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Old 03-03-2008, 01:27 PM   #1
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good deal or no?

My friends and I are going to buy a school bus to convert into a party bus to go to concerts, softball games, road trips, ect. We are looking at a bus that is currently in service by a school corp. it is a 1991 blue bird transit F/E diesle 71 pass. they are asking 2900 firm for it. Is this a good deal? It is still in service so I wont be able to go look at it, but what are some good questions to ask? we have a lot of ideas for it including 2 couches big screen tv, bathroom small kitchen area, and leaving the last 8 ft or so for motorcycle and 4 wheelers and such. we need ideas on how to do things as well. i have looked at some of the threds about electrical and plumbing, but don't understand a lot of the technical talk. we are a handy group of people but just aren't sure about doing a lot of things on a mobile unit. any tips suggestions things of this nature would be great.
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Old 03-03-2008, 02:22 PM   #2
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Re: good deal or no?

if it has a cummins 5.9 liter engine and mt643 trans along with a good rear end ratio like 4.44 or better i'd say go for it....how many miles?

with the above combination you can get 10 mpg. With other less desirable engine/trans/rear end combo's you might get as bad as 6 mpg. Just a couple of big trips can save ya quite a bit of $$ over the life of the vehicle.

the price is a little high for a used skoolie, but if you have the correct powertrain it's worth a little extra up front.
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Old 03-03-2008, 09:33 PM   #3
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Re: good deal or no?

this is all the information it gives me...


1991 - Blue Bird - Blue Bird - Capacity 72



Year: 1991

Bus Type: School Bus


Bus Category: Transit/FE

Mileage: 140,000


Capacity: 72

Location: Indianapolis, Indiana


Availability: 5/08

Chassis Selection

Chassis Make: Blue Bird



Body Make: Blue Bird


Transmission Type: Auto

Fuel Type: Diesel


Transmission Model: AT545

Brakes Type: Air
is this still good?
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Old 03-03-2008, 10:20 PM   #4
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Re: good deal or no?

The AT545 isn't as desirable as the MT643, but it is still nothing to laugh at in terms of strength or dependability. It is safe to assume that the engine is a 6BT Cummins, the same engine used in thousands upon thousands of Dodge pickups. That is a huge benefit when it comes to finding parts and competent mechanics should the needs arise.

I'd like to say the price is a little high, but given the mileage it is still a decent price, especially if it is rust-free.

Check Indiana regulations on what is required to become registered as an RV and whether or not air brakes will be an issue on an RV without an additional license endorsement.

Beyond that, get some pictures and some more information if you want more advice. If you are serious and present yourself as such you should be able to get pictures from the seller and some information on the maintenance history of the vehicle. If not I would look the other way.
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Old 03-03-2008, 11:29 PM   #5
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Re: good deal or no?

Well the thing is the bus is still in service by a local school district, the seller doesn't have any pictures or anything until the first of May. another reason that this bus gets my attention, its still in service it is being checked annually by state troopers and being worked on regularly, not just sitting in someone’s driveway until they plan to go camping. Here is my dilemma... to make sure I get it I need to put $500 down on it now, but that is hard to do not even seeing it. But once again being still in service I know it is going to be a reliable bus.
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Old 03-04-2008, 01:49 AM   #6
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Re: good deal or no?

I would want pictures at the least. In service or not, that much should be possible from the seller. If not they are not very motivated to sell. It's hard to get past the excitement of that first bus, but as many will tell you "your" bus will come along. Perhaps this is it. Perhaps it is not. You want the best possible foundation to start from. All the work on the most beautiful conversion imaginable is futile if the shell falls apart around it or the engine up and chokes. There is a risk in buying a used bus just as there is in buying any other used vehicle. We typically benefit from exactly what you talked about...strict inspections and top notch maintenance. This is not a guarantee that you are not receiving someone else's junk, however. Still being in service does not mean the bus does not suffer from mechanical and age related ailments. Heck, my bus as a student suffered from a failed transmission and a wheelwell actually falling through the floor (rust), both times within eyeshot of my stop, but before I got on.

Basically, I'm suggesting that you take your time and do your homework now so that you won't be disappointed later. Get all the information you need to make an informed decision and go from there. If that means you have to pass on this bus, so be it. If you can get all the pertinent information and truly think and research it out and this bus is still at the top of the list, by all mean jump on it.

For what it's worth, even after I found "my bus" and did all the research to back up the immediate attachment I felt I still went on two separate test drives and inspections two weeks apart. Knock on wood, it also hasn't failed me yet.
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Old 03-04-2008, 09:10 AM   #7
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Re: good deal or no?

why not drive to the school district where the bus is being used and talk to the mechanic's that work on it. I'm sure they'll give ya some good info, and if you go around the time buses are returning back to the garage you can prob even check out the machine and possible get to talk to the person who drives the bus.
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Old 03-04-2008, 12:08 PM   #8
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Re: good deal or no?

I owned a very similar bus for about a year and was very happy with it. I only sold it because we needed money bad. However I drove the bus twice for a total of about 1 1/2 hours before commiting to buying it. I liked the powertrain combination and the price isn't too bad. That's about what I paid for mine and it was worth it. However after test driving it and crawling all around and under it I had a fair idea of the condition of the suspension, brakes, transmission engine and overall handling so I had enough info to make the decission. There is no way I would buy a vehicle like this sight unseen despite the fact that it is still in service. Bus parts arent cheap, tires alone will run ya about $300 each more or less. Transmissions and engines will cost you as much as 3 times the cost of that bus, each. At first it may seem like this is the only good deal in the area but look around a bit. At any given time I bet there are 40 of these or more within 500 miles of your home. Buy smart. You can experiment with your conversion and learn along the way but 1st spend your money on a good foundation. I learned the hard way. My first bus, although unfinished, died on it's maiden voyage. I had spent more on the conversion than on the shell, not to mention many hours of hard work. A lot of time and money waisted. Good luck . . .
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Old 03-04-2008, 04:08 PM   #9
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Re: good deal or no?

thank you to all that have replied i have the day off school and work tomorrow and i plan to head up to the seller and ask them some questions face to face maybe try to find out what school corp actully has it as well, and if its close go to the school and see if i can't check it out. thanks for your help everyone and hopefully i can get some pictures or some more information at least!! talk to you all tomorrow!
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Old 03-05-2008, 09:31 PM   #10
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Re: good deal or no?

Ok so here is the deal. I went to the place that is selling the bus today, the one that I spoke about above sold over the weekend. But, the guy that I talk to today was much more knowledgeable than the guy that I spoke with on the phone. He also has 6 more coming in between April to June and the are all from the same school district. They are all 1991 transit/ FE blue bird 5.9 Cummins diesel auto transmission and with hydraulic brakes they are all 72 passengers and are ranging between 175000 to 220000. He said “I know this might sound weird but I would suggest that you guys get the one with the most miles because that means that this is the bus that they use the most and probably take on field trips and sporting events therefore being the more reliable bus” what do you guys think? They are asking 2700 for all of them and all I have to do is put down a $100 deposit and he will hold my check until I can come look at it when they come in. and if I don’t like it then I can get my deposit back.
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