Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 05-22-2016, 02:46 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Augusta Georgia
Posts: 63
Year: 2000
Engine: DT530
Rated Cap: 84
Already overwhelmed. Need help narrowing it down!

Ok so I'm positive newbies have posted exactly what I'm going to say before and I'm sure if I scrolled through on my phone for another five days I might find it but I'd likely still have questions so this is going to just be MY "help I'm confused" thread for when I can't find something and keywords aren't helping!

That being said. First thing is first.

I was anticipating our research process taking the next year because my husband is always so scared of change HOWEVER...we have a tax amendment coming this summer and he has told me "start looking and when we find it well jump on it and just take it from there" (I cannot begin to tell you how crazy that sounded to me coming from him!)

Here is my problem.

THERE ARE SO MANY BUSES! How do I know what will work for my family without ever having one? How do I know what size diesel is a good size or good model? What will tow a minivan or CRV on a dolly with ease? All this reading and the numbers are starting to blend together as I read them. We have 4 kids total (only 2 full time so makeshift beds with the sofas and such are just fine) so some decent length is a must for adequate space, then I am 5'11 and hubby is 6'3 so it needs to be tall enough to not cause back/neck problems. We are planning to possibly raise the roof someday but not immediately. Also my family is in Washington state, lots of hills...so I'm not sure about a flat nose...but I like the idea of less heat while driving and quiet while driving would be nice too. However we'll be in it full time so storage is essential too.
Roadschooldreamer143 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-22-2016, 04:43 PM   #2
Bus Nut
 
CaptSquid's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Billings, MT
Posts: 915
Year: 2003
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: HDX
Engine: Cat C7
Rated Cap: 84 passenger
I drive a 2003 Thomas HDX transit-style rear engine. Inside, it's 96" wide and about 35' long. I'm 74" tall and I have plenty of overhead clearance IN THE MIDDLE. Naturally, at the edges, it does tend to compress. Raising the roof isn't really a necessity. I have a through-basement for both storage and liquid tanks (fresh & grey). I recently obtained a composting toilet, so no black water tank. Inside the passenger compartment (mine's rated at 84 passenger), you'll find approximately 1400 lbs of excess seating. Once those are removed, you only have the four wheel arches and the two cabin heater units.

I've carpeted/linoleumed(?) the floor and had to have a custom bedframe made to accommodate my full-sized mattress. I just got a 15.5 cu ft fridge that fits nicely in the middle (which is my combination bath/kitchen). The rear is the Master Bedroom, which leaves the front as either a bunkroom or a convertible living room.

Most buses will handle towing a minivan or CRV without even breaking a sweat. I live in Montana and I drove my bus back from Kankakee, IL to Billings at 65 mph, averaging 7.5 mpg.

Engine choices? Personal preference. Mine has a Cat C7, a dog of a motor and one that requires Caterpillar parts exclusively. I'd prefer either a Cummins or a Detroit. The Allison tranny that is in mine is a beauty, shifting quite well.

When I got my bus, all 6 tires on the ground were almost new. Truck tires are VERY expensive, so this, in the end, came out well. The batteries may need replacement sometime in the future, but not right now.

Where I finally got parked has shore power, so the inside can run comfortably on a 30a circuit, although I'd recommend a 50a system. My cook-top is an induction cooker. I've already survived a Montana winter in this beastie, but I would like to be just a skosh warmer when I get out of bed. I'm looking at a Russian hydronic heater (about $900) that'll run off the onboard diesel tank at 0.7 gph. But, who needs heat in the summer?

I got my bus through Midwest Transit for $8K. They specialize in school buses and activity buses. They're there to answer any questions, too.
CaptSquid is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-22-2016, 05:24 PM   #3
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Augusta Georgia
Posts: 63
Year: 2000
Engine: DT530
Rated Cap: 84
I found this one today 2 hours away, he said he likes our story and would let it go for $3800...opinions please?

https://macon.craigslist.org/bar/5550603760.html
Roadschooldreamer143 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-22-2016, 05:28 PM   #4
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
Posts: 297
Year: 2003
Chassis: E-450
Engine: 7.3 Turbo
Don't worry, we all start in the same spot you are. My wife and I found it incredibly helpful to actually make 2 lists: 1 with all of our questions, and 1 with all of the things we knew we wanted in our future bus.

Every chance we got, we would research one of our questions. Every answer seemed to add to both lists, but eventually we developed an understanding of school buses that makes most people think we're crazy. We're still uninformed compared to many here on the forums, but we read daily and continue to learn. Now when we're out and see buses, we'll make comments like 'ah that probably has xyz engine' or 'look at all that headroom!' Other passengers with us just give us strange looks (or eye rolls if they're around us too much).

Don't be afraid to ask questions, and just keep reading. It really does get easier. It feels like a scrambled mess at first, but your understanding will build daily.

You'll know when you are ready to make an informed purchase.
PigPen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-22-2016, 08:07 PM   #5
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 252
What CaptSquid said...
jake_blue is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-22-2016, 08:11 PM   #6
Bus Geek
 
Robin97396's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Location: Willamina, Oregon
Posts: 4,903
Year: 1997
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: TC 1000
Engine: 5.9
Send a message via Yahoo to Robin97396
That's a nice looking bus and a favored engine. Do you know the transmission?

That seems like a pretty good deal if you want a dognose, but you're looking for storage and floor space. You get both with a pusher. FEs don't usually have the under storage but some do, plus you didn't want to listen to the engine or deal with heat in the front. They usually have big engines and hopefully a better transmission than most of us are stuck with. A lot of us have the Allison 545, which is perfectly adequate if you take good care of it and stuff. It tends to kind of free wheel on the downhills, almost feels like coasting in neutral.
I think you're on the right track. What you described needing is most commonly in a pusher. Good engine choice even on that dognose which appears to have low miles and really not a bad price. I don't think that one fits your needs. You'll have multiple opinions here soon.
Good luck.
Robin97396 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-22-2016, 08:45 PM   #7
Site Team
 
crazycal's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 4,087
If towing a vehicle will be on your list, I would pass on that bus. It probably has an AT545 trans. I would want a Cummins 8.3 or International DT466 engine. I would want a MT643 or MD3060 trans. If you get a bus with an AT545 trans and tow, you will work it to death. Some may offer different opinions especially if it is what they own. Have you ever seen a bumper sticker that says, "BALD IS BEAUTIFUL?" The driver is probably bald and stuck with his chrome dome. I shave my head because I choose to not because I'm trying to cover up my lack of hair. YMMV!
__________________
I'm hungry!

You Gotta Let Me Fly
crazycal is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-22-2016, 09:01 PM   #8
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Winlcok, WA
Posts: 1,607
There is no one bus that will work for everyone.

In order to narrow your search you need to determine which style of bus you want.

The Type 'C' conventional bus is the most common bus out there. As a consequence, with supply and demand the way it is, there is a large supply and low demand for them. In other words, they are going to cost less than any other bus of the same size.

The Type 'D' transit bus is the most expensive bus out there. There are a lot of reasons for the premium price with most of the reasons due to the fact premium options are built into most of them. Most Type 'D' buses will have a large, if not the largest engine available at the time the bus was made. Large engines are hooked to large transmissions. In order to stop they usually have larger brakes as well. Most also were built with 12" windows which means the bus will have the high headroom option.

In actual cubic volume the Type 'D' will have the most. But there are some Type 'C' buses that have nearly as much cubic volume.

So you need to decide what style of bus you want.

Once you decide what style you want you need to decide how you are going to use your bus. If you plan on doing a lot of highway work then you really want to hold out for the bus with the big HP and highway gears. Retrofitting an old bus with faster gears and more HP is costly and usually disappointing in the results. But if you are going to just be taking the occasional trip within a few hours of home then a top speed of 55-60 MPH is not that big of a deal.

If you are going to spend a lot of time on the highways then you really want the big engine. My engines of choice are the DT466/530, or the Cummins 8.3L/ISC, or the Cummins ISL. Cat and Mercedes-Benz made a lot of engines that found their way into school buses. IMHO the Cat and M-B engines are best left to someone else unless you can get a absolutely smoking hot deal on a bus with a Cat or M-B engine. I once drove an IC RE with the 315 HP DT530 in it. I have no idea how fast it would go but it would do 60 MPH in 4th gear. I have also driven more than a few IHC conventional buses that had a top speed of 47 MPH.

Since you are in WA state you are lucky that almost any bus that has been built since the mid-90's have had engines with enough HP to get up and down hills and have no problem going 60 MPH. The extra content the state of WA requires in a WA spe'c bus makes the WA spe'c bus cost, on average for a full size 13-row bus, about $15K more than the same bus in OR. You benefit from the extra content because in the used market it doesn't make that much difference to the price of a used bus.

Both Harlows in Auburn and NW Bus in Federal Way have some nice affordable buses in stock right now.
cowlitzcoach is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-22-2016, 09:06 PM   #9
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Augusta Georgia
Posts: 63
Year: 2000
Engine: DT530
Rated Cap: 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin97396 View Post
That's a nice looking bus and a favored engine. Do you know the transmission?

That seems like a pretty good deal if you want a dognose, but you're looking for storage and floor space. You get both with a pusher. FEs don't usually have the under storage but some do, plus you didn't want to listen to the engine or deal with heat in the front. They usually have big engines and hopefully a better transmission than most of us are stuck with. A lot of us have the Allison 545, which is perfectly adequate if you take good care of it and stuff. It tends to kind of free wheel on the downhills, almost feels like coasting in neutral.
I think you're on the right track. What you described needing is most commonly in a pusher. Good engine choice even on that dognose which appears to have low miles and really not a bad price. I don't think that one fits your needs. You'll have multiple opinions here soon.
Good luck.
I think having the noise reduction and less heat is less important to us than having clearance so we don't high center is an important aspect, we were just talking about building a cargo rack on top as well for added storage. So that eliminates that issue as well. My only concern now is towing a car 😓 I'm going to call the guy back tomorrow and ask what transmission it has.
Roadschooldreamer143 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-22-2016, 09:11 PM   #10
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Augusta Georgia
Posts: 63
Year: 2000
Engine: DT530
Rated Cap: 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by crazycal View Post
If towing a vehicle will be on your list, I would pass on that bus. It probably has an AT545 trans. I would want a Cummins 8.3 or International DT466 engine. I would want a MT643 or MD3060 trans. If you get a bus with an AT545 trans and tow, you will work it to death. Some may offer different opinions especially if it is what they own. Have you ever seen a bumper sticker that says, "BALD IS BEAUTIFUL?" The driver is probably bald and stuck with his chrome dome. I shave my head because I choose to not because I'm trying to cover up my lack of hair. YMMV!
I agree with you about the Cummins...that was honestly my ideal but not my "set in stone" choice. I'm going to find out what the trans is tomorrow and I'll let you know. If it is one of the preferred trans you mentioned, is the engine ok to handle what were dishing? Or would you even still suggest passing it up for a Cummins? It's almost the end of the school year so im sure there will be a lot of buses becoming available here soon I just don't know if I'm going to find one in this good of shape and it makes me nervous to risk it when we want to get started on renovations ASAP! 😓
Roadschooldreamer143 is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


» Virginia Campgrounds

Reviews provided by

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 10:19 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.