Heather, Nick, and their mini doodle Miles live full-time in a converted short bus lovingly nicknamed the Vicaribus. The couple recently hit the road in April 2018 after having spent over a year building out the skoolie on nights and weekends while they were still working full-time.
The 1998 Thomas Vista 3600 bus has a T444E diesel engine, automatic transmission, five windows, and measures 23 feet long with about 16 feet of livable space (or 120 square feet) inside.
“The reason we went with a bus conversion was the challenge of such a large DIY project and we wanted something unique and exactly tailored to what we wanted. We named it Vicaribus since we intended to share as much of our journey as possible so that people (mostly our moms) can vicariously experience our journey with us.” – Heather & Nick
The seats were already ripped out when they bought the bus and the exterior had been painted white and blue. They still had to rip out the floor, walls, ceiling, and old insulation.
Once everything was removed and cleaned, it was time to start building out the new interior. They installed a new subfloor and put in new insulation for the walls and ceiling. Everything was covered with plywood before they started building out each section.
The more complicated tasks were tackled first, including the power system, the kitchen, and the bathroom. The ceiling was given a nice touch by the addition of tongue and groove boards painted white. They left a gap near the middle of the ceiling, where they later added an arch that holds the LED lights.
The bedroom in the back of the bus was saved for last. They built out a platform with 1x6s and L-shaped brackets, then added in their mattress. On the wall above the bed, they placed a large canvas of a crashing wave that was cut to the curve and framed out with wood and flexible trim.
Their workstation is designed very comfortably with a large monitor built on a swivel mount. The mount allows them to use the monitor at the workstation or as a TV while laying in bed.
The kitchen was built with cabinets and a drawer slide for their chest-style fridge. They added in the perfect sink basin from IKEA and a two-burner propane stove with its own glass lid. The cooking space was also adorned with backsplash tiles, a produce hammock, and a towel rack.
Beside the kitchen, they designed the bathroom with a composting toilet and a shower. The doors were built from plywood, framed with 1x2s, and mirrors were added to the front.
The exterior has a backup camera, a front bike rack, and custom decal stickers. There is also a growing collection of stickers on the side of the bus as they travel to new places. Around back, the trunk has shelves for storing various items like their collapsible grill.
The bus is topped with two 165-watt solar panels and a rooftop deck. The wooden deck measures about 8 feet by 10 feet and can be accessed using a telescoping ladder. It also has hooks on the frame so they can hang their hammocks.
The solar panels along with their 200Ah Victron LiFePO4 smart battery are able to power all of their electrical needs, including the chest fridge, MaxxAir fan, LED lights, a fan for their Nature’s Head Composting Toilet, the backup monitor, water pump, smoke/CO2 detector, and five outlets that can plug in phone chargers, etc.