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Old 02-23-2017, 11:23 AM   #1
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Buying from a school district

Has anyone had any success or horror stories or any input/advice for buying a bus from a school district?
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Old 02-23-2017, 11:40 AM   #2
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I bought mine off an auction website but actually picked the bus up directly from the school district bus yard. A few mechanics in the yard even gave my brother some background info on the bus and some tips to keep the temperatures down. I think most districts have a strict maintenance schedule they follow so I'd guess it would be better to buy from them or a bus that hasn't been out of service too long.
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Old 02-23-2017, 11:54 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by DanRidesHarleys View Post
Has anyone had any success or horror stories or any input/advice for buying a bus from a school district?
I've had nothing but great times buying direct from the school.
Dealers and middle-men I can do without. I'm a low-budget kinda guy.
I'd actually pay MORE to get one freshly retired if I had to, vs buying from a dealer. Just doesn't seem like there's any point in buying any other way, to me at least.
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Old 02-23-2017, 06:01 PM   #4
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I got mine from my old school district, and it was from an online auction...govdeals. nothing but a great experience where one of the mechanics pulled up the file on my bus which was about 4 inches thick. They keep great maintenance records. They get completely inspected every 6 months here need it or not. I didn't know a thing about owning/driving a school bus and they were very helpful.They also want to see the conversion when I'm finished

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Old 02-23-2017, 06:45 PM   #5
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Here in CO, the larger districts have 'rules' about selling, and most HAVE to sell through auctions. (I presume this is to reduce potential corruption) But, the smaller districts aren't bound by these constraints. I bought mine directly from a small rural district. They only owned 3 busses total! I backed it out of their bus barn myself, and was given the COMPLETE history of the bus. I even spoke with the BB salesman who sold the bus to the district when it was new in '98.

I sent them some photos of the conversion, and our first trip to Yellowstone, and they ended up writing a story about us in the local paper!

TAKE YOUR TIME! Research - Research - Research

I would shy away from 'transportation' companies. From my experience, they run their busses into the ground. You can get them 'cheap' but you get what you pay for.
For most Skoolie folks, the last thing we want to do is dump a bunch of time/money into the engine or drivetrain. The cost of engine or transmission work can easily be 2x what the bus was purchased for! My first bus had a failing AT545. I drove it all over for 5 years. When it finally gave up, I parked it and bought a new bus for less than the tranny work would have cost.

Good Luck!
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Old 02-23-2017, 06:59 PM   #6
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I'm real happy with how well Aurora Public Schools took care of my 98 AmTran.
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Old 02-23-2017, 11:56 PM   #7
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I bought mine from a school district via auction and have to pay nearly what I paid for the bus in repairs.
Bus was about $4700 with auction fees.
When I picked up the bus the alignment was terrible, brakes were worse with a cracked brake shoe and drums that were worn beyond spec.

Brakes, alignment, tire,belts and tensioner have cost me much more than I had hoped coming from a school bus that was still certified as a school bus till June 2017.

Just my experience so I'd say no matter where you buy it's a good idea to hire somebody to give a good inspection first to avoid surprises.


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Old 02-24-2017, 04:55 AM   #8
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I bought mine from a school district via auction and have to pay nearly what I paid for the bus in repairs.
Bus was about $4700 with auction fees.
When I picked up the bus the alignment was terrible, brakes were worse with a cracked brake shoe and drums that were worn beyond spec.

Brakes, alignment, tire,belts and tensioner have cost me much more than I had hoped coming from a school bus that was still certified as a school bus till June 2017.

Just my experience so I'd say no matter where you buy it's a good idea to hire somebody to give a good inspection first to avoid surprises.


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At least you didn't pay a dealer ten grand for the SAME bus!
$4700 is a LOT of money for the repairs you got, though. I take it you took it to a shop?
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Old 02-24-2017, 09:03 AM   #9
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I guess it was a bit exaggerated, was more like $3300 for the repairs but that also includes a couple stops on my way home. First to repair a spewing oil leak and then a tow because of a bad wire which caused a no start. Took Cummins dealer 6 hours to find that the problem was a wire and they happily charged me for every second of it. I might have tried to find the problem myself but it was nearly 0 degrees outside and I only had minimal tools.

I did the belts and tensioner myself but I'm not prepared to do air brakes on a unit like mine. The shop had a hard time finding the right brake parts and they said were very expensive.
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Old 02-24-2017, 11:36 AM   #10
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Thanks for all the input!

I reached out to the director of transportation of a school district here in St. Louis, and explained what I wanted to do. She loved the idea, and said they just sold their busses for this year. They apparently get rid of some every Jan & Feb. Said they usually have 100,000 to 120,000 with maintenance every 6,000 miles with records to show. I'm about a year out from financially pulling the trigger but this timing could be great!
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