Felix, The Escapologist's Caravan A.K.A. his 'Skoolie'.
Escapologist's Felix the caravan page.
I'm thinking about taking an old school bus and turning it into a caravan.
I believe that is called making a "Skoolie."
My first steps were:
I have read:
||Get a subscription to "Bus Conversion Magazine"
||Start reading on "The School Bus Conversion Network" A.K.A.
||Start reading on "The Good Sam Club Forum" A.K.A.
||Take a trip down to Rocky Mountain Bus Sales
to look at all the different|
type of busses and which one would be best for what I wanted to do.
||"If you want a 'GO FAST BUS', buy a bus with a Cummins 8.3 engine,
a MT643 or MD3060 transmission and a 4.10 rear end. End of discussion"|
||"The DT466 is a great engine, and the MD3060 is the best trans you
can get in a bus."|
|Year Of Mfg
||Very nice high capacity special needs Western bus. 250 horsepower
3126 Cat engine, MD-3060 transmission, air brakes, 78 inch headroom,
air drivers seat and air entrance door, full acoustic ceiling, two
roof hatches and four push out windows, Midship Ricon lift, Q=straints
tie downs, heated mirrors, cruise, block heater. 1874 total hours,
33000 GVWR. Strong running bus.|
| For the inside
I was thinking something simple like this, for either a
weekend trip, or when I'm performing and going on the road for a
month or more. I like it livable;
having room for me to relax, sleep, eat, and work in,
yet still having room for my larger escape equipment to be tied down.
I don't need a multimillion dollar recreational vehicle or
something luxurious, just somewhere to stay dry, fed, and cool
or warm, depending on the season.
|| Before I forget, some people are asking me, why am I using a bus,
and doing all the work to convert it and not
just getting a premade caravan? The answer is not that simple.
||I need room for my magic and escape props. I've looked in a
lot of caravans. They have very tight living space, and very
little storage; not to mention a very narrow door that my
trunks would never fit through.
||The water closets are usually the size of a phone booth, and
I don't want to sit on the porcelain throne as I take my shower
or brush my teeth.
||and last school busses are built like tanks.
In making my plan of attack, I first needed to get a bus, and then completely
clean out its interior.This way I'd have a blank slate to start measuring and
planning. Of course, you need to have a basic idea what you want long before
My floor plan will be: bedroom in the back, bathroom/wet room next, and in the
front the kitchen, eating, and living area, with a lot of space reserved for my
escape equipment, supplies, and costumes as well.
This is where my plans and sequence of when I do what to the bus, changes from
most bus converters. It seems I'm going to be hitting the road running, so to
speak. Once the bus is emptied and cleaned out I'll be using Felix as a makeshift
caravan/living space while on the road; I know I'll be roughing it; it will be
just a step or two above a tent at first, but I will be dry and off the ground,
at least. I'll be leaving the original interior walls and insulation in place
for now but will be changing them later on. My first priority will be the proper
sizing and permanent installation of the fresh, gray, and black holding tanks,
and possibly a propane tank as well. I’ll also be installing a temporary water
closet to make it livable for now, because you can't live without a loo. I will
be using a extension cord, A.K.A shore power, for my 120-AC needs at first, at least
until I can decide what inverter/charger with a solar controller would work best.
Yes, I am still facing a dilemma between using a backup propane generator, or
using solar. Either way, I have to install some house batteries, but that is way
down the road. During the first month on the road and living in Felix, I'm hoping
to shakedown and tighten up my ideas, fine-tune them, then finalize my floorplan,
get most of the utilities installed, and install a tow hitch so I can tow my
car behind me.
I will also be removing some windows and skinning over the holes to give me a
little more privacy. I'm hoping to be using the help of some of my friends who
have a plasma plate cutting machine with this endeavor.
Once I had chosen my bus, the first real step was going down and doing all
the paperwork to make Felix mine. I made sure all the Colorado safety and
air emissions requirements were passed, then had to get familiar with how
to start, run, and drive her on the road, not to mention find out what the
150 switches that are in the driver’s area do. Then off to make her first
appointment to get something done. That “something” was getting a “Class 3”
trailer hitch installed. As I have said, I’d be hitting the road in just over
a month after getting the bus, and I need to have a car when I’m on the road,
seams McDonalds or other drive though restaurants frown when you pull a forty foot
lorry into their parking lot, so I’ll be towing my VW Jetta Wagon behind me
to use to runabout the town once I set up the caravan where I'll be staying.
I planned to go to American Car Dolly.com and get a dolly. Nice thing about
them is they deliver FREE anywhere in the 48 con!guous United States, and
even better is that they are the manufacturer and sell wholesale direct to the
public, so there are no dealer fees.
||One thing I needed to do before my first road trip, which was coming up very quickly, was to
install a bed. So I built a bed platform out of 2x4's and plywood. Luckily I found plans
online, and it turned out very stable for $30.00+ of wood.
|| First road trip part one was Denver, Colorado to Muskogee, Oklahoma. Did it in two days,
did not rush, and even stopped to see a few things along the way. Everything worked fine,
thank goodness. Later on, we would be going to Eminence, Kentucky, Durant, Oklahoma, then
back to Denver.
In Muskogee at the Hidden Valley RV Park.
They were very nice people, although I did not completely fit in. It was an eye opener to things
I need to do to start fixing up Felix to turn her into a caravan from a bus.
Drilled a 2.25 inch hole
Installed a 50amp RC plug.
Pluged Felix into shore power.
|One thing I needed to do was add power or 120 volts A.C. to the inside once I got to Muskogee, OK.
It was okay using power cords at first, but leaving them laying over the floor made great trip hazards,
and I was limited to only 15 amps, which was just enough to run my portable room air conditioner, or
the ice box and a light. So I decided to add a 50amp RV plug to the outside of Felix and put in a
fuse box with GIF circuit breakers. So now I have all the power I want or need. Plus it has given me
a good insight to where I truly need the 120 volts A.C. and some USB plugs when I redo the walls and
put all the wiring in permanently.|
I added a hardwired 50amp surge guard power protection from TRC to my caravan.
They come in both 30 and 50amp, as well as hardwired or portable, I chose to
get the hardwired one because once it is
installed I can forget about it and it will always be protecting me.
The portable one is simpler and less expensive because you just need to do
is plug it in and there is no installation fees,
but you have to plug it into the power line everytime.
|Have you noticed I live in a glass house, people from all sides can
see in and see me inside it. Not to mention it is a giant green house
letting all the sun and heat in durring the day making it impossable to
So I frosted a few windows so people could not see inside, and to see if that would help me decide what windows I
wanted to remove and replace by reskining there holes.
|After living in the bus for a month I decided to replace 17 of the 26 windows with steel panels. I went to
YOUNG'S SHEET METAL, INC. and
ordered 18 steel inserts to replace the windows. They were very helpful, they even came and
measured the window openings then made one insert to test fit. they had to cut, bend, and weld the steel
to the same size and thickness as the old bus windows and there frames. By the way they are not just square.
After that I took them over to a friends house and they helped sand, prime, and paint them
with a Almond color paint. Actual we used
Majic Tractor, Truck, and Implement
paint and the color was "I.H.White". I was very lucky they have a spray gun and someone knew how to use it.|
||After everything dried, the fun began. I moved all the freshly painted panels into Felix.
Then we removed all the windows I wanted to replace. I thought that be the easy part, but I found out
each window was screwed in at four places then caulked both inside and out. So after they were
taken out we had to go back an scrape and clean all the old caulking off. Then it was a simple matter of applying new
caulking, pressing the panels into place, then fastening the hardware to hold them in.
|| And behold after a week of work, on and off of course Felix is now partly window free, when we were installing each panel
we made sure to caulk the top, bottom, and sides with the proper RV caulk. Once it was finished you could tell
it was cooler inside and that Felix had a lot more wall space.
Big day has come, I've ordered both my black and gray tanks from
Tank Mart They are just a reseller like a
few other companics and sell
a plethora of stock tanks or they could custom order and have one built from one of the manufactures in the
United States for you, so they had anything I wanted. They were very friendly talked to me for a long time
answering all my questions. They also check back with me a few time to see if everything was just
right before I put in my order.|