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Old 10-16-2016, 08:35 PM   #1
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About to dive off the deep end and start my skoolie adventure but need a bit of help

First time posting, hoping to join the ranks of owning and building a skoolie soon but i need some help from all of you.

I'll be posting this to both reddit.com/r/skoolies and to skoolie.net

Preface:
I'm currently a college student with 2 years until I graduate, been wanting to convert a skoolie for a while but usually logistics and cost have been preventative of that.

Scenario:
The other night found a bus on craigslist, International 3000/3800 i believe. This model, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_3000 listed to have a DT466 (Doesn't say E, so should be full mechanical i think?) and Allison transmission.

Seller want's $500 since some kids broke into the bus and stole batteries, fuses, and a few relays.

Issues:
I'm not totally sure what i need to look for. The bus is within 30 minutes of my parents house and about 2 hours from my school where I live for the winter.

1. Storage : At home we live on a cul-de-sac so if the bus were painted a neutral tone (brownish, something to blend in) the neighbors might not complain since only we and another can really see the road. At school we have an auto club, which has a shop with some parking available. A local resident owns the property and donates it's use to us, in the sense that he writes off our monthly rent as a donation and we pay for utilities. I may be able to keep it here as long as it's not in the way and probably also repainted something other than "look at me everyone i'm a big bus" yellow.

2. Getting it running: It has no batteries, I would need to buy batteries and / or jump start it with a decent truck (thinking something duramax level may be able to work). What should i look for in this?

3. I would be driving the bus about 2 hours back to school. I have no CDL, experience driving anything of that size, might even be better to have a friend drive it. But is a CDL required? 2 hours is the highway time to drive from that location to school, I'm not sure if it's smart to take the bus on the interstate so it would be 3-4 on county highways.

4. What should I look for at a bare minimum to get it running? Haven't even seen the bus in person yet as the seller got back to me after I had already left my parents to head back to school for the week.



Lastly, am I being a dumbass? Been following tiny houses / skoolies / pretty much any alternative / self-sustaining / off-grid living for the past 5-6 years and am really itching to try it at this point. If so any tips for me to not be a dumbass?
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Old 10-19-2016, 08:31 AM   #2
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Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Manitou Springs, CO
Posts: 152
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Ward
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DT466
Rated Cap: 65 passenger
My first thought is that you don't really know what it will take to get it running. My bus uses 3batteries at $125 each. Then who knows? $500 might seem like a good deal, but not if you put another $200 in batteries and it still won't run.

I would spend the money to have a mechanic look it over. That could save you a $800 mistake.

Get your storage location lined up first. If my daughter brought home a bus, left it in the driveway, and headed back to school I would call a wrecker. Don't buy it and just leave it sitting until summer. It needs to be driven or it will rot away and cost you a lot in mantanence.

What are you going to do with it? If you are going to live in it you'll need to find a place to park it, like an RV park around your school. I'd say go for it. It could save money in the long run.

If you are just buying it to convert it, you need to examine your finances closely. Doing the conversion is a lot more expensive than i thought. Your initial cost is not your hurdle. I figure that I am spending about $700 per year on insurance, tags, inspection, and an oil change. That's before I buy a single grinding disk. Or a single gallon of paint.

If you've got a place to park it to work on need school, and you can afford it (where are you going to get $400 for a new tire? Or $200 to fill up the fuel tank) Do it!

If you are like many college students and you work all summer so you can eat all winter then this might not be the best time in your life.
__________________
Please check out my blog-
Follow the (lack of) progress on the Karr Family Kamping Bus Blog
Here is my woefully inadequate build thread:
http://www.skoolie.net/forums/f11/i-...bus-12296.html
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Old 10-19-2016, 08:37 AM   #3
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Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Manitou Springs, CO
Posts: 152
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Ward
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DT466
Rated Cap: 65 passenger
Oh, for #3: the first time most people on here drove a bus was the day they picked it up. Don't sweat it, it's not that bad. For the CDL you are only required to have one if you get pulled over. If you don't get pulled over it doesn't matter.

Also, you need to think about insurance. I'm sure you're still on your parents'. I would talk to them and your insurance agent. Alot of people have a difficult time finding a company that will cover a bus.
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Old 10-19-2016, 08:38 AM   #4
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Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Manitou Springs, CO
Posts: 152
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Ward
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DT466
Rated Cap: 65 passenger
My first thought is that you don't really know what it will take to get it running. My bus uses 3batteries at $125 each. Then who knows? $500 might seem like a good deal, but not if you put another $200 in batteries and it still won't run.

I would spend the money to have a mechanic look it over. That could save you a $800 mistake.

Get your storage location lined up first. If my daughter brought home a bus, left it in the driveway, and headed back to school I would call a wrecker. Don't buy it and just leave it sitting until summer. It needs to be driven or it will rot away and cost you a lot in mantanence.

What are you going to do with it? If you are going to live in it you'll need to find a place to park it, like an RV park around your school. I'd say go for it. It could save money in the long run.

If you are just buying it to convert it, you need to examine your finances closely. Doing the conversion is a lot more expensive than i thought. Your initial cost is not your hurdle. I figure that I am spending about $700 per year on insurance, tags, inspection, and an oil change. That's before I buy a single grinding disk. Or a single gallon of paint.

If you've got a place to park it to work on need school, and you can afford it (where are you going to get $400 for a new tire? Or $200 to fill up the fuel tank) Do it!

If you are like many college students and you work all summer so you can eat all winter then this might not be the best time in your life.
__________________
Please check out my blog-
Follow the (lack of) progress on the Karr Family Kamping Bus Blog
Here is my woefully inadequate build thread:
http://www.skoolie.net/forums/f11/i-...bus-12296.html
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Old 10-19-2016, 08:58 AM   #5
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 3,116
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International S3800
Engine: DT360
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
oh if you do get pulled over, simply state it is an RV being transported to a location for full conversion... say no more..

dont say "I just boiught a bus and I dont have a CDL".. its not a bus, its an RV.. or "personal recreational vehicle"... and its in TRANSIT.. its not just out for a ride...

-Christopher
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Old 10-19-2016, 10:03 AM   #6
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Location: Richmond Virginia
Posts: 706
Year: 1984
Engine: 366 Big block Chevy! :) w/ Stick shift
There are LOTs of running busses that sell for $1000. $500 when you are not quite ready is like paying for a giant hassle of trying to get it running, painted, parked, stored, secure, etc.

I write this because my first bus was a super deal that didnt run...after months of driving hours back and forth and never getting it quite running right, i sold it. When i was ready to buy a bus, a MUCH better for me bus arrived , running, well maintained, and awesome for $1000. I drove it home!


Good luck!

I am careful to not let a good deal have me make a bad decision.
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Old 10-19-2016, 10:31 AM   #7
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Non-running vehicles can be a nightmare..

When a vehicle runs it is a lot easier to trouble shoot, examine, estimate. when it doesn't run it is always a gamble. I consider unknown vehicles "parts" when they don't run.

When you have a garage or yard full of "parts" it can be fun to play with dead vehicles, parts are with in reach and free* when you have to go out and buy stuff just to see if you can make this or that work it gets expensive real quick.

The price is cheap- $500 ?? could be a worthwhile gamble ? Could also be a loss ?
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Old 10-19-2016, 11:26 AM   #8
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Compare to scrap value minus all necessary tows.
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Old 10-19-2016, 11:37 AM   #9
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 3,116
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International S3800
Engine: DT360
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tango View Post
Compare to scrap value minus all necessary tows.

tows and truckdown services add up REAL quick
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Old 10-19-2016, 11:55 AM   #10
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Thanks for the responses so far, The numbers are helping to sway me off the idea.

Also the fact my landlord want's an answer right now on whether I'll be renewing the lease for 06/17 - 05/18. I can't definitively say whether or not I would have the bus fully converted and livable by august 18 so I pretty much have to sign.

I think right now my decision is this.

I'll buy a battery, go and look at the bus with a friend of mine who is currently rebuilding an old dodge with a detroit 373 in it from the ground up (last year he cut the frame and shortened it so he's decently handy). If I can't get the bus to run and start on it's own (well, jumped from a car because one battery won't be enough even in the mildly warm weather) then it's not meant to come with me. I could call a tow truck, but that'll just start the money pit.


As for parking, I originally didn't want to keep it at my house just because if it were at the auto shop it would be a lot easier to work on with the availability of club members and air lines and being able to borrow tools from others if the need arises. But today I went out and measured the gravel area next to my driveway and it's 11.5' x 36'.

So I have a bit more self-restriction on whether or not to pull the trigger, but there is still the voice in my head saying "it's a 2001 with 91k miles, 9,900 hours"

Money is certainly a bit tight, but I've been living cheaply so far this year and still have cash in reserve. Picking up another job out at school is an option, I currently do remote work for the company that I work at during the summer and winter breaks but it's been a bit slow lately.

Figured I might throw in some pictures: Bus Pictures
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