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Old 10-01-2022, 08:59 PM   #29
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Correct. The first Bluebird motorhomes were on school buses since that's what the company built.


"Introduced as the Blue Bird Transit Home in 1963, the Wanderlodge was a derivative of the Blue Bird All American school bus for over year; two further generations were produced, adapting motorcoach body and chassis design."


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That's not a bus conversion, it's a Wanderlodge.
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Old 10-01-2022, 10:34 PM   #30
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I had a friend from High School that did bus and van conversions as his day job.
He did a lot of Vans in the 70's and 80's, but built a few school busses too.
A couple I remember well were themed. One was SteamPunk. Everything was driven with brass wheels and gears that were partially exposed. Another was like a 1920's Speak Easy. These were ones he built for himself but would sell if the price was right.
In his day job he also built tour busses. He said those were really high end. DR
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Old 10-02-2022, 06:57 AM   #31
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Thanks for all the info!

Curious: Was (is) there any one or two sources of technical/mechanical information that have been most valuable as you've planned and performed your build? (I know a couple of schoolie builders who winged it in some areas where someone else's plans and recommendations might still be helpful.)
Unfortunately I can't narrow it down to just one or two sources. A lot of skoolie builders that document their builds typically leave out details of how they designed their system or why they made certain choices and it's more of the "lefty loosey, righty tighty" process that looks good on camera. And those that do go into detail either never finish their builds or stop documenting part of the way through. I did the normal searching through youtube and found a couple creators that had opinions and ideas I had not heard of or considered myself before. But I preferred the ones that were documenting their 5th+ build and were open about mistakes they had made in the past. As far as general guidelines and advice I liked Navigation Nowhere or Chuck Cassidy. For solar planning, designing, and reputation I liked Will Prowse. I do plan on copying my build thread from another forum and putting it up on this forum for anyone that wants to follow along or may stumble across it while looking into skoolie's. I attend to and believe that I have gone WAAYYY over in detail about what I have been doing and why I have chosen to do it that way. Hopefully I won't be one of the ones that stops documenting midconversion.

I've also read a LOT of opinions over on Skoolie.net, but I do have to agree with Cuba67bnl's earlier comment about how they are very opinionated on what is the "right" way and what is the "wrong" way and there are a lot of controversial opinions floating around about certain aspects of the build. I think that's part of the territory though, as a skoolie is something normally homebuilt, each one is going to be unique, and reflect the amount of time, budget, experience, and research that the builder was willing and able to put into it. I believe the most import aspect is to pay attention to safety.

I will say for myself, you'd probably consider me to be "winging it" as I'm not following any specific set of instructions. But that's because there is no official guideline to be followed. I am using a combination of experience gained from repairing/modifying on cars/trucks, remodeling a house, repairing boats, and then attempting to refine that by using the experiences of others who have finished their builds.

I hope this is close to what you were expecting from your question. Between 13hr working shifts during the day and working on the conversion at night my brains feels particularly frazzled today.
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Old 10-02-2022, 01:13 PM   #32
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I hope this is close to what you were expecting from your question.
It is, thanks.


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For solar planning, designing, and reputation I liked Will Prowse.
There ought to be a little sticker you can put in your window if your solar power systems were derived from Prowse's stuff. I think it would be a big club by now.
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Old 10-02-2022, 04:37 PM   #33
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There ought to be a little sticker you can put in your window if your solar power systems were derived from Prowse's stuff. I think it would be a big club by now.
That could be a money maker for him. Send a picture of your design and a couple pictures of the finished product and if he approves of it you get a golden sticker similar to the RVIA stickers. Obviously just for kicks, but I feel like it would mean a lot for the resell value. At least on the electrical side.
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Old 10-02-2022, 07:55 PM   #34
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GypsyR - I'm assuming you are referring to the kind that people build on utility trailers rather than the kind that are stationary. I personally would not own one on a trailer, if I wanted a small moveable living space I'd rather convert a van. But again, I understanding the feeling of building something with your own hands. Now a stationary "tiny house"?

I also don't get why people pay for pants that are already ripped up.
Well I am right there with you with the semi-destroyed new clothing.

Though I can say I haven't paid a whole lot of attention to the tiny house phenomena. the only ones I've happened to take note of on TV were being built on some sort of trailer frame and then transported to their final location. I'm sure people do it, but I haven't noted seeing them myself.

On my way back and forth to work every day there is a tiny house manufacturer with their wares on display out front. About a dozen at least. I happened to notice one being prepped for delivery and it was sitting on four mobile home axles. Mobile home axles are pretty distinctive with their extra wide lug pattern and fairly unique wheels. Seeing that made me wonder what is the real difference between what they are building and selling and a regular "mobile home" really?

I just quite frankly don't get schoolies and tiny houses. Or the ripped jeans. Though I suspect all to be more passing fads than anything. The world is full of things I don't understand though, it's what makes it interesting.

Noting that schoolies has been sort of a thing since there were used school buses to be had cheap. I'm guessing at least back into the 1950's. Because people could. Just the rise in popularity the last few years really is what has me mystified. There's also folks out there (Youtube) turning utility trailers into campers. Then other folks tearing apart old campers to make utility trailers. No end to people trying to turn this into that for any number of reasons. Common denominators seem to be #1, cheap, and #2 DIY people keeping busy.
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Old 10-03-2022, 06:25 PM   #35
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Noting that schoolies has been sort of a thing since there were used school buses to be had cheap. I'm guessing at least back into the 1950's. Because people could. Just the rise in popularity the last few years really is what has me mystified.
I think the rise in popularity has to do in part with Covid and the general unhappiness of the younger generation <30. A lot of people were trapped inside their houses not travelling or going anywhere looking for entertainment and then finding this supposed "cheap" way of living and wanting to have a lifestyle change. I can't say that the rise in popularity didn't influence my family and I. Although both my wife and I had wanted to convert a van more than eight years ago for travelling before we had children (old dream) we both gave up on that when we found out we were having a boy. It's been several years now and because of the rise in popularity, we were able to see other families on youtube doing what we had given up on. We reached out to them to get an "off camera" idea of what life was really like and that's when we decided maybe that dream can be a reality after all and I dove into research to make it a doable thing.
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Old 10-03-2022, 07:42 PM   #36
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I think that many people who do skoolies or tiny homes do it for the customization aspect. They can design, build, and use what they want instead of paying for stuff they don’t want, like, need. If rv manufacturers sold just the shell and chassis of their vehicles, thus allowing for personal customization, maybe more people would go that route.

I knew someone who had a tiny home built to their specifications. They lived in it year-round, and traveled the country for work in it. (Long term project jobs). They said they loved being able to have almost precisely what they wanted in it, plus it was built more sturdily than a comparable trailer.
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Old 10-03-2022, 07:57 PM   #37
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I notice an older Prevost just recently parked not too far from me. I see it every day as I drive out to my work. I can’t help lusting just a little over it. Wondering if it has been converted, gutted, is going up for sale, or just what the plans are. I admit I could get interested in something like that, especially if it were already gutted and awaiting building. And then I think, what is wrong with you! You already have more going on then you can ever possibly keep up with.
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Old 10-18-2022, 04:48 PM   #38
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I have a Wanderlodge. I have ripped many of the original systems out and replaced them to my preference. I have replaced the entire electrical system and also the drivetrain from the fan to the final drive. I maybe should have started with an old school bus and the purists would be happier.
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Old 10-24-2022, 06:22 PM   #39
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As somebody who spent 6 months looking for a 20 year old Monaco and decided on a bus I can give you some answers.


1) I've never met a motorhome that didn't leak.
2) Never seen one with two bed rooms much less three.
3) Never seen one with full size washer, dryer, fridge, stove.

4) Some are built well, most are absolute trash.

5) They're poorly insulated.


Do I think they're the right choice for 90% of people, for sure! But I spent $5,500 on a bus and got:


Cummins 8.3L
Allison 3060 Trans
110,000 Miles
Semi-Monocoque Chassis
Full metal construction and roof
Side Radiator Pusher



1) Extremely easy to work on.
2) I get the floor plan I want.
3) I can guild as I go.
4) I can design the systems, no cheap 12v nonsense and converters, no costly and inefficient appliances.
5) I can have R-12-R18 in the walls with ease.



The down sides:


1) It's a lot of work and effort but you can't have to do it all at once.
2) It's ugly!
3) No RV parks if that's your thing.



But think about this, I could spent $19,500 to build it out and still be well ahead of any motor home I could buy for that price. And for me, I convert and remove so much of the antiquated systems from a motor home like the AC, fridge, stove, power system and so on that it's easier to start with a much, much better chassis and do it myself.
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Old 10-26-2022, 08:42 AM   #40
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As somebody who spent 6 months looking for a 20 year old Monaco and decided on a bus I can give you some answers.


1) I've never met a motorhome that didn't leak.
2) Never seen one with two bed rooms much less three.
3) Never seen one with full size washer, dryer, fridge, stove.

4) Some are built well, most are absolute trash.

5) They're poorly insulated.


Do I think they're the right choice for 90% of people, for sure! But I spent $5,500 on a bus and got:


Cummins 8.3L
Allison 3060 Trans
110,000 Miles
Semi-Monocoque Chassis
Full metal construction and roof
Side Radiator Pusher



1) Extremely easy to work on.
2) I get the floor plan I want.
3) I can guild as I go.
4) I can design the systems, no cheap 12v nonsense and converters, no costly and inefficient appliances.
5) I can have R-12-R18 in the walls with ease.



The down sides:


1) It's a lot of work and effort but you can't have to do it all at once.
2) It's ugly!
3) No RV parks if that's your thing.



But think about this, I could spent $19,500 to build it out and still be well ahead of any motor home I could buy for that price. And for me, I convert and remove so much of the antiquated systems from a motor home like the AC, fridge, stove, power system and so on that it's easier to start with a much, much better chassis and do it myself.

Most every video I have seen on conversions, ends up spending way more than $20,000 to renovate. And that includes free labor. With no plumbing. The end product quality is usually pretty lousy. The “nice” conversions run close to $100,000…
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Old 11-07-2022, 02:59 AM   #41
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Most every video I have seen on conversions, ends up spending way more than $20,000 to renovate. And that includes free labor. With no plumbing. The end product quality is usually pretty lousy. The “nice” conversions run close to $100,000…

I would strongly debate the end quality of any factory RV under $500,000! It also depends on skill level and so many other factors. It's like deciding if you would rather buy a blank canvas or already made art. The bus IS NOT for most but some are unwilling to settle for what RVs have become and I'm in that group.



The buses come with A LOT of issues but those are fun for me and well worth the burden of entry!
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Old 11-07-2022, 01:25 PM   #42
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@TucsonAZ - what bus are you using for your build?

As a lifelong DIYer, I am always tempted by a bus build, though for me it would have to be a highway bus (MCI, Prevost, etc). I'd want the ride quality & road manners, not to mention all of that lovely basement space to work with!

But like @MarvinG, I would have to be crazy to take it on now. Maybe when I'm retired...
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