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Old 11-29-2016, 07:09 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Nov 2016
Location: NorCal
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Year: 1996
Coachwork: Girardin
Chassis: Ford E350
Engine: 7.3L Powerstroke Diesel
3 Different Busses, 3 Drastically Different Options

Hi all, first post but long-time lurker who's ready to pull the trigger. I've got a great location to store the bus during conversion. I'm really just looking for a rock solid weekender that can support up to six people for potentially a week (hello playa). I'm following the same process I took when I decided to live aboard a sailboat, which was a wild 1.5 years of my life (and totally worth it), and because of that experience I know I must seek out the advice of those who have gone before me.

So, there are three potential busses, and after a whole lot of google searching this site, I've come up with a list of pros and cons for each one. What do the experts think about my conclusions? Any thoughts on each one?

Bus Candidate(s) Number 1 (https://sacramento.craigslist.org/cto/5824202862.html)
1980's Wayne body, they say the 9.0L is 180hp and no rust on the underside, Allison 545 transmission
PROS:
  • Love the way it looks
  • Already painted white
  • Not registered as a school bus (I'm guessing it's commercial)
  • No rust
CONS:
  • High asking price
  • Have to remove the seats/gear in back
  • Registered commercial--is that an issue in California for driving to storage? (I live there)

Bus Candidate Number 2 (https://sfbay.craigslist.org/nby/cto/5874526671.html)
PROS:
  • Seats are already removed
  • Nifty grill step in the front
  • 40' long
  • It sounds like it's low mileage/hours
  • Currently registered non-op
CONS:
  • Manual transmission (is this really a con though?)
  • Pretty old
  • Needs a LOT of cosmetic TLC
  • Still yellow (from what I understand, it can't be yellow in California)

Bus Candidate Number 3 (https://sfbay.craigslist.org/eby/cto/5878583016.html)
PROS:
  • Super funky looking
  • Inside is already cleaned out
  • Plenty of room for activities
CONS:
  • Manual transmission (is this really a con though?)
  • Pretty old
  • Outside would need to get repainted
  • Veggie Oil system needs to be removed
  • Where is the engine? Front, middle, or back?

Here are my general thoughts, and feel free to tear them apart--I have a thick skin.
  • All three are asking ~$5000, which seems to be way too much for what they are. I am willing to pay 3-3.5k for each of them, but definitely not more than that. Candidate 1 explicitly has OBO, so I'm thinking they're the best option for this.
  • Manual vs Auto. This seems to be a non issue for me. I can drive a stick just fine, but I would prefer an auto for ease of use and for others to be able to drive (my lady is also quite short, so she may not be able to depress the clutch all the way). So I'm leaning more towards automatic, but it's not a deal breaker--either way, I'm leaning towards Candidate 1 on this.
  • Lengths are all pretty good, the ones in Candidate Number 1 (the firefighters) are 36-38' long, which I don't want to go any shorter than that for my interior plans. However, I don't want too much bus because I'm not going to be full-timing it and do appreciate some maneuverability... so I'm leaning towards Candidate 1.
  • I don't plan on driving these in any big city (definitely not SF). However, some places I do plan on driving involve mountain passes, unprepared surfaces such as the desert flats of Nevada, and gravel roads that lead to certain music festivals. I've read that dog nosed busses are better for steeper terrain or places that need more maneuvering. And I'm guessing those firefighter busses, which hauled firefighting crews in and out of their op areas, are pretty well suited for that.

Basically, everything I've researched here points to Candidate Number 1 as being the best option for my uses (a shorter "long" bus, dog nose, enough storage capabilities for a week at a time (water, fuel, etc...)). But one of my concerns with that particular bus is transporting it to my storage location, which is 1.5 hours away. I plan on just getting a vehicle moving permit (https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/?1...t_facts/ffvr36) for the day I move it to storage for conversion.

What do you guys think? I really appreciate everyone's perspectives, and don't worry--you won't hurt my feelings if you really rip into me. I'm here to learn, and there's no better place for that. Thanks.
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Old 11-29-2016, 03:46 PM   #2
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
Location: Greater Houston, Tx.
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Vroom,
I'm thinking that the fire bus angle, is the way to go. I did notice that the busses in the pictures, didn't match up to the #s on the shown busses. Make sure what you are bidding on, and remember that they are priced OBO, which leave you wiggle room. Nothing beats having eyes on a possible purchase, and with you only being 11/2 hrs. away, I'd plan a road trip.
Good luck
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Old 11-29-2016, 05:19 PM   #3
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I'd avoid the 9 liter. They're more or less obsolete.

THe only one I'd consider would be #3. That second bus is a $1500 bus on a good day.
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Old 11-29-2016, 05:56 PM   #4
Mini-Skoolie
 
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There is nothing special about #1 and #2. Seriously overpriced. I wouldn't pay more than $1k for #2personally. Maybe $1,500 for number 1. #3 would be a consideration because, hey, its a Gillig. Problem is people tend to overpay for Gilligs and Crowns because they have a cult status (though not undeserved) and are becoming rare due to the Rupublik of Kalifornia's stupid ass laws.
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Old 11-29-2016, 06:11 PM   #5
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I'd be all over #3 if I had the means..... though I'd have to redo the inside for RV use. That outside paint job is unique, think I'd hang on to that for a while.

As for #1..... if the DT466 engined one was available I might offer $2k for it just because of the engine that it has. I wouldn't touch any of the others, nor #2.
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Old 11-29-2016, 07:21 PM   #6
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number 3 all the way
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Old 11-29-2016, 08:01 PM   #7
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Nov 2016
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Year: 1996
Coachwork: Girardin
Chassis: Ford E350
Engine: 7.3L Powerstroke Diesel
Wow, thanks fellas. I'm really glad I posted here because, to my untrained eye, I was thinking number 3 was the least desirable option, but it sounds like I am somewhat wrong about that.

I've done the requisite search for Gilligs on this forum, and here are my concerns.

It sounds like the engine is in the middle of the bus, which, from what I understand, is the least desirable place for the engine for conversions due to lack of space underneath and maintenance considerations. Are there any considerations with going up I-80 through Donner Pass with this location? My ignorance is definitely showing here.

And why is there a cult following for Gilligs? Is it the frame/body construction and shape? Are they freakishly reliable or comfortable on the road? And any thoughts on the veggie fuel system? I have nothing against going green but I also like to keep things simple.

And lastly, what do you think it's worth? I'm prepared to offer 3-3.5k for it but would be interested to know what all y'all think.

Thanks for the insights.
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Old 11-29-2016, 08:21 PM   #8
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The Gillig is like the '57 Chevy BelAir, or the 64 1/2 Ford Mustang, of the bus world. They don't make them any more, so they're gonna command a premium price, just like the old school Crown buses.
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Old 11-29-2016, 08:52 PM   #9
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I think the first 2 are very over priced. #1 with the DT466 is a great option, but for less money. To give you an idea, I got this 1985 Bluebird International with DT466 and a MT643 for $1500 (asking was $1800) from a church in Seattle Washington. No rust at all and drove home with new tires and full tank of fuel. I would keep looking.
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Old 11-29-2016, 08:55 PM   #10
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Nov 2016
Location: NorCal
Posts: 33
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Girardin
Chassis: Ford E350
Engine: 7.3L Powerstroke Diesel
Quote:
Originally Posted by Oldmopars View Post
I think the first 2 are very over priced. #1 with the DT466 is a great option, but for less money. To give you an idea, I got this 1985 Bluebird International with DT466 and a MT643 for $1500 (asking was $1800) from a church in Seattle Washington. No rust at all and drove home with new tires and full tank of fuel. I would keep looking.
Any thoughts on #3?

Your purchase really puts this into perspective.
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