Removing School Bus Seats

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2015-09-03: I made this instructable in 2008, and it's had pretty heavy and steady traffic since then. I never did follow through with my plan to make an instructable for each part of the conversion, because largely because we made stuff up as we went along.

The cross country trip was a lot of fun, we documented as much as we could at juanway.org

Since then, my partner and I have decided to turn the bus into a tiny home, you can follow this at bus.life. If you're interested in working on a similar conversion, I have a list of online resources here.

Thanks for reading, and good luck with your conversion!

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Some friends and I are converting a school bus into an RV/Roadtripmobile to take across the country next summer. This summer, we're going to be doing a lot of work getting the bus (and ourselves) ready for the trip. This is something I've wanted to do for a long time, and while there are some well documented bus conversion projects online, they never quite gave me what I wanted.

So my goal with this is to address everything I had wondered about before I got my bus, and detail it simply and clearly online (both here and at our website: juanway.org). There will be more at all major stages including installing bunks, benches, basic plumbing, and getting the bus to run on veggie oil. But we're not there yet. This one is about the first major obstacle - removing the seats.

Step 1: What You'll Need

You'll need a different tool depending on where you're unbolting / unscrewing.

You'll need a ratchet (socket wrench) for the nuts inside the bus.
Where the seats were bolted to the side of the bus, we used a 1/2" socket.
Where the seats were bolted in the center (next to the aisle) we used a 7/16" socket.
There were a couple odd bolts which had probably been replaced by a mechanic after the bus was manufactured, so be ready for that.
Underneath the bus, someone should hold the nut in place with a wrench (7/16" in our case).

Many sites recommend an angle grinder, to just pop the bolts off, and as far as I have seen that works, but if you have the man power, the ratchet/wrench combo is pretty easy, and several people can work at once. Also, more people are likely to have those than an angle grinder.

Step 2: Disconnect Seats From the Walls of Bus

This is by far the quickest part of the whole process. Have one person go around to each seat and remove the two bolts connecting the seat to the side of the bus. They'll need a ratchet and a 1/2" socket.

While this person is busy doing this, you can get started on the next step.

Step 3: Removing the Center Bolts

This is the harder and more time consuming part.

One person needs to be inside the bus, and they will be turning the bolts with a ratchet (3/8" socket for us).
Another person has to go under the bus to hold the nut with a wrench (7/16" for us). You will want a work glove for this part, and I can almost promise you'll come out with cuts on your hand if you don't have one.

Communication is extremely important at this step, so open the bus windows so you can better hear each other. If the person on top is spinning the bolt, the person underneath won't be able to get a grip so it can unscrew. And of course if the two people are working on different bolts, nothing will get done.

An easy way to stay on the same page is to start at one end of the bus, so you both know what bolts you're on. The person on top can spin a bolt a little bit to show the person underneath which bolt they'll be working on. This system worked well for us, and make the process pretty quick.

Lastly, bolts will break. This bus is 18 years old, and the bolts are pretty rusty. They will break, but it usually doesn't matter, as you can still get the seats out. Less work for you!

Step 4: Remove the Seats

Remove the seats and clean up the bus.
Caulk the empty holes so nothing crawls up into your bus and makes a home.

Then you're ready to make the floor plan and start construction.

We've got a video in the next step if you want to see it.

Step 5: Video


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    56 Discussions

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    tomasina

    Question 9 months ago on Step 2

    Thank you for this ible. Did you ever weigh just one bench seat? The weight may be negligble, but i want to factor that in along with average adult & child weights to get an idea of how much weight i have to work with when converting.

    How much did you sell the seats for?
    I am looking to buy some and I am trying to get a ball park estimate of what to pay per seat.

    3 replies

    I can see some poor school bus driver somewhere pulling out of a parking space in the morning and the seats in the back start banging around.

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    Schmidty16

    6 years ago on Introduction

    man my best friend and i drempt of makeing a bus into a hose on the road when we were just like 8years old and i still dream of doing it

    5 replies
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    somjuanSchmidty16

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Keep an eye out for new instructables coming from me then. It's been a while, admittedly, since I posted this one, and lots has happened to the bus. It has been completely outfitted into a road trip machine, and I'm now renovating it into a 4 season camper. I'll be starting in the coming weeks, and I'll be better about documenting things this time around.

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    somjuanSchmidty16

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    To keep you busy in the meantime, the website for my roadtrip is juanway.org. There's a bit of documentation on there, but not much. I'm building separate site for the bus itself, and will be documenting changes both here and there. I'll try and make some slideshows or videos of what has already been done, but I can only do so much there since it's all been completed for some time now. The rest of the project will be posted as parts are completed. This will be a slow process, and I'm not expecting to finish completely until the spring.

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    Phaethon

    7 years ago on Introduction

    Hey, how much would you say those bus seats weigh on average? I'm trying to do some weight calculations for a project of my own, and it'd help to know what the weight of a school bus is without them.

    1 reply
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    somjuanPhaethon

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I'm not really sure - I never specifically weighed any of them, and I wouldn't say I'm good at estimating. That said, 30lbs is probably a safe bet, certainly no more than 50. I'm actually rather curious about the weight of the bus without seats as well. I've never brought it through scales, but before I made any modifications to it, the gross weight was listed as 26,000lbs. I've since added at least as much weight as the seats I removed, so I'll be sure to make a note of it if I ever get it weighed.

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    somjuansaberwing

    Reply 8 years ago on Step 1

    It's as easy as just crawling underneath.  There's a whole lot of space down there - enough to attach some sizable water tanks or cook a meal (when there is no other shade).

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    somjuanCameronSS

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    fair question - I was hoping I'd be able to sell them to other college students (to use in dorm rooms or whatever). but when I had been thinking that, I thought they had 4 legs...and they don't. So understandably, no one really wants them. I'm thinking of just calling up the local bus company and seeing if they're interested.