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Old 07-28-2016, 03:10 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: Outside Fort Worth, TX
Posts: 19
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: B-60
Engine: 366 Chevy Big Block
Good Deal?

Heya Skoolies,
Long time listener, first time caller. Looking at doing a conversion for part-time living/travel arrangements for my family of five. We're down to selecting a bus, and had considered Skoolies proper, but came across what seems to be an excellent deal. I'd love to get opinions before making a huge (38' long!) mistake.

I'm looking at a 2006 Champion CTS-FE (front engine), 38' transit/coach bus. As far as I can tell, it is built on a Freightliner MB65 straight rail chassis, with a Cummins 6.7 and Allison 2000 or 2200, and 4.1:1 final drive. It has A/C built in, and under 100k miles. Looks to be in good shape, with good tires. Does anyone have any experience with Champion, or any of the components listed above?

I'm tallish, so I like the ceiling room of the coach, as well as the superior windows and insulation. Not having to paint the exterior right away is a plus, as well as the real truck chassis

Asking price is $4,000. Any thoughts?
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Old 07-28-2016, 04:28 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Finchwagon View Post
Heya Skoolies,
Long time listener, first time caller. Looking at doing a conversion for part-time living/travel arrangements for my family of five. We're down to selecting a bus, and had considered Skoolies proper, but came across what seems to be an excellent deal. I'd love to get opinions before making a huge (38' long!) mistake.

I'm looking at a 2006 Champion CTS-FE (front engine), 38' transit/coach bus. As far as I can tell, it is built on a Freightliner MB65 straight rail chassis, with a Cummins 6.7 and Allison 2000 or 2200, and 4.1:1 final drive. It has A/C built in, and under 100k miles. Looks to be in good shape, with good tires. Does anyone have any experience with Champion, or any of the components listed above?

I'm tallish, so I like the ceiling room of the coach, as well as the superior windows and insulation. Not having to paint the exterior right away is a plus, as well as the real truck chassis

Asking price is $4,000. Any thoughts?
Sounds like a bargain.
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Old 07-28-2016, 04:48 PM   #3
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Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: Kalispell, MT
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Year: 1993
Coachwork: Amtran Genesis
Chassis: International
Engine: DT466
Rated Cap: 84
Does it look like one of these?



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Old 07-28-2016, 06:17 PM   #4
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: Outside Fort Worth, TX
Posts: 19
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: B-60
Engine: 366 Chevy Big Block
That's the one!
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Old 07-28-2016, 06:52 PM   #5
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Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: Kalispell, MT
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Year: 1993
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I don't have any knowledge of the Champion line of busses but it's hard to go wrong with a Cummins and Allison drivetrain.
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Old 07-28-2016, 07:44 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Asetechrail View Post
I don't have any knowledge of the Champion line of busses but it's hard to go wrong with a Cummins and Allison drivetrain.
and good tires, low miles, and a/c...
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Old 07-28-2016, 09:13 PM   #7
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: Outside Fort Worth, TX
Posts: 19
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: B-60
Engine: 366 Chevy Big Block
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Originally Posted by Dapplecreek View Post
and good tires, low miles, and a/c...
I'm assuming that the A/C compressor is probably engine driven (I don't know), but it's a place to start.

The bus is a long drive away from me, so I am looking for any possible feedback. Thanks!
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Old 07-29-2016, 08:14 AM   #8
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Year: 1984
Engine: 366 Big block Chevy! :) w/ Stick shift
I kinda get a good happy vibe about it. Good luck!
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Old 07-30-2016, 04:50 PM   #9
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: Outside Fort Worth, TX
Posts: 19
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: B-60
Engine: 366 Chevy Big Block
It's hard to go wrong with a good happy vibe, haha!

I think we're going to go for it... It's kind of a (really) long drive, but it seems like a "good deal". If it works out, I will share the contact info here, because I think there are several available.

When I consider that the asking price is roughly $1500 more than a Skoolie in similar shape, it seems more than worth it to get:

-Working whole bus A/C
-Insulation which is likely quite superior to most traditional school buses
-Under body storage
-BIG stinking windows!)
-Paint that is probably acceptable for at least a few years (was not looking forward to immediately repainting with a Skoolie)
-A slightly more traditional look than the converted Skoolie (incognito!)

Any thoughts before we jump off the deep end?
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Old 07-30-2016, 04:59 PM   #10
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Join Date: May 2015
Location: Oklahoma aka "God's blind spot"
Posts: 2,361
Year: 1989
Coachwork: 1853FC International/Navistar
Chassis: 35' Retired Air Force Ambulance
Engine: DT466, MT643
Rated Cap: 6 souls and a driver
Quote:
Originally Posted by Finchwagon View Post
It's hard to go wrong with a good happy vibe, haha!

I think we're going to go for it... It's kind of a (really) long drive, but it seems like a "good deal". If it works out, I will share the contact info here, because I think there are several available.

When I consider that the asking price is roughly $1500 more than a Skoolie in similar shape, it seems more than worth it to get:

-Working whole bus A/C
-Insulation which is likely quite superior to most traditional school buses
-Under body storage
-BIG stinking windows!)
-Paint that is probably acceptable for at least a few years (was not looking forward to immediately repainting with a Skoolie)
-A slightly more traditional look than the converted Skoolie (incognito!)

Any thoughts before we jump off the deep end?

Would kill for TALL WINDOWS! Possibilities are endless...

Like this guy's... Privacy and viewing in one window... Momma will like!
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Old 07-30-2016, 07:58 PM   #11
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: Outside Fort Worth, TX
Posts: 19
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: B-60
Engine: 366 Chevy Big Block
So, the seller is providing temporary tags, and I'm sure it's registered as a private bus. Does anybody have any pointers on insurance for the drive home? I've done some reading, but been unable to gather a consensus.
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Old 07-30-2016, 08:34 PM   #12
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Rated Cap: 44 or 66? 11 rows
Gotta tell us which state you're in, and it might be significant to know which state you're picking up from... but the word on the street is to find a local agent and use the magic words, "Progressive Commercial Policy for Private Use".
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Old 07-30-2016, 09:22 PM   #13
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: Outside Fort Worth, TX
Posts: 19
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: B-60
Engine: 366 Chevy Big Block
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dapplecreek View Post
Gotta tell us which state you're in, and it might be significant to know which state you're picking up from... but the word on the street is to find a local agent and use the magic words, "Progressive Commercial Policy for Private Use".
I'm in Texas, picking up from Georgia. I will look into that.
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Old 08-02-2016, 11:18 AM   #14
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: Outside Fort Worth, TX
Posts: 19
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: B-60
Engine: 366 Chevy Big Block
So... OBD-II.

I'm looking at these buses, and I don't see an OBD-II connector anywhere. It's a 2006, so I thought it would have one. Do buses have a different diagnostic connector than cars?
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Old 08-02-2016, 12:14 PM   #15
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 12,105
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
typically the only busses with a standard OBD-II are the cut-aways (ones that look like half of a ford or chevy van in the front..

the others often jhave a manufacturer specific scanner required to work on them.. the chassis manufacturer.. or drivetrain in your case.. 2006 bus should be just before the major emission changes that went into effect for diesels so it shouldnt require DEF.. but i havent done any research since the only newer bus i looked at was an international 2004..

-Christopher
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Old 08-02-2016, 12:49 PM   #16
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: Outside Fort Worth, TX
Posts: 19
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: B-60
Engine: 366 Chevy Big Block
Fantastic, that's what I needed to know. I'm in Texas, and I'm not sure what the inspection process is like for a bus, but it sounds like I don't have to worry about plugging in to an inspection computer.
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Old 08-02-2016, 01:28 PM   #17
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 12,105
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DTA360 / MT643
Rated Cap: 7 Row Handicap
commercial vehicles are often handled differently than automobiles in many states... and RV's as well.. im not sure if you need emissions inspectins in your state or not... they dont always have to plug to the computer.. sometimes they can test by measuring emissions at the tailpipe.. thats something you'll have to call the DMV about in texas.. im in ohio and in a non-emission county so no checks were required on mine.. I have no knowledge of what others may have had to do

-Christopher
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Old 08-02-2016, 01:57 PM   #18
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Join Date: May 2016
Location: Georgia
Posts: 1,646
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: IH
Engine: T444E
Rated Cap: 14
I would be *VERY* wary buying one of these! The fellow I bought my Carpenter from has one of these in his "junkyard", and for a very good reason! The steel structural members are rusted out. I would not put any money into it without getting a chance to do a good inspection first. These types of buses typically have a lifespan of about 10 years before rust begins to eat 'em up. He also has a Ford E450 with a similar body, with the same problem.
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Old 08-02-2016, 02:17 PM   #19
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Georgia
Posts: 1,646
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: IH
Engine: T444E
Rated Cap: 14
Since I do live in GA, and if it's not terribly far, I'd be willing to go give it a good look over if you're interested.
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Old 08-02-2016, 05:25 PM   #20
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: Outside Fort Worth, TX
Posts: 19
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: B-60
Engine: 366 Chevy Big Block
Brad, that is very VERY generous. I do automotive work for a living, and gave it a good look before purchase with very satisfactory results. HOWEVER....

We got a few miles away from the yard before I noticed she won't shift out of first gear. This wasn't apparent on the test drive, since everything else looked good, including trans fluid, and we were restrained to fairly narrow, slow city streets. The seller has been very gracious thus far, but we are on the side of the road waiting for a call back about where we go from here.
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