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Old 12-13-2014, 02:31 PM   #1
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Yet another "is this a good deal" thread

Hey all. Long time stalker, er reader, first time poster. This board has been a source of inspiration for me and the wife. Plan is to buy a bus, rip out the seats and convert it into a massive moving van for a move across the country. Once we arrive at our new home, convert it into an RV for our enjoyment and as a guest house.

So after much deliberation I've decided on: RE style, 78" headroom, 14-15 rows with biggest engine / best trans I can get, obviously. I'm headed to a place with lots (and lots) of snow/salt, so I'm buying it from the south/west in hopes of a rust-free and thus longer lasting bus. I'd love to wait for auctions, but the move is scheduled for spring '15. Which means I need to get it quickly so I can begin ripping out the seats, building a wall to protect passengers in the event of a crash with all of my stuff back there, and doing a mini/temp conversion so I can get RV plates. So here's what I've found. Curious what you all think...

1999 Thomas MVP RE
Cat 3126 230HP/660lb*ft engine with 155k miles (unsure of hours)
Allison 3060 trans
Air brakes /door
78" headroom
100 gal. tank
Tinted windows (who cares though, right? I mean, they're probably going to be replaced)
Original bill of materials claims 115k btu heater up front, and another 84k btu heater in the back
Tires are said to be in very good condition but I haven't seen them yet
No A/C
No underbelly storage
No rust
Body is in excellent shape.

Seller wants $6000 for it. Seems a bit high, but I've been unable to find anything else comparable. What say you all?
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Old 12-15-2014, 02:55 AM   #2
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Re: Yet another "is this a good deal" thread

I'd say spring would leave plenty of time to buy one at auction and take the seats out.
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Old 12-15-2014, 07:13 AM   #3
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Re: Yet another "is this a good deal" thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by EastCoastCB
I'd say spring would leave plenty of time to buy one at auction and take the seats out.
ditto. be aware, there are usually some great busees listed on this site for sale for less $$$ and can be trusted.
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Old 12-15-2014, 07:29 AM   #4
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Re: Yet another "is this a good deal" thread

Hi Welcome,
I bought mine from First Student which is a national school bus transport company. 155000 mi AmTran Thomas 72 passengers RE T444. First student has a website that lists their buses for sale and location. The woman I was dealing with sent me to their local yard where a had a bunch to choose from. The price started at $5500, we agreed to $4700. So the lesson is the prices are negotiable. Note: school buses are are required by law in most states to be replaced every 10 - 12 years regardless of miles or hours, so there are plenty out there for sale, you just have to spend some time scouting around.
Hope this helps
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Old 12-15-2014, 10:46 AM   #5
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Re: Yet another "is this a good deal" thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by selfdetermined
Hey all. Long time stalker, er reader, first time poster. This board has been a source of inspiration for me and the wife. Plan is to buy a bus, rip out the seats and convert it into a massive moving van for a move across the country. Once we arrive at our new home, convert it into an RV for our enjoyment and as a guest house.

So after much deliberation I've decided on: RE style, 78" headroom, 14-15 rows with biggest engine / best trans I can get, obviously. I'm headed to a place with lots (and lots) of snow/salt, so I'm buying it from the south/west in hopes of a rust-free and thus longer lasting bus. I'd love to wait for auctions, but the move is scheduled for spring '15. Which means I need to get it quickly so I can begin ripping out the seats, building a wall to protect passengers in the event of a crash with all of my stuff back there, and doing a mini/temp conversion so I can get RV plates. So here's what I've found. Curious what you all think...

1999 Thomas MVP RE
Cat 3126 230HP/660lb*ft engine with 155k miles (unsure of hours)
Allison 3060 trans
Air brakes /door
78" headroom
100 gal. tank
Tinted windows (who cares though, right? I mean, they're probably going to be replaced)
Original bill of materials claims 115k btu heater up front, and another 84k btu heater in the back
Tires are said to be in very good condition but I haven't seen them yet
No A/C
No underbelly storage
No rust
Body is in excellent shape.

Seller wants $6000 for it. Seems a bit high, but I've been unable to find anything else comparable. What say you all?
I picked up mine for 3500 for mine 200k on it. 72 passenger, cat3126b, md3060. It wasn't in the best of shape but seems to be mostly cosmetic junk and minor so far. Drove it back from North Cackalackey (Carolina) without a hitch. 45mph speed limit. (should be able to get it unlocked)

here you go brother: http://ncschoolbussales.dpi.state.nc.us/


I stopped off at the bus garage in Charlotte to pick mine up in Mechlenburg county... Really cool guys up there. Maybe not the cleanest or lowest miles, but Had solid tires, two new batteries, and they charged it up, and drove it around a few blocks with me, filled up the tires and were more than happy to help out and throw a few pointers. I think they only do money orders or something weird like that... so you will need access to your cash it hink. Maybe you can work it out a different way. Anyway, Call/email ahead, the list is never quite up to date.

There was very little rust on mine. basically just surface rust in a few minor places. Oh, and watch the "notes" tag. That can mean there is something wrong with it... but not always. If you find one, I would inquire about it quickly. They actually raised the prices on these because they were all getting scrapped. The guy told me they used to sell them for like 800-1200 bucks...well, and so they could make more money... :-p

EDIT: When you call one of these numbers be patient. As far as I can tell, you're essentially calling a desk phone of someone that has this 'extra' responsibility and they don't really have a good way to interface with the public. It took a few days to set mine set up, but once I got a direct line to the garage it was smooth sailing.
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Old 12-15-2014, 11:48 AM   #6
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Re: Yet another "is this a good deal" thread

It definitely sounds high to me. We've gotten these exact buses for my company for $3,800 a piece.... We were buying 15 of them, but I still think you could find similar for under $5k. Heck, maybe you could talk these guys down to that
Good buses though, and I those trannies have a 6th gear (double overdrive) that can be unlocked through programming which bumps up the hiway mileage nicely.
Bus on!

If you're determined, you could pull all the seats in a couple days. I did all of mine in literally 4 hours, including ripping off the padding so I could scrap the steel frames.
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Old 12-15-2014, 12:36 PM   #7
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Re: Yet another "is this a good deal" thread

Four thousand tops.
I watched a 99 go for 1800 up in Maryland about two months ago.
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Old 12-15-2014, 01:48 PM   #8
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Re: Yet another "is this a good deal" thread

Where on earth are you folks finding these buses for so cheap? Nachowarrior, I checked out the NC buses. No 84/90 passenger buses in that list. 14 row minimum is a must for me.

One of the other reasons for getting it now, even though the move is months away - is that I recognize I won't be able to dedicate large chunks of time to getting it ready. With an infant to care for, everything seems to take longer than expected and dedicated "project time" is hard to come by these days. My basement remodel is a testament to that.

The seller originally wanted $8500 for the bus in question. I've been able to get her down to $5700. It does seem to be in excellent shape. http://screencast.com/t/5H2ATxv6gMw (warning: large image) Perhaps I'm just placing a very high value (and thus am willing to spend a fair amount more) on a rust-free bus. Having lived in MN my whole life, I trust basically nothing that comes from a snow state. Particularly in a vehicle that's out almost every single day in winter. It also seems that the 14th (and surely the 15th) row come at a premium as well.
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Old 12-15-2014, 02:00 PM   #9
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Re: Yet another "is this a good deal" thread

I'm not sure if you can hang in there or not, but Katy ISD this summer is auctioning off about 200 or so buses in Houston, TX. Since I work there I can guide you to the pick of the crop. They will have another auction summer 2016 as well. Since the bond issue went through they are buying an additional 300 new busses, so the old coach buses (i.e. football, soccer, volleyball coaches) as well as old route buses are going to auction. There will be the International 444E diesel pushers, and some conventional buses in the auction this year. The Thomas MVP ER series go in 2016. *Auctions for the buses are over in a matter of minutes. Since I'm also responsible for the fluid levels, fueling, and small repairs I can definitely tell you which buses are solid and which to avoid like the plague (i.e. needing water pumps, way out of alignment due to other issues, wrecks, parts buses, etc.). These buses are 100% rust FREE. I already have my daily driver picked out for one of the auctions in 2016......... She's my BABY!
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Old 12-15-2014, 08:26 PM   #10
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Re: Yet another "is this a good deal" thread

I would be a little shy of the Cat engine as parts are outrageously expensive and they don't
have the low end torque to give good fuel mileage. The allison md3060 is the ideal transmission
to have and a better engine would be the Cummins C8.3 which gives you 820 ft lbs of torque
at 1300 rpm which means fewer ignition cycles per mile equaling better fuel economy. Public
Surplus has two buses in Utah that have the 8.3 with the md3060 transmission and they are
probably far enough south in the state to be reasonably rust free.
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