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Students convert 1988 Ford E-350 short bus into rolling tiny home!


This 1988 Ford Econoline 350 Short Bus Conversion is a guest post by Lacey Leonard

My name is Lacey Leonard and I am an undergraduate Sculpture Student. This was my tiny house project and I am very excited to share it with you!

The bus is a 1988 Ford Econoline 350 with Short Thomas Bus Chassis. This bus was an undergraduate research project in sustainability, mid-century design, and woodworking. The entire interior is hand built with Virginia barn wood dating 150 years back (some of the pieces go back even further).

The project took about one year to complete and was a collaboration between art students. We designed and executed the bus to be functional and ergonomically through mid-century design. The bus is completely off-grid but has room for personal modifications.

There is a composting toilet, fold-out kitchen counter, stainless steel protected space for the heat source, AC unit, tiny closet, bench storage, sink, and red oak wood floor.

The wood used in the bus is red oak, white oak, chestnut, poplar, pine, birch, walnut, and redwood.

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Students design and build short school bus conversion/rolling tiny home

Students convert 1988 Ford E-350 short bus into rolling tiny home!

Images © Lacey Leonard

Students convert 1988 Ford E-350 short bus into rolling tiny home!

Images © Lacey Leonard

Related: Adventurous Couple’s DIY School Bus Motorhome

Students convert 1988 Ford E-350 short bus into rolling tiny home!

Images © Lacey Leonard

Students convert 1988 Ford E-350 short bus into rolling tiny home!

Images © Lacey Leonard

Students convert 1988 Ford E-350 short bus into rolling tiny home!

Images © Lacey Leonard

Students convert 1988 Ford E-350 short bus into rolling tiny home!

Images © Lacey Leonard

Students convert 1988 Ford E-350 short bus into rolling tiny home!

Images © Lacey Leonard

Students convert 1988 Ford E-350 short bus into rolling tiny home!

Images © Lacey Leonard

Students convert 1988 Ford E-350 short bus into rolling tiny home!

Images © Lacey Leonard

Students convert 1988 Ford E-350 short bus into rolling tiny home!

Images © Lacey Leonard

Students convert 1988 Ford E-350 short bus into rolling tiny home!

Images © Lacey Leonard

Students convert 1988 Ford E-350 short bus into rolling tiny home!

Images © Lacey Leonard

Students convert 1988 Ford E-350 short bus into rolling tiny home!

Images © Lacey Leonard

Students convert 1988 Ford E-350 short bus into rolling tiny home!

Images © Lacey Leonard

Video: Students Convert Short Bus to DIY Motorhome

Our big thanks to Lacey Leonard for sharing with us!🙏

You can send this short school bus conversion story to your friends for free using the social media and e-mail share buttons below. Thanks!

If you enjoyed this short school bus conversion you’ll absolutely LOVE our Free Daily Tiny House Newsletter with even more! Thank you! 

Related: Meet Kelly Patton the Traveling Artist and Tiny Dweller

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Alex

Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!
{ 27 comments… add one }
  • September 28, 2015, 10:51 pm

    Wow! You guys did a great job converting this bus into a motorhome . What a clever idea! This would be great to use if you wanted to travel across the country.

    Hopefully you will get the price your asking. Good Luck!! Carol

  • Avatar jo chanin
    September 29, 2015, 7:57 am

    Beautiful.

  • Avatar Sandra
    September 29, 2015, 12:47 pm

    I love all the flowery prose in the description, but this is pretty much a very simple bus conversion. Not special, beyond the fact that’s it’s a school project. I too would have done a lot more research. Live and learn.

    • Avatar Michael L
      May 24, 2017, 11:12 pm

      So please, show us your project, Sandra. I’m sure there are many who would love to see how well all of your research turned out!

      • Avatar Sandra
        May 25, 2017, 12:48 pm

        Sure. Mine is featured in Tiny House Talk under the byline “could you live in this tiny designer inspired home”
        Btw. Not a designer.
        And my comment was pretty benign. The outside was neat, inside was not that great.
        A lot of people commented on mine. Some positive and others negative. Didn’t bother me at all

  • Avatar Marsha Cowan
    September 29, 2015, 3:12 pm

    It’s a beautiful and cleverly done tiny bus. It About the same size as mine, 71/2 feet wide and 10 long feet up to the back of the driver’s seat. That makes about 75 square feet of living space, so they must be including the area from the back of the driver’s seat to the front of the hood. No matter, beautifully done!

  • Avatar Sharee
    September 29, 2015, 4:09 pm

    What class driver’s license (CA) do you need to drive this shuttle bus?

  • Avatar Susan
    September 29, 2015, 4:51 pm

    Hi Lacey. love your little bus. also love the banjo music you used in the background. is there any way I can get that banjo music?

  • Avatar Vicky White
    September 30, 2015, 12:56 am

    Hi Lacy,
    Love your little bus. Anyone who actually starts….. and finishes a creative project of any kind has achieved a lot and more than anyone who has just talked about something, never started, or not finished. It takes guts. Good on you! I’m living in a bus and traveling around NZ – I can only imagine the amount of work that went into building my bus so I could live in it. Congratulations.

  • Avatar Marion
    September 30, 2015, 6:12 am

    I just love to look at these tiny houses. Put it behind you whene people are rude. I am 80yrs young and believe me if I were younger I would be on the project .Great looking tiny houses and keep it up. If nothing else you can intertainment me with the photos and stories. God love you Marion

    • Avatar Michele in CA
      September 30, 2017, 9:35 am

      I too wish I were young enough to do this. Arthritis keeps me from this type of heavy physical labor, otherwise I’d give it a try. I often wish tiny homes were a thing when I was in college. I would have gone for it for sure.

      I love seeing the creativity put into each personal bus and van conversion. People design what works for them. Most people who live in them learn over time what they’d do differently and what they’d keep the same.

  • Avatar Deb
    September 30, 2015, 10:23 am

    Hey ,what great idea. Turning a small school bus into a home. I would change the roof line into a cape cod. Just to have more room I would put the bed up their ….If anyone is interested in this idea befun to chat away.
    [email protected] shoot me a email and lets chat way.
    “Can’t wait for some grand Ideas.s ” LOL

  • Avatar Deb
    September 30, 2015, 10:31 am

    Hello, how are you. Having a small place would be fun …I have read part of you writings and thrills me to know people have great ideas. I personally come up with this idea the other day. Take a small bus and turn it into a cape cod home on wheels. I think it is a cool idea. So many pluses ….but one would get countless looks. Driving down the e-way in a cape cod bus funny………
    I am learning how to make chicken wire furniture this is fun and I would of course use my same ideas in the bus. The cape cod roof would hold my bed and for storage …
    Hey have fun with your new idea of a home. [email protected] if you you feel like writing .
    Keep warm, DEB

  • Avatar justagirl
    October 25, 2015, 3:49 pm

    I’m not seeing the mid-century interior – am I missing something?

  • Avatar Krys
    October 25, 2015, 5:07 pm

    I applaud the thought and effort that was put into this idea. Unfortunately, it looks dreadful. poor taste, poor quality, poor design, and it appears to have used materials that came from a junkyard.

  • Avatar Sherry F.
    October 26, 2015, 2:05 pm

    Thank you Lisa Marie. I found this little bus to be cute and functional, without all the extra fluff I neither need or want. I so appreciate all the planning, hard work and time that went into this project. I was truly enjoying this article until I read some of the negative comments.

  • Avatar Paul
    October 27, 2015, 9:22 am

    Indeed there are way more critics in the world than there are doers.

  • Avatar Michael L
    May 24, 2017, 11:19 pm

    Thank you Lisa! I love this newsletter, but find so many of the comments frustrating and rude. Thanks for sharing your observations.

  • Avatar Blake
    September 29, 2017, 4:11 pm

    A huge high five to undergrad students for bravely taking on a project of this magnitude. Would love to do something similar but have to remind myself that single pane windows and sparse insulation would become rather uncomfortable in the midst of a Canadian winter. So alas more is involved in repurposing a vehicle for full time living here. Love the creativity and originality of the many creations on this site. Hats off to all of you brace enough to dive in and do it for real.

  • Avatar Barb
    September 30, 2017, 9:49 pm

    I like it. You did good. If I had the cash right now, I would purchase it. If it runs. I think its like what I want to start. Just add my own personnal touches. I plan to make my own next spring. Thanks for showing me to try.

  • Avatar David
    October 1, 2017, 6:42 am

    Hi Lisa,

    Great Post!!!, First paragraph, this stirred me up so before I read the rest of your post so I went off on a bit of a rant but come back and edited this and it is exactly why I read but don’t make any comments.

    I am just so happy for the owners of these “Tiny Homes”. Its what they want!!!

    They seam to be so heavily criticized by people who just sit on the fence!!!

    If they don’t like the colors its painted, the style of the doors or the color of the curtains, TOUGH. Build YOUR home the way YOU want it and be happy for the owners of these TINY HOMES!!!

    These people are happy to invite us into “THERE HOMES and THERE STYLE” and its great for ideas!!!

    BE HAPPY FOR THEM!!!

    Regards David

  • Avatar Toni Benton
    December 7, 2017, 5:51 pm

    If I only had the money…100+ year old barn wood?! *Drool*

  • Avatar Debbie
    July 2, 2018, 11:55 pm

    Is it still available? Where is it located, in what state? What is the mechanical condition? What is your current asking price?

  • Avatar Debbie
    May 9, 2019, 11:05 pm

    I seen your post in 2015 & again now in 2019. I responded in July 2018, never got a response. I’m interested in obtaining information. Is your bus still available & what is the current asking price since the last post stated reduced price. What are the inside dimensions side to side & from behind the driver seat to the back door? What is the mechanical condition? Does it have any bathroom facilities in it? I live in California so it is very important that it is mechanically sound, if you are located out of state. Please respond & let me know if available or not. Otherwise please answer questions. I don’t want to pester you if sold. I have been looking for several years for this small size of bus, it looked to be in good condition. You can email me directly at [email protected]. Thank you advance. Debbie

    • Avatar Alex
      May 10, 2019, 11:57 am

      Hi Debbie, I’m sorry but the bus has long been sold. I’ve updated the page to reflect that. My apologies…

  • Avatar Susan
    May 13, 2019, 4:54 pm

    I love seeing everything that “students” create!

    • Avatar Alex
      May 13, 2019, 7:49 pm

      Me too. It’s great to see students building real things like this.

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