This old school bus has a new purpose after Caged Crow Customs was hired out to turn it into a food truck. The attention to detail and custom fabrication work is stunning.

~Interview By: Brock Butterfield

~School Bus Conversion By: Josh Romaker of Caged Crow Customs~

Tell us a little bit about what Caged Crow does:

Caged Crow specializes in building unique, custom mobile kitchens and businesses that stand out.  We design and build trailers from the frame up and focus on more unique vehicle conversions.  Instead of the typical food truck with graphic wraps, we focus on converting vehicles that can turn heads without large decals or graphic wraps.  We add a lot of handmade accents into the mix.  Josh (Romaker, owner of Caged Crow) is also a blacksmith and metal artist, so the creativity in his mind usually rolls out into the details of each build.

Our market tends to be the customers that want something that they’ve never seen before.  We aren’t the average Food Truck Builder.  We are a small crew and really focus on making each build unique from the next, while keeping it fully functional for that customer’s purpose.  We do shipping container build outs, mobile retail units, and are set up for just about any crazy idea thrown our way.

 

Are you self taught in your skill-sets or did you learn from others?

Both.  Growing up around many Wisconsin farms, Josh learned to weld at a young age.  When Josh wanted to get back into welding, he had a great mentor that helped take his welding skills to a level that started this business. Josh has the work ethic of a farmer and a skill set that doesn’t end. He’s constantly learning new things when it comes to metal fabrication and metal shaping, and then putting them to the test to perfect them.  

What is the main goal of the bus conversion food truck?

The main goal with the bus conversion was to create an atmosphere for whatever opportunities the owner may have.  David (Rodriguez, owner of The Fine Dining Food Truck) wanted a truck that he could use for catering events as well as offering a private dinner service for a more intimate, fine dining experience. David may also rent out the bus to other chef’s and event professionals in the future.  We built the dining area in the back of the bus with that in mind.  The kitchen is fully functional and built to the same codes that is required with any commercial kitchen or restaurant.  The dining area could swap a small chef’s table with a farmhouse table and benches, depending on the service.

 

 

 

What type of unique materials did you use during the build?

We used a LOT of stainless steel and aluminum paneling in this build.  Being that this is a mobile kitchen, we have to follow the codes required of commercial kitchens.  Surfaces need to be smooth and easy to clean so the interior is mostly constructed of aluminum and stainless.   We used aluminum diamond plate flooring in the kitchen and hardwood flooring in the dining area.

The exterior work included a lot of wood, aluminum and stainless. The exterior trim work was pretty time consuming, as you can tell from the photos.  That’s a lot of windows to work around, all being done by hand.  It was worth it, though.

 

What’s the most unique build you’ve ever done for a client?

The bus is probably the largest and most unique build to date.  All of our builds have their own level of uniqueness and you can check out our website to see our past work and follow us to our future builds.  We are currently working on a Pirate Ship Themed Concession Trailer and then will be building out a unique Shipping Container Food Trailer for Candyland (World Famous Popcorn Company).  We get really into every build here!

How do people get a hold of you or see more of your work?

We have several online avenues to get in touch:

Visit our website www.cagedcrowfabrication.com to learn more about our company, send us a message on our Contact” page.

Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cagedcrowfabrication/

Instagram: www.instagram.com/cagedcrowcustoms

Follow us on Twitter:

Send us an email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Or give us a call (608) 886-7397

Visit us in person if you happen to be going through the “Northwoods” of Wisconsin.  We are located in Saint Germain, next to the Snowmobile Capital of the World and just south of the Muskie Capital of the World.

Mom knows best. Lexi learned everything she needed to know about converting her school bus into a tiny home from her Mom.

~Interview By: Brock Butterfield

~School Bus Conversion By: Lexi Noelle

Bus Specs:

-Make: GMC

-Model: 3500 Vandura

-Motor: 5.7L 8cyl

-Year: 1989

-Interior Square Footage: 82.5

-Current Location: Long Island , New York

-Purchased From/Location: Private seller , Long Island , New York

What made you want to complete a bus conversion?

What made me want to start a bus conversion was my love for camping and being outdoors. My mother and I used to camp with our 1965 Serro scotty travel trailer. It was so much fun to take it out and just relax .

When my mom decided she wanted something that she wouldn’t have to tow she decided she wanted to start a bus conversion.

Watching my mother complete hers and enjoy traveling and having a free feeling made me realize how nice it would be to have my own little home on wheels.

I was following others on instagram and watching them travel the world and enjoying every part of both van life and bus life. I just graduated high school and college wasn’t my thing so I decided to take the jump and I bought LOLA.

I wanted to be able to get in my bus and drive wherever and whenever I wanted to. Being only 19 years old,  It opened me up to minimalism and taught me that material things mean nothing when you have something that means everything to you.

What type of skills for the bus conversion did you have prior and what did you learn or teach yourself along the way?

My mom helped me ALOT with the conversion, watching her work on hers helped teach me how to work on mine. She self taught herself and taught me how to cut different types of things, how to wire things (which i’ve NEVER had a clue how to do), setting up a PRACTICAL layout , laying down a floor etc. I never knew wires, or electrical, or solar hook ups until I started the conversion.

What was the hardest part of the bus conversion and what guidance would you give others for that part?

Deciding on the layout of the bus. This was the trickiest part because you really have to consider what would fit best and work best for your needs . Also trying to utilize your space to the best ability .

My guidance to others is that whether you decide to choose a van, or a bus is THINK YOUR LAYOUT through before you start your conversion. Make sure that is going to suit your needs.

How were you able to get your bus registered as a motorhome or RV?

In New York, the rules to get a vehicle registered as a motorhome or RV is that it must have a bathroom, propane hookup, stove, pretty much anything an RV would have . Luckily they didn’t give me a hard time when I registered mine.

Who did you get insurance for your bus conversion from?

I got my insurance from Progressive under RV ( registered passenger vehicle)

Where do you mostly park the bus?

I mostly am parked at my mothers, I am part time bus life right now so during the days when I am working, i live and park my bus at my moms. Working 5 days a week to save up to hit the road.

What make and model did you end using for the following:

What is the most unique feature of your conversion?

My unique feature is definitely the colors .The outside being robins egg blue and the peach wheels really makes it super unique ! The interior id also something super unique because I used my style to make it look how I wanted.

What do you do for income?

For income I am currently working 5 days a week. When I hit the road full time I will be working online.

What is the plan now that your bus conversion is road ready?

Now that my bus is road ready , I have been taking it out on weekend trips ( due to working weekdays ). By next year I am hoping to do a huge road trip to the mid west!

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

My instagram is : @Adventuringwithlola

My Youtube channel is : Adventuring with Lola

My facebook Page : Adventuring with Lola

Email : This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

~ Total novices escape the rent trap of southern Florida by converting a school bus into a tiny home on wheels ~

Interview By: Brock Butterfield ~

School bus conversion by: Brittany and Steven Altmann

Bus Specs:

-Make: International

-Model:3800

-Motor:7.3l diesel

-Year:1995

-Interior Square Footage: 195ish sqft.

-Current Location:Sarasota FL

-Purchased From/Location: A private school in Sarasota Fl.

-Cost in materials for the conversion: $17,625 see our detailed to the penny expense sheet on our website. http://bit.ly/1WoeBTj

What made you want to complete a bus conversion? One of the main factors that lead us to living the skoolie lifestyle was the astronomically high cost of living here in southwest Florida. We didn't want to get caught in the rent trap. We wanted to travel and see what this beautiful planet has to offer. We have already saved enough money that we have booked a trip to Europe this summer.

What type of skills for the bus conversion did you have prior and what did you learn or teach yourself along the way? We were total novices, we had no experience what so ever. We watched a ton of youtube and the guys at Home Depot probably got tired of seeing us. We ended up doing everything ourselves from flooring to electrical. The number one thing we learned was perseverance. Sometimes the work would seem insurmountable, so we would just step back crack a beer, and get back to work.

What was the hardest part of the bus conversion and what guidance would you give others for that part? For us the hardest part for us was taking the plunge. We were scrimping and saving and trying to get all the money together before we started. We learned that the timing will never be perfect. The best advice we can give is to jump in with both feet and go for it!

What is the plan now that your bus conversion is road ready? In short, our plan is to live more and work less. We have a cross country road trip planned for summer 2018. We have already saved enough money living in the bus that we are going to Europe in a few weeks! We are taking some time this year to enjoying our own backyard in Florida.

Nature's Head composting toilet.

How were you able to get your bus registered as a motorhome or RV? We live in Florida and it’s pretty easy to get the title switched to an RV. After the seats are removed and you have installed plumbing, gas, or electrical you can fill out an affidavit and the DMV and you’re all set!

Ikea kitchen sink and faucet with a ShureFlo water pump.

Who did you get insurance for your bus conversion from? We are currently insured through National General they seem to be the go to for the skoolie community. Not many insurance companies will cover converted school buses. They have treated us really well and the agent loved our bus (they will request photos).

 

What make and model did you end using for the following:

 We also bought these hydraulics for our underbed storage. They are awesome and makes storing and accessing things stored under the bed so much easier.

What is the most unique feature of your conversion? Our bus happened to have a side door. It gives us a total of 3 doors and we LOVE IT! We are able enjoy a wonderful cross breeze with all doors open. We also utilize the door when cooking outdoors. We love to grill and this makes passing supplies from inside to outside a snap.

 

What do you do for income? Brittany is a User Experience Designer, basically she makes websites work the way users want. Steven is a nursing student about to finish his degree and start travel nursing. Once we are ready to hit the road our careers should allow us to work anywhere!

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

INSTAGRAM : http://bit.ly/2INSTAGRAM

FACEBOOK : http://bit.ly/2AOBFACEBOOK

VIDEO TOUR : http://bit.ly/2VID-TOUR

PHOTO TOUR : http://bit.ly/2BUSPHOTOS

EXPENSE SHEET : http://bit.ly/2expenseSheet

~ Yoga instructor, his wife, daughter and two dogs all make this 210 sqft bus conversion home. ~

 

Interview By: Brock Butterfield ~

School Bus Conversion By: David and Melanie Babin ~

Bus Specs:

-Make: Thomas

-Model:Flat nose

-Motor:5.9 Cummins

-Year: 2000

-Interior Square Footage: approx 210 sq ft

-Current Location: Edmonton, Alberta

-Purchased From/Location: Spruce Grove, Alberta

-Cost in materials for the conversion: $10,000 (including the bus $4000), but we still need solar and water tanks/pump

What made you want to complete a bus conversion? It appears you guys started in a VW Westfalia?

We got tired of paying crazy amounts in rent. We moved a lot in the past couple of years so having a home on wheels seemed like the perfect solution for our family. We started out hitchhiking from Ottawa to Alaska in 2008, and got hooked on traveling. Then we had a VW vanagon for a while, travelled all over Canada and did a few National Parks in the USA. We wanted to do it all again with our daughter Alice. We loved vanlife so we knew we could definitely make it work in a bus as a family of 3 + 2 dogs.  Living in the bus allows us to save up money but also allows us to spend more time together as a family doing the things we love most.

What type of skills for the bus conversion did you have prior and what did you learn or teach yourself along the way?

David has worked in the welding industry for 12+ years. He’s a fast learner and is incredibly curious. So off course he read everything on bus conversion before starting the project. I knew we would be able to pull it off but I am still amazed that he did everything himself.

What we have learned : Patience! And that not everything has to be perfect! :)

What was the hardest part of the bus conversion and what guidance would you give others for that part?

We did everything ourselves and we had to have the bus ready to live in in 2 months. It was extremely stressful and exhausting. Our circumstances were out of the ordinary (david lost his job a month in the conversion), but I would say this… if you can take your time and have friends to help out, ACCEPT!

What is the plan now that your bus conversion is road ready?

We will be moving around Edmonton and Jasper National Park for this summer and who knows after that… We are hoping to make it to the vanlife gathering in Canmore in July :)

How were you able to get your bus registered as a motorhome or RV?

We are still registered as passenger… will let you know how it goes.

Who did you get insurance for your bus conversion from?

Cooperators

 

How has it been raising a little one in the bus?

It’s great! She is one happy little girl so we must be doing something right! She has everything she needs in the bus, her toys, a bathtub, we have a full kitchen so we can even bake cookies together! Mostly she just loves playing outside so buslife is perfect for all of us. Each time we move the bus, she gets to explore new things!

What make and model did you end using for the following:

  • Kitchen stove it’s an old trailer stove we found on kijiji
  • Kitchen sink, faucet and pump : Sink from kijiji, DIY faucet, no pump yet (we were hooked up to water here on the acreage)
  • Toilet : DIY composting toilet
  • Shower or hot water source : Eccotemp hot water on demand, stock tank tub + diy plumbing/faucet
  • Any other unique and helpful items you’d recommend : full size woodstove for winter in Alberta!

What is the most unique feature of your conversion?

I’m not sure? The full kitchen/bathroom? Full size wood stove?

What do you do for income?

I am a stay at home mom looking to start a business from home… David is a yoga teacher (in training) and works in an outdoor shop in Edmonton

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

Facebook : Our Dharma Tribe

and Instagram @our.dharma.tribe