School Bus Conversion Resources

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admiller 09-15-2014 12:36 PM

Starting my Research.. finding more questions than answers
Hello all,
My name is Daniel and I am from Pensacola, FL. Since I was a kid, I have wanted to travel the country. I have spent the night in a couple of RVs but never traveled in one, but I love the idea of living out of an RV for extended periods of time. The one thing that always turned me away was the price. The older, more affordable RVs seemed like death boxes due to being 2x2 lumber construction with a sheet-metal skin holding them all together, and the nice motor-coach based ones were WAY out of my price range. About 5 years ago I had the idea of building an RV when an acquaintance mentioned a friend of his who bought an old charter bus and converted it into an RV. I looked into going that route for a while, but the price was still quite a bit out of reach. Then I found some youtube videos of school bus conversions and thought that it would be a more affordable and ultimately more customizable way to go. For a while now I have been casually reading up on this topic. I want to be well informed before I start the process of procuring a bus to convert.

I have a couple of requirements for the bus.

1) Tall Ceiling Height- I am 6' tall and I don't want to have to slouch over the entire time I am in my RV. I want to finish the ceiling with wood planking and have it somewhat insulated and install hardwood flooring so that will take up a couple of inches at least. So I have two options here, buy a taller bus (Like the Saf-t-liner C2) or I could raise the roof myself.
2) Maximum Floor space- Between my wife and I, we have 5 kids. Granted, by the time I buy the bus and have it ready for weekend trips, at least two of them will have moved out with two more very near graduation, But I would like to have room for everyone to sleep somewhat comfortably so I would like the maximum floor space possible.

I am currently in IT and have been wanting to go into block-printing full time for a while now, which is something that I may be able to do on the road for income I just have to make a space for it. So i need to take that into consideration when building a floor plan.

I also have some questions that I need help with from people who have had the experiences

1) Front engine or Rear Engine- Personally I like the look of the flat front buses which come in both FR and RR layouts. I do like that in the RR layout, I have more room for storage and the water tanks down the center of the chassis, where a FR would use up that space for the drive shaft and exhaust. Are there any major downsides to having a RR layout that I am unaware? A coworker of mine used to be a mechanic and he said that the easiest buses to work on are the FR with engine mounted under a hood, and the hardest was the FR with the engine under the driver. Is this opinion accurate?

2) Gas vs Diesel- I have seen this go both ways. From the numbers that I have seen people post, it looks like diesel engines get slightly better MPG than the gas. I have read that while diesel engines are more a little more reliable and the MPG stays roughly the same no matter how full the bus is, they are more expensive to service and repair. While the gas engines are pretty close in reliability, but when loaded the MPG drops noticeably, but they can pretty much be worked on by any competent mechanic shop. The former mechanic mentioned above said that the International gas engines are pretty much bulletproof.

So if any of you have comments to these questions or would like to share your experiences, please do. I look forward to hearing from you all.

Also, when I start this project, I plan on documenting it all with detailed photos, video and layouts.

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