We bought a school bus!!
All my peeps know that I've been obsessed interested in tiny houses for four or five years now. I abandoned the tiny house dream when Wendy and I decided to get married since she already had a house. We expected that we would buy a camper one day, so of course I started a Pinterest search for campers and came across some folks who renovated old campers and made them look super cute. I'm sure this is where I ran into pictures of old school buses converted into campers. I quickly concluded that a "skoolie" (as these conversions are called) would be perfect for us. We wouldn't have to worry about buying a bigger truck with towing capabilities, the bus shell is built tough to keep kids safe, we could plan a layout that works best for us and 6 animals, and the inside looks just like a tiny house!
I don't remember exactly, but I don't think it took long for Wendy to get on board. She loves a project. We created a Rou Bus Pinterest Board to save ideas. We joined numerous Skoolie groups on Facebook. We researched (googled...) as much as we could about conversions. Now, we've been known to have many outlandish dreams that never come to fruition. With the skoolie dream, we knew we wanted to act now and not let this dream die. We set a budget (tax return...) and started looking online for used buses. We initially wanted a flat nose bus because you get more living space, but the rear engine buses don't come in size medium. Hehe. We have limited space to park the bus, so 30 feet was our target size. We eventually decided on a conventional (dog nose) bus with 8 windows (the skoolie community usually measures buses by the number of windows on one side) and a handicap lift in the back (for an extra exit door). We moved our fence back and added more limestone to maximize parking space. I tried to spread the limestone with a shovel (I'm still sore) before Uncle Curt came to the rescue with a tractor. ♥
I spent a good two weeks trying to get the bus insured so we could immediately register it and be good to go for the drive home. That didn't happen. Companies don't want to insure a regular school bus for personal use because they don't trust that you'll do what you say you'll do. Understandable. We read about many other people withholding information to get insurance, but that seems like a waste of money to me since any claims would likely be denied. We decided that we'll just hope for the best on the drive home and get insurance once it's converted. There are companies who will insure conversions, but they have to be somewhat completed first. Spoiler alert: we did make it home safely. :)
We looked at three school buses during our search and purchased the third one from the very sweet Wyatt Cambre, JR of www.cambrebus.com. We found his ad on Craigslist and set up an appointment immediately. We cannot recommend him enough! He was extremely helpful and answered all my text message questions. If you're in or near South Louisiana and need a bus, go to his website and give him a call.
We took off to Covington to get ourselves a bus! My Nannie drives school buses and agreed to drive it home for us. ♥ I have the best aunts and uncles! It didn't take us too long to get the paperwork completed at the title place and they registered the bus as a motor home, which should help when we try again to get insurance. Before we knew it, we were on the road home! Nannie and Wendy in the bus and me in the Fit following behind. We had just gotten onto the interstate when I saw some smoke under the bus. Before I could even think to call them, they were pulling over to the side. They said smoke was going into the bus through the dash board! EEK! I called Wyatt and he offered some suggestions. We decided to get back on the road and stop at the next exit, but after getting back on the road the smoke never returned so we kept on trucking. Wyatt checked back in on us twice, because he's super nice like that. Later on we figured it may have been the broken AC compressor that I forgot to tell them about and they had turned on. Oops. My bad, y'all.
We got home a little after 2:00 and by 3:00 we were inside the bus working on taking out the seats. Waste no time, folks. So much for that nap... Wendy got to work on the first bolt when I told her that from what I read, one person needs to be under the bus holding the nut in place while the person in the bus turns the screw. Forgive my elementary terms here; I'm not a tools person. Y'all know my fibromyalgia self wasn't about to lay down on limestone, so I threw Wendy under the bus (hahhahahahaa) and used my little muscles to use a socket wrench (I think) to loosen the screws. After a couple seats we found it was easier to loosen the screws with the wrench and then finish off with the drill. THEN my dad stopped by with big carpet squares for Wendy to sit/lay on and a super powerful drill (the name escapes me) that made all of this much easier. By 7:30, all of the bolts were out of the floor. There were 9 seats, 4 partitions, and about 12-14 wheelchair anchors.
Day 1 is done. Day 2 is underway. We have a TON of work ahead of us, but we're ready for it. We expect this project to take at least a year. Rou Rags (I make shirts, y'all!) will be helping to fund this adventure.
I'll update as often as I can and if you're in town, please stop by!