People's thoughts on mini bus conversion (18 seater).

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  • Hi.

    Not actually buying right now but starting to research and build a picture.

    I plan to take two bikes on travel with me. Road bike and bmx (they my baby girls). But also I would be using the van to do a lot of online work from, and generally I just like space. Good for the mind :)

    So a LWB Transit or LDV etc is gonna be too small unless I get a roof rack which isn't the prefered option. Cause still they look a but too cramped for my liking.

    A Luton would be ok but look rather large, noisy and relatively bulky compared to even a large mini bus which looks more subtle in comparison?

    I have seen these which look ok.…ain_3&hash=item20fe5f053f

    Or this which is 33 seater bus.. I only have normal license currently, would this class as a 7.5?…ain_3&hash=item28031c65f6

    Good to hear some thoughts. :waves:

  • So insulate them more because it gets hot? Won't I technically get even hotter? :S

    Or did you mean cold?

    Yeah that's one thing that jumped out at me instantly is heat and light. If relaxing in nighttime with lights on I'd assume some light leak would happen woudn't it?

  • Would these be too small?(example links below) The big Iveco daily's xlwb hi-roof or xlwb iveco seddon especially the 59 and 65 are huge inside much bigger than LWB transit (except poss the Jumbo as its based on the Iveco) and LDV's and often used for motocycle racing competitors who want living accomm and garage/workshop.....When you take out any coach seating and get the vehicle reclassified as private or motorhome you should also be able to get the gross weight/taxation class downrated to 3.5 ton so long as the base vehicle doesnt exceed 3.5 ton.
    The daily's I know commonly come in 5 and 6.5 ton versions and can be downrated but I dont know anything about the big mercs-I would assume they can. The thing I like about the Iveco's is they have the huge internal space and really good ground clearance whereas some -not all - mini-coaches have very low slung coachwork for ease of access for the elderly and disabled which 'might' present problems accessing the rougher parking sites or some quirky British lanes with severe humpback bridges and hairpin climbs and stuff. I dont know for sure with the vehicles youre looking at as Ive only ever had a big 53 seater Ford Plaxton converted coach and although it was very maneuvreable and capable, the size of that restricted me a lot as to where I went, but Id certainly want to consider all aspects if Im going to be touring far and wide in it. ie Id like to have a vehicle thats not going to restrict where I go simply by its size and what its originally been built for. If you look at a lot of coachbuilt motorhomes they may well be huge but generally they have thought about ground clearance and break-over angles to avoid grounding the body or chassis or underslung tanks.
    The other lesser aspect is the size of the windows,I love the Renault in the link you posted but while the windows may be attractive for travlling passengers they create a lot of heat build up in the sun and conversly serious heat loss in winter add on the fact youre going to be living in a goldfish bowl,not able to park up stealthily if you need to and possibly having windows broken too and theyre not cheap so personally Id perhaps avoid buses with oversize windows or consider boarding over some internally or at least consider how you will deal with all that.Even coachbuilt luxury motorhomes dont have massive windows and have aircon which may tell you something.
    Everyone is different and has differnt needs of a vehilce but for the points Ive raised Id prefer to have a plain van with window in the side door and put in skylights in the roof for light.Its easier to design a useful interior with plenty of storage around that kind of van, easier to insulate and more secure.Some of the big vans come with sideload doors both sides so you could build in a bike store in one and leave the other for accessing the interior of the vehicle.The more window glass usually means the more problems you have to design around.

  • So insulate them more because it gets hot? Won't I technically get even hotter? :S

    Or did you mean cold?

    Yeah that's one thing that jumped out at me instantly is heat and light. If relaxing in nighttime with lights on I'd assume some light leak would happen woudn't it?

    If you insulate it will keep the heat out in the hot weather and the heat in in cold weather.

    Like a thermos flask that will keep hot hot or cold cold.

    And yes, you'll need good thick curtains on the windows you keep - both for insulation and for privacy.

  • The big mercs are harder to down rate. My 709 Alexander body merc weighed 4250 with 23 seats in. Even if you managed to get it down classed it would weigh so close to 3.5 a proper conversion might not be an option.
    I love the 814 D and generally all the big mercs. Absolutely solid trucks. I love buses in general. Mine has 4 windows panelled over and heavy curtains, doesn't get much hotter than my old box truck with no windows. The Bus is two skinned and insulated(ish) anyway so I didn't really have to buy much insulation. I'm looking for a nee one at the moment in fact, the 709 is too small. If you find any exiting big buses let me know ;)

    I would stay away from Renault masters. I used to have one, it was an absolute pain. If this is a long term plan, could you not budget in some extra £800 and do a C1 Licence?

  • Vans have a tendency to narrow towards the top making the storage cupboards up there smaller by mecessity; minibuses tend to have straight walls with a square profile, this allowing larger, square cupboards a d easier insulation / panelling. Toby

  • Would these be too small?

    The 2nd link, the mini bus, is that the exact same dimensions (width) as the 3rd link (panel van)? The window mini bus appears wider but I'm guessing not. Also on that mini bus one the set up with seats, would be no fun with friends in the bus, feel like you are driving them all over Europe, ha!

    The mini bus looks good size wise though, ideally something slightly wider though like the one I posted.…item28031c65f6&rmvSB=true

    Would that be a C1? I am guessing so?
    It would be long term yeah, at least 1 to 2 years to begin with.. And as I'd be doing some work from there also the space would be an advantage.

    What would the fuel costs be like on that Merc 814d?

    I have a while till I am buying but just trying to understand more.

  • Hi
    the ebay lnks aret working now but the vans would be the same more or less I think the one is a lwb and the other an xlwb so slightly longer wheelbase and body but the 59 60 and 65 lwb are all aroud the same dimensions.The wide coach versions would be built by a custom coachbuildrs like Plaxton on the manufacturers chassis cab. the minibus link is a disability bus with removable seats they fit in a track in the floor,you can get them with coach seats but since youre going to be taking them all out to convert to a motorhome I doubt it matters...tbh I only posted the pics as examples of the vehicle derivatives to give you some ideas.

    If youre not buying for some time then I would seriously consider doing your C1 so that you can drive the heavier vehicles.

    I know the Iveco's can be downrated to 3.5 ton and usually costs about £350 plus the MOT test to do that.Its quite a light van unladen and the '60' for instance means its rated at 6 tons which means its got a 6 ton train weight including a trailer not how much it can carry.
    The mercs are much heavier construction and as has been pointed out may not b downrateable...I dont know personally..Ive only ever downrated an Iveco van in the past and personally Id only ever really consider buying another Iveco or a Mercedes van, theyre very well built and very reliable economical and easy to find parts for.