Some of the decisions you make in the beginning will determine your overall school bus conversion. You need to make sure to read through some of the build threads and have a solid plan as to how you are going to build your skoolie. Before you get to far ahead of yourself and do something that might not have been in your original plan. Although I should also mention that you need to be flexible as things might not always go as planned. Feel free to ask any questions you have in the comments below.
Remove the Seats!
Obviously they need to be removed in order for you to convert the school bus it into a livable space. Although I do remember reading about someone leaving the seats in and using hammocks and pool noodles but ya… The seats are attached through the floor with bolts that are most likely rusted beyond all belief. Not to mention the fact that even if they are not rusted you may not be able to get access to them under the bus. The easiest and most efficient way to remove them is to use a grinder.
On a side note buy yourself a nice wired grinder! Believe me when I tell you that it will pay for itself multiple times over and will save you a headache of grief. We tried to save like 30 bucks or so and get a less expensive grinder but ended up returning it the next day because we burnt up the motor. If all you have is a battery-powered grinder life is going to be difficult, but doable. I speak from experience with only have a battery-powered grinder to start with.
What to do with the Floor?
Well it can be done however you want because it is your skoolie and no one else’s. With that being said I am going to list a few of the ways that I have seen it done and will give you my opinion.Again this is just my opinion and how I built mine. It is up to you to determine the best option for your new home inside an OLD SCHOOL BUS.
Option 1: Just leave the bus floor as is and put new flooring directly on top of it or just leave it as your floor. That nasty school bus smell comes from the rubber floor, so if you don’t want to smell that I suggest at the very least cover it up. This is not an option I would advise you to take.
Option 2: Remove the blue rubber floor and keep the plywood sub floor. This seems like it would be a whole lot of work to remove the rubber from the plywood. On the plus side if the plywood is in good condition it will save you money and time on replacing it. In my bus the plywood floor was nailed down through the metal which could allow moisture to come up and rot the plywood potentially.
Option 3: Rip out the whole thing and build from scratch. This will allow you to cover up all of the holes in the metal floor and treat it for rust. You will also be able to put in additional insulation underneath your plywood sub-floor if you would like. I chose this option so that I would be able to ensure that every hole in the floor was covered and that no water/moisture would be able to come up from the bottom. I also wanted to ensure that the floor was treated for rust and I had some type of rust prevention on the metal.
Walls, Ceiling, & Insulation
There is no right or wrong way to convert a school bus. I will tell you that from my experience of sleeping in the bus on our maiden voyage home it was a chilly summer night. Both Breanna and I decided that insulation the bus as best we can is an absolute must. It really felt like we were just sleeping in a cold metal tent.
Option 1: Keep it as is and build over it. Lots of people choose this route and it seems to work out ok; depending upon your use. I would not recommend this for full-time living but for a camper style conversion this would totally work.
Option 2: Remove the ceiling panels carefully and remove crappy school bus insulation and replace with some type of quality insulation. Then put the original bus ceiling panels back up for the classic school bus look. Wall panels could be left in with original bus insulation or remove them and replace the insulation as well as put a new type of panel back up. You will not be able to use the same panels if your bus is similar to mine.
Option 3: Gut the whole bus and start from scratch with high quality insulation of your choosing. From the research that I have done closed cell spray foam is supposed to be the absolute best of the best. Then you can put up a different ceiling and wall panel of your choosing to make it feel more like home for you.