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Old 06-07-2017, 08:47 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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How Long Of a Bus Should I Buy?

Hey everyone. My wife and I have saved up our money for a few years and now we are ready to purchase our school/transit bus for conversion. My first question is what length should we buy? We are thinking 35ft-40ft. We have heard parking a 40 footer can be a chore and may have restrictions at RV parks and National Parks. Any truth to that?

Just some insight......It will be me, my wife, and kids. We have a one year old daughter and our second child is due this December. We plan on selling our house when the conversion is done and living on the bus full time as travel nurses. We will be pulling a Toyota Matrix as our toad car.

We are looking at Bluebirds and Thomas built buses around 1999-2006. We are hoping to spend $5,000 but could spend up to $10,000 if something knocked us off our feet. We want to spend $30,000 - $40,000 on the complete conversion. We would like to be done in 3 years and living on the bus.

Any advice on bus length or anything else for a noobie would be most appreciated. Thanks in advance.

Justin
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Old 06-07-2017, 09:31 AM   #2
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Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: Essex, MD
Posts: 3,434
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: Blue Bird TC RE 3904, Flat Nose, 40', 277" wh base
Engine: 8.3L Cummins ISC 260hp, MT643, 4.44 rear
Rated Cap: 84 pax or 1 RV; 33,000lbs
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Originally Posted by Miles of Smiles View Post
Hey everyone. My wife and I have saved up our money for a few years and now we are ready to purchase our school/transit bus for conversion. My first question is what length should we buy? We are thinking 35ft-40ft. We have heard parking a 40 footer can be a chore and may have restrictions at RV parks and National Parks. Any truth to that?

Just some insight......It will be me, my wife, and kids. We have a one year old daughter and our second child is due this December. We plan on selling our house when the conversion is done and living on the bus full time as travel nurses. We will be pulling a Toyota Matrix as our toad car.

We are looking at Bluebirds and Thomas built buses around 1999-2006. We are hoping to spend $5,000 but could spend up to $10,000 if something knocked us off our feet. We want to spend $30,000 - $40,000 on the complete conversion. We would like to be done in 3 years and living on the bus.

Any advice on bus length or anything else for a noobie would be most appreciated. Thanks in advance.

Justin
With varmints in tow, as big as possible. Even tiny varmints like yours take up a lot of space. And they don't stay little long.

Personally I like Blue Birds and flat noses. I have a 40ft. You have to pay attention when you pull into the gas station/etc. so you don't get yourself into a pickle. But then you really should be doing that with any "box truck". Since you have a toad, you can always park the bus at a Wally World/grocery store then take the Toyota for a spin to the local city park. No clue on the restrictions. Race tracks like to make the cutoff at 35 ft; the only VERY limited experience I've had with RV restrictions, sorry.

The flat noses are 26(?)-40 feet of interior space. A bus with a hood isn't going to have as much interior. But if you have to work on the engine, which you shouldn't in the $5~$10k range, then the hood is supposedly the way to go. I've never driven a hooded bus but I have driven the 26' U-Haul box trucks. The flat nose buses have the steer wheels BEHIND the driver. You drive into the intersection and then turn. Personally, I like it.

If you are planning a roof raise, the Blue Birds have fully vertical sides. Thomas buses "lean in" at the base of the windows.
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Old 06-07-2017, 06:40 PM   #3
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Year: 1997
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DT466e
I have 11 windows on a 1997 blue bird body, no clue how big it is. If I could choose, I would have picked 12 windows. Only because the wheels are so huge, they take up so much space inside. I wanted a little space between the exit and my bedroom, at this rate because of those wheels, that's not gonna happen. I have a hood and it's super ez access for everything. I have hit the curb on gas stations it is scary, either or be sure to turn wide!!
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Old 06-07-2017, 07:27 PM   #4
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Now, you see? There's your problem. You've got a hood.
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Old 06-08-2017, 11:53 AM   #5
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LOL. Well I'm good either way......hood or no hood.....we just want something big/long enough to have a bedroom in the back, 2 small closets, composting toilet, shower, 2 built in wall bunks for kids, kitchen(small propane fridge, propane stove/oven or convection oven set up), washer, and a living room/dining area. See we ain't asking for much??? LMAO!!!
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Old 06-08-2017, 12:20 PM   #6
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It does make a difference if you've got a hood or not. Just imagine while driving that you pull up to a crosswalk in a dognose bus. You're body is six to eight feet back behind that crosswalk line. In a FE or RE, you can almost touch the crosswalk line with your feet and you can definitely see better. A flatnose bus provides a better view of traffic, since pulling onto a busy street in town is one of the most difficult things I do in a bus. It's a trade-off like anything else.
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Old 06-08-2017, 12:23 PM   #7
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Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: Essex, MD
Posts: 3,434
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: Blue Bird TC RE 3904, Flat Nose, 40', 277" wh base
Engine: 8.3L Cummins ISC 260hp, MT643, 4.44 rear
Rated Cap: 84 pax or 1 RV; 33,000lbs
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Originally Posted by Miles of Smiles View Post
LOL. Well I'm good either way......hood or no hood.....we just want something big/long enough to have a bedroom in the back, 2 small closets, composting toilet, shower, 2 built in wall bunks for kids, kitchen(small propane fridge, propane stove/oven or convection oven set up), washer, and a living room/dining area. See we ain't asking for much??? LMAO!!!
Unload those kids at the first gas station bathroom break and you'd be surprised how much room you have. You gotta do it before they get out of 1st grade or so for the best deal. After that, the used kid prices take a dive. By time they are teenagers, you can't pay to get rid of them. I was greedy. I was offered 50 cents a lb on the hoof but I was holding out for a $1 a lb. Let my mistake be your lesson.

Washer, like clothes washer? For a family of 4 full timing it, this might not be big enough. I think it's a great idea as it will fit in a storage bin OUTSIDE. The gf isn't so keen on the outside part. If it's raining, wait a day or 3. Now if only there was a pedestal dryer that wouldn't break the (battery) bank.

Width (in.) 27"
Depth 33"
Height 16.8"

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Old 06-08-2017, 12:39 PM   #8
Mini-Skoolie
 
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The only two things that appeal to me about a dog nose are that the engine is easy to get to for repairs and it offers some cushion between the driver and other vehicles during an accident. Otherwise I am(and probably will end up with) leaning towards a 35-40ft RE flat nose. The more I talk to folks up here the more Im leaning towards the 40footer. That pic you posted was something else. I've never seen anything like that before.
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Old 06-08-2017, 01:32 PM   #9
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Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: Essex, MD
Posts: 3,434
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: Blue Bird TC RE 3904, Flat Nose, 40', 277" wh base
Engine: 8.3L Cummins ISC 260hp, MT643, 4.44 rear
Rated Cap: 84 pax or 1 RV; 33,000lbs
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Originally Posted by Miles of Smiles View Post
That pic you posted was something else. I've never seen anything like that before.
I get bored easily at work. That would normally be bad enough but add to it a bus conversion on the side and I can waste a great deal of time. Found that while searching RV or the Home Depot site one day.

The difference that I heard for an FE instead of RE was engine cooling. Honestly it had me worried for awhile. But I bought an RE in the end. I haven't crossed the Rockies with the pedal floored for 3 days straight or anything but I crossed the Appalachians in MD and drove to Waktins Glen. Engine temp gauge barely moves. Tranny temp gauge barely reads. Interesting factoid... my '99 tranny temp gauge starts at 100F. The first tick makr is 150F and I've not seen it even half way there. In the '02 Blue Bird, the gauge starts at 150F. Tho come to think about it I have the MT643 and the '02 had an MD3060. Both are 8.3L REs. Even with a tranny leak, the MD3060 never got more than whatever it's first tick mark is.

So short story long, don't worry about overheating unless you plan to drag race in Death Valley.
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Old 06-08-2017, 01:44 PM   #10
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It's a pedestal washer... sorta the 'latest thing' in washer/dryers. They stack under a standard washer and are usually used for running a secondary load (think delicates) while doing your main washing.
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