View Poll Results: Is this bus good enough for a conversion?
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Old 05-02-2016, 11:01 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: Tennessee
Posts: 15
Year: 1999
Coachwork: International
Engine: DT466E
Rated Cap: 90 passenger
Exclamation Need advice on the rust on this bus

Hi there!

I'm new to this page, but this will be my 3rd conversion. I've been lucky enough in the past to not have to worry about rust - my other 3 buses have been completely rust-free. I've also only had gas buses and I've never had a pusher. Can someone please help me understand if this bus has solid "bones"? They are offering me the bus for 2,000$ since I am a nonprofit. I've also never had air brakes. Are they scary? Please help! I have to have an answer for this person today or tomorrow! I'm nervous!

We are moving a family of 5 into our conversion and we have to leave in September.

the ad is here: 1999 Thomas School Bus

I went and looked at it yesterday, It doesn't seem too bad but i know NOTHING about diesel engines.
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Old 05-02-2016, 11:32 AM   #2
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Location: Montana/Texas
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Year: 1998
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Engine: DT 466e
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Doesn't look horrible, but that rust on the frame scares the hell out of me...

John
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Old 05-02-2016, 11:34 AM   #3
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I saw the rust, but if that runs decent I'd buy that bus so fast it would make your head spin. $2k is close to half of what it might normally go for at auction (between $3k and $4k).
Guys on here can look at pictures and stuff, but you're the only one that can actually judge that bus by listening to it and seeing the things that aren't in the photos. I'd say they tried to be honest with the pics.
Do you know what transmission is in it?
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Old 05-02-2016, 11:54 AM   #4
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I saw the scaling rust on the frame. That appears to mostly be paint peeling that leaves the frame to rust, but it doesn't look like it's deep enough to be a structural concern at this time. The rust will need to be addressed obviously. The body rust appears to have been initiated by impact damage and primarily the rust is just local to the physical damage.

You'd have to make a judgement call concerning the rust because you know what kind of environment you're planning to operate the bus in.

Buses really don't rust where I am, unless the floor gets soaked which rots the wood and rusts the floors. So basically if they don't leak, here in rainy Oregon, they don't rot or rust. Short story is if your state uses salt in the winter the rust could be worse than I'd ever expect to see.

I agree with johnbloem1974 about being cautious. If this was an internet auction and I was unable to personally inspect the bus I'd probably pass. On the other hand that mileage is right about where I like to see it. You have to decide if that bus is going to last you another 20 years or however long you want to use it.

Yes, I'd buy it. I don't mind a little rustproofing and welding if necessary. The engine compartment looks clean. Biggest problem I can see is it has way to many seats.
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Old 05-02-2016, 11:54 AM   #5
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: Tennessee
Posts: 15
Year: 1999
Coachwork: International
Engine: DT466E
Rated Cap: 90 passenger
Yes, they told me it was the allison 500, but I believe it's the AT545 because when I drove the bus it allowed me to switch gears between 1 2 and 3, plus go into regular drive mode. The rust i'm concerned about isn't really pictured here - it's the support beam rusting that i'm a bit concerned about. 4 of them (or so) are rusted through. They have recently replaced the air compressor and all the belts on this bus.
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Old 05-02-2016, 11:57 AM   #6
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
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Posts: 15
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Rated Cap: 90 passenger
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin97396 View Post
I saw the scaling rust on the frame. That appears to mostly be paint peeling that leaves the frame to rust, but it doesn't look like it's deep enough to be a structural concern at this time. The rust will need to be addressed obviously. The body rust appears to have been initiated by impact damage and primarily the rust is just local to the physical damage.

You'd have to make a judgement call concerning the rust because you know what kind of environment you're planning to operate the bus in.

Buses really don't rust where I am, unless the floor gets soaked which rots the wood and rusts the floors. So basically if they don't leak, here in rainy Oregon, they don't rot or rust. Short story is if your state uses salt in the winter the rust could be worse than I'd ever expect to see.

I agree with johnbloem1974 about being cautious. If this was an internet auction and I was unable to personally inspect the bus I'd probably pass. On the other hand that mileage is right about where I like to see it. You have to decide if that bus is going to last you another 20 years or however long you want to use it.

Yes, I'd buy it. I don't mind a little rustproofing and welding if necessary. The engine compartment looks clean. Biggest problem I can see is it has way to many seats.

That's what I was thinking. It didn't really look like structural rust. I did go see the bus in person yesterday, runs great. Purrs like a kitten. The air brakes do scare me a little though as I've always had hydrolic brakes.
We are planning to move to Oregon.
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Old 05-02-2016, 12:02 PM   #7
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Well, the 545 is something most of us would like to get away from if possible. It's not terrible and seems to be ok if it's taken care of regularly, but kind of free wheels on downhills. Most of the later transmissions require control boxes that are apparently not cheap. Some of the most recent transmissions work off the TPS, without the need for the little computer controller box.

That seems to be a good price, but it sounds like you're saying the cross members of the frame are rusted clear through? Define rusted clear though. A hole in the middle of all of them, or scaling rust that you can break off where there should be steel?

In all honesty you should be talking to a RE bus owner, but I have a FE. They'll be here as soon as they get off work.
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Old 05-02-2016, 12:04 PM   #8
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Where you moving to in Oregon? I'm in the coastal mountains near Lincoln City.
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Old 05-02-2016, 12:04 PM   #9
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Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Arizona via Baton Rouge
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Year: 1999
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Chassis: Freight-shaker (Freightliner)
Engine: Cat 3126b 250 HP
Rated Cap: Only 1 seat
Same bus I have, exact same dealer too. To be completely honest, I'd walk away if you don't have the time, space, or resources to get into a full scale rebuild of the floor. Especially behind the rear wheel wells. Take a look at my build, you'll see what i am talking about. I am replacing the 2.25 X 2.25 structure tubing and then welding plate down on top of that.

Mine didn't have rust on the retainer strips in the aisle nor did it have a rust hole in the side. My frame has scaled rust, but it was bad enough that the protective undercoating is pretty much gone, it will be re sprayed at a later date when i get back to Arizona.

That's just my two cents.

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Old 05-02-2016, 12:14 PM   #10
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
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Posts: 15
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Rated Cap: 90 passenger
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin97396 View Post
Well, the 545 is something most of us would like to get away from if possible. It's not terrible and seems to be ok if it's taken care of regularly, but kind of free wheels on downhills. Most of the later transmissions require control boxes that are apparently not cheap. Some of the most recent transmissions work off the TPS, without the need for the little computer controller box.

That seems to be a good price, but it sounds like you're saying the cross members of the frame are rusted clear through? Define rusted clear though. A hole in the middle of all of them, or scaling rust that you can break off where there should be steel?

In all honesty you should be talking to a RE bus owner, but I have a FE. They'll be here as soon as they get off work.

Yes, i am honestly SEARCHING EVERYWHERE for something with a manual transmission. I've never had an automatic and the only Allison transmission i would be completely satisfied with would be the 2,000 series+. They quit making the 545 for a reason. I'm running out of time and I need to get to oregon before September. I have a lot of work to do! I might just turn away from this bus. We are planning to move to Ashland.
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