National Parks pin and patch freelance artist converts a short school bus into a boho chic skoolie.

~School Bus Conversion By: Heidi Michele

~Photos By: Heather Jackson

~Interview By: Brock Butterfield

You may remember Heidi Miller from the Life In The Bus Lane documentary and her short appearance of when she was in the beginning stages of her short bus conversion. Now with the bus conversion nearly complete Heidi has already shown her bus at the Tiny House Living Festival stop in Portland summer 2017.

Professional photographer Heather Jackson was shooting Heidi's engagement photos and decided to take some of her skoolie as well. Enjoy the photos and be on the lookout for this school bus conversion to possibly show up on AirBnB just outside Eugene, OR.

Bus Specs:

-Make: Chevy

-Model: G30 Van

-Motor: Chevy 350

-Year: 1991

-Interior Square Footage: 80 sq ft

-Current Location: Oakridge, Oregon

-Purchased From/Location: Denver, Colorado

-Does your bus have a name? Valerie

-Cost in materials for the conversion: I'd say around $10k with bus purchase included.

 

Heidi enjoys tea inside her hippy chic short school bus conversion.

- What was the main goal and idea behind your school bus conversion?

I wanted to buy a house, but wasn't sure where I wanted to live yet, so my mom told me to buy a bus instead.

 

- What were the top three hardest things to learn with your short bus conversion?

1. Mechanical work (still learning)

2. Electrical (still learning and need to install)

3. Finding the bus in the first place and knowing what to get/ where to buy it from…. I probably bought the wrong one hehe oops! I found your blog on how to find school buses for sale after I had already purchased mine...

Heidi used cabinet "L" angle trim to conceal the wires running to her 12 volt Fantastic fan (above) and her LED Puck Lights (below). 

- What is the most unique part or feature of your skoolie?

Valerie's hippy chic or boho chic style as well as her bucket kitchen sink, the wood stove made from an old ammunition can and the custom boxed wine holder. 

 Kitchen faucet with a bucket sink.

Water foot pump for the kitchen sink. 

T coat hooks for holding mugs when parked and stationary. 

Heidi found this old lamp shade at a thrift store and turned it into a fruit basket. 

Custom built kitchen shelving, license plate utensil holder and a two burner propane Atwood RV stove. 

 

 

Folding table brackets are a good way to conserve space but still have plenty of counter space when needed.

Who doesn't need a boxed wine cabinet in their skoolie? 

 

Kitchen storage and propane tank access. 

 

 Yes. That's a cute little wood stove made out of an ammunition case.

Copper piping spacers and license plates to deflect the heat. 

Secret hiding place!

-How do you make a living to support your bus life? 

I’m a graphic designer. I design pins and patches for the National Parks as a freelance contracted designer so it allows me to work from the road as I go and gain inspiration at National Parks year round. I also have my own design and product development business where I create pin maps, artisan trucker hats, earrings, patches, pins, buttons and tapestries of which I sell on Heidi Michele Design

 

Just some of Heidi's artisan trucker hats that she hand sews.

-When you say "pin maps" do you mean like those corkboard backed maps that people stick pins in?

Not exactly. They're whimsical canvas maps of the US that help you keep track of the pins from National Parks or other places you've visited. The small size has been the favorite of bus life and van life people.

One of Heidi's pin maps that she sells on her website.

-What have you learned about the bus life or skoolie community?

That the bus life community is AWESOME! I’ve definitely found my people. Everyone is so helpful and supportive. I've also noticed that a lot of us are choosing this lifestyle because we have the ability to work remotely or adapt and find work wherever we may end up. 

-What are the plans now for Valerie now that she is all finished?

She’s still not quite all the way done as I still have a little finish work to do. I was going to drive her around the country but being that she still needs mechanical work, she will sit in my backyard for now. I am going to place her on AirBnB this spring to give others in the Oregon area a chance to come and experience short bus life before they take the plunge.

Dining table with room for five. End of table also folds up.

 

Sheep skin from her parent's honeymoon to New Zealand.

 

National Park Service wood art from BAN Supply Co. out of Salt Lake City, UT.

 

 The Nature's Head Composting toilet stows away under the closet and can be slid out for use.

 

Hooks on the ceiling allows Heidi to hang privacy curtains and blankets.

 

The Fantastic Fan runs on 12 volts and provides air circulation for cooking in the kitchen as well as for the whole bus. 

 Closet.

 Shower curtain rods repurposed for book shelf.

 

The couch is also a bed that slides out when needed. 

 

 

 Reba sneaking a belly rub in during the photo shoot.

Look out AirBnB. Here comes a dreamy boho chic style short school bus ready for guests in Oregon.

-Where can we find more information on you and Valerie bus?

Website: www.heidimicheledesign.com

Instagram: @valeriebus and @heidi_michele_design

This old school bus has a new purpose after Caged Crow Customs was hired out to turn it into a food truck. The attention to detail and custom fabrication work is stunning.

~Interview By: Brock Butterfield

~School Bus Conversion By: Josh Romaker of Caged Crow Customs~

Tell us a little bit about what Caged Crow does:

Caged Crow specializes in building unique, custom mobile kitchens and businesses that stand out.  We design and build trailers from the frame up and focus on more unique vehicle conversions.  Instead of the typical food truck with graphic wraps, we focus on converting vehicles that can turn heads without large decals or graphic wraps.  We add a lot of handmade accents into the mix.  Josh (Romaker, owner of Caged Crow) is also a blacksmith and metal artist, so the creativity in his mind usually rolls out into the details of each build.

Our market tends to be the customers that want something that they’ve never seen before.  We aren’t the average Food Truck Builder.  We are a small crew and really focus on making each build unique from the next, while keeping it fully functional for that customer’s purpose.  We do shipping container build outs, mobile retail units, and are set up for just about any crazy idea thrown our way.

 

Are you self taught in your skill-sets or did you learn from others?

Both.  Growing up around many Wisconsin farms, Josh learned to weld at a young age.  When Josh wanted to get back into welding, he had a great mentor that helped take his welding skills to a level that started this business. Josh has the work ethic of a farmer and a skill set that doesn’t end. He’s constantly learning new things when it comes to metal fabrication and metal shaping, and then putting them to the test to perfect them.  

What is the main goal of the bus conversion food truck?

The main goal with the bus conversion was to create an atmosphere for whatever opportunities the owner may have.  David (Rodriguez, owner of The Fine Dining Food Truck) wanted a truck that he could use for catering events as well as offering a private dinner service for a more intimate, fine dining experience. David may also rent out the bus to other chef’s and event professionals in the future.  We built the dining area in the back of the bus with that in mind.  The kitchen is fully functional and built to the same codes that is required with any commercial kitchen or restaurant.  The dining area could swap a small chef’s table with a farmhouse table and benches, depending on the service.

 

 

 

What type of unique materials did you use during the build?

We used a LOT of stainless steel and aluminum paneling in this build.  Being that this is a mobile kitchen, we have to follow the codes required of commercial kitchens.  Surfaces need to be smooth and easy to clean so the interior is mostly constructed of aluminum and stainless.   We used aluminum diamond plate flooring in the kitchen and hardwood flooring in the dining area.

The exterior work included a lot of wood, aluminum and stainless. The exterior trim work was pretty time consuming, as you can tell from the photos.  That’s a lot of windows to work around, all being done by hand.  It was worth it, though.

 

What’s the most unique build you’ve ever done for a client?

The bus is probably the largest and most unique build to date.  All of our builds have their own level of uniqueness and you can check out our website to see our past work and follow us to our future builds.  We are currently working on a Pirate Ship Themed Concession Trailer and then will be building out a unique Shipping Container Food Trailer for Candyland (World Famous Popcorn Company).  We get really into every build here!

How do people get a hold of you or see more of your work?

We have several online avenues to get in touch:

Visit our website www.cagedcrowfabrication.com to learn more about our company, send us a message on our Contact” page.

Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cagedcrowfabrication/

Instagram: www.instagram.com/cagedcrowcustoms

Follow us on Twitter:

Send us an email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Or give us a call (608) 886-7397

Visit us in person if you happen to be going through the “Northwoods” of Wisconsin.  We are located in Saint Germain, next to the Snowmobile Capital of the World and just south of the Muskie Capital of the World.

Mom knows best. Lexi learned everything she needed to know about converting her school bus into a tiny home from her Mom.

~Interview By: Brock Butterfield

~School Bus Conversion By: Lexi Noelle

Bus Specs:

-Make: GMC

-Model: 3500 Vandura

-Motor: 5.7L 8cyl

-Year: 1989

-Interior Square Footage: 82.5

-Current Location: Long Island , New York

-Purchased From/Location: Private seller , Long Island , New York

What made you want to complete a bus conversion?

What made me want to start a bus conversion was my love for camping and being outdoors. My mother and I used to camp with our 1965 Serro scotty travel trailer. It was so much fun to take it out and just relax .

When my mom decided she wanted something that she wouldn’t have to tow she decided she wanted to start a bus conversion.

Watching my mother complete hers and enjoy traveling and having a free feeling made me realize how nice it would be to have my own little home on wheels.

I was following others on instagram and watching them travel the world and enjoying every part of both van life and bus life. I just graduated high school and college wasn’t my thing so I decided to take the jump and I bought LOLA.

I wanted to be able to get in my bus and drive wherever and whenever I wanted to. Being only 19 years old,  It opened me up to minimalism and taught me that material things mean nothing when you have something that means everything to you.

What type of skills for the bus conversion did you have prior and what did you learn or teach yourself along the way?

My mom helped me ALOT with the conversion, watching her work on hers helped teach me how to work on mine. She self taught herself and taught me how to cut different types of things, how to wire things (which i’ve NEVER had a clue how to do), setting up a PRACTICAL layout , laying down a floor etc. I never knew wires, or electrical, or solar hook ups until I started the conversion.

What was the hardest part of the bus conversion and what guidance would you give others for that part?

Deciding on the layout of the bus. This was the trickiest part because you really have to consider what would fit best and work best for your needs . Also trying to utilize your space to the best ability .

My guidance to others is that whether you decide to choose a van, or a bus is THINK YOUR LAYOUT through before you start your conversion. Make sure that is going to suit your needs.

How were you able to get your bus registered as a motorhome or RV?

In New York, the rules to get a vehicle registered as a motorhome or RV is that it must have a bathroom, propane hookup, stove, pretty much anything an RV would have . Luckily they didn’t give me a hard time when I registered mine.

Who did you get insurance for your bus conversion from?

I got my insurance from Progressive under RV ( registered passenger vehicle)

Where do you mostly park the bus?

I mostly am parked at my mothers, I am part time bus life right now so during the days when I am working, i live and park my bus at my moms. Working 5 days a week to save up to hit the road.

What make and model did you end using for the following:

What is the most unique feature of your conversion?

My unique feature is definitely the colors .The outside being robins egg blue and the peach wheels really makes it super unique ! The interior id also something super unique because I used my style to make it look how I wanted.

What do you do for income?

For income I am currently working 5 days a week. When I hit the road full time I will be working online.

What is the plan now that your bus conversion is road ready?

Now that my bus is road ready , I have been taking it out on weekend trips ( due to working weekdays ). By next year I am hoping to do a huge road trip to the mid west!

Where can people follow or find out more about your bus?

My instagram is : @Adventuringwithlola

My Youtube channel is : Adventuring with Lola

My facebook Page : Adventuring with Lola

Email : This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

~ Total novices escape the rent trap of southern Florida by converting a school bus into a tiny home on wheels ~

Interview By: Brock Butterfield ~

School bus conversion by: Brittany and Steven Altmann

Bus Specs:

-Make: International

-Model:3800

-Motor:7.3l diesel

-Year:1995

-Interior Square Footage: 195ish sqft.

-Current Location:Sarasota FL

-Purchased From/Location: A private school in Sarasota Fl.

-Cost in materials for the conversion: $17,625 see our detailed to the penny expense sheet on our website. http://bit.ly/1WoeBTj

What made you want to complete a bus conversion? One of the main factors that lead us to living the skoolie lifestyle was the astronomically high cost of living here in southwest Florida. We didn't want to get caught in the rent trap. We wanted to travel and see what this beautiful planet has to offer. We have already saved enough money that we have booked a trip to Europe this summer.

What type of skills for the bus conversion did you have prior and what did you learn or teach yourself along the way? We were total novices, we had no experience what so ever. We watched a ton of youtube and the guys at Home Depot probably got tired of seeing us. We ended up doing everything ourselves from flooring to electrical. The number one thing we learned was perseverance. Sometimes the work would seem insurmountable, so we would just step back crack a beer, and get back to work.

What was the hardest part of the bus conversion and what guidance would you give others for that part? For us the hardest part for us was taking the plunge. We were scrimping and saving and trying to get all the money together before we started. We learned that the timing will never be perfect. The best advice we can give is to jump in with both feet and go for it!

What is the plan now that your bus conversion is road ready? In short, our plan is to live more and work less. We have a cross country road trip planned for summer 2018. We have already saved enough money living in the bus that we are going to Europe in a few weeks! We are taking some time this year to enjoying our own backyard in Florida.

Nature's Head composting toilet.

How were you able to get your bus registered as a motorhome or RV? We live in Florida and it’s pretty easy to get the title switched to an RV. After the seats are removed and you have installed plumbing, gas, or electrical you can fill out an affidavit and the DMV and you’re all set!

Ikea kitchen sink and faucet with a ShureFlo water pump.

Who did you get insurance for your bus conversion from? We are currently insured through National General they seem to be the go to for the skoolie community. Not many insurance companies will cover converted school buses. They have treated us really well and the agent loved our bus (they will request photos).

 

What make and model did you end using for the following:

 We also bought these hydraulics for our underbed storage. They are awesome and makes storing and accessing things stored under the bed so much easier.

What is the most unique feature of your conversion? Our bus happened to have a side door. It gives us a total of 3 doors and we LOVE IT! We are able enjoy a wonderful cross breeze with all doors open. We also utilize the door when cooking outdoors. We love to grill and this makes passing supplies from inside to outside a snap.

 

What do you do for income? Brittany is a User Experience Designer, basically she makes websites work the way users want. Steven is a nursing student about to finish his degree and start travel nursing. Once we are ready to hit the road our careers should allow us to work anywhere!

Where can people follow or find out more about your bus? (social media, website, etc.)

INSTAGRAM : http://bit.ly/2INSTAGRAM

FACEBOOK : http://bit.ly/2AOBFACEBOOK

VIDEO TOUR : http://bit.ly/2VID-TOUR

PHOTO TOUR : http://bit.ly/2BUSPHOTOS

EXPENSE SHEET : http://bit.ly/2expenseSheet

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