Image: Good News Bus
Image: Good News Bus
Renovating a vehicle might seem like a simple task. Replace any broken parts or missing panels, give it a lick of paint and you’re good to go. But that wasn’t quite enough for Shane and Julie Good, a couple with more than just a knack for DIY. After purchasing a run-down school bus online, they made it their mission to turn it into something far more special. The results were awesome.
After tracking down the 1995 International Flat Nose Genesis school bus on eBay, the intrepid renovators made a 16-hour round trip to pick it up. They originally intended to use the $3,000 purchase as a band and ministry tour bus, but it would eventually become something else entirely.
The bus was deliberately sourced from the southern United States in order to avoid rust problems. With only 110,000 miles on the clock, it still had plenty to give – but wasn’t quite suitable for purpose just yet.
The bus has a 7.6-liter DT466 Turbo Diesel Engine and 4-Speed Allison Transmission. The internal working components were largely left untouched, with all efforts placed into renovating the interior and exterior of the vehicle.
Inside the bus, the first thing to go was the seating. All the seats were stripped out. Two of the least worn ones were kept aside for use in another part of the project later on.
While the seats were being disposed of, it became clear that parts of the plywood floor of the bus were rotting away. A new one would need to be installed, but first the old one would have to come up. This meant another few hours of work – but it would all be worth it.
Not all of the windows were needed, so a few were marked for replacement by walls and insulation. After that, it was time for a general clean-up.
The bus was cleaned, scoured and wiped from top to bottom until the walls were so clean that they didn’t even need painting anymore. Three days in, and the project was coming along nicely.
With the bus stripped of its past life, it was time for it to journey on to its new purpose. This required an arduous amount of preparation, from laying down new plywood and priming potential rust spots to washing – and peeling stickers from – the exterior of the bus.
It was around this point that the bus stopped being a bus. The interior was planned out using tape as a guide. Amazingly, a dinette, kitchen, and bedrooms were all going to be squeezed in – transforming this old school bus into a home away from home.
The framing for the units and interior rooms gradually came together over the next few weeks. The wiring for lights also had to be installed at this stage, meaning the process became a lot more painstaking, as every step needed to be checked twice.
As the interior started to come together, the summer heat was beginning to take its toll on the couple. It was time to install the air conditioning. Shane and Julie managed to find a roof-mounted A/C system on eBay for just $325, and they wired it up in a day.
Once the interior rooms had been completed, wood staining was applied, and the new home truly started to look like the finished article. From the stone-counter kitchen to the master bedroom, it was a far cry from the shabby yellow school bus purchased all those months ago.
While the interior was being worked on, the vehicle’s exterior was also receiving a lick of paint – and then some. The emergency lights on the front and rear were covered up, the door was replaced, and the whole thing was painted from top to bottom.
The result was extraordinary. Indeed, this was no longer a mere school bus – it was a luxury RV. With bunk beds in the back, a fully functioning refrigerator, cooker, shower, and even a washer-dryer combo, the old bus had become a vehicle which could home a family.
And that’s exactly what it does now. The Good family have spent the past five years traveling around the United States in their homemade RV – affectionately named the “Good News Bus” – braving all the elements as they make the most of their investment.
In the end, the project cost around $30,000 – quite a leap from the initial $3,000 spent on the bus. But that’s still a bargain when you consider that it’s a fully functioning home for the couple and their seven children.
Shane and Julie also stressed on their website that they “spared no expense when it came to the real oak panelling, fridge, water heater, stove, hood vent etc.”
The finished RV sleeps eight people easily, with two bunk beds, a double bed in the master bedroom and a fold-out dining table which can sleep two. And since its makeover, the vehicle has covered around 3,000 miles.
Shane and Julie have documented the travels of the Good News Bus on their blog. They have even created a series of YouTube videos showing what life is like on the road – with all seven of their children in tow.
It’s amazing to look back at what the Good News Bus once was, but the result is a great testament to what a little hard work and dedication can lead to. Shane and Julie effectively built a home for their family – one which they can take wherever they like.