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Old 08-31-2019, 07:43 PM   #61
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: NC, TN, and CA
Posts: 154
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Eldorado (REV)
Chassis: Chevy Express Cutaway g3500
Engine: Turbo diesel 6.5L
Rated Cap: 14
Thanks for your reply. It gives me hope. I can see how a lot of people give up. It is a lot of hard work and/or a lot of hard earned money. But I have to keep thinking it is worth it.

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Old 08-31-2019, 08:06 PM   #62
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Year: 1991
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Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 / MT643
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bon Voyage View Post
It’s tempting to just buy an RV, they’re so shiny and nice, but I’ve owned more than a few and they’re 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 “there is no fix for that”. 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 won’t fall apart like that. Yes it’s 2.5x over budget and taken 2x longer than I hoped but still worth it... I think... All custom and all well built.

ive heard more than one person state that their motorhome was pretty much worn out after 10 years unless they invested in covered storage. (not cheap unless you buy a place with a barn for a good deal).. and funny rthing is most of the modern RV dealers are encouraging people to finance them for 12 years...
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Old 08-31-2019, 08:19 PM   #63
Almost There
 
Join Date: Jul 2018
Location: Canada
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Year: 1994
Coachwork: International
Chassis: Thomas Vista
Engine: DT 408 6.7L
Rated Cap: 72
It's definitely a tough project, when I began I wanted to document the entire build but with it and running my business I just didn't have the time or the drive to document it all, and became more of a lurker here gaining information. (Just look at the amount of posts I have LOL)

Now 1 year in, probably 60-70% complete after a complete gut to the metal on all sides floor etc. Takes time to do it right! Hoping to finish on budget between $25,000 - $30,000 all in including the purchase and all parts/work.

I don't think it ever really ends though, always something to upgrade or break and replace. I liken it to having a sailboat you live on, it's all about maintenance and love.

I have been blessed with an equally stubborn partner, tool donations, a good place to store and work for a reasonable cost, no vandals, and a pretty solid platform for cheap amoung other things.

Even with that everything takes longer then I expect, normally costs more and new challenges arise daily, but **** that life isn't it? Building a bus has taught me more life skills and do it all knowledge than any other experince in my life I think...... It's like a damn spiritual journey rising to the challenge and getting up the next day to do it again haha.

I have a ton of respect for everyone that takes on a custom build, and the lifestyle that goes with it, and even more for the elite who get it done start enjoying fruits of the hard work.

I think it's just not for everyone, and if the wrong things line up just right I could see how costs could pile up to the point its not worth it anymore.

Everytime I wanna give up I hit this forum, and normally within a few posts I'm feeling good to go back at it!
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Old 08-31-2019, 08:33 PM   #64
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Join Date: Apr 2019
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Coachwork: GILLIG
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Engine: Cummins ISC 8.3
Rated Cap: 23 sits 33 stand
A work of art is never completed

I see a bus to motor home conversion as a project and a work in progress.

We set goals and attempt to meet those goals. I am currently not sure what the final goal would be. We are still at the; get it titled as a Motor Home goal.
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Old 08-31-2019, 08:46 PM   #65
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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
Thanks for the perspective.
I have a short skoolie bus and a Motorhome. I’m going to find out if a Motorhome is worth putting a bunch of work into. It 28 years old and slightly rough around the edges. However most Class A motorhomes are fairly low miles. I got this one because it has a Isuzu 3.9L turbo diesel, aluminum framed coach, medium size I was looking for (28’) , relatively low miles (70,000), has the holding tanks already, and was inexpensive ($2500). So Ive been busting my butt raising the roof with an all aluminum and epoxy addition. It needed roof repair anyway. That’s why it was cheap. The addition will cost about $2000 doing it myself with a occasional helper. I’m 6’6” and hope I can use this for a while to make it all worth it.
The Isuzu NPR chassis and all aluminum epoxy reinforced coach frame will hopefully be very reliable. Ok, it is not very powerful. But to me the experience of traveling is to go slow and stop a lot. And it gets average of 15mpg. I could turn up the injection pump and turbo boost but probably sacrifice longevity of the engine and mpg.
What I dont like is how low to the ground it is. I’ll be looking for ways to raise suspension slightly soon.
Every build is unique. Now I can take my time and do a nice conversion on my short skoolie bus.
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Old 08-31-2019, 09:41 PM   #66
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Location: Chattanooga, TN
Posts: 234
Year: 2000
Coachwork: Amtran
Chassis: Genesis
Engine: DT466
Rated Cap: 84lug
I just finished mine and my family and I are leaving in September (the end of the month) to full time travel for a year or so. I just sold my insurance agency (I actually wrote about a hundred members here bus insurance). I said all that to say this.. of the skoolies that are insured and on the road the industry estimates its between 1800-2300 active road going skoolies.. Those insurance stats can be pretty accurate or way out in left field. Take it for what its worth.
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Old 08-31-2019, 11:06 PM   #67
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Year: Any!
Coachwork: Self!
Chassis: Crown or Gillig!
Engine: Cummins 855, 400 HP or more!
Rated Cap: 36,000 GVRW
Those who complete their projects?? Well, let me see, all who have a complete set of skills to do it all or family members and friends who come to their aid. those who have large enough incomes to pay for all they need and those who buy a bus in good enough condition that it does not empty their bank account just making it solid enough to call buildable!
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Old 08-31-2019, 11:52 PM   #68
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Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: So Ill
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Year: 2002
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Freightliner
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HappyInTN View Post
I just finished mine and my family and I are leaving in September (the end of the month) to full time travel for a year or so. I just sold my insurance agency (I actually wrote about a hundred members here bus insurance). I said all that to say this.. of the skoolies that are insured and on the road the industry estimates its between 1800-2300 active road going skoolies.. Those insurance stats can be pretty accurate or way out in left field. Take it for what its worth.
1800-2300 active road skoolies... in the ENTIRE USA? With THAT insurance company? I AM interested in the particular stats lol I rather expected more than that...

I put the down payment on my bus a year ago today! I'm perhaps 2/3rds done with the basic build. Electrical and water systems TBA. Also, the bus needs new batteries and ideally new tires. I've enjoyed the build. My Gramma has been helping me by holding things in place while I pre drill through bus metal and wood.. lol

I start a new job Monday though, so the bus will probably be more of a weekend project for a long while... except, I'm now at a point where it's mostly down to little things that can easily fit into a weekend or even a couple hours before work.

I can't tell you the sense of pride I feel sitting in the bus, sweaty and covered in sawdust, having swept it out and finished working for the day... and just looking at all I've accomplished. And thinking how much more I'll accomplish.

I won't be able to live in that bus without a sense of self worth. "I BUILT this..."
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Old 09-01-2019, 03:05 AM   #69
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Engine: Caterpillar 3126E Diesel
Rated Cap: 71 Passenger- 30,000 lbs.
Thank you for the wonderful story Cadillackid!
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Old 09-01-2019, 09:28 AM   #70
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Location: Moved to Zealand!
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Year: 2002
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Chassis: Freightliner FS-65
Engine: 7.2L Cat 3126 turbo diesel
Rated Cap: 71 passenger 30,000 gvwr
Wow. As a new bus owner/lurker here this is a very interesting thread...

I'm not an RV'er. I love primitive camping -- a 40' base camp is a lot of base camp to haul around...

Not sure how we'll use this bus but my driveway's 2 lanes and 100' long so I know I can store it till I figure it out -- and hopefully drive it into the back yard -- it'll make a great privacy fence!

I've got close to $400 in my free bus just to get it started. I can easily see someone realizing they're spending more money than the bus is ever worth and see the need to "cut their losses"...

In just a couple daze of crawling about the bus to get it started I've seen a long list of immediate future repairs -- corroded wiring, a couple brake line sections so rusty I fear they'd burst in a panic stop!
If I wasn't able to do these repairs myself -- and spot them BEFORE they're roadside failures (or worse...) what a daunting spectacle and expense...
That reality would take the fun out of the build pretty quick...

My background as a mechanic builder allowed me to take this on but it's just one more thing in my project cue...

I don't know where my bus will go project wise but I do appreciate finding the wealth of info and ideas here...

As others have said: an enhanced tech library added to your forums would be handy. I have a 1954 Willys Wagon and the forum I spend time on for it has a great tech library of well documented how-to's for rebuilding components and or better engineering work arounds for now un-obtainable repair parts...
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Old 09-01-2019, 05:34 PM   #71
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Location: Chattanooga, TN
Posts: 234
Year: 2000
Coachwork: Amtran
Chassis: Genesis
Engine: DT466
Rated Cap: 84lug
Quote:
Originally Posted by DreamWeaverBus View Post
1800-2300 active road skoolies... in the ENTIRE USA? With THAT insurance company? I AM interested in the particular stats lol I rather expected more than that...

I put the down payment on my bus a year ago today! I'm perhaps 2/3rds done with the basic build. Electrical and water systems TBA. Also, the bus needs new batteries and ideally new tires. I've enjoyed the build. My Gramma has been helping me by holding things in place while I pre drill through bus metal and wood.. lol

I start a new job Monday though, so the bus will probably be more of a weekend project for a long while... except, I'm now at a point where it's mostly down to little things that can easily fit into a weekend or even a couple hours before work.

I can't tell you the sense of pride I feel sitting in the bus, sweaty and covered in sawdust, having swept it out and finished working for the day... and just looking at all I've accomplished. And thinking how much more I'll accomplish.

I won't be able to live in that bus without a sense of self worth. "I BUILT this..."
That estimate is based on skoolies that are insured as skoolies (a (diy) rv insurance policy) that are road going. I don't know how they differentiate between in construction and road going other than level of coverage (if so this would cause inaccuracy just from my experience) I also don't know how they polled every skoolie insurance company. This stat was an internal Liberty Mutual estimate (power point slide) showing the rapid increase in interest and need for this product. There was also a slide that showed a higher level of initial coverage at purchase (something to the tune of 25000 policies) in the US but only an average of 1800-2300 renew at year two, nationally. Ins.. is assuming they didn't cover the bus per lack of need... I doubt they are accounting for those driving with no insurance and those driving with the wrong kind of insurance (both are very bad ideas). So, again, I don't know how this data is collected or the variables they have used to organize it (these are skoolie people.. they don't get it) ... so again... take it for what its worth. The real take-away here is that by any account... a very small percentage of people that buy a bus finish their conversion. I do agree busses are never done done but there is a point when a bus is being "tweaked" not actively "constructed".
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Old 09-01-2019, 05:58 PM   #72
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Year: 2003
Coachwork: International
Chassis: CE 300
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bon Voyage View Post
It’s tempting to just buy an RV, they’re so shiny and nice, but I’ve owned more than a few and they’re 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 “there is no fix for that”. 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 won’t fall apart like that. Yes it’s 2.5x over budget and taken 2x longer than I hoped but still worth it... I think... All custom and all well built.
My uncle in Florida just bought a used travel trailer for $28,000 so he has a place to stay when he visits his son and grandson (who are living in a house he bought for them lol). It kills me to think of the skoolie he could have bought or built with that budget, instead of what I'm sure is a pile of garbage.
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Old 09-01-2019, 08:28 PM   #73
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Location: California
Posts: 13
Year: 1992
Coachwork: Ford
Chassis: b-700
Engine: 6.6 diesel
I have had 3 skoolies in 5 years, 2 were mostly completed when purchased, and one was a party bus that we overhauled to become an RV. While I have plans to upgrade my shower and kitchen and get solar on my current "finished" #3 skoolie, I would say the other 2 we still had plans to personalize were mostly complete. The second one that was a party bus and was the least travel ready, is still under construction
though and not 100% complete ( and probably won't be finished). #1 didn't have a bathroom but we had no plans to install one so it was technically complete. So...my answer based on my experience, is 1/3 are not completed, lol. It's like owning a house, you will forever be fine- tuning.
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Old 09-01-2019, 09:30 PM   #74
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Year: 2001
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There’s also those that build a bus and park it on a property somewhere, though I don’t think that would be a large number. In the last few years since I’ve caught skoolie fever I can think of 2 that have insured and driven for a short time (<1 year) and then parked it like a cabin.
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Old 09-02-2019, 05:54 PM   #75
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Join Date: Jul 2017
Posts: 14
Took me less that 6 months to get Pryscilla operational as my Glamping Queen. Been tweaking ever since with amenities such as a real bath tub as opposed to a TSC stock tank and the gray drain plumbing going straight down to the blue barrel hauled by the hubs in his Tundra. Now the blue barrel is securely fastened under the floor.
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Old 09-02-2019, 05:57 PM   #76
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What he said /\ between life and fun: posting is hard and time consuming but be assured Pryscilla has her brakes done and all her fluids replaced. Drives like a different bus. More adventurous posts soon
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Old 09-02-2019, 07:07 PM   #77
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Year: 1999
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: 3800 International
Engine: T444E
Rated Cap: 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by And1Mell View Post
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 ˝ 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.
where did you stay, and for how long when you went south west? we are thinking of heading that way as well
gbstewart
Ottawa valley
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Old 09-02-2019, 07:12 PM   #78
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Me! Insured and drive like a granny stole it!
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Old 09-02-2019, 07:33 PM   #79
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Posts: 127
Ever Get Finished???

I'll bet less than 10% of the buses purchased for the buyer's dream RV conversion ever get finished! Probably WAY LESS than 10%

Yes I know many of you say they are never finished however given the expense, difficulty in the work, registration/insurance issues and most importantly the TIME needed to build a bus into a usable RV I think I am generous in saying 10% ever get finished to a fully functional RV conversion bus in usable condition.
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Old 09-02-2019, 10:00 PM   #80
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Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: Huntington Beach CA.
Posts: 939
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: T/C 2000 28 foot Handy Bus
Engine: Cummins 5.9 Mechanical
Rated Cap: 2
Worked on Lady Liberty for over 2years today it went up for sale. Plenty of posts here and asking best offer.
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