Converting A School Bus, into A Skoolie – Reality 101
So you bought a bus! Congrats!
Now what? You have a big yellow bus designed to cart kids around. Now the real fun begins. You have got to design the layout, which will undoubtable look beautiful on that large pad of graph paper you just bought, but will it be practical to live in? Better yet will it be practical to build?
My first four tries at the bus layout eventually lead to one layout that Ryan and I both liked. Instantly I began to think of the steps necessary to make it our dream home. Then I got stuck in the reality of it all. First we need to install the water tanks, which is welding, which we have no idea how to do. Then there is the plumbing, no experience. Electric…scares me. Solar panels, battery inverters, sewage tanks, oh my. This is all before we start to do the laborious work that I am actually somewhat comfortable doing. Well its overwhelming to say the least.
All of the above is actually a moot point right now. Currently our bus is in the shop because we couldn’t get it started. Let me make one thing perfectly clear, neither Ryan or myself has any business working on engines. No idea whatsoever what we are doing…and that’s referencing a normal engine like the cars we have driven for 18 years of our lives. The bus however is diesel, an entirely different beast all together. Really we shouldn’t even be allowed to lift the hood. However, that is not an option any longer.
It’s about 20 F outside. We just had 48 hours of snow and rain storms. The engine was cold, is an understatement. For those of you like I was prior to this adventure, dumb, a diesel engine will not start in the cold. The oil and the gas “gels” at cold temps preventing them from moving throughout the engine to fire up. Diesels have these things called block heaters and glow plugs. You can plug them in to a regular house outlet to heat up the engine prior to starting! No problem! A bit of google browsing time and I now am an expert. So we plug the ol’ girl in and wait. Its recommended two hours before we crank her up. Two hours comes and goes, we head out, key in, turn to the right…crickets.
Up the hood goes, we could have been looking at a UFO engine. Now that we have wasted two hours of our lives we realize that the “plug” for the block heater has actually been cut. Apparently our engine is new. Again we feel dumb. Just in time my “out of the box” skills turn on. Engine needs to be warm right? Toss a blanket on that bitch and throw a heater under her ass. So that’s what we did.
Two more hours (well like 75 mins, we were getting impatient). Key in, turn to the right, my genius is now gone…crickets. This day was not our day. I am slowly learning at this point that we might have many of these days in our future. This fun project of building a home might not be all sunshine and daisies.
Eventually we realized it was the batteries, turns out one of the cells in our new batteries was actually bad. Currently it is in the shop to make sure alternator is ok and to fix the block heater.