School Bus conversion tips

Hello ATXHS!

My wife @ladyorbit and I are converting a school bus over the next few months and we wanted to pick your brains. We’ve heard there are a few other members working on skoolies. If you’re one of them, please share your experience! Would love to read about how you went about this project.

Some stats on our bus: It’s a 40’ 2005 international RE300 with a DT466 engine. Rust free and runs like a champ! We lucked out on it for sure. Here’s a pic.


gorgeous! design/space-wise, i love the flat front! Good to meet you Orion! Welcome. Happily, a couple of the folks who have done vans and buses here have traveled out into the world! One of them is Jess, who I follow here:
One of our other members, @Drew, is also embarking on this process.
We also have a couple of folks who have moved to FT bus-living, including @driverdan and Greg C. I am interested but just following the conversation for the moment! :slight_smile: Good to meet you.


I think this is the best time to start a conversion weather wise. I think one of the biggest things to know is your own endurance. It is a lot of work. Project planning is key
-Are you planning on raising the roof
-Have you sketched or caded the buildout
-Know you low voltage high voltage needs. Also future needs
-Understand your solar charging needs


Thanks Kye! Good to meet you as well.

Just gave Jess a follow. I’ll reach out and see if she has any takes to share.

Great to connect with other members working on skoolies.

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Hey Joe,

Agreed. The timing is right weather wise. Can’t imagine working on a bus outside mid summer.

  • Roof: We want to avoid messing with the ribs and structure, but given our enhanced capabilities with the space, we are open to doing a partial raise for something like the master bedroom. Still mulling it over.
  • We have a couple of solid floor plans going right now. One fairly traditional skoolie layout and one with the kids bunks at the front and living room in the middle.
  • Electric and plumbing are what I’m researching the most now. We are somewhat familiar with solar and living off grid but haven’t ever built a system so this will be an interesting challenge.
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I have been a part of 2 different roof raises. The hard part is the cut and weld. The 2nd thing is the filler material. It is a bit of sheet metal work.

After talking to Dan about his conversion. He says anything that will fail from vibration will fail. Especially plumbing.


The plan is to drive the bus to Vermont so we want to winter-proof it as much as possible so that means we basically need to replace all the windows so that will be a pretty heavy lift.
If we absolutely have to do a roof raise we will but we want to conserve on time and budget as much as possible.
For plumbing I’ve seen skoolie builds use pex piping and sharkbite connectors and seeing good results so that’s the plan unless we learn of a better way.

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@kye any advice on how to get started? I’d like to drive the bus up to the space this weekend and start doing some demo work but I’m not 100% clear on etiquette/scheduling, how long I’m allowed to park there for and what all I can dispose of in the dumpster.

For the demo portion it would be contained to the bus and I’d just need an outlet as I don’t need to use the space yet to fabricate anything.

Any pointers are greatly appreciated.

Ah @orion I’m seeing this a bit late for Saturday – i’m sorry! but Parking over the weekend is fine for the moment, we haven’t yet heard back from our property manager. Green Dumpster just needs to be able to shut! And nothing piled outside it. So you might have to pace yourself with ripping stuff out.
I’'d book the autobay on Skedda, then you’d have an outlet and could work outdoors or in, as you wanted – thanks, Orion, I hope you still have time to get out there today!

Thank you @kye!

No worries. I was busy this weekend replacing one of the window motors on my car.

Parking overnight would be super helpful but I’m worried about the 4 hour max for scheduling the autobay. Can I work on the bus for more than 4 hours? Do I book slots back to back in skedda? Or just one and ride out the time? Just making sure I’m going by the book and not disrupting anyone else’s needs. I live pretty far south so I’m trying to avoid commuting to the space frequently and instead work in bursts of two 8+ hr days at a time.

@orion - (I believe) The autobay isn’t limited to just 4 hours. It’s the lasers that are time limited.

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That makes sense. I was going by the handbook but that could be out of date.

I tried to make an 8 hour block in Skedda for the autobay, and it didn’t object.

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Thanks for this @Orion, it’s a relatively new book, and we are still finding things sometimes - Yes, that 4-hour limit for the Autobay isn’t right – thanks @stepho for helping out.

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Yo! I’m converting a mini-van at the moment and finalizing designs on a sprinter conversion.
Hit me up anytime if you have any questions (can’t think of any blaring advice to give) and draw from any experience I have.
Will probably be working on the minivan a bit tomorrow or Friday

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Hey Keygan! I’ve been watching a lot of van conversions as well. Lots of really clever space-saving solutions there.

Right now my biggest concern is getting legal. Not sure how that all works for van conversions but I’m not 100% clear on how re-titling works. I’ve seen some stuff on but it revolves around having 4/6 features installed like heating, bathroom, electric, etc.

How far along are you in your build? I’d love to check it out.

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