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Old 06-22-2017, 12:41 PM   #1
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Question Questions: From Your Experience!

Hey Y'all.

I am considering saving and constructing a skoolie. I have been listening and reading as much as I can. I am seriously considering living in a skoolie, not just recreational.

I have some general questions, I'd really appreciate your answers it if you have time:
  1. How much mechanical knowledge did you have before starting your project?
    I am labor inclined and I like to build. I know quite a bit about carpentry.
    However I am a layperson when it comes to plumbing, electrical, and car mechanics.

  2. What's the longest you or someone you "know" has lived in a skoolie?
    Curious about the longevity of a School Bus Home.

  3. I am 6'2". Are school buses with 7' or more inside height uncommon?
    Raising the roof is probably one thing I would not want to do (personally)

  4. How important is "stealth" from your experience?
    I do not want a shorty.
    One thing I see pop up a lot is how full size buses draw attention and this can be problematic?
    Are you questioned often by authorities? Do you worry more about your skoolie being broken into because of the windows and such?

  5. Is someone who makes a living via internet going to have an especially difficult time?
    What are some more stable options beyond going to Starbucks, etc?

Thanks so much!
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Old 06-22-2017, 01:40 PM   #2
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Hello Serpent

This is a good place to start.

  1. How much mechanical knowledge did you have before starting your project?
    There are many career fields represented here, from diesel mechanics to just about anything you can think of. You shouldn't have a problem that can't be handled with a little advice from the right person.
  2. What's the longest you or someone you "know" has lived in a skoolie?
    Some people have lived in buses for 20-30 years.
  3. I am 6'2". Are school buses with 7' or more inside height uncommon?
    There are taller buses. Talk to CaptSquid.
  4. How important is "stealth" from your experience? Not only are full size buses more noticeable, they're much harder to turn around if you're trying to be stealthy at all.
  5. Break-ins are fairly common for some of us. People forget about securing the top hatch. The driver's side window is also known as an easy entry point.
  6. Is someone who makes a living via internet going to have an especially difficult time?
    It might be tough if you're trying to operate using free wifi. They make mobile satellite TV dishes. Where's the mobile internet satellite dish?


I like the Eddie Munster hairline in the pic.
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Old 06-22-2017, 09:55 PM   #3
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Hey Robin, thanks for the reply.

The internet issue seems pretty tricky. It's something I'd be okay with paying for within reason, but these satellites sound like they have a lot of issues with positioning and signal strength. I've read about people using their cell coverage with their laptop.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin97396 View Post
Break-ins are fairly common for some of us. People forget about securing the top hatch. The driver's side window is also known as an easy entry point.
Do you feel that being in a bus makes you more of a target than RVers?

I think if I had something that noticeable I'd consider designing it for "intimidation" Road Warrior style because there is no use hiding it, lol
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Old 06-22-2017, 10:21 PM   #4
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My family has Verizon and if we need the computer but can't access wifi we use a small device called a "puck" (no idea if thats the proper name for it)
It uses cellular data to provide internet access to a device, has its own little password and everything

Or you could maybe use your phone as a hotspot

I've read some people put wifi extenders in their rigs to make RV park/public wifi marginally better but I personally know nothing about it

I think safeguarding the bus is pretty straightforward except for the driver's window
Maybe something like this would work. They're used to make sliding glass doors more secure since the stock locks are so easy to pick
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Old 06-22-2017, 11:15 PM   #5
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My family has Verizon and if we need the computer but can't access wifi we use a small device called a "puck" (no idea if thats the proper name for it)
It uses cellular data to provide internet access to a device, has its own little password and everything
Very good to know. This is the type of thing I am looking for.

How is the speed compared to WiFi? Do you have to be careful with data usage?
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Old 06-23-2017, 09:17 AM   #6
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Quote:
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How is the speed compared to WiFi? Do you have to be careful with data usage?
I checked and it's actually officially called a JetPack, it just looks like a hockey puck

Ours is probably a little dated (got it before iPhone hotspots were a thing) but I never had any problems with speed when I used it. Felt just like using my home wifi.

Since it draws on the cellular network you would need to adjust your plan with whatever company you use accordingly. You could alleviate the gigs used by saving video streaming for when you're connected to wifi and only having the JetPack turned on when you're using it. It can get on the expensive side fast if you're not careful. There's also the up-front cost of the device itself and I think an activation fee.

These are devices verizon has available:
https://www.verizonwireless.com/internet-devices/

I don't know if other companies have similar devices or what they may have available.
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Old 06-23-2017, 01:13 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin97396 View Post
Break-ins are fairly common for some of us. People forget about securing the top hatch. The driver's side window is also known as an easy entry point.
Silent,
This guy lives next door to a bunch of crackheads I think. I don't know if a bus is a bigger target to thieves or not. When I turn criminal, I'm not going to hit skoolies. They might be easier to get into but it's some dude that slapped together a POS and hit the road. The RV has marble, a fireplace, etc. It cost that dude $300k to get it on the road. He's going to have better stuff for me to pawn.

Whether true or not, skoolies are typecasted like that. They do draw more attention. The attention of sneering RVers which no skooiler would care about. But it also draws more attention from parking lot owners, RV camps, HOAs, etc. All I was doing was loading my bus for a Memorial Day trip to Watkins Glen. I was parked at the gf's for all of 3 hrs tops. 5 people made comments. Only one thought it was cool. On the other extreme was a woman who came dangerously close to getting cussed out.
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Old 06-23-2017, 01:21 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wendysdrivethrudude View Post
I checked and it's actually officially called a JetPack, it just looks like a hockey puck

Ours is probably a little dated (got it before iPhone hotspots were a thing) but I never had any problems with speed when I used it. Felt just like using my home wifi.

Since it draws on the cellular network you would need to adjust your plan with whatever company you use accordingly. You could alleviate the gigs used by saving video streaming for when you're connected to wifi and only having the JetPack turned on when you're using it. It can get on the expensive side fast if you're not careful. There's also the up-front cost of the device itself and I think an activation fee.

These are devices verizon has available:
https://www.verizonwireless.com/internet-devices/

I don't know if other companies have similar devices or what they may have available.
they do.. ive got 3 of them.. Verizon, ATT, and T-mobile.. (the T-mobile I took an ATT unit and dropped a Tmobile SIM in it).. I use mine with a MIKROTIK router so I even have wired internet.. or I can prioviude my own network via mac-spoofing a poublic network like Starbucks, etc...

DONT BUY AN OLD USED MOBILE HOTSPOT!! all of the major networks have acquired and deployed new radio bands recently that increase speed and reliability of 4G LTE service... the older mobile hotspots dont support these new bands.. you need to have the latest greatest for the best performance... they need to support the LTE advanced signal spectrums..

-Christopher
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Old 06-23-2017, 01:30 PM   #9
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Yeah, I also think I live next door to a bunch of crackheads too. I'm not looking to make friends with them either. The one good thing that comes from this is my bus will be secure before I'm finished, because these guys will exploit every weakness.

"dangerously close to getting cussed out"? What were you doing parked on her personal street anyway? Rhetorical question.
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Old 06-23-2017, 01:52 PM   #10
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  1. How much mechanical knowledge did you have before starting your project?
    I've built aircraft, and homes, restored cars, etc. Knew a fair bit about working with metal, fiberglass, and wood. The more you know and the more tools you have, the easier it will be.

  2. What's the longest you or someone you "know" has lived in a skoolie?
    I can't answer that. I've lived in a motorhome for three years and my current project for a little less than six months. The 'parts' that typical wear out/fail are the "home" parts (refrigerator, heater, etc.). Assuming you buy a bus that is in reasonable condition, you are likely to wear it out. Of course, the bus does require maintenance and tires.
  3. I am 6'2". Are school buses with 7' or more inside height uncommon?
    Can't answer.

  4. How important is "stealth" from your experience?
    I know nothing about this - a 13' tall, 45' long behemoth (my coach) is anything but stealth. Maybe it depends where you are. I'm in the west and have spent much of the last three years boondocking - legally. I always stay legal, considerate of others/the next guy, and do everything I can to not look like "a problem" - never had any issues.

  5. Is someone who makes a living via internet going to have an especially difficult time?
    I am a full-time employed software engineer and have worked exclusively from my motorhome/bus for the last three years. My "needs" are about 10Gb/month, constant connectivity during the work week, and reasonable speed (at least 3G). I have a 20Gb/month data plan and often use most of it depending on how conservative I am being. Using Verizon, a cellular amplifier, and external antenna on a 20' pole, there haven't been too many boondocking spots in the west where I could not achieve that using cellular data. They do exist, of course. Being down in a hole/steep valley is the biggest problem (no signal). I use a combination of my Samsung phone and Samsung tablet for the connectivity/hotspot (for my laptop). The amplifier and external antenna are only used when necessary.

    Here is a blog post I wrote on this very topic a while back:
    Working Full Time while Living On The Road in an RV - JdFinley.com

Hope that helps!!
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Old 06-23-2017, 02:12 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin97396 View Post
"dangerously close to getting cussed out"? What were you doing parked on her personal street anyway? Rhetorical question.
Holy 5hit, you're psychotic er, .... I mean physic. While she was out there giving me grief, she said "you know this isn't your property." It was at that very point that I was going to rip her a new as5hole and explain to her the legal definition of "easement". It a duplex that she just bought half of (a month ago). It not only shares a driveway with my gf (in the other half) but with a set of duplexes next door. Two dirt drives with a little bit in the middle. I was parked in the center making sure I didn't block any of the parking spots. Her dumb as5 can't drive for 5hit so she had to back into her spot 2 or 3 time before she finally got it right.

How long is the bus going to be there? Not a hello. Not a my name is ___. Never seen the woman outside before. Never talked to her and she starts with that? Strike 1.

"It's 'inconvenient'". Learn to drive. Strike 2.

"It's not your property." It's not yours either. Strike 3.

For reference, I never "counted to 3" with the kids. Your first is a freebie. Your second is a pattern and I will correct your as5 on it. The only reason she got 3 and still wasn't cussed out was because my gf has to live next to her and she is a pacifist to the Nth degree. Had it been my place... oh dear gawd there would have been fireworks going off.

Just repeating this a month later has my blood pressure up a good 10 points. That woman ever says anything other than hello to me and I will make up for lost time plus interest.
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Old 06-23-2017, 04:04 PM   #12
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I say hook up that quad train horn so you can make the right impression.
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Old 06-23-2017, 05:18 PM   #13
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I want a train horn in my bus!!!
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Old 06-23-2017, 06:51 PM   #14
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They seem to only sell them with the electric connection, rather than the spring loaded valve on the older trucks. I like that valve control so you don't have to go full volume.

I was told teenagers like to pull the horns off a bus if they're mounted on the exterior.
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Old 06-25-2017, 12:12 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by JDOnTheGo View Post

Here is a blog post I wrote on this very topic a while back:
Working Full Time while Living On The Road in an RV - JdFinley.com


Hope that helps!!
Thanks! This is very helpful.. though a bit heartbreaking.

I need to download / upload a lot in my line of work.
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Old 06-26-2017, 08:24 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin97396 View Post
They seem to only sell them with the electric connection, rather than the spring loaded valve on the older trucks. I like that valve control so you don't have to go full volume.
If you aren't going full volume why use it at all? There is a regular "car horn" on the bus too.

Quote:
I was told teenagers like to pull the horns off a bus if they're mounted on the exterior.
Now you're trying to get someone shot.
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Old 06-26-2017, 08:54 AM   #17
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Thanks! This is very helpful.. though a bit heartbreaking.

I need to download / upload a lot in my line of work.
Can you define "a lot"? Frequently? Huge volumes of data (like Gb)?

Depending on where you plan to stay, there are options. Of course, cost may an issue. Having more than one large cellular data plan is a possibility. If you are in an area with good coverage by several providers, it sounds like there may be an unlimited data plan or two still available.
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Old 06-26-2017, 09:50 AM   #18
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depending on where you are at many free wifi connections are decent these days.. the starbucks stores off the freeways are usually pretty decent.. if you are running close to your data plan limits, a $3 cup off coffee to make some major transfers vs $15 per gig over charges is worth it..

while im not a Nomad, I am in the software / hardware dev business and I do a lot of work away from land connections.. and find public internets are getting better and better.. security-wise I open my IPSEC tunnel and always work through that,

I do use my hotpots when im away from workable free wifi

-Christopher
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Old 06-26-2017, 10:17 AM   #19
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My experience with wifi in the western states is that it exists in all populated areas but, unlike ten years ago, nearly all of them are secured or so slow as to be useless (to me). Obviously the places that advertise free wifi are open. Several years ago, I believed using free wifi was a workable option (for me and employment needs) but I don't think it has been for the last few years. In addition to more/most of them being secured now, the really big negative (for me) is that you have to be near population to find a signal. All that said, I know some organizations are working on some interesting possibilities - XFINITY WiFi for example.
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Old 06-26-2017, 10:28 AM   #20
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true that.. the west is very different in how much wifi is available.. in residential andcorporate areas of anywhere, the wifi is generally secured.. except for the obvious public spots like mickey D's and starbucks (the 2 biggest free wifi providers)..

and I'll admit I spend much of my time looking at how to be more 'On Grid'.. im a guy who finds the suburbs 'too country' for me.. so I do spend alot of my work time in population centers..
-Christopher
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