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Old 07-02-2011, 08:00 AM   #1
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Hi guys, need some help buying my first skoolie.

Hi guys, im shane and i will be buying my first skoolie to use for a travel documentary through america and canada. I would really appreciate some help on this i need as much information a possible because i am from australia and need to know what the best bus is and where i can get it before i arrive in america. Now guys i need to know what the best combination motor and gearbox bonneted bluebird is for a good freeway cruising speed and fuel economy. I want to build a roof top deck and rear deck on the bus with a tow hitch and have the biggest legal bus that can to a 20 ft travel trailer. I will be around san Francisco and need to buy a bus at the end of august so if anyone has any idea of where i can find a well maintained bus i would appreciate your help. thanks in advance shane
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Old 07-10-2011, 08:28 AM   #2
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Re: Hi guys, need some help buying my first skoolie.

The mile-per-gallon king seems to be the 5.9 Cummins, especially the older (1998-down) 12-valve...though a newer 24-valve with overdrive will probably match a 12V. For long-nose buses, Fords seemed to be the main user of the Cummins (though many Ford buses used their own Brazilian-built diesel engines). GMC's tended to have gas engines, 8.2 Detroits, or Cat diesels. Internationals used their own diesels.

If you're putting on lots of miles, I have to suggest a flat-front bus...they are much more comfortable on the highway.

Finding one with A/C is tough...I looked for six months before I found my air-conditioned Genesis.
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Old 07-10-2011, 10:57 AM   #3
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Re: Hi guys, need some help buying my first skoolie.

Originally Posted by Jarlaxle
If you're putting on lots of miles, I have to suggest a flat-front bus...they are much more comfortable on the highway.
Can you elaborate on this? Why do you think/know about the flat nose vs long nose? I am curious because I'm still hunting the perfect bus and was leaning toward the long nose. I know the RE's with AC and air ride seats would be very comfortable from what I've read here on the forum but for my use the conventional bus seems to fit ther bill. Kinda like having something in front of me just in case the sh-t hits the wall......
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Old 07-10-2011, 05:09 PM   #4
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Re: Hi guys, need some help buying my first skoolie.

Flat nose vs conventional.. that's always a big debate for people. Conventionals to most are considered easier to work on in the event of engine troubles, or even just general maintenance. Rear engine transit buses are great for their quiet ride, but they're definitely a bit tougher to service depending on which manufacturers bus you purchase. For a lot of long distance, long hour travel I would suggest a rear engine bus made by Blue Bird or Thomas, as the AmTran/IC rear engine buses tend to overheat on long trips due to their design. With the Thomas or Blue Bird you'll end up with either a 5.9 Cummins (most likely) or a CAT diesel (models vary). The plus side to a Blue Bird or Thomas over the AmTran/IC rear engines is also serviceability, they have access to the rear of the engine through a back service door, whereas the AmTran/IC buses (pre-200 have a radiator mounted in the rear, which allows only for access to the engine from the sides of the bus.

As far as frontal impacts go, you'd be surprised how sturdy the front end of a transit bus is. Certainly you don't have the engine and hood in front of you, but in the same sense that's also a good thing. I've heard of accidents where the engine protruded into the cab instead of falling below the bus as designed. After having run so many hours.. having a hot engine shoved into your legs wouldn't feel too good I can't imagine. That's obviously a rare situation, but it's happened. You need to think about the types of buses you see on the road doing long distance trips, or even local. Mass transit and long distance charter buses are transits for the sake of offering visibility to the driver.

Finally, there are plenty of places you'll find buses with air conditioning, depending on how far you want to travel to get the bus. Below are a couple of places that sell used buses: - Kankakee, IL - South Holland, IL - Whitestown, IN - Eaton Rapids, MI - St. Louis Area - North Florida - Colton, CA - Springfield, PA - Hudson, FL - Nationwide Services - Listings of upcoming auctions, next one is in New Haven, CT on Saturday July 16 - I'll be there

(Just to clarify, Blue Bird, Thomas, and AmTran/IC are considered the big 3 which is why I only mentioned those. There are other rear engines floating around, but they're not at all common, at least not anymore)
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Old 07-10-2011, 06:12 PM   #5
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Re: Hi guys, need some help buying my first skoolie.

Just to add one bit... you can also find a Cummins 8.3 in RE buses.
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