Ford E350 Bus Conversion

- Interview by: Brock Butterfield
- Bus Conversion by: Adam Sauerwein

Adam Sauerwein is one unique human. He's an avid outdoorsman with a love and passion for skiing and photography but he can also claim that he's now completed two bus conversions. Yes, two. Why two you may ask? Well the first one had some major hiccups in the interview below that you'll read about. Through Instagram and emailing back and forth I've come to know Adam on a much more personal level and can tell he's one of those people who will continue to fascinate you with his outlook on life and his goofball or "don't take life to seriously" attitude.

In this interview I wanted Adam to give us an insight on why he chose to live in a bus and how he managed to keep his spirits high when his first bus ended up in the junkyard after only living in it for a year. I was able to help give some advice on his second build and the finished product is outstanding. Enjoy the writeup below and learn how Adam views the world through his eyes.

Bus Specs:

-Make:  Ford

-Model: E350

-Motor: size and type International 7.3l Turbo Diesel w/ Bully Dog Programmer

-Year:  2000

-Interior Square Footage: 96

-Current Location: The Woods! (Ellcottville)

-Purchased From/Location: Hamburg, NY (Local Bus Garage) 

-Cost in materials for the conversion: $1500ish

-Is the conversion complete or still in progress? It’s livable but it’s ever evolving, Just added two more shelves, cup holders, new storage box off the back, It never ends!

 

-Does your bus have a name?  “The Pursuit”  

Command central.

 

Tell us a bit about how the idea to build a bus into a home on wheels came about. Well many may not know, this is actually my SECOND bus build (womp)  So for years I had this idea of buying a short bus, not necessarily to live in it, but mostly because I’m weird and I thought having a short bus would be rad.  But as I researched them I slowly learned people were making them livable, being 28 and sick of paying rent for seasonal ski condo rental. I decided this was my opportunity to escape the rent and live wherever I wanted.  

 

 

 

Who is involved or part of the crew with your bus? I would say this bus is my brain child, I have had some friends help me do some welding and painting (Joe + Bob) but 100% of the inside is built by me.  I have a great crew of friends who are always down to travel with me in it.  Shout out to Pat, Mike, my filmer Corey (ChiefCo) and all the boys at The City Garage.

 Hover over or tap photo to see more details.

Adam at work keeping beers cold in his Orion Cooler and listening to some beats with his Big Turtle Shell. (25% discount code for Outdoor Tech: THEBUSLIFE

 

Creative shot by Adam.

What materials did you use during your build? Any reclaimed/upcycled items? I see road signs... What's the story behind those? Materials on this build are pretty simple, I went to walmart and snagged about 10 pallets, broke them down, sanded them and stained them. (That was one wall) After completely getting my ass kicked I decided to buy some wood paneling for the second wall (Judge me!)  The pallet wood came out really neat, but it wasn’t as clean as I had hoped, and I was on a massive time crunch.  I picked up some Captains chairs off a dude on craiglists for $30/each with swivel bases (Insane deal).  And stole an awesome idea off of you (Brock) I used street signs and license plates as my heat shield.  My buddy is a tow truck driver and had a ridiculous collection of street signs and plates so he hooked me up and now I’m good to go!  Other than that, it’s old ply wood from the first bus.  Oh! And I used some of the foam from the bus seats as insulation!

 Hover over or tap photo to see more details.

 Adam is using a Kni-Co Trekker wood stove, Rutland stove pipe thermometer, Alcona heat powered fan and GSI Pinnacle Cookware.

 

How many can the bus sleep and how is the sleeping arrangement designed? 3-4 people but it’s really made for one, I made my first bus to sleep 6 and rarely had guests so I decided to make my sleeping situation much more comfortable (for me) and worry less about my guests.  There is a 30inch wide bed that folds out to 60in if I have a guest.  The bed also flips up flat to the wall for access to storage underneath. Then there are the captains chairs, it’s actually not too bad sleeping in them, they are directly next to the wood burning stove so its extremely peaceful, warm and comfortable. 

 Hover over or tap photo to see more details.

 Hover over or tap photo to see more details.

 Hover over or tap photo to see more details.

 

 

 

Organization is key.

 

 

 

Creative and industrial looking curtain rods.

 

Hover over or tap photo to see more details. 

For kitchen cooking Adam has a single burner butane Camp Chef and the GSI Pinnacle Cookware

 

Hover over or tap photo to see more details. 

Coffee setup includes a Jetboil, GSI Javamill grinder, GSI Commuter Javapress and Hydro Flasks to keep water from freezing or coffee hot for hours after.

 

What is your power source? Power! Ok So I’ve got one 100watt solar panel from Grape solar (GS-Star100 Polycrystalline) that runs into TWO Goal Zero Yeti 400’s. I also have 1 20watt Sunsei Solar panel that runs into my Sunsei SE-CC10000 10 Amp Solar Charge Controller which then runs into two deep cycle marine batteries. I use the yetis to charge all of my toys (gopro, canon, laptop) and then I use my marine batteries to run my “house” power.  (Lights, fans and anything else I can rig up to them)  

 Hover over or tap photo to see more details.

 

 

For power Adam has solar panels on top. He's also using a wind breaker chimney top that stops wind from blowing smoke back into the bus.

 

Hover over or tap photo to see more details. 

For solar storage Adam chose the powerful Goal Zero Yeti 400

Is your only source of heat the wood stove or do you have a backup? Why did you decide to go with a wood stove? This is probably the thing I am most excited about! Last year I used a Mr Heater Big Buddy attached to a 20lb propane tank. The thing rocked, it cranked heat and worked extremely well, BUT the huge issue for me was that being a skier/winter adventurer everything I owned was wet, and propane is a “wet heat” so I had major issues with moisture in the bus.  Now I have a Kni-co Trekker stove (as recommended by Brock) I’m looking forward to taking advantage of the dry heat and being able to keep a fire running all season.  Winters on East Coast are not forgiving, we have weeks that didn’t go above 0 so I’m stoked to have a fire in there. (Note: I will still keep the big buddy under my bed just incase I need some type of backup, but the stove will be my number one source of heat all winter)

 Hover over or tap photo to see more details.

 

What are you doing for water source? Do you have a bathroom solution for the "rumble guts" hit? I’m keeping it super simple for my water source, Two KleenKanteen Insulated growlers. Hopefully they will keep my water from freezing so I can drink and cook with it.  The Bathroom has been of major concern for many people.  I have a gym membership with 24hr access so that is where I do most of my business, I do have a small camping toilet that I hide in the back, (Reliance Hassock Toilet) for when I REALLY need to go. PRO-TIP: BABY WIPES ARE YOUR FRIEND

 Hover over or tap photo to see more details.

 Small compact toilet for emergencies.

Adam enjoying a good book.

What do you do for income while living in the bus? I am a photographer, so I can work from anywhere. The bulk of my business happens in the summer (weddings) so the winter is definitely my slow season which allows me to travel, explore and get into stuff. If you’re a ski resort looking for your brochure photos…I’m your guy ;) (shameless plug www.adamsauerwein.com)

 

This is now your second conversion. What happened to the first bus and why did you decided to keep going with a second bus? I like to call the first bus a “soft launch” I barely did anything to it, I basically pulled the seats, added a bed, bought a camp stove and put a mr heater in there. I had no real “house power” or anything so last year was a battle, but I LOVED it, I knew I wanted to do it again and build it better. So spring came and I decided to do actual maintenance looked under the bus and noticed it was a complete mess, my shock towers were rusted through the cradle, none of the brackets holding the body to the frame were left.  I had a massive oil leak (which was an easier fix) and I needed to do brakes all around (also pretty easy) but I had to make a decision, and the decision was to let it die. It wasn’t worth investing any more money into so I let it die and I had started my search for a sprinter van or a Class B camper. As I looked and looked I soon realized vans and campers are expensive and they aren't designed how I want them. So I called my local bus garage (where I had bought the first one) and they had said they had nothing for sale. I had basically given up on trying to find one, craigslist ads were way too much money for school buses (Living in Buffalo, people buy them for tailgating) and I just couldn’t justify buying an east coast rust bucket for $6000. Until one day I was driving home and passed the local bus garage as I saw a mechanic scraping off their logos, I immediately pulled in and asked if it was for sale, he gave me a price and I bought it that day…. The Pursuit was back, it happened organically and I knew it was right. I immediately pulled the seats and began to build the bus. 

Where can people follow or find out more about your bus? (social media, website, etc.)  www.instagram.com/mradamx

www.vimeo.com/chiefco/thepursuit

Or add me on Facebook! Adam X Sauerwein

www.facebook.com/adamSaue

 

Light speed ahead.

You can also watch Adam's web series called "The Pursuit" below.

 

 

School Bus Conversion Turned Into West Virginia Airbnb

-Intro: Brock Butterfield-

The idea of turning a school bus into a Airbnb has always been on my mind of something I want to will do in the future. When I came across Will's school bus conversion and saw the intricate wood work and detail he put into it I was floored. Then when I read more and learned he rents it out as an Airbnb and pays for his schools loans with it I knew I had to contact him for a quick blog. Below Will walks us through how the whole thing came about and that he is in the process of turning a second bus into a Tiny Home for himself. 

-Written By: Will Sutherland-

 
Purchased September 2014 from an IRS estate sale in Huntington Maryland for $1000.  It was "missing pieces" according to the sight-unseen IRS estimate, hence the low price.  It was only missing a horn button!  I charged the batteries and drove it two hours back to my home in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. 

At first I felt overwhelmed and was having second thoughts about keeping it.  I had it listed on Ebay and the reserve came within $100 of being met, but I decided not to sell it and continue with my original plans.  My recent Mother was my inspiration- she would be so proud to see it!

Specs

Make: International
Model: 3800 Series Bus
Motor: T444e engine, Allision AT542 transmission, non-highway gears (55mph top speed)
Year: 1997
Length: 28ft - not too short, not too long
Square Footage: 176 interior square footage
Location: Located at our home in Shepherdstown, West Virginia
Purchased from: IRS estate sale in Huntington, Maryland
Cost Of Materials For Conversion: $1750
Conversion Complete? Conversion is complete
Name of bus: "Will's School Bus"

 

Tell us a bit about how the idea to build a bus into a home on wheels came about.

I have always loved school buses. Riding the bus was a major highlight for me in grade school. I had started thinking about converting one about three years ago and started searching for one about two years ago. I was really interested in building a "tiny home", and actually got as far as the foundation and main frame before a terrible "derecho" storm blew through and took out about 10 large trees on my property.  Needless to say my tiny house project was stalled and clearing the trees became my main focus. As Fall approached and winter was looming I was already getting anxious about not having made any progress on my tiny home, but then I discovered my bus for an amazing deal! My energy shifted to the bus conversion and there was no looking back. Why build a tiny house when there are school buses galore ready to be converted?!

Who is involved or part of the crew with your bus?

For this bus, I did all the work. I met my girlfriend, Sabrina, this past February and we are converting the new "short bus" together. Also, she claims to have fallen in love with me as soon as she saw the bus.

Will and some help during the conversion.

What materials did you use during your build? Any reclaimed/upcycled items?

I used a lot of leftover lumber from my home renovation. I purchased my house in October of 2011 and it was in dire need of some handiwork.  I reused two bus seats for the table, and had plenty of leftover laminate wood flooring to use on the floor and sides of the bus.  I used old wood from our family pool deck for structural wood.

Anyone who's ever converted a school bus knows the only way to remove the seats is a cut off wheel...

Beautiful stained glass in this bus conversion.

 

Great use of space and storage.

 

 

What made you decide you wanted to open the bus up as an AirBnB?

I had no idea Airbnb existed, and decided to give it a shot. I wasn't using the bus too much in the winter, so I figured sharing it with travelers would be fun.  Within a month I realized the bus was quite popular, and it quickly went from just a few five star reviews to over one hundred five star reviews. I cleared out a nice spot on my 4 acre lot and decided to leave it on Airbnb permanently.  I love telling people, "I pay for my school loans with my school bus." 

Funny how this school bus pays for Will's school loans without leaving the yard.

 

Allegedly Cheerio's are good for the heart.

 

Happy Airbnb guests. Wine and PBR.

 

 

How many can the bus sleep and how is the sleeping arrangement designed?

The bus sleeps 3 comfortably. There is a full bed in the very back, and a futon sofa over the riverside rear wheel-well.  The futon can lay flat, but in that position is less comfortable for adults but fine for kids.  We have had a lot of families stay on the bus. The bus still has a wheelchair lift located at the end of the bed in the back of the bus. I left it in case I ever change plans/repurpose the bus.

What is your power source?

I have the bus powered from my house, via extension cord. It mainly just powers an air-conditioner for the summer and a heater for the winter. There are two 18' rope lights hidden behind the boards above the windows. I have a 100w Renogy solar kit that I originally planned to use for this bus, but now it is being installed in the short bus.

 

What is your source of heat if any?

For heat on our Airbnb bus, there is small wood stove that fits perfectly on top of the passenger rear wheel-well, across from the futon. I used a sheet of furnace sheet-metal from Home Depot as a heat shield and built the shield out from the wall using a couple half-inch nuts. I provide the firewood for our Airbnb travelers.

Also, there is an electric heater I recommend guests turn on before going to bed on cold nights as the woodstove is challenging to dampen-down to last all night long. 

Wood stove with a hot water tank on the side!

 

You mentioned you're currently building a second bus. What kind of bus is it and how do you plan to use it?

I purchased our second bus because we wanted to have something we could use without compromising our Airbnb bus. I also learned a lot from the first bus.  Primarily I learned insulating the floor and adding more insulation to the walls is a major benefit for both road-noise and temperature preservation. Also, I decided a shorter bus would achiever better fuel economy, be more maneuverable, have a higher top speed, and be easier for the average mechanic to work on.  I also enjoy the challenge of "living tiny." The short bus is about 90 square feet inside, it fits in a regular parking place, cruises along at 70mph just fine, and gets 14mpg on the highway.

Will's second bus soon to be Tiny Home.

Where can people follow or find out more about your bus?

Social media wise- the majority of sharing has been done on Instagram. The hashtag "#willsschoolbus" is where one can find tons of photos from the conversion.

https://instagram.com/explore/tags/willsschoolbus/

FYI- there is no bathroom on the bus. I had originally just planned to use my portable toilet when necessary and I have a hanging camp-shower also.

 

 

 

 

Big Blue - Old Ski Resort Shuttle Bus Conversion Turned Tiny Home

- Interview By: Brock Butterfield -

 One spring while I was in Alaska filming for "Life In The Bus Lane" with Bruce The Brute Bus and the rest of the snowboard gang, I met Jason Wier at Tailgate Alaska in the parking lot. We had just rolled in a day before and with my bus fully loaded with snowmobiles and all sorts of gear it was hard not to draw attention. Jason introduced himself and wanted a short tour of the short bus. After speaking with him a bit more I learned that Jason had a full size bus of his own that he converted to a tiny home and ran completely on WVO or waste vegetable oil.

Jason swooped the bus from Keystone Ski Resort in Colorado where it was used as a shuttle bus. Every item in the bus is reclaimed or up cycled including the wiring which he salvaged from a home demo. The bus now roams the wild terrain of Alaska where Jason lives simple and without much. Here's a quick tour of Jason's bus converted into a tiny home.

 

Bus Specs:

-Make International

-Model Thomas

-Year 1986

-Length 29.7 feet long

-Interior Square Footage Under 150 sq. ft

-Purchased From/Location Keystone Ski Resort - COLORADO

-Name of Bus Big Blue

-Cost in materials for the conversion $1,200 for the WVO (wasted vegetable oil) and hardly anything for the inside conversion

Tell us a bit about how the idea to build this bus came about:  I first came unto the idea of a bus while traveling on Dead tour. What an opener. As in, eye opener towards the possibilities of traveling around with less for more. Twenty years later I stumbled upon some folks online that were converting busses to travel in and some were running waste grease….I couldn’t believe it! I immediately became engrossed in research about diesels and vegetable oil.

Who converted the bus for you and how long did it take? I bought my bus for 2000 bucks and put another 1200 into the components needed to run on WVO(Waste veg oil).  Every last item used in the interior build was reclaimed or recycled from the cedar logs milled and planed into floorboards to the screws used to fasten things…even the wiring was from a house demo. My skills as a wood worker definitely helped with the interior. I was going for a dry cabin sort of feel. Very minimal and cozy with lots of wood. The build took place through the winter of 07’. We left Colorado to journey the Oregon coast July 1st.….I had only gotten the bus fired up for the 1st time 2days prior. It was really more of a hope that we could make it to steamboat 3hrs away..…A month later and 4000 miles wiser we pulled back into our hometown of Leadville, CO. It's been on like donkey kong from then on. 50,000miles, 1000’s of gallons of waste veg, and a couple of dogs later, Big Blue runs better than ever and regularly makes trek all over Alaska feeling rather free. Full window tint ensures the privacy.

1986 International Thomas School Bus

What is your heat source? The heat has never been an issue as I would mostly only use it in the summer. But, alas, there is a small cast cylinder stove that is going in before AK winter 2016.

 

Walk us through your kitchen setup and what items you're using. The kitchen consists of an old enamel tilted drain sink direct plumbed from hose fitting on the outside of the bus for regular water pressure. Drains to bucket under bus. Usually, we just use a water cooler and gravity feed for water though. The cooking is on a collapsible 3burner coleman stove which hooks to propane feed.

Jason's fine wood working skills allowed him to use reclaimed wood through the whole bus.

What is your power source for your school bus conversion? The whole bus is wired for 110 with outlets throughout or a 750watt inverter fed from a deep cell marine battery gives us about a week of power for our needs.

Here you can see the giant tank used to store WVO.

 

 

 

- Tusk The Blue Bird School Bus Conversion -

Written by: Brock Butterfield
 - Photos: Stephanie Artuso

I stumbled upon across Stephanie's blue bird school bus conversion on Instagram the other day and was instantly drawn in by the colors and artistic style. Everything from the 3-D color cubes on the floor to the elk and deer sheds throughout the bus. After chatting with Stephanie a bit I learned that she was located just outside Lillooet, BC where I once got a flat driving to Alaska. She's an organic farmer and is lucky enough to live on the land that she farms which is owned by friends. For the chilly nights she has a wood stove with plenty of BTU's to keep warm. The engine of the bus has also been converted to run off of propane.

With literally no budget for the conversion, Stephanie salvaged materials from an old mill site and collected mis-tint paints from the hardware store. She's fortunate enough to leave the bus parked and run an extension chord for power and a hose for water that's tapped into the irrigation line. An external outhouse with a solar shower complete's this minimalistic lifestyle. Enjoy the tour below of Stephanie's skoolie conversion into a tiny home.

Bus Specs:

-Make Chevy with V8 running on Propane

-Model Blue Bird

-Year 1986

-Length 72 passenger

-Interior Square Footage Unknown

-Purchased From/Location Canada

-Name of bus Tusk

-Cost in materials for the conversion $0 - All salvaged material or donated items.

-Is the conversion complete or still in progress? Always changing!

 
Tell us a bit about how the idea to build this bus came about: It's a 72 passenger. I bought it from a friend, who was using it for storage. He had bought it from a River Rafting company in the area. My bus, that I call Tusk, is in a constant state of progress and alterations. The idea to buy a bus to make into a home on wheels came to me after years of just being annoyed at paying rent and living in other people's homes. I wanted my own home, that I could take with me where ever I go. One that I could make improvements and changes too whenever I wanted, or at least, whenever I could afford it. 
 
 

 

 

 
Who converted the bus for you and how long did it take? My budget when I started out was basically zero after I purchased the bus, so all of my materials were scavenged from an old mill site. I used mis-tints from the hardware store and mixed them till I liked the colors to do the floor, which is just the plywood subfloor that was beneath the linoleum. I have had help along the way, with things like the wood stove, and the initial building of the bed frame to fit in the back (this was before I moved the bed to the front of the bus.) But mostly I've worked on my own ( as is apparent when you look closely at any of the work.) 
 
Front of the bus where the bed is located looking towards the back.
 
 
Walk us through your kitchen setup and what items you're using. The Kitchen is very basic. A Coleman camp stove and an out door dishwashing station and cooler. Really bus life for me is like Glamping. I have a hose that is plumbed in from an irrigation line that waters a field near where the bus is parked. I have a wood stove for when it gets chilly out side. I just got it in March and haven't used it too much to be honest. 
 
Basic Coleman Camp Stove for cooking.
 
 
What is your power source? I have electricity in the form of an extension cord, which I use for a couple of lights, and that's about it. There is an Out House, and a solar shower also, with a wicked view. It is a pretty minimal set up.  
 
 
What are your future plans for the bus? Eventually my plan for the bus is to build a proper kitchen and  insulate the floors. Then get hardwood flooring. I love having all of the windows, but I imagine if I wanted to spend a whole winter living in the bus I would have to find a way to make it warmer. So far it's  been a gorgeous spring, summer, fall home.
 
 
What has been the hardest part of living in your bus? I don't think there is anything hard about living on a bus. Maybe just getting out of bed in the morning when the light is so beautiful and it's so cozy to feel like you are outside, but still in your bed. It is just like camping all of the time. But with all of your stuff. 
 
Looking from the back towards the front on the right hand side.
 
Looking from the back towards the front on the left hand side.
 
How do you sustain yourself/make a living? I am currently making an income as an organic farmer with a few friends on the property that I am parked on. We work with a few other farms in the area under the name of Rainshadow Growers Collective
 
 
Where can people follow or find out more about your bus? Places you can follow what I am up too are on instagram @s_artuso and a blog that I sometimes use compassandhatchet.com