- Written by Brock Butterfield
Craft beer on tap while you hang out inside a converted school bus.
-Interview By: Brock Butterfield
-Bus Conversion By: Joe Quinlin
When I first came across this bus conversion I was drawn in by the extensive woodwork and in particular the countertops. It was after I saw beer taps in the background that I realized that this was not your normal bus conversion and I sat scrolling through the Instagram feed. Shortly after Joe actually mentioned Bus Life Adventure in a comment and said we should come have a beer in the bus. If I was closer or had the time I would have driven there that night!
I realized Joe had taken the bus conversion mindset but used it for another means. Rather than creating a tiny home he decided to create a bar. A mobile bus bar serving high quality craft beer. Food trucks are hot right now so Joe decided to take it a step further and spread the beer gospel to locals in Oklahoma by means of bus.
This interview and writeup is nothing like I've done before so I tried to hit Joe with questions that were specific to his unique idea of taking a bus conversion and turning it into a mobile bar serving high quality craft beer. Enjoy.
-Interior Square Footage: 200
-Current Location: Oklahoma City, OK
-Purchased From/Location: Pawhuska School District. Pawhuska, OK
-Cost in materials for the conversion:
Cost of bus: $1,850
Mini Split: $1,000
Honda EU6500 Generator: $2,550
Exterior & Interior Tap System: $1,300
Wood and steel: $1500
Electrical and Plumbing: $1,000
Custom Refrigerator: $600
-How did the idea to serve frosty beverages on a bus come into play?
I've been involved in the local brewing scene in OKC since 2010 when my brother moved here from San Diego. We started brewing together and soon were creating flavorful batches almost once a week. I began going into a local brewery, Coop Ale Works, and giving my time each week to clean tanks, wash kegs, clear out mash tuns, and occasionally watch the boil. In return I would often get ingredients to brew with. Eventually I was hired part time to work on the manual canning line, which made for some good times and great memories. Being exposed to the craft beer scene in this way allowed for opportunity to help build into the brewing community in unique ways.
The more my involvement with craft beer deepened, the more my love for it grew. I began to have a desire to develop my vocation around it. Blending my hobby, with business, and community sounded like a lovely idea. I really wanted to figure out how I could use business to spread the gospel of craft beer here in Oklahoma. With the local food truck scene growing, it seemed like having beer on wheels would be well received. This is where the idea for turning a school bus into a beer bus came to life. I dreamed of getting an old bus and building a tap room inside, where old and new friends could sit and enjoy meaningful conversation while drinking a tasty beverage. The feel would be warm and welcoming. The Big Friendly is Oklahoma City's nick name, and it was the perfect name for the bus. And so the journey began.
-I'm seeing a lot of beautiful wood work in your bus. Where did you get most of your material from?
The 2 booth tables and the bar that runs along the passenger side were crafted from re-purposed pallet wood. The top of the main bar in the back of the barrel tap room has rough cedar that was found in a buddy's garage. The face of this bar is made of old wooden doors that were found in an airplane hangar. There were four doors that we sanded down and cut to size to incorporate into the interior design in a few places around the tap room. The wood that makes the barrel ceiling and exterior signage is 1 x 4's purchased at our local lumber store.
-How long did the conversion take you?
I bought the bus in October of 2014 and it sat through the winter while I planned out the design and color schemes. In March 2015 we started working on the base paint for the exterior and interior, as well as artistic paintings. The interior remodel began in June and was complete for our first event in October 2015.
-What was the hardest part of the conversion?
The custom walk in refrigerator was a beast to complete. We had to figure out how to design a fridge that would hold plenty of beer for the larger events we'd go to, and also would compliment the flow of the interior and exterior look of the bus. The goal was to have 8 taps on the inside that were synced to 8 taps on the outside. We had to create a large hole in the ceiling and mount a refrigeration system that wouldn't interfere with the integrity of the structure of the bus. It had to be large enough to keep beer cold in a bigger space 24/7. It was a chore for sure, but in the end it turned out to be one of my favorite features that goes mostly unnoticed.
Another difficult undertaking was removing 3 of the original bus windows on the passenger side, and welding them so they would open together. After consulting with a few friends, we really felt the original look of the bus needed to be kept in tact – so using the original windows was a must. I really wanted to have a large opening that connected those who were on the inside of the bus to whatever might be happening on the outside of it. We placed 5 bar stools along the inside of this window, and it really has become an integral piece in intimately integrating the barrel tap room with whatever event we happen to be at.
-How many thirsty patrons can you pack into the bus?
We have room to comfortably seat 14 people, although at times we've had a few more than that with standing room only.
-How many taps do you have?
8 exterior taps synced with 8 interior.
-What do you do for power?
When the bus is parked at home, we plug into the house. On the road, we use a EU6500 Honda generator but always have 100 feet of cord in case there's an available plug in.
-Besides the beer taps, what's the most unique thing about your bus?
The Barrel Ceiling: The ceiling is covered with wood, and at each of the ribs we put 3 inch wide pieces of steel that gives the feel that you're sitting in an old wooden beer barrel. It really compliments the space well.
“Everything's OK” Marquee Sign: On the back of the bus there is a sign that is composed of artistic paint, artistic steel, and lighting. This was somewhat difficult to engineer, but with the help of some pretty talented friends we made it work. The sign is a play on words – letting people know that Everything's OK, and that everything we sell is from OK.
Artistic Renderings: Art that blends Oklahoma and beer has been painted in a few locations by 2 local artists. More notably, on the hood of the bus is the Oklahoma state flag, with hops replacing the peace pipe, and barley replacing the olive branch. Along the side of the bus there is a Scissortail, the state bird of Oklahoma, where the bluebird once was. Behind it are hop cones blowing in the Oklahoma wind.
-How do people find out more about your beer bus?
- Written by Brock Butterfield
- Bus conversion with upper cabin and outdoor deck. -
Interview By: Brock Butterfield
Bus Conversion By: Guy and Kayla
I thought my bus was unique in design with a snowmobile deck on the back but Kayla and Guy have definitely set the bar high with their bus conversion that includes an upper cabin with 88 square feet and a 160 square foot outdoor deck on the top where they store their snowmobile.
This bus conversion has had an enormous amount of custom work put into it. The creative process behind it still blows my mind each time I see a photo of NED a.k.a. Never Ending Dream posted on Instagram.
Enjoy this little interview and photos of their bus conversion. They also have a video of their bus and travels that I've posted below the interview.
-Make: Blue Bird
-Motor: Navstar/ international 7.3
-Interior Square Footage: 1st floor 200 square feet, upper cabin 88 square feet, outdoor deck 160 square feet.
-Current Location: We have recently moved the bus from Alaska to the Nevada area
-Purchased From/Location: Public surplus, an online auction site.
-Cost in materials for the conversion: $8,000
-Is the conversion complete or still in progress? Complete and available for updates. Always ideas to improve and let our spirits act upon. Right now the dream list includes motorcycle racks, turbo kit, awning system and an improved storage sleeping space in the back.
-Does your bus have a name? Yes, NED. Stands for Never Ending Dream. A tribute to the guy at the paint shop who was stoked we were building the bus and wanted to do the exterior paint job. Ned is the first 3 letters of his hard to pronounce last name and birthed the acronym Never ending dream.
Tell us a bit about how the idea to build a bus into a home on wheels came about.
The dream to be free and available for all the activities we desire. A space that only has room to collect only so many things. Being available to experience the world with play time in mind. To own our living space and work because we are moved to not because we have a mortgage to pay.
Who is involved or part of the crew with your bus?
Kayla and Guy are love birds who live in the bus full time. The crew involves the parents, friends and family who helped build NED, and whoever finds themselves on or near the bus can consider themselves involved.
What materials did you use during your build? Any reclaimed/upcycled items?
We used the top of an old van from a junk yard to create a sleeping space on the top of a deck we recycled from another converted bus. The stove, oven, furnace and fridge were up cycled from a trailer in a junk yard. The rocket stove was build out of old drill casing. Hanging bars and racks were used from a bus Guy had previously owned. We used tumeric, beats, and spirulina as the wood stains. I would also recommend using spent coffee grounds.
How many can the bus sleep and how is the sleeping arrangement designed?
The upper cabin sleeps two on a queen mattress. The 1 st floor has two couches for sleeping and floor space for two more. 6 people under a roof. Can sleep 4-6 under the stars/ northern lights or midnight sun on the upper deck.
What is your kitchen and cooking setup?
A lovely kitchen with plenty of counter space, a sink with 11 gallons of fresh water and a gray water holding tank, a 4 space propane stove, oven, fridge, freezer and compartments and drawers that make the food and cook wear easily accessible.
What is your power source?
We have 3 100watt solar panels and 2 12volt batteries for auxiliary power. We have a converter to charge those batteries off of a 120 house plug or generator. We have a switch to gain off of the bus motor's alternator. We can also boost the bus starter with those batteries. We have a 2000 watt inverter to run our 120 house plugs inside the bus. We are also powering our 2 12" subs and 6X9s with a 2000 watt amp with those batteries. We are able to charge phones, computers, cameras, run led light strips, the stock bus lights, craft with hot glue guns, grind coffee, etc.
Do you have a heat source for colder weather?
Yes. We built a rocket stove out of old drill casing, they are efficient stoves that use less wood and we run a heat powered fan to move the warm air around the bus. There is a man named Paul Wheaton, who has the rocket stove and permaculture info, we highly recommend checking him out for plans and encouraging "out there" ideas. We have a propane furnace and 66 gallons of propane on the roof. There is also the option to plug the bus into house power via the inverter and run electric heat.
How do you stay cool in the hot summer months?
Haven't experience hot summer months yet. Maybe an AC will be an update. Feeling a travel to the South may call for a solution.
What are you doing for water source?
We collect water out of the mountain side in 3, 5 gallon buckets once or twice a week to fill up our 14 gallon water holding tank under the sink. We have an electrical pump to run the water through a faucet which drains into a 14 gallon holding tank that gets emptied in appropriate locations.
Do you have a bathroom solution for the "rumble guts" hit?
We have a portable toilet for emergencies, but haven't had to use it yet.
What is the most unique feature of your conversion?
The upper deck sleeping quarters. It looks cool, is super cozy, and allows for more living space on the main floor.
What do you do for income while living in the bus?
During the winter Kayla coached ski racing and Guy made snow for Alyeska ski area, allowing plenty of time to play on the mountain. During the summer we both ran the TA surf company renting paddle boards, taking people surfing in the turnagain arm on the boretide, as well as mellow tidal floats. You can check out the company at TAsurf.com Guy also worked for a rafting company Chugach Adventures out of Girdwood and Kayla on an adventure boat out of Whittier. Currently we are picking up odd jobs around the Reno/Tahoe area, creating an online store to sell rad bus trinkets, paddle boards, and ride along adventure tours with us and NED.
What do you do for Internet while on the road?
Let our phones create hot spots in the US and find wifi spots while out of the US.
What’s the hardest thing about living bus life?
Leaving a rad location, and keeping the stuff down to a manageable amount.
We heard you guys are into SUP. Tell us a little more about that and how bus life allows you to SUP more often.
Living in the bus allowed us to move closer to the shop and even right to the surf spot. We started incorporating the bus with our tours, as the shuttle vehicle and a nice place for paddlers to end an adventure, a surf lodge of sorts.
Where can people follow or find out more about your bus? (social media, website, etc.)
- Written by Brock Butterfield
Couple living in Uganda convert a short school bus into a home and explore the US.
Karin was drinking cocktails and Mark was serving them up at his brother's bar in Uganda when they met. The two eventually began talking about traveling the US together and explored different means of transportation but it was Karin's deep fascination with American school buses and how cheap you can get one for that led them down the path of converting a short school bus into a tiny home.
While Karin worked on a film project in Uganda to raise funds for their upcoming adventure, Mark secured a bus in Arizona and became best friends with an angle grinder. Upon finishing the bus conversion they hit the road with their 6.5l diesel motor purring. I was lucky enough to cross paths with both of them and got a full tour of their bus. I sat them down for an interview of which you can watch in the video below. It's a good one and I love seeing more and more couples traveling and living together in unconventional ways.
Collinstagram Conversion Products
- Written by Brock Butterfield
Bend, OR Jewelry Studio Bus Conversion
- Interview By: Brock Butterfield -
- Bus Conversion By: Rachel Dean -
Paying rent sucks. Rachel has spent a good part of her life traveling the globe and living out of a backpack so when she finally settled down in Bend, OR she realized that paying rent for a space to live and for her jewelry studio just wasn't practical.
Rachel found a 1998 International school bus from a kid in Trout Lake, WA and decided that creating a living space and jewelry studio was much more efficient than dumping money into renting. Especially in Bend, OR where there's a bit of a rental crisis and the cost of rent continually rising.
The paint job ended up being the biggest cost of her bus conversion ringing in at $2,500 but the rest of materials coming from her brother's barn or items she was able to find deals on. With a good amount of help from her brother she now has a beautiful 160 square foot tiny home on wheels which she uses to travel and promote her jewelry business.
-Motor: International 7.3
-Interior Square Footage: 160 sq ft
-Current Location: Bend, OR (in a friend's driveway)
-Purchased From/Location: A kid on a ranch near Trout Lake, WA, who traded an old ranch truck for it. The other guy got it at an auction in North Dakota. She had a pretty tumultuous early life before I adopted her.
-Cost in materials for the conversion: Welllllll, the paint job has been the biggest expense besides the initial cost of the bus, I dropped $2500 to have her looking good. Other than that, because it isn't a full build-out, it's been quite inexpensive. The snap vinyl flooring came from craigslist for $150 with just the right square footage. Most of the other wood came from my brother's wood pile, except for the 8' long butcher block counter top I bought from Lumber Liquidators in Eugene for $120 and cut into two sections, a 5' lower level and 3' standing level, which are used as my workbench and display area.
-Is the conversion complete or still in progress? It's definitely still in progress. It's fully functional as my jewelry studio and bedroom, but will take a bit more work if I plan on being self-contained.
-Does your bus have a name? I've played around with a few, but none have stuck. I need to come up with something quick before it gets deemed the 'Jewel Bus' for good.
Tell us a bit about how the idea to build a bus into a home on wheels came about. I've spent years traveling and living abroad, and after settling in Bend 6 years ago, had a hard time getting used to paying rent. In addition to renting a room in a house, I was also renting a studio space downtown to grow my jewelry line. After nearly a year of paying double rent I figured there had to be a better way to do what I do and still put away acorns for my yearly international adventures.
Who is involved or part of the crew with your bus? I had help from several lovely friends in the early stages, taking out seats, painting the interior, snapping down the floor, but my brother has been the biggest help. When I was on a world tour last winter I left the bus in his care with a wishlist of to-do's. He's a super handy guy so he took care of most of them, except for the paint-job and the electrical work, we hired that out. And on said world tour, I met my boyfriend, Airen, in Ecuador (he was living 2.5 hours from Bend in WA where I had purchased the bus), and convinced him to spend the summer in Bend. So he's now the handyman around the bus, hammering nails and screwing in brackets as we discover more and better ways to secure things.
What materials did you use during your build? Any reclaimed/upcycled items? As you can see the conversion is quite minimal, pretty much just wood and flooring, which were mostly from craiglist and my brother's barn. Wow, writing this made me realize I need to call my brother and thank him again. After pricing curtain rods around town, I decided to go with metal piping and towel hooks from Home Depot; I like the look and it was loads cheaper. The fabric for curtains was bought at JoAnne's Fabric Store with a gazillion different coupons, so I think they actually paid me.
How many can the bus sleep and how is the sleeping arrangement designed? The bed platform in the back is made for a queen, so, I don't know, I could probably fit three friends on there with me, and then a few sleeping on the floor. So around eight if you're into the sardine thing, or just two if you're a bit more civilized.
What is your power source? I have a plug off the back bumper and a 100' extension cord I use when parked at friend's places. If we're out and about and away from power it's head lamps and candles.
Do you have a heat source for colder weather? Just an electric heater that actually keeps her toasty, although I fly south in the winter, so have yet to spend one in the bus.
How do you stay cool in the hot summer months? Park in the shade! And fans, and vacate the premises during the hours of 12-6pm if it's a 90 degree day.
What are you doing for water source? Do you have a bathroom solution for the "rumble guts" hit? Nope, I use my friend's bathroom where I'm parked.
What is the most unique feature of your conversion? I'd say her flashy red wheels.
What do you do for income while living in the bus? I'm a jewelry designer and the bus is my studio. The natural light lends itself to creativity and inspiration, and it's really the perfect amount of space to work. Having the bed in the back for mid-day naps is the cherry on top. I travel in the winters, collecting stones and curiosities to use in my designs from around the world, so in that time it's used as my life's catch-all storage pod.
What do you do for Internet while on the road? I haven't taken her on a long road-trip yet, and with shorter trips the intention is unplugging.
What’s the hardest thing about living bus life? It isn't quite fair to say I 'live' in it, however sleeping and working in the same space can take its toll. I tend to stay up too late working or wake up early and can't fall back to sleep because I feel my jewelry calling me. Oh, and I love all of the light from the windows, but it can be a tad fishbowly if we're trying to have private time.
Where can people follow or find out more about your bus? (social media, website, etc.)