from the south will be better because of the rust issue. We also know that labor in the south may be less expensive than the Boston area which is very high. We have a large workshop with every conceivable tool and machine you can imagine. My husband also draws everything in 3D so is a wonder at creating spaces which can be virtually walked through and he also designs and invents space saving furniture and things to fit in small spaces as well as complete fit-outs for small spaces. We have a passion for recycling and this is why we loved the skoolie concept. Perhaps we should concentrate on clients who would normally go and buy an RV who have money to spend and who do not want to live in it full time, but rather grandparents who want to take their grandkids on comfortable amazing trips for weeks at a time and want to show the youngsters how great it is to reuse materials for a better, greener footprint, rather than using all new materials. Just a thought. Here in our shop, we make furniture primarily out of pallet wood and have created many amazing interiors for home, offices, and restaurants. Thanks again!
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Old 05-20-2019, 03:16 PM   #27
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We are just starting. I have written a bit more detail about us on another reply here in the thread if you care to take a peek at it! Thanks!
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Old 05-20-2019, 03:19 PM   #28
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How long have you been in business or are you just getting started.
Just getting started with the skoolie idea, but have been making furniture and tiny interiors for a while using primarily pallet wood and recycled materials.
My husband is an architect and 3D genius. He is great at figuring out the best way to use weird spaces to maximum efficiency.
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Old 05-20-2019, 03:26 PM   #29
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To me this is a no brainer. The mark up on a bus freshly gutted is way out of line usually with what it actually costs to gut one. I would hire a couple of $10/hr kids to do nothing but remove seats. I paid a single 20yo and it took a good part of 19hrs for him to remove them and the floor and walls and ceiling, For $190. Anyone seen a gutted bus only go up $200 after gutting? Not usually, they ask $1k more.

HIRE SOME STRIPPERS
I like it Marc, just what we were thinking. Keep the bus which we buy in the southern states and after the bus has been stripped, the same folks who did the work could drive it up to the Boston area and perhaps get another job up here by someone who wants to get their vehicle ( doesnt need to be a bus, any car will do) back to the south. Like a Uship for transportation. Or we can fly the one who drives the bus up to Boston back to the south. Just a thought.
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Old 05-20-2019, 03:55 PM   #30
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Thanks so very much for your input, and just to let you know, since I wrote the first paragraph, asking for information, well, my husband and I have been doing nothing but research about Skoolies and every other type of vehicle which warrants itself to a conversion of some sort. We agree with everything you are saying and you have certainly covered many aspects which we did not know about last week. We are in Boston, so we're thinking that vehicles from the south will be better because of the rust issue. We also know that labor in the south may be less expensive than the Boston area which is very high. We have a large workshop with every conceivable tool and machine you can imagine. My husband also draws everything in 3D so is a wonder at creating spaces which can be virtually walked through and he also designs and invents space saving furniture and things to fit in small spaces as well as complete fit-outs for small spaces. We have a passion for recycling and this is why we loved the skoolie concept. Perhaps we should concentrate on clients who would normally go and buy an RV who have money to spend and who do not want to live in it full time, but rather grandparents who want to take their grandkids on comfortable amazing trips for weeks at a time and want to show the youngsters how great it is to reuse materials for a better, greener footprint, rather than using all new materials. Just a thought. Here in our shop, we make furniture primarily out of pallet wood and have created many amazing interiors for home, offices, and restaurants. Thanks again!
Okay, so understanding now a little more about what you're trying to bring to market, I do have an idea that could be marketable - you can design and construct modular components specifically engineered to easily adapt to be used in skoolies. Take for example the idea of an overhead storage cabinet, simple in theory but many people would spend a lot of time and trial and error attempting to fit the odd radius of the roof but if a DIY cabinet shell was readily available for purchase then some would rather pay for their own sanity's sake than let that little step sink their project. That's just an example but I hope it illustrates what I'm talking about.

As for the idea of a skoolie used less for RV residence and more like a scaled up conversion van from the 90s for family road trips, well I'm totally on board with that! What I'm doing for my own is a hybrid... I'm single so living simply is easy enough but I also love to take my niece and nephews on road trips. It'll kind of become our family 'thing' to skoolie-tour America!
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Old 05-20-2019, 07:02 PM   #31
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Your idea is great however finding the liability insurance to get up and running could be prohibitive. Especially in Mass.
Hopefully you've already addressed that.
Just something else to ponder...
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Old 05-20-2019, 07:21 PM   #32
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Okay, so understanding now a little more about what you're trying to bring to market, I do have an idea that could be marketable - you can design and construct modular components specifically engineered to easily adapt to be used in skoolies. Take for example the idea of an overhead storage cabinet, simple in theory but many people would spend a lot of time and trial and error attempting to fit the odd radius of the roof but if a DIY cabinet shell was readily available for purchase then some would rather pay for their own sanity's sake than let that little step sink their project. That's just an example but I hope it illustrates what I'm talking about.

As for the idea of a skoolie used less for RV residence and more like a scaled up conversion van from the 90s for family road trips, well I'm totally on board with that! What I'm doing for my own is a hybrid... I'm single so living simply is easy enough but I also love to take my niece and nephews on road trips. It'll kind of become our family 'thing' to skoolie-tour America!

great ideas excecpt every bus is different.. a carpenter, a bluebird of one year vs another, a thomas RE vs a thomas FS-65 vs a C2.. all have different rooflines, ceiling heights and wall. onfigurations..



this is like people that make Bolt-ons for street rods.. most so called "bolt-ons" require some modification or fabrication to fit.. sure you could make a kit to mounta minisplit under a bus.. or a cabinet that would fit a specific model, but honestly doing the Demo.. tearing up the floor, removing the seats is a good primer and "initiation" so to say for someone doing a comversion..



BGA busses will do all the prep work to busses they sell.. and it can be a negotiation tool for their high prices.. buit I have seen busses in there where they fixed massive floor rust, even raised a roof for someone.. paint busses, remove seats and they did a couple where they fabriacted a generator mount underneathg, wired the bus and installed 2 coleman rooftop camper A/C;s for someone doing a conversion..

-Christopher
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Old 05-21-2019, 08:53 PM   #33
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great ideas excecpt every bus is different.. a carpenter, a bluebird of one year vs another, a thomas RE vs a thomas FS-65 vs a C2.. all have different rooflines, ceiling heights and wall. onfigurations..



this is like people that make Bolt-ons for street rods.. most so called "bolt-ons" require some modification or fabrication to fit.. sure you could make a kit to mounta minisplit under a bus.. or a cabinet that would fit a specific model, but honestly doing the Demo.. tearing up the floor, removing the seats is a good primer and "initiation" so to say for someone doing a comversion..



BGA busses will do all the prep work to busses they sell.. and it can be a negotiation tool for their high prices.. buit I have seen busses in there where they fixed massive floor rust, even raised a roof for someone.. paint busses, remove seats and they did a couple where they fabriacted a generator mount underneathg, wired the bus and installed 2 coleman rooftop camper A/C;s for someone doing a conversion..

-Christopher
You are right there! I bought some aftermarket LED lamps for my pickup that were supposed to be DIY plug-n-play but they took so much modifications and had so many issues that I was seriously about to throw them away and eat the cost. They're still not right but so long as I have legal lights I'll deal with the rest another day.

I was just offering a suggested alternative if they decide that there's not a strong enough market for built-to-order skoolies but they still have a passion for repurposing materials. If someone has a good design for a sofa/bed or futon that fits my needs with minor mods I'd much rather buy that than try to build one myself - it just feels like I'm reinventing the wheel. I have a bunch of ideas that I think are cool but that doesn't mean anyone else sees any value in them. But that's the beauty of entrepreneurialism is that often times you can bring something to market that people didn't even know that could use until they see what you're offering and then they can't live without it!
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Old 05-21-2019, 10:09 PM   #34
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I would personally rather see a bus dealer do all the basic maintenance (replace fluids and filters and air driers etc. and check everything out) and make sure the bus is mechanically sound.
To me this is more important than a gutted bus. You’re buying an old commercial truck that has hundreds of thousands of miles on it. Mechanical reliability and safety is top priority, and you’re already behind the curve buying used bus. Call Bluebird and Thomas and see what a brand new stripped down shell would cost. Then you would have a brand new vehicle with warranty, and a true blank slate to start with. Do top quality Engineering and build and you might be able to sell them to the high end rv crowd that can afford them and appreciate an rv built on a solid, reliable chassis. Think of the old bluebird wanderlodges.
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Old 05-25-2019, 04:47 PM   #35
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Welcome! I have been looking for the last 3 months and obviously, not very successful! I, too was trying to figure out how to start a new thread, and also not very successful. I guess from an iPhone is not easy to find the tabs... and they don’t like it, when people ask “stupid” questions. From all the research, I have done without asking any “stupid” questions, I have yet to find anyone who has shells. But if you’re looking for multiple buses, it’s going to get a bit pricey. You may not want to go that way, unless you have a lot of capital to invest. What would you do with the rest of the rest of the units? Anyway, good luck, and please do share your findings!!
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Old 05-25-2019, 05:42 PM   #36
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To me this is more important than a gutted bus. You’re buying an old commercial truck that has hundreds of thousands of miles on it. Mechanical reliability and safety is top priority, and you’re already behind the curve buying used bus. Call Bluebird and Thomas and see what a brand new stripped down shell would cost. Then you would have a brand new vehicle with warranty, and a true blank slate to start with. Do top quality Engineering and build and you might be able to sell them to the high end rv crowd that can afford them and appreciate an rv built on a solid, reliable chassis. Think of the old bluebird wanderlodges.
I seriously doubt much mechanical maintenance gets done to a bus at the commercial sales lots. They inspect the buses they buy and seldom buy the crappy ones. They then take that bus back to their yard where they check the fluids, if you're lucky, they top them off, really lucky, they actually change them. They wash em and stick em on the lot. For this service instead of the $1-2K for removing seats, they have done about $500 worth of work and then mark it up $3k.
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Old 05-26-2019, 12:46 PM   #37
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I’ld seriously consider buying a 2k bus for you from the south, take the seats out and rip up the flooring if you’ll buy it and pick it up for 4k-5k lol.
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Old 05-26-2019, 12:57 PM   #38
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I’ld seriously consider buying a 2k bus for you from the south, take the seats out and rip up the flooring if you’ll buy it and pick it up for 4k-5k lol.
I've done that before!
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Old 05-26-2019, 11:52 PM   #39
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I used a pneumatic impact to get the seats out. That was the easy part. That subfloor though .
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Old 05-27-2019, 08:40 AM   #40
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We were crazy lucky: the bus we purchased (We are in NW Florida) only had rubber directly connected to the metal floor, no wooden subfloor in between , rubber came up in big clean rolls.
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