- Written by Brock Butterfield
200 square foot skoolie home for two avid fishers with a passion for travel.
"Experiencing those emotions are what life is all about. Some of the toughest moments end up being the most defining and the sense of accomplishment far outweighs the struggle."
~School Bus Conversion By: Keaton and Nicole Chandler-Autrey ~
~Interview By: Brock Butterfield ~
-Make: Blue Bird
-Model: TC 2000
-Motor: 5.9 liter Cummins
-Interior Square Footage: about 200
-Current Location: Florida is home, but currently Colorado.
-Purchased From/Location: B.G.A. School Buses Inc. in Hudson, FL their website is www.wesellschoolbuses.com
-Cost in materials for the conversion: $30,000.
-I’m seeing that you guys like fishing. Was the bus build inspired off of your passion to travel and fish or where there others reasons behind your school bus conversion? Our passion for fishing was a huge drive behind our conversion, but we also needed some freedom from the monotonous daily routine. We had this long list of places we wanted to see, but no time or money to see them. It sounds cliche, but we only get one chance at this life and we decided we want to do our best to live it to the fullest. For us, that means seeing all we can on this Earth and making more time for the people and activities we love!
-What prior experience did you have in construction or building things with your hands? Keaton had minimal experience working in home remodeling. He learned a lot in the few months he was doing remodels and even more during the build. A friend of ours, Rick, is a contractor and taught us SO much. He helped guide us through the majority of the build.
-Where did you gain most of your inspiration and ideas for your school bus conversion? Tiny house shows, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest etc. We crammed our brains with everything tiny living and tried to apply it to our own personal needs.
-How do you two plan to make a living while on the road? We actually saved enough money to take a leave of absence from our jobs and travel across the US. We traveled the first 4 months with no income. It doesn’t cost as much to travel as society would make you believe. We don’t have the luxurious hotels and fancy dinners, but we’ve seen more parks and monuments than most people see in their lifetime. We are currently parked for the winter at my brother’s where we’re doing side work for him while we launch our new online shop. We’ve collected interesting elements during our travels that we’re making into wearable art. Each piece is unique and handmade capturing an experience we’ve had and sharing it with others. Some of our work is featured on our Instagram page. More to come!
-What has been the hardest part of the school bus conversion? The hardest part was racing against deadlines. We began every project with a timeline and almost every project it took longer than anticipated. When things are custom made, they take much more time and patience.
-What would you say is the most creative or unique part of your bus conversion? Probably our platform bed storage. We tried to keep the acronym KISS in mind throughout the process. Keep It Simple Stupid. Everything needed to be functional for us but didn't need to be complicated. We built a platform so we could keep the comfortable king size bed but still utilize the space below. We have our solar battery bank, inverter, camping gear, tools, firewood, 6 organized labeled totes, a dog bed, and room for more under our bed. The totes all have paracord attached so they're easy to grab and we can access everything from the back door, handicap door, and inside.
-To help others looking to convert a school bus can you let us know what you used in your build that has done well so far?
- Solar (panels, charge controller, batteries, inverter etc) 2 Sunmodule 280 watt panels, 4 Duracell platinum AGM 12v deep cycle batteries, heart interface Freedom combi inverter 2500w, Freedom remote control panel, TriStar solar system controller TS-MPPT-45, Tri-Metric battery system monitor TM-2030-RV, Blue Sea Systems SI-ACR automatic charging relay with start insolation
- Kitchen stove 2 burner Whirlpool electric cooktop
- Kitchen sink (sink, faucet, pump, etc) Phoenix undermount stainless square sink, bar sink pull out swivel spout faucet (found on eBay), 12v pump
- Fridge Insignia 9.9 cu ft refrigerator/freezer combo Energy Star certified
- Heat source Dometic RV Heater and heat from engine
- AC Dometic 13500 BTU
- Lighting We kept the original lighting and switched the bulbs for LED, we also have a few battery powered LED lights
- Toilet Nature's Head composting
- Hot water source Marey power pak plus tankless water heater
Bathroom complete with a composting toilet that separates solids from liquids.
-What is one piece of advice you’d give to others looking to convert a school bus into a tiny home? Just do it. It's an emotional rollercoaster with many challenges to overcome. Some days were frustrating, some days were sad, and some were happy. Experiencing those emotions are what life is all about. Some of the toughest moments end up being the most defining and the sense of accomplishment far outweighs the struggle.
-Where can people continue to follow your adventures? Instagram @allbusnofuss and we started a blog at www.allbusnofuss.com
Full video tour of the converted school bus.
- Written by Brock Butterfield
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.
-Model: G30 Van
-Motor: Chevy 350
-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...
- 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.
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?
- Written by Brock Butterfield
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:
Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cagedcrowfabrication/
Follow us on Twitter:
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.
- Written by Brock Butterfield
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
-Model: 3500 Vandura
-Motor: 5.7L 8cyl
-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:
- Solar panels : Monocrystalline 160 W Renogy solar panel
- Charge Controller: 1600 whistler inverter
- Kitchen stove : Nuwave Induction Stove and a 1 burner butane stove
- Toilet : Composting Portable Toilet
- Shower or hot water source : Eccotemp portable tankless water heater, my bathroom is set up to be a stall shower for when showering is needed.
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