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Double Decker to Mobile Home and Recording Studio

Discussions regarding bus to motorhome conversions are welcome here.

Double Decker to Mobile Home and Recording Studio

Postby StudioDave » Wed Oct 28, 2015 2:13 am

Hi everyone,

This is my first post here and I'm pretty much brand new to the whole bus to motorhome thing but I have a plan!!
I've been in the music and recording industry for around three decades now and have a private recording studio currently on a farm in the Adelaide Hills. However, I am renting where I am at present and my landlord has given me three months notice due to plans to renovate.

For some time now, I've had many ideas and considered many options to forgoing the rent situation and becoming self sufficient. I'm also qualified in electronics and have around 35 years experience in that field. I'm also no stranger to power tools and DIY projects and plan to design and build some custom recording studio furniture for this project.

So, with all that mentioned, I am seriously considering the purchase of a 1987 Volgren B10m double decker and converting it into my primary residence and recording studio. There's a particular B10m for sale at the moment in Queensland (I live in Adelaide) which the current owner is fitting a new engine to. From what I understand, it currently has the original seating configuration which I'd obviously be removing prior to converting it.

From what I can gather, the B10m seems to be known to be reliable and a popular choice even for older ones given the alloy construction and, from what I've read, solid construction.

Here's a few things I have been considering and some questions:

The rego prices for three axle vs two axle vary heaps but it seems the double deckers all have three axles I assume due to design rule requirements and weight (I could be totally wrong there though!). There's no category for motor homes on the SA Easyreg website but I have just read the topic about SA rego requirements HERE and that has answered a few of my questions.
Given that this project will primarily be my home, I won't be driving it frequently so it seems a waste of money to keep it constantly registered. Is it feasible to register it only when needed (ie three month rego) and would I need to go through inspections each time I want to renew the rego when it has expired? (Again, I'm in Adelaide).

What is the best way to deal with unused diesel when the bus is not being driven?

What are the recommendations for infrequently driven diesel vehicles?

Would I be correct in assuming it is a good idea to do regular oil changes/maintenance as one would for an infrequently driven car?

I'm not new to automotive mechanicals having rebuilt my first car from the ground up and converting it from a four cylinder auto to a six cylinder, four speed (a 1975 Ford TD Cortina which I had for sixteen years) but I am BRAND NEW to anything to do with buses.

I'm also not new to driving heavy vehicles having driven trucks containing concert touring sound systems in the early 90s but I never actually applied for a HR license (yes, I know, probably not the smartest thing I've ever done! Those were my rebellious years in the rock industry!!), so I still do not have a HR license. Given this bus is currently in Queensland and I'm in South Australia, I would need to get it here and my plan is to either obtain my HR license beforehand and drive it myself or, find someone who currently has a HR license who'd be willing to travel with me and use the journey towards the required hours to obtain my HR license. The latter is far more probable given that I have a limited amount of time before having to move and if this bus ends up being the right one, I'd be making the purchase very soon.
What are the thoughts and recommendations of those of you far more experienced in this than me?

The Easyreg SA site doesn't seem to be too clear on the license prices either. It seems to suggest a HR license would cost the same as a regular car license to purchase and renew. Is that correct?

There's probably a ton more questions I'll be likely to think of regarding this planned project but I figured this would be a good starting point to pick the brains of those of you far more experienced in such projects than myself.... and that is probably nearly all of you!!

Lastly, what are some of the common things (known issues) I should look out for on a 1987 Volgren B10m prior to purchase?
StudioDave
 

Re: Double Decker to Mobile Home and Recording Studio

Postby bagmaker » Wed Oct 28, 2015 7:18 am

Hi Dave
I am in the process of refurbishing an 87 Volgren DD in Victoria, I note there are a couple around for sale, one in western districts Vic that looks quite good too. (CHECK IT OUT!!)
A few random answers, points and observations for you-
Not much headroom. OK if your not too tall but if you have guests that are lanky they will feel cramped. Not knowing much about noise in studio's but how much sound insulation stuff would you need? Its going to cramp your vertical distances even more. Everything is glass or aluminium, would that be OK for sounds?? A HR licence is required, I got mine a week before buying my B10m and driving it from Rockhampton to Victoria. J shaped learning curve. Travels about 3.3km per litre, 90- 100km/h. Mine will wind out to quite illegally fast but thats going to depend on gearing in yours. As a newby driver, it feels BIG physically, there is a lot to look for prior to transiting it - overhanging tree branches, road angles, bridge capacities, -they turn pretty tight but you still need to think about it before doing it. The ride is smooth and quiet.
The alloy is a huge bonus and should still be in good nick. The alloy is still built on a steel chassis so should be inspected prior to purchase for any corrosion issues. I am not certain about SA reg but told you can get it fairly cheaply under a motorhome/motorised caravan gig. I reckon you should keep it registered to maintain insurance whilst living in it but up to you of course. There are diesel treatments for storage of fuel, typically not a big concern if the weather is warm. I had a nightmare (am having) regarding a dodgy roadworthy supplied by the seller, there is a big problem with responsibility in Queensland and probably all state governments regarding liability of RWC's. I would recommend you get the vehicle inspected by a private, paid for service prior to purchase. IF you can get the VIN, folks here can chase its history
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Re: Double Decker to Mobile Home and Recording Studio

Postby rustbucket » Wed Oct 28, 2015 10:02 am

I must say I think you are being pretty brave.Most people have no idea of what is involved in a bus conversion until they have done one, or in many,any cases, half done one. It sound like you are thinking of living in this while converting Recipe for never finishing.

Deckers are pretty heavy anyway,with all the stuff I imagine you would require for a studio setup weight would become a serious issue, it is for many single decks, once all the comforts are in. How about acoustics in a long metal box ?

Height is also a restricting factor for movement. although it sounds like you would not want this to be very mobile, in which case I would ask, why a bus ?
Maybe you would be better thinking of making something out of a few shipping containers

If you are querying the HR cost that alone tells me you have no idea of the dollars required ahead.

Sorry to rain on your parade but I have seen many,many people start out with similar enquiries as yours, with no idea of what is involved, and abandon their dream many thousand or tens of thousands out of pocket.


Think very carefully !!
William
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Re: Double Decker to Mobile Home and Recording Studio

Postby StudioDave » Wed Oct 28, 2015 12:50 pm

Thanks heaps for the experienced perspective William. This is exactly the kind of info I am after. This is, after all, a very big consideration for me and not something I take lightly.

The main considerations for me are being able to move to a new location at any time and with a minimum of fuss and the fact that I don't own any land to build anything permanent on. The ability to take everything with me on vacations and also on location production jobs is very appealing.

On the other hand, perhaps I would be better off investing the finances into land and building a permanent studio and residence setup. Hmmm....

I have also been considering purchasing Ultimus Prime (the fitout is already done, the power setup is spot on and there's the trailer) but that is big $$ and perhaps land would be a smarter option.

With the unconverted B10, I was, as you say, planning to live in it and convert it as time and budget allowed but I take your words of advice on board seriously.

The other big issue for me is the amount of equipment I have and again, I'm listening to your concerns regarding weight. There's two Hammond organs, an antique upright piano, an elaborate Roland V Drums kit, 5.1 studio monitoring with two large bass cabinets, my keyboard rig, an electronics lab/workbench, 44 channels of mixing console and my storage of spare parts and other equipment.... Perhaps I am being unrealistic thinking it will all fit let alone not be a weight issue, even for Ultimus Prime.

Argh.. reality!!! :oops:
StudioDave
 

Re: Double Decker to Mobile Home and Recording Studio

Postby rustbucket » Wed Oct 28, 2015 9:15 pm

Dave,
I like that you are listening, some have the dream so firmly fixed in their sights they do not want to hear.
As soon as I get time I will run through your whole first post and answer each point, give you even more to think about !
Does the big bronze beast come with helicopter too ?
Cheers
William
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Re: Double Decker to Mobile Home and Recording Studio

Postby rustbucket » Thu Oct 29, 2015 7:58 am

The rego prices for three axle vs two axle vary heaps but it seems the double deckers all have three axles I assume due to design rule requirements and weight (I could be totally wrong there though!). There's no category for motor homes on the SA Easyreg website but I have just read the topic about SA rego requirements HERE and that has answered a few of my questions.
Given that this project will primarily be my home, I won't be driving it frequently so it seems a waste of money to keep it constantly registered. Is it feasible to register it only when needed (ie three month rego) and would I need to go through inspections each time I want to renew the rego when it has expired? (Again, I'm in Adelaide).I GUESS YOU WOULD HAVE TO PAY STAMP DUTY EVERY TIME YOU REGISTERED IT AS IT WOULD BE A NEW REGO, IF YOU DO OT STATE THE MARKET VALUE CORRECTLY INSURANCE WILL WIPE YOU IN EVENT OF A TOTAL LOSS.

What is the best way to deal with unused diesel when the bus is not being driven? BITOF A PHURFY THIS ONE THINK. VP DIESEL WAS 6 YEARS OLD, RAN FINE ON IT

What are the recommendations for infrequently driven diesel vehicles? BLOCK IT UP SO NO FLAT SPOTS ON TYRES BATTERY CHARGERS HOOKED UP ALL THE TIME TO MAINTAIN FLOAT VOLTAGE, THE MORE IT SITS THE MORE IT DETERIORATES

Would I be correct in assuming it is a good idea to do regular oil changes/maintenance as one would for an infrequently driven car?YES, STANDBY DIESEL GENERATORS GET OIL CHANGES EVERY 6 MONTHS TO PREVENT ACID BUILDUP IN THE OIL (OR SHOULD)

I'm not new to automotive mechanicals having rebuilt my first car from the ground up and converting it from a four cylinder auto to a six cylinder, four speed (a 1975 Ford TD Cortina which I had for sixteen years) but I am BRAND NEW to anything to do with buses.BLACK AND WHITE WHEN IT COMES TO HEAVY VEHICLES HAVE FOUND

I'm also not new to driving heavy vehicles having driven trucks containing concert touring sound systems in the early 90s but I never actually applied for a HR license (yes, I know, probably not the smartest thing I've ever done! Those were my rebellious years in the rock industry!!), so I still do not have a HR license. Given this bus is currently in Queensland and I'm in South Australia, I would need to get it here and my plan is to either obtain my HR license beforehand and drive it myself or, find someone who currently has a HR license who'd be willing to travel with me and use the journey towards the required hours to obtain my HR license. The latter is far more probable given that I have a limited amount of time before having to move and if this bus ends up being the right one, I'd be making the purchase very soon. GET SOMEONE TO DRIVE IT FOR YOU, IF YOU DO THE DEED, PREFERABLY THAT HAS SOME MECHANICAL EXPERIENCE
What are the thoughts and recommendations of those of you far more experienced in this than me?
APPLY FOR YOUR HR IF YOU ARE GOING TO DO THIS FIRST, SPEND A FEW DOLLARS WITH A TRUCK DRIVING SCHOOL, THEY KNOW WHAT IS BEING LOOKED FOR AND WILL MAKE THE PROCESS OF GETTING IT EASIER, THEN GET AN EXPERIENCED DRIVER ( RETIRED COACH CAPTAIN PERHAPS) TO HELP YOU

The Easyreg SA site doesn't seem to be too clear on the license prices either. It seems to suggest a HR license would cost the same as a regular car license to purchase and renew. Is that correct? AS I SAID IN MY EARLIER POST, THE LIC COST IS NOTHING COMPARED TO THE MONEY PIT THAT LIES AHEAD IF YOU ARE TO DO A BUS CONVERSION

There's probably a ton more questions I'll be likely to think of regarding this planned project but I figured this would be a good starting point to pick the brains of those of you far more experienced in such projects than myself.... and that is probably nearly all of you!! THERE ARE VERY FEW DECKERS AS MOTORHOMES PROBABLY DUE TO HEIGHT AND WEIGHT ISSUES, I WOULD NOT LIKE TO BE STARTING MY MOTORHOME JOURNEY IN A 2 STOREY BUS, A SINGLE DECK IS DAUNTING ENOUGH

Lastly, what are some of the common things (known issues) I should look out for on a 1987 Volgren B10m prior to purchase?
I DON'T KNOW A LOT ABOUT VOLVOS APART FROM THE FACT THAT THE PARTS ARE EXPENSIVE BUT ALL THE COMMON THINGS AFTER 30 YEARS OF SERVICE, LIKE WIRING GETS HARD AND FAILS (EXPERIENCE) SEALS GET HARD AND FAIL (EXPERIENCE) SUSPENSION IS WORN (EXPERIENCE) AND YOU WILL HAVE TO THINK ABOUT REPLACING ALL BRAKES AND SUSPENSION PARTS LIKE AIRBAGS IF YOU WANT A SAFE VEHICLE THAT DOES NOT LET YOU DOWN (EXPERIENCE)

AS AN ASIDE THERE IS A GUY SITTING IN PERTH AT THE MOMENT IN AN IVECO WITH A BLOWN ENGINE, WHICH HAS 300 k'S ON IT AFTER REBUILD (TOTAL) ABOUT $14k WHILE PEOPLE ARGUE ABOUT WHOSE FAULT IT IS. DO YOU HAVE THE FINANCIAL RESOURCES TO STAND SUCH A PROBLEM ?
BUS OWNERSHIP CAN BE FUN AS WELL AS TERRIFYING BUT I CANNOT SEE WHY ANYONE WOULD GO THROUGH THE PAIN OF A CONVERSION, JUST TO LET IT SIT, THESE THINGS ARE BUILT TO BE USED

SORRY ABOUT THE CAPS, EASIEST WAY TO REPLY FOR ME

William
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Re: Double Decker to Mobile Home and Recording Studio

Postby aimeusdietger » Thu Jul 27, 2017 7:37 pm

StudioDave wrote:Hi everyone,

This is my first post here and I'm pretty much brand new to the whole bus to motorhome thing but I have a plan!!
I've been in the music and recording industry for around three decades now and have a private recording studio currently on a farm in the Adelaide Hills. However, I am renting where I am at present and my landlord has given me three months notice due to plans to renovate.

For some time now, I've had many ideas and considered many options to forgoing the rent situation and becoming self sufficient. I'm also qualified in electronics and have around 35 years experience in that field. I'm also no stranger to power tools and DIY projects and plan to design and build some custom recording studio furniture for this project.

So, with all that mentioned, I am seriously considering the purchase of a 1987 Volgren B10m double decker and converting it into my primary residence and recording studio. There's a particular B10m for sale at the moment in Queensland (I live in Adelaide) which the current owner is fitting a new engine to. From what I understand, it currently has the original seating configuration which I'd obviously be removing prior to converting it.

From what I can gather, the B10m seems to be known to be reliable and a popular choice even for older ones given the alloy construction and, from what I've read, solid construction.

Here's a few things I have been considering and some questions:

The rego prices for three axle vs two axle vary heaps but it seems the double deckers all have three axles I assume due to design rule requirements and weight (I could be totally wrong there though!). There's no category for motor homes on the SA Easyreg website but I have just read the topic about SA rego requirements HERE and that has answered a few of my questions.
Given that this project will primarily be my home, I won't be driving it frequently so it seems a waste of money to keep it constantly registered. Is it feasible to register it only when needed (ie three month rego) and would I need to go through inspections each time I want to renew the rego when it has expired? (Again, I'm in Adelaide).

What is the best way to deal with unused diesel when the bus is not being driven?

What are the recommendations for infrequently driven diesel vehicles?

Would I be correct in assuming it is a good idea to do regular oil changes/maintenance as one would for an infrequently driven car?

I'm not new to automotive mechanicals having rebuilt my first car from the ground up and converting it from a four cylinder auto to a six cylinder, four speed (a 1975 Ford TD Cortina which I had for sixteen years) but I am BRAND NEW to anything to do with buses.

I'm also not new to driving heavy vehicles having driven trucks containing concert touring sound systems in the early 90s but I never actually applied for a HR license (yes, I know, probably not the smartest thing I've ever done! Those were my rebellious years in the rock industry!!), so I still do not have a HR license. Given this bus is currently in Queensland and I'm in South Australia, I would need to get it here and my plan is to either obtain my HR license beforehand and drive it myself or, find someone who currently has a HR license who'd be willing to travel with me and use the journey towards the required hours to obtain my HR license. The latter is far more probable given that I have a limited amount of time before having to move and if this bus ends up being the right one, I'd be making the purchase very soon.
What are the thoughts and recommendations of those of you far more experienced in this than me?

The Easyreg SA site doesn't seem to be too clear on the license prices either. It seems to suggest a HR license would cost the same as a regular car license to purchase and renew. Is that correct?

There's probably a ton more questions I'll be likely to think of regarding this planned project but I figured this would be a good starting point to pick the brains of those of you far more experienced in such projects than myself.... and that is probably nearly all of you!!

Lastly, what are some of the common things (known issues) I should look out for on a 1987 Volgren B10m prior to purchase?


Converting a bus into a motorhome is a tough task and it gets even tougher when it comes to a double decker bus. Basic physics tells me that the C.og will be a big issue and this will bring instability during movement and harsh rainy weather. I see people opting to construct tiny homes or studios on wheels instead of converting a bus. I'm not sure about the cost difference though.
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Re: Double Decker to Mobile Home and Recording Studio

Postby bagmaker » Thu Jul 27, 2017 11:53 pm

Wow! Digging up an 18 month old thread! Got to love the internet eh?
LOTS of weight down low, not much up high. Typically rated for over 21 tonne of bus, passenger and luggage, not too stressed about a shell with some kitchen in it. They are pretty stable.
That said, airbags and road cambers do get some movement happening. When I purchased mine it had sticks jutting from the window edges. Cyclone went past not long before hand.
Not a problem
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Re: Double Decker to Mobile Home and Recording Studio

Postby rustbucket » Fri Jul 28, 2017 3:02 pm

Wonder what happened to him ?

Wayne if you have time to peruse 18 month old threads it is going to take you years to finish yours !
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Re: Double Decker to Mobile Home and Recording Studio

Postby bagmaker » Mon Oct 02, 2017 1:11 pm

HA yes, it has. But I peruse at night and build in spare time.
Years still
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