Sure it does fine on the highway, but this old beauty really shines when it’s off-road. Our intention when building it was not to create a “trailer queen,” the term often used to describe pristine show cars that never get driven and wouldn’t be seen outside if there was a threat of rain. Rather, we wanted something that we could be comfortable using wherever, whenever, and for whatever. If the paint gets scratched bouncing thru a stand of pines, we’re out less than $50 for a rattle-can respray. A rubber mat covers the carpet so mud and dirt don’t matter. For off-road traction, Goodyear Wrangler-LTs are a dime a dozen when the postoffice discards them after just one or two nails – throw a tube in there and we’re good to go! From the factory, these buses had more ground clearance than todays Jeeps.
But enough about the rugged side of things – How about creature comforts? All the systems needed for a self-contained camper were designed as we went, using whatever we had or could find, resulting in an odd mix of components to do very normal things. More about that on my repurposing page. The end result is a mini camper, complete with:
- 120v connection for campground power
- deep cycle battery for camper electric only
- 12v battery charger
- alternator relay for charging while driving
- 1,200 watt power inverter to make 120v while deep in the woods
- 12v interior fluorescent lighting
- 12v & 120v receptacles
- propane & electric heat
- running water with both fresh & grey water tanks
- stainless steel sink
- generous counter space
- 2-burner alcohol stove
- built-in ice chest
- flip-out “on the go” table
- 4-person table or inside or outside use
- three folding stools
- bench seat that converts to full double bed
- child’s bed that goes over driver & passenger seats
- rear-facing jump seat
- continuous curtains for privacy
- solar tiki lights
- sawdust toilet
- solar shower with curtain and floor pan
- storage out the wahzoo, for food, supplies, blankets, tools, toys, whatever!
- 10′ x 10′ awning
- 4′ x 4′ roof rack
- rear-mounted dual bike rack
Hard to imagine all that crammed into such a small space, yet it’s completely organized and surprisingly spacious. We used a lot of cardboard mockups to try out different floors plans and arrangements. We finally found what seemed right, based on the space available and the components that needed to fit. Unfortunately, I never logged how many nights have been spent, or how many meals cooked, but we’ve used it a lot. Outside of a repair here or there or an upgrade when the idea strikes, this camper has worked extremely well for us, and should continue to do so for many years to come.
I will continue to update this gallery as we make more memories!