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Old 08-12-2020, 11:36 AM   #1
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Skoolie party of 1 (and 2 cats)

Hi guys! Brand new to Skoolies!

Iím a medical student and I canít think of a better way to travel to all my clinical rotations ...especially with my two cats in tow, then with a skoolie! We move sites every 12 weeks or so and uprooting my little furry children every 12 weeks would just be a nightmare. Plus finding temporary housing for all of us is not going to happen. Has anyone traveled with cats?

Now, keeping the litter box in mind ó what size / make / engine would you recommend?

I was thinking a full sized bus. And Iíd rather have a nice big bathroom (with a tub) than a full kitchen anyway. Thereís no time to eat in medical school.

Iím hoping to secure clinical rotations in NY, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and possibly Seattle. So therell be a lot of driving.

Also, Iíll be gone much of the day ó how do you secure your buses? Whatís your best window and door locks? My goal is to find a few alumni from my school scattered around and see if theyíll let me park in their yard. But Iím a woman traveling alone in America and statistically bad things happen to those people.

So Iím looking for advice on

1. bus sizes to fit me and cats and litter boxes (dog nose? Flat nose?)

2. Locks
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Old 08-12-2020, 12:21 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by RizGoose18 View Post
I’m a medical student and I can’t think of a better way to travel to all my clinical rotations ...especially with my two cats in tow, then with a skoolie! We move sites every 12 weeks or so and uprooting my little furry children every 12 weeks would just be a nightmare. Plus finding temporary housing for all of us is not going to happen. Has anyone traveled with cats?
We are starting to travel with our two cats.
lapla_cat_25%.jpgjaeha_cat_25%.jpg

Ours are still getting used to moving, and our rig is a soundproofed RE which is comparably quiet on the road. They used to cry, now they hide. They used to stay hidden, now they come out more quickly after moving. One we've been focusing on a bit keeping them company so that they know everything is okay when the house is in motion.

The RE reduced our space by a little bit but I prefer that to the noise.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RizGoose18 View Post
Now, keeping the litter box in mind — what size / make / engine would you recommend?

I was thinking a full sized bus. And I’d rather have a nice big bathroom (with a tub) than a full kitchen anyway. There’s no time to eat in medical school.
Depends entirely on your desired amenities. Keep in mind that bigger = less mobile. We have a 37'er and it is plenty of room for the cats to explore and get a view of the outside from all angles, full facilities including kitchen, office, bedroom, bathroom, shower.

If you want to fill that tub, consider the amount of water required both to fill the tub and support draining the used water. Also consider the space it would consume in a layout, and the amount of time you'd need to spend on the conversion.

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I’m hoping to secure clinical rotations in NY, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and possibly Seattle. So therell be a lot of driving.
Make sure whatever you go with you keep up to date on maintenance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RizGoose18 View Post
Also, I’ll be gone much of the day — how do you secure your buses? What’s your best window and door locks? My goal is to find a few alumni from my school scattered around and see if they’ll let me park in their yard. But I’m a woman traveling alone in America and statistically bad things happen to those people.
For locks, on the emergency exits we use these:
door_lock_inside.jpgdoor_lock_outside.jpg

They are as strong as the door, although the glass can still be pried out of the seal. The front door, we bar up entirely.

Other security thoughts:

We installed an 8 camera security system (HD DVR) with 360 degree outside view coverage, indoor coverage and night vision. Many of these can be accessed remotely.
sec_sys.png
I can check on my surroundings with all of my windows covered/closed and in the darkness of night. And all of the cameras glow dark red at night- a warning at the very least to potential vandals.


Self defense is pretty important, a good start would be a high-lumen flashlight. It robs a potential assailant of their night vision, or at 1000 lumens+ their ability to even see your silhouette behind the blindingly bright light.

https://www.amazon.com/OLIGHT-Magnet.../dp/B07YP6P91F


Of course there are more modes of self-defense, I would strongly encourage these as well, given they are legal and safe.
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Old 08-12-2020, 03:38 PM   #3
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Cats don't like change, so hauling your house around best for them.

Are you going to tow a small car to commute once you get there, or rent one?
Might think of just a trailer, that is what my traveling nurse sister used, towed by a truck she drove to work once moved. Usually not a long commute, but if long truck MPG not ideal.
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Old 08-12-2020, 04:25 PM   #4
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Thanks so much! That's kinda what I was thinking. Are you able to tow a car with that? I'd rather not buy a new car on top of everything too. I have a subaru impreza and I thought I'd tow it two wheels down.
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Old 08-12-2020, 05:34 PM   #5
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Not to discourage you, however if you are not into potentially dirty and greasy mechanical work or deconstruction/construction work, I'd suggest looking for a bus that has already had a conversion done.
The amount of time to build out a rolling, comfortable, and safe home is probably much greater than you realize or are planning on.
Unseen/unplanned additional work also must be accounted for and is difficult to estimate.

Good luck, and post pics if you go forward with your idea...
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Old 08-12-2020, 06:47 PM   #6
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Not to discourage you, however if you are not into potentially dirty and greasy mechanical work or deconstruction/construction work, I'd suggest looking for a bus that has already had a conversion done.
The amount of time to build out a rolling, comfortable, and safe home is probably much greater than you realize or are planning on.
Unseen/unplanned additional work also must be accounted for and is difficult to estimate.

Good luck, and post pics if you go forward with your idea...

Hi Pete,

Everyone was new once-- what makes you think I haven't realized how much work this will be? In the future it would be better to give specific criticism to different unforeseen maintenance issues that I might not have thought of as a newbie. A blanket statement of how hard this is going to be is not helpful to this conversation. It's just unkind. And I wonder if you would have made the same comment if I hadn't mentioned that I am a young woman.

I have experience getting dirty and I'm no stranger to challenges -- it's unfair of you to insinuate otherwise, especially on an anonymous forum where you can't know anything about me. For all you know I could be Mona Lisa Vito from My Cousin Vinny.

Your comment adds nothing of value to the conversation, it's just rude. Unless you have something to contribute to the specific questions I've asked, you'd be better served refraining from commenting further.
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Old 08-12-2020, 07:12 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by RizGoose18 View Post
I have a subaru impreza and I thought I'd tow it two wheels down.
Contact Subaru to see if it can be towed two-down. I somehow doubt it, the transmission has to support it or it could be damaged.

I'm going to offer you some constructive criticism: Your response to peteg59 doesn't make you look very good.

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Originally Posted by RizGoose18 View Post
Everyone was new once-- what makes you think I haven't realized how much work this will be?
There is no shortage of people who see skoolies, skoolie life the destination without understanding how much is involved from beginning to end. I hoped to build in a little over a year, I'm just now finishing at year three.

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In the future it would be better to give specific criticism to different unforeseen maintenance issues that I might not have thought of as a newbie. A blanket statement of how hard this is going to be is not helpful to this conversation.
This is fair.

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It's just unkind. And I wonder if you would have made the same comment if I hadn't mentioned that I am a young woman.
The first sentence is false and unfair. It is not unkind to offer warning to someone that may be wading into deeper waters than they understand. You may understand and know what is ahead, others may not. Building out a bus to live in is _hard_.

The second sentence is a rhetorical question, reading their mind and making the worst assumptions about their motives. It is inferring malice. Its nasty and unwarranted. I know plenty of young men even, who seem physically capable of anything yet fail when asked to handle something as simple as flat tire. They can't handle getting dirty. Why would I assume you can? Should I assume you can just to be sensitive to your feelings, to evade such inevitable accusations?

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Originally Posted by RizGoose18 View Post
Your comment adds nothing of value to the conversation, it's just rude.
I'm going to copy their post here and highlight some of the more rude portions of it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by peteg59 View Post
Not to discourage you, however if you are not into potentially dirty and greasy mechanical work or deconstruction/construction work, I'd suggest looking for a bus that has already had a conversion done.
The amount of time to build out a rolling, comfortable, and safe home is probably much greater than you realize or are planning on.

Good luck, and post pics if you go forward with your idea...
Oops, those were the least rude portions. Those were the considerate portions. Those were the portions showing restraint and wishing you well in your endeavors.

Honestly, I thought it was incredible, certainly ambitious- that someone going through medical school would attempt to juggle a build as to facilitate their travels in the field. Kinda shows someone willing to do it all, you know. But someone who automatically assumes the worst of others when they hear what they don't want to hear, eh I don't know.


Welcome to the community, lets all just be nice to each other.
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Old 08-12-2020, 07:56 PM   #8
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Contact Subaru to see if it can be towed two-down. I somehow doubt it, the transmission has to support it or it could be damaged.

I'm going to offer you some constructive criticism: Your response to peteg59 doesn't make you look very good.

There is no shortage of people who see skoolies, skoolie life the destination without understanding how much is involved from beginning to end. I hoped to build in a little over a year, I'm just now finishing at year three.

This is fair.

The first sentence is false and unfair. It is not unkind to offer warning to someone that may be wading into deeper waters than they understand. You may understand and know what is ahead, others may not. Building out a bus to live in is _hard_.

The second sentence is a rhetorical question, reading their mind and making the worst assumptions about their motives. It is inferring malice. Its nasty and unwarranted. I know plenty of young men even, who seem physically capable of anything yet fail when asked to handle something as simple as flat tire. They can't handle getting dirty. Why would I assume you can? Should I assume you can just to be sensitive to your feelings, to evade such inevitable accusations?



I'm going to copy their post here and highlight some of the more rude portions of it.

Oops, those were the least rude portions. Those were the considerate portions. Those were the portions showing restraint and wishing you well in your endeavors.

Honestly, I thought it was incredible, certainly ambitious- that someone going through medical school would attempt to juggle a build as to facilitate their travels in the field. Kinda shows someone willing to do it all, you know. But someone who automatically assumes the worst of others when they hear what they don't want to hear, eh I don't know.


Welcome to the community, lets all just be nice to each other.

This is exhausting. It's such a shame that it's 2020 and you still think it's acceptable to behave this way.

Enjoy the rest of your night, and take your condescension elsewhere.
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Old 08-12-2020, 08:13 PM   #9
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Dear Ms Rizgoose18,
Someone's sexual identity is not my concern, nor would I offer any other suggestions if you were a young man.

Many times someone coming onto the open forums looking for advise is going to get whatever the members feel is pertinent to the question(s) asked.

Not knowing anything about you, it seems you have a chip on your shoulder, if what I said somehow offended you?

I stand by my above post and offer no apologies for saying what I said.
Good luck to you on getting anyone to give you advice if you have such thin skin as to think I was trying to offend or be "rude" to you in any way in my post above.
Have yourself a great evening!
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Old 08-12-2020, 08:54 PM   #10
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Well I thought I had something to contribute to this topic but now I'm plagued by conflict whether my insights are useful real-world experience or just toxic male privilege so rather than risk offense I'll just sit this one out. Good luck on your journey and please keep us posted on your progress.
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Old 08-12-2020, 09:22 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by RizGoose18 View Post
Thanks so much! That's kinda what I was thinking. Are you able to tow a car with that? I'd rather not buy a new car on top of everything too. I have a subaru impreza and I thought I'd tow it two wheels down.
Yes, you can tow a car with a bus. I towed a pickup behind my bus from Alaska to Georgia.

I want to point out that I put about 200 hours of work in getting my bus ready for that trip. That's on top of another 200 or so hours previous to that. I'd estimate that I'm about 1/3 of the way done on my conversion. A general rule of thumb is that every project takes about four times as long as I've budgeted and leads me to discover another project that I wasn't expecting. I work on the bus because I enjoy it - I like planning out the projects, building them, and then troubleshooting and often redesigning. Working with power tools helps me relax after a stressful day at work.

You can turn a bus into a metal tent in a weekend with almost no cash. Every few hours of work, you can add an improvement that makes life better or easier. However, building something that is the equivalent of a factory-built RV takes many hundreds of hours of labor and often 10s of thousands of dollars. If you want to cut costs, it requires an even greater investment of time.

What do you really want? How much time can you devote?
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Old 08-12-2020, 10:07 PM   #12
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What is your plan for keeping the finished bus cool while you're at work?
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Old 08-12-2020, 10:49 PM   #13
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The subaru would need a full trailer. The large rear overhang of most buses and motorhomes makes them particular poor for towing, as it 'wags' the trailer.
Of course it still works just not as safe.

But you can put your motorcycle on a platform instead so no towing.

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Old 08-13-2020, 01:09 AM   #14
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What subaru do you have? Some of them can tow 3,500 even 4,500 lbs,
so you can use it to tow like a 18ft travel trailer.
Something like this, this 1994 is $3,700 here in sacramento on CL.

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Old 08-13-2020, 02:13 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RizGoose18 View Post
Hi guys! Brand new to Skoolies!
Welcome!

Quote:
Originally Posted by RizGoose18 View Post
Iím a medical student and I canít think of a better way to travel to all my clinical rotations ...especially with my two cats in tow, then with a skoolie! We move sites every 12 weeks or so and uprooting my little furry children every 12 weeks would just be a nightmare. Plus finding temporary housing for all of us is not going to happen. Has anyone traveled with cats?
I've run across many instances of people doing traveling medical work (nurse/doctor) with a camper/RV of some type, and even seen references that some larger hospitals have places for parking a camper when someone is on a short term contract.

I think this is a great idea. It will provide stability for your furry friends as their home will be the same even if the landscape is different. Traveling will be an adventure for you and them in the beginning, and you might even need to give them something equivalent to dramamine. Consult your veterinarian on that.

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Now, keeping the litter box in mind ó what size / make / engine would you recommend?
I suspect you would find a short bus to be challenging for you and the animals for full time living. Those would be busses built up from van/cutaway chassis like the E350/E450 or equivalent. A mid sized bus would probably be ok for you, those tend to be in the 25-30 foot long range. They're generally built on bigger truck chassis. Bluebird has a really cut model that is flat nose front engine that is super easy to drive and fit into parking lots (not necessarily the parking spaces though). Then you move up to your full size, typically 30-40 foot in length. Front engine dog nose, front engine flat nose, and rear engine flat nose each have their own benefits and drawbacks.

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I was thinking a full sized bus. And Iíd rather have a nice big bathroom (with a tub) than a full kitchen anyway.
Ah, some guidance to answer your own question. A full size bus in the 30-40 foot range is a good choice for this. A large bathroom with bath is certainly doable. I know some have mentioned tankage, but I suspect you will be on shore power/water/septic a lot of the time, so tankage is less of an issue. You can certainly design your bus to have reasonable tankage for dry camping (aka boondocking) with no source of power or water and use your tub for showers. And then when full resources are available, then a bath becomes a reasonable option.

You can really get a lot of kitchen in a tiny space. Look at some of the build threads and borrow ideas. You can certainly have a small convection burner and a microwave for the basics.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RizGoose18 View Post
Thereís no time to eat in medical school.
If there's no time to eat, where will you find time to do your conversion? Just something to think about.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RizGoose18 View Post
Iím hoping to secure clinical rotations in NY, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and possibly Seattle. So therell be a lot of driving.
Those northeastern states get cold in the winter time, and Georgia gets really flippin hot in the summer time, so you'll want to put a lot of thought into insulating really well.

For that kind of travel distance, I'd look for one of the stronger power plants. I'd probably want either the Cummins 8.3, or the DT466E, or the Cummins 5.9 married to an Allison 2000 or 3000 series transmission. There's a person that can unlock the 6th gear overdrive in those transmissions. Not all the 2000 series have the 6th gear overdrive ability, so run your selection by the experts here before you pull the trigger. You want to avoid an AT545 transmission found in many of the older busses as they do not have a lockup torque converter, so aren't as good at mountain driving as you'd want when crossing the country a lot. The MT643 is a good transmission for an older bus.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RizGoose18 View Post
Also, Iíll be gone much of the day ó how do you secure your buses? Whatís your best window and door locks? My goal is to find a few alumni from my school scattered around and see if theyíll let me park in their yard. But Iím a woman traveling alone in America and statistically bad things happen to those people.
There are a lot of ways to lock up the bus when you're away, and some really good examples in this forum. The one Kaz posted is a favorite of mine for the side or rear door. For the front door, I don't have a good suggestion other than perhaps barring it from the inside and going out the side/rear door.

Kaz also mentioned a security camera setup, and I'd recommend something like that. I plan a similar setup in my own bus.

With you gone for the day and the cats there alone, you definitely need good climate control.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RizGoose18 View Post
So Iím looking for advice on

1. bus sizes to fit me and cats and litter boxes (dog nose? Flat nose?)

2. Locks
Dog nose is perhaps the easiest to find and really easy to work on the engine. It's a much more familiar driving method for someone used to cars and pickup trucks. The steer axle is under the engine, and forward of the driver. The hoods on these tend to be fiberglass, and the paint tends to fade over time. Also, the extra mirrors tend to vibrate and break the fiberglass over time.

Flat nose looks more like an RV to a casual glance.

The front engine flat nose has a doghouse inside like many vans do for access to the engine. You need to insulate and soundproof that thing because it can get quite uncomfortable for the driver for extended periods of time. Your cats will probably love laying on top of it though. LOL

The rear engine flat nose has all that heat and noise in the back. You still want to insulate and sound proof the engine cover area. Some have an access panel for servicing some component of the engine, if it does, make sure you can access it when you do your conversion.

Rear engines tend to have more heat related issues than front engines do. Just something to be aware of.

Flat nose busses also have the driver sitting in front of the steer axle. This is not the kind of driving you are used to with a car or pickup truck. It does not take long to adjust, and I find it a very enjoyable experience driving my rear engine flat nose bus. The visibility is incredible.

Mirrors on busses are very well designed to give really good visibility for safety. Much better than cars/trucks.

Other things to consider:

Hydraulic vs air brakes. Hydraulics operate very much like your car/truck brakes. Air brakes are considered superior, but depending on the state you use for your domicile, might require a special license endorsement.

Air ride suspension? more comfort, but harder to find.

Air ride driver seat? supposedly more comfort, but my experience differs.

Air horn? If you have *any* air services, you'll want to add one if it doesn't have one, because it is FUN!

Quote:
Originally Posted by RizGoose18
Are you able to tow a car with that? I'd rather not buy a new car on top of everything too. I have a subaru impreza and I thought I'd tow it two wheels down.
Nearly any bus you find will be capable of towing a car. A rear engine bus is a little more challenging to install a hitch on than a front engine bus.

A Subaru is an all wheel drive vehicle. You cannot tow any all wheel drive or four wheel drive with only 2 wheels on the ground without destroying part of your driveline. Many four wheel drive vehicles have a 4 wheel neutral towing ability for 4 wheel down towing. I do not know about all wheel drive vehicles for that. I looked into 4 down towing for my suburban and realized for the cost of base plate plus tow bar setup plus safety brake system and lighting modification, I'd easily be in for 2.5K, which goes a long way toward buying a trailer. Thinking ahead to when I want to replace my existing vehicle, and needing a new base plate, the trailer makes even more sense. In the short term, you can rent a vehicle trailer from u-haul, get to your new place, and turn it in.

Again, welcome to the madhouse, and I really hope you find exactly what you're looking for.
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