Ethan Kaufmann, a current Senior, had a dream to find an old, unused bus and transform it into something much more – a home. Over the last year, he has done just that. After finding the perfect bus on Craigslist, Ethan – along with the help of his family and YouTube – stripped out the old and built a fully-functioning and, frankly, beautiful RV complete with state-of-the-art living area, kitchen, bathroom, bunks, and master bedroom.
Ethan admits that he’s always been a hands-on person, but a project like this not only takes gumption, it takes skills far beyond most high school students. With the help of his father and grandfather – a trained carpenter – Ethan filled in what knowledge he didn’t already have with YouTube tutorials on electric, plumbing, and general construction.
While Ethan is still completing the final touches to his project, he is looking forward to the many memories that will be made aboard his new home on wheels. Continue reading to hear about the full project and Ethan’s plans for his RV in the future.
Tell us a bit about your bus project.
I bought it from someone on Craigslist in April of 2018. I spent the entire summer stripping it down, and in September, I started building it back up. Stripping it down involved things like removing the old floor, wall panels, ceiling panels, and fixing the rust. It was around November that I finished the tear-down and started building everything from scratch. I have since put in place a new floor, new walls and a new ceiling, among other things. Now, it has a living area, kitchen, bathroom, bunks, and a master bedroom.
What inspired you to get started and how have you taught yourself to do the construction?
Ever since I was pretty young I have always thought about how you could make a pretty sweet RV out of a bus. I have always been a hands-on person, and what kid doesn’t love the idea of an RV? A house on wheels? Sign me up! The idea didn’t come to fruition until a year and a half ago when I started actually considering this project. It was junior year, and I didn’t really have any major personal projects, and I was really itching for one. So I was able to sell my parents on the idea, and they (surprisingly) let me do it.
Most of the construction I have either learned from online websites and forums, or from my father and grandfather. My grandfather was a carpenter and snap on tool salesman for his whole life, and my father always has a lot of irons in the fire when it comes to projects around the house, so he is a pretty all-around knowledgeable guy. Some stuff, like electrical wiring, I already knew how to do, but something like carpentry I had never done any of before. I learned all that I have on this project so far from the internet, and my dad and grandpa.
How long have you been working on the bus and have you been working on it alone or have you had help?
I have had a lot of help from my family as a whole. Parents, brothers, grandparents, etc. I’ve been working on it for a little over a year now, since I bought it back in April of 2018.. Of course, I’ve had help from other people like friends, siblings, my mom, etc. For example, my mom and sister did all of the taping and painting.
What has been the most challenging part of this project?
The most challenging thing has been keeping the “eyes on the prize,” so to speak. Back in the summer during the “stripping it down” stage it was difficult to keep working, since every day after working for hours it felt like nothing was changing. Once the build out started, the hardest thing has been keeping direction, and coming up with some sort of plan to get where we are going. I know what I wanted the end product to look like, but where to even start when there is so much to do (from scratch) is something that takes some figuring out.
What is your plan for the bus upon its completion?
During the summer I will take it on trips with friends, both short and far. National and state parks, music festivals, concerts, you name it. I don’t really have a road map, but the idea is that if I have friends that are free, and we want to go somewhere, we will just go. We won’t have anything planned out months in advance, but we will be flying by the seat of our pants, which is how I like it
After I graduate, it will stay at home, where my parents can use it. I’m going to attend The University of Cincinnati, so if I want to use it on weekends and breaks I can just drive two hours home and get it.