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Old 06-03-2016, 05:56 PM   #1
Bus Crazy
 
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I'm looking at a prison bus

A friend of mine in Boise doesn't think I'm crazy for looking for a bus to convert to a motor home. So he sent me pics of one sitting by the side of the road.

A question you can't answer: how in hell am I going to get out there to look at it?

A question you can answer: Does window count work the same in prison buses as it does in skoolies? Can I assume that it's basically a full size bus because it has 12 teensy weensie windows near the roof on each side, and one emergency exit (on each side)?

-Dan
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Old 06-03-2016, 06:39 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by dan-fox View Post
A question you can answer: Does window count work the same in prison buses as it does in skoolies? Can I assume that it's basically a full size bus because it has 12 teensy weensie windows near the roof on each side, and one emergency exit (on each side)?
I think so because the windows wouldn't be wider than the space between the bows/ribs. Some prison transports have regular height windows but also beefy bars covering them while others have those little high windows to provide light but obscure visibility and also presumably too narrow to crawl through.

I think the biggest challenge for a prison transport conversion is the addition well-secured hardware that will need to be removed, like cages and shackle mounts and window bars.
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Old 06-03-2016, 09:08 PM   #3
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i bought a prison transport bus this winter.
the guy who sold it to me like it so much he bought it back.
One nice thing is the cage makes good security for belongings
Good luck!
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Old 06-03-2016, 10:14 PM   #4
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Just going to throw out some hippie bullshit here. Something to consider is that a prison bus will not have the same good energy a school bus has from transporting a bunch of little brats every day. Some food for your thoughts.
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Old 06-03-2016, 10:21 PM   #5
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This is what I have so far:
1998 Thomas 8.3L Cummins Diesel
Allison Transmission Automatic
61K Miles, A/C, Heat, Air Ride, Backup Camera
Gutted and ready for an RV conversion. Lo miles. Plenty of life left. Runs and drives well. $8500 marked down to $7500.




a shot through the windshield



front left quarter

My first shot at posting pics; let's see how I do.
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Old 06-03-2016, 10:27 PM   #6
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Just going to throw out some hippie bullshit here. Something to consider is that a prison bus will not have the same good energy a school bus has from transporting a bunch of little brats every day. Some food for your thoughts.
You do have a point there, and I'm not going to discount hippie bullshit. I'll have to think about that, but it's not likely that I'll get to lay eyes on it and absorb some of its karma before I make the decision. Who knows, maybe the poor thing has been miserable most of its life and is ready to act like a dog whose former owner beat it and is glad to be out of there.

The b**ch of the situation is that I just spent the weekend out there with my bud, watching his kid graduate middle school and get baptized. Oh, the humanity!
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Old 06-03-2016, 11:31 PM   #7
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Actually looks like a nice bus. Has the big Cummins in it, is already "skinned" in that it has the smaller windows so doesn't look like a school bus, has low miles and is already gutted which puts you ahead of the curve for build time. Screw the karma thing, if you're worried about it have a priest, shaman, medium, whatever bless/cleanse the bus and roll on with the build. I like the thought that it's looking for a new home and good energy, like a rescue dog.
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Old 06-03-2016, 11:44 PM   #8
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Just going to throw out some hippie bullshit here. Something to consider is that a prison bus will not have the same good energy a school bus has from transporting a bunch of little brats every day. Some food for your thoughts.
I tell you from experience that it was eerie how that bus was sooo not meant for me.
I wonvt share the detail but at one point the sense was so strong that i asked for a sign and got a profound sign within 10 minutes and said " ok i m sellin this."
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Old 06-03-2016, 11:56 PM   #9
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Buy it! It's even got the red/blue strobe lights so you can blow through traffic I do like how the top cap is smooth and doesn't have the warning light holes like a regular school bus. The walls look thick too, or was this just an optical delusion from the picture? It already resembles an rv more than a school bus, which may make it more accepted in some campgrounds, especially if you put a nice paint job on it. Only 60k miles on it.....that's great! Did you ask the guy why he's selling it?
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Old 06-04-2016, 01:48 AM   #10
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Haven't talked to the guy yet. I only heard about it at 6pm EDT, which is 7-1/2 hours ago right now. I thought I'd sleep on it a day first so I didn't sound like a babbling idiot when I got hold of him.
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Old 06-04-2016, 12:09 PM   #11
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[url=http://texoma.craigslist.org/rvs/5601242062.html]converted 40' bus / toy hauler[/url

No conNection to me.
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1998 Ford B700 Thomas body 65 passenger. 5.9 Cummins 12 valve with MT643 Transmission 123,000 miles.
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Old 06-05-2016, 01:11 PM   #12
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Nice find! But, it's even crazier for me than the first one. For what I want to do, I'd have to strip the interior and start over. Nice engine; what's a retarder? Is that a Jake brake? If so, what does 4 stages mean?

The paint job has to go. The other one is already white, and I could live for a long time before I needed to change that. The Jackson Pollock treatment, not so much. Also, since it's a toy hauler/garage, maybe it's been cut up to make getting bikes in and out easier. A minus for me.

I have a request in for the VIN. I hope to be able to take that to Thomas and get a build sheet. That will have a lot of information. If it's got a desirable transmission and is geared for the highway, so much the better.
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Old 06-05-2016, 02:01 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by dan-fox View Post
...I have a request in for the VIN. I hope to be able to take that to Thomas and get a build sheet. That will have a lot of information. If it's got a desirable transmission and is geared for the highway, so much the better.
If you find an online tool to view the build sheets, please post it!

[This one shows the engine and type of brakes: http://www.gates.com/catalogs-and-re...r/vin-decoder]
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Old 06-05-2016, 02:26 PM   #14
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Nope. I've had good luck in the past just contacting the company directly and asking for the build sheet. "I'm considering purchasing" etc etc. I can't remember if I've done that with Thomas though. One company asked me for a phone number and called me basically to verify that I existed and wasn't a corporate entity.

In each case before I could show an online ad for the vehicle; this time I've only got pics of it sitting by the side of the road with a "For Sale" sign on it, but Thomas could easily look at that and see that the bus in the picture matches the bus they built with that VIN.

We shall see what we shall see.
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Old 06-05-2016, 03:05 PM   #15
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i like the prison windows! cool looking bus. and you dont have to worry about curtains.

its got all the right things, maybe a bit pricey but, its got all the right things.
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Old 06-05-2016, 07:01 PM   #16
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As far as pulling VIN's - Mine's an IH chassis and when I called my local IH parts seller, he asked for the VIN and pulled it. Got the specs, service history, and basically everything he had access to through IH. If your chassis was made by a company other than Thomas, you can try that route (Ford, IH, Freightliner, etc).
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Old 06-11-2016, 02:45 PM   #17
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This just in! (Actually about a day ago)
















https://youtu.be/sXnp2eQGHKg

https://youtu.be/uJh7NHc67rM
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Old 06-11-2016, 03:05 PM   #18
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So: next steps?

It's 1800 miles and a $500 plane flight away, but it's damn near the perfect bus. Those prison bus portholes will force me to unskin-sketch in frames-reskin with new windows, which is sorta right where the fantasy was going anyway. Anybody want a porthole?

Is the 6CTA mechanical engine vs the ISC as desirable as the 444 vs the 444e? Do I get the same simplicity and ease of diagnosis as is rumored for other mech engines?

The only reference I can find about an out-of-town prepurchase inspection is "be prepared to spend a lot of money." Nothing about "Boy am I glad I went there!" Any idea how much is a lot? How to go about finding out which shop in Boise is honest and which one is run by the seller's brother-in-law?

My buddy says the tires are all mismatched and look "old and tired". (This is the same guy who thought 6 pictures was enough.) That's a bargaining chip.I have not started negotiating with the owner yet; it says $7500 in the window. 1589.x hours on the tach agrees well with the claimed 61K miles.

I spent 1/2 hour on the phone with a service rep at Thomas who completely gets and digs the idea of skoolies. I found out the rear is 5.29 and the gas tank is 100 gallons and has a heated pickup. Rear sounds high, but he said that his records indicate that 5th was unlocked on the Allison and 6th might be; he didn't understand the annotation in the record. If I can get to .75 on the Allison (a SWAG, I admit) I can get to 65 at 2K RPM which is all I'd ever want. And if I can get to or already have 6th, how sweet it is!

This looks like the proverbial unicorn from here, but the idea of letting go of that much money sight unseen has me a little deer-in-the-headlights. I'm looking for ideas as to how to move myself off the balance point of this dilemma. Work with me here.

I am also getting significant pushback from SWMBO, which is quite different than what she thought about the project when it was hypothetical. But that's on me to manage.
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Old 06-11-2016, 04:29 PM   #19
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Sounds pretty sweet! And I just might be interested in some portholes...do you know the size?
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Old 06-11-2016, 04:35 PM   #20
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Sounds pretty sweet! And I just might be interested in some portholes...do you know the size?
Nope, but I am assuming that they fit nicely in between standard school bus bows. What're they? 24" OC or similar? Different from mfr to mfr?

I'm serious, btw. If I do snag this, I will give those away for the low low price of $shipping. I've gotten too much good advice and plain ol' entertainment out of this community, and it would be a small enough payback.
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