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Old 08-28-2019, 03:22 PM   #41
Bus Crazy
 
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Join Date: May 2017
Location: Athens, TN
Posts: 1,573
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Amtran
Chassis: International RE
Engine: International T444e
Rated Cap: 76
Quote:
Originally Posted by M1031A1 View Post
We're in year SIX of our build.
Hearing that makes me cringe. Nothing to do with you, but rather my own impatience. I gave myself last year as a deadline, then around this time this year, now Spring next year. I do feel like I'm running out of major work to get done, so I'm hopeful this isn't an endless cycle.



Quote:
Originally Posted by TheHubbardBus View Post
I'd guess in many circumstances they've gotten to the point where they begin to sense the enormity of a project they likely underestimated at the start, and have decided to cut their losses.
So I can relate to this. Before I built the bus, I decided to build a solar-powered aquaponic greenhouse. It was my first real long term (>1 year) project. In hindsight one could look at the experience in two ways: either it was a massive waste of money, or it prepared me for this. The bus is the single largest endeavor I've ever set out to complete, by miles and miles. I bought my bus on skoolie.net off another (demo work largely done but no rust remediation inside, cheap flooring in, very basic). I imagine I'll have little to post here after the build is livable.





Quote:
Originally Posted by brokedown View Post
I'm a firm believer that "done" is a four letter word and doesn't really make sense in the context of a skoolie.
Maybe if you're building for the sake of building... for me, its to get out of debt. I've invested a massive amount of money and labor into this project, an investment I want to see return on.



That being said, it is like a house- I may add batteries, perform maintenance, or fix something. But at some point it goes from being worked on to being used, and when used, I think its safe to call it "finished".



Quote:
Originally Posted by brokedown View Post
I think a lot of folks buy a bus and discover that it's not actually the easiest thing in the world to build a home inside a steel tube, and you find those buses in craigslist.
Building a home is hard, regardless of the type. For a first timer, they have to reinvent all the wheels they take for granted when buying from others, with little to zero knowledge on where to even start.


This is hard stuff, and anyone who finishes, is hardcore.

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Old 08-28-2019, 05:36 PM   #42
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Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 703
Year: 1995
Engine: DT408
I'm still working on mine!! Every weekend I try to do something. Right now, I'm in the middle of redoing my storage bay doors. I didn't like the way they turned out and scrapped the doors themselves and started over with a different approach. This has taken a lot longer than I had hoped but it's a labor of love for me. My new job is very demanding and the weekends off working on Gimel are a high point in my week. Someday, it will be finished!!

P.S. We're coming up on 6 years as well from the time I purchased it.
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Old 08-31-2019, 03:14 PM   #43
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Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 117
Year: 2008
Coachwork: International
Chassis: PB105
Engine: VT365 6.0L v8 Diesel
It's hard to say for sure. I expect most folks here get to a point in their build where they're not getting as much benefit from the forums, so their activity here decreases.

But at the same time, there's a huge community of skoolie and van-lifers documenting their builds on instagram, and I don't think many of them are active members here at all. So it's really hard to say overall, the percent of folks who undertake this project and actually see it through. I'm more curious myself about the percentage of folks who complete their bus but then end up only full-timing for a year or two before giving it up.
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Old 08-31-2019, 03:23 PM   #44
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Location: NC, TN, and CA
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Year: 2001
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Chassis: Chevy Express Cutaway g3500
Engine: Turbo diesel 6.5L
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I am starting on year 2. I am just starting on the inside now. Most of the stuff has been mechanical, electrical, or safety stuff. My main delay now is money. I had expected to spend about $10,000, but have already reached that amount for repairs. I was ready to give up. My sons keep taking me on visits to RV places. The prices are getting lower, but they are not set up how I want. I am hoping to have mine done by this time next year.
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Old 08-31-2019, 03:36 PM   #45
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I would like to believe that most of these are on going projects.
Mine is almost done But a few life curve balls slowed the pace. Major progress and leaps forward in the first six months.
Than a sick dad.
Been stuck for a while now dealing with that and just trying to enjoy my free time.
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Old 08-31-2019, 03:46 PM   #46
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Location: TEXAS
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Year: 1999
Chassis: MVP RE
Engine: 5.9 Cummins
Well my build is still on the drawing table. Ran into a few issues, that could have been expected when buying something used, that need to be repaired. But we still take the bus out on trips. The largest road block to really moving forward is the fact that I'm no longer employed (2 yrs. in Feb). Still intend to complete the build to some degree and for sure log into this forum.
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Old 08-31-2019, 03:51 PM   #47
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Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: Southeast Georgia
Posts: 28
Year: 1992
Chassis: Bluebird
Engine: 5.9 Cummins
Rated Cap: 72 passengers
It took me about 2 years to get it ready for Daytona Biketoberfest and it was still a work in progress.
It was wired and plumbed and the inside done in the 2 year time frame.

I completed the rest in one more year and today there is things that I will change because it is fun.
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Old 08-31-2019, 04:00 PM   #48
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I'm still around, the last couple years life got crazy now things are almost normal. haven't used the bus this year, yet but should be out soon. As for being finished, well yes and no, we put over 45000 kms since we bought it, and now its time for some rebuilding, upgrades. people come and go, owning a bus might seem like a good ideal at the time, but once under way you lose interest, then the cost of a build, then if you do hit the road there's the cost of running , you can burn a lot of diesel in a short time
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Old 08-31-2019, 04:07 PM   #49
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I understand why so many people donít complete their build. I think the romanticized idea of a school bus is they are cheap, you can have a nice RV for little money, that busses are built to last forever and the school district maintains them perfectly. Then you find that new tires cost more than your bus, they are manufactured with a set mileage life and parts donít need to last longer than that, and when a bus aproaches the end of their school life the district starts paying less attention and capital on them, building is expensive, labor intensive and itís hard to find a place to park and work on a bus. Thatís a lot to take on. I am at the post roof raise spray foam stage but I have been living in my bus full time for a couple of years now. I had originally helped build it when my friend owned it bought it gutted it and started over. Itís a very large project and sometimes I feel insane for taking it on. But I love busses and have for a very long time. I have lived on many in various situations. Itís a lifestyle I love. That being said being a full time transient is a very different lifestyle with some very big trade offs good and bad and I think people donít realize that before they try. Realize itís not for them and move on after investing so much time and money. But I see more and more busses painted and built on the road and my bus lifestyle is becoming more socially accepted all the time so people are finishing them and enjoying the fruits of their labor.
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Old 08-31-2019, 04:10 PM   #50
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Join Date: Feb 2019
Location: Travel
Posts: 210
Year: 2007
Coachwork: Ic ce Navistar international
Chassis: Ce 300 school bus
Engine: 7.6L international ic ce 300 school bus
Still here

Took me a year and a half. Still got my 37' international with the dt466 and 2500 allison trans. Finished??? It's registered and insured as a motorhome and we've been to a few places with it but she'll never be finished... we keep talking about should we move the bed or add a table do we need another seat.... but she's painted, got a bed, stove, oven, central ducted propane furnace, hot water heater, full bath with shower, tub, sink, toilet with black water holding tank, grey water holding tank, fresh water tank, 12 volt water pump..... 30 amp electrical panel, roof top ac , and an ac that came with the bus run by the engine for traveling. So yeah she's finished. But i don't post in here sorry.... i do read though so thanks guys.
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Old 08-31-2019, 04:24 PM   #51
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Location: Toronto
Posts: 6
I can only speak for myself. I don't have a bus, I ended up getting an old FedEx Stepvan. I have never made a post, but have replied to posts and gotten a bunch of info on here to help with my build.

I started in June 2017 and my build is nearly finished. It took 5 months of tear out and repairs, before I started the conversion. We went to AZ the first winter, leaving just before x-mas, 6 Ĺ months into the build. All we had was an insulated box, windows, upgraded seating, a table and a bed. I installed the solar system during that trip.

Following our return, I continued the build out. It has been fully functional since last November and we went south west again for the winter. We have been living in our Stepvan full-time since.

This summer has been finishing touches, some added storage and changing the heating from wood to a diesel air heater, which required me to rework the area where the woodstove was mounted.

It was a lot of work, but we are really happy with the end result. It's the way we envisioned it to be and best of all, it works.
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Old 08-31-2019, 04:32 PM   #52
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Join Date: Dec 2018
Location: Mt Vernon, WA
Posts: 523
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Bluebird, Collins
Chassis: G30 Bluebird Microbird, E350 Shuttle Bus
Engine: 1995 Chevrolet 350, 1992 Ford 460
I sometimes envy the people who focus and get a beautiful conversion done in months. Iím the opposite. I have a cargo van conversion part way done, a short bus skoolie that is empty, a shuttle bus full of seats I just bought, a old Motorhome covered with so much solar I donít drive it, and a Motorhome I just bought that I hope to drive South this Winter. All of them too low for me except the newer Motorhome.
The skoolie short bus is in the drive it around empty and see how I like it and if I trust it phase. I thought the dropping out of overdrive transmission issue was fixed but it happened again. I think it may be a fault in the circuit board or chip in the pcm computer.
Mine will never be done but I may stop working on them. I might be way beyond burnout and itís a love hate thing. I would not call it fun. Occasionally I enjoy it.
I enjoy where the I take them and the freedom they help provide. Finished or not. Finished would be great.
I only recently realized that I donít enjoy working on them but it was a necessary evil. It was just normal for me to need to fix or build things myself. Iíd done it so long I didnít even consider alternatives. Iíve never had much choice. I would miss certain aspects of building especially the designing part.
One of the main issues for me is Iím super tall and got sick after raising my first bus over 3 years and hardly getting any use out of it before selling it. Then all my vehicles have been too short since then. I finally got my courage up to do another roof raise and am almost to buttoning it up. Taking two months this time. I sure hope this one works out good.
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Old 08-31-2019, 04:52 PM   #53
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Quote:
Originally Posted by somewhereinusa View Post
I was under the impression that they are never actually finished.



Your probably right.
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Old 08-31-2019, 04:57 PM   #54
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Dec 2018
Location: Mt Vernon, WA
Posts: 523
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Bluebird, Collins
Chassis: G30 Bluebird Microbird, E350 Shuttle Bus
Engine: 1995 Chevrolet 350, 1992 Ford 460
I wish I could say I enjoy building my buses but I honestly cannot. Iím glad others do enjoy it. My body and joints and lungs donít want anymore dust and abuse. I enjoy thoroughly the design and creative process and if I had the funds would happily farm out the construction. Iíve realized Iíve been building things for 50 years and Iím still intermediate and mediocre. Some people can build circles around me and Iím pretty good. Better be after all this time. I am however very good at some of the systems thinking, designing, and theory that some folks donít get a grasp off. So I try to have a little fun with that. Unfortunately the durned things need to get built to be tested. Just being up front about life on the raw edge.
Iíve never finished out one of my buses. It would be nice. I would love to someday. Iíll read more about others finish them as Iím tired of living in construction sites.
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Old 08-31-2019, 06:08 PM   #55
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Nov 2017
Location: Wright City MO
Posts: 280
Year: 1998
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: Bluebird
Engine: 5.9 Cummins/Allison
Rated Cap: 74
I am now 2 years into the build am almost done with phase one (the roof raise and build out) going out in it first time next weekend on a trial run to see if we like what we have done.I am sure after that it will be back to the grind to tune up the results before we go back out again. Will be posting pics soon. Gene
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Old 08-31-2019, 06:11 PM   #56
Bus Nut
 
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Join Date: Jul 2019
Location: Freedom Field, New Mexico
Posts: 462
Year: 1998
Coachwork: International
Chassis: Amtrans
Engine: 444E
Rated Cap: 84 pas
Agreed. Ruth and I are living in our build as we do it. We also are driving it as our primary transportation. We are building on the cheap and under the limitations of poor health and hot New Mexico days. This is our second full conversion for full time living, the first being 30 years ago.
Most recently we spent a year in a primitive boxtruck house and several months in a school bus shell.
We do it because we like our minimal lifestyle and freedom to move about. The project moves real slow also because our budget is fixed by social security. We are currently driving our bedroom with a freezer, a.c., too many tools in the way, and improvised curtains on the Windows.
From what I've read here a lot of folks like the idea but don't get started. Many get started but find it less appealing than the idea.
I say to those who wonder, don't get discouraged because others have. But, take a realistic approach. Do the math. Learn about critical systems. Try some experiments at home. Live off grid in your garage or storage unit for a week.
RV/schoolies living requires a mindset differing from home/apartment living. Going completely self sustaining even more so.
Storage, food safety, heating, cooling, fresh water, waste management, privacy and getting rocked around by the wind when you are lying in bed are all things to give thought to.
A school bus is certainly the most sturdy platform to create a home built RV. They can be quite spacious, and afford plenty of room to build storage underneath, and even above. There is enough real estate on the roof of a full-size bus for upwards a 4000 watts of solar.

Unlike most motor homes which are built stick frame and covered with fiberglass, a school bus has bones that are designed to take a rollover, not that you'd want to do that. I once saw a brand new motor home leaving Elkhart Indiana rollover in the median. It was one of those fancy rigs with slides and then it was Rubble all over Road.
So you might build a great little home in your bus but if you aren't prepared for the Vagabond lifestyle you may become discouraged and sell. A lot of rvers do the same. They take out a big loan they buy a big rolling home, they hit a gas pump, or a parked car, their dishes fall out of the cupboards a couple of times they find themselves staying in hotel rooms. And the fact of the matter is if you're really putting miles on, it RVs don't last.
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Old 08-31-2019, 06:48 PM   #57
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Posts: 2
Completed!

Took me 2 months of daily work but completed!
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Old 08-31-2019, 06:51 PM   #58
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 19,128
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rock-N-Ruth View Post
Agreed. Ruth and I are living in our build as we do it. We also are driving it as our primary transportation. We are building on the cheap and under the limitations of poor health and hot New Mexico days. This is our second full conversion for full time living, the first being 30 years ago.
Most recently we spent a year in a primitive boxtruck house and several months in a school bus shell.
We do it because we like our minimal lifestyle and freedom to move about. The project moves real slow also because our budget is fixed by social security. We are currently driving our bedroom with a freezer, a.c., too many tools in the way, and improvised curtains on the Windows.
From what I've read here a lot of folks like the idea but don't get started. Many get started but find it less appealing than the idea.
I say to those who wonder, don't get discouraged because others have. But, take a realistic approach. Do the math. Learn about critical systems. Try some experiments at home. Live off grid in your garage or storage unit for a week.
RV/schoolies living requires a mindset differing from home/apartment living. Going completely self sustaining even more so.
Storage, food safety, heating, cooling, fresh water, waste management, privacy and getting rocked around by the wind when you are lying in bed are all things to give thought to.
A school bus is certainly the most sturdy platform to create a home built RV. They can be quite spacious, and afford plenty of room to build storage underneath, and even above. There is enough real estate on the roof of a full-size bus for upwards a 4000 watts of solar.

Unlike most motor homes which are built stick frame and covered with fiberglass, a school bus has bones that are designed to take a rollover, not that you'd want to do that. I once saw a brand new motor home leaving Elkhart Indiana rollover in the median. It was one of those fancy rigs with slides and then it was Rubble all over Road.
So you might build a great little home in your bus but if you aren't prepared for the Vagabond lifestyle you may become discouraged and sell. A lot of rvers do the same. They take out a big loan they buy a big rolling home, they hit a gas pump, or a parked car, their dishes fall out of the cupboards a couple of times they find themselves staying in hotel rooms. And the fact of the matter is if you're really putting miles on, it RVs don't last.



I had to laugh about the "hit a gas pump or a parked car".. 2 friends of mine (rich couple). ordered a brand new Prevost conversion from custom coach here in columbus some number of years ago.. they were excited to be able to take their comforts of home with them on their 2 or 3 yearly treks to florida or savannah.. and winter over in the south.. they even had a garage buolt for their new bus..



it came in.. and first 2 minutes in the bus and he ran over a rubbermaid trash can in the parking lot of the dealer.. nearly in tears I got the call "help.. I wrecked my new camper... we are OK and its not hurt but I cant drive it.. you drove a bus before I remember you saing.. so can you come drive it home?"..

I hopped in and gladly drove such a beautiful piece of machinery home.. backed it into its new garage and consoled both gary and Jim that everything was OK and they just needed to pull it out on their property anbd learn to maneuver it.. after all it had all kinds of cameras and sensors.. ( I really think they just checked off every possible option without knowing what they really meant when it came to the Bus chassis)..



a few months later they asked me to drive it to florida.. come to find out they hadnt touched it since I put it in their garage.. nor would either of them ever drive it.. ever.. I was the only one who drove that bus for many years.. I loved every minute of it.. they loved when we parked and enjoyed its ammenties but couldnt understand the grin on my face for just sitting in that seat driving it at least twice a year from ohio to ft myers or miami. or sometimes key west... or back to ohio..



I never knew till later that neither gary nor Jim had ever even sat in the driver seat of a demo unit before ordering theirs.. the first TV shows about long-time RVing first started appearing around 2003 or so. and they were enthralled with the idea of RVing in a most Glampy way... it never crossed either's minds that the RV hads to be driven places... and that whether its a million dollar motor home or a semi truck.. its a big heavy massive commercial vehicle... and drives like one too...



I learned my Likes and desires ... and for me.. unlike 99% here its the BUS part and the Driving that excite me.. so I drive the busses everywhere and sleep in hotel rooms..



I encourage EVERYONE to DRIVE YOUR BUS BEFORE you put a lot of effort into a conversion.. while your conversion may be phenomenol it doesnt mean much to be Nomadic if you hate driving it..
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Old 08-31-2019, 06:58 PM   #59
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Join Date: Feb 2015
Posts: 2
Build completed

I agree with you on the continued projects part. I completed ours 4 or 5 years ago. Have added tile to the kitchen backsplashes and bar area, a few more storage hacks and am about to replace the cheap carpet I originally put down with laminate. Other than now having to replace a few exterior parts that suddenly are no longer on the bus (stolen) that should be the end of projects for awhile.
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Old 08-31-2019, 07:21 PM   #60
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Join Date: Dec 2016
Location: Calgary, Alberta
Posts: 442
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Thomas
Engine: Cummins ISC 260HP/660Q/MD3060 6spd
Rated Cap: 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharee100 View Post
I am starting on year 2. I am just starting on the inside now. Most of the stuff has been mechanical, electrical, or safety stuff. My main delay now is money. I had expected to spend about $10,000, but have already reached that amount for repairs. I was ready to give up. My sons keep taking me on visits to RV places. The prices are getting lower, but they are not set up how I want. I am hoping to have mine done by this time next year.
Itís tempting to just buy an RV, theyíre so shiny and nice, but Iíve owned more than a few and theyíre nearly all junk and fall apart. My 3rd travel trailer which I bought new started to sag in the floor by the sink after 2 years. I asked what could be done to fix it and the reply from the manufacturer and dealer was ďthere is no fix for thatĒ. I bought a class A mhome after that and it was beginning to rot in the walls (10 yrs old).
My school bus is solid and wonít fall apart like that. Yes itís 2.5x over budget and taken 2x longer than I hoped but still worth it... I think... All custom and all well built.
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