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The Snidal Family Bus Page

There are many stories in the big, big city. Also in the much bigger countryside. This is one of those stories - about the building of a "schoolie" - a live-aboard schoolbus conversion.
Ahhhhh - Nelson in his prime! 2000 miles from home, and ready for anything!

Not Our First Bus

This was our second bus - the first was a '53 International , which we originally built in 1971 as a means of getting out of the city and finding some land in the country. Once we did that, "Betty the Bus" just sat around for quite a few years. She went to a neighbour's at one point, since their house burnt down and they needed a place to live while they built a new one. Then she did the same duty for some other neighbours - who needed a bear-proof residence for a spring while they tried to figure out some new ways to get their geodesic dome to stop rainin g inside during the snow melt. But she didn't really go anywhere until we decided to take her to the Baja in 1982.

"Not an Old Car Rally"

That's what I kept saying to myself as I spent a week or two rebuilding the ol' Cornbinder 260 Black Diamond, in a parking lot in the barrio in Ventura, CA. Betty had tossed a few rods by the time we got just South of Santa Barbara one sunny Saturday morning. We got her crank ground, and all back together again, but it was pretty marginal in there. So during our shortened stay on the Baja that winter, we began to think that maybe - just maybe - we needed a newer unit. So we resolved to build ourselves a newer, better bus once we got home the next spring.

And we did. We bought a 10 year old F850 Ford/Thompson 72 Passenger schoolbus shortly after our return to our home in Grand Forks, BC. This is the story of how "Horatio, Lord Nelson of Trafalgar" came to be.


It was a longer road than it had to be, since we made a number of mista kes on the way. I like to call them "learning experiences, and this page is an offer to share them with you, in the hope that you won't have to make them, too.(Lord Nelson got his name from Nelson School District, from whence he came. This is partially because we didn't get the lettering quite sanded off, and in the right light you could still see "Nelson" under the new paint.)

This page is being put together to share some of our memories with you, and perhaps to help you in your planning and even execution of making your own home on wheels starting with a good surplus schoolie.

Want Some Details?

Click here for details on our experiences with busbuilding:

And Now - The Slide Show

Hey! Thought you'd never ask! My motive in writing this piece is to share our 5 year live-aboard experience with you, and what would it be without some pictures? So just click the thumbnailss below for a few pix I've scanned to get you into the mood.

Well, I hope this has b een inspirational and informative. Thank you for letting me share a very small part of my bus fun with you.

The Floor Plan

A 72-passenger is a BIG schoolbus! I don't recommend it, because of the weight - Nelson was a gross 30,000 pounds on the road. With a 391 Ford engine? And Vacuum brakes? Not a good idea! But you get lots of room - so much room, I ended up putting a full-sized bathtub in there. (stamped steel, not cast iron!) Here's the floor plan:

Our Last Bus?

I guess not! Since starting this article a few years ago, we've had another bus follow us home! Click here to see how it's coming along

Hi! My Name's Flxi!

Now, for some more links:

Wanna Talk Busses?

Want More? Haven't had enough?

Click Here to eMail Me

Click Here to go to The Best Skoolie Site There Is!

The eGroups Busbilders site -

a "mailing list" and files vault for networking with other bus builders
Thanks for droppin' by - Don't be a stranger, hear?