1958 GMC School Bus Beach Woody Skoolie Conversion
Meet our newest project!
Have we lost our minds, another project? The last thing my husband and I needed is another massive project, but we couldn't resist this one! This is our 1958 GMC school bus that we are converting into a skoolie!
Another Project, Why?!
We have dreamed of having a glampground for many years and now that we have a place to do it and one rental for guests already, it was only natural to start looking for a second rental unit. We feel in love with this old bus, the price was in our range, and the location was to not too far. Perfect, right?
Dreaming of the Possibilities
The more we thought about the bus, the more ideas we dreamed up. By the time we left our house to go pick up the bus, 200 miles away in Oregon, we decided that the bus should become a mobile rental.
This magical bus is a fabulous foundation for a traveling skoolie rental. By utilizing all the excellent campgrounds around us in Humboldt County, we can offer the bus for vacation stays at different locations. It will be parked at the campground and set up for guest arrival. By moving the bus to different locations, we are able to rent out Idiom’s Retreat as a private glampground to groups who prefer privacy, while also allowing us to bring the skoolie to Idiom’s Retreat for group stays.
This bad ass bus will be traveling the beaches in Humbolt County and frequenting Idiom's Retreat, our family property in Trinidad, Ca, where it will be available for fantasy glamping stays!” Ahh, the dream is clear!
Off to a Bumpy Start
We are super excited to get this conversion started but the process of getting the bus home has already been quite the adventure! We went to Oregon, family in tow, to pick up our bus. Got a hotel room for the weekend so we could prepare the bus for our drive home.
We needed to put new tires on the bus before driving home. This was a known fact and we had made all the necessary arrangements before heading off to Oregon. Or at least we thought we made all the arrangements!
So, the bus has split rims. The gentleman who sold us the bus warned us the the rims were old and would likely be an issue when replacing the tires. Doing my due diligence, I made sure to find a tire shop that was willing to handle my needs. I ordered 6 new tires and had them ready and waiting for me when we arrived in Oregon.
Immediately after buying the bus, we drove it to the tire shop and headed off to the hotel to check in. Shortly after, we received a call from the tire shop. “We work on split rims”, he says, “but not these ones. These are called widowmakers and no one in town will change these tires for you”.
Now, we have 6 new tires an no way to get them on the bus but we need them to drive home. Answer - start posting help ads in social media and local listing boards looking for someone who can change the tires. With the power of positive thinking, we found a man who works on widow makers! Woohoo!
Heading Towards Home
Although we found a person to help us with the tires, we had to drive half way home to get to him. No problem. We threw the tires in the bus, packed up the family in our minivan and set off towards home…really slowly…really really slowly! So we knew the bus was going to be slow going up hills but we did not expect it to crawl, literally! We set off down the freeway, reaching a top speed of 45 miles per hour and doing 10 to 15 miles per hour on the hills. People were honking, truckers hated us, and all we could do is wave sorry as our old hippie bus chugged up the road.
Oh Shit, That’s Fire
We managed to make it a whopping 40 miles into our drive, stopping about every 10 miles to adjust something else under to hood before the engine caught on fire. Lucky for us, we were already pulled over when the fire started so my husband put it out quickly. And, we were pulled over in a very wide turnoff on the side of the road that was perfectly safe for spending the night.
Camping on the Roadside
We were stuck on the side of the road, with our 3 kids, dog, broken old bus, and our minivan. We piled in the minivan and headed back into town to get some supplies. A few cheap air mattresses and some things to keep the kids happy and we were set.
I pulled the seats out of the minivan to make a “tent” our 2 older kids, and filled up a mattress in the bus for my husband and I to share with our youngest.
Keeping a positive attitude and embracing the breakdown as part of our adventure, we camped in the side of the road for 30 hours while I put together a plan to get us home with our broken bus!
RCM Classic Cars to the Rescue
Luckily an awesome man, Bob, from RCM Classic Cars came to our rescue! He was willing to fix our bus and he had room to store it at his shop. Not only was he the only person within a 50 miles radius that was willing to help us, it turns out he was the perfect person! Bob, before opening his own classic car shop, worked on tour bus conversions.
What Happened to that Engine?
Although when we bought the bus, we were not expecting to have buy an engine, it did not take long before the inevitable was apparent. Would we have bought the bus if we knew it needed an engine? Probably not. But, now that we have, are we upset or discouraged? No. Even though it is money that we did not want to spend, ultimately, a new engine means the bus will be more road worthy and ready for longer journeys.
With the help of a some great friends, we were able to get a rebuilt 454 big block. Bob found us a transmission to match it and we were ready to go. Or so we thought…. Turns out, after having the engine pulled from a truck, crated, shipped to Bob, and inspected, the engine is trashed! A vengeful woman had poured something inside of it because she was upset with her man. What?!
Making it Right
Remember I said, they were good friends? One is such an awesome person that he got us another engine and drove it from Southern California to RCM Classic Cars in Oregon. The 2 guys worked out a payment plan between them to cover the cost so that we did not have to pay anything else since the first engine cost us $3000 to buy and ship. To our friends Robert and Tadd, you 2 are amazing guys and we appreciate you so very much!
The Bus is Finally Getting Fixed!
After more than 2 months of gathering and preparing the proper parts, our bus repairs are underway. When we pick up our bus it will have all new wiring, a new motor and transmission, and a new radiator. All for the low cost of our entire budget that we set aside for the skoolie conversion! Basically we are over budget by $10,000+ and we still have an empty bus! Hey at least she will run great and be ready for the road. She’s expensive but it will all be worth it when we are done!
Dreams of a Beach Woody Skoolie
This is gonna be one bad ass bus when she's finished! We are adding wood paneling to the outside to make it look like and old beach woody. It is getting a surfboard upper deck for rooftop shinanigans, and rear deck with outdoor shower, chill area with overside bean bag and hammock, and so much more! It will be a show piece of wheels that is available for fantasy vacation stays.
P.S. - If you happen to know where I can get white wall tires for our bus send me a message, please.
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