FAQ - English

Money

Q: How much was the bus? And how much money did you put in?
A: Back in 2011 I paid 15000 euro for the bus. I put a lot of money in since then. Yes, a bus like this is a very expensive hobby. You can very well compare it with a medium sized to large sailboat. Except that you don't have to stand out in the rain while steering.. ;-)

Q: I want to do this myself. How much did you pay overall?
If you would be really interested in doing this yourself, you should make a budget estimate, just like I did. Asking what I paid won't bring you one step further. You live in different circumstances (maybe you have a place to work at it - where I had to rent a place - or you have friends to help you), in a different environment (maybe prices are much different than over here) and most important, you will make different choices. A bus conversion can be done for 10.000 (low budget) to half a million euro and up.

Q: And how much time did you put in?
A: I really don't know, I never kept track of the amount of hours I spent in the bus and behind the computer designing, doing research and ordering material. A fair estimate would be around 20 hours a week, during 4 years (I bought the bus in 2011 and it was ready in 2016 - during the problems with the engine and it being overhauled, the bus was in the shop for about half a year). That mounts up to about 4000 hours. Could be more, could be less.

Q: Isn't this very expensive in road tax?
A: Over here, a bus is not expensive in tax at all. It surprised me that you must pay about as much for a 16000 kg bus as for a normal (diesel) car of 1000 kg. I pay about 220 euro a quarter.

Q: Are you wealthy?
It all depends on how you define 'wealthy'. I don't consider myself als such - if you earn a modest living each year and work for 20 years and you put aside some money instead of spending it all, you can afford this. In 2011, when I bought the bus, I worked and saved already for 25 years. Before that, I couldn't do it either. I never inherited nothing, and nobody gave me anything, nor did I rob a bank... Oh and I drive a Volkswagen. That should say it all.. ;-)

Buying

Q: Where can you buy a bus?
A: Lots of websites offer buses for sale. I found mine on the German website http://www.mobile.de. Sellers will turn to the international market for buses, because that is much bigger than the national market.

Q: What on earth gave you the idea to buy a bus?
A: I always was fascinated by buses. They are big and they move. :-) And with a project like this, all comes together; aesthetics, living, water, saving energy, transport, the technology of a big vehicle, ventilation, climate control.. its a very wide playing field. And besides, I like the physical labor of it (in contrast of the long hours I spend behind my computer for work). So I got fascinated by the question if I was able to pull this conversion off. It was most definitely the work that did it for me, and not the possession of it.
This is the reason why I will never convert a bus again. I wanted to know if I could do it and now I know - literally thousands of people confirm it too. :-)

Planning

Q: What program did you use for the planning? The 3D model of the bus?
A: Sketchup. That used to be owned by Google, now it is in hands of Trimble. Recommended - I knew nothing about it when I started with the bus. If I can learn it, you can too.
I uploaded the Sketchup-plans of the bus to the 3D Warehouse, where anyone can download them for free!
Install Sketchup Make (that version is also free) and look at the plan:

Weight

Q: How heavy is the bus now? How much weight did you add to it? Did you have to watch out for adding to much weight?
A: To be honest, I am not sure about the weight - it never was measured. My estimate is that I brought in less than I took out (all those chairs, 79 in total that are out - they weigh a lot!). But apart from that, the 90 people that are supposed to be in that chairs are never coming back, so that gives a headroom of about 7000 kg. About 60 of those seats/people were upstairs, so without them, the center of gravity came down as well.. all positives for handling the bus. I never saw weight as an issue. In regard to weight, you can better compare the bus with a regular house, than with a typical camper van. The bus weighs empty almost 16000 kg (15860 to be precise - it says on the license), the max weight is 22000 kg, so 100 kg or even 1000 kg more or less, it really doesn't matter that much. Yes, I could have done the waterbeds and the jacuzzi - not that I did, though.. :-)
Compared to the total weight of the bus of almost 16000 kg, the weight of the (filled) watertank is relatively small too. I must add, the tank was designed for transport of liquids, and it is very well secured.

Parking

Q: How difficult is it to find parking spaces that allow you to stay with a big bus like this one?
A: Because it is a bus, you can park in the spaces that already are in place for buses, and you probably never noticed, but there are more than you think. :-) When the question was meant about places to sleep, I had to change my way of thinking. First you tend to think about camping sites or RV-parks. Of those you'll have to forget about camping sites. Most of the time, they are too small, and too expensive too. RV-parks make a good choice, was it only that you often can get power there, but I have to admit, the bus doesn't always fit. But most of the time it does, and I learned that once you're there, even if it doesn't fit, people try to find a solution so that you can stay anyway. BUT! - I learned this from a very clever German guy, who also happens to own a double decker bus -, you always have to be on the lookout for free places to stay. Said German told me he ONLY parked on free spots. He went to places of interest, like museums and the like, there are always places for coaches to park. He said he went to see what there was to see, then had a meal in the bus, slept at the same place and left the next morning after breakfast. Nobody bothers about an overnight parked bus at those kind of places. He told me he slept right under the Eiffel tower in Paris that way. For free!
After that, we did it similar. This year, in 2017 we were two weeks on vacation in Germany, Czechia and Austria, and we only paid three nights. The rest we stood somewhere for free, however I must say, with help from locals. Our bus is quite well suited for this, because from the outside, it easily still could be a regular tourist coach. Yes, we're 'stealth'. :-)
There are very good apps on the phone to look for places to park. Those give plenty of results. Search on www.campercontact.com on places of at least 12 meters, and only in that tiny country of the Netherlands you will find over 500 places to park. In Germany there are almost 2000.
Another serious option are the many gatherings that are organised for these buses. There are several in Germany alone, and in the surrounding countries too. I know of them in the Netherlands, Austria and Finland. The last one being the biggest, with up to 150 buses.
Bottom line is that there are plenty of places to park, but you just have to think differently. Once you get used to this way of thinking, parking is no problem (well, you know what I mean - as parking can ALWAYS be a problem..) - in the end you will find a spot

Technics

Q: What's the fuel consumption? 
A: During the vacation of 2017 (we were in July / August in Germany, Czech Rep. and Austria) we drove quite some kilometers, and for the first time I tanked full, drove and tanked full again, so I could measure the consumption. I came to 1 liter diesel for 2,5 kms, so that's 40 liters for 100 kilometers. I must say that these were almost all kilometers in the mountains, so consumption may be better in the flat countryside of the Netherlands...

Q: You told you had an expert check the bus before you bought it. Didn't he say anything about the engine? Then how got it broken?
A: The engine was fine. The expert told me that there are rubber rings around the cylinders to keep the coolant out, that were dried out. Normally that would not be a problem, because if you would drive every day with the bus, the little water that would get into the engine, would evaporate. But from 2011 until 2015, the bus stood still (I couldn't move it for the licence was invalid). Then when I drove it to the shop - a drive of more than an hour, the water of years was under the cylinders, and basically destroyed it. This can happen to any engine of age that is not regularly used. This is how I understood it and is my interpretation of was told me - I'm no expert, so the story might be a little different.
I know I said 'new engine', but in reality the old one was in the summer of 2015 completely overhauled, with new cylinders and new pistons - so practically new.

Q: Could you tell more about the wireless switches? Do they work correctly?
A: Yes they work fine. I'm afraid it is a very local solution - here in the Netherlands this technology of KlikAanKlikUit is very popular (https://www.klikaanklikuit.nl/), but I don't think it is available outside this country (frankly, I don't know). I combined this wireless technology with a also very Dutch product, the HomeWizard (http://www.homewizard.nl/), so we can operate lights and power blinds from our phones or tablets too. That turned out to be more of a gimmick than that is really useful, I think in hindsight.. It's way more practical to reach to the wall / switch, than have to open an app on your phone.

Q: I am really curious how you solved the bathroom locks.
A: In this country, fire doors in buildings are kept open with large magnets that operate on 24 volts. In case of a fire, the power is cut off, the magnets let go, the doors close. I got me some of those magnets, from a building that was to be demolished (coincidentally my old elementary school). Because the magnets operate on 24 volts, the voltage of the bus, all I had to do was to connect them to a large switch (the one underneath at the picture at 11:15 in the video - the upper is from the lights). When you flip on the switch, both doors are locked. Flip off to open. The only disadvantage is flipping the switch on when a door is open. If you then close it from the outside, it is locked, and you can't get to the switch to open again. Solution is flipping the main 24 volt switch, so it's not that big of a problem.
I came to this (rather ideal) solution, because I saw manual locks as a potential problem in a room with two doors; if you go to the bathroom, lock both doors, if you would leave, one door would always stay locked. With the magnets, that problem is solved.
I became aware of these magnets rather late in the process, otherwise I would have done a lot more with them. Think about all the doors and drawers of cabinets an cupboards. I could have made it like this, that when the engine is started, all the magnets would be activated, and kept all those closed. Only a simple circuit-brake switch would be required to briefly cut the power, to be able to open a cabinet while driving.

Q: This looks like a closed box. What about ventilation?
A: I built in two fans that switch on when the power goes on (so they are always on). One blows fresh air into the bus, one sucks out the air. Both are connected to pipes that split up inside, so on two places there is air sucked out, and on two places there is air blown in (one on the lower deck and one on the upper deck). I calculated that these two fans replace the air in the whole bus, twice an hour. So that should give plenty of fresh air all the time. These two streams of air (in and out) cross in a heat exchanger that I took out of an old condensation dryer. Theoretically that should cause the air going out heating the air up that comes in, in winter or cooling it down in summer. I mounted temperature meters to measure if this theory works out in reality, but truth is that there must be a substantial difference in temperature inside and outside to be able to test this for real, and we just never came in such position.
Apart from this forced fresh air system, you can always open the three big roof hatches, of course, or open a window downstairs. There are windows in both the doors and one next to the drivers seat.

Q: Did you consider solar panels for electric at all? 
A: Yes, I looked into solar, but postponed that investment. We just haven't got the plans to stay somewhere for a long time without access to external power... But I don't rule out solar for the future. It sure would make sense..

Q: Have you got a TV or a sound system? And what about Wi-Fi?
A: Yes, we do have a TV. I connected a selfmade DVB-T antenna for that and the HMDI-cable runs in the cabinet behind it, where we can connect the laptop. It also accepts a harddisk via USB and that works as a charm too.
And for the sound system; I installed a Sony soundbar - the kind mostly used for tv's. The bar is on the windowsill and the subwoofer is under the couch - that solved the question 'where do the speakers go'. We connect to it with Bluetooth and thus it plays everything. I've got Spotify on my phone and a FM radio too... The sound coming off is superb. The only disadvantage; it switches itself off when not in use, and then you need the remote to switch it on again. But we can live with that.
We got a Mi-Fi that works on the cellphone network, but that is very limited. Things are changing right now, but as it is, you get only a limited amount of GB's network traffic per month with that, and that doesn't meet the needs of teenagers who want to watch YouTube all the time. I also invested in the Alfa R36 + Tube-U adapter combination (Google it), which essentially grabs an existing Wi-Fi signal out of the air (out there somewhere, from a campsite for instance) and brings it into the bus. I bought an impressive directional antenna with that, but it didn't bring what I expected. I must admit that this antenna better should be on the outside of the bus, and I only tried it out inside. I have to do some experiments with that some more.

Q: how did you make your screen rollers?
A: 
  1. Buy a tubular motor (it came with a kit to mount it to the wall) 
  2. Buy a aluminium pipe that fits around that motor (mine was 40 mm) 
  3. Buy the accessories you need to hang roller blinds (something for in the pipe, with a pin sticking out, that slides into a bracket / clip you mount on the wall) 
  4. Make that fit into the pipe (mine was slightly smaller than the pipe, so I glued in another pipe to fill up the difference) 
  5. Buy fabric (I bought existing cheap roller blinds and used only the fabric - threw the rest away - but you can use any fabric) 
  6. Cut the fabric to the right dimensions and fold the underside a few cm's over and sew it, so it fits a small but heavy pipe (for weight to pull the screen down / straight - I used a 12 mm pipe they use for heating systems) 
  7. stick the fabric on the pipe with double sided tape. Ready you are! It's not easy though. The most difficult part is gluing the fabric to the pipe - it has to be straight, otherwise it gets all folded up when rolled up... 

Q: I think the system consumes a lot of energy. How many times do you charge the batteries?
A: The bus has four power circuits: two 24 Volts and two 230 Volts. One 24 Volts is from the bus itself, the other is from a 4 x 230 Ah battery bank, where some appliances are directly connected, like the lights and the fridge. Then one 230 Volts system is 'always on', and gets its power from the batteries, and the other 230 Volts circuit is only powered if the system is connected to an external power source ('shore power' or the generator). To this last circuit the appliances are connected that would drain the batteries quick, like the AC's, the vacuum, the microwave and the dishwasher. This setup gives us about five days before the batteries go empty (not only was it calculated this way, but we found out it is right) - the fridge is the device that takes the most power. After that five days you could run the generator for a few hours to charge the batteries - or drive the bus, the alternators of the engine also charge the household batteries.
The whole 230 Volts system has an upper limit of 3000 Watts, independent of where the power comes from: battery or shore power. That means you can't turn on ALL the appliances at the same time. Turning on the two AC's and the microwave would be enough to overload the system. To prevent that from happening, I mounted a device in the kitchen with two sockets, that measures the power, and prioritizes one socket above the other, when the drawn power gets too high (I do not know the English word for this device - over here it is used to connect two power hungry devices to the same socket - like a washing machine and a dryer). The power to the other socket is then simply turned off. In our case the kitchen appliances have priority above the AC. So when the AC in the kitchen is on, and microwave and dishwasher together are switched on, it can happen that the AC automatically is cut off.

Usage

Q: How can you climb to the top bunk bed? Don't you need a ladder? I don't see one..
A: Because the ceiling is quite low upstairs, that bunk bed isn't that high up either. It's more like climbing on a somewhat high table, and you can stand on the edge of the lower bunk bed. This all you can see being demonstrated by my youngest son in this video of Loulou: https://youtu.be/v1T5T2QZ7x4, at 4:13.

Q: What kind of driver license do you need for this bus?
A: Well, with still 11 seats in it, it remains a bus, so that would be a bus driver license.

Q: Why a double decker in the first place?
A: The disadvantages of a double decker are: overall height (4 meters - we sometimes have to take a detour because of that) and low standing height (lower 1.85 m, upper 1.65 m). But the advantages: very much floor space and (what I thought to be the main advantage) you don't need to go up 3 to 4 steps to get in - like in een regular coach. Just one step. This makes it easier to walk in and out, and gives you more contact with outside. After some experience with it, I can tell that the luxury of having effectively three separate rooms is THE main advantage. The bus is like a two bedroom apartment. Bedrooms where you can go to and be alone for a while, if you want. We can watch tv downstairs and the kids would sleep upstairs. The low standing height is no issue at all anymore for us - I must emphasize that we all can stand up straight downstairs.

Q: Have you already traveled with the bus? How was it?
A: Yes, it was our major deadline to have it ready for the summer vacation in 2016! I worked my fingers off to accomplish that in the weeks before. 
2016
We went to Germany and we had a good time! I wrote everything down in my blog, and if you can read Dutch, you should check it out here. You can try the English translation of that by Google Translate, but I'm afraid I have to warn you upfront. ;-) Later I evaluated the whole trip, and that you can find here in Dutch, and here -again be warned- in the English translation.
From that period is also the video Loulou made from the bus, check it out here. It gives you an idea of the bus in action too!
2017
In 2017 we first went in May to the bus gathering in SchiederSee, Germany (video), and in July to Austria, and during that trip we went through Germany and Czechia (video). Overall the trip went fine (the bus did VERY WELL), but because I got a bit sick, this wasn't the best vacation ever (I got a tooth infection and had to see an emergency dentist in Austria). I made a video of this vacation, click here to see it.
2018
In 2018 we were in SchiederSee again (I'm loving that - video), but because my dad got sick in early summer (and eventually he passed away at the end of July), we couldn't make any plans for the summer holidays. 
But after that we went to Willy's Fernreismobiltreffen in Enkirch, Germany, the first weekend of September 2018 (video), and halfway October there was this 'Touringtreffen' in Gendt, the Netherlands. Of that last event I didn't make a video, but my friend Johan did and you can find his video here on YouTube (yes, I am in it :-).
2019
In April 2019 we were at a 'Touringtreffen' in Noord-Holland. There we made this video
In June we were in SchiederSee again - that was nice as always. 
We did a vacation with the bus in summer 2019 at the Dutch beach. We were very lucky with the weather, and that contributed to a VERY good time! (Wait for the video.)

Q: What are your plans with it? Will you sell?
A: I want to start making furniture (see my vid of the lamp, or the video of the table) - it unwinds all the creativity in me, that's a real positive vibe. Even more as I experience with writing, my profession at the time - which I love too. And as always with these kind of things, there are more sides to it. Weighing everything, I came to the conclusion that the making of the bus was more important than the owning of it and there were other things for me to do. Therefore THE BUS IS FOR SALE! Interested? Click this link.
Secretly we are all hoping that there will be no buyer, so we can go on vacation one more time with the bus, but if that happy buyer comes by, the bus will be sold. 

About me

Q: Who are you? Are you some kind of architect? How did you get the knowledge and experience to be able to build this? 
A: I now work as an IT journalist, but I left school as a construction engineer - that helped. Mainly I got my knowledge from the different forums on the internet. Reading about the experience from people who did these kind of things before me. In the Netherlands there are good groups on Facebook, but what I think is the best, is the German website http://www.wohnbusse.eu. Over there, there are hundreds of nutcases like me gathered, and the discussions go on and on... (you would have to understand German, yes..). 
'Being handy' comes for me down to really good being able to define the problem. A solution comes then always - the prerequisite is that you have the perseverance to go on, even if it not goes as well as you had hoped. And for that, you will have to like to solve these kinds of puzzles, like it very much.



YouTube videos



Social / Contact
My main YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/onrust1
My other YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/RonOnrust/
My woodworking projects on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Onrust1/
My activities on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/onrust1/
Sometimes I put pictures of the bus in an Google Photos album, that can be found here.
Look for my email address on this page.
My professional website (in Dutch): http://www.ronict.nl

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