Big Blue - Old Ski Resort Shuttle Bus Conversion Turned Tiny Home

- Interview By: Brock Butterfield -

 One spring while I was in Alaska filming for "Life In The Bus Lane" with Bruce The Brute Bus and the rest of the snowboard gang, I met Jason Wier at Tailgate Alaska in the parking lot. We had just rolled in a day before and with my bus fully loaded with snowmobiles and all sorts of gear it was hard not to draw attention. Jason introduced himself and wanted a short tour of the short bus. After speaking with him a bit more I learned that Jason had a full size bus of his own that he converted to a tiny home and ran completely on WVO or waste vegetable oil.

Jason swooped the bus from Keystone Ski Resort in Colorado where it was used as a shuttle bus. Every item in the bus is reclaimed or up cycled including the wiring which he salvaged from a home demo. The bus now roams the wild terrain of Alaska where Jason lives simple and without much. Here's a quick tour of Jason's bus converted into a tiny home.

 

Bus Specs:

-Make International

-Model Thomas

-Year 1986

-Length 29.7 feet long

-Interior Square Footage Under 150 sq. ft

-Purchased From/Location Keystone Ski Resort - COLORADO

-Name of Bus Big Blue

-Cost in materials for the conversion $1,200 for the WVO (wasted vegetable oil) and hardly anything for the inside conversion

Tell us a bit about how the idea to build this bus came about:  I first came unto the idea of a bus while traveling on Dead tour. What an opener. As in, eye opener towards the possibilities of traveling around with less for more. Twenty years later I stumbled upon some folks online that were converting busses to travel in and some were running waste grease….I couldn’t believe it! I immediately became engrossed in research about diesels and vegetable oil.

Who converted the bus for you and how long did it take? I bought my bus for 2000 bucks and put another 1200 into the components needed to run on WVO(Waste veg oil).  Every last item used in the interior build was reclaimed or recycled from the cedar logs milled and planed into floorboards to the screws used to fasten things…even the wiring was from a house demo. My skills as a wood worker definitely helped with the interior. I was going for a dry cabin sort of feel. Very minimal and cozy with lots of wood. The build took place through the winter of 07’. We left Colorado to journey the Oregon coast July 1st.….I had only gotten the bus fired up for the 1st time 2days prior. It was really more of a hope that we could make it to steamboat 3hrs away..…A month later and 4000 miles wiser we pulled back into our hometown of Leadville, CO. It's been on like donkey kong from then on. 50,000miles, 1000’s of gallons of waste veg, and a couple of dogs later, Big Blue runs better than ever and regularly makes trek all over Alaska feeling rather free. Full window tint ensures the privacy.

1986 International Thomas School Bus

What is your heat source? The heat has never been an issue as I would mostly only use it in the summer. But, alas, there is a small cast cylinder stove that is going in before AK winter 2016.

 

Walk us through your kitchen setup and what items you're using. The kitchen consists of an old enamel tilted drain sink direct plumbed from hose fitting on the outside of the bus for regular water pressure. Drains to bucket under bus. Usually, we just use a water cooler and gravity feed for water though. The cooking is on a collapsible 3burner coleman stove which hooks to propane feed.

Jason's fine wood working skills allowed him to use reclaimed wood through the whole bus.

What is your power source for your school bus conversion? The whole bus is wired for 110 with outlets throughout or a 750watt inverter fed from a deep cell marine battery gives us about a week of power for our needs.

Here you can see the giant tank used to store WVO.

  

 

- Tusk The Blue Bird School Bus Conversion -

Written by: Brock Butterfield
 - Photos: Stephanie Artuso

I stumbled upon across Stephanie's blue bird school bus conversion on Instagram the other day and was instantly drawn in by the colors and artistic style. Everything from the 3-D color cubes on the floor to the elk and deer sheds throughout the bus. After chatting with Stephanie a bit I learned that she was located just outside Lillooet, BC where I once got a flat driving to Alaska. She's an organic farmer and is lucky enough to live on the land that she farms which is owned by friends. For the chilly nights she has a wood stove with plenty of BTU's to keep warm. The engine of the bus has also been converted to run off of propane.

With literally no budget for the conversion, Stephanie salvaged materials from an old mill site and collected mis-tint paints from the hardware store. She's fortunate enough to leave the bus parked and run an extension chord for power and a hose for water that's tapped into the irrigation line. An external outhouse with a solar shower complete's this minimalistic lifestyle. Enjoy the tour below of Stephanie's skoolie conversion into a tiny home.

Bus Specs:

-Make Chevy with V8 running on Propane

-Model Blue Bird

-Year 1986

-Length 72 passenger

-Interior Square Footage Unknown

-Purchased From/Location Canada

-Name of bus Tusk

-Cost in materials for the conversion $0 - All salvaged material or donated items.

-Is the conversion complete or still in progress? Always changing!

 
Tell us a bit about how the idea to build this bus came about: It's a 72 passenger. I bought it from a friend, who was using it for storage. He had bought it from a River Rafting company in the area. My bus, that I call Tusk, is in a constant state of progress and alterations. The idea to buy a bus to make into a home on wheels came to me after years of just being annoyed at paying rent and living in other people's homes. I wanted my own home, that I could take with me where ever I go. One that I could make improvements and changes too whenever I wanted, or at least, whenever I could afford it. 
 
 

  

 
Who converted the bus for you and how long did it take? My budget when I started out was basically zero after I purchased the bus, so all of my materials were scavenged from an old mill site. I used mis-tints from the hardware store and mixed them till I liked the colors to do the floor, which is just the plywood subfloor that was beneath the linoleum. I have had help along the way, with things like the wood stove, and the initial building of the bed frame to fit in the back (this was before I moved the bed to the front of the bus.) But mostly I've worked on my own ( as is apparent when you look closely at any of the work.) 
 
Front of the bus where the bed is located looking towards the back.
 
 
Walk us through your kitchen setup and what items you're using. The Kitchen is very basic. A Coleman camp stove and an out door dishwashing station and cooler. Really bus life for me is like Glamping. I have a hose that is plumbed in from an irrigation line that waters a field near where the bus is parked. I have a wood stove for when it gets chilly out side. I just got it in March and haven't used it too much to be honest. 
 
Basic Coleman Camp Stove for cooking.
 
 
What is your power source? I have electricity in the form of an extension cord, which I use for a couple of lights, and that's about it. There is an Out House, and a solar shower also, with a wicked view. It is a pretty minimal set up.  
 
 
What are your future plans for the bus? Eventually my plan for the bus is to build a proper kitchen and  insulate the floors. Then get hardwood flooring. I love having all of the windows, but I imagine if I wanted to spend a whole winter living in the bus I would have to find a way to make it warmer. So far it's  been a gorgeous spring, summer, fall home.
 
 
What has been the hardest part of living in your bus? I don't think there is anything hard about living on a bus. Maybe just getting out of bed in the morning when the light is so beautiful and it's so cozy to feel like you are outside, but still in your bed. It is just like camping all of the time. But with all of your stuff. 
 
Looking from the back towards the front on the right hand side.
 
Looking from the back towards the front on the left hand side.
 
How do you sustain yourself/make a living? I am currently making an income as an organic farmer with a few friends on the property that I am parked on. We work with a few other farms in the area under the name of Rainshadow Growers Collective
 
 
Where can people follow or find out more about your bus? Places you can follow what I am up too are on instagram @s_artuso and a blog that I sometimes use compassandhatchet.com
 
 

Coach Bus Conversion Tiny Home In Moab, UT

- Once home to basketball teams in Texas, this 1962 GM Coach bus now serves its purpose as a Tiny Home for Emily and her boyfriend Jack in Moab, UT. With over 1 million miles (yes, million) on the body and around 600,000 on the second motor, this spacious bus is enough to make you drool over when it comes to the inside. A reclaimed cow trough for the bathtub, heated floors, a pot belly stove and full size fridge make living in this bus comfortable. Well, minus the desert heat in summertime... 

I met Emily one morning at a coffee shop in Moab while I was catching up on some emails. I was wearing one of our Bus Life Adventure shirts and she asked me "Where did you get that shirt?" I explained that I lived in a bus full time and it was a website and brand name I started. She then proceeded to tell me that she lives in a bus too! And the real kicker is that she was parked a stones throw from where I had my bus parked at the time. Small world. I met Emily after her shift at the coffee shop and she gave me an awesome tour of her mansion. Enjoy the story and photos below.

Bus Specs:
-Make: General Motors
-Model: Coach
-Year: 1962
-Miles: approx. one million on the body! second engine has somewhere around 600,000
-Length: 40'
-Interior Square Footage: unknown
-Purchased From/Location: Moab, Utah
-Cost in materials for the conversion: unknown
-Is the conversion complete or still in progress?: It was complete at the time of purchase
 


Tell us a bit about how you ended up in the bus.
When I was 19(2009), I was living at the Lazy Lizard Hostel in Moab with my boyfriend at the time when we caught wind of our friend, James, trying to sell the bus in a hurry. He was trying to move up to Washington state, and sold us everything he owned for seven grand. This included two kayaks, a road bike, a mountain bike, a climbing wall, a cupboard full of food, and, of course the bus. We split the cost down the middle, and since breaking up several years ago, we have assumed joint custody. However, he doesn't seem interested in living there anymore so I've used it periodically through the years as a seasonal living space and a home base for my travels.
 

Garden 

 

 

 

 

 



Who is involved or part of the crew with your adventures?
The bus has hosted countless beloved vagabonds, artists, climbers, bikers, friends, family, hippies, and kittens. It had lived many lives long before I was even born, so to call it mine would only be giving a tiny glimpse of the adventures this bus has been on. In the sixties, it toured basketball teams around Texas. Sometime in between then and 2009 it acquired New Hampshire plates. That part of its history is lost to me, but the NH state motto is definitely fitting: LIVE FREE OR DIE 
Having said that, Zack (Switch) Davis is the current co-owner, who is an artist involved with the Imagine Nation. His crew is into building really awesome stuff- like entire stages at music festivals- out of reclaimed materials. Check out their facebook  https://www.facebook.com/wearetheImagineNation here.  
Right now, my boyfriend Jack and I are living in it for the spring/summer/fall of 2015. We met working for a wilderness therapy program in Hawaii. In Moab, Jack works for Outward Bound and I have worked for various other wilderness programs around Utah. This summer has been full of river trips, canyoneering, climbing, and music. The bus always welcomes us home with open arms and comfy beds :)
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


What materials were used during the build? Any reclaimed/upcycled items?
The bathtub is the feature that gets the most attention from people. It's a reclaimed cattle trough set in a creative mosaic of stone. The copper spout really tops it off.  A few other unique pieces of functional flair are found throughout, including the driftwood used for the toilet paper dispenser.

 

 

 



What are your future plans with the bus?
When we purchased the bus, it did run with some coaxing, albeit with a limp. To get it re-registered and up to par with safety inspections would cost more that I would like to spend. I doubt it will ever be a touring vehicle again, though it will drive from point A to B with a lot of hassle in between. I hope to find its perfect final resting place, ideally a piece of property owned by yours truly, within the next 5-10 years. For now, it remains an awesome Moab home-- if you can take the heat.
 

 

 

 

 
What is your source of heat if any? (make and model of items your using) 
There is a full sized propane water heater, and when you flip a certain valve, it directs all the water to run underneath the flooring before making it to the faucet. Yup. Heated floors.
There is also a little pot-bellied wood burning stove in the living area. It does put out some significant heat, but in the dead of winter when nights are well below zero, you might want an electric blanket or something unless you're savvy with winter camping. Sometimes it's kind of fun to wake up with drool frozen to your face. I guess.
 

What has been or is the hardest part about living out of your adventure mobile?
Finding a spot to park it for longer periods of time. It is becoming increasingly more difficult to find desirable and legal places to carry out this alternative lifestyle, especially in a rapidly gentrifying Moab.
 
 

Blue Bus Adventure

 - Just over 100 square feet of converted living space in this 1988 Mighty Mite Thomas school bus. The bus sits on a Chevy P30 chassis with a standard late 80's Chevy 350 motor. Originally used to move a family from Idaho to Nevada, the bus now is being transformed into the ultimate skoolie conversion with a dance floor on top the roof, pot belly wood stove, bamboo hard wood floors and LED light strips inside the bus that accompanies a killer sound system for those spontaneous dance parties.

The goal is to have a sustainable home on wheels for Burning Man and other music festivals. They've kicked around the idea of opening the bus to the public as an AirBnB or VRBO in beautiful Lake Tahoe where they currently reside. How cool would that be to stay in a converted school bus just a short walk from the shores of Lake Tahoe?

We got a hold of Nick to ask him a few questions about their conversion. Enjoy the interview and photos! Hover over the photos to make them interactive with details and facts.

Bus Specs:
-Make - Thomas Built “mighty mite” originally 33 seater 
-Model - Mighty Mite
-Motor size and type - Thomas is built on a super common Chevy P30 chassis. Its got the your standard late 80s Chevy 350 carbed motor under the hood so just about any auto parts store carries what we need. Very convenient to say the least.
-Year - 1988
-Length - I’m not 100% sure on this, but approximately 30-32 feet in length
-Interior Square Footage - Just over 100.7 sq feet of space, not including stairs and driver’s seat area. 
-Purchased From/Location – Private Owner; Yerington, Nevada. The previous owner trekked this bus down from Idaho and essentially used it as their U-Haul to move down to Yerington. 
-Name Of Bus – Thomas
-Owners - Nick Cahill and Jessica Perez
-Conversion Status - In Progress
 
Tell us a bit about how the idea to build a bus into a home on wheels came about.
My girlfriend, Jessica, and I were originally looking for a trailer to take to Burning Man 2015. We attended last year’s burn, and quickly realized we wanted to have our own adventure mobile to gain some independence from sharing a trailer/sleeping space at Burning Man. In January 2015, we were browsing Craigslist with a buddy, when he excitedly proclaimed, “Dude, you guys HAVE to get this bus! It’s so perfect!” Thankfully, the bus was only a few hours away from Lake Tahoe, NV (which is where we live), and the price was unbeatable, $1,500. Within 18 hours of discovering the bus on Craigslist, we purchased it, (for cheaper than the advertised price), and drove it home. It was one of the most sporadic decisions Jess and I had made, and in addition - it’s also our first major joint purchase together as a couple. We were beyond ecstatic to begin building our tiny home on wheels. After countless hours of researching “tiny homes” and “bus conversions” we had a vision for our bus layout. Jessica had pumped out a few different layout options and we quickly started brainstorming everything we wanted inside.

 

 
Who is involved or part of the crew with Blue Bus Adventure?
Jessica and myself are the owners, we split everything 50% down the middle. The bus was our first joint purchase together and we couldn’t be happier. We consider this the “love bus” and have already received help from close friends and family. Everyone wants to be involved with the bus in some way, whether its help with layout planning or building. We’re quickly growing a social media following and everyone around us is super willing to lend a hand because they love the project and the idea so much. It seems people can vicariously live their dreams through us and our bus.

 

 

What materials did you use during your build? Any reclaimed/upcycled items?
Materials so far have been a laundry list of items. We’re actually keeping very specific track of every dollar spent and screw used, which we think will be pretty cool stats once we grow a bigger following and more articles/blogs start posting about us. So far though, most of our materials have been purchased at Ace Hardware (i.e., interior paint, screws, etc.) and we purchased plywood from our local store. As for upcycling, Jessica’s mom gifted us this rusty old pot belly stove that required sanding. We will also have a fully reclaimed wood dash in the bus made, from a local friend of ours: https://instagram.com/tahoewoodcraft/
 

 

 Hover over the photos to make them interactive with details and facts.

 

 

 

What are your future plans with the bus?
We would love to just hit the road and make our travel dreams come true. As you guys know, that isn’t exactly easy to just go ahead and drop everything and do that, but we’re determined… and we will! The overall plan is to finish the bus before Burning Man (August 30, 2015), and make it a sustainable place to take extended road trips in. We aren’t sure if we want to straight up live in the bus long-term, however for the time being, we hope to perhaps Airbnb it as a unique vacation rental. This bus will also be equipped with a storage/party roof deck. We wanted to have an elevated space that we could hang out, set up an additional tent, and enjoy the views. 
 

 

 

 
I just landed the cover of National Geographic for my night photography, so we’re brainstorming ways to incorporate my photography and videography skills with the bus. We have bigger plans for this bus than to simply take it on road trips and Burning Man. We are hoping to connect with younger generations to help educate them that they don’t need a lavish lifestyle to be happy, but rather living more simply will allow for more freedoms. 

 

 Nick recently landed the cover of National Geographic with this amazing photo.

Walk us through your kitchen setup (stove, sink, water source, etc.) and what items you're using (make, model if applicable).
For our kitchen, we’re keeping it simple with no plumbing. As you guys know, it adds a lot to the build, so we’re thinking we will go this route for our “sink/cleaning area” 
 
We’ll probably do a 20-50 gallon tank on the roof deck that will be gravity fed into the sink as we need it. We aren’t opposed to the idea of plumbing, it’s just not a priority for us at the moment. 
 
For a shower, we’re going to go with one of our supporters products. Nemo makes this really rad pressurized shower that’ll be perfect for all of our adventures.
 
For our stove, we knew we wanted something that was removable so we could cook outside as well as inside, but we didn’t want to be subjected to a little jet boil/backpacking setup. So we went the Camp Chef route. The little stove/oven combo so far has been amazing. We were able to bake cookies and cook eggs pretty much at the same time, and the price isn’t bad either.

 

How many can the bus sleep and how is the sleeping arrangement designed?
Our sleeping arrangement is inspired by Hank:
 

 

 

The main convertible bed is slightly larger than a queen sized mattress. In addition to that, we’ll have either a futon or a couch that should seat 2-3 and/or sleep 1-2.  So in theory we should be sleeping ~4 people comfortably. Once the party roof deck is built, we can also throw a tent on top for additional sleeping space. The bus is really built with intentions for just us two to sleep, but we know we’ll have plenty of friends join us on our adventures, so we’re making space for them. 

 

What is your power source? (make and model of items your using).
Currently we're reaching out to various companies for sponsorships and partnerships for our electrical power. We originally wanted to go the Goal Zero Yetti route but dug deep enough that we figured since we’re doing a totally custom tiny home on wheels... we should just build a larger, faster charging, and more efficient system ourselves. The goal though is two solar panels on the top of the bus, tied into a battery bank that’s also linked to the motor. So if our battery(s) die…say in a two week storm in Haines, AK... we can fire up the motor and recharge the batteries, as well as charge them while we drive.
 
We will have 120v power outlets for laptops, camera batteries, a blender and Jessica’s LED hoop. We will also have a ton of USB outlets all over the place for anyone to recharge their smaller devices. Everything will be wired up into a circuit breaker.
 
Our lighting will be somewhat inspired by Hank as well, we’re going to have LED strips down both main rails on the sides, white and RGB strips that will be on a controller. We want to have the ability to have a straight up dance party whenever and wherever we want.
 

 

 

 

What is your source of heat if any? (make and model of items your using)
We’ve been gifted this beautiful little antique potbelly stove from Jessica’s mother. So that’ll be our main source for heat when we’re not using the original bus heater. 
 
Where can people follow or find out more about your bus? (social media, website, etc.)
@BlueBusAdventure on Instagram, and when we can get around to building a basic blog/website www.bluebusadventure.com
 
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