Bus Conversion

David Longman's Project
Status: Completed

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Part one

My Princess and I had been touring the UK in an old BT Transit for a couple of years. It was a short wheelbase, and we did nothing but put in a false floor and drawers underneath. I didn't think 'Susie' would get through another year of MOT inspections without a massive investment ... so we bought an old bus.

‘Matilda’ was bought from Stafford Bus Centre for around £2,000, and I guess I have spent another £750 on her since.

Finding the bus was easy, but getting one at the right price was harder. As you look around the web you realise that depending on who you contact, the same ex-Stagecoach bus can be £1,000 or more cheaper. They are sold for the export market, and ours came from Stafford for £2,500. Martin is the owner and can be quite helpful.

The conversion started with The Princess taking to the angle grinder to remove the seat mountings - all but the last two rows as we have used these as the anchor points for the bed frame, plus building the frame into the bench seat at the back.

So now, we have a double bed!

The biggest problem so far has been in getting a key to lock the back door. I didn't really want to fit an entirely new mechanism as the rest works fine. In the end, we found a company in Leeds.

There is an isolator switch on the dash to lock the front doors, and we've built an extra piece of floor to cover the footwell so it won't when we are away. OK, if you want to get in you can smash the window, but the wooden ‘platform’ over the footwell still needs to be removed.

We've found the camping shops have all we need when it comes to stoves etc. We have been using Go Outdoors.

With Susie we used the solar 'bags' to heat the water. Leave them in the sun inside and out of the wind and they get too hot very quickly!

The gas bottle problem appeared huge. We would have to store the bottle outside! No. We would need stickers on the outside of the bus for fire people! No.

The biggest problem came with the DVLA when registering her. Who had done the conversion? Well, we had!

We did get ‘professionals’ to fit the one new seat – for the Princess. We had a receipt for the work, so that was OK. We also had a receipt for fitting the seat belts. We needed three-point racing driver harnesses as there is nothing on the side of the bus suitable as an anchoring point. Check the length of the straps you need. A company such as Demon Tweeks will make them to order.

Any local car or commercial vehicle breakers will sell you a seat. The one for the Princess came from a Ford Transit and cost £30.

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