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Old 08-08-2017, 10:02 PM   #1
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Lightbulb Summer Skoolie - two college kids and a bus

My roommate and I had this crazy idea to travel across the country and back next summer in a converted short bus. The only problem is that we're broke college kids from the northeast so we don't have a lot of money to pay for everything and we don't have a lot of experience. So here are our questions:

1) What's the least amount of total money could we possibly do this for? All we need is a bus that will get us there and back and in regards to the interior we are not looking for anything comfortable or lavish (bare 2x4s and plywood are ideal).

2) What kind of buses should we be looking at? Shuttle buses? School buses? Vans? What make and model is optimal for what we are looking to do?

3) Does anyone have ideas on what we could do to raise money? We've thought of blogs, volgs, and sponsors but will any of that really get us enough money to fund the trip?

4) Is there anything else we need to know? Obviously we'd be doing a lot of research over the next year but is there anything that would stop us in our tracks or does anyone have any reasons why any of this would not be feasible?

It's really amazing what you guys have done with these buses and the community you all have created and we hope we can join the party one day! Thank you guys so much, any response would be greatly appreciated!

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Old 08-09-2017, 12:56 AM   #2
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Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Texas
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stoney View Post
My roommate and I had this crazy idea to travel across the country and back next summer in a converted short bus. The only problem is that we're broke college kids from the northeast so we don't have a lot of money to pay for everything and we don't have a lot of experience. So here are our questions:

1) What's the least amount of total money could we possibly do this for? All we need is a bus that will get us there and back and in regards to the interior we are not looking for anything comfortable or lavish (bare 2x4s and plywood are ideal).

2) What kind of buses should we be looking at? Shuttle buses? School buses? Vans? What make and model is optimal for what we are looking to do?

3) Does anyone have ideas on what we could do to raise money? We've thought of blogs, volgs, and sponsors but will any of that really get us enough money to fund the trip?

4) Is there anything else we need to know? Obviously we'd be doing a lot of research over the next year but is there anything that would stop us in our tracks or does anyone have any reasons why any of this would not be feasible?

It's really amazing what you guys have done with these buses and the community you all have created and we hope we can join the party one day! Thank you guys so much, any response would be greatly appreciated!
Not sure where to start with this. But let's get to the basics.

Do either of you have a CDL? Depending on what you do, and how you do it, it may be required.

Do either of you have any experience with fabrication, woodwork, metalworking, had tools, power tools, air tools, auto mechanic by chance? If so, you are ahead of the game.

Any idea how much you guys want to invest in this project? A vehicle isn't free, and neither is upkeep. Creating a budget with a bus project fund would greatly benefit you.

Finally, where are you located. A lot more specific information can be given if you provide an area you are at. Just city and state, no giving out street address! It's no use for me to help you out with Texas Regs if you are in California.

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Old 08-09-2017, 05:32 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stoney View Post
My roommate and I had this crazy idea to travel across the country and back next summer in a converted short bus. The only problem is that we're broke college kids from the northeast so we don't have a lot of money to pay for everything and we don't have a lot of experience. So here are our questions:

1) What's the least amount of total money could we possibly do this for? All we need is a bus that will get us there and back and in regards to the interior we are not looking for anything comfortable or lavish (bare 2x4s and plywood are ideal).

2) What kind of buses should we be looking at? Shuttle buses? School buses? Vans? What make and model is optimal for what we are looking to do?

3) Does anyone have ideas on what we could do to raise money? We've thought of blogs, volgs, and sponsors but will any of that really get us enough money to fund the trip?

4) Is there anything else we need to know? Obviously we'd be doing a lot of research over the next year but is there anything that would stop us in our tracks or does anyone have any reasons why any of this would not be feasible?

It's really amazing what you guys have done with these buses and the community you all have created and we hope we can join the party one day! Thank you guys so much, any response would be greatly appreciated!
I mow yards. My customers are my "sponsors".
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Old 08-09-2017, 09:19 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Charlies.Contingency View Post
t's no use for me to help you out with Texas Regs if you are in California.
Last I checked neither TX nor CA are considered NE. Maybe they edited their post after your reply. CDLs aren't required for shorties unless you're hauling live bodies for pay.

Stoney,
If you're going bare bones, some guys on here do that even in full size buses. Check out Dredman. His first bus left him standing on the side of the road so he sold it and bought another. He doesn't have the time, sweat, blood, and tears invested in his.

For a short bus and a summer, you want something disposable. Disposable but dependable is the hard part especially if you aren't at least a shade tree mechanic. Personally and maybe for most of the skoolie folk here, I think the bus based shorties are preferred over the van with skoolie body. But honestly doesn't make any difference unless you're keeping it at the end of summer. Something to consider if you have a place to park it for 9 months out of the year.

Watch the auction sites. Finding a shortie for $1500 should be no problem. Interior made of 2x4s and plywood? 15/32" ply is trading for $19.25 a sheet, 2x4 stud is $2.22. Buy some "jerry cans" from Walmart for potable water, an old paint bucket and just a toilet seat... Grab a Coleman stove from the camping isle. A sponge and Dr. Bronner's soap. Thru-hikers manage with just a backpack. You're going in the Waldorf Astoria in comparison.

As for ways to pay for it, you're on your own there. I'm Gen X and you kids with mobile jobs, blogging, etc. I hate you all ... only because I missed the train on that one.
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Old 08-09-2017, 10:49 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Brewerbob View Post
Last I checked neither TX nor CA are considered NE. Maybe they edited their post after your reply. CDLs aren't required for shorties unless you're hauling live bodies for pay.

Stoney,
If you're going bare bones, some guys on here do that even in full size buses. Check out Dredman. His first bus left him standing on the side of the road so he sold it and bought another. He doesn't have the time, sweat, blood, and tears invested in his.

For a short bus and a summer, you want something disposable. Disposable but dependable is the hard part especially if you aren't at least a shade tree mechanic. Personally and maybe for most of the skoolie folk here, I think the bus based shorties are preferred over the van with skoolie body. But honestly doesn't make any difference unless you're keeping it at the end of summer. Something to consider if you have a place to park it for 9 months out of the year.

Watch the auction sites. Finding a shortie for $1500 should be no problem. Interior made of 2x4s and plywood? 15/32" ply is trading for $19.25 a sheet, 2x4 stud is $2.22. Buy some "jerry cans" from Walmart for potable water, an old paint bucket and just a toilet seat... Grab a Coleman stove from the camping isle. A sponge and Dr. Bronner's soap. Thru-hikers manage with just a backpack. You're going in the Waldorf Astoria in comparison.

As for ways to pay for it, you're on your own there. I'm Gen X and you kids with mobile jobs, blogging, etc. I hate you all ... only because I missed the train on that one.
Just an example. The point is, not knowing where he is. Each state has different laws. And non CDL is no guarantee with a short bus. All depends on GVWR or other requirements.

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Old 08-10-2017, 08:36 AM   #6
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Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: Essex, MD
Posts: 3,738
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: Blue Bird TC RE 3904, Flat Nose, 40', 277" wh base
Engine: 8.3L Cummins ISC 260hp, MT643, 4.44 rear
Rated Cap: 84 pax or 1 RV; 33,000lbs
Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlies.Contingency View Post
Just an example. The point is, not knowing where he is. Each state has different laws. And non CDL is no guarantee with a short bus. All depends on GVWR or other requirements.
I'm pretty sure the 26,000 GVWR is standard else U-Haul and Ryder would be out of business. I have no idea if there are any shorties over 26,000; that would be a beast of a shortie for sure. No problem with mountains.

Stoney,
I forgot to include... good to have you and welcome but don't discount the Econolines and Sprinters or even a old box truck. For a one and done, do you care what it looks like?
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Old 12-06-2022, 07:44 AM   #7
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Well, it's still very expensive for me.

this is a really old thread... gone are the days of the $1500 shorty that runs and drives home across the country with minimal rust.. while the market seems to be coming off of the peaks we saw in 2019/2020 (covid drove the price insame on skoolies)... prices are still much higher and the tiny home / Build your own RV movement is still popular..



im able to find somewhat decent deals on busses again.. possibly because diesel prices at least around me are more than 2X the gasoline price..



my 35 foot 45 year old classic bus with a 4 barrel carb and a 392 costs less to drive than my modern 25 foot shorty with a well tuned diesel and highway gears.. I can fly first class on delta airlines cheaper than I can drive there in the bus.... (not that I really like to travel that way just making a comparison)...


if diesel stays high and the housing market prices continue to decline i think you see less and less full-timers and better prices on busses.. the next few months are going to be Key i think in watching the auctions... its also important to see what the government does.. there's talk of expanding the EPA buyback programs for older busses.. which essentially gives schools huge incentives to get rid of (and permanently destroy) older busses in favor of propane / electric / clean-diesel busses.. this drives the used market up because those busses dont end up for sale to the public, they must be destroyed.. that legislation is likely to fail with the US house going republican but we will see..


to keep things on the cheap you really need to learn to do all your maintenance and learn where junkyards are to buy good second-hand tires, parts, etc... ive spent quite a bit of coin on my personal "fleet" of busses to keep them up and update where needed...



with the housing market tanking ab it one good thing is that I see building material prices on the down trend.. things like plywood, cabinets, etc are coming down so the "house" part of a build-out can cost less than it did at the peaks.
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