From school bus to “cabin style” RV – in progress conversion

Jnich77

Director of Adventure Management Operations
Looking good bud!!! I swear if I ever get a chance to do the Pan American Hw its going to be in a old school bus!
 

Little Red

Adventurer
Update:

Just realized it’s been a month since I have updated this thread.
The summer and dry weather here in WA has definitely come to an end, so with all the rain I have not been able to do as much work as I wanted.

But I was able to remove the last seats and dividers up front and strip down the floor.

Here are some pictures of the progress:


All the seats are out!


Looking towards the back, I think I am going to keep the heater you see on the right.
The bed will be in the back and I can just mount it underneath the bed.


Started taking out the flooring


All the flooring removed

Next will be sanding down the floor and painting it, replace a section of rotten floorboard, then install new flooring and when that’s all done I can really start the built.
 

rdraider

Adventurer
watching with anticipation! When i was a kid in scouts we had a 1958 chevy school bus. It was the coolest thing ever to go to camp in. Although a little short for me it would have made a great conversion. 454 with a turbo 400 tranny.
 

VanIsle_Greg

I think I need a bigger truck!
Very kool indeed.

I remember a friend of our family years ago when I was a kid had one, the same size as this. He lived in it year round. He used to live on board a sailboat for years, so this was actually bigger. He built his from basically what you have...surplus recent and in great shape. He stripped it inside and out, removed all School Bus stuff and then started with the plan. When you walked up the stairs you were in the living room. A built in sofa behind the drivers seat and a comfy chair on the other. Past that was the kitchen area with a Diesel stove (Dickenson I believe) of marine stove/heater fame. After that the bathroom and last but not least sleeping area.

It was very well laid out, the kitchen was all done in aluminum sheeting and it was very warm with the diesel stove. I think he might have had a little wood burner too, cant remember? I do remember it was more like a boat interior than an RV...and I loved it because we were building our boat at the time (45' Offshore cruiser).

It was painted white outside and was really sharp looking. He had that thing for years, drove it all over and lived in it for what must have been 10 years.

Good times! Happy build...I will be following this one.
 

pods8

Explorer
What is the thought processes on wanting a wood stove in there rather than just using a propane heater (can use a Wave catalytic unit if you want to avoid a powered unit)?

For a fridge the edgestar compressor fridges are the cheapest of the bunch if you want a 12V unit. If you're fine with propane there are a bunch of those units around too, probably can find something used.

You mentioned solar, as an FYI I tossed this thread up of some solar sales I noticed: http://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/threads/69314-FYI-on-some-solar-panel-sales Not going to beat the price point on the 100watt panel very easily.

I see you're not to far away, if this sink/stove (which I ripped out of my camper and are now in my shed) are of interest for your build you can have them:
 

Little Red

Adventurer
How much head room is there? I can't remember if I could stand up straight in a school bus.
The clearance in the middle of the bus is about 6"2"

What is the thought processes on wanting a wood stove in there rather than just using a propane heater (can use a Wave catalytic unit if you want to avoid a powered unit)?
Most likely I will put in a small propane heater as well (as a backup), but I like to have a wood stove because it is a lot cheaper to use (I live near National Forest and can get a cord of wood for $10, of course I have to cut and split it myself)

But most importantly I want the bus to be a completely self sustainable living space.
I hope to find a wood stove that I can even use to cook on.

I want to run everything on 12v solar power and be able to live completely of the grid.
The only issue would be getting fresh drinking water. But there are different products that I could use to treat water or just boil it on the wood stove.

I am still trying to figure out how exactly I am going to make this all work. But I finally came up with a layout that I think is going to work well with the limited space I have available in the bus.

PS Thanks for the offer on the sink/stove, I have been looking for an RV that someone is parting out and I think I will be able to use it. I am sending you a PM
 

pods8

Explorer
I think a lot depends on what type of camping you're doing and for how long. Gotta haul the wood with you, dedicate the space for the stove (and clearance), etc. Where as propane would take far less space and the fuel source is clean/compact. In my mind it suits well to weekend warrior camping that most folks fall into. However if you're going to be posted up somewhere longer term, esp. in the winter then hauling along some wood and firing up a wood stove might not be too bad since you could remove and pile the wood outside the bus and have that steady cozy wood stove heat. Sounding like you plan to post up somewhere for a bit so perhaps its a good fit.

For long term sustainability a water filter system seems easier than constantly boiling to treat water.
 

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Dirty_Jeeper

Adventurer
There is a bus in my neighborhood that has been converted. Though they added a twist to it. They removed the back half of the body and moved the back of the body up to keep the bus appearance. The remaining body is the RV living space. The flat deck was then built into a flat bed which hauls the Jeep on it. No trailer required to get the Jeep where it needs to go.
 

GlennA

Adventurer
A friend of mine has a converted bus. He uses a rear bath, bunk beds on both sides and the dining/kitchen up front. From what he has told me, learn to apply window tinting. It helps keep the interior cool and provides a degree of privacy. If I'm not mistaken, his grey and black water tanks are recycled plastic 55 gallon drums.
 

Little Red

Adventurer
Update:

I have been busy and haven’t posted here in a while. I have done some more work on the bus but have decided that I really want to get a bus with a diesel engine to make this worth it as it is just too expensive to drive this bus. I have listed the bus for sale and am now trying to find a diesel bus. I have had a lot of interest already and expect the bus to be sold soon.

When I find my diesel bus I will continue this tread with the conversion, as I still really want to do this.
 

Overland Hadley

on a journey
Good luck with the sale, and hopefully a new bus will come your way soon. (A bus for you to work on, not hit you or anything bad like that.)
 

RepairmanSki

Observer
Hey Little Red, I just got my hands on this 1997 CV200

mmyKH.jpg

I am somewhat in your area, just a shade south of Tacoma. I'd love to see what you come up with for floorplan as that is the one thing I plan to change. I saw that you yanked out the passenger compartment heaters, if you are interested in getting rid of those or other interior parts separate from the bus itself, let me know.
 

Little Red

Adventurer
The bus sold fast and I even got more for it than I paid when I bought it.
Still looking for the right diesel bus, but I am not in a hurry

Hey Little Red, I just got my hands on this 1997 CV200

View attachment 81165

I am somewhat in your area, just a shade south of Tacoma. I'd love to see what you come up with for floorplan as that is the one thing I plan to change. I saw that you yanked out the passenger compartment heaters, if you are interested in getting rid of those or other interior parts separate from the bus itself, let me know.
Wow did you really buy that bus?
I saw it for sale somewhere a little while ago and wish I had the money to buy it. That bus is badass with 4 wheel drive.

My interior plans where just some sketches on paper as I am not familiar with CAD or software like that, but you can check out Skoolie.net there is a lot of good info on that site.

The rear heater that I took out went to the scrap yard along with all the metal seat frames. All that I have left is 2 seats and a lot of foam from all the other seats that I was going to use for insulation along the walls or to make a mattress with.
 

Little Red

Adventurer
Found my new bus!!!

Good news to report… I found my perfect diesel bus!

I bought it at an auction down in Oregon almost 2 months ago and already have been working on the conversion.
It’s a 1993 Bluebird CV2000 with a 5.9 Cummins diesel engine.
It’s a flat nose bus about 29 feet long and was used as a bookmobile before so it’s going to be a much easier conversion than a school bus and its prewired and even has a diesel generator.
I hope to start a new build tread (with pictures) for it soon.
 
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