When the owner of a coach company decides it’s time to retire, there’s really only one obvious thing to do … convert one of the buses into an RV and hit the road.
And that was exactly the path taken by Ben Wetselaar when he decided to wind up Launceston-based KNB coaches.
Among his fleet was a beautiful 1986 Denning Landseer with a 6v 92 TA rated at 350hp with a six-speed crash box … and Ben and his wife Lindy quickly decided selling her was not an option.
“We always loved camping and so the idea of converting her into a motorhome was born,” said Ben. “It started with us pulling out all the seats and laying tape on the floor as to where we wanted things.”
Some 18 months later the fit-out was completed. The Wetselaars did a lot of the work themselves and estimate it ended up costing them about $10,000.
The final result was eye-catching.
The bus has 1200w of solar panels on the roof, a full ‘house’ fridge, a full queen size bed, and there’s plenty of storage in the old overhead luggage racks.
And it has a Drifta pull-out kitchen set-up in one of the bins under the vehicle.
“Living onboard, we call it a one-bedroom apartment,” laughs Ben. “Most grey nomads in caravans seem to keep away at first … but they eventually stop for a chat!”
The most common question asked is ‘how much does it cost to fill up with fuel’.
“Well, if you run a big rig it’s got to have fuel and she’s got an 800-litre tank so, at 3.2 kilometres per litre, it goes a long way,” said Ben. “And rego and insurance costs around $2000 a year.”
Ben and Lindy recently spent 18 months travelling in the bus, including a trip across to Bruny Island and an extended time on the mainland.
“Taking our bus over to the mainland, including a car and the cabin, on the ferry cost us around $850 each way,” said Ben.
For much of their recent trip the couple towed a Land Rover Discovery but, as they headed north in Queensland, they made a big decision.
“The hitching up/off became a bit of a pain, and we needed to lose a couple kilograms, so we left the Disco in Toowoomba and picked it up on the way home,” said Ben. “Did we miss it? Not really, we shopped at most big towns where there was plenty of parking and, in other places, we even got a home delivery done.”
The Wetselaars are now back home for a while and Ben says the bus can always be used as a spare room ‘if the wife is cranky’.
“She is packed and ready for our next adventure, whether it be a weekend away or our next long trip,” he said. “Although, with fuel prices at the moment, a short trip will be the go!”