The Partridge Family had their bus, all painted in many colors. Everybody remembers the psychedelic buses of the Flower Power generation. Rather then time tripping back to the sixty’s, lets look at the practical side of Converting a School bus. Recreational Vehicles continue to grow in popularity, the only thing climbing higher is the actual cost of purchasing one of these luxury condominiums on wheels.
New motor homes are an appealing way to travel, the convenience can’t be matched. To comfortably cruise down the highway with your kitchen, bathroom and bedroom riding along with you, makes traveling a real pleasure. Pulling into one of the many luxury resorts, established all over the county, just adds more convenience to the package. Satellite TV, full hook ups, and the swimming pool at the club house…….But what if your into hunting, ATV’s, and the back woods.
Taking that beautiful $150,000 motor home into the woods, not on your life, it might get scratched. Actually, with their low ground clearance, that is the last place you want to take one of those cruise ships of the highway. The twisting motion of driving down a back woods trail would probably pop the kitchen cabinets right off the walls. Plumbing pipes breaking loose with every bend. Your investment would be trash in short order.
Enter the School Bus, a solid, tough, vehicle designed to safely transport your little darlings to and from school. With hundreds of thousands of them on the roads, each traveling as far as 200,000 miles or more in their life time, these are one dependable vehicle. Built on the chassis of a real truck, rated for more weight capacity then two or three motor homes, you won’t find a stronger, more durable unit. Build your own indestructible rig, and head for your annual hunting camp with confidence. You’ll get there and back, not only in one piece, but you can have just as many amenities as the high dollar rigs.
Many school districts are required by state law to replace their buses after so many years, regardless of what their condition is. This results in a good used bus supply, with units still in usable condition, able to last for many more years. School buses are inspected annually by state DOT, insuring maintenance has been kept up on their fleets. Brakes must be replaced and tires changed before they reach certain minimums, guaranteeing safe highway operation. There is no better maintained group of vehicles then the school buses running our roads all over the country.
With all these school buses on the road, the availability of parts is virtually unlimited. Whether over the Internet, or at a dealership, what ever you need, it can be found. Instead of having a zillion different manufacturer’s and models, as you have in the motor home world, you have but a handful of builders and all similar models. Standardized parts allow for reduced inventory for the school districts. This will help you as well when it comes to finding parts.
Where can you go in a School Bus/Schoolie? Pretty much anywhere. If you notice most school buses have tow hooks on the front and rear. Especially up north in the snow belt. When they get stuck or go in the ditch, you grab the hook with a chain, and a big winch truck, and drag them back onto the road. Then you get behind the wheel and go back to work. Back woods trails mean nothing to a school bus, remember its a truck. They take logging trucks off road into the woods, a school bus will tolerate a lot of this type of travel.
How you build your Schoolie should depend on what type of travel you intend to do. Be aware that some campgrounds will turn up their noses to a school bus. Making the effort to build a neat, presentable, well constructed RV, will be your best asset when it comes to using the convenience of an established camp ground. Stay away from the psychedelic paint jobs, they went out in the 60’s. A nice paint job, removing the red and yellow school bus lights on the top, and removing the swing out stop sign, all will go a long way to make your rig look more acceptable to the real world.
All the appliances you need are readily available at any RV dealer. You may chose to go with small apartment appliances for some things as they will be a lot cheaper then “RV” stuff. Just make sure everything you build into your bus is well attached to the bus. If you have an accident you don’t want that refriderator flying toward the front of the bus.
When it comes to buying that perfect candidate for your Schoolie, don’t go the cheap route. Put most of your money into the bus you choose. Inspect it thourghly and if available get the maintenace records for it. Generaly speaking, it’s best to buy the most expensive bus you can afford. Then hopefully the brakes and tires are still good and the engine and transmission are in good shape. You can pick up a usable bus for $5,000-$6,000, but it will probably be 13-15 yrs old. Newer is better, remember this isn’t the time to scrimp.
When you get this project done maybe you’ll start looking at upgrading to a coach, some nice rigs have been built from used Greyhound buses.