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Old 11-03-2016, 01:53 AM   #1
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Best places to find a bus?

Well, I've been looking for a long while now being very picky and have got to the point where every day I check:
Craigslist
Public Surplus: School Bus
https://www.govdeals.com

Around my area the local school districts don't sell old buses they run them into the ground and scrap them. Are there any other places online some of you regularly check?

- Thomas
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Old 11-03-2016, 10:49 AM   #2
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They do it a few times a year I believe.
422 Sales

100+ buses next weekend.
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Old 11-03-2016, 10:50 AM   #3
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seems they have a year round online auction of buses too - all around the country.

Mathies & Sons, Inc. - 422 Sales
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Old 11-03-2016, 10:55 AM   #4
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gees...some closed auctions..some buses went for $500.
like this one..the drivetrain is worth more!

Quote:
1999 INTERNATIONAL THOMAS - Titled as 2000 Thomas, 77 Passenger, T444E Diesel Engine, Automatic transmission, AIR brakes, 144,905 miles. VIN 1HVBBABN5XH205062. Runs and drives. Located in JOHNSTON, IOWA.
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Old 11-03-2016, 10:56 AM   #5
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damn...$150!

1998 INTERNATIONAL THOMAS - Titled as 1999 Thomas, 77 Passenger, T444E Diesel Engine, Automatic transmission, AIR brakes, 185,118 miles. VIN on title reads 1HVBBABN1WH616666, Vin on bus reads -1HVBBABNXWH616666. Runs and drives. Located in JOHNSTON, IOWA.

Mathies & Sons, Inc. - 422 Sales
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Old 11-03-2016, 11:07 AM   #6
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im guessing alot of people shy away from Iowa for rust concerns..
-Christopher
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Old 11-03-2016, 11:41 AM   #7
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many variables there - I"m in PA - we salt the roads ehre and rust CAN be a concern..but at least in PA there are inspections due on buses (state and I assume federal).
EVERYTHING must work - and no holes in the bus (federal) or frame issues (federal) for them to carry kids - so if they're selling htem off that could be why. Here in PA buses are pretty much newer than 14 years if they hauling kids (state law I believe).

So when they're retired/sold they were most likely working buses the week/month before.

We have a couple of buses about to be retired - a 2005 FE transit just got a new rad, air compressor and dryer and has turbo issues (leaking oil into the incoming air). 134k miles. No rust. garage kept. But because of the turbo it may not be around too much longer. that and the owner hates transits (he took over a company 4 years ago so he got what he got in the deal).

We're about to take over a competitor - they've got 20+ buses almost all will be sold - all were carrying kids today. They want my boss to buy the buses (of course) but he's not a fan of their fleet (brand, age condition). He garages ALL his buses where nobody else I've seen does.

He's not a fan of bluebirds either - the want the side rails run over the rear wheelwells traps water and creates rust - staff spends the summer fixing those issues.

SO...a northern bus with lower miles..or a southern bus that is older and had more miles...always a tough decision, even with classic cars.

What's rust repair cost? If the bus is $150 to 500...vs $7k...and you can do the work yourself...

My boss's dad runs the 'van service' (aka short bus) end of things and he got a 99 GMC 16 (or so) passenger bus at auction, mostly for parts. $1500. Ran it for 4 years with no issues. Sure, it's not as pretty as a new bus LOL, but that latest new bus we got was $90,000 (72 passenger International/Wolfington) and a sprinter van (2 wheelchairs with lift or 9 passenger with fold down seats) was $54,000 (it's really nice BTW). I'm guessing a short bus would be in the middle someplace.

You can fix a lot of rust for $50,000!

But one also needs to consider tires (i'm guessing they're not cheap..so a good bus with bad tires won't be a bargain), mileage, condition, recent repairs, etc. as well as the oft discussed eng/trans/gearing.
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Old 11-03-2016, 11:45 AM   #8
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So how about PA?
Closed auction so you can see what people paid...$300 to $700 for most, one at $3300.
Mathies & Sons, Inc. - 422 Sales

Best deal might have been this one for $1100- new inspection.

2003 International Amtran, 71 Passenger, D444 Diesel Engine, Automatic transmission, Air Brakes. Newly inspected with state police sticker. (Was a spare) VIN: 4DRBRABNX3B953381, 151,000 miles Good PA Title, Titled as 03 American Tran. Runs and Drives.

The four michelin's i put on my silverado last year cost $950. I can get you a WRECKED mustang for this price.
And it's not some antique..not that I don't like antiques but new stuff is so much better IMO.

Mathies & Sons, Inc. - 422 Sales
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Old 11-03-2016, 11:52 AM   #9
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no rust..2012 buses..but both have other issues..and cost a whole lot more.

You can buy 4 to 10 of the other buses and mix/match to get a good bus and scrap the rest and come out cheaper.

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Old 11-03-2016, 01:36 PM   #10
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I looked at leasing a brasnd new bus built to my specs at one time... knowing I would be running it miles, and my "conversions" are very simple in nature... but even so the costs were crazy hiogh over the length of term..

the latest bus I got out of Texas was pretty much a "steal" at $1800... rust free.. engine runs good doesnt burn oil, trans shifts good doesnt leak.. even the seats (yes I keep some seats) are even in good shape... air ride, cruise, tilt, even the Air-conditioner works, tires are 2013s with lots of tread left.. i had a mechanical done on it and the brakes are 80%..

even if I were to rebuild the engine, upgrade the trans im still WAY ahead of what a new bus or even a 5-10 year old bus wouldve cost me..

from a friend who Lived in PA, if school busses are treated at all like cars then rust is not welcome in PA... he was telling me that even passenger cars with Rust holes are denied inspection stickers in PA.. let alone skoolies.. but im sure the perception is that PA is a rust-belt state so people justr assume the busses are going to be POS and and have lots of rust.. therefore they may sell cheaply...

Ohio is really stringent on physically inspecting busses.. However the mainly inspect mechanicals.. so form ohio you can buy Busses that will likely run forever however may have rust..

all depends on your Skill set... if you suck at body work, but are great at mechanics, best to buy from a state with little rust... if vice versa then someplace like Ohio is a good place to buy..

some school systems are known for maintaining busses better than others... my Texas bus came from a district that is noted to keep their busses up pretty well, so i did well with it.. certain places are known to run them into the ground as mentioned in some posts here over the years.. Florida and georgia may sound like great places to buy because of the southern locations, however the busses are beat to death before sales in those states...
-Christopher
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Old 11-03-2016, 04:08 PM   #11
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while dealing with rust is a PITA, its way way cheaper than mechanicals.

They just put a radiator in a bus..$1200 for the rad itself. Plus of course fluids and labor (just time if you do it yourself). Last one I put in a car was a custom 4 core alum one for $400...

That's been my fear of buying a bus..just like buying an old car...every system should be gone thru and I don't know air brakes/diesel like cars..so not sure what i'm looking for or what is normal wear/condition..and then the cost...I'm not happy with $120-160 per car tire..$450+ for big tires..ouchy.

I have 12ish years till I retire..if I can buy a bus off my employer when the time comes i'll know the bus - he orders his so the have alum rims, air everything, the biggest engines, on spot chains which are handy - and they are garage kept which helps a lot with exterior condition (not sun baked, snow doesn't lay on them, less rust and they're under cover 20 out of 24 hours a day. Whether I'd get a good deal or not..who knows.

I'd like to talk him into ordering a RE flatnose that i'll take off his hands in 10 years...best of all worlds as I'd get to drive it for those 10 years.
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Old 11-03-2016, 04:30 PM   #12
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i agree if you have the skills, tools and place to work rust..

I have no idea how to fix it, nor do I have the tools or a place where I can work it... rust repair esp on a commercial vehicle is crazy expensive to pay someone to do it...

whereas i have the ability to spin wrenches, troubleshoot mechanical and electrical issues, and a place where I can replace parts when needbe.. granted I dont have a facility where i could in-frame or Yank a motor.. but unless theres a catastrophic failure i shouldnt have to..

tires are definitely a Huge expense... i put 6 new ones on my Carpenter... name brand for about 300 and some change per tire... so tires are definitely something that should be looked at when buying a bus as its up there in expense categories..
-Christopher
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Old 11-03-2016, 05:51 PM   #13
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rust work on a car is a PITA - all metal is shaped, not flat. Lots of recesses to catch the water. If you get patch panels (or can..they don't make everything for every car) you need to mig weld or similar and then do body work to smooth the end result, then sand and paint.

If you can't get the panels you need to a very good fabricator to bend what you need.

From what I've seen on a bus, or most motorhomes, is almost all flat or simple curves (other than the compound curves on the back end of 50's/ 60's era buses).

Panels are mostly riveted or screwed on - less welding needed. No putty and sanding.
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Old 11-03-2016, 08:00 PM   #14
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I got my 03 Thomas HDX from Midwest Transit in Kankakee for $8K. 128K miles, 6 almost new tires. Drove it back to Montana, got about 7.5 mpg @ 65 mph. Rode like it was on rails.
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Old 11-04-2016, 06:16 PM   #15
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I would not get too exited about a high bid of $150 or $500 when there may or may not be a reserve involved.
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