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3 Lessons Learned From the First Week Of a Skoolie Bus Conversion

By January 13, 2019January 29th, 2020No Comments

Chris & I learned a lot about us, the bus, and this adventure during the first week into our school bus conversion.  Chris learned that air brakes are not that difficult to learn.  Hell, he even said, “I learned to love them.” We talked about how to get seat rails out of your school bus, and how much we got comfortable using the angle grinder. We have also included some bonus tips for you at the end!

Air Brakes In a School Bus

Chris’s anxiety was high when he realized he had to drive the school bus back with air brakes. He was researching like a mad scientist how to drive with air brakes.

Chris read some forums about people driving with air brakes, applying the brakes too hard, and literally smashing their face into the windshield.  Luckily, this didn’t happened to him. I think reading about these stories was enough for him to learn his lesson!

Anticipate when braking and you should stop sooner than expected.  There is a slight delay from when you apply the brakes to the air traveling back to the rear axle for the brakes to engage. But once the air brakes engage, you will stop faster than when in a normal car.

Seat Rails

seat rails are difficult to get out, but we have found the best ways to get them out of your school bus. If you have read or seen our first week video then you know taking out the seat rails was a pain for us. If you haven’t, go check it out! We tell you exactly how you can easily remove these. It took us three days to figure out how to take these seat rails out and we nailed it! Here’s a hint: don’t waste your time angle grinding all the bolts off in the floor tracks (if you have them), do that as a last resort.

The good news about having seat rails in your bus is that it makes it very easy to get your seats out! All you have to do to get the seats out is take a drill and get the four to six bolts per seat out that are holding the seat in place, and rip out the seat! Easy peasy. If you do not have seat rails in your bus, you will have to angle grind the seats out of the floors.

The Angle Grinder Is Your Best Friend

Chris & I talk about the three things you need to know for your first week in your skoolie conversion. We learned a lot from starting our school bus conversion. We included some bonus tips as well! Angle grinding in the beginning of your build is imperative. You use this power tool for everything from ripping out the bus seats to cutting your roof to add in any skylights. Finally, when you have the old subfloors ripped up, there will be a little bit of rust. You will use an angle grinder and a wire wheel brush to take care of the bigger patches. Then, lay down a rust converter.

If you do have an angle grinder or you are not able to borrow one from your friends or family, we would recommend buying your own. You use it way more in your build than you would imagine. But, there are also options to rent power tools from your local hardware store. Check out both options and see which would work best for you – I know Home Depot has a program.

Bonus Tip

During your school bus conversion, it’s important to strategize and execute a plan.  You can’t rip out the floors before you take out the seats.  You should rip down the ceiling before you put your subfloors in.  There are projects that need to get done before the next one can take place.  Make a plan, stick with it and change it as needed.

Here are a few things that we have found helpful so far…

– Demo the whole bus before bringing anything new into the bus. I have seen some people taking out insulation with their range in their bus! I mean, hey, if that’s your style, then go for it! But we would suggest taking all the yucky bus stuff out before bringing any new items in! It may be a school bus, but it’s still going to be your home!

– Clean as you go, but also make sure you are thinking about if you can use any of the items you have taken out of your bus for something else. We used the metal from the ceiling to cap our windows. Put the bus seats up for sale, take the metal from the inside of the bus to a scrap yard, get rid of the insulation, throw out the rubber from the floors, and take care of that old plywood. This is something we haven’t done yet and we are already 100% regretting it. It has snowed 10 inches in the past couple of days and all this stuff is sitting outside. It will be a very long day to get this taken care of. Please learn from our mistake and clean as you go!

– Think about what you are going to do with the rear heater. Keep it, chuck it, sell it? The rear heater must be removed before you can finish removing the old subfloor and treating the rust.

We will keep ya’ll up to date on what strategy worked for us as we are working on this school bus conversion!

Stay Adventurous,
Skoolie Livin

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3 Lessons Learned From the First Week of a Skoolie Conversion