EPISODE 1 - We bought a bus

My wife and I had been thinking about buying a school bus to convert into a tiny home for over a year. In the late spring, when the school districts sell off their unwanted buses, we began looking at online auctions until we found several buses that fit our criteria for a conversion.

I drove to the Plano ISD school bus yard and looked over the 6 busses that were for sale, talked with the head mechanic and looked at the maintenance logs. Bus 819 stood out as being the best shape, and had the cleanest maintenance log.

We placed a bid on it, and as the auction drew to a close, it was obvious that we were not the only ones that thought 819 was the one to get. We entered a nail biting bidding war that ended up raising the price $1,000 over the other busses. Yet it still was under our target price range of $3,000. When the auction closed and we had won, the reality of the project struck us. Holy crap we are doing this. We just bought a full size school bus. 

Auction busses are of course never perfect and Bus 819 had its share fair of flaws. A dead battery. Tires with hints of dry rot. A leaking timing gasket. Cracked power steering hoses. All things that could easily be fixed, but not in the school bus yard. We decided to get it towed to our mechanics in Arlington.

We also wanted to have someone who was more qualified then ourselves look carefully at the engine and make sure this was a bus worth our time and money converting. 


After a couple weeks at the mechanics, our bus was ready to be picked up. We were renting space at a truck yard about 30 minutes away. It was a perfect opportunity to test drive the bus, despite the lack of registration and a commercial license.

While a bit nerve racking at first, the bus was fun to drive, and I got the beast parked in the truck yard without incident just as the sun went down.

And so began the hot, dirty, sweaty work of gutting the bus. The first step was to remove the seats. This was actually straight forward. I used an angle grinder to cut off the bot heads. The other bolts that were attached to the wall where easily removed with a ratchet. Then the whole seat was pried out and dumped outside. We had all the seats out in two days. 

Justin McCormick grew up in the Yukon Territories in a cabin on Nisutlin Bay. Being surrounded by the majestic and harsh wilderness of the north, he developed a passion for canoeing, hiking, mountain climbing and skiing. He currently resides in Texas and is trying to impart his passion for the outdoors to his four children.