How wide is the inside of a Skoolie? (how to choose)

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: How wide is the inside of a Skoolie? We will explain the different types of school buses are and present to you their size. We will also discuss how heavy a school bus is, and how to choose the perfect vehicles to convert into a Skoolie. 

How wide is the inside of a Skoolie?

Generally, the interior of a Skoolie is 7.5 feet wide. In the United States and Canada, bus bodies are restricted to a maximum width of 102 inches (2.59 m) and a maximum length of 45 feet (13.7 m). 

Still, because there are several types of school buses, it is best to always use a simple equation to find how wide your Skoolie is:

[number of windows] x 2.5 x 7.5 = X sq ft

For example, if a bus has 7 windows: 7 x 2.2 x 7.5 = 115.5 sq ft. 

How many sizes of Skoolies exist?

There are four popular types of school buses used for conversion: 

  1. Smaller school buses are designated Type A (based on sectioned van chassis); 
  2. A larger format (with the body on a bare front-engine chassis) are designated as Type B buses. 
  3. Large school buses include the Type C (with the body on medium-duty truck chassis with hood) 
  4. And Type D (with the body on bare “front control” or “pusher” chassis). 

School buses types and sizes

Bus TypeType AType BType CType D
Weight10,000 pounds10,000 -26,500 pounds18,000-35,000 pounds27,800-37,000 pounds
Height9.1 ft10.3 ft9.9-10.4 ft9.9-10.4 ft
Width93 inches93 inches93-96 inches93-96 inches
Wheelbase138 inches138-254 inches149.6-276 inches136-276 inches
Turning Radius25 ft20.3-39.2 ft23-38 ft21.3-34.2 ft
Length13 to 17.5 ft10.8-21.7 ft20.9-38.9 ft27.3-39.11 ft

How heavy is a Skoolie?

A school bus weighs on average 12,9 tons. How heavy a school bus is, depends on the class or type of school bus it is. As School Transportation News points out, buses range from Type A, the smallest that carries fewer passengers, to Type D, the largest bus, which carries the most passengers. 

Skoolies weigh 

Class or type of school busWeight in tons
A1Less than 5 tons
A2Around 7 tons
BBetween 7 and 9 tons
CBetween 11 and 15 tons
DBetween 12.5 and 17.5 tons

How long is a Skoolie?

  • Body length 23 ft (7 m). 
  • Overall with front 28 ft (8.5 m). 
  • Interior height 73 in (1.85 m). 
  • 8 rows of benches.

Important requirements regarding the size of a Skoolie

No matter the size of the school bus you are choosing, to transform such a heavy vehicle into a motorhome, for personal use, it must have enough space for the following amenities:

  • A kitchen including stove, refrigerator, counter, sink and table. 
  • A place to sleep including a sofa bed or a bed. 
  • A complete bathroom including a permanent shower and toilet connected to a drainage network. 
  • An electric power supply system independent of the vehicle engine. A propane gas supply system with compliant installation certification. 
  • A drinking water tank. A tank for wastewater. 
  • A water heater. A heating system independent of the vehicle engine system. 
  • A minimum of two seats with seatbelts. A number of seats with safety belts greater than or equivalent to the number of sleeping places (maximum of nine).

Which bus to choose for a conversion?

Let’s start with the numbers. A new bus costs over $ 100,000. Ouch! On the other hand, the good news is that after 12 years school buses are no longer allowed to take care of school transport and their price drops drastically. They can be found for less than $ 7,000. 

At this price point, it’s worth investing in conversion rather than buying an RV (recreational vehicle). And it’s so much more fun too! In short, the 2005-2006 buses are therefore within our reach! But we can never repeat it enough: be careful not to buy just any bus!

  • Do you want a manual or automatic transmission? You should know that from the 2000s, automatic transmissions were the norm. But we can still find manual transmissions, often cheaper. Don’t jump at the chance too quickly – these are dual-clutch transmissions, like trucks. In other words, for novices, it is not necessarily a good plan. You will need a lot more practice to master it.

Most school buses are equipped with an Alison brand automatic transmission, a brand known to be reliable and available for parts and service around the world. 

  • Also, you have to ask yourself the question of brakes: do you want hydraulic brakes (like on cars) or pneumatic brakes (like on trucks, city buses and coaches)?

Air brakes have the advantage of providing better braking quality but engage with a half-second delay compared to hydraulic brakes. In this case, plan to increase the safety distances.

Despite this point, we have a preference for hydraulic brakes: They are easier to maintain and check. Not to mention that they offer better resistance to cold than tires. In an area where snow and ice cover the ground for 6 months, this is no small detail.

  • Another important point: the engine! You should also know that diesel engines are the norm, it is rarer to find gasoline engines. And LPG or GPL (propane) will cost you a fortune for a road trip and you can’t find it everywhere! The advantage of diesel is that it is always found everywhere, even in remote corners since it is the fuel for trucks … 
  • When choosing your bus, it is essential to check the condition of the wheels and tires. If you have to change the tires, it’s a budget to plan, count at least $ 600 per tire … Or at least $ 3,600 to replace everything. Ouch!

Check the depth of the tread grooves, the tire sidewall, the condition of the valves, etc. If there is rust on the wheel bolts it is not a good sign, it is that they are loose. Also, check that the hub is not leaking and that the tire does not touch any fixed part of the vehicle.

Note: the rear wheels are dual wheels so 4 rear wheels and not 2.

  • If you don’t want to mortgage your bus: check the vehicle’s suspension, it costs a fortune to repair and it’s absolutely not worth the cost on a 12-year-old vehicle …

There are two types of suspensions on yellow buses: Air suspension which is by far the most comfortable, but which requires more maintenance (compressor, balloons, etc.). We, therefore, have a preference for the leaf suspension which is often stronger and requires less maintenance: The blades can be replaced.

  • Last but not least: RUST! From the words of all the transport professionals we have consulted, rust is by far the biggest problem on buses. So if you visit a bus and it has a lot of rust, run away! 

Rust attacks the chassis and this is the only part that cannot be replaced. It really is the backbone of the bus. If the chassis breaks, it’s the end of your bus! So put on your overalls and really take a look under the bus for the inspection.

In school buses 12 years and older, it’s going to be difficult to find a completely rust-free model. Our task will be to determine whether this is surface rust, benign and catch-up, or rust that has already started to eat away at the structure.

A small trick shared by a pro to avoid rust: oil! You must constantly lubricate the underside of your bus with WD40. You are welcome!

Conclusions 

When choosing a bus to convert it to a Skoolie, you must consider how many people are going to live in it, what amenities you want to add (kitchen, bathroom, beds, etc), but also you must consider how wide the bus is. A bigger bus is not always the best choice, as it can be more expensive and very hard to find a spot to park it. 

Please let us know if you have any questions or comments on the content. 

FAQ on How wide is the inside of a Skoolie?

How heavy is a school bus in tons?

A school bus weighs on average 12,9 tons. How heavy a school bus is, depends on the class or type of school bus it is. As School Transportation News points out, buses range from Type A, the smallest that carries fewer passengers, to Type D, the largest bus.

Are Skoolies allowed in RV parks?

Yes, Skoolies are allowed in most RV parks. Some campsites, however, don’t allow Skoolies, creating the temptation to park in a public parking lot instead, but it’s worth the extra distance to find a Skoolie-friendly park!

How big is a school bus gas tank?

A school bus gas tank capacity is usually between 40 and 100 gallons, depending on the type of Skoolie you are driving, but also on what type of fuel you are using. 

Are Skoolies worth it?

For many people, Skoolies are totally worth it. 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.

What is the standard width of an RV?

The standard width of an RV is around 2 meters wide. While most RVs are 2.35 meters wide, many manufacturers are starting to produce motorhomes with a lower width, which can range between 2.1 and 2.2 meters. 

References