Are you wondering just how you would get through the job of converting a bus into a motor home?
We don’t know if there are really any brass tacks involved, but let’s take a look at some of the basic steps.
- Make certain you have the tools you need. Certainly you’re going to start with a power drill, a power grinder, a sander, crow bars, and all the tools you would need for home remodeling. It helps if you have some friends, too, to help you with the tedious stuff (and that requires the most physical work!) like—step 1—removing the bus seats from the interior.
- You’ll need to strip the metal interior and remove the floor covering. Then, install some 2 x 12s to create a framework on the inside of the bus. These boards will serve as wall studs when you install other items a bit further along.
- Using the 2 x 12 framework you’ve built, attach sheets of insulation. It will not only keep your home warm, it will also reduce noise from the outside. Instead of foam insulation, try a product consisting of aluminum foil that’s layered with polyfoam. Don’t forget the roof! Besides insulating the roof from the inside, you can also protect the outside by applying something like Seal-Kote for additional protection.
- Clean out the area behind the air intake thoroughly. If you’re working with a bus that ran the roads for 20 years, you’ll find a whole lot of nasty dirt and other crud to haul out of there.
- At some point you’ll be painting the exterior. A Texas man who converted a bus into a motor home recommends using a sensible color to hide the characteristic school- bus yellow. Self-expression is all well and good, but most campgrounds will tell you they’re all full up if you appear at their entrance decked out like a hippie bus.
- Remove what you can of the floor channels where the seats were affixed. Install more insulating material to fill the empty spaces. An alternate solution is to leave the channels in place and install some thin strips of lumber spaced out alongside them across the width of the bus. That will serve as a framework to lay a new floor on top of it all.
- What about windows? You can leave the bus as is, especially if you’re going to paint it a staid black and white like the Texas guy (a link to his guide is below). Your solution to privacy will be, at the end of your remodeling process, to hang curtains over all the windows the length of the bus. Another option is to remove the original windows. Cover them over with plywood and foam insulation sheeting. Then you can use a jig saw (after careful planning!) to cut new windows where you want them. You’ll want to seal them with silicone against leaks, like Nick and Terry, two gypsy RVers who converted a bus into a motor home back in 2006.
- Don’t forget you’re going to need some expertise in the areas of electrical lighting and plumbing for your new home. Besides lights, you need wiring for your appliances, and don’t forget your computer, since it will be your outlet to the world. You’ll have to figure out how to keep the place heated and maybe install propane cooking apparatus.
- Eventually, you’ll hang drywall or panels along the interior, in a style that suits your fashion, on top of the insulation. That’s also a good time to sit down and draw a floor plan for the rest of your new home.
There are lots of ways to go about the process of converting a bus into a motorhome, and hopefully you’ve obtained some ideas here to get you started.
Keep your friends invested in the process—especially the ones with special skills who are willing to help out. Once the job is completed, you can reward them with a trip out into Anywhere in your new traveling home.
Read More About It!
TheGypsy Journal.net. by Nick and Terry, available at http://www.gypsyjournal.net/bus_project.htm
BobSokol.com. How to Convert a School Bus Into a Motorhome, at http://www.bobsokol.com/bus.html
National Transportation Library. Large School Bus Design Vehicle Dimensions from circa 1996, available at http://ntl.bts.gov/lib/10000/10600/10694/MBTC1054-1.pdf
Some Useful Bus Conversion Resources
Below are a list of websites well worth checking out that helped with my own Bus Conversion endeavors…
Converting a School Bus – By Bob Sokol
The Mammoth Motorhome Conversion
Motorhomes Australia Links Page – Some great blogs listed here for ideas
Gabe and Belinda’s Motorhome Conversion
Bus Australia – A discussion forum all about buses
Jakes School Bus Conversion Site
This is one very good Auction place to pick up second hand buses in Perth, Western Australia…
Smith Broughton & Sons Auctioneers
Online Bus Sales & Service websites