Bus Dreams

Its quite a funny story how I wound up buying a 1955 International school bus. It involves many long miles traveling with three people and two dogs from Arizona to Montana via National Parks. It was a brilliant summer family adventure and I loved every minute of it. Except, we did this in a 1986 Ford Pickup, extended cab, literally truck camping across the country, and by day 10 I was feeling pretty claustrophobic. I am pretty sure this is where the bus dreams started. We would see other bus conversions and start talking about owning our own home on wheels. We got so excited and in depth that I am sure, as a family, we manifested this.

As soon as I arrived in Montana, I started searching craigslist, "ya know, just to price things out and see whats available." Wouldn't you know, I found Norma Wanderlust on my first search of craigslist. I instantly fell in love with her, and all her dilapidated glory, and I hadn't even even seen her in person yet. I just felt this odd connection immediately, kinda like the one I get when I find a lost puppy and feel the need to rescue it. I saw Norma all abandoned in a cold and rainy forest, busted up and left for dead and I just wanted to save her.

By the way, all the credit for these images contained here on this lens is mine.

Dilapidated Old School Bus

The Original Craigslist Pictures

1955 School Bus ~ She looks like she is smiling and waiving

Vintage School Bus A beautiful piece of history

Inside of the bus conversion ~ Someone actually lived in here

Beautiful Snowflake skylight in the bus. Its like a charming little log cabin in here.

Old sink. Its huge and heavy.

The loft ~ or the view from front to back.

Whats Your Initial Thought On The Above Pictures?

Just wondering how many people think I am crazy...

What is your initial thoughts on the above pictures of the bus

  Show the poll results
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  • herbclark Mar 28, 2014 @ 12:52 pm
    Does it run?
  • StephenJParkin Mar 28, 2014 @ 7:28 am
    My initial reaction is what an enormous liability you were taking on!
  • Aladdins-Cave Nov 04, 2013 @ 2:34 am
    Your my type of mad. I drove a IH 4x4 from Melbourne Australia to Germany. It was smaller than your bus, but was great.

Some Books That Are Going To Be Helpful

My Current Wishlist

Building up my bus book library is starting to get expensive...these are the books that are currently on my list.

Restoring Norma: Our 1955 Skoolie Conversion

Follow the blog to see the latest updates!

I created a blog for Norma and her progress. I imagine it is going to involve into something bigger once she actually hits the road. Follow to keep up with our adventures. There will definitely be more to the story before we hit the road.

Steps To Make A School Bus Conversion Roadworthy

I don't even know where to start...

Well first we had to move the bus which was quite a daunting task. This is where the tears and near death experiences that I mentioned earlier come into play. I wrote about the story on Norma’s blog.

Once we got her home, we just wanted to make sure she was gonna run. Matt took to figuring out the engine, while I took to tearing out the insides for a remodel. I salvaged most everything, so it sounds much worse than it actually is. We will be re-purposing almost everything we took out of her in one way or anther, so as to keep her charm and memories alive.

Good news is she does run. Bad news is, she is not so good at stopping. So at the moment, we are at a stumped stand still as to how to continue. Apparently there may be something wrong with the master cylinder. I am tempted to just completely replace them. That is if we can find the parts.
**UPDATE: The Rear wheel cylinder has to be replaced. It took almost 2 weeks of searching, but we finally found the part.

Oh yea, as for sealing her up, the windshield glass should be done next week sometime. The rest of the poor broken out windows are just gonna have to suffice with being boarded up for the time being.

***UPDATE: We got glass! Norma finally has a shiny new windshield and we are now much closer to being able to register her!

The finishing touches will be making the inside suitable to be classed as an RV conversion so that we can register and insure her. Then she can hit the road.

Documenting Progress On The Bus

Its not as easy as it looks....

Assessing the way out

International R180

Me and Norma~ The very first meeting

Smile and wave

Wood panels reveal gross insulation.

That is gonna be replaced

Dexter loves helping me

Making space to walk in

Hard at work planning out the shell

So Whatchya Gonna Do With That Thing?

Seriously, I dont know how many times I have said this in the past several months as a new bus owner, but when looking for anything related to the bus, in any topic of conversation, I get the question. Its entertaining at least, because of the varied reactions I have gotten so far, but that mostly from my small town folk friends, so I am just gonna let that slide by.

Are You Bus Enthusiast too?

Leave me a comment I would love to hear your stories

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  • Spirality Apr 24, 2014 @ 7:28 pm
    It has great head height. Cool project.
  • flinnie Apr 15, 2014 @ 4:44 am
    I so want your dream bus to come alive. I would love to have one of my own. Wishing you all the luck in the world.
  • FreshStart7 Apr 14, 2014 @ 8:58 pm
    I am dying to see the finished product!
  • Tahli0 Apr 06, 2014 @ 6:49 am
    The magic school bus :D
  • blue22d Apr 01, 2014 @ 11:44 pm
    Great idea and great lens. Enjoyed my visit.
  • Joie Apr 01, 2014 @ 10:17 pm
    Sorry, no. But it'll be very interesting to see how everything works out!
  • Arachnea Mar 31, 2014 @ 5:48 pm
    though i'm not a "bus" enthusiast, i enjoyed following your project's story. great lens and congrats on lotd.
  • niclacoste Mar 31, 2014 @ 1:46 am
    Wow that truck reminds me of the movie Into the Wild, what a cool story!
  • DebMartin Mar 30, 2014 @ 7:12 pm
    This is an amazing project. I just don't know enough about engines to attach my home to one. I can get into pulling a home but not brave enough to actually attach it to the engine I'm dependent on. I love your energy and enthusiasm. And, of course, as a boomer, I've just got to love an old bus!
  • d-artist Mar 29, 2014 @ 5:51 pm
    Congratulations on LOTD! What an interesting project! Since I watch the shows on flipping or restoring vehicles, I can see there is a lot to it...oh and the money. I like the patina on the bus, it gives it even more character.
  • ibidii Mar 29, 2014 @ 3:42 pm
    Congrats on LotD! Great lens on a cool Bus! I would love to see how Norma looks when you are all done! :)
  • KathyT Mar 29, 2014 @ 9:50 am
    I think that this is an awesome project! You have me yearning for a road trip now. Wonderful! Congrats on LotD, and I hope you get Norma up & running soon!
  • lazywrites Mar 28, 2014 @ 11:36 pm
    She's a real beauty... I've always wanted to live on the road and have my own RV but that's next to impossible here in my country. Very good lens, I'm excited to see her transformation. Btw, my mom's name is Norma too and was born three years ahead of your baby- that's a cute coincidence :)
  • Sir_Daniel_UK Mar 28, 2014 @ 4:31 pm
    I've only ever seen these old buses in American movies. I reckon De Niro drove one in 'A Bronx Tale'.

    Really good lens, this. Loved it.

    Oh and please don't pimp that bus too much; restore to original where possible. Want lose its character then.
  • blackflamingo777 Mar 28, 2014 @ 4:24 pm
    This is such a wonderful project! My mom dreamed of renovating an RV and hitting the road full time for as long as I can remember. Now, I can't wait to get my hands on one. I will be stalking your progress with this beauty! For some reason, the first thing that came to mind when on saw your bus was 'The Magic Schoolbus' which is a good sign I think. Congrats on getting LotD!
  • Mar 28, 2014 @ 3:30 pm
    Very cool project. I'm wondering if you could convert a bus that old to natural gas. I know, one more BIG thing to do but I'll bet you could get the $$$$ through crowdfunding. It would legitimately have real positive environmental impact and possibly become a template for others. Just a random thought. Congratulations on getting the Purple Star and LotD!
  • DeniseMcGill Mar 28, 2014 @ 2:49 pm
    My hubby and I have often dreamed of hitting the road but just haven't the gumption to do it. What we need is an old bus... haha. This looks loads of fun and heartache. Hopefully more of the former than the latter. Congrats on Lens of the Day.
  • campingman Mar 28, 2014 @ 1:56 pm
    You just gotta love a project. Good luck and congratulations on being awarded the Purple Star and Lens of the Day. Cheers
  • GoldenRod Mar 28, 2014 @ 12:57 pm
    Love the wood inside. Great reading adventure, and good luck to you. Thanks for sharing.
  • RinchenChodron Mar 28, 2014 @ 12:16 pm
    Well I do love to camp and sleep in a Bed! I have a 1986 Toyota panel van with a bed in it. No "facilities" tho. I love her - she's also good on gas. I am proud of you for taking on Norma and wish you lots of fun adventures.
  • thegembank Mar 28, 2014 @ 11:21 am
    you seems so happy... so i feel you made a good decision. congrats on lens of the day!
  • partybuzz Mar 28, 2014 @ 10:09 am
    Thanks for sharing this interesting story! Great job restoring the bus. Congratulations on LotD!
  • grammieo Mar 28, 2014 @ 9:58 am
    Hey there, glad to see this lens make LoTD! I liked it already so can't do that again, but loved going back over the story! Congratulations!
  • OhMe Mar 28, 2014 @ 9:23 am
    What fun. I can't wait to see Norma when she is finished.
  • RenaissanceWoman2010 Mar 28, 2014 @ 9:02 am
    Since I'm known as the "Do or Di" DIY gal, I would be right there helping you and Norma. She deserves to live and have some awesome adventures. It's fun to imagine the possibilities. Wishing you all the very best as you restore her vitality. Congrats on Lens of the Day!
  • StephenJParkin Mar 28, 2014 @ 7:39 am
    I think you are crazy, but if you have the know how and determination only you know if it is worth it in the end! The bus is unique and modern ones are unlikely to survive everything that Norma has been through. Think of all the things she will have done in her life time and all of the people she has carried and protected in her time! Great LOTD and I for one want to see what you make her look like in her full glory again.
  • esmonaco Mar 28, 2014 @ 5:08 am
    Congratulations on LOTD and a huge project, looks like a lot of work but fun to be creative :)
  • RubyHRose Mar 28, 2014 @ 12:33 am
    Oh yea, congrats on Lotd, getting a purple star too, fun, creative read.
  • RubyHRose Mar 28, 2014 @ 12:30 am
    We haven't a bus but a cool old van that I'd like to do the same thing with. Lots of work you are doing, it will be so worth it, I am sure.
  • Aladdins-Cave Nov 04, 2013 @ 2:37 am
    mmmmmm. I wanted to know more. Don't want to go to blog. Bummer.
    Cheers from DOWNUNDER
  • WriterJanis Oct 08, 2013 @ 3:45 pm
    What a fun and interesting project.
  • grammieo Oct 05, 2013 @ 3:36 pm
    I don't know where I would put a Bus, so that is not on my list, but I have an old vette 1985 and she needs restoring, so I'm working on that! In the meantime, I'm lucky she's certified for driving still........
  • WendyArt Oct 05, 2013 @ 3:02 pm
    Cool idea, not a bus enthusiast but love the idea of restoring this wonderful historical piece. Good luck with it.

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