Author Topic: Replace passenger compartment of school bus with 20' shipping container?  (Read 22630 times)

Offline usbusin

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Truck conversion and bus conversion insurance costs are almost the same.  They are both converted to a "motorhome", that is the key.

My liability cost is very small compared to Comprehensive and Collision.  $63 for liability; vs $505 and $194 for Comp and Col
Gary D

USBUSIN was our 1960 PD4104 for 16 years Ustruckin' is our 2001 Freightliner truck conversion


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Art, it was my understanding that mainly he wanted the container to be movable from location to location and taken off the truck to sit on the ground. The reason he was looking at making a school bus into a motorhome is because of insurance costs opposed to getting a freightliner....

  I understood what he said, I just dont understand why. If the only purpose for the Bus is to move the container, you could just as easily drive the Bus down there and park it. No?

Offline Jeremy

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  I understood what he said, I just dont understand why. If the only purpose for the Bus is to move the container, you could just as easily drive the Bus down there and park it. No?

The purpose isn't to build a motorhome. The purpose is to experiment with building a home inside a shipping container - which he needs to be able to move about.

There's lots of stuff on the internet about people building homes inside shipping containers - it's an attractive concept. Using only a single 20' container would make for a pretty small home though.


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Offline jackhartjr

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Talkin' about thinking outside, (Or is it inside ) the box! ;D
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Offline Len Silva

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Have you considered a roll-off type truck for your project?

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Offline Pete359EX

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Roll-off is excellent idea, most all of the storage company's use them for delivery. However one would need to consider the build out weight. Also here is another idea and link. The same would have to be considered with weight.
Fred, 1986 Prevost XL, just beginning...Plans for roof raise, slide-outs, extension to 45', and maybe repower to CAT.

Offline Kevin Warnock

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After reviewing the answers here, I really looked into making a proper 'truck conversion' with a medium duty truck chassis like this:

I would attach a 20' shipping container to the frame, perhaps by making cross beams that mirror what you find on a shipping container chassis trailer.

The low cost insurance trick is to attach the container permanently, which I can do by welding the corners to their attachment points, in addition to using the traditional twist locks, which will be doing the actual holding of the container.

If I permanently attach the container and add living quarters to the container, the insurance rate I was quoted via Progressive was just $376 a year for $500,000 liability plus $40K of collision/comprehensive coverage, with a $250 deductible. This is with my San Francisco city zip code! That's less than I pay Progressive for my RTS bus conversion!

This $376 rate is about 1/10th the annual cost if I were to use a class 7 tractor with a container chassis attached as a 5th wheel. Progressive wanted about $3,300 per year for that combination!

I spoke with an International dealer today, and he said the 4700 straight truck weighs about 10,000 lbs empty. The model I would buy has a GVWC of 26,000 pounds, so I will be able to drive it empty to take it to a shop to have the cross beams added to accept the container. I will have about 16,000 pounds of capacity to add the cross beams and the container and contents, which should be enough to do a high quality and attractive job.

If and when I decide it's done, I can grind out the welds and have a crane remove the container and set it in my backyard. I can then sell the truck frame and probably not loose much at all along the way.

So, here's a new question: What's the 'best' truck frame, engine and transmission combination for what I want to do? I've been told the DT466 engine with a manual 7 speed transmission is ideal.

Thank you.

Kevin Warnock - my blog

Offline rv_safetyman

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Kevin, I had a DT466 mechanical and a 5 speed with two speed rear end in my toter home.  The DT466 is a very reliable engine but not a world beater.  I think mine was 210HP.  The 5 + 2 was fun to drive, but you had to keep your mind on what you were doing.  Gears for most any situation.

I also drove a company truck with and electronic DT466 and 7 speed.  The electronic engine was also not a world beater, but the 7 speed was a slick transmission.  Could shift almost any gear without the clutch.  Did not drive it mountains, but I think it would have been fine there.

By far, the IHC product would be your best bet and their are a ton of them around.

You are not going to use it as a motorhome, but they are kind of rough riding with pure spring suspension.  I built air bag suspensions for both the front and rear of mine and that helped.

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Offline luvrbus

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I cannot figure out the insurance deal here AAA is going to write it with Progressive they have on everything I have with them.
It is not going to be a bus any longer when you modify it to a roll off neat idea but questionable to me   

good luck
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Offline Lonnie time to go

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what about this
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Offline Kevin Warnock

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I am not interested in using a conventional box truck box for this project, because you can't stack truck boxes like you can shipping containers.

If my prototype turns out well, I may well stack two or three. You can't do this with mobile homes or buses, thus this crazy project.

Anyone know a source for used shipping container twist lock connectors, or, even better, the cross support bars from a container chassis, with the twist lock connectors intact? Are there junk yards for container chassis parts? I did find an online source that sold used axles for container chassis.

Kevin Warnock - my blog

Offline Busted Knuckle

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Offline happycamperbrat

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Im a little confused about your project now, could you fill me in on some details? Ive seen these box cars stacked on ground with openings and stairs and they make for very unique living...... But are you thinking about moving them around and then parking and stacking? Im getting confused now with the whole "mobile" and "stacking" concept? What are you planning?
The Little GTO is a 102" wide and 40' long 1983 GMC RTS II and my name is Teresa in case I forgot to sign my post

Offline chev49

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After reading all the posts... no one has mentioned putting front axle n rear powerplant on a shipping container and making a motor home out of it? Don't forget the windshield... ;D
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Offline trucktramp

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If your plan is to stack the container on a chassis and be mobile, it won't be possible.  A "high cube" container on a standard container chassis is about 13 feet tall.  The tallest you can transport on the interstate system is 13ft 6in.  Now if you are going to ground them you can stack them very high.  They do use corner locks when they stack them on trains but in the yards I think they just stack them on top of each other.
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