I bought a Bus! – Motorhome Conversion
What Have I done Since Burning Man?
Wow, I’ve been busy since Burning Man 2017 and my not so great experience. Actually, I’ve been pretty busy since I left to go to Iceland in the middle of July. One of the bonus parts of being so busy is i’m reverting to a more normal daily schedule. And by normal I mean waking up by 8am, and going to bed by 11pm. Crazy, I know… Most people think this an easy thing to do. But after living on the road for so long, as well as years of being a working stiff, I really let my schedule slip. ANYWAY, between decompressing from Burning Man, Getting my butt back to Canada, and planning my next excursion, i’ve bought a bus/motorhome. Holy Crap!… Right?
Why the Heck did I buy a bus?
I’ve been either traveling or couch surfing for almost two years now. It’s an amazing lifestyle and I have no regrets about the choices i’ve made. The thing is it’s also nice to have a home base. But why a bus? Well there are a lot of great reasons.
The main reason I started thinking about buying a bus is I can’t afford a house or condo at the moment. I’m sure once my income rises I’ll start to think about going down that route. The bus on the other hand is super affordable. Its got a ready made living solution inside, and it’s completely portable! I also like that having a bus is way cooler than a normal motorhome.
What Kind of Bus?
In 1961 GMC created this bus and marketed it as the sports car of buses. Kind of funny really. (
But the reason is that it’s the first bus they made out of aluminum. Thanks Alan Holcomb for the correction!) This makes it way lighter than their older busses. It also gives it a cool, sleek aluminum look. The bus was built for wide open roads with no hills. It’s a 4 speed manual transmission and it shifts into 4th gear at 55 mph. Yeah, it was made for long straight roads.
Where did I Find the bus?
That a super long story, so the short version is I have known the owners of the bus since I was 20 years old. So i’ve known them since long before they bought the bus. For various reasons the bus sat for a few years. I made an inquiry into what they were willing to sell it for and I snapped it up. My luck yet again finding me a solution for an inexpensive place to live, and an investment. Thanks again Rod and Lynn!! You are awesome!!!
More About the bus – Repairs…
Its pretty solid considering it sat, not being used, for most of the last 10 years. The main issues are electrical of course. There are a few mechanical issues that need fixing. After that the house part needs some updating.
Before I took the bus Rod and I spent a lot of time getting it road legal and safe to drive. This required tracing out a strange battery charging problem. Rod eventually traced the problem to a small relay tucked under the driver’s seat electrical panel. The next major issue was getting the turn signals and all other exterior lights working.
One thing that made the electrical problems so tough is the bus has been modified from its original wiring diagrams. This included the charging system as well as the running lights and turn signals. Many of the light fixtures needed refurbishment or replacement. Some fiberglass work brought the tail lights back together. The turn signals are now working, sometimes I have to jiggle the switch but they eventually start blinking. The running lights for night time work on the right hand side at least.
On the first road test we heard an ominous ‘clunk’ and the tell tale roar of a bad wheel bearing. We replaced the front right bearing, and rigged one of the brake return springs back into shape. Oh, the left rear inner wheel got swapped out for one that holds air. More on that wheel in a later blog post.
Now the functional bus repairs are complete (mostly) I can focus my time on getting the interior feeling more comfortable and better lit.
Setting up the Motorhome
This bus is older than I am. I don’t know what year the original conversion took place but, looking at the interior, I would say it was some time in the 70’s. Since then some work has been done to the kitchen and hallway area as well as the bathroom. I don’t have any photos of the bathroom, but it has a Central American feel to it. Stucco walls, kind of weathered look. Mostly I really like it, just needs a bit of love.
Am I excited about this?
Hell yeah I am! I’m not sure if it comes through in the blog post… but I’m super excited about the bus project. My plan is to continue doing bus updating blog posts. So I won’t go into detail of what i’m going to be doing. But I have a lot of projects planned already.
The bus’ name is Harley. I’m thinking of rechristening. If you have a good idea let me know in the comments!