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skoolie December 11, 2019

The Skoolie: New Nomads

The Skoolie the new take-off for many young adventurers looking to see the world. The ability to live on the road presents an exploration and life-style changes.

Why Convert a Skoolie?

Since the inception of the “tiny-home,” and an increasing price of the housing market, many are finding new and better ways to live their lives. Prior to the early 2000’s, many who had the itch to travel were often confronted by the difficult task of travel finances, securing a short-lived job that paid enough to continue traveling and, most importantly, finding a place to live. Thus, the skoolie has caught the attention of many new travelers. Turning a school bus into a liveable home provides the opportunity to travel while still maintaining a base of operations.

Converting A School Bus

Converting a school bus is easier than you think. Sure, it requires the time and manpower, but once you have the initial living space, the rest comes with time. Finding the right bus can be a hassle, so here are a few steps!

Finding The Right Bus

Remember, your bus is your new home, so you must treat it as such. Find a bus with lower mileage and little rust. It can be pretty easy to find these in older models. School buses are designed different, as well.For $6K I was able to find a 2005 GMC short bus with 75,000 miles. This bus can easily hit the 300k mile mark with basic maintenance.

All Replacement Parts Should Have A Lifetime Warranty

If something goes wrong, you want it to be covered. In my experience, my starter died. I had to go to the store, find a new one and replace it. I made sure I bought a starter with a lifetime warranty in case of any emergencies. This went for the battery, the starting coil and spark plugs as well.

Stripping The Seats Out

You’re going to need an angle grinder for this. Make sure you have googles too. Each seat has numerous bolts that you must grind off and the rip out. The process can be time-consuming, but fun if the right music and people are involved. My luck had me working with my downstairs neighbor who enjoys heavy metal. It was pretty exciting to have sparks flying everywhere while Slayer was blasting in the background.

Removing Wheelchair Lift

The lift is important to any short bus, but be careful. That thing is anywhere between 400-500 pounds so you will need a helping hand in order to remove it. If you can remove it without damage, you can sell it for anywhere between $300-$400. That can be used to put back into the work of your truck.

Removing The Floor

There are multiple layers through the floor of a school bus. Many are designed to withstand the weight of many bodies, so using a solid crowbar and buzz saw will be your best bet. The entire process can be tiresome, so having more people, the better. Again, I had my neighbor. We blast heavy metal and ripped that floor right out of there.

Skoolie Foam Insulation

Unscrewing the panels from the ceiling and the side of the bus was the most time-consuming part of my experience. There are THOUSANDS, and each one needs to be removed in order to take a single panel off. Once those are down, you can then insulate. Spray foam is the best form of insulation due to its high density and elemental resistance. Once it’s installed, come the task of putting the panels back on. OR you can add wood paneling to give your bus the “home” feeling.

Re Sheathing the Floor

Once everything is taken out, you have to work on putting the new stuff in. Having a completely resheathed floor will help with the new installation of hardwood, or carpet, depending on what you want your home to be.

From There, You Can Design It!

Designing your Skoolie is the next step, we installed cabinets, a granite countertop and we even found a small cast-iron woodstove. We build a bed frame and installed it in the back. The woodstove was installed with a vent leading out one of the windows. The water heating for the bus was wrapped around the vent to create optimum heating and comfort.

A Skoolie Is A Constant Work In Progress

Like any home, you will find ways to improve upon what you have built. Sometimes this includes ripping old parts out and installing something new. It is okay to do that and you should want to do that at any time if you are going to turn a bus into your home.

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