Blue Bus Adventure
- Just over 100 square feet of converted living space in this 1988 Mighty Mite Thomas school bus. The bus sits on a Chevy P30 chassis with a standard late 80's Chevy 350 motor. Originally used to move a family from Idaho to Nevada, the bus now is being transformed into the ultimate skoolie conversion with a dance floor on top the roof, pot belly wood stove, bamboo hard wood floors and LED light strips inside the bus that accompanies a killer sound system for those spontaneous dance parties.
The goal is to have a sustainable home on wheels for Burning Man and other music festivals. They've kicked around the idea of opening the bus to the public as an AirBnB or VRBO in beautiful Lake Tahoe where they currently reside. How cool would that be to stay in a converted school bus just a short walk from the shores of Lake Tahoe?
We got a hold of Nick to ask him a few questions about their conversion. Enjoy the interview and photos! Hover over the photos to make them interactive with details and facts.
-Make - Thomas Built “mighty mite” originally 33 seater
-Model - Mighty Mite
-Motor size and type - Thomas is built on a super common Chevy P30 chassis. Its got the your standard late 80s Chevy 350 carbed motor under the hood so just about any auto parts store carries what we need. Very convenient to say the least.
-Year - 1988
-Length - I’m not 100% sure on this, but approximately 30-32 feet in length
-Interior Square Footage - Just over 100.7 sq feet of space, not including stairs and driver’s seat area.
-Purchased From/Location – Private Owner; Yerington, Nevada. The previous owner trekked this bus down from Idaho and essentially used it as their U-Haul to move down to Yerington.
-Name Of Bus – Thomas
-Owners - Nick Cahill and Jessica Perez
-Conversion Status - In Progress
Tell us a bit about how the idea to build a bus into a home on wheels came about.
My girlfriend, Jessica, and I were originally looking for a trailer to take to Burning Man 2015. We attended last year’s burn, and quickly realized we wanted to have our own adventure mobile to gain some independence from sharing a trailer/sleeping space at Burning Man. In January 2015, we were browsing Craigslist with a buddy, when he excitedly proclaimed, “Dude, you guys HAVE to get this bus! It’s so perfect!” Thankfully, the bus was only a few hours away from Lake Tahoe, NV (which is where we live), and the price was unbeatable, $1,500. Within 18 hours of discovering the bus on Craigslist, we purchased it, (for cheaper than the advertised price), and drove it home. It was one of the most sporadic decisions Jess and I had made, and in addition - it’s also our first major joint purchase together as a couple. We were beyond ecstatic to begin building our tiny home on wheels. After countless hours of researching “tiny homes” and “bus conversions” we had a vision for our bus layout. Jessica had pumped out a few different layout options and we quickly started brainstorming everything we wanted inside.
Who is involved or part of the crew with Blue Bus Adventure?
Jessica and myself are the owners, we split everything 50% down the middle. The bus was our first joint purchase together and we couldn’t be happier. We consider this the “love bus” and have already received help from close friends and family. Everyone wants to be involved with the bus in some way, whether its help with layout planning or building. We’re quickly growing a social media following and everyone around us is super willing to lend a hand because they love the project and the idea so much. It seems people can vicariously live their dreams through us and our bus.
What materials did you use during your build? Any reclaimed/upcycled items?
Materials so far have been a laundry list of items. We’re actually keeping very specific track of every dollar spent and screw used, which we think will be pretty cool stats once we grow a bigger following and more articles/blogs start posting about us. So far though, most of our materials have been purchased at Ace Hardware (i.e., interior paint, screws, etc.) and we purchased plywood from our local store. As for upcycling, Jessica’s mom gifted us this rusty old pot belly stove that required sanding. We will also have a fully reclaimed wood dash in the bus made, from a local friend of ours: https://instagram.com/tahoewoodcraft/
Hover over the photos to make them interactive with details and facts.
What are your future plans with the bus?
We would love to just hit the road and make our travel dreams come true. As you guys know, that isn’t exactly easy to just go ahead and drop everything and do that, but we’re determined… and we will! The overall plan is to finish the bus before Burning Man (August 30, 2015), and make it a sustainable place to take extended road trips in. We aren’t sure if we want to straight up live in the bus long-term, however for the time being, we hope to perhaps Airbnb it as a unique vacation rental. This bus will also be equipped with a storage/party roof deck. We wanted to have an elevated space that we could hang out, set up an additional tent, and enjoy the views.
I just landed the cover of National Geographic for my night photography, so we’re brainstorming ways to incorporate my photography and videography skills with the bus. We have bigger plans for this bus than to simply take it on road trips and Burning Man. We are hoping to connect with younger generations to help educate them that they don’t need a lavish lifestyle to be happy, but rather living more simply will allow for more freedoms.
Nick recently landed the cover of National Geographic with this amazing photo.
Walk us through your kitchen setup (stove, sink, water source, etc.) and what items you're using (make, model if applicable).
For our kitchen, we’re keeping it simple with no plumbing. As you guys know, it adds a lot to the build, so we’re thinking we will go this route for our “sink/cleaning area”
We’ll probably do a 20-50 gallon tank on the roof deck that will be gravity fed into the sink as we need it. We aren’t opposed to the idea of plumbing, it’s just not a priority for us at the moment.
For a shower, we’re going to go with one of our supporters products. Nemo
makes this really rad pressurized shower
that’ll be perfect for all of our adventures.
For our stove, we knew we wanted something that was removable so we could cook outside as well as inside, but we didn’t want to be subjected to a little jet boil/backpacking setup. So we went the Camp Chef route. The little stove/oven combo
so far has been amazing. We were able to bake cookies and cook eggs pretty much at the same time, and the price isn’t bad either.
How many can the bus sleep and how is the sleeping arrangement designed?
Our sleeping arrangement is inspired by Hank:
The main convertible bed is slightly larger than a queen sized mattress. In addition to that, we’ll have either a futon or a couch that should seat 2-3 and/or sleep 1-2. So in theory we should be sleeping ~4 people comfortably. Once the party roof deck is built, we can also throw a tent on top for additional sleeping space. The bus is really built with intentions for just us two to sleep, but we know we’ll have plenty of friends join us on our adventures, so we’re making space for them.
What is your power source? (make and model of items your using).
Currently we're reaching out to various companies for sponsorships and partnerships for our electrical power. We originally wanted to go the Goal Zero Yetti
route but dug deep enough that we figured since we’re doing a totally custom tiny home on wheels... we should just build a larger, faster charging, and more efficient system ourselves. The goal though is two solar panels on the top of the bus, tied into a battery bank that’s also linked to the motor. So if our battery(s) die…say in a two week storm in Haines, AK... we can fire up the motor and recharge the batteries, as well as charge them while we drive.
We will have 120v power outlets for laptops, camera batteries, a blender and Jessica’s LED hoop. We will also have a ton of USB outlets all over the place for anyone to recharge their smaller devices. Everything will be wired up into a circuit breaker.
Our lighting will be somewhat inspired by Hank as well, we’re going to have LED strips down both main rails on the sides, white and RGB strips that will be on a controller. We want to have the ability to have a straight up dance party whenever and wherever we want.
What is your source of heat if any? (make and model of items your using)
We’ve been gifted this beautiful little antique potbelly stove from Jessica’s mother. So that’ll be our main source for heat when we’re not using the original bus heater.
Where can people follow or find out more about your bus? (social media, website, etc.)