Buslivin: Buying the Bus and the Beginning of the Conversion

Gary spent countless hours and many months looking for just the right bus.  We ended up finding her on Craigslist for $3700. She is a 1995 40′ Thomas bus with a Allison transmission and a CAT diesel engine with 200,000 miles. Gary and his brother drove from California to Washington in a rental car to pick it up. Gary drove it home while his brother followed in the rental.  As for transporting it, we had a moving pass for Washington provided by the seller and just hoped if he got pulled over the pass would be sufficient for the other two states. We really didn’t research that aspect like we should have.  Thankfully everything went well.  When he pulled up in it October 11, 2015 my heart was racing and my knees were weak.  It was the most amazing feeling.  I was scared, concerned, excited, overjoyed and eager all at the same time.  What a rush!! The first few days we looked out our front window and saw a school bus we both thought to ourselves, “what have we done?”  She grew on us fast and now feels like an exciting endeavor. We named her the Enterprise because she is about to boldly go where few families have gone before. LOL 🙂 😮


The following is the progress we have made in three months.  The first thing we did was remove the 24 seats.  All of the bolts had to be ground out. Each seat had 6 bolts except the two emergency exit seats, they were fold down seats and had 8 bolts. 😀 It took us a good two days to get them all out. We got rid off all the seats just by asking if people wanted them.  One of my friends made an excellent seating area under her gazebo. I then pulled up all of the black rubber matting on the floor to expose and evaluate the condition of the plywood sub floor. All looked to be in good shape so we left well enough alone.


Next we pulled off one of the side panels to see how the inside looked.  There was insulation already there, so we put that back on and just installed 3/4″ foam board on top of the existing siding.  We then put up header boards below the window line using 1″ x 3″ boards and 2-5/8″ self tapping screws and then attached plywood for the walls using wood screws.


I decided early on that the inside needed a little pick me up so I first scraped off all bus seat number which were just stickers and then cleaned the ceiling with bleach.  I painted the ceiling and around the windows with Rustoleum Professional high performance gloss white oil-based protective enamel using a foam roller.  This came out really good, better than I could have imagined and it really made it bright and clean.  It is also easy to wipe off smudges or even touch up if it gets dinged.


We decided it would be easiest to start from the back of the bus and work our way up, so that meant building our bedroom. It fits a queen size mattress and the entire inside will be used for storage.   He then built a cabinet for over the bed and installed LED light fixtures. I then sanded and stained all of the wood. It came out looking nice. 🙂

Bedroom w bedroom

We then decided that it was time to pull out some windows and cover them with 16 gauge sheet metal.  We did this next so that walls could be put up on the inside.  The windows were a little bit of a challenge until we figured out there was another screw on the inside upper portion of the window under the seal.  In all there were three screws holding them in place one on each side and one on top.  Then you cut the silicone seal with an exacto knife and they popped out.  We used silicone to adhere the sheet metal to the outside of the bus and then went all the way around the edges of the sheet metal.  We then fastened the sheet metal to the bus with self tapping screws, trying to match our screws up with the rivets already on the bus.  We decided to screw them in place as opposed to getting them welded on, so that in the future if we wanted to make changes doing so would be simple.

Windows 2 winsows

Next up was the shower.  We scored a free one from Gary’s brother. Some guy he knows had an old trailer sitting on his property so he let us salvage the shower, a propane tank and two 40 gallon dirty water tanks! Super awesome score!! That saved us a lot of money.  We had to build a box to fit over the wheel well that would hold the shower pan in place. We ended up having to cut about 5″ off the top to make it fit. It is a tight fit, especially for Gary.  Our thinking is we can put in a skylight to make it more comfortable for him.


We got a 40 gallon clean water tank, 30 ‘ power cord and a 45 AMP power converter on Craigslist for $140.  Gary then fabricated a mount for the water tank so we could attach it to the bottom of the bus right behind the front passenger tire. He used galvanized steel and finished it with some of the rubber flooring we pulled up from the bus, just to make it snug. He used some of the 3/4″ foam board to insulate between the bus and the tank.  It fit perfectly 🙂


We then moved on to building the vanity for the bathroom.  on the other side of this vanity will be a closet for the bedroom.  We bought a $10 plastic bathroom sink online. I sanded and painted the plywood with semi-gloss house paint. vanityLater we will trim out the entire thing to make it look finished.  We plan to tile the counter and the front of the shower with the same tile.  When we get the toilet, it will go directly in front of the vanity.  We plan on buying a RV toilet with a sprayer attachment, for easy clean up.







The kitchen was built next.  We got a propane stove/oven and really just built around that. We found the kitchen sink at The Habitat for Humanity thrift store for $10.  If you look really close you can see a counter cutting booboo.  However, we plan to fix that with stain-able wood putty.  If that doesn’t come out to our liking we may just use counter top paint.  We shall see.   Sometime soon we will put up a piece of cement board and some tile work for the back splash.


The kid has been dying for Dad to make her bed.  So here it is.  The entire thing will be pretty much closed up when he is done, just so she can have a little her area.  The bottom will have clothing storage and a reading corner. In this picture you can see a little bit of the kitchen on the bottom right.  In between her bed and the kitchen will be a wood stove, which a friend will be fabricating for us using an old propane tank.  She will have the warmest spot in the home.  🙂bed

It seemed like to us that we were jumping around a lot and not really finishing any one project.  However the further we moved along we realized not only do you need time to think about what is next, sometimes you just don’t have what you need and you have to progress someway.

If anyone has any questions or suggestions please feel free to contact us.  As most people, we have never done anything like this and are more than willing to admit, we have no idea what we are doing.  There are bound to be mistakes and rebounds through this entire process.

next up…….Plumbing. …:) 🙂

😉 Sandy

One thought on “Buslivin: Buying the Bus and the Beginning of the Conversion

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *