FAQ - English


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, and it is questionable if I will ever get that back. 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: 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.. ;-)

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. :-)

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:

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.

Q: What's the fuel consumption? 
A: I never measured it. My estimate is 3 to 4 kms a liter, that would be around 8 to 13 mpg.

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 the switch, both doors are locked. Flip again to open. The only disadvantage is flipping the switch 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: 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: 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: 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.

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: 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. 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!
After that we were weekends away with it and we enjoyed that very much. It grows on us more and more every time.

Q: What are your plans with it? Will you sell?
A: We are gonna enjoy it, at least for this summer, and then, yes, who knows... I have lots of other plans.. But we might keep it too... my family is fond of it and they all tell me I'm crazy if I would sell it.
I want to start making furniture (see my vid of the lamp) - 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.




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