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Author Topic: I'm young, new to it, but i want to buy a bus and be a LIFER!  (Read 2869 times)
WannaBeLifer
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« on: July 16, 2007, 04:18:33 PM »

i've read the entire stringing of "newbie" advice posted back there, i've been researching all the differant kinds of busses, their structure's, buildabilities, motors and the fuel options, the options (water-heaters, appliances, gensets, etc.)...all i can do in about 6 months of dreaming!!

is this a rich mans sport, or am i crazy to think that i can take my little $40k a year (in california) and get as far off the grid as i can by getting a bus and converting it into my contemperary dream house!! aside from the obsticles of finding land to live on....i'm mechanically inclide, and crafty as all get out. encourage me, or discourage? should i wait until i have a bit more an income before living in a giant rolling construction zone?? the price of the bus is one thing.....the pieces of the puzzle though....Huh
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edvanland
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« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2007, 04:23:19 PM »

Get the best bus you can.  The rest you can do a little at a time.
ED
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Ed Van
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« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2007, 04:32:37 PM »

No, it's not a rich mans sport!

But it helps..... a lot.

I've converted 6 buses in the last 35 years and it just seems to get more and more expensive.

Right now we are converting a 1952 PD4103 and have been for the last 4 or 5 years. I'm partially disabled so can't can't keep a job and we live on what my wife makes. We buy a little bit here, a little there, some at flea markets and some on eBay, some by trading this or that.

We live full time in ours and although it's not really set up for off grid life, we can get by for a few days without a power pole.

Depending on the type of bus you want, and it's condition, you can do a lot with very little. Used buses are really a buyers market right now, since the price of fuel has gone up. The only real thing keeping the prices up on them is the price that China is paying for scrap metal.
I had a friend that sold a H8H4905A body last fall without engine or transmission. It brought $3500 as dirty scrap. Much more than he could have sold it for as a parts bus.

Look around, I'm sure you'll find something.

Just remember, the bus is just a big hole in the road where you pour vast quantities of cash, never to be seen again.

IHTH

Dallas
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HighTechRedneck
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« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2007, 04:44:08 PM »

I would encourage you to go for it, with only one concern.  In California, especially middle or southern, if you get out away from things, it is hot.  Hot usually means 2 large or 3 standard air conditioners.  That takes a lot of power.  If you get "off the grid", the power has to be generated somehow.  Generators burn expensive fuel.  Very large solar arrays involve huge up front investment.  I'm not even sure you could fit enough solar panels on a bus roof to power three air conditioners.

Beyond that, I say:  go for it!
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dutch
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« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2007, 04:56:44 PM »

i would have to agree

go for it>
no matter what happens you'll fall in love with it.
i spend almost all my savings into my bus and i hate looking at my bankaccount now but i love my bus.
i will always and forever have a bus, wether im broke or a millionair.
the gremlins are in my blood and bussing is my life.
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WEC4104
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« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2007, 05:19:37 PM »

Walk up to an older gentleman who you respect and admire. Ask him the following question:  Looking back on your life, which do you regret more:  The things you did that you shouldn't have, or the things you didn't do but wanted to.  I think you'll find you answer.
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Barn Owl
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« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2007, 05:58:16 PM »

California is a good state to find deals. That is where I got mine and have seen several since then that would also make good starter busses for those who are on a budget. Start on the low end if you have to, and as life and money permits, sell and upgrade. I also do not have a lot of disposable income, but I am having a good time. I think that the GM busses are the easiest and least expensive to start out on. I am sure you have already been following bus prices online. Exercise patience, do not let the horror stories scare you into paralysis, and educate yourself the best you can.

Good Luck,

Laryn
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bubbaqgal
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« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2007, 06:21:48 PM »

Find a bus you think you can afford, buy it, get to work and enjoy.  Go into it knowing that it will take lots of work and I mean lots.  It will be back breaking, dirty, exciting, fun, irritating, expensive, challenging, and worth every minute.  Dallas and I live in ours full time.  The only problem we have is that we are living in it, with our 3 cats, while we are doing the remodel.  Since we full time, everything we own is also in the bus.  We have had to learn to cut down on the things that we own.  After a while you realize that you don't truly need everything that you thought you couldn't live without before. 

Go for it, enjoy it and know that the frustrations that you will encounter will definitely be overshadowed by the fun you will have in owning a bus.  I bet before you get half way through, you will be saying "in my next bus I'm gonna do_____________ differently!  Welcome to the world of bus nuts!  Cat
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FloridaCliff
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« Reply #8 on: July 16, 2007, 06:27:13 PM »

WEC4104 said: which do you regret more, The things you did that you shouldn't have, or the things you didn't do but wanted to.

Man, There is nothing to say after that!

Go for it!

Cliff
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kysteve
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« Reply #9 on: July 16, 2007, 06:46:42 PM »

Got my vote for going for it also!!!!....Steve....
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Slow Rider
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« Reply #10 on: July 16, 2007, 07:11:41 PM »

Wannabe, 
I am in the same boat.  I realistically can't afford a bus.  But, I am going to have one.  The last few months of my fathers life taught me a bit.. I will not look back with the regret I never tried.  If it doesn't work out I will be a little bit poorer but will know that I was not afraid to try. 

There are some on the board who will give you many reasons why you should not get into busing if you don't have a certain amount of cash and reserves and..... and......   

If a few years from now I have to abandon this project it will still have been a positive event for me.  I will have learned a lot and met some of the best people in the world.  I will have spent time with my son and grand daughters sharing hardships and working towards a common goal. 

I hope they will get as much from the bus as I do, no matter what.

Only you can make the final decision, do what is right for you........and enjoy it.

Frank
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The MCI has landed..... We are home.
Dale City Va.  Just a southern suburb of DC
Yes I am a BUSNUT
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Songman
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« Reply #11 on: July 16, 2007, 07:28:01 PM »

I've always wanted a bus. Traveled on them all my life in the music business. But never really thought of owning one until a few years ago. Did a lot of research, looked at lots of buses, and finally bought mine about 5 months ago. I have a family and I also build street rods and stuff so I have lots of projects. So far on the bus I have been collecting parts and disassembling the stuff from the bus that I won't need in the conversion. But man, I am loving the planning and know that it is going to be great when we ever get it done!

I will add that I found out that CA has changed the process for registering an ex-commercial bus as a motorhome. It used to be that you just had to pull a number of seats out and that was all it took. A recent law change says that you must have completed your motorhome conversion before you can register it as an RV in CA. You must have a bathroom, kitchen, sleep quarters, A/C other than the road air, and a power supply... I told the woman at DMV that a lot of people who are going to just frequent campgrounds may not even add a generator.. She couldn't be swayed and said it was the law... Therefore, my bus is still registered commercial.

Being that this is CA, there is always a reason behind a change of law - MONEY! They now ask you the price you paid for the bus AND how much you spent on the conversion, and that is what you pay tax on. That's why they want it completed first. The good news is that they don't require an inspection. They take your word on it that your conversion is done. But the lady informed me that the fines are pretty stiff if you get pulled over and your bus is registered as a motorhome without the conversion being done. That would have to be a pretty bored cop to worry about that...

Just thought I would throw this into this thread since you live in CA... But as everyone else, my advice is GO FOR IT!
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Gary LaBombard
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« Reply #12 on: July 16, 2007, 07:29:58 PM »

Wanna be lifer,
I had a very good busnut friend kick me in the pants today to get me remotivated again, I can assure you all will not be roses but---- depending on your age, motivation and possiblity to do most things yourself you can sure get in here and meet great friends and those that will also motivate you when you get down like I was. 

My personal advise, get the newest bus you can financially afford to purchase, get it inspected to see what really needs to make your bus roadworthy and safe, and can you do the repairs yourself or have friends that will possibly help you if needed. Don't expect big fast results to any converting if done right.  Take your time, be safe always and enjoy your new project that if done right will be something to always be proud of the rest of your life.  Having strong support from a mate, (Wife, girlfriend or boyfriend) could sure help on bad days especially. 

Good luck, when you get down on a bad day, send me your email address and I will get you in contact with one couple I just know can motivate you again with their positive can & will do attitude.

Gary
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Gary
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« Reply #13 on: July 16, 2007, 07:34:06 PM »

I just got started this spring and wish I had done this years ago when I had more spendable income but less time to spend it. However it was Aircraft in thos days so on to busses  Jerry
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1988 MCI 102A3 8V92TA 740
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« Reply #14 on: July 16, 2007, 08:56:27 PM »

LIFE  IS A TRIP  .... FROM BIRTH ,TO YOUTH  , LOVE,FAMILY, ...RETIREMENT ...etc. 
BUS CONVERSION IS A TRIP.....thinking. planning ,searching,working,love, family...etc.
BUS CONVERSION IS NEVER COMPLETELY FINISHED(ask any one that has one)remember to include thinking,planning,working,love family!!
 SO Huh LIFE=LOVE,FAMILY,on a trip in YOUR BUS CONVERSION Cheesy
  ENJOY ALL YOU HAVE ( they areALL GIFTS  just include LOVE, & FAMILY on a trip in your bus)


p.s. watch out for BUS NUTS we are everywhere(even in your bathroom mirror....you just haven't notice it yet !)


Dwayne
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niles500
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« Reply #15 on: July 16, 2007, 09:45:24 PM »

Gary - I'd sure like to MEET any one who couold kick you in the pants - we all need it now and again - but YOU less than most - Keep the Faith - you'll be using that class C as a towed soon enough
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- Niles
Dreamscape
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« Reply #16 on: July 17, 2007, 03:09:40 AM »

I have always wanted a bus to convert to a motorhome, even bought an old Ford schoolie back in the early eighties. Never completed the project, was restoring Austin Healy's then. I regreted building my own conversions for many years. I bought our Eagle in 2003 and have never looked back. I, like others are building on a budget. I'm not rich, just busnut crazy. I paid cash for it, and pay as I go. I cannot think of a better hobby. Besides meeting great folk on the bus boards, and now getting to meet some in person at the Texas Roundup, it's fantastic fun.

Since you have mechanical experience, go for it with gusto. Don't be shy asking questions, I have many times. Have fun, work safe and you won't regret it.

Happy Trails,

Paul

Dreamscape
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cody
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« Reply #17 on: July 17, 2007, 06:11:32 AM »

We're 3 years into our project and don't regret anything other than not starting sooner, we've been Rving since we bought out first travel trailer in 1976, going to a class C, then to a class A then to the bus and this is by far the biggest project of them all but also the most rewarding and enjoyable.  Take your time and find the right bus, then take your time and do it the way YOU want it, the cost will surprise you because nothing is cheap anymore but because it is usually spread over time it is manageable. Your friends will think you've lost your mind and it's true but as you get further into the project and they can see what your doing, you'll find they are going to be inviting themselves on weekend runs lol.  Very few busnuts have deep pockets and the ones that do have a bankroll don't seem to  complete their projects any faster than us poor people lol.  I've asked a lot of questions here on the board and usually started my post with, "ready for another dumb question?" and have found that I can ask anything and get quality responces, sure some chuckle but all seem to know what they are talking about and give good information.  I'm a member of several forums and this is by far the best that I've found so far, many of the others seem to be very judgemental and if you an't doing it their way, your doing it wrong, that isn't the case here, just good people doing what they love and helping others to do it too.  Only you can determine if this is right for you but I feel that we made the right choice and it works for us.
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Dave C
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« Reply #18 on: July 17, 2007, 07:27:07 AM »

It may be helpful to this lad to note the current prices of buses.  Is there a price difference west coast vs. east coast location?    Add to the list below.

Shell -
Owner converted -
Factory converted -
Deluxe entertainer -


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TomC
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« Reply #19 on: July 17, 2007, 07:59:43 AM »

I've been a bus nut since I was a kid.  During junior and senior high I would sketch floor plans on different length buses as a hobby.
I bought my transit when I discovered it had 22" of under floor space-enough to install everything I wanted.  The bus originally cost $4,000.  I was truck driving at the time and would drive for 9 months and take the 3 winter months off-during which time I would work on the bus.  It took me 6 years to complete.  I've had it now for 14 years and have spent about $90,000 on it.  But that includes rebuilding everything in the engine compartment, changing the air bags, regearing it, converting from air assisted steering to full power, buying two sets of tires (first set lasted 12 years-I park inside).  I highly recommend you buy the bus with EXACTLY the engine/transmission you want in it.  Over the 14 years I've had it, I've spent $40,000 in mechanical upgrades to get it to the point now where I'm satisfied with the performance and driveability of it.  I just didn't have the $45,000 on hand to buy the bus that was correct for me.  But next time I'll know.  If I were to buy a bus now, there was a '91 MCI 102C3 (haven't checked lately) in the MAK classified with a Series 50 and Allison automatic, which I think is the perfect setup for a conversion for all of $28,000!  Good thing I have my bus now or I'd be buying it.  Good Luck, TomC
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Tom & Donna Christman. '77 AMGeneral 10240B; 8V-71TATAIC V730.
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« Reply #20 on: July 17, 2007, 08:30:11 AM »

TomC
Quote
Good thing I have my bus now or I'd be buying it.

    And that would be a bad thing? I hear the second conversion goes easier or better than the
 first. It might only take you 7 years......
 
   When one starts on the second conversion does that mean that the first one is officially done?

   Skip
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HighTechRedneck
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« Reply #21 on: July 17, 2007, 05:01:00 PM »


When one starts on the second conversion does that mean that the first one is officially done?


Nope.  They are like kids.  When your second one is born, you usually still have years to go on the first.
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white-eagle
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« Reply #22 on: July 17, 2007, 05:59:21 PM »

Don't kno w how good they are or may be, but there's about 4 eagle's on ebay tonight, one of them for just $3k.  most expensive is the one with 3 slide-outs, if you can believe it.
be careful, but obviously you can get into this reather inexpensively and with the best of all buses, an Eagle.

no i'm not prejudiced at all.  Cheesy
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Tom
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« Reply #23 on: July 17, 2007, 07:59:22 PM »

Why bother with building your own when you can buy one already done for half the cost ? And there are lots to choose from. Just shop around to find the one closest to what you want, then there is only little modifications left to do. And you get to use it right away too. Something to think about anyway.

JC
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JC
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« Reply #24 on: July 18, 2007, 04:43:10 AM »

With a bus conversion, You will never be homeless. Just looking for a new place to park!

Sitting here in a hay field in a deep valley in Tennessee I couldn't ask for a better deal.

A Bus and a Barn and electric poles to be installed soon. It's always an adventure.

My original idea was to find a place that I liked and just go there.. Well here I am.

If I had broken down on the way here I would be somewhere else to call home at least for a while.

Funny, carrying your house with you is so cool !

1-week out of Florida and the fun part has already started.

Get a bus, Do it your way and don't look back except when in reverse!!!!!

Dave.....
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« Reply #25 on: July 19, 2007, 09:00:44 PM »

WannabeLifer,

I was hoping to hear back from you (after all these responses to your questions) before I offered my two cents...

I bought my dream bus (seated coach) 4 years ago. Today it sits as a shell, seats removed, sides re-skinned, & lots of boxes of conversion parts, all new. I have the new dual pane RV windows already purchased, ready to install. Put two Flexsteel cap'n chairs in. But basically it's still just a shell. I was cautioned by many, just as you have been cautioned, taking on a project like this can take years!

I still have 3 kids at home - I wanted to use the bus for our summer outings. But the bus still sits, waiting for me to transform her...

Thats why I bought a "finished" conversion. We can go bussin now, & I still have the project to look forward to of converting by first bus. And all 3 kids are still at home!

A $40k per year income may be sufficient; depends how much debt you carry. Do you have lots'a $$ left over every month to use as you want? Do you have any in savings? It may be more appropriate for some to plan well ahead (6 months is not adequate, in my opinion), shop for the right deal, watch the market, don't be in a hurry.

A conversion project is not for everybody. In fact it's not for most. It will consume lots of your time and money. That being said, look back at all the posts prior to this one, and you will see, most have no regrets about tackling their bus project.

Just my two cents

Mark
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