Kozy Kountry Koach
Here she is in Ohio, old #8, waiting for Greg to bring her home. She also received a complete inspection before she left the school yard. The state showed up unannounced for inspection and since she was still labeled as part of their fleet, she got the once over too. Not to mention that Greg was under the bus, in the bus, under the hood, looked through maintenance records, and spent time chatting with the mechanics.
Driver's area.  All of the switches and buttons work.  She drives soooo smooth..
All 25 seats still in place.
Come on in and put your feet up, get comfortable......we love to tell the story of our new home away from home.  She started many years back as a "someday", a dream of Frank's....something he was going to do.... someday.  We currently have a small bus, 17 ft., that has been rennovated several times and has served us quite well as we wandered the campgrounds in central and southern Illinois.  In fact Kim has become quite attached to the old girl and just couldn't imagine pulling into a campground without her.  However, this past winter, Frank decided to take the big step and start looking for a big bus.... his grand finale.  For over a year, Frank had been a silent member of a Yahoo group, better known as the    SCHOOLBUSconversioNUTS. (http://autos.groups.yahoo.com/group/SCHOOLBUSconversioNUTS/?guid=137644622) Time and time again, the name of a guy and his wife running around the country finding and selling school buses to the likes of us, kept coming up...  Greg and Brenda Archambault.  Greg was highly regarded by nearly everyone that had dealt with him in the past and he definately had the stamp of approval on the Skoolies site... "If Greg sold it, then you can be sure it is okay."  Frank contacted him and Greg immediately took on the mission of finding a bus just right for us.  It did not take him long, and he was sending pictures and writing emails letting us know what was available.  In March of 2006 we became the proud owners of a 1990 Carpenter Coach on a GMC chassis with an 8.2 L turbo charged Detroit Deisel engine (that was a must for Frank) and the Carpenter coach afforded the extra head room a tall guy like Frank needed.  Now, there are a few nasty rumors going around about those Carpenters, but that did not scare us.  We trusted Greg would check this all out, as his stamp of approval came with high marks for knowing just about anything there is to know about school buses, in and out and all around.  Ol'e # 8 was part of a fleet of buses for a school district in Ohio.  She had her last state inspection just a few days prior to our purchase, so if Greg's okay was not enough, it was just extra insurance.   Her welds had been checked and though not one with the problem, were reinforced anyway, her engine boasted low mileage, she ran like a dream, and rode even smoother.  The rest is history in the making.  While sharing the unfolding of a dream, we hope to pass along a few tips of what to do, or maybe in most cases, what not to do.  Maybe we can inspire someone to tap into their creativity and give a conversion a try....    Minimally, we will try to share the adventure.  Check back often as we will try to keep you updated on her progress.  Watch our cash register as we keep a running talley of what we spend.   So, if you are not asleep yet, let the tour begin.....
After the seat removal
We purchased the RV door off Ebay at quite a substantial savings.  Our current bus has a regular storm door, but we really wanted the screendoor as well as the outer door and chose to go with the RV door this time.  We did have to replace the frosted glass in the door with regular glass.  Frank took a piece of sheet metal to fill in the area at the top of the new door. We are not sure yet, but thinking about removing the metal  and putting in a transom.  It will give added visibility and we are not sure that it won't give us more the look we were wanting.  For now, a small piece of sheet metal and some rivets keeps her air and water tight....we will make that decision down the line.
I have heard a fair number of horror stories about getting these seats out.  I have to say it went rather smoothly and completed it in about 12 hours total.  Of course my son helped me so extra hands make light work.  We took a sawsall and cut the seats off and got them out of the way.  We went back and with the help of a 4" grinder, ground the bolts off.  I had been told that sometimes the foam from the seats could be resold, however, I personally did not have anywhere local to recycle that.  The plywood, could be used somewhere down the line and I also kept some of the steel just in case I needed to fabricate something down the line.  The rest I plan to sell at the local junkyard. 
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Frank & Kim Vincent
Mattoon, IL
Covered the front passenger wheel well.  We will mount the co-pilot seat here or otherwise known as the queen's throne.
When it came to the windows, we had many ideas and deciding which to close off, if any, is simply a matter of personal choice.  We think closing off some of the windows and covering them with sheet metal not only changes the exterior look, but does provide for additional privacy.   On the other hand, we do like to be able to look out and view our surroundings.  We covered 12 windows. Now that they are done, Frank is not sure about them.  He is seriously considering covering more.  This too went rather smootly other than the fact we had to use a grinder once again to grind off the bolts.  It was impossible to get ahold of them with anything to unscrew them.  The head was flat so any type of screwdriver was out of the question and because they laid flush with the body, we could not get ahold of them to twist them out.  We used 22g sheet metal.  It slipped up under the rain channel and then it was rivoted in place.  Frank also caulked with a paintable silicone caulk around the sheet metal.  Then out came the windows.  We plan to then put insulation  between the sheet metal  and the interior wall. On the remaining windows we will apply window tinting film for privacy.  All in all it was a productive weekend. One of the guys that works for Frank offered his help this weekend which was a tremendous help.  We will have to be sure to invite him to the campground sometime for homemade ice cream.  He works for the finer things in life.  Time seems to be the hardest commodity to secure.  In addition to that, the bus is currently parked about 14 miles from our home, so it doesn't make it easy to work a little each evening after coming home from work.  For the most part it is strictly a weekend project.    Memorial Day weekend is coming soon and the decision to camp in the "little bus" or work on the new bus is the dilema.  While there is no rush to finish this conversion, there seems to be little time with family obligations and work around the house to work on this project.  There is nothing better than pulling into the campground after a long week.  Next weekend we are out of town for our granddaughter's 2nd birthday and Mother's Day.  You will have to check back to see what we decide.
Please excuse our dust, we are under construction.
A sneak peek at the generator
The first sheet goes on
Izzy hard at work
Looks like I will have enough space to put about 1 1/2" of rigid foam insulation which I think is about equivalent to 3" of fiberglass insulation.  This is the left or the driver's side looking to the front.
We have left two windows in the rear and 4 in the front which will be the living area.
Right side or passenger side looking to the front.
We plan to scrap the windows for the aluminum...every little bit helps.
We sanded off the school name before we shut down on Sunday.
A few comments about the sheet metal.  I purposely had it cut by the supplier, hoping to avoid the somewhat wavy edge on the cut edges.  Not knowing how it was cut for sure, it didn't seem to make a difference.  That required pounding it out to get it as straight as possible.  That is the edge I put up under the rain channel. .I think had I cut it with power sheers I could have avoided some of that.
The signal lights and stop sign are off.  Sheet metal covers the areas.  The mirrors are off and gone to the garage for prep and paint.  We are still waiting on the sheet metal to come so we can remove the windows we want to take out.  Unfotunately we do not live in an area rich with places to purchase some of the supplies, at least not at an affordable price, so we are at the mercy of ordering most of them.  Progress up to now has been a little slow due to weather, Easter, and family obligations.  It gives us time to re-create our design over and over, gather more ideas, and makes it easier on the pocket book as well.  We are in no drastic hurry as this conversion will be just right!
Well, we did go camping for Memorial Day weekend.  Frank even took a few extra days off.  It was time off from the bus, but it was a well deserved weekend of peace and quiet and really we were the king and queen of couch potatoes.  A lot of napping and eating was done by all.  Even one of our granddaughers came out for the night and fell right in with the plan.  She ate like a little piggy and did a fair amount of sleeping herself.  She is 3 going on 30 says grandpa.
This is the installation of the hot water heater.  It is a 10 gal. hot water heater and is being mounted in the far back driver's side corner.  The plan is to have a small closet at the back of the bus for storage that will be easily accessible from the back door.  The wall to the closet will be the back wall of the bedroom.  After spending a few years of shoving things under the bed and not having any organized storage this was a must on this conversion.  As you can see there is a fair amount of insulation already in the walls.  That with what we plan to put in should keep things pretty well insulated.  Frank cut the hole with a sawsall and then of course had to get out his handy grinder to take down a little more around the rail and the bottom.    The side rails had to be taken back a bit to allow for the flange to mount the vent door.    One more thing checked off the list.
Well, it has been awhile since you have heard much out of us.  Don't worry, we have been thinking and spending money as we see some good deals.  Family obligations have kept Frank distracted and there has been little time for work on the bus.  However, after the 4th, he should be able to get back at it on a fairly regular basis.  While it may seem to you, and definately to those of you that have already completed a conversion,  that there is no rhyme or reason to how he is going about things.  What you need to know about Frank is,  he is continously fabricating and re-fabricating plans and things he wants to accomplish and how he is going to do that.  Once he has it pretty much set in his mind, that is what he works on.  That is all of course based on what supplies are at hand.  While he would really like to be finishing up the windows, he is at the mercy of waiting on sheet metal to come in.  We were able to get a fabulous deal on some RV windows, so that has allowed us to do what we really wanted and that was to close off all windows and put in smaller, RV windows.  We are happy about that.  So, one of our unique needs was to find a way to mount the generator on the outside and also a way to haul my mobility scooter.  It is a must when we go even for a short weekend.  Frank had thought about doing this with our little bus and just has never had the time or the final details worked out enough to do it.  Because he was fortunate enough to come into some lumber and some steel, he took to building that porch.  I did help a little with this project.  I would really like to be more involved in the construction, and always had been in the past, so it felt good to be his apprentice for a day.  Okay, enough blabbing....here are the pics of one very sturdy porch.  There are also plans to put some steps that you can put down to walk up.  Of course there will have to be some type of wench to raise the scooter, but that wil come later.  He already knows how to set that up as he has done it for our pickup when I got the scooter.
After the frame was made, it was bolted to the back bumper of the bus.Frank had some steel  plates and he drilled and cut those to reinforce the bumper on the underside.  I don't think those bolts will wear through.
Pics of the corner brackets Frank fabricated out of the steel he acquired.  Our trip to the hardware store and the local home improvement store was wasted as there was nothing close to what he wanted to reinforce the corners.  He likes to fabricate anyway.  It takes a little more time, but you end up with exactly what you want.  I can tell you, this porch is going nowhere....it is built for stout.
You may as well call it finished.  However, Frank will still be adding the brackets or whatever it is he has in mind to reinforce those back corners of the porch to the bus.  The cost of this project was the bolts only.  We always like that!
These are the brackets Frank fabricated for the back porch.  He is one of these very talented people that designs as he goes.  I am sure he could not have told you a week before the brackets were installed just exactly what he was going to do.  He had an idea and thought about it for awhile and then started working.  He never fails to come up with something just perfect.
FINALLY the sheet metal is here.  We have been waiting for well over a month for it.  However, the design for the windows is ongoing.  The only thing time does for us there is to provide the opportunity to change our minds AGAIN!  It has been really hard for us to decide on what to do exactly with the windows, how many to cover, which ones to leave open, etc.   There are the functional considerations and there are the asthetic considerations.  What to do ..... We got a great deal on some new RV windows on eBay, so that pretty much clinched it for us.  Close them all and put in the RV windows.  As you can see they fit very nicely in the frames for the original windows which means no cutting away at the integrity of the supports, etc.   However, we still have to come up with a configuration as far as spacing, etc.
Dusty, our youngest son, holding up the RV window for dad to take a look.
After all that, we are short one piece of sheet metal to cover them all.  We will have to get that ordered ASAP
Here we go putting up the insulation on the inside.  It is looking a little less like a bus.  okay,.... so humor me. 
Actually Frank was pleased as he is going to be able to get more insulation in than he had originally thought.  That will make it so cozy for those Christmases spent with the kids that live up north. 
Aside from a strong back and the willingness to help, Dusty brought with him a surprise!  We are going to be grandparents again!!!!
Remember to stop back again to see how we are coming along.
Well folks, forgive me for failing to update the page lately.  I have started a job from home doing quality assurance work.  The whole experience has been great for so many reasons.  In additin to that, I have started an online college course for medical transcription.  What did we do before the age of the Internet?  They have both opened new and wonderful opportunities for me so I have been working very hard at them.  In addition to the time they take, my disability prevents me from engaging in any type of activity for more than a short while and then I need to move, etc., so my productive hours are very limited. It has been a trade off between working and school, and/or  pretty muchanything else I need to do .  As the kids put it, I just can't hang and they are not far from wrong about that.  Anyway, as I make my adjustments, Frank has been trying to work on the bus.  Once again, things are not going nearly as fast as he would like them to, and most of the time it seems as if we are working in reverse, but good things come to those who wait, or at least that is what I have been told .  They have not gone nearly as fast as the last conversion on our little bus for sure, but I remind him that the little bus was not nearly as involved as our new big one is going to be. Not to mention he is without a helper this time and it seems there is always something or someone  taking him away from getting anything done.  As of 9/11 all work has haulted on the bus and start up is indefinite.  Frank hurt his back, resulting inabout 6 bulging discs and a slipped disc.  So, he is out of commission for awhile until he can get healed up.  I figure it just gives him  more planning time. God knows we have planned and then changed our minds more than once about things as we go.   Frank really had his sights set on being in the new bus this fall,however we are not going to be doing any camping the rest of this year.  He does really well to put his britches on right now and sometimes could use some help with that.  At this point we will just be happy if we start the camping season next year with her.  Okay, I am posting a few new pics of some interior work Frank was working on before he was injured.  I also have quite a few receipts I am posting so you can see the that even when you seem to be doing nothing, the cha- ching of the cash register doesn't stop.
Here is the beginning of the kitchen cabinets, sink, etc.  I do think it was somewhat therapeutic for Frank to get something done on the inside.  So much time and effort has been going into demolition, prep type stuff, and just all that behind the scenes work that is never seen.  The gray water tank is going to go under the sink.  It still leaves plenty of room for some storage/drawers at both ends.  I really prefer that most of the storage, etc. go at waist level or above.  At least the things that I will be using on a regular basis.  This also makes it a convenient place for Frank as far as installation of the tank, plumbing, etc.
As I sit here trying to think about what all Frank has done on or to the bus, and any pieces of wisdom that we might share, it came to me that I haven't really talked about Frank's greatest talent.  When he reads this he may shoot me for sharing it, but I think it is another important piece of knowledge to pass on to any readers thinking about doing a conversion.    Frank has an incredible talent for being resourceful.  Now that comes in a variety of flavors, some better known as dumpster divers, junk collectors, etc.  The difference though comes in the ability to actually recycle the treasures that are drug home and added to the collection.  Now mind you, it is not just me, his devoted wife, that thinks Frank posesses this great talent.  He has been cited at work for his ability to do so and consequently providing his employer with some unique and valuable goods and at the same time saving them money.  Anyway, when you look at the many conversions, some modest and some that have spared nothing, you have to remember that the pride comes in the fact that you did it yourself.  I think sometimes when it is a challenge, whether that be financially or within yourself to create something unique, that end result is so much sweeter.  Our little bus had many "conversions" done, each time adding something that was not there before or replacing something that was worn, etc. with something new.  New however, did not always mean bought from the store and installed.  This is where the talent comes in.  Frank is able to take something used, sometimes not so gently, and see its potential and make it useful.  The motto around the establishment that he works in is it has to be functional, cheap, and CUTE!!!  (He works around mostly women, so the aesthetics are very important.)  Anyway, back to the real point of this blurb.  When we started this bus, I believe we both had expectations of it being "the bus"  Definately our final conversion and the BIG one.  I believe we expected to buy what we needed to do it, starting with everything brand new and fresh.  No jimmy rigging, no retrofitting, etc.  Of course, money, became an issue relatively early on for reasons beyond our control, and we were forced to start penny pinching.  I think it at first was a bit of a downer for Frank as he has always had to do things that way and saw it as a bit of slam and definately was not part of his dream for this bus.  However, what he doesn't realize, when we are penny pinching  he is the most creative. Once you get over the dissappointment of having to do things "the hard way" it adds that little extra element of excitement about the whole project.  So, you do not have to have a fortune to do a conversion.  You may have to take the extra time to be resourceful, keeping your eyes open for what may be lying right in front of you.  Frank has accumulated enough lumber to frame nearly the entire interior from the lumber that a local prefab company throws in the garbage.  (yes, he had to dumpster dive for it).  He has acquired enough plywood to put walls in the entire interior.  Now, that changes what and how we are going to do the interior, but we can change the plan to accommodate that without a problem and still come out with something very nice.  Once again, this lumber was from the throw outs at a construction site.  The plywood was resting between the sheets of siding going on the building.  We acquired a combination cooktop/oven, the oven we had long eliminated to save money and afterall, Frank has become a darn good cook in those dutch ovens and we rarely would use the indoor oven anyway.  That was found from an old abandoned truck camper that had been stripped out for the aluminum, etc. and left to sit and rot.  He took the oven, a very nice turquoise color form the late 50's or 60's, fixed the quarter sized chip in the enamel in the front of it, painted the entire thing (because of the stove and heat it did require special paint), but for little of nothing we have an oven/cooktop that looks virtually brand new.  I guess the point of all of this is to let you know you too can have a bus on the most limited pocketbooks.  Part of the fun is finding those treasures or bargains.  For me it is the chase, but for Frank I think it is the taking it in horrible condition and making it into something useful (and cute).  Just keep your eyes open.  Part of the reason I continue to say our plans are open or Frank plans as he goes, is because you never know what might be around the corner.
For those of you that have been here before and have stopped back by to see what we have been up to, we have stopped production for the past few months and it may be awhile longer before Frank is well and ready to go again.  He has had his yearly injury (it is not fun getting older...our bodies are just not so forgiving).  Right now he is nursing a back injury.  He is fortunate as it could have had a rather bad outcome.  He continues therapy and we keep our fingers crossed that he continues to progress as well as he has.
Here it is, New Years Day.....Happy New Year Everyone!!!!  We are hoping 2007 brings better luck than the past few.  I have not updated from a good while, but as with all of us, there just never seems to be time to get to everything.  I think the fact that I have not been updating, tells you Frank has not been building.  His back continues to give him trouble.  Significant enough that he is only working half days at work and that doesn't look to change anytime soon.  Here he is with lots of time....what he could be doing to the bus....and unable to do much but dream, watch movies, and nap.  He does enjoy those activities as well.  However he does mention with regularity he wishes he could be working on the bus.  He had a steroid injection the week or so before Christmas, with great relief for a couple of weeks.  Things are starting to take a back slide so now it wil be a matter of when the good doctor will schedule the next one.  We are still keeing our fingers crossed that the conservative approach works and we avoid surgery.  Well, I will sign off for now.  So sorry there is nothing new to see.  Hopefully we will back soon with lots of progress to share.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
It is hard to believe, but February is just around the corner.  Frank had his 2nd injection for his back a week ago today.  He seems to be doing better, but always does as long as he does nothing.  He is still working only half days and watching alot of movies.  The bus, our dream bus still sits idle....nothing has been done since September.....it is getting very unsettling and aside from the fact that I would like him to be well and feel well, I do worry about the future of this conversion.  We will continue to keep thinking good thoughts.  Hope you all are settled well into the new year and are happy, healthy, and fufilling your dreams and goals for the new year.  Don't give up on us yet and check back in now and then.
It has been a very long time....I have no idea where the time has gone......since we have updated the page.  Actually, it has only been in the last couple of months that work has resumed on our bus.  Frank still suffers with his back and is reguarly getting steroid injections to keep himself moving.  He is back to work full time and has been for the past 7 months.  It has been a busy year.  Frank was the liason between the General Contractor and the Ex. Director where he works as they renovated an old factory into the new home for his place of employment.  It is very large and was quite a project.  They officially cut the ribbon this week.  Hopefully, he will see life return somewhat to normal on the job front and not be so totally exhausted in the evenings and weekends.  His back is hanging in there, but work is about all it cooperates with most of the time.    We are hoping, cross your fingers, to finish the bus this winter.  Work should be quieter, we think after the holidays our personal life will quiet down, and we will concentrate on getting the old girl finished.  Our oldest daughter was married in Sept.....surely many of you know how time consuming that can be.  She had a project for dear old dad quite often as the planning went along.  Our youngest son had his first baby in March and we are awaiting the birth of our first grandson this month.  He will make 5!!!  I do have some new pictures to add on the progress of the bus, though it has been slow.  We have taken her out once this summer and camped for a weekend.  Though it was not park of the plan, I would recommend that anyone take the bust at least for overnight or a weekend a time or two between the planning and design stage and actually implementing.  We did decide on a couple of design changes after being in the bust for a weekend.  We had the bus wired for the outside hookup, the air mounted, and threw in a chair and an inflatable mattress, some cookers, and off we went for the weekend.  We were really missing camping and needed the peace and solitude we find when out in the woods.  As I said, we did realize that there were some things we wanted to change for sure.  Right now the goal is to get the furnace installed and the bed built before Christmas, minimally.  Our plan is to head to the southwestern part of the state the weekend before Christmas  to visit our youngest daughter and her family and then back northest to visit our oldest son and his family for Christmas Eve and Christmas morning.  Right now, we need a place to sleep that is warm and dry and gives us a little privacy as well as give the kids some too.  It is becoming challenging to find the financial resources at this time to finish the bus.  I am sure most of you can relate.  The cost of living has gone up tremendously and we personally have had a great deal of medical expenses over the past few years.  However,  Frank has proven what I have always said was his talent and that is to be resourceful and the best darned recycler I know.  It is when he has nothing that he becomes creative and gets more done.  So, in just the last couple of months he has gotten more done on the bust with no money than he has since we bought her.  Fortunately we both love things basic, primitive and with a few flaws here and there.  So our taste fits the pocket book and she is starting to resemble a motorhome.  Next year the kids will all be gifted with an RV plug in to wire for when we come to stay...LOL.  Okay, enough is enough, you have to be tired of the narration.  Let's get on to some building and pictures.
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