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Author Topic: Wish to Convert "Something" to an RV  (Read 5084 times)


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Wish to Convert "Something" to an RV
« on: November 18, 2011, 07:15:15 PM »
I have always had as a bucket list item to convert some kind of vehicle to RV use. Perhaps one of those airport mini buses, a small school bus, or anything of that nature. I built my own house from scratch so I have that carpentry, electrical, and plumbing experience and knowledge. I also have experience at a major refurbed of an older Open Road motor home. Other than routine maintenance skills, I am not an auto mechanic.

 I already have a motor home so this project would be for some family member who would have an interest in RVing. More or less a labor of love and to test my own capabilities.

What I am wondering is should I just buy a cheap used RV - something on the order of a Class C - and restore it instead of tackling a complete transformation of something that was not an RV to start with. Obviously, significant costs between the two options would be a factor.

I have no idea what the difference in cost between restoration of an existing RV and starting from scratch would be. So I guess that is the purpose of this post. I would appreciate any and all advise on which way I should go.

Thanks in advance.


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Re: Wish to Convert "Something" to an RV
« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2011, 08:19:22 PM »
Hello there  :)  This is a loaded question. There are many different thoughts on this topic. In the end, it will depend upon you, and how much you want to spend ( time, money, frustration etc...) We have an older 84 Pace Arrow, however, it was not cost effective to refurbish it. We recently purchased a bus, and will part out the Arrow to help with the cost of building the bus. Even if we had to buy everything new, it was still cheaper and more efficient to start over with the bus. We were also very concerned about previous owner neglect of electrical, and structural damage. Walls, floors, roof,....would need to be replaced. Just keep an open mind about both options, and remember that there are MH available for "parts only" purchases real cheap.  Good luck on which ever choice you make and please keep us updated.... 
Chester & Chell (CnC)
1989 Blue Bird
Enjoying the sun in Florida


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Re: Wish to Convert "Something" to an RV
« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2011, 08:25:16 PM »
The cost of restoring an existing RV from scratch or converting a bus is going to be astronomical for either one. You will need to buy three holding tanks, a refer, an a/c, a furnace, a stove, toilet, shower, sink and generator. And those are just the really big ticket items. In most cases you will need to buy these thing RV specific so they will run on propane of 12 volts. And that is just the beginning. Then there is the plumbing, electrical wiring (three different systems) and propane tubing. Add to that tables, chairs, beds, cabinets.

And remember if you convert a bus you will be really limiting your options for places to stay. Many RV parks won't let one on the lot unless it is dazzling looking.


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Re: Wish to Convert "Something" to an RV
« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2011, 09:26:51 PM »
I've been told that bus conversions can be a problem insurance wise..liability issues..of course having 5 teens I've been lied to a time or two too..

94 Dolphin DP
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Fresno, Ohio most of the time

Conquest aka Robert

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Re: Wish to Convert "Something" to an RV
« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2011, 10:14:17 PM »
I would consider your second choice do to what seilerbird said why reinvent the wheel. If you go with a C or a small A the layout is already done the plumbing is ran under the coach and the major wiring should be in place. It could still be done on the CHEAP and look good and then you can really show off your skills. We would love to see pictures as you go along its the best way to share ideas. We might even borrow a couple along the way. I for one am ALWAYS on the look out  for COOL ideas. GOOD LUCK and keep us in the loop on the project.
1996 GulfStream Conquest Ultra 102  04-19-2011.
2009 Honda Ruckus
1984 Southwind for 6 years.
1 Wife
6 Children who needs pets


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Re: Wish to Convert "Something" to an RV
« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2011, 11:14:05 PM »
I think I would find a used class A with a good powertrain to limit the mechanical requirements to start with. Then if you can also find one structurally sound you have basically a blank canvas to do what you want with on the inside. This will all consist of things you feel comfortable doing and from a legal standpoint, insurance, license, title, etc, nothing will be out of the ordinary. This will also give you a start point for parts, etc from Rv wrecking yards. Good luck.
2009 Tiffin Allegro Bus 43 QRP
Powerglide Chassis, 425 Cummins, Allison 6 Speed
2010 CRV - Blackhawk 2 - Air Force One
2002 Heritage Classic
Washington State


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Re: Wish to Convert "Something" to an RV
« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2011, 07:35:54 AM »
Bus conversions are do-able and depending what you want in it will determine the price.  I  built one several years ago and didn't spend a fortune.  You have to look for good buys and check out salvage yards for some parts and new for others.  We used ours for a family of 5 for several years.  I made all the cabinets of oak   which included bunk beds,  couches that folded down to beds, dinette set which did the same. I got the furnace and water heater at an RV salvage,  used 60 gal gas tanks for black and gray holding tanks.  I used the oringinal 12v
wiring for the lights and only added a couple extras for the bathroom and kitchen area.  Ran a 120v line around the perimeter before putting 1 inch foam and paneling up.  I used 2 x 4  ceiling tiles to help absorb noise and carpet in areas to also absorb noise.  As mentioned, however, it became difficult to purchase insurance.  I think insurance companies saw some coversions with smoke stacks sticking out the side and decide that was too much of a risk.  We had a bathroom and bedroom in the back and moving forward-bunks on one side kitchen in the other followed by dinette and frig on same side as bunks and a drop down couch on the sam side as the kitchen area.  Total we could sleep 8 and we put many miles on that rig--Boston area, Toronto, Winnepeg, and Montana with all areas inbetween.   I didn't have $5000 in the whole rig.  It was a 1975 school bus that was 8 yrs old when I started. Paid $2500 for it.   Now have a 5er.
Keven Jansen
'06 Chevy 2500 Duramax
'02 Montana Big Sky
Alexandria, Mn


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Re: Wish to Convert "Something" to an RV
« Reply #7 on: December 03, 2011, 08:30:06 PM »
Not sure of your location but there is a bus in Jacksonville, FL for sale. 

Not mine, and no affiliation.


1979 MCI BUS - REDUCED - $5500 (Jacksonville)

"This is a Bus that was used to take pasengers from Orlando to the Disney Cruise Ship. I bought it five years ago to make a Motor Home, but had change of plans."


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Re: Wish to Convert "Something" to an RV
« Reply #8 on: December 07, 2011, 10:16:41 PM »
The bottom line,,, what do you want to end up with at the end??>>>Dan
Vary rare American Tradition 38TT/330 turbo Cummins
Last year Jeep liberty 4 down
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Cedar City, Utah
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The difference between intelligence & stupidity is: intelligence has it's limits
      Albert Einstein.