How do you remove a handicap lift from a bus?

In today’s article, we will answer the following question: How do you remove a handicap lift from a bus? We will also review various steps of building a Skoolie and discuss how easy the entire process is. 

How do you remove a handicap lift from a bus?

To remove a handicap lift from a bus follow just three simple steps:

  1. The first step in removing a handicap lift from a bus is to identify and remove the bolts holding the wheelchair lift to the floor of the bus.  
  1. In most buses, there are two main wires supplying power to the lift. A hot wire (red) and a ground wire (black) – you have to remove them both. After finding them, you have to carefully disconnect the wires from the lift and take them back down through the bottom of the bus. 
  1. After disconnecting all the wires from the lift you will be able to remove the handicap lift from the bus. Carefully because they are heavy so you may need extra hands at this stage of building your Skoolie!

Why do buses have a handicap lift?

By law, all commercial buses must be fitted with a handicap lift. A wheelchair lift, also known as a platform lift, handicap lift, or vertical platform lift is a fully motorized device designed to lift a wheelchair and its occupant in order to overcome a step or similar vertical barrier.

An indoor vertical platform lift works much like a lift that is installed inside an elevator or shaft. Although the installation of a vertical platform lift is similar to that of an elevator, it is much less expensive. Some models offer options to finish a vertical lift platform to make it function more like a home lift.

An outdoor vertical deck may include factory-built enclosures that protect the user from the weather and keep them dry. The enclosure acts as a hole within the unit with gates or doors that are added at the entrance or exit.

Low-floor transit vehicles (buses, trams, light rail cars), equipped with ramps or bridge plates instead of elevators, later became more common than lifts for heavy-duty transit vehicles, while handicap lifts continue to be used in paratransit vehicles.

Is it legal to remove a handicap lift from a bus?

Yes, it is legal to remove a handicap lift from a bus as long as you own the bus and your intention is to convert it to a recreational vehicle. 

Don’t know how to register your Skoolie as an RV? Here is a concise summary of all the steps you will need to follow in order to have a converted bus approved in the US:

  1. Apply to the manufacturer for authorization to decommission the vehicle;
  2. Make a plan of the layout of the vehicle, noting everything that will be changed in the specifications;
  3. Carry out work on the bus to standards by following the steps of approval;
  4. Present the vehicle to an approved inspection body: they will check all gas-related installations, electrical installations, ventilation, and heating in order to obtain the certificate required for the file;
  5. Weigh the vehicle with all the fittings, the water tanks, the full tank of diesel, the driver in 3 steps, the front axle, the rear axle, and both axles at the same time in order to obtain another certificate required for the file;
  6. Submit the complete file to the prefecture, attach all the documents and wait to be summoned by the mining department. The mining engineer performs several checks, then declares the vehicle compliant with a report. This report is itself transmitted to the Prefecture;
  7. Apply for a vehicle registration certificate for the approved vehicle.

Should I remove the handicap lift before or after gutting the bus?

Gutting the bus should be done before removing the handicap lift, before doing any other change to the bus, really. To gut a school bus you must pull out its windows, the side panels, the floor, the roof, the front lights, basically everything to the exterior sheet metal. 

Gutting is the first step in any school bus conversion and it is an essential step. You must gut the school bus to find if there are any issues (like mould or rust) especially with a second-hand bus. 

What is next in bus conversion after removing the handicap lift?

The next step after removing the handicap lift from your bus (considering that you have already gutted the bus) will depend, more or less, on your plan. What exactly do you have in mind for your bus? 

During their transformation into a reactionary vehicle, it is often necessary to renovate the bus, both mechanically and in terms of bodywork. Smoky engine, rusty bodywork, these obstacles do not discourage the adventurers of transformation.

Insulation, heating, partitioning, installation of sanitary facilities, fitting out of a bathroom, a kitchen, laying of beds, water management (clean/dirty), electrical connections …: the fitting out requires knowledge in many trades. These arrangements must meet certain standards for the vehicle to be approved.

To help you establish a timeline, here are the basic steps that must be taken successfully to convert a bus: 

  1. Disassembly: After the acquisition, the first step is to dismantle the interior of the vehicle. Exit the seats, only those necessary are kept. Depending on the vehicle, the other interior components are also removed: luggage racks, handrails, etc.
  1. Renovation: During their transformation, it is often necessary to renovate the vehicle, both mechanically and in terms of bodywork. Smoky engine, rusty bodywork, these obstacles do not discourage the adventurers of transformation.
  1. Installation: Insulation, heating, partitioning, installation of sanitary facilities, fitting out of a bathroom, a kitchen, laying of beds, water management (clean/dirty), electrical connections …: the fitting out requires knowledge in many trades. These arrangements must meet certain standards for the vehicle to be approved.

The bottom line

For all those who are passionate about travel, a Skoolie offers a way to always be on the go without sacrificing the comforts that a home offers. School buses are also a blank canvas – once the seats are removed the possibilities are endless. The design will depend on the number of people that will be accommodated on the bus, as well as their lifestyle and needs.

As a final piece of advice, make sure you get help when removing a handicapped lift from a bus. While disconnecting them is no rocket science, what we can tell you is that they are heavy! 

If you need visual support in the process of removing handicap lift from a bus, click here & here

Please feel free to get in contact if you have any questions or comments on the content. 

FAQ on How do you remove a handicap lift from a bus?

Are Skoolies a good investment?

Skoolies are a good investment as long as you are willing to commit to the conversion process and are ready financially speaking. A Skoolie can become a great RV or even a more permanent home. 

How much is a Skoolie worth?

A Skoolie is worth $20,000 to $30,000 for the initial build-out. Depending on the number of amenities and modifications that you are going to make, the worth of your Skoolie will increase significantly. 

Is a Skoolie considered an RV?

Yes, A Skoolie is considered an RV. They have become popular recently and are nothing more than converted school buses. They are spacious and offer plenty of room to decorate and furnish as you may please. 

How do you gut a school bus?

To gut a school bus you must pull out its windows, the side panels, the floor, the roof, the front lights, basically everything to the exterior sheet metal. 

How long does it take to build a Skoolie?

Building a Skoolie can take anywhere from a few months to a few years, depending on your level of training, the time you have, whether you will have help or not, and of course, your resources.

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