We salvaged a 1968 Crown school bus that nearly cost the previous owner his marriage, and would more than likely have ended up in the dump if his wife got her hands on it. For a while now, we have LOVED the idea of downsizing and living tiny. We had attempted to explore the housing market on St. Thomas but we were never able to find exactly what were looking for. Most of the homes on island are very large pieces of concrete that would require extensive renovations to get it to have the cozy feel that we had wanted to achieve. After scratching the idea of buying a home and being a strapped to pay the mortgage each month, we began to look outside the box. We had originally considered creating a home out of shipping containers. Since we live in a port area, we thought that this would make a lot of sense for us in terms of building green and recycling materials. Although, after some additional research and brainstorming with friends we decided that a school bus offered us exactly what we were looking for!
The windows and doors are already constructed and we would be able to drive a bus straight onto our land without having to hire cranes etc. There was also something so whimsical sounding about living in a school bus that we loved. After this conversation with friends when the idea of a school bus home came up (Thanks, Jon Gula!), we went home and started our research right away... Amanda was amazed at what she saw on Pinterest, on how you could turn a bus home into a work of art practically. We were inspired mostly by the "Majestic Bus" in the UK. Joe was enthralled with finding the perfect bus. He researched all kinds of buses, the types of buses, flat nose vs. nose bump out, head room etc. Being that Joe is 6'1 we knew we had our work cut out for us. We looked high and low for the perfect bus.
We had spent many hours researching buses, and now even consider ourselves somewhat of bus connoisseurs (of sorts). Joe had made a trip over to St. John to see a short bus that was for sale, the company had wanted a lot for the bus and we felt that a short bus wouldn't offer the space we were looking for anyways (as we were going to be using the bus as a tiny home rather than a mobile home). We also spent an afternoon at the local school bus company in St. Thomas. They let us walk around the yard and check out the various bus styles. These buses were bigger than the one Joe saw on STJ, although they were lacking more of the charm we were looking for and none of the buses were actually for sale at the moment, but possibly in the future. We didn't want to waste any time and went back to the internet to find our future home.
That's when we nailed it! We discovered the Crown Super Coach school bus. This vintage design comes via the west coast with its beautiful rounded edges and classic look we knew we had to find ourselves a Crown. In June of 2014, Amanda found a Crown School Bus for sale on Ebay in Sandwich, Illinois, about 30 minutes from Joe's Parents home in North Aurora, IL. Joe's parents Debbie and Joe Sr. offered to go and check the bus out for us. After "test driving" the bus with the former owner, we got the thumbs up from Debbie and Joe and bid on our sexy hunk of steel that we now know as the One Love Bus! We were the only ones that had bid on the bus and got her for a steal! For a 1968 Crown Super Coach the bus was actually in excellent condition.
OUR SEXY HUNK OF STEEL ON 4 WHEELS!
- 1968 Crown Super Coach Bus - Classic, vintage, west coast style
- Length - 36 x 8 x 6'3 (interior height)
- 6'3 Ceiling height - Joe can walk easily through the center of the bus, the layout of our bus reflects an easy path for Joe and some of our taller friends to maneuver, (ahem Laura and Evan) Amanda can do jumping jacks in it!
- Cummins engine (we believe was rebuilt at some point)
- Standard transmission
- 53 MPH max speed ;)
Prior to the buses short stay in Chicagoland, the bus had spent most of its life on the West Coast. Originally in the Washington School District and then with the Air Force, where it was serviced regularly and had very little rust. In our minds, we had struck GOLD. It wasn't until September when we were finally able to go and pick up the bus. We spent a week fixing it up with Joe's best friend Andrew's dad, who is a diesel mechanic and away we went. Thanks, John Gray, without your guidance and skills we would have gotten nowhere!
In October of 2015, we set out on our adventure from Chicago to Jacksonville Florida where the bus was put on a cargo ship to make the last leg of the journey to St. Thomas. Debbie and Amanda made the sweet sign in the window and at the last moment, Joe's dad decided to join us on the trip (thank God for Joe Sr., because we may have killed each other without him around). While the trip started out great, things got a little tense at times along the way ;)...(but that's a whole other story on its own).
You all know by now that the bus arrived safely to St. Thomas. To find out what happened along the way to tune into our upcoming blog posts. We'll be sure to fill you in as there were many laughs and moments of sheer terror too! Subscribe to The Simple Bus Life below: