Perhaps the biggest downside to picking a skoolie as your new home is that unlike many of the other options, the school bus requires a lot of demolition before you can start building in there. With a cargo van like a Sprinter or Promaster, you…
We have officially started the journey. It has shifted into reality from the realm of dreams. I am happy to introduce you all to sweet Bea, the treehouse.
We bought her from a fellow in Denver who owns a shop called Colorado Custom Coachworks and has lived in a full-size school bus with his wife and little one for years now. We got what we hope is a good deal on her, though she’s giving us a bit of trouble already.
We took her to a mechanic for a pre-purchase inspection. The guy had good reviews and was very friendly when we spoke to him. We were feeling good. It took a week for him to get around to looking at her, but we waited because we were sure this was the guy to do it.
The day of the inspection we heard from the seller but not the mechanic. The next morning I called early to talk to them and they asked me for payment without any conversation on the quality of the vehicle. I had to request to speak with the mechanic about his findings.
He finally got on the phone and told us that she needed new rear shocks (probably about $400) and an $8 piece of plastic to cover one of the safety lights. That was the full report. If only it were accurate!
He also applied his own pressure to us by asking what we were offering for it and saying that one of the guys at his shop was thinking about making an offer if we didn’t. I was not a huge fan of that.
Well, after that great bill of health, we made an offer only a little below asking and she was ours. We brought her home, drank some champagne, drove her around the block a few times, and relished in the first steps of our new journey.
Then we had to take her to get her emissions test. As you might expect based on the foreshadowing above, she did not pass the emissions test. Her check engine light was on, which I didn’t realize was an automatic failure, and she exceeded the allowable opacity in the 40 MPH test. Shit.
We took her into the shop to get the check engine light looked at. They put a new vacuum pump in her for about $450. Unfortunately, that also did not do the trick. She was looking good until we drove her home. That dang light popped on the second we got on the highway.
The next step in the operation is to replace the wastegate actuator on the turbo. Unfortunately, this is a discontinued part. With the malfunctioning part no longer available from GM, the next move is to replace the entire turbo, a process that runs over $2000 in parts alone. Shitshitshit.
But the gods smiled on us that day (knock on wood). We found the part on ebay. One wastegate actuator for a 2001 Chevy 3500 Express. Only $28.
So, we’re in it. Things are happening. Wish us luck on this part and the repair. We can’t wait to get her in good shape so that we register her and start getting into the actual conversion.
The takeaway here: be forward in your questions when buying a vehicle, even if it isn’t your wheelhouse. I know I am always nervous in those situations to ask a lot of questions about things I don’t really understand. But if Bea needs a new turbo I am going to feel really stupid for not figuring it out before we paid almost asking price for her.
And here we are in our natural celebratory elements: Ayana cutting a rug and me guzzling champagne