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Old 12-17-2011, 12:34 PM   #1
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Bus Auctions

Just returned from the Suffolk school auction where they were selling their buses. I've never been to an auction before and found it a very interesting event. I loved being able to crawl over several different buses all at once and compare their condition, sound, and 'feel'.

Once bidding started, however, I found it alternately annoying and interesting. The annoyance was provided by the auctioneer's helper who continuously thumped on the busses and shouted "COME ON!", as if that sound would thump or bully someone into bidding. The interesting part was watching one fellow bid and win six of the busses for over 6K each. All I could wonder is WHAT was he going to do with all of them?

So... things I learned about local auctions.
  • 1) Right now, a good full-sized bus will sell for anywhere from $3500 to $6800.

    2) Get to the auction early enough to listen to the bus run. I was there while they were running, but they were cut off once the auction began. When we got to the last one, the battery had died and it wouldn't start.

    3) Check the bus for the little things as well as the big things:[list:38stypck]a) ensure the blinkers and the lights work (one bus had a headlight pop out when it was started),
    b) check the tires for tread and cracks,
    c) check the undercarriage for rust, and
    d) check the windshield for wipers (the one I liked didn't have them still attached).
4) If they move the buses back and forth to prove they'll go into gear, listen for the air brakes... do they sound like they are leaking? Only one bus seemed to exhibit that problem.

5) Know the rules of the auction. This one didn't have a auctioneer's fee or buyer's premium, but I've been told many of them charge up to 10% of the winning bid (and that's over and above any license/paperwork fees).[/list:u:38stypck]

Most of you guys may already know these basics, but I thought I'd add my small part for anyone who hasn't been to one before. Can anyone else add to this?

How many of you guys bought your bus at an auction?
Would you do it again? Or would you rather buy from a private individual?
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Old 12-17-2011, 01:29 PM   #2
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Re: Bus Auctions

I was going to post about the maximum age a school bus can remain in service. Seems some states have a limit, some don't.

What I did find out is that districts are now keeping their buses longer, and that the price is going up on used servicable buses.

I do think that a 15 year old bus would be past up by most operators, and the price would then be affordable for school bus converters. It makes no sense to buy a bus for $6800, convert it, and have it worth $5000. YMMV.

Washington State autions buses that come from the school districts. Though I haven't bought a school bus from them, I've bought plenty of stuff from them, and looked at a lot of their buses. I would rather buy a bus that just came from a district than from a 3rd party.
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Old 12-17-2011, 01:33 PM   #3
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Re: Bus Auctions

I would also suggest that you go a a few auto auctions before you bid. Register at each one (if free). We have bought 6 or 7 autos at auto auctions back east. The one in Blue Ridge, GA was where we bought most of our vehicles simply because it was closest and many of the dealers from Chattanooga sold their cars there. My Jeep was originally sitting on a used car lot in Chattanooga when I first saw it with a price of $13K. The second time I saw it , it was at the auto auction in Blue Ridge. I got it for $6K (plus $600 auction fee) when it was run thru for the second time. The fastest auto auction was in Gainesville GA. Three lanes are more confusing than three two we were used to at Blue Ridge. Also the bidding would start on a vehicle there and the vehicle would roll out and another would take it's place before the bidding ended. Very fast. Very confusing.

Also TAKE CASH! Figure your max bid amount, add in the auction fees and don't bid over your limit. Take someone with you who can stop you from getting carried away bidding.

Do not get your heart set on one particular vehicle. Be flexible.

LEAVE THE KIDS AND DISTRACTING FRIENDS & FAMILY AT HOME!!!!!!!!!

Bring a driver, a flashlight (that works) and some basic tools.

Be aware that you may need to add oil, coolant etc to these vehicles to get them home. Our worst was we had to put a water pump in an Aerostar van I had bid on ($600). We sold the van a year later for $600. I decided I did not like the mini vans. It was a good cheap test plus I put many miles on it in that year. I bought the Jeep next and I'm still driving it. Over the years we've had it, I had the water pump go out (a year or so after we got it) and we replaced a CV(?) joint. The jeep is a '95 and I think I got it in "97 or '98. All the vehicles that we have bought were driven for a while and resold for the same or more than we paid for them.
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Old 12-17-2011, 02:17 PM   #4
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Re: Bus Auctions

govdeals.com is a good place to find a bus, I got mine on Ebay though
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Old 12-17-2011, 08:25 PM   #5
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Re: Bus Auctions

I bought a Crown Victoria police cruiser at an auction a few years ago for under $2,000. My favorite car ever! It was a sad day when I let that one go. My auction strategy is to bid with confidence and no hesitation, acting like "I'm taking this car home at any price" right up to my pre-set limit - if it goes a dollar over, I'm done. Make the competitors think you have no intention of slowing down until you win the car!
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Old 12-17-2011, 08:50 PM   #6
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Re: Bus Auctions

Don't be the first bidder. Wait until the bids are winding down before you bid.
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Old 12-17-2011, 10:24 PM   #7
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Re: Bus Auctions

i found out to buy them from the bus barn from your school they are cheaper and u can get all the records on the bus,now that blue ridge auto they buy the bus's from our school here in blue ridge and than up the price about $2000.00 dollor,so it's best to go too the barn and get one,like mine,i got a 94 bluebird w/bay and only used on field trips and the bus only has 46,810 miles on it, all docamented with records. tenn ,ga ,ala,fla miss only keeps there bus's for 15 yrs and must sell them,no matter what the miles on them.i see that Cal has bus's long than that,some from the 70's. and on a southren bus u have no rust,like from tenn on up the east side of the state's....i know them alaska bus's have rust,i live there for 6 yrs....

so buy wisely
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Old 12-17-2011, 10:51 PM   #8
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Re: Bus Auctions

Hey Keith, that's my kinda' iron!
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Old 12-18-2011, 08:52 AM   #9
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Re: Bus Auctions

Previous post about Washington State having some cheap busses at auction. Last year a few like mine sold for less than $1000. (then almost all of the purchasers were reselling them, some were resold 3 times that i know of)
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Old 12-18-2011, 08:55 AM   #10
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Re: Bus Auctions

Quote:
Originally Posted by keith
i found out to buy them from the bus barn from your school...
Unfortunately, that's not an option in this area. The schools make more money off the auctions, so they are tightly restricted to only doing that.

Good for the school... bad for me <shrug>
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