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Old 01-25-2020, 05:59 PM   #1
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Question Finding a bus body/chassis/shell

I'm not sure which term to use, but i want just the body of a bus, or better yet, find resources in where to get them. I want to use them for housing project. Where would you find just that? Or would you have to buy a salvage bus and remove everything but that shell?
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Old 01-25-2020, 06:57 PM   #2
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Basically you're looking for a dead junker that will never move again once it's in its final spot? Should be able to find 'em cheap on the auctions, where are you located?
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Old 01-25-2020, 07:20 PM   #3
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yes, it will be for permanent housing.
right now i'm in NW Arkansas, but will be traveling soon. Most likely i will be doing this a year down the road when i'm up north, like the Wisconsin region.
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Old 01-25-2020, 08:32 PM   #4
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One thing to consider about using derelict buses for housing is that the ceilings are quite low (usually 6'2" to 6'4" down the center), and adding insulation to the floor and ceiling costs quite a bit more of this headroom. The roof can be raised, but that's a fair amount of work that somewhat defeats the purpose of starting with a ready-built shell.

They can also be quite leak-prone, especially the windows.
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Old 01-26-2020, 12:51 AM   #5
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But if the body is off the frame might it be possible to add insulation under the floor instead of on top? That would save height inside the bus, if it's an issue.
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Old 01-26-2020, 01:08 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by ermracing View Post
But if the body is off the frame might it be possible to add insulation under the floor instead of on top? That would save height inside the bus, if it's an issue.
It would not be thermodynamically sound, since you'd then have a gigantic thermal bridge in the form of a metal floor inside your insulation directly connected to the rest of the metal in the body which is outside your insulation (you'd have this problem even if the bus body was just set on the ground).

You could completely insulate the outside (including walls and roof) and that would work, much as steel framed buildings sometimes insulate outside. But then the bus skin is no longer your outer layer, so it's kind of like why even have the bus inside the insulation at that point?
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Old 01-26-2020, 03:48 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by musigenesis View Post
One thing to consider about using derelict buses for housing is that the ceilings are quite low (usually 6'2" to 6'4" down the center), and adding insulation to the floor and ceiling costs quite a bit more of this headroom. The roof can be raised, but that's a fair amount of work that somewhat defeats the purpose of starting with a ready-built shell.

They can also be quite leak-prone, especially the windows.
While it is true that raising a roof is work, it is no different than what many folks do with their buses anyway. So with or without wheels or a frame, the build process is much the same with the same constraints and trade-offs. In a way, not having to be concerned with it functioning while running down the road makes a lot of the conversion problems less concerning. For example, you do not have to be concerned that a water tank might fall off if you hit a large bump in the road. Yes, the height problem will still be there ... but again, raise the roof as so many do anyway.
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Old 01-26-2020, 08:36 AM   #8
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Seems to me other options would be more economical once you factored in the labor & modifications necessary to make it what it sounds like you're looking for. Just a gut feel.
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Old 01-26-2020, 08:37 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by ermracing View Post
But if the body is off the frame might it be possible to add insulation under the floor instead of on top? That would save height inside the bus, if it's an issue.
Question:
I'm curious, if your gonna use a bus body off the frame for housing, why not just use a 40 shipping container?
They are taller and stronger than a bus shell and can be moved again easier than a bus shell if needed to.
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Old 01-27-2020, 01:26 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by ewo1 View Post
Question:
I'm curious, if your gonna use a bus body off the frame for housing, why not just use a 40 shipping container?
They are taller and stronger than a bus shell and can be moved again easier than a bus shell if needed to.
I was thinking that very thing earlier today.
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Old 01-30-2020, 05:54 PM   #11
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well this turned out to be a fascinating discussion!

thanks, everyone for your input. And ironically, i started looking at shipping containers again right after i posted this, for the reasons stated.
I'm a creative problem-solver, but not all ideas are feasible, for sure.
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Old 01-31-2020, 10:51 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kellijaebaeli View Post
I'm not sure which term to use, but i want just the body of a bus, or better yet, find resources in where to get them. I want to use them for housing project. Where would you find just that? Or would you have to buy a salvage bus and remove everything but that shell?
If you look around you can usually get an old 80s bus for about 2k and dead/non-running bus for about 1k. If you can get something that will drive to where you need it to be it will probably save you money, buses are expensive to tow. A scrap yard will pay around $600(depending on factors) if you bring the bus to them, so if you give someone $1000. and tow it off it is generally a good deal for them.

If you get a bus that will run to it's final destination you can also scrap it out there and make back some money on parts and recycling metal.

Craigslist will have old buses come up from time to time. In Colorado the rafting companies like to use old school buses then sell them off cheap when they don't want to run them anymore.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ewo1 View Post
Question:
I'm curious, if your gonna use a bus body off the frame for housing, why not just use a 40 shipping container?
They are taller and stronger than a bus shell and can be moved again easier than a bus shell if needed to.
A average old school bus 300 sqf at $1500. is about $5.sqf windows and doors already installed. I don't know of any other building material to build a suitable exterior for dwelling(with doors and windows) for less the $5.sqf.

20' shipping container at $2000. is about 170 sqf $12.sqf No windows and doors and expensive to move and place. Shipping containers are also a pain to build with due to the bends and ridges in the sides, it takes extra furring and materiel to do almost anything to them.

I have seen 40' selling for as low as $3000. but the cheapest shipping container is most likely going to be in very poor(rusted out) condition.
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Old 01-31-2020, 05:37 PM   #13
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Couple of buses in C/L Lubbuck, Texas.
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Old 02-05-2020, 05:00 PM   #14
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You can purchase GOOD used 40 foot shipping containers all day long for $2500-$3000 Delivered to your location if you are located near civilization and not way out in the Boonies!

Containers are easily transported, off loaded and set much easier and cheaper than any bus shell you could ever get. There is a complete industry now developing for containers used as permanent and temporary housing.

A bus is a complete waste of time for your application as outlined in your original post.
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Old 02-05-2020, 05:36 PM   #15
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Old 02-05-2020, 11:55 PM   #16
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Does that ref'r unit do heat as well? That would be a fantastic start to a tiny home!
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Old 02-06-2020, 02:54 AM   #17
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Does that ref'r unit do heat as well? That would be a fantastic start to a tiny home!

Yes! I do believe they do. Some were even designed to run on shore power as well.
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Old 02-06-2020, 11:45 AM   #18
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I have thought about making a tiny home from a semi trailer before, still open to it if the right trailer came by. I have seen semi trailers from $500.-$4000. a person could probably get a couple of used exterior doors and a few windows for $1000.

One of the complications I see with semi trailers is if you cut in windows and doors they will be hard to seal because water run straight down the sides of the box. The best solution I can think of is to put some trusses, sheathing and roofing on the top this would probably be about $2000. A Hillbilly Okie solution might be to install some kind of rain gutter down the sides for .. a 24 pack of beer or so.

I would have to inspect a refrigerated unit very close before I bought one.. I have heard some really bad stories from truckers about loads of meat rotting away in them and draining nasty liquids out of them. The smell of somethings never really goes away.

Many semi trailers have hardwood floors and they look like they would be friendly to frame the interiors.
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Old 02-06-2020, 12:42 PM   #19
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I've considered using a road trailer to build with. Reefer trailers have their pros and cons:


Pros:
Already well insulated, aluminum roof should help repel summer heat.
Considerably more floor space and headroom than a bus.
Plenty of weight capacity.
Likely already weathertight.
No drivetrain to worry about (only suspension, brakes, tires, axles, and exterior lights to worry about.)


Cons:
Will need doors/windows.
Grooved aluminum floor (very few reefers, if any, have wood floors).
Reefer unit may be dead/missing.
13'6" height and (up to) 53' length will limit places it can go.
Must have Class A truck/license to travel.


Dry van:
Plenty of space/headroom.
No drivetrain (lights, tires, brakes, suspension only).
Should be weathertight.
(If equipped) Aluminum roof helps repel summer heat.
(If equipped) Fiberglass roof allows light in.
Most have 75% wood floors (steel floor above kingpin on many).
Available in "drop frame" version (typical moving vans).


Cons:
Usually not insulated.
Doors/windows will need to be added/replaced.

(If equipped) Fiberglass roof does not reflect heat, trailers tend to be like ovens in sunny days. Insulation will negate light admission. (Probably better to find one with an aluminum roof.)
Wood floors likely to be in rough condition. Some have partial/full aluminum floors.
Some available in "Thinwall" versions (Duraplate being an example), maximizing wall-to-wall space but leaving no "framing" to build from (this could be a pro depending on your perspective).
Same height/length restrictions as above.
"Double-Drop" vans will have low floor-to-roadway clearance.


If I go this route, I am seriously considering the "Double Drop" dry van, as it will give me a *LOT* of "basement" storage, room for water tanks inside the shell (I can insulate under/around them to prevent freezing) and room for a "garage" (and plenty of weight capacity for that as well). I would build a floor above the water tanks, flush with the front section. I would build a ceiling leaving an "attic" of sorts for storage. Solar would have to be something very thin as the trailer would already be at the 13'6" height (unless I did a roof drop?)


Road trailers, and dry vans in particular, inherently have more body flex than buses do. It's just the nature of the beast. Sure, framing out a build will take out much of this, but you'll need to thoroughly anchor everything more than you would in a bus. This isn't necessarily a Bad Thing, it's just something to be aware of during the build.
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Old 02-06-2020, 03:31 PM   #20
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You would want to inspect a refrigerated trailer very carefully for skin damage, yes, to be sure it never leaked rain into the walls. Especially the roof!
And a "smell test" on a hot day, yes.
In short, you would probably want to buy a pretty good trailer -- one that a trucking company would happily put to work hauling produce.

The refrigeration unit can deep-freeze cows under a scorching August Texas sun, so it is massive overkill for residential use. But you could probably sell it and install a nice window there.

CAUTION; anecdote approaching.

In my trucking days, I once pulled a refrigerated trailer belonging to the US government. The cargo was solid fuel rocket motors. The fuel needed to be held within a certain temperature range at all times to keep from cracking. If the fuel cracked from thermal expansion/contraction, it would burn unevenly and the rocket would not fly straight.
We hauled quite a bit of munitions in those days -- torpedoes, cannon shells (for the Grenada invasion, I seem to remember), etc, but only the solid fuel was temperature sensitive.
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