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Old 05-21-2007, 10:42 PM   #1
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My 1st post, and I 'm looking for a bus. Any Surprise?

Hi everyone,

Ok.....last night, I looked at a bus offered by a church. They have two for sale. Both are fords, one an '83' the other a '85'. I would choose the '85' if it was just between the two of them. Both have 370 gas engines. The '85' is a two barrel carb and the '83' is a four barrel. The '85' has just 78,000 miles. The '83' has 67,000 miles. I questioned if the milage was true and the story checks out. The engines in both of these look much better than expected. Both buses started nicely but the '85' needed to be nursed along as the idal seem to need some attention. These buses have sat outside with vertually no use in the past four years. The seats are better in the '85' but the tires are marginally better on the '83'. The floor is cracked in both and the '85' is still school bus yellow. The '83' was repainted three years ago ( two tone grey ). I have checked with my local tire man and he can set me up with good used tires(50%) for $75 a tire. I did not check if the rims were split or not. The tire man says he can get me non-split rims for $75 a piece.

Ok, how much are these buses worth? My primary bus use would be a family camper to use at the local county park ( my wife is the manager there). The secondary use is a camper to use for the many music festivals that I would like to attend. So far, the farthest festival that I have attended is three hunderd miles one way.

Of course, I should let you know, I have very little money to put forth for this endever. Although, the buses mentioned above could be do-able. Should I wait and get more experience of what to look for? These buses are in a rural area and are not the prettiest things if someone was looking for a bus for transporting a number of people.

so, once again, Hi to all of you, and what would you suggest?
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Old 05-22-2007, 12:07 AM   #2
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Welcome aboard!

After sitting for 4 years both buses will need a good tune up. However, this should be easy enough for someone with minor mechanical skills.

In looking at the buses I would certainly check all fluids. They will need to be changed out anyway, but checking them now might give you a clue as to problems that might exist. You didn't mention the transmissions they have, but if it is an automatic make sure you check the fluid levels when it is warm and the engine is idling in neutral after cycling through each gear (fills the valvebody) to get an accurate readings.

The shape of the bodies would be a big point for me. Rust is a killer. I'm not talking just surface rust. It will be in your own best interests to climb under that thing and really check things out. Bring a hammer and don't be afraid to crack it against crossmembers, the frame, etc to find soft spots. A nice ring means good steel.

On the interior I would be stepping on every inch of the floor to find soft spots, especially if you see rust on the bottom side. A little effort now will prevent major headaches later.

What kind of brakes do the buses have? If they are hydraulic and have a fail-safe parking brake like air brakes, I would run. It is the Lewis-Gihrling brakes Ford was infamous for and I think they will give you trouble. I have messes with them once and will never do so again!

If it has air brakes you should drain the tank, check the drive belts for the compressor, and go through the normal air brake daily test. Test compressor build time, leak down, e-brake activation, e-brake holding force, etc.

As for tires...you have a great hook up on prices there. Still, as long as the tires are in good shape (no weather checking, etc), I'd run them as is if you're on a budget. Good tires are a major selling point. New (even new-used) tires are spendy!

If you are looking to camp in the thing, I wouldn't worry about seats too much. I would think that you could make a few good ones out of what's in there if you wanted to keep a few.

Painting is not entirely expensive, but it certainly is time consuming. I guess your choice on that end comes down to when you want to be able to use the thing.

This might seem dumb, but is worth noting. How much gas is in each and when was the last time they were filled? 15 gallons in one versus 60 gallons in the other is a $150 difference in value. Of course if the gas is also 4 years old it really is a null point. Heck, I'd rather have the one with less fuel as you know darn well that 4 year old gas isn't going to be good.

How about some pictures or updates about what you find out about the buses and some more information about exactly what you would want your interior to be? Just a hollow shell with some cots and sleeping bags? A full on conversion?

Did they shoot a price at you at all on the buses?
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Old 05-22-2007, 12:30 AM   #3
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the_experience03

Thanks for your reply. Both buses have air brakes and fluids were clean and at level on both. The owners have them listed for a grand each. Mechanicly sound. They both have at545 trans in them. They both shifted nicely. The price is low enough, should that be a warning? I'm not thinking a full conversion, just some beds a dry sink and places to carry toys for the whole family (Me, my wife, 5yr old son and 5 month old daughter.)
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Old 05-22-2007, 01:35 AM   #4
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I paid $1250 for a 1989 Ford chassis Wayne 65 pax Lifeguard with a 6.6 diesel, AT545, air brakes, etc so I think that price is right in line, especially if it isn't rock solid firm. Again, it all depends on the prices in your area.
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Old 05-25-2007, 12:40 AM   #5
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I have sat on the decision about these church buses nad have done some soul searching about what my goals and inspiration is. I think that I will pass on these buses. I got the feeling that there may be a lot of avoidible issues should I take more time and find that options that matter most to my goals. I may be kicking my self because I think I could have offered $750 and have a good chance of getting one. I might be a fool because My buget is small and at that price, I might have been able to swing a good project.

The reason I am loosing interest in these church buses is that they have sar in the weather way too long. the shine on the paint does not exist anywhere on these buses. That is a very superfacial point but I noted that rust residue flowed from side panels. I think to do it right, one would have to take the panels apart to find the culpret. (way too much time and effort for my money). I keep looking at local buses and the mega used bus web site and those buses look so much better, even at the greaty inflated rates they are asking. No, I don't have the money to give to buy many of those buses. But I think it would be better for me to do a lot more research To identify what I really want in a school bus and then to do a considerible amount of shopping. It's not that I don't want to out in the time and effort. It's that I want a bus that will hold it's own for five to ten years after I do what I want with it.

Eight to nine window shortys have some appeal to them. Some flat nose smaller buses would work for me also. I would like a favorable deisel engine and air brakes. I am 6'2", so a 6'3" interior would be nice. I think I would eventually want to tow a car or a trailer behind it. Are there buses out there that would suit my wants?
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