School Bus Conversion Into A Motor Home

How to convert a school bus into a roomy, comfortable, heavy duty motor home. Learn more.

After breaking three axles on our motorhome in as many years, we began looking for an alternative vehicle that would be comfortable, yet handle the heavy cargo load of our craft business. The solution we found was to convert an old school bus into a serviceable motor home.

Used school buses can be purchased at state auctions of vehicles or in the classified ads of your local paper for around $1,000 or less, depending on the size. We chose the 27 foot model, but their are also available a 40 foot and 60 foot size. Later, we were sorry we didn't get the 40 footer.

By the time we finished remodeling, the cost was comparable to a used motor home but we ended up with a vehicle that was not only more durable, but was customized to suit our specific needs.

You are required by law to remove the warning flashers and the stop sign so we did this first. This was a matter of taking out a few bolts.

By law you cannot leave it yellow, so we painted ours with spray paint that comes in a can. It didn't look too bad. Friends of ours painted theirs with house paint and a paint roller. The cost for this is about $200.00. A professional paint job we found was cost prohibitive, running around $2-5,000.00.

Next we stripped out all but the driver's seat and two passenger seats. We turned the front passenger seat around and built a table in between the two seats. This gave comfortable seating for four passengers plus the driver.

We built the interior closets and cupboards from 3/4" plywood covered with cedar closet liner where the surfaces showed and sold cedar boards for drawer fronts and cupboard doors. We also covered the ceiling with cedar closet liner after adding two inches of insulation to the ceiling and walls.

In the back of the bus we installed a shower/toilet combination salvaged from an old camper in one corner. Next to that went a cupboard that houses the water heater. On the other side we built two single beds in bunk bed fashion. We built drawers under the lower bed for storage.

In front of the shower we built storage shelves customized for the crates we use to carry our craft supplies. For the average family, this area could be used for two more beds.

Across the isle we built a clothes closet with more drawers two high under the closet floor.

At the front of the bus we built a six foot counter with a sink on the forward end and a counter top stove on the other. Next to that we added a broom closet. Under the counter we installed a refrigerator and more drawers. A hole was cut in the floor to run pipes to water tanks installed under the bus for plumbing. Over the counter we installed more cupboards.

To fireproof this area, we covered the underside of the cupboards, the walls and the empty counter top with a special heat resistant ceramic tile. We cut a hole in the wall to install a fan and vent for the stove, and one in the ceiling for an air conditioner.

On the outside of the bus we covered all the windows except one over the sink, two by the table and two next to the beds in the back with 1/8" steel before we painted it.

Behind the refrigerator we installed a fuse box and breakers for electricity. We later wished we had put this somewhere more accessible.

Over the table and seating area across from the kitchen counter we added more overhead shelves with doors for storage. You have to remember to duck when seating yourself, but after a few bumps on the head we learned this response became automatic.

On the back of the bus we added a three foot steel deck for the generator and storage space for miscellaneous equipment like lawn chairs, gas cans and bicycles. There is also a storage compartment under each side of this deck.

Under the bus along one side we built another storage compartment of steel with hinged doors we can lock. We use this to haul our plywood tables and tent for our craft booth.

All in all this project took us about a month to complete at a cost of about $2,000.00. We are very happy with it, and since its rated to haul ten tons of cargo, we haven't broken any more axles.

© High Speed Ventures 2011