School Of Life Bus - Skoolie Conversion
- Interview by: Brock Butterfield
- Bus Conversion by: JT and Tamra Lane
When I asked JT about his bus conversion and why he decided to go through with it I was under the impression that it was because of their newborn on the way However JT filled me in, "We didn't build the bus with the child in mind, we were a month from moving in our bus when we found out we were pregnant. The name became more real to us at that point, but the main motivation behind our build was to simplify our lifestyle and enrich our lives with experiences while also decreasing our environmental impact." This bus conversion dubbed "School of Life Bus" is a fitting name for their future plans. Complete with a unique garage in the rear of the bus, JT and his family will be ready to hit the road as fulltiming it at a much younger age then those fulltimers currently living on the road.
Minus the flooring, trim and wood used to frame the inside everything is upcycled or reclaimed material making this skoolie conversion both cost effective and eco-friendly in a sense. The wood stove puts off plenty of heat and provides enough warmth for the entire 250 sq foot bus conversion. Read the full interview below and see what material and products they are using to make life on the road that much easier.
-Model: Flat nose
-Motor: 5.9 Cummins 12v
-Interior Square Footage: 250 sq ft or so
-Current Location: Greenville, TX
-Purchased From/Location: Greenville, TX
-Cost in materials for the conversion: Roughly 6-8K not including price of the bus.
-Is the conversion complete or still in progress? Almost finished. Things left to do - toilet room, ceiling, solar mount and roof deck
-Does your bus have a name?
The School of Life Bus. Figured this would be a good name as hopefully it will teach us many life lessons and take us to many places in life to learn as much as possible about everything. The name seems fitting now that we will be bringing a new life, Kalon Sage, our son into the world in mid July. Hopefully The School of Life will teach him many things as well!
Tell us a bit about how the idea to build a bus into a home on wheels came about.
We have been discussing a more sustainable life style for a while now. We actually dated in high school and I lived out back at my parents house in my old 69 vw bus that I had converted to a nice little living quarters and hang out spot. I did come straight out of high school shooting for the moon! Working like crazy to provide everything I didn't really have when I was younger. Through all the mix of working so much for materialistic items it dawned on us that we weren't really happy with our lifestyle. So we chose to take it back like old times in the bus when we didn't have much and we were beyond happy. We believe that less is enough! We also believe the more we can do to not harm our Mother Earth the more she will give back. So with that being said I quit my job, and we bought a bus to convert into our new tiny house. We figured the bus route was just more logical than a tiny house on a trailer or stationary one. This way we can simply crank up and go wherever we want or need to. About 6-7 months into the conversion we had sold our house and it was time to move in!
Who is involved or part of the crew with your bus?
Mainly myself and my wife Tamra. I always had a second hand from my best friend Chris Shelton. Which he now has a Thomas shortie and plans on converting it. Also one other great friend for most of my metal fab. needs, Graham Henry. He hand built my one piece stainless steel shower, my stainless steel battery tray, my stainless steel wood burning stove tray for the base filled with rocks, and my solar mount which I still need to install.
What materials did you use during your build? Any reclaimed/upcycled items?
Everything in our bus is reclaimed and upcycled except for the floors and wood used for framing. The roof will probably be purchased new as well. All my finishing wood work is reclaimed materials minus a few pieces. The cabinets were used pull outs found on Craigslist. The countertops I made them from reclaimed wood. The fridge was pulled out of an old rv. The only thing we bought new are a rv electric/propane hot water heater, under mount propane tank, wood stove, Amana 20inch propane cooking stove and solar panels and batteries.
How many can the bus sleep and how is the sleeping arrangement designed?
As many as we can fit lol. We have our bedroom which is a queen bed. We built the room pretty much the size of the bed. We will have a hanging crib above the foot of our bed for Kalon once he is born. Also our couch in the living area folds out to about a full size bed and I plan on putting hooks for a full size hammock above the couch once my ceiling is done. So comfortably I would say 5 people and a baby.
Amana kitchen propane stove for the cooking setup.
Pull out spice rack cabinet.
What is your power source?
We are set up to run fully on solar if needed for off grid camping. Thanks to Renogy's premium 400watt 12v kit and 3 Vmax slr155agm solar batteries. Of course no a/c if we are using solar only, but other then that it can maintain itself quite well. We also have the ability to plug up to 30amp or a standard 120v plug. We will also have a back up generator just in case things go wrong.
Renogy 400w 12v solar panel kit is used to provide off-grid power.
Do you have a heat source for colder weather?
Yes, we actually have a Vogelzang wood burning stove that'll cook you out of the bus. It is small so has to be tendered quite often but that's part of the fun lol. When we are plugged up to shore power we have a nice Duraflame 5200BTU infrared heater that kicks ass and will cook us out as well but of course is controlled with a thermostat.
What are you doing for water source? Do you have a bathroom solution for the "rumble guts" hit?
We have direct water hook up or a 50 gallon fresh water tank with a rv propane/electric hot water heater for our sink and shower. We are using a Natures Head composting toilet so no grey or black water tanks needed. We do have a portable 30 gallon tank to run our grey water in if needed depending on location. Now we just have it ran off into the creek. We use all natural biodegradable dish soap, body soap and shampoo. So there will be no harmful impact. Once we find the place we want to call home throughout our travels we will buy land and use the water run off for our gardens and such.
Natures Head Composting Toilet eliminates the need for a grey or black water tank.
Garage where all the solar items connect to. Jimmie chose the MicroSolar 2000w Inverter to convert to 120AC.
What do you do for income while living in the bus?
I actually just started applying to jobs again within the past month and happened to score an at home auto estimate auditor job. Which I'm super familiar with because I used to paint vehicles and did estimates on the body shop side. My wife Tamra graduated in December as a biology teacher. She has been substituting since she graduated, not wanting to score a permanent gig as we would be trying to travel soon and she would be having our son.
What do you do for Internet while on the road?
I just recently had to deal with maintaining internet in the bus. Right now I an pulling Wi-Fi from the house we are staying at. The connection wasn't too great so I bought a Wi-Fi range extender and the computer I was given for work isn't wireless. So I had to buy a Wi-Fi adapter for it as well. So far it's working great! Of course when we hit the road we are not quite sure what route we are going to take but need to figure that out soon. Hopefully the kickass Wi-Fi range extender that reaches up to 2 miles and combines all internet sources to provide the best internet connection it can but it's quite pricey but may be needed and maybe hot spotting our phones. Any suggestions would be helpful lol!
Where can people follow or find out more about your bus? (social media, website, etc.)
We have our IG bus page that tracks our build. It will track our travels and bus life as well it's @schooloflifebus and we also have a blog we maintain it's http://schooloflifebus.weebly.com/bus-conversion