Skoolie counters are always a challenge to build. You have the room for the depth but the height can be a problem. And the biggest problem is we have never done this before. Not just the building but living with the counters is a new experience. So how do we know what will work or what we will like?
Your kitchen counter is about 2 feet deep. On a Skoolie you can keep that same depth. However your typical kitchen counters are a lot higher than the height of a school bus window. Some people build the counters the same height as in their house kitchens. But that is a mistake.
Counter Hight is an Issue
A school bus is designed to have the windows replaced easily. This is a vehicle designed around utility. With a screwdriver and a little elbow grease you can remove a window in a few minutes. Once the screws are removed that hold it in place, the bottom of the window kicks inward and the window comes out.
If you build tall counters that block the bottom of the window you will not be able to remove the window without taking the counter and cabinets out first. Your window glass doesn’t need to break to need to remove it. If the window latch breaks, and they fail all the time, they can be fix and replaced easily, AFTER the window is removed.
Skoolie Counter & Cabinet Weight
Typical kitchen cabinets are strong sturdy heavy units. In a house weight is not an issue. However in a Skoolie weight should be a concern. Sure a school bus is a truck and can carry somewhere around 8000 pounds (depending on your bus). Just because it can doesn’t mean it should.
Keeping the counters and cabinets as light as possible will help with fuel economy, performance, and safety. A Skoolie is a bit top heavy, adding lots and lots of weight above the floor line can make the bus less stable. A heavy bus doesn’t perform well, and we all know Skoolies are not big on performance. More importantly the lighter a bus is the better the fuel economy will be.
Why Kee Lite?
In order to keep our Skoolie counters light, adjustable and strong we went with aluminum pipe and Kee Lite fittings. The counters are at the height of the windows, for us that is 30 inches. The Kee Lite fittings from Simplified Building made the job of building these counters very easy. Nothing in the bus is really level or straight. With this building system we can adjust things AFTER they are cut.
Our counters are extremely strong and more importantly they are silent. A Skoolie rides like a truck, because that is what it is. Even with the rough ride our counters don’t make a sound.
We Don’t Know What We Want!
After our first trip in the bus we learned a lot about what we like. Having never lived in a Skoolie before there was a lot to learn. We found that the lower counter height was NOT an issue. After the first day you don’t notice it at all.
However we are thinking of making some adjustments and changes to our layout. Thankfully the Kee Lite system allows us to quickly and easily take things down and move them around. If we had built house-type kitchen cabinets we would be looking at major work to make just a few small changes.
A Cow Don’t Make Ham!
A Skoolie is a bus, which is a truck. It is not a cabin or a house. It will never ride as nice as a real RV. It will never be as warm (or cool) as an RV. But if you put function over form you will have a very comfortable space to live in.
Our goal was to have a bus that Abides. One that doesn’t pretend to be anything other than what it is. One that was as comfortable, safe, and economical as it could be. Thanks to Kee Lite and Simplified Building we think we are getting close to that goal. But that’s like, our opinion, man.