Have a question? Post it in our forum HERE
Q. How much did the Good News Bus project cost?
A. We estimate that this project cost approximately $25-30,000. I hope that this does not discourage anyone interested in doing a similar project. Keep in mind that we spared no expense when it came to the real oak paneling, Fridge, Water Heater, Stove, Hood Vent etc. It is possible to do it simpler and cheaper.
Q. Why didn't you just buy a Motor Home?
A. It is true that this was a costly project BUT there are many benefits to being able to build your own custom motor home. We have a big family so I wanted us to be comfortable while traveling. This is the reason for a good sized Master Bedroom, a bunk room that sleeps 4 and a dinning table that sleeps two (we haven't had to use it yet). The Good News Bus will very comfortably sleep 8. As far as I know that is rare to find in a motor home. Not to mention all the other great benefits and extras that you can throw in to mold to your tastes. Besides, it would be difficult to find a nice RV for the amount that went into this project.
Q. How much did the bus cost?
A. The bus cost $3,000. Looking back I think that it was a little much. I have since heard about school auctions where you can pick up newer buses for as cheap as $900. Take your time and you may find a deal.
Q. What gas milage does the Good News Bus get?
A. The Bus has a International Diesel 466. We have traveled about 3,000 miles so far and the bus gets around 8 MPG. It does not seem to matter if we are towing or not.
Q. Isn't the Good News Bus to heavy with all that extra building material?
A. Short Answer: No! A school bus is built like a tank. They are one of, if not the safest and most durable vehicles on the road. They are far safer then an RV.
Consider this: The Good News Bus was a 72 passenger school bus. Let's just make a very conservative estimate that each of the 72 passengers that the bus is capable of carrying weighed only 75 pounds each. That's 5,400 pounds. Each of the 36 seats that were removed weighed at least 50 pounds each. That's 1,800 pounds. So that is a total combined weight of 7,200 pounds. That gives a lot of weight to work with. Besides that, we weighed the bus after the project was complete and we still under weight!
Q. What are the size of your bunk beds?
A. The bunk and mattress size is 26 1/2" x 78"
Q. Is there anything you would change or do different?
A. As great as the Good News Bus turned out there are a few things I would have done different.
I know this adds some extra work but I think the rewards would be worth it. It isn't like it is a terrible thing having a 6' 2" roof but the bus would feel a lot bigger had I raised the roof even an extra foot. If you are doing a project like mine I would recommend doing this. More then anything I think it would raise the resale value should you decide to sell it.
2. Remove and Cover All Bus Windows
If I could do it over I would have covered all the bus windows and then put in RV windows. There are many benefits to this including energy (Heat & A/C) efficiency. This is a project I will more then likely tackle in the future.
3. Keep the Stock Heater
One of my main reasons for removing the front stock heater was because I wanted to cover the whole dash and it was just easier to do that with much of the heating system gone. My thinking was also the fact that the heating system was old and the levers and knobs where wore out. We traveled in some VERY cold weather (-25 C) and I was wishing I had that extra heat. If I could do it over I would have taken more time to see if there was a way to work the old system into my plans.
See our new heater video here: NEW VIDEO: Bus Life with 9 Heater for the Holidays
4. Plumb with PEX
I used CPVC for all water lines. CPVC is not at all forgiving in the cold and it is less flexible then PEX. If I ever do a second project I will use PEX.
I have done the best I could to lay out a step by step guide to converting a School Bus into an RV through the Good News Bus blog. What I hope to do with the following is give a list of tools that you will need to have available in order to get the job done.
The items I will be showing you are brand new items and are just for reference. Used items will work just fine.
One of the first things I would recommend is to have a very good socket set. Something similar to this should work:
A Tape Measure is also one of the first tools you will need. The DEWALT 35 ft. 1-1/4 in. tape measure will allow you to measure nearly the full length of your bus.
Depending on how you choose to remove your seats you will need one of two things. An air powered impact driver like this. If you go with an air powered impact driver don't forget you will also need an impact socket set, an air compressor and an air hose.
The second option is using an angle grinder to cut the bolts away. This second option may prove to be the quickest. Make sure and purchase some good ear protection. This DeWalt D28402 Angle Grinder should do the trick.
I used the Ridgid OL50145MWD 5 Gallon Mini Wheelbarrow Compressor. It is very easy to move around and keeps up pretty good.
The DeWalt DCK590L2 20V Max Li-Ion 5-Tool Kit would provide the majority of the tools you would need for a bus conversion. I just purchased this kit and am enjoying it. You will need to use most of the tools in this kit.
Mops and cleaning supplies are a must.
A Shop Vac like this is pretty much required.
A work light like this will help with those late hour working stints.
The OLFA LA-X Knife should take care of most of your cutting needs:
A Ladder like the Werner 8 ft. 250 lb. Fiberglass Step Ladder will probably be a must.
You will need lots of drill bits. I went though many drill bits and latter on in the project purchased the RIDGID Cobalt ColdFire 14-Piece Drill Bit Set. The bits seemed to last longer then all the other bits I had tried.
When the drill bits get dull it isn't a bad idea to invest in a drill bit sharpener like the Professional Woodworker Electric Drill Bit Sharpener. It will end up saving you money.
For all the hole cuts I had to make I used a Lennox hole saw Kit and was really impressed with the performance. The Lennox 308021200L kit should give you every hole saw required for your project.
When you need to cut a smaller hole into wood the Ridgid 6-Piece Auger Wood Bit. The nice thing about these is when you start to drill a hole because it has a screw tip on the front it literally pulls the bit through the wood with minimal effort.
If you intend on riveting any panels of metal to your project you will need a rivet gun like this:
If you plan of cutting any metal you will need a good pair of metal snips.
A hammer is also a must. I have used the DEWALT Steel Mig Weld Hammer.
Paint Supplies. I used foam rollers for the whole project. Large foam rollers for the roof and smaller rollers for the body.
If you intend to do any body work a sander is a must. I know that this may not be a body shops choice but it worked fine what what I needed. The DeWalt 5 in. Orbital Sander should do the trick:
Once you get to the framing/trim stage you will need a chop/slide saw with a good blade. I used the RIDGID 12 in. Sliding Compound Miter Saw. It worked great for the entire project. I also recommend the Rdgid Miter Saw Stand.
Another item that I used on my project was a table saw. I am a bit conflicted here. I currently have the Ridgid R4516 10" Portable Table Saw and like many of the features it has:
But a friend of mine has the DeWalt DW745 Portable Table Saw and there are many features on it that I like as well. You can't go wrong with either.
A brad nailer is going to be needed for nailing the paneling in place. I used a Porter-Cable brad nailer but later was able to obtain a DEWALT 18-Volt Cordless 2 in. 18- Gauge Brad Nailer. It works great and you don't have to use a hose or compressor with it!
When you start getting to the electrical part of the project a good set of wire cutters/strippers are a must. The best I have found are the Klein Kurve Wire Strippers/Cutters.
If you will be running your own gas lines you will need a Gas Line Flange/Flaring Tool
If you are planning on doing any tile or stone in your project like I did you will need a Tile Wet Saw. I used just a lower end saw like the QEP 650XT. It's a 7" 3/4 horse power and will work fine for small jobs.
One of the things I would do different is using PEX for the waterlines rather then CPVC. If you use PEX you will need a crimping tool like the ApolloPex Quick-Cinch Crimping Tool.