"Coaches have good weight to power ratio, and have the correct suspension for highway driving"
CW asked Christopher Vevors, managing director for Roadtrek, what to look out for when choosing a bus for the purposes of converting to a motorhome.
Roadtrek, based in Thomastown, completed the body work for Sue and John Stephens' "Jonnebago" Fuso bus conversion, featured in A winning Formula by Bob and Chrissy Eustace in CW466 June 2009 - out now.
“The general length of vehicles (we convert) range from 7m up to 14m in length.
Why buses? Because these vehicles have the additional width over smaller vehicles. Buses are usually 2.5m wide, and with the additional width you have considerably more options when converting these buses to a motorhome – and, at the end of the day, you can live in the vehicle in reasonable comfort.
Older interstate coaches are ideal for motorhome conversion. These vehicles are relatively cheap to purchase and are best suited for highway driving. Coaches have good weight to power ratio, have the correct suspension for highway driving, and the body construction is strong and sturdy. These coaches were originally manufactured with good internal head room and generally have plenty of storage for what was passenger luggage. All these features are, in my opinion, a pre-requisite for the construction of a motorhome.
...ON CHOOSING A BUS
All bus operators must adhere to their own state’s accreditation system. This means that the bus operators need to have their vehicles regularly inspected. You should be able to, when purchasing the bus, ask to look at the service history of the vehicle – this is a mandatory requirement of the accreditation process.
When a bus is purchased from a dealer and the service history is not available, it is advisable to have an independent automotive engineer inspect the vehicle on your behalf. Corrosion in buses is a major problem and can cost many, many thousands of dollars to rectify. You are better to pay an engineer to inspect the vehicle before committing to the purchase. It's money well spent.
...ON THE STEPHENS' "JONNEBAGO" FUSO BUS CONVERSION
The greatest challenge was the design and layout. The Fuso was just on 7m long and John and Sue wanted all the bells and whistles that they could possible get into the vehicle. The real challenge was to accommodate all their requirements into what was a relatively small package.
We spent many hours with John and Sue working through the design and layout to come up with the best possible configuration. At the end of the day we achieved what we set out to do and John and Sue where very happy with the final result.
It is important that the customer is an active participant in all aspect of the motorhome construction, with regular site progress visits being a must. John and Sue took great interest in the construction phase of their vehicle and contributed greatly to the final successes of the finished product. We encourage our customers to play an active roll in the construction of the motorhome; this, we believe, is the recipe for a great outcome.
See images of the Stephens' conversion at contruction phase at the Roadtrek website. For more information about the conversion, read A winning formula in the latest edition of Caravan World with Motorhome World magazine.
Image: John and Susan Stephens' "Jonnebago" Fuso conversion. Roadtrek increased the roof height and replaced the plug-type door at the front. Credit: Bob Eustace.