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Author Topic: Newby needs to learn  (Read 3869 times)

Offline Joe H

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Newby needs to learn
« on: January 12, 2014, 09:02:04 AM »
Hey folks. I am new to buses and conversions but I'll be jumping in with both feet very soon. I'll be moving my family of 5 (me, wife, three teenagers) into a bus to spend a school year on the road. We are doing a Youtube series on family volunteering opportunities for the purpose of inspiring other families to spend time together volunteering.

Anyhow, I can only learn so much through the Internet. If you would be willing to share your knowledge and wisdom on everything from diesel maintenance to travel costs, floor plans and pre-purchase inspections, I would be grateful. PM me if you want to share your phone number.

I'm in Seattle and would love to see a conversion in the flesh. And I can fly out somewhere if the flight is cheap enough, so please let me know where you are.

Thanks guys!
Planning to move my family of 5 (me + wife and 3 teens) into a bus for a year on the road.

Offline Oonrahnjay

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Re: Newby needs to learn
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2014, 09:36:48 AM »
... Anyhow, I can only learn so much through the Internet. ...

       There is much to be gained from the Archives on this website.  However, if there's anything that is difficult for a newby, it's that much of the info is broken into very specific and detailed topics.  If you are like I was, it's hard to get enough of a "big picture" starting out to know which questions to ask.  Unfortunately, that carries over to face-to-face and phone conversations, too.
       Don't be afraid to use the search function here for your basic questions.  You may feel as though you are wading in mud, but you'll get a good idea of the basics.
       Hope this helps,   Bruce H   NC   USA
Bruce H; Wallace (near Wilmington) NC
1976 Daimler (British) Double-Decker Bus; 34' long

(New Email -- brucebearnc@ (theGoogle gmail place) .com)

Offline RJ

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Re: Newby needs to learn
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2014, 10:55:54 AM »
Hey folks. I am new to buses and conversions but I'll be jumping in with both feet very soon. . .  I'm in Seattle and would love to see a conversion in the flesh. . .

Name??  -

Welcome to the madness!  Busnutitus is incurable, but it can be controlled - with the right coach.

That being said, DO YOUR HOMEWORK!

It's very, very easy to buy a bus, but extremely difficult to sell a mistake!

With five aboard, seriously consider what are known as "entertainer" coaches - those that are set up for touring bands.  Many have sleeping arrangements for 8 - 12, more than you need, but easily adapted.  The Nashville, TN, area is home to most of the leasing companies that provide these coaches to the entertainment industry.

DO NOT waste your time, money and effort starting from scratch.  In today's lousy economy, there are fantastic deals available that would only require some remodeling to suit your needs.

Buy the NEWEST coach you can afford, even if it stretches your budget a little.  Look especially for a coach with the Series 60 Detroit or ISM Cummins mated to an Allison automatic, primarily for ease of obtaining service nowadays, but also for driving pleasure - especially around town.

It's a lot easier to get into various places with a 40-foot coach, but with three teens, a 45-footer would give you more living space. 

Are you planning on towing a vehicle for running around while parked?  Make sure it can be "flat-towed" behind the coach - trailers and tow dollys are an absolute PITA.

Finally, in order for us to better help you with sources for both parts, service, rallies and other busnut stuff, please take a couple minutes and fill out your "Forum Profile Info" which you can access by clicking on the "Profile" tab above.  Once that screen pops up, click on the link in the LH menu and follow the prompts.  If you include a signature line similar to mine below, it will really help.  Who knows, you might just discover a fellow busnut nearby!

FWIW & HTH. . .

RJ Long
PD4106-2784 No More
S13406 1978 MC-5C Converted 6V71/MT-644
S14947 1980 MC-5C Shell 6V92/HT-740
Cheney WA

Offline Seangie

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Re: Re: Newby needs to learn
« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2014, 12:28:23 PM »
JBH (name?),

We are fulltiming with 4 kids in our bus.  We bought our bus (used of course) from another bus nut. We had no experience with RVs or Buses before we bought ours.  We spent close to a year looking at buses before buying.  I suggest going to a bus rally (or 4) before buying a bus.  What you can learn at bus rallies is amazing. Look at as many buses as you can before buying.  Be patient. Don't be afraid to look at RVs as well so you have something to compare the buses to.

The most important thing is to make sure you know what you are buying and getting into.  There has to be nothing more dissapointing than getting 10 grand into your conversion and finding out that you need to spend another 15k on an overhaul on what you thought was a great engine and not having the cash to do it.  The Technomads went through this (they were well prepared) as well as the family on www.ourbigtrip.us and if you read enough of the archives you'll see that its not uncommon.  So be prepared to spend some dollars on an old bus.  A lot of these guys try to do this on the cheap but typically where they save dollars is doing the work themselves. (Parts are rarely cheap...especially on the road) They also have time and resources to make this happen.

My guess is that you are not going down to the frame and rebuilding from the engine and suspension up but rather looking for something already (or at least partially) converted .  This is where we started and asking lots of questions and getting your hands and fingers dirty is really the only way to learn. 

I have learned more by living a "bus" life than by reading about it.  But the archives and resources here have been amazingly useful.  Read a lot before you buy. What you read now might not make sense but when you start looking it will all start coming together.

Also know that when you buy the bus that ALL your TIME and RESOURCES will be CONSUMED by the BUS so make sure you have 100% support of your family before you get into it.  They need to be as excited about it as you are and let them take part in the process.  If not then it will be an unpleasant experience for all.

Feel free to PM me if you have any specific questions that I can help with.  We shouldne up in your neck of the woods sometime in the next 6 months although nothing is for certain.


Fulltiming somewhere in the USA
1984 Eagle 10S
'Cause you know we,
we live in a van (Eagle 10 Suburban)
Driving through the night
To that old promised land'

Offline bansil

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Re: Newby needs to learn
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2014, 01:48:56 PM »
Welcome and you are excited it appears, and that's good you'll need the extra energy to pull this off ;D

Biggest thing you need to decide on is a budget!

There is a Big difference between an older 2 stroked bundle of joy, compared to a 4 stroke 45 ft 3 slide rockstar mobile, and then there is the lonely Skoolie

The budget for an entire Skoolie build wouldn't cover the engine rebuild on some buses, tires and other drivetrain parts are comparably to a degree, and the brake parts are basically the same

So...have fun on this journey and take pictures  ;D
« Last Edit: January 14, 2014, 12:24:32 PM by bansil »
Mnt City TN
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Offline treeplanter

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Re: Newby needs to learn
« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2014, 08:41:47 PM »
Hey joe, my bus is here in Hope ID. about two hours away from Spokane, It's a work in progress, let me know if you are up this way and i would be glad to show you our 1971 GMC.

Offline Ed Hackenbruch

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Re: Newby needs to learn
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2014, 03:13:33 AM »
We will probably be in Fall City sometime mid to late summer.  Have some friends with a 4104 who might be back in the S. Seattle area this summer too.
1968 MCI 5A with 8V71 and Allison MT644 transmission.  Western USA

Offline Lin

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Re: Newby needs to learn
« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2014, 01:02:24 PM »
As RJ mentioned, the market for used conversions is very poor, so you can get a fully functional conversion for less than it would cost to buy parts to do your own--forget the labor.  These things take much more time than you would think too.  Whatever you think is a fair estimate of time for a particular job, double it and you will be a little closer.

Considering the number of people in your group and the assumption that you do not have a lot of experience RVing, you may also want to consider looking into an RV with slideouts.  This does not mean to give up on the more formidable bus conversion platform, but rather to start with a lower cost experimental vehicle to learn on.  After a bit of use, each member of the family will probably have suggestions that will make your future conversion more comfortable and practical for all.  As mentioned, looking at entertainer coaches would also be useful.
You don't have to believe everything you think.

Offline Singing Land Cruiser

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Re: Newby needs to learn
« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2014, 05:27:37 PM »
Hello Joe and welcome, good luck with your new adventure and remember the most important thing " If Mama ain't Happy, NOBODY is Happy!" Listen to her while you convert and your Bus will be a great home. Here is what Christi and I did on our adventure; http://singinglandcruiser.blogspot.com/
All the Best, M&C ;D
RV Park MGRS/ Sans End RV Park
Master Mason, Noble Shriner
'77 AMGeneral 10240B; 8V-71