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Author Topic: Bus Building on a Budget  (Read 4239 times)
robertglines1
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« on: March 22, 2011, 07:31:03 PM »

It seems to me that allot of people think you have to have the absolute best of everything. The best generator -must have a inverter--aqua hot heat-best best best. I guess what I have to say is go for it if you can afford it! I can't: I do the best I can. a 1500$ used generator. No inverters. no hi tech electronics. Just simple basics and allot of home built features. I paid 1200$for a damaged 98 prevost-1500 for a used 7.5kw gen set-6000$for a used trans and Engine-1500$for rearend-total build to be in 20,000$ range.Allot of ideas came from this board.  The point is do what you can and be proud of what you create.$ don't bring pride.     A busnut is a busnut no matter what your coach cost.    Bob
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Bob@Judy  98 XLE prevost with 3 slides --Home done---last one! SW INdiana
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« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2011, 07:53:06 PM »

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It seems to me that allot of people think you have to have the absolute best of everything.

I am not ashamed to say I have been very successful, and have had many a good times on a shoe string budget in my conversion. Some folks like the "warm fuzzies" of having nothing but the best. Nothing wrong with it, I just don't have that option to consider. Along with the greater challenge comes the greater reward! I think $20k for what you are going to have is a huge deal! Good job!
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« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2011, 08:06:40 PM »

I agree, I did not put all the money in fancy frills. I wanted comfort and safety!!Safety!!!Safety!!!
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« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2011, 09:15:03 PM »

I look at it this way Bob.. With the way you are doing it, you'll be one of the few that would be able to re-coop your investment if you ever wanted to sell it...probably not counting your labor but if you enjoy the building process then your labor is nothing more than a hobby anyways. Some of us "Think" that we could re-coop our money but how many of us actually could if we tried?? I know that you are not converting to sell nor am I but its something to think about since so many of these conversions end up being for sale. I don't really consider that just "Bus Building On A Budget"..I consider that "Smart Bus Building On A Budget"..

Jimmy
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« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2011, 11:12:30 PM »

Since I have a 1965 MC5a, it is hard to hide that I go for the best, but I appreciate the sentiment.  I do like having the inverter also even though it is not essential.  My Trace SW2512 MSW is also one of the best for its year of manufacture, which I believe is in the mid 90's.  You know what they say, "Inverters improve with age."  I just had to buy a couple of new tires.  Again, I went for the best.  I got them all the way from China.  We are now thinking of doing some major interior upgrades too, like maybe dye the carpet and put a slipcover on the couch.  Heating system is also top notch.  We went and spent the extra bucks to put a beautiful new motor in our Atwood furnace (maybe it's Suburban, I can't remember), but we kept the classic plastic squirrel cage.  While some people think they're getting something good by molding and finishing real wood so that is comes out looking like plastic, we again have the best--real plastic laminate.
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« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2011, 06:06:00 AM »

FWIW I bought a coach that the PO had for close to 25 years and reminding me several times while I talked with him before handing him our hard earned cash how much money he had put in to the Bus, and having the latest and greatest back in the 80's and early 90's , Guess what lol I have replaced several things in the four years that we have owned the Bus. It is what it is lol ya run what you brung lol.
I hated the bus this last weekend , I was all set to make a quick run , It was a nice warm spring sunday morning had the heater on , tire covers off did my per trip, jumped in to fire the old girl up........ and nothin I mean zero zip nota lol, long story short, short in the netural safety switch lol all good in my world. I guess to me it's all about the fix , Yes I do get tired sometimes having to work on the Bird alot but Hell what else do I have to do lol Iam not made of money and I did some dumb this with what I had, but It's  not about the money (well sometimes it is lol) but for the most part It;s when I set back and look at the Eagle and just say WOW look what We have .
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1968 Model 05 Eagle # 7481 Miles City MT
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« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2011, 06:27:47 AM »

I think its wise to buy something that has physical damage, and repair it. After all, I did that going through college in the sixties, up thru the 80's in grad school. It's how i made my living. While i've only had 2 skoolies and 2 with Detroit's, I don't think I have lost money on any of them, but haven't made any money on them either, but got to use them several years each, so that was worth something. Now days, you can join copart and occasionally they have a bus on there, like the new water damaged high end coaches a few months ago that went for something like 60K each. And there is the run of the mill ones that run and drive that are very cheap. After all, what you save can be used for your conversion parts...
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« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2011, 08:54:04 AM »

I like this post. There are some BusNuts want to build a bus on a limited budget and those who have a limited budget to build a bus. Christi & I had a limited budget AND limited time (90 days) to build a bus and move in after selling our house. Here is how we did it: http://singinglandcruiser.blogspot.com/ . Yes there are somethings we would have done different but we would not change a thing! Think about that! We are re-doing somethings now like slides and inverters... Have fun reading about our build and have fun on your own. M&C and Mrs. Jones  Grin
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« Reply #8 on: March 23, 2011, 09:11:59 AM »

I like to recycle, repurpose and reuse whatever I can in every facet of my life. This guy's bus conversion http://www.vonslatt.com/bus-main.shtml is what got me thinking I could do this and it would be a great way to build a bus conversion for nearly free! Of course, that was before I understood more about insulation, electrical systems, etc. which are very costly. It's ironic that the most costly stuff is the stuff that should be done first  Roll Eyes So the begining, for me, is the big $$$$
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« Reply #9 on: March 23, 2011, 10:47:42 AM »

As the progress proceeds I have changed my mind on just about every aspect & items that my hands have touched. I had an original build out figure in mind knowing it would take a couple of years. I busted the figure a bit & time slot a bit as well. We wanted things like custom type shower stall maybe with tile but installed a full unit that I got from Lowes because it fit the slot to a tee. I planned to custom build the cabinets till I discovered some store bought units we liked very much. Did a bit of modifications to make them fit & we're happy. Wanted stone type counter tops with under mount sinks but went with Formica preformed tops & slip in sinks. One thing I didn't plan to readdress later was the walls. So I installed Formica & it wasn't cheap. You may have noticed I didn't say we "settled for" on any of these ideas. 5-6 yrs from now if we want to have the stone tops we can go back for the change. A lot of our changes came as we discovered how much or how little we might be using the coach. And I don't mind discovering cost savings too. Momma likes that as well!! I definitely wanted to have use of the thing before it needs complete reworking again... So I'm off to install the window valances, cieling panels, etc. etc. & we'll almost be ready for the rally in Myrtle Beach next week. We'll see some of you there. Others we'll see ya at Palmetto Cove at the end of next month. Might even have the generator done by then. Shocked
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John Mellis
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« Reply #10 on: March 23, 2011, 02:36:33 PM »

It seems to me that allot of people think you have to have the absolute best of everything. The best generator -must have a inverter--aqua hot heat-best best best. I guess what I have to say is go for it if you can afford it! I can't: I do the best I can. a 1500$ used generator. No inverters. no hi tech electronics. Just simple basics and allot of home built features. I paid 1200$for a damaged 98 prevost-1500 for a used 7.5kw gen set-6000$for a used trans and Engine-1500$for rearend-total build to be in 20,000$ range.Allot of ideas came from this board.  The point is do what you can and be proud of what you create.$ don't bring pride.     A busnut is a busnut no matter what your coach cost.    Bob

Bob,

You definetly have the right idea as far as I am concerned.

I'm not cheap (Kyle, stop yourself) , just want to keep all I can for other fun stuff.

Anybody (who has it) can throw money at a project, but to see that diamond in the rough and make it happen, at a minimum cost, thats talent.

Cliff

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« Reply #11 on: March 23, 2011, 04:58:16 PM »

Funny thing is I really don't like "bling"  and when I look at the high end coaches to me it's just bling and stuff.  If that is for you that's great, I am not trying to upset anybody, I am just saying its not me.  Maybe that is because I have to build it and I like to keep things simple because they are much easier to repair and I know who is going to have to fix all this stuff.  If you are doing all your own building that's a great way to keep the cost down, its also a good way to learn new things, although learning can sometimes cost you extra, but you will reap the rewards later down the road. I have learned many skills needed to convert a bus into a motor home, but I have very little experience with buss's in general.  It would be great to have a million, or a million and a half to plunk down on a new coach, but if I had it, I don't think I would spend it that way anyway.
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Mike
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« Reply #12 on: March 23, 2011, 05:06:48 PM »

I've got over $90,000 in my conversion and when I use it I am totally pleased with the components I put in it.
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Geoff
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« Reply #13 on: March 23, 2011, 05:48:21 PM »

And??
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« Reply #14 on: March 23, 2011, 07:33:10 PM »

 I'd much rather rummage through a salvage yard than order from a fancy catalog. Most things in my bus were from salvage yards and discount outlets. Elkhart is like Disneyland for the converter. The search is an adventure, like a treasure hunt. It brings out the little boy in me.

 There are times when it made more sense to buy new, it broke my cheap little heart. But no sense in shooting myself in the foot over a few bucks!

 If you need to buy the best of everything to enjoy the journey, go for it. This is suppose to be fun Grin

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« Reply #15 on: March 23, 2011, 09:48:30 PM »

I traded a Harley in a basket for my bus, paid $7000.00 for the HD got over $35,000.00 out of it in insurance claims from other people hitting it in Florida. My bus had a fresh 8V92 DDEC & Alison 740a Atec trany swap in it, new rear gears, was a shell with a single door included. I used all the wiring & house stuff out of my old bus used a lot of Harley parts to make furnishings in it, added the WVO setup and drove it 35,000+ miles on $1,000.00 worth of diesel.

My bus has paid me to own it
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« Reply #16 on: March 24, 2011, 12:33:45 AM »

  Looks like im in good company then.
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« Reply #17 on: March 24, 2011, 11:53:11 AM »

BUS
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Master Mason, Noble Shriner
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« Reply #18 on: March 24, 2011, 03:47:23 PM »

There is a big difference between "best" and "most expensive", the latter usually just being repackaged crap. "Best" is not necessarily "new". "Best" is what fits your needs, wallet and makes YOU happy, regardless of where you bought or found it. If you like bragging about your stuff, probably you just shop for "most expensive". In this case, you are at the wrong site.
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« Reply #19 on: March 24, 2011, 05:54:22 PM »

Anyone who has met me (or us) knows that I am not a materialistic person. Most of the things we have are based on function over form, including our vehicles and our home, and generally our lifestyle.

There's not a lot of glitz or glitter with Papabus, but it is very functional, comfortable and dependable.

Many of the items I used in the construction were bargains/used/salvaged. It's rewarding making something work in an application that it wasn't really intended for. We also did some things backwards ( like making the hole fit the windows I already had acquired ). Doing it that way, for less than the price of one custom made/sized window we had 7 new pre-made windows in place.

We spend money as needed on safety related items, and therefore other things need to be placed on the 'back burner' until time and money is available. Luckily, Donna is very patient and complains rarely.

And most of all, we have a great time when we are out with the bus. We have met a load of WONDERFUL people since converting Papabus, and many have become close friends.

We wouldn't do it any differently next time!



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Mark Morgan    near Brandon, Manitoba, Canada
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« Reply #20 on: March 24, 2011, 06:12:57 PM »

It also doesn't hurt to buy stuff you don't actually need and put it in one of the sheds... You or one of your friends might need something like a window, or stove, etc... just don't do like i do, and have too much...good thing i don't live in town...
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« Reply #21 on: March 24, 2011, 06:51:01 PM »

It takes a lot of talents in various mediums to own much less build one of these machines. My hats off too guys like Bob and others that have done so if not several. I'm not patting myself on the back but am a mechanical whiz or am told so and I see the challenges and time invested in creating such. I do enjoy making mine better. It's how I relax. At times the price is not of concern, at other times it is. But it is fun to work with wood, insulation, stain, oil, diesel, propane, antifreeze, rubber and carpet all in one day!!!  Smiley
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robertglines1
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« Reply #22 on: March 25, 2011, 10:47:00 AM »

If anyone took this post to skip road worthy safety. Safety comes first.  Seen allot of home built units of all types and ages that are just amazing. Home grown ideas and personal genius for their construction.I did not see one that compromised safety.!  Bob
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Bob@Judy  98 XLE prevost with 3 slides --Home done---last one! SW INdiana
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« Reply #23 on: March 25, 2011, 04:56:35 PM »

YESS!!

Thank you so much for this post! I have been blogging on this topic recently, and its so good to be validated on things. Hooray!

I just was given this book: http://www.amazon.com/Select-Convert-Your-Motorhome-Shoestring/dp/0972470417 and have read it through a few times now. Don't let money get in the way of an amazing conversion project! There are ways to be cost effective without cutting corners!!

Awesome post, thanks!
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The Bus Girl
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« Reply #24 on: March 26, 2011, 08:08:53 PM »

Bob
  It takes one to know one!!!!!!!!!!!!
   We are cheep Shocked
  Dwayne

 P.S.
  I checked with supply house,ductless splits through ici will  not be a problem.  Let me know when your ready.
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harley86
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« Reply #25 on: March 27, 2011, 08:55:08 AM »

This is a great thread it follows my ideas for this whole bus addiction thing.
I just bought a 1977 Eagle 05 that is 80% finished. I will be able to stay within my budget and a lot of the difficult work has already been finished. I am going to finish out my bus very low tech but very nice. That is the one thing I love about my Eagle 1970's technology no computers or electronics. I can figure most of this stuff out. I am going to completly rewire the coach as there is a lot of the old wiring from the coach a/c  system that is no longer in use. I want to keep my unplaned maintaince to a  minunum as we are going to put a lot of miles on this old girl during the racing season.
Speaking of low tech I was thinking about using the water from the cooling system on the generator to heat the coach will this work I plan on running the generator all the time.

Take Care Kerry
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« Reply #26 on: March 27, 2011, 02:51:02 PM »

I just bought my 4104 for $2500, I know I will spend some getting it back into good condition for the road (Tires, filters, wiring repairs, etc.) since its been sitting for a couple of years. I'm going to rip out the interior and redo it, and plan on spending about $7500 for that. Some things you can scrimp on, but sometimes it is better to just spend the money to get a better quality product. It's basically up to you, and what you are willing to deal with. Do I need a top of the line granite countertop? Nope. I can get prefabbed Formica counters from Lowes, and put that savings (probably about $7-800) towards equipment that will make life easier and better. Perhaps a couple of solar panels for the roof, so I don't have to run the gennie so often. Or a nice upgrade to a jucuzzi tub to help me relax at the end of the day..... Look around and find what you want for the price you are willing to pay. I just found laminate hardwood flooring for my entire bus for about $150. Deals are out there, you just gotta look.
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Scott
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