How to Convert a Bluebird School Bus to a Camperby David Weedmark
Converting a school bus to a camper is a great project for those who like to roam the open road. This is a time-consuming project, so plan your work well. Concentrate on the basics first, like framing the walls and painting. Then you will be able to use the camper as you work on improving your design. You will have to paint the bus another color besides yellow. In most states, yellow is reserved only for active school buses. You will not be able to register a yellow bus.
Wash the exterior of the bus with a pressure washer. Remove all trim, lights and reflectors.
Select a color for your bus and paint it using exterior oil-based, enamel paint. You can apply the paint with a sprayer, or with brushes and rollers.
Replace the trim, lights and reflectors once the paint is dry.
Cut the bolts securing the seats to the floor using a cutting blade on an electric hand grinder, while wearing a respirator.
Measure the inside dimensions of the bus. Then draw a floor plan to scale on a piece of paper, showing the layout you want for your new camper, such as kitchen, bathroom and sleeping areas.
Clean the inside of the windows with rubbing alcohol. Paint any windows you do not want to use with black paint. Once the paint has dried, seal the windows with silicone caulk and a caulking gun.
Framing the Walls
Cut lengths of furring strips with a table saw to frame the walls between the windows. Secure the wood to the metal using self-drilling screws and a cordless drill
Cut pieces of 1-inch rigid insulation foam to fit between furring strips to cover the walls around the windows and to cover any windows painted black. Glue the foam in place to the metal walls using construction adhesive and a caulking gun.
Cut lengths of 2-by-4's to frame the interior walls of the camper according to your designs. Use wood screws to screw wood to wood, and self-drilling screws to screw the wood to the metal floors and ceiling.
Install cabinets, beds, tables, or other furniture in the camper by securing them to the floor and walls using self-drilling screws.
Seal all joints using silicone caulk and a caulking gun, particularly on the ceiling of the bus to prevent rain from seeping into the camper.
Cover the walls with wood paneling by measuring each piece carefully and cutting them to size with a table saw. Nail the panels to the 2-by-4's and furring strips using finishing nails.
Cover windows with blinds or curtains to provide privacy in the camper.
- "Rolling Homes: Handmade Houses on Wheels"; Jane Lidz; 1979
- Steampunk Workshop: A Victorian RV
- VonSlatt.com: School Bus Conversion Project
Things You'll Need
- Pressure washer
- Electric hand grinder
- Rubbing alcohol
- Table saw
- Furring strips
- Polyurethane construction adhesive
- Silicone caulk
- Caulking gun
- Rigid foam insulation
- Self-drilling screws
- Wood screws
- Cordless drill
- Wood paneling
- Finishing nails
A published author and professional speaker, David Weedmark has advised businesses and governments on technology, media and marketing for more than 20 years. He has taught computer science at Algonquin College, has started three successful businesses, and has written hundreds of articles for newspapers and magazines throughout Canada and the United States.