002 The School Bus

Tiny house school bus conversion

In this podcast we go a little deeper into the school bus and how we decided to buy a 35 foot 2001 Thomas flat nose bus.

Podcast 002 The School Bus Transcript

Hey guys. Thanks for tuning in to my second podcast, and I’m super excited to try to figure this stuff out with you. As far as what I’m going to be talking about specifically, in these podcasts. Am I gonna break up this information we have, into multiple different podcast. Keep it all in one podcast. You know, I’m not sure. I’m gonna be working off, the feedback you guys give me. I definitely feel that we have enough information, and content to bring to you guys. We have a lot of stuff cooking. We have a lot of stuff going on. We have the conversion of the school bus, into a tiny home. We have all this home schooling, that we’re doing with our kids. This year, we’re doing full time home schooling, with both of our daughters. We have multiple businesses, that we’re starting on the website. We have also some stuff, we’re selling through Amazon. We have some niche websites. We have a lot of stuff going on. So how am I going to bring it to you? We gonna just work through it together. As long as you guys give me the feedback.

You guys have been giving me a lot of feedback, through email. Reaching out to me and telling me what you wanna hear. The steps of the bus that we’re taking. The same goes for this. I’m gonna be working off, what you guys want me to do. But for now, we’re just kind put it all together, until the time comes to split it apart, or leave it together. So in this podcast, what am I gonna talk about? I’m gonna start off, with talking about the bus. So this school bus conversion, to a tiny home thing, kind of came out, not kind of. It did come from my wife. We were trying to figure out, what we were going to do, as far as living arrangements. We owned a house in 2008, before the crash and we got caught up in that crash, in the housing crash like everybody else it seems like, and it just kind a wiped us out. Not only wiped us out, it was very discouraging. To us, it was a mental blow. Since then, prices have gone down. Some here in Miami, but you would think, that it would have gone down a lot more. Really, it went down, and it’s back up, and it’s pretty expensive down here.

You get a small house down in Miami, and you’re easily gonna spend upwards of mid $300’s close to $400,000 to feed a family our size. It’s pretty ridiculous what the prices are down here. So as we looked around, and we even started to think of maybe we buy some land, and try to build slowly, but surely. Even the land is, just out of this world expensive. There’s not much, where you can go to here in South Florida, without either running into already built up areas, or you’re running into the everglades. There’s not much room to go to. There’s no like oh, we’ll just move out of town, kind of deal. We do live out of town. We live down in Homestead Florida, and we’re on the outskirts of Miami. We’re in the boom dogs supposedly. Even though it’s pretty heavily, populated down here also. As we did this, we started looked at other options. Like moving out of Florida. My wife has family that lives up in Colorado. In different parts of the country, we have family. We start to look around, and looked at the different options we had. As we started to contemplate these moves, and run the numbers of how much it would cost us to move. How much the rent would cost us, in these different places, the deposits, and so on, and so forth.

Having to find a place to work, as soon as we got there. Different sources of income, to be able to support ourselves. We started to run into a lot of issues, pretty quick. We started to see that it was going to be pretty expensive. A lot of money on the line. To move out to this place, to whatever place, we decided to move. And not be sure if we even, are gonna like living there. Let me give you an example. So we started run the numbers, and we said. Some places are going to need first, and last deposit, to move into a rental. Let’s just say it’s on the low end, $1000-$1500 a month. Usually the way it works in Miami. At least you would need $1500 times 3, so $4500 just in deposits. These deposits, and rentals, and this and that, with usually a one year lease or one year rental agreement. Then you need to rent your truck, and all your packing materials, to put all your stuff in there. You got to go over there, put deposits for your light, deposits for the power, the water, all of these things. When you come to see these numbers, you can easily start pushing $6000, you know, or $5500, $6000, $7000.

One of my cousins ended up moving up to Pennsylvania. His home move was close to $7000. The funny thing about it is, once he got there a month or 2 months into it. He started to say, I’m not sure if this is exactly where I want to live, where he wanted to live. The rough part was, that he told me. I just don’t have the money, to get up and move right away. I’m kind of stuck in this house for a year. So like I said. That was a scary proposition, for my wife and I. All of these expenses. On top of it all, you go out there, like how are we going to do it. She gonna move out there first, and try to get a job, or am I gonna move out there first and try to get a job. Or whatever the case might be. We’ll have to make a transition where we’re separated from our families, for whoever decides to move up their first, for a month or maybe more, as things get settled in. It was just a lot, that we weren’t willing to do. So one day I came home from one of the jobs that I do. And she told me, what if we make a school bus into a house, and immediately I thought it was a fantastic idea. I thought it was great. I agreed to it, and my wheels in my head started to turn immediately. This is right up my alley. I’m a do it yourself DIY kind of person. That whatever it is, I try to either improve it, make it better, build it myself. It doesn’t matter. I’ve been doing these kinds of, not school buses.

I’ve been working on restoring cars and making cars, do things you’re not supposed to, as far as motor wise. Putting parts from one car, to another that’s not supposed to go there. Making doors open up the ways they are not. I’ve been heavily into customizing cars for a long time. That’s one of the jobs that I do, on the side. I do that kind of stuff. So to me, thinking of getting a bus and making it into a house, was just an awesome idea. So we started to look immediately, at how much one of these school buses, ae gonna cost. And luckily since I’m in this field. I have friends that work in cities, and different locations where car dealers. Like I said a city. I went ahead and called up one of my buddies, and asked them about, how should I go about buying a school bus. Before I even start down this road. It’s funny, when you tell someone that you’re going to buy a school bus, whoever it is. The looks and the questions, you get are just hilarious. They either start laughing or think you’re crazy, or whatever the case might be. It’s pretty hilarious. So he started to explain to me, that if I wanted to buy one of these school buses.
That they’re probably going to have high mileage, if I’m going to buy it from a school board. He did recommend me buying it, from a school board, because he said that. Those buses anything that you get from the city, whether it’s a police car, or school bus, or whatever the case may be. He told me, one thing is for certain. That you know that, in these vehicles, they have been maintained by the book. Meaning, they have certain rules and regulations. These vehicles have to have certain things done, on a certain schedule you know, mileage wise. So if the book says, we need to change the brakes on whatever amount of miles. It’s just, for example 10,000 miles. They’re gonna have to change that part, whether it needs it, or not, the brakes. Using the brakes as an example. They have to change it, whether it needs it or not. They’re gonna have to go and change the belts, whether it needs it or not. They’re gonna have to go and do, the rebuild of the transmission, whether it needs it or not. It doesn’t matter, they’re gonna have to do it at that time. So he said for certain, even if the vehicle has 100,000 miles. You know that it’s been maintained. The proper parts have been used. There have been a maintenance schedule, records, and so on, and so forth, to that vehicle.

So we went ahead with that information. He also went over the different buses. They’re called like dog nose buses, or flat nose buses. I went ahead and we purchased, my wife and I we decided to go with the flat nose, because of certain reasons. But one of the main reasons was, when he started to explain to me. I assumed that working on a bus, with the motor in the front would be easier. His opinion is, and again I’m probably going to get feedback on this. This is like everybody has opinions on what is easier, whatever more comfortable for them, on any subject. His opinion was, out of his experience. That working on the school buses, with the motors in the back, were a little bit easier to work on, than the ones with the motor in the front. Because these buses are so high off the ground, that you would have to end up getting a ladder, and get on top of the ladder, and reaching over. It’s a little bit more difficult to work on, than a car. You know, the car you just open the hood, and you reach over and its right there. On a school bus, you got to get on top of a ladder, and he says it becomes a little bit pain in the butt, to do it. With the motor in the back, you could get to these motors from the inside of the bus. You just kind a take these panels off, and you can reach the top of the motor, from the panels on the inside, and not have such a hard time.

Also when we started to think about it. He started to tell me that another thing was, the drive shaft. If I wanted to put a lot of storage and a lot of water tanks, and all of these things. Drive shaft, for you guys who don’t know. Drive shaft is this thing that, hooks up to the transmission of the bus, goes all the way to the rear axle. The rear end. The rear axle are where the tires are, at the back. The drive shaft is this big tube that goes from the front to the back, of whatever vehicle it is. If it’s a rear wheeled drive. This shaft on these buses, are roughly like 6 inches around. So this shaft would eliminate, would not allow me to use the whole center of the bus. The bus that we purchased is 35 feet long. So let’s just say about 28 feet of it, all down the middle, because you need to leave that space clear. You need to be able to get to it, if something happens. You can’t crowd it, you can’t put all of these stuff around it. I mean you could, but you would have to make it where stuff can come down. If you need to repair anything, any of the joints go bad.

You need to be able to get to it. By having the motor in the rear, the drive shaft is this little thing, couple of inches. I think it’s like 2 or 3 feet long, and it’s in the back, out of the way. Which is great, because now it frees up all of the space, down the center of the bus. Where we can put water tanks, storage, batteries, or whatever the case might be. All of this room now, is opened up.

So with him telling me that, it is a little bit easier to work on. The drive shaft is in the back. Also we just personally like the way, the flat nose buses looked. Its better, that’s what we went with, buying a flat nose bus. So we started to look around, and trying to find school auctions. One thing we found out, these school auctions only happen, ever so often. It’s not like every week end. It’s not like once a month. It’s more like, at least here in Miami, anywhere between 6 months to every 9 months. So we were hitching to try to buy a school bus. We wanted to get going. So we started to look around all over the place. We found different auctions, in different places. For instance, we found some, it wasn’t even an auction. It was these school board selling the buses, you could come and buy them, like in Texas. We found someone up in New York, different parts of the country. The prices weren’t too bad. They were in the price range we were looking. You know, $3000, $5000. But as I started to really think about it, just thinking that okay do I need to fly out there. That’s a couple hundred dollars, $400, and $300 bucks for one way ticket. The gas it’s gonna take us to drive it back, whatever $300, $400 bucks. Just the thought of driving this big whole bus, back to Florida down to Homestead Florida. Like literally, Homestead Florida is right before you get into the Keys.

So it’s at the tip, of the tip of the United States down here. So that drive would have taken, easily potentially 2, 3 days. Driving this big whole school bus is something that I. I’ve driven some big cars, but I’ve never something 30, 35 feet long. That’s’ the size that we were looking at. The bigger ones, to fit our whole family in there. As all of these thoughts, started to go through our head. We kind a decided that we need to find something local. So I was able to find some local guys that buy these school buses from auctions, and send them over to either Central America, or South American countries. Apparently these school buses, they buy them here, and they send them over there. They’re like big. These people get these buses in Honduras, or Guatemala, or whatever the case might be. They chrome them out, and just trip them. Paint them all different colors, and it’s out of this world. I’m gonna put some pictures in the blog post, associated with this podcast. And you’re gonna see. It’s just crazy. They were shipping these school buses on a regular basis.

Something had happened where the guy they were using, or the license or something. Some tax had changed, and it became a little bit too expensive for them, to ship these last couple of school buses they had, to wherever they were shipping them to. So you know, they were trying to just sell them here in Miami. So I went out to go take a look at them. The very first thing I did, was I wanted to see where they bought it, how they bought it. You know, how much did it cost, and I could tell that they were kind of desperate, to get rid of the buses. So they showed me all the paper work. They showed me that they had just finished buying this school bus, from an auction. I think it was like 2 months before I came to see it. They showed me the picture of it, at the auction.

It was never registered to anyone else, still had the auction papers on the window. They had paid $3800 and it was just purchased, and they were in a group of buses that they were planning to send. This one, just wasn’t able to make it, and also a couple of other ones. But this one wasn’t able to make it, so I took my Dad with me. Any big purchase, you always take your Mom and Dad. All of the stuff that I ever learnt about, vehicles. He had a body shop. This is what he’s been doing his whole life.

It’s always when you’re doing such a big purchase, it’s always good to have another extra pair of eyes, and somebody else that has a clear head. That’s not been clouded by the excitement of purchasing this big thing, to give you their opinion. So I crawled around, looked at the bus, all the paper work, and it all worked out. It was all on the up and up. I think they wanted like $5000, or $5300, and I was able to work them down to $4800. I bought it right there, instantly. That day when I saw it, I bought it. Came back the next day with my wife, and we drove it back. Driving it back was insane. Like I said, we lived down in Homestead and this is up in North Miami. It’s about 45 minutes to an hour drive through traffic, through the express way. The traffic here in Miami is insane. Everybody is trying to ram you off the road, and I’m here driving this big whole bus just dying. Freaking out, not knowing, just freaking out. Not knowing if I drive off the road. I was just sweating bullets, going nuts. Like I said, I’ve driven big cars. One of my first cars were a 16:36, a big 16:37. I thought that was big, this is ridiculous. So I got it to the property, where I work on all the vehicles, all the restoration jobs. Any mechanical, or welding, or working on a trailer, or whatever the case might be. I drove it there, and I parked it there. My wife and I got out, and looked at this bus. We were just like, we can’t believe we just bought this.

It was insane, and scary, and happy. All these feeling mixed up all at once, and you know I never regretted the purchase. I was ecstatic and just happy, that we did this. That’s about it. I don’t want to let this podcast go too long. There’s plenty of stuff, to talk about the bus. I don’t want to fit it all up, in one podcast. I wanna break it up, and make it you know. I want to try to keep these podcast, under 30 minutes. So I think I’m about 20 minutes right now. So I’m going to try to finish it up here. Like I said, if you guys want anything specific, for me to talk about on the purchase of the bus, or any other subject that we’re gonna start bringing to you. Feel free to ask me, send an email, comment in the blog post, whatever the case might be. I’ll try to bring you exactly what you want. I’m gonna try to bring my wife in, on one of these podcast soon. Maybe the next one, or the one after. Because she’s basically the one that’s in charge of, the whole home schooling with our kids. I think that’s something that, a lot of people are gonna have a lot of interest in. Because for us this bus, and the whole project. It’s an all-encompassing thing.

We’re not just doing this school bus, and that’s it. Like, we’re trying to change our whole life around this concept. We’re trying to do a whole package. The home schooling, the businesses, the bus. We’re trying to make this new lifestyle, that’s all into loving it together, as one unit. So to us, it’s like a whole package deal. So let’s see when I bring her on. We’re kind a waiting for some more equipment, a second microphone, should be coming soon. So as soon as that second microphone comes in. I’m also trying to bring you the best quality as possible. So it’s kind a like, we don’t want to be moving the microphone back and forth. I want it to sound good audio for you.

The same thing with the videos that I’ve been bringing. I’ve been trying to upgrade, all of my equipment as quickly as possible. So that way, the videos look good and when I explain stuff on the videos, it sounds good. So if there is anything, as far as the sound, or the video quality. You think needs to be improved. That’s another thing, feel free to either give me recommendations, or tell me what you dislike, or like. So that way I can improve those things. I guess thanks very much, and I hope you enjoyed this podcast, and I’ll be speaking to you soon. Thanks. Bye guys.

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