College-bound Student Renovates Bus into Home
Evan Jaworski in his one-of-a-kind VW Bug
Gallery: Evan Jaworski bus renovation [9 Images] Click any image to expand.
By Kerry Pipes
Evan Jaworski graduated from Timberview High School this year. Like many students he’ll be headed off to four years of higher education this fall. But Jaworski won’t be living in a dorm, he’ll be living in a renovated bus. He’s doing all the work himself – with a little help from his parents – and doesn’t think it odd at all.
Jaworski was born in Corpus Christi, moved to Michigan when he was 5 years old and moved to the Mansfield area with his family about seven years ago. Since then, he has devoted himself to fixing up a classic 1966 Volkswagen bug and has now turned his attention to an old 1968 Crown school bus that’s 37 feet long and on its way to becoming a home on wheels.
The 18-year-old has two older sisters and an older brother and two loving parents, Allen and Deidre. We had a chance to visit with Evan and find out a little more about what makes him tick. He’s an interesting kid with a bright future ahead of him.
Tell us more about the bus restoration project you are working on.
I have been working on converting a 1968 Crown school bus into a nice home. It will have all of the comforts of home, including a bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, lights, stereo, air-conditioning, everything needed to live comfortably, with the convenience of being able to drive it to any location. It is about 37 feet long with a Cummins diesel mounted in the middle under the floor. It has a 5-speed manual transmission and airbrakes. For a 46- year-old bus, it runs and drives pretty well. These old Crown busses were built exceptionally well and many of them remained in service for over 30 years. I suspect mine was taken out of service sometime in the mid ‘90s when it was converted to an RV. The first thing to be done was remove the first conversion, as the construction was quite poor, and the layout wasn’t suitable for my tastes. My dad and I are now building the inside from the floor up. Well actually, he is doing most of the interior construction, while my mom and I work on the body, getting it ready for paint, and eventually painting it.
How did you come up with the idea? Where did you get the vehicle? How long to restore, etc.?
I have been wanting to live in a vehicle for quite some time. I thought about living in a van or an RV but neither of those options seemed right. A van would be too small and RV’s are not built to nearly the same structural standards that school busses are. A few years ago my brother Roy and his wife (and two dogs and a cat) set off on a cross country “keep the faith and live free tour” in an old school bus. They would help people on the side of the road and pick up hitchhikers. They were having a great time living in their bus. So that was a kind of inspiration to find and live in a bus of my own, though not exactly doing the same thing they did. I had been looking on Craigslist for a bus for quite a while before I found the perfect one this last August. It was on the Austin Craigslist. I had seen pictures of Crown school busses before, but I never thought I’d find one in Texas for a reasonable price. A few weeks after finding the ad I was in Austin with my brother and we drove it back here to Mansfield. Progress on the bus was slow during the school year, but I’m projecting the work to be complete this summer.
How did you get interested in working on vehicles?
I have been interested in mechanical things for as long as I can remember. As a little kid I was fascinated by old steam trains. Later on I developed a fascination and borderline obsession with old VW’s, and got my ‘66 bug, which I learned how to work on and maintain.
How long have you been doing this?
I got my car at the end of 8th grade (2010). I then slowly learned how to tune the engine and do body work and other things of that nature. Before this I knew nothing about how to work on cars at all. Working on the mechanical parts of the bus is a lot different than the car, but I’m sure I’ll be able to figure it out.
What other kinds of things have you renovated?
Really just my car. I renovated it, removed rust, painted it and got it into good running condition slowly over the course of about two years. I have since put over 10,000 miles on it. It is my first and only car that I do not plan on getting rid of any time soon. For a while a few years back I was also interested in old radios, and I did manage to get one working again, but then my car came around and my interests shifted to that.
Describe how your family has supported your interest?
Throughout my life, my parents have always supported my interests, from old record players, to jukeboxes, to Volkswagens, they have been behind me all the way. While I paid for most of the things I did on my car, the bus project would not be possible without their financial help and especially my dad’s knowledge of general construction. He can build just about anything!
What kind of student are you? Favorite subject?
I’d say I am a good student. I have taken several AP classes and TCC dual credit courses all for college credit. I am graduating in the top 10 percent of my class. My favorite subjects would have to be English, sign language, and of course band.
While my interests have shifted over the years, I have always been interested in vintage mechanical and electrical things. In first grade I got my first record player, and proceeded to build a collection. Over the years I have fostered an interest in record players, records, jukeboxes, radios, typewriters, film projectors, reel-to-reel tape players, Volkswagens and school busses. I believe old things are best used for their intended purpose. I have done a number of school projects on a manual typewriter, and like to listen to records. I also enjoy writing, attending drum circles and running on occasion.
What else do you do in your spare time?
When I have spare time, I like to listen to music (I like to record music off the Internet on to reel-to-reel tape, gives it a more analog, tangible feel), write journals or stories, or poems, watch YouTube videos, and search the web for pictures and ideas for the bus. There is a website, www.skoolie.net, that is all about school bus conversions, otherwise known as Skoolies. I have also volunteered at the Mansfield Historical Museum for the last two years, helping to preserve and learn about Mansfield history.
How would you describe your personality?
I am a very calm person. I am slow to anger and always think about something before doing it. I try to always do what I believe is the right thing. I like to live under the mantra “Whatever will be will manifest itself eventually.” As stated in my favorite rock opera “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Save tomorrow for tomorrow, think about today instead.” The other side of my personality is my mildly eccentric and artistic side, which is more of what led me to paint my car in wild designs and colors, and live in a school bus. I don’t actively try to seek attention by the things I do, but I can’t say I don’t appreciate what positive attention comes my way.
What are your college/career plans?
I plan to move to Austin this summer once the bus is complete, and go to Austin Community College to study American Sign Language and get a degree in interpreting. I enjoyed the two sign language classes I took in high school, and feel that interpreting would be a good career. I really don’t have any long-term plans after that, whatever will be…
What do you like the most about going to school in Mansfield?
Overall, I have enjoyed going to school in Mansfield. I have had many great teachers over the years. I am very grateful to have been part of the great band program all the way through where I have not only learned marching and music, but have also made many good friends. I’m looking forward to the future, but will always remember the time I spent here at Icenhower, Coble and Timberview.
Who has inspired you and why?
While my brother has inspired me with the bus, my parents are my biggest inspiration. They have showed me how to work diligently while always remembering who I am as an individual. They have showed me what it means to be a good neighbor, and a good friend.
Ice cream or apple pie?
Well, I am vegan, so unless it has no animal products, I’ll skip dessert.
I can’t think of anything weird or indulgent about what I eat, but last year I did eat corn on the cob during a physics class on several occasions. Oh, and I absolutely love popcorn, preferably popped in a pan on the stove.
What are you most proud of?
I’m not a person who is proud of lots of things, but if I had to point out something, I suppose it would be my car for being on the road after 48 years and still being somewhat practical and reliable. When it comes to the things I have accomplished, academic or otherwise, it just seems to me that I was doing what I was supposed to do.