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Old 02-26-2009, 01:12 PM   #1
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Another Newbie with MORE Questions

Hello All! New here (obviously), and I had a few questions I was hoping you could answer?

So DH and I are contemplating moving up to a Class A in 5 or so years. In addition to camping, we are avid off roaders, and would like something that can tow our trailered Ustabea Jeep. We need something that can house me, DH, DD (currently 10 mos.), and the dog AND tow our Jeep.

So we head out of town to check out a Class A we saw on line. (Can’t find a floor plan we like) We are wondering the lot looking as As and Cs, and then I see IT. Lo and Behold, over in the corner is this ratty old Bluebird Bus ! I must have gone crazy, but I can’t stop thinking about that cute, old bus! DH said we could do a conversion, but he would only do it if I got him a new welder (he wants a Lincoln, they’re the expensive ones, right?) We are both reasonably inclined, as we build Jeeps as a hobby. The thought of driving that old flatfront down the road just makes me happy! (I would paint it red! ) I don’t know too much about it, as we were trying to keep up with the sales guy. But here is what I know:

*Disclaimer*- OK, so it is not really a school bus, but I figure this is the best place to get info, as I could not find a “SWAT bus Conversion Forum”

It is an old SWAT bus. It has three generators on it and a diesel engine. The body looked to be in good condition, and we did not see any rust. It is lined with cabinets on both sides and has a driver’s seat. It runs (the sales guy laughed at the memory of them driving it on to the lot; it that a good thing?)

I thought I should arm myself with info before we go back. So here are my questions:
(Please forgive my ignorance. )

1. How do you determine the value of something like this?
2. On average, how much would it cost to have the “systems” put in? (We figure we can do most everything except for propane lines, and maybe the water lines.)
3. Can a bus tow stuff? How much?
4. Are busses reliable, as The kid and I will be going out west alone sometimes?
5. Have I gone crazy? Am I getting us in over our heads?

Any and all opinions appreciated!
Thanks!
Kathryn
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Old 02-26-2009, 01:41 PM   #2
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Re: Another Newbie with MORE Questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by tinybluetj
I thought I should arm myself with info before we go back. So here are my questions:
(Please forgive my ignorance. )

1. How do you determine the value of something like this?
2. On average, how much would it cost to have the “systems” put in? (We figure we can do most everything except for propane lines, and maybe the water lines.)
3. Can a bus tow stuff? How much?
4. Are busses reliable, as The kid and I will be going out west alone sometimes?
5. Have I gone crazy? Am I getting us in over our heads?

Any and all opinions appreciated!
Thanks!
Kathryn
1. Age of the bus, mileage, overall condition, and just how low you can negotiate them down. I would
guess an old swat bus has very few actual miles on it, but a lot of idle time on the engine.

2. People convert buses for next to nothing, on up to many thousands of dollars. It depends on what
you want the final outcome to be and how much time/effort you're willing to put into it, as well as what
sort of resources you have for scrounging parts.

3. Sure, a bus can tow stuff. You'll have to add a hitch to it unless it already has one. That swat bus
might already have one. Check.

4. They're as reliable as any other vehicle on the road. It'd depend entirely on the condition of your bus
and how well you maintain it.

5. Yes, you are crazy. You're also many men's dream-girl. A woman who is as excited as a bus as we
are!! Hot Damn!!! Your hubby is a lucky man!


Those generators on that bus are probably worth a pretty penny if they work. I imagine you'd have tons more power than you could ever use. You may find yourself selling one or more of them at a profit!


-Ray
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Old 02-26-2009, 04:54 PM   #3
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Re: Another Newbie with MORE Questions

a very important thing is to find out is which engine it has. You probably want a DT or a Cummins. The Cummins engines usually get better mileage, but the DTs tend to be a little more reliable. Weight of a tow vehicle won't likely be a problem. A typical full sized bus is already tipping close to 10 tons, so an extra ton or two won't really matter. Now, if it's a swat bus, it might have armor or something and weight a lot more than a standard stock bus. It would be good to know this as it will not only affect your carrying capacity, but lower your mileage. The engine and the initial weight will be your biggest factors when determining what you can tow. Buses with diesel engines tend to be pretty reliable, and I would guess that the swat mechanics took pretty good care of it. Do you know what year it is? The newer the better for reliability. Preferably something 90 up.
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Old 02-27-2009, 11:18 PM   #4
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Re: Another Newbie with MORE Questions

Also just to play devils advocate here it is a lot of work and if you are going to take this on then get ready for a huge amount of work, but it will be rewarding. Just remember its not an overnight thing, mines now a multy year thing! Keep us up to date though would love to see some pics of this tank.
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Old 02-28-2009, 09:54 AM   #5
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Re: Another Newbie with MORE Questions

You are probably ahead of the game, as a SWAT bus may already have a high roof, and won't require a roof raise to be comfortable for tall people standing, unlike a bus built to transport miniature people who are (supposed to be) always sitting down. Prices are all over the place, check some more of the stories here about buses bought and deals walked away from.
Quote:
We are both reasonably inclined, as we build Jeeps as a hobby.
Quote:
We figure we can do most everything except for propane lines, and maybe the water lines.
If you can do brake lines, you should be able to do propane. If you do heater hoses, you should be able to do water lines.

Good Luck.
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Old 02-28-2009, 08:48 PM   #6
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Re: Another Newbie with MORE Questions

Pictures of the Jeep please.
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