RV Bus Conversions are among the smallest of the RV types. They can be multimillion dollar Prevost factory conversions, to re-purposed passenger buses, to even the lowly school bus. All are included in the RV Bus Conversions group. My friend Nick Russell, who with his wife Terry converted a MCI bus and toured in it for many years, wrote a piece for this page that will give you a flavor of it.
Is an RV Bus Conversion Right for You? by Nick Russell
New RV shoppers have a lot of choices when it comes to finding the perfect RV for their needs, and the search can be frustrating because, as any experienced fulltimer can tell you, there is no such animal. Every type of RV, from truck campers to fifth wheel trailers to diesel motorhomes have their advantages and disadvantages, and there is no one size fits all.
One often overlooked choice is a bus conversion. Built on commercial bus shells, buses offer certain major advantages over most production motorhomes. They are designed to go a million miles or more with regular maintenance, they are built to carry passengers in commercial service so many safety features are built in to them, and their payload capacity is much more than standard motorhomes, which are often close to being overweight by the time you fuel them and fill the fresh water holding tank. The diesel engines on these buses, designed to carry 40 or 50 passengers and all of their baggage, are more than capable of hauling two people and their traveling home with no strain at all.
But who can afford one? Don’t buses cost a small fortune? Not necessarily. There are a couple of options if you decide a bus is right for you; you can purchase a professionally converted bus, which are usually built on a Prevost chassis. These are almost always the choice of professional entertainers who must travel tens of thousands of miles a year. A new one can easily set you back $500,000 but prices drop steeply on the used market after a few years.
Many RVers choose to convert their own buses, using everything from a high end Prevost chassis to older GM, Eagle, or MCI shells. These are usually former charter or Greyhound buses that have been replaced when the fleet was upgraded. By shopping carefully, one can find a good bus that will still render many, many years of service for about what you would expect to pay for the down payment on a new gasoline powered motorhome. When we began looking at buses seriously, we were surprised to learn that there are a lot of very good running, structurally sound older buses on the market that can be had for very reasonable prices.
While a 25 year old motorhome would be long past ready for the scrap yard, we have seen many bus conversions dating from the early 1960s and even the 1950s still going strong. These machines are built to last forever it seems.
Converting a bus can be an intimidating project, and having a place to work on it and some basic carpentry, electrical, and plumbing skills is necessary. But the end result can be very rewarding – a coach specifically designed for your needs, not a cookie cutter unit full of compromises to satisfying the general public.
This article was reproduced here by permission of Nick Russell.
Here is a link to the Bus Nut Online website with a wealth of information for anyone interested in converting a bus.