Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 08-13-2007, 09:53 PM   #1
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 755
Hello, new guy here.

I was just bitten by the Conversion Bug. After about a week of casual .net research I registered and have a few questions for you experienced guys. I would like to build a Bus Conversion to serve my wife and I and our Grandkids now and again. Just the two of us and a couple of dogs will be using the Bus for long trips with occasional day trips consisting of 4 adults and some small children.

I am a skilled do-it-yourselfer. I did custom Commercial and Residential remodels and new construction for many years. I am skilled in plumbing, wiring, and carpentry, painting, welding and light mechanical work and vehicle maintenance. I have been doing steel and wooden construction for 30+ years and I have a well-equipped shop.

Year and model is not important to me as long as I like the appearance. I like the look of the flat-nosed School buses but I am not familiar with diesel engines. However I can keep a big block GM, Ford or Chrysler running very well.

Following is a short list of what I want from our Bus:

The ability (power) to climb hills at a decent clip.

Highway cruising 65 mph without strain.

Tow a small pick-up, Jeep or Motorcycle trailer.

Sleeps 6 sounds about right to me.

I am also interested in learning if it would be worthwhile to run a bus on propane instead of gasoline or will I need the power of a diesel engine to move down the road and tow a small vehicle or trailer.

Maintenance and operating costs are also a concern; we are comfortable but not wealthy. I have no idea what those Coach conversion costs to operate and maintain but I am assuming they our out of our price range. A school bus looks like something we can handle and is not to big a project for one retired guy to handle with a couple of years of work.

All suggestions will be read with great interest!

Thanks,

Nick Abbott
Abbott is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-13-2007, 10:26 PM   #2
Bus Nut
 
bus-bro's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Whidbey Island, WA.
Posts: 679
Year: 1984
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: All American
Engine: 3208 na boat anchor
Rated Cap: 2
Re: Hello, new guy here.

If you think about engines, go with a turbo-charged diesel for fuel efficency. They are, in my experience, pretty easy to keep running. School busses can be relativaly underpowered, with the rear end geared low. So, if you want highway speed, you tend to be underpowered. (These are all things I learned here.)

I bought a pusher bus, but if I had to do it again, I'd get a late model dog-nose bus. It's that rear door that opens to so much possibility--ie: you can a least use the damned thing as a truck.
bus-bro is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-13-2007, 11:37 PM   #3
Bus Geek
 
the_experience03's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Saint James, MN
Posts: 2,669
Send a message via MSN to the_experience03 Send a message via Yahoo to the_experience03
Re: Hello, new guy here.

Darn it...I made a long reply to this and it seems to have gotten eaten by the intardwebz. Anyway...the point of it all was that you should not limit yourself by what you think you want now. There are tradeoffs in everything. When you find something that you think might work (or even not work) post up specifics on the bus and someone will be more than happy to help you.

Oh yeah...and welcome to the board!
__________________
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3024/...09f20d39_m.jpg
Skooling it...one state at a time...
the_experience03 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-13-2007, 11:58 PM   #4
Bus Nut
 
phillbus914's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Grand Rapids, MI
Posts: 786
Re: Hello, new guy here.

As far as flat nose bus's go... If you get a front engine bus (like mine a bluebird TC2000) you get the big rear door, but it rides pretty rough, like most skoolies.

I'm told the rear engine pushers ride a lot nicer, but I don't know 1st hand.

Welcome to the site, and good luck. If you find something you're interested in post it here & we can tell you what we think of it, there's a lot of knowledge here.
__________________
My Old Bus :(
phillbus914 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-14-2007, 08:22 PM   #5
Bus Nut
 
swinada's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Northern BC Canada
Posts: 538
Re: Hello, new guy here.

Welcome to the board.
I got an 40ft Flat nose pusher (1996 Thomas Safe-T-Liner) with a 8.3lt Cummins Diesel. It got plenty of power and the ride is smooth. might have to do with that I only experience the ride from the drivers air ride seat. Cruising at 65 is no problem. And it will sleep 8 when we are done. It for sure would also pull a trailer.
Good luck on your hunt.
__________________
Proud owner of a: 1996 Thomas Safe-T-Liner,Cummins 6CTA 8.3Lt diesel, Allison AT.
http://picasaweb.google.com/swinada/BusPictures http://www.swinada.com/bus.htm
http://lh4.ggpht.com/swinada/SL91F-b...opbussmall.jpg
swinada is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-14-2007, 09:36 PM   #6
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Savage, MN
Posts: 472
Year: 1992
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: International
Engine: 7.3 diesel
Rated Cap: 14
Re: Hello, new guy here.

65 is not unreasonable to get I see lots that top out at 65 and some newer ones will hold it going up a hill. I've seen a few that have come from the factory that will push 70 too. And a few local bus owners have ordered their buses to push better than 70 but I won't say how fast cause they aren't supposed to know that with out breaking any laws.

I have used a 40 foot 2000 model international bus with a t444e and at545 to pull the schools 20 plus foot band trailer and it could pull it at least 60 up minnesota interstate hills. and 65 on the flat. I will say the newer frieghtliner doesn't pull it up hill real good. I do have a picture in the gallery of that set up. It is not a bus I would ever choose to drive it was just that they only have two to pull it and the good one was broke.
http://www.skoolie.net/gallery2/d/13289-2/P1010126.JPG
wmah is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-14-2007, 10:27 PM   #7
Skoolie
 
boojiewoojie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Tullahoma, Tennessee
Posts: 214
Year: 2002
Coachwork: International
Chassis: RE300
Engine: DT466E (250h.p.)
Rated Cap: 81
Re: Hello, new guy here.

Well, I've owned an Eagle bus and a rear engine school bus. I sold the Eagle because it had too much structural rust and I realized that buying a just-retired school bus would be much better maintained than taking a chance with another motorcoach in my price range. Sometimes you can find a nice motorcoach that has been well maintained for cheap, but usually you're gonna pay 12k or more to start getting into a decent one. Both types of buses have pretty similar operating and maintenance costs. In fact, they basically use the same kind of parts. The one big advantage of school buses is buying straight from a school district- you know that the bus has been well maintained- the government requires it! Beyond that it's personal preference. Flat nose buses inherently have more room, better visibility and better turning radius'. Rear engine buses ride better, are quieter and cooler. Front engine buses are more common and because of shorter wheelbases have the best turning radius'. It's very rare to find a newer bus with gas or propane engine.
All the just retired buses are gonna do at least 55, but finding one that will cruise 65 is a matter of luck. Example: Last week I drove a brand-new 2007 Blue Bird All American bus (one of the best) for several days. It runs like a scalded dog and feels like it will hold 70 all day long. This week (and the next several) I'm driving another identical brand new bus- same specs, same production run and it just doesn't compare to the other one. It takes longer to get up to speed and won't quite go as fast. (Don't worry- I'm not going 70 when I have kids on board) I don't know why there are differences in identical buses- there just are! When you go to buy a bus make sure to talk to the mechanics first- they will probably be glad to tell you about the bus. My bus will hold 62, just like the mechanics said it would. If you run into an activity bus used for the football team, it's probably a good one! BTW, the newest reasonably priced bus you're gonna find is probably 15 years old. Most states retire transit style (flat nose) buses after 15 years. In TN you can keep a bus another two years I think. If you keep it longer than that the state inspection is much more intense. If you come across a newer bus like Swinada's you might be lucky. It appears the school got rid of it because of rust issues. If you look at his photo gallery you'll see what he's done to get rid of the rust, and now he has a really nice bus.
My family loves traveling in our bus- we just finished a 5000+ mile trip cross country and it was great!! We had zero mechanical problems and I'm looking forward to converting the bus some more and making many more trips!! Have fun!!
__________________
Daddy, can we go on a trip again??
'85 Thomas SafTLiner RE
3208 NA CAT MT643
boojiewoojie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-14-2007, 11:27 PM   #8
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 755
Re: Hello, new guy here.

My plan at this point is to do much more research and to start looking at some buses. I am watching Craig's List and Ebay. What trouble's me concerning Ebay, even though the prices are much better then Craig's List, is the distances where many of the the buses are located. I could pay a bit more and purchase one closer to home and do just as well money wise. I live in Oregon so I am also watching Ca., Wash and Nevada, Reno is just a short hop away and we make it down there a couple of times a year anyway. Las Vegas is not much further.

Besides wanting to see a bit of country, do some camping and lot's of bass and trout fishing I want to do a conversion because I am excited about doing the work. From what I have read and the little bit I have seen so far, I am very excited about the potential a hand built conversion will provide.

I am still trying to justify doing a school bus conversion verse buying a used motor home. What I have learned about Skoolies so far is leading me to believe that a used school bus will be a much better platform when purchased because of the stringent maintenance requirements it has undergone.

Thank you all for the welcome and the useful information!
Abbott is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-14-2007, 11:34 PM   #9
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 755
Re: Hello, new guy here.

Something I forgot to mention is ceiling height, I am concerned about headroom as I am 6' tall. I have read on Ebay about a bus with a 6'4" ceiling height and saw one on Craig's List that said it had 6'6" of headroom. How common are buses with those ceiling heights? Is a 6' ceiling what I am likely going to find? From what I have read (so far) raising the ceiling of a used bus 12" will likely be in my future.
Abbott is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-15-2007, 01:11 AM   #10
Bus Geek
 
the_experience03's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Saint James, MN
Posts: 2,669
Send a message via MSN to the_experience03 Send a message via Yahoo to the_experience03
Re: Hello, new guy here.

If you are in Oregon you are in Crown country! Keep an eye out for one of those if you want to make the rest of us jealous.
__________________
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3024/...09f20d39_m.jpg
Skooling it...one state at a time...
the_experience03 is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


» Virginia Campgrounds

Reviews provided by

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 12:58 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.