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Old 08-28-2015, 05:04 AM   #1
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Best Bus Shell to Convert (and prices?)

Hi everyone!

I've been fascinated with RVs since I saw a Grand Villa Unihome traveling down the road. It looked like a spaceship and even the name evoked the future. I've been smitten ever since.

I don't have the resources now for the kind of RV I'm looking for, but I'm starting to get serious about saving and scraping for what I want. I was hoping the community could help me narrow down the options so that I can at least have an idea of how much to expect this would cost.

I want a large space as I intend to full-time in it. The more slide-outs the better. I have a sense a diesel pusher would be a better option for me. And because I have a very specific idea of what I want the interior to look like, I am thinking of getting a shell and doing a conversion.

The bus itself can be used as I assume this would cut costs, ideally leaving me more for the conversion itself.

What are some thoughts on what type of used bus to get? And do I absolutely have to look at bus shells or can I get a bus that's already been converted and then "re-convert" it?

Also, what would the annual costs be for something like this? I'm thinking specifically of the costs most people don't think about when they get an RV (it's not just about being able to afford the rig, but being able to afford the lifestyle I imagine).

Anyway, any help would be appreciated. Thank you for any help you can provide.
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Old 08-28-2015, 05:20 AM   #2
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Best Bus Shell to Convert (and prices?)

There are so many variables that you haven't addressed that it's difficult to make too strong a suggestion. You mention bus conversions. Search for them on RV Trader. My first choice would be an older Bluebird, but not for someone who isn't ready to maintain it. For the price of a used school bus, you can buy a running, driving gasoline motorhome just about anywhere in the country. I've seen decent 1980s through early 1990s Class A motorhome a for under $5000. I barely missed out on a $2000 Tiffin Allegro that had just passed its annual safety inspection.

Large RVs are difficult and expensive to drive in congested areas. Many owners, including me, tow a car. Lots to think about, but don't get discouraged. Think about how and where you want to live, then look for something that works in that scenario.



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Old 08-28-2015, 05:32 AM   #3
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Thanks so much, Mike, that's helpful.

I realised I used the word bus (perhaps improperly?) and gave the impression I'm looking at school buses. In fact, I'm looking at the higher end, Prevosts and the like.
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Old 08-28-2015, 05:33 AM   #4
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Thanks to the mod for moving me here. Sorry I didn't post here originally. Thank you.
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Old 08-28-2015, 05:40 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Cyan View Post
Thanks so much, Mike, that's helpful.

I realised I used the word bus (perhaps improperly?) and gave the impression I'm looking at school buses. In fact, I'm looking at the higher end, Prevosts and the like.

There are quite a few Prevost conversions on RV Trader and other similar sites. I would take some time to browse and look at photos. I very rarely like the style of the furnishings. From snippets that I read here and there, maintenance costs are way above average.



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Old 08-28-2015, 05:59 AM   #6
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I am a bit confused. You talk about converting a bus but also want a lot of slides. A bus is not going to have slides. If you are talking about buying a new Prevost chassis with slides and doing the interior your self a chassis will be between $700,000 and $800,000. I think more info on what you want would help.
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Old 08-28-2015, 06:12 AM   #7
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Thanks, I used the word bus incorrectly apparently. What is a Prevost called, as that is what I had in mind, a higher end, purpose-built rig that can be converted into a custom RV.
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Old 08-28-2015, 08:00 PM   #8
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Prevost makes long-distance express buses and offers the same chassis to the RV industry. The bus bodies don't have slides and adding them would be prohibitively expensive and difficult for a D-I-Yer.

I've seen some really nice bus conversions, but none of them had slide-outs.

To get really out in left field, you could consider a Leyland Atlantean 30' double-decker!
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Old 08-28-2015, 08:11 PM   #9
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Check with bus companies. Most will sell their older bus shells once they get of an age. There may still be lots of life in them as they routinely change engines, transmissions and rear ends. If they sell them they must be road worthy.

I looked at a Greyhound sale a number of years ago. They listed the miles on the engine, transmission and rear end. They were willing for me to have it inspected (at my cost). I thought at the time they were asking more than I was willing to pay.

We opted for a cab forward school bus, converted it and used it for a number of years.

Slides would be pricey if you are not able to do them yourself. However if you are by yourself a regular sided bus may be a viable option. It would all have to do with how you laid out the floorplan.

A school bus does generally not have underbody compartments so it would be more difficult to winterize.

Cost to purchase will depend upon how new or low mileage the chassis is. Cost for the interior will depend upon your selection of materials, the equipment you purchase to do the work and how much you have to contract out.
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Old 09-05-2015, 09:15 AM   #10
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It would help everyone here understand your needs if you would give us your budget. There are a number of web sites that list Prevost conversions, including philcooper.com. His least expensive bus conversion is $39.5k, but there are cheaper ones out there.
Prevost does make slides for their RV shells--up to four--they started putting slides in busses around 2000, and there are some older ones that were retrofitted with slides. For the most part, you have to count on spending around $200k for a Prevost with slides. Four slides didn't come out until a couple of years ago, and you need to figure north of $1M for a 4-slide Prevost.
Prevost switched from a 2-stroke diesel (8V71/92) in the mid 90's to an in-line 6 cylinder 4-stroke (Series 60). The earlier engines were prone to oil leaks, and were thirstier.
Annual maintenance can easily top $5,000, but if things like air bags, brake chambers, shocks, Norgren valves need replacing, you can quickly run a repair bill up into $30-40,000.
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