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1977 Bedford Bus Conversion Looks Like An Airstream – But It’s Not

Vintage buses turned RVs fascinate many campers. First, they capture the nostalgia of a bygone era, and second their spacious interiors and cargo compartments offer plenty of remodeling opportunities. Who doesn’t want a camper with storage designed for dozens of people!?

‘The Flying Tortoise’, a 1977 Bedford Bus conversion.

The Flying Tortoise
Keith Levy

New Zealander Keith Levy refurbished a 1977 Bedford bus into his own off-the-grid home. Making do off the grid is nothing new for Keith, who for the last 21 years has lived on mostly boats. He planned to make The Flying Tortoise, as he calls his renovated bus, his new mobile residence on land.

The dropdown tables on each side are used as an outdoor kitchen, a work bench, a spare bed for sleeping, a massage table or a display table at markets for art and crafts.

He custom-made the storage shed on the back of the bus to blend in with the exterior. It holds tools, outdoor furniture – and plants!

1977 Bedford bus remodel
Keith Levy

Relying on the sun to provide his power needs means Keith can stay away from campground hookups.

There are 2 x 125 watt BP solar panels on the roof and an 85 watt BP panel that I use in cloudy winter weather as a ‘tracker’ panel. Angled to the sun it gives almost as much power as a 125. The cables or wiring are very heavy duty so there is no voltage loss. There are 2 x 255 amphour AGM house batteries.

Roll down shades provide privacy for the bedroom (it’s a lot brighter with them up though).

Sleeping area in bus
Keith Levy

Waking to another day is always such a joy. The natural wood gives it so much warmth…

Keith runs a popular blog named after his bus conversion.

Work area in bus remodel
Keith Levy
Bus kitchen
Keith Levy
Tea pot
Keith Levy

There’s 20mm (nearly one inch) of polystyrene insulation in the walls and ceiling. The floor is 30mm timber with a layer of insulation then 7mm plywood on top. It’s pretty warm and with the fire going you need to wear layers or nothing at all.

Dining area
Keith Levy

This folding metal slab provides privacy for an indoor/outdoor shower.

Folding shower
Keith Levy
Inside the folding shower
Keith Levy

Besides this outdoor shower, Keith also installed an indoor one.

There’s an indoor shower for use in cold weather. It’s a 900mm x 900mm square heavy duty pvc bag with it’s own floor. It hangs from hooks in the ceiling. You get in, shower with the 12 volt shower, then empty the bag outside, fold the bag up and you’ve got a large living space again. The bath is aluminium framed with a black pvc liner. Filled with water and left in the sun a while, you have a lovely hot bath…

Man relaxing by water
Keith Levy

TFT can carry over 300litres of water depending on location and availability.
At least 220 litres are carried in plastic easy to carry, easy to store, 10 litre containers.

As for his advice for would-be bus conversion enthusiasts,

In my opinion, the best bus/truck is the smallest possible to do the job for you. Small is best because it costs less to run, to maintain and to fuel. It causes you to downsize and really think about what you are doing and what you are doing is simplifying your life so you can enjoy it more…

Photos via TinyHouseListings and TheFlyingTortoise

SEE ALSO: This Couple Started With A Rusted Bus Carcass, And 33 Years Later It’s Incredible


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1 thought on “1977 Bedford Bus Conversion Looks Like An Airstream – But It’s Not”

  1. very, very nice…thanks for taking the time to find jewels like this and SHARING them….always nice to see someone else’s ideas and solutions; very creative gentleman….

    this is such a great site; far, far, better then the “plastic” monthly magazines on “trailering” with excess piles of junk and “must haves” one now supposedly needs to trailer or camp out with…

    happy trails

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