There are many stories in the big, big city. Also in the
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:
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: