After a long wait, my custom build bus from Rustic Hippie Build (Indiana) was mine on 7/13/22. I traded my beloved F150 I lived in for 4 years for the “big” upgrade. But as soon as I drove it away, I had issues. First, the engine light, which I had thought would be resolved with a trip to the local mechanic. But it came right back on. The mechanic told me I could drive it for a while but get it serviced when the timing was right. A bad O2 sensor was the code for both passenger (which was replaced) and driver side). So after a fun month in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, I took it to a shop around Presque Isle, MI. That mechanic told me my issues were much more significant than my O2 sensor, including rear differential, steering gear, rear brakes, transmission fluid, and such. I told him to do whatever it took to make it safe to drive all the miles. I had a lot of United States to see!
After a long 2+ weeks, I needed my home back. It’s a long time to be displaced, and it feels even longer when the mechanic tells you your bus will be done…and never is. He finally wrapped it up, only to say to me he thought something was still wrong…not to mention my O2 sensor issue came right back as soon as I drove it away. His complete re-build of my rear differential…apparently wasn’t right.
I didn’t feel confident he would ever get it right, and after all that time, I could tell he would take just as long, if not longer, to maybe ‘get it right’. So I asked him if I could make it to Montana, where my friend works at Glacier National Park, and he has had a bad differential experience (as well as a lousy mechanic).
My mechanic assured me I’d make that.
Today I am not so sure. First, I noticed the loud high pitched noise, which my latest mechanic called, ‘a noise I don’t like’, well that noise has turned into a roar. Then, after being parked for a couple hours, I returned to find steering fluid pouring out of my brand new steering wheel gearbox. I found a mechanic just outside Mount Rushmore who told me it looks like the seal is bad, and directed me to a Napa up the street to get more fluid. A very nice man there supplied me with a seal stopper (supposed to help slow the leak) and more fluid. It was getting late, on a Friday no less, so I drove my trembling bus to a parking lot north of Deadwood, SD, to crash for the night.
I had informed the builders of all these issues, to which they told me, “welcome to bus life.” They knew from the start that I lived on the road full time and had no literal home. They chose this bus and calmed all my concerns (mostly rust), promising it would be fine. But as soon as it was seriously not fine, they called me ungrateful and asked what did I expect for a $20k bus? I would have happily paid more if integrity was on the line…but it was never even an option presented.
I’m already at close to $9k in repairs, with none being helpful.
So if you found this by subscribing to my blog, or passing me as I super carefully limp to Montana, maybe send some prayers, a hug, or donate to my cause. I had big plans to create cinematic content about living on the road, and learn how to make delicious food and beverages for people hit by disasters in their area. I was going to call it ’Misery Loves Coffee & Company,’ fitting, right?
After sustaining myself in my truck for over 4 years, I KNOW this is NOT what bus life is, and while shaky, I will stand my ground in telling my side of the story. I do not think it’s right to have bought a vehicle that wasn’t mechanically sound from the start.
If you had told me that after only one month of living in the bus, that it would break down, I wouldn’t have believed you. But here we are.
Thanks for reading xx Katie, Indy, and Shorty 💌🏻💌
P.S. I started a campaign on Fundly, any help appreciated, but more than anything, thank you for reading my story.