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Old 03-29-2016, 09:03 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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School auction advice

Hello!
Im lurking around a couple of local school district auctions in the Houston area. I'm looking at the International Thomas buses and the International Bluebirds. As a veterinarian, I admit I know squat about buses with the exception of what I have learned researching this site. Does anyone have any advice about what to look for when going to a school bus auction?
Thanks!
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Old 03-30-2016, 08:52 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by HealthyPetsBus View Post
Hello!
Im lurking around a couple of local school district auctions in the Houston area. I'm looking at the International Thomas buses and the International Bluebirds. As a veterinarian, I admit I know squat about buses with the exception of what I have learned researching this site. Does anyone have any advice about what to look for when going to a school bus auction?
Thanks!

Just from someone with a lifetime of mechanical experience, here are my general suggestions:
1. Find a heavy truck/diesel mechanic and ask them to give you a short lesson on buses/truck chassis, motors, etc and what to inspect for. Offer to pay them for their time if needed, the small cost to learn the basics will save you much headache.
2. They should teach you what to inspect/look at on the bus/truck: tires and condition/date code, body condition/rust, chassis condition/rust, air bags/shock condition, fluid check (oil, steering, etc) and quick check of how it looks when you inspect it using the dip stick or whatever other means is available. Look for signs of leaks and fluid build up on the engine and components and under the bus.
3. Run (and drive) the bus if possible. Look at the exhaust and see if there is excessive smoke, color of the smoke, exhaust leaks, fluid leaks on engine and components, how the suspension and steering feel if you can drive it. How to the brakes feel, do they make noise or pull to one side when you apply them, etc. Does the transmission shift though all the gears smoothly.
4. Ask if they have the maintenance records for the bus. This will tell you allot about how it was taken care of and what components may be newer.
All I can think of for now, but should give you food for thought. Good luck.
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Old 03-30-2016, 11:56 AM   #3
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My $.02, if you are not a mechanically inclined person, stay away from auctions.

Pay someone to inspect what you are looking at and have them give it the ok.
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Old 03-30-2016, 02:40 PM   #4
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Auctions are the epitome of Caveat Emptor--not only are all sales final but there are absolutely no comebacks.

Having said that, auctions can either be a place to get a real bargain or a place where you go stupid and lose your shirt and first born.

Spend the $$$ to have someone inspect the bus for you.

Buses that have recently come out of service that have a current safety inspection sticker are generally going to be better buses than the buses that have been sitting out behind the spare line gathering dust, the sort of bus you will find at the lower price end of most school bus dealer inventories.

Whatever you decide to do, make a decision as to what your maximum price is going to be plus one more bid. There is no sense in paying more than retail price for something at an auction. If it sells for more than what you want today there will be more available soon.
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Old 03-30-2016, 04:17 PM   #5
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Auctions are the epitome of Caveat Emptor--not only are all sales final but there are absolutely no comebacks.

Having said that, auctions can either be a place to get a real bargain or a place where you go stupid and lose your shirt and first born.

Spend the $$$ to have someone inspect the bus for you.

Buses that have recently come out of service that have a current safety inspection sticker are generally going to be better buses than the buses that have been sitting out behind the spare line gathering dust, the sort of bus you will find at the lower price end of most school bus dealer inventories.

Whatever you decide to do, make a decision as to what your maximum price is going to be plus one more bid. There is no sense in paying more than retail price for something at an auction. If it sells for more than what you want today there will be more available soon.

Exactly! There are literally thousands and thousands of buses to choose from across the U.S. so find one that fits your needs and budget! Well said Cow!
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Old 03-31-2016, 04:39 AM   #6
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Thanks for all of the advice!
Ok here is a related question: because I do not have mechanical knowledge, I have also been looking at used bus lots. I have one that I'm very interested in. It is 1995 freight liner, 47 seater with working interior AC, approximately 75k miles. The guy selling is willing to do minor body work, paint, pull out all the seats, put in a new floor, and switch out the thin rear tires for better used tires for $18,900. They will also give me 1 year labor on problems.
Is this a good deal?
I'm going to be doing very minimum work on these buses. I want to pull out all the seats, put in a solid piece of vinyl flooring over the plywood floor, install a basement window A/C unit run by a generator for the mobile veterinary clinic. If I have time, I also want to beef up insulation.
With those things in mind, I have strongly considered buying a used International Thomas or Bluebird 466, 71 seater, no A/C, about 200,000 Miles because an inside guy told me these are more likely to have had an in frame overhaul, then painting the bus myself and ripping out the seats. I just have very very little time, so a bus I can literally start using when I pick it up is attractive. What do you guys think is a reasonable price is for a used yellow international as above?
Thanks
Virginia
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Old 03-31-2016, 04:55 AM   #7
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I didn't know that Freightliner was building school buses in 1995. For $19k, it should include a 1 year unlimited use pass at the Mustang Ranch. At least that way you can have some fun too while getting screwed.
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Old 03-31-2016, 05:41 AM   #8
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For minimal work look to see if you can find a bookmobile at auction or at a dealer. They have no seats, and would only need minimal work to be converted.
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Old 03-31-2016, 06:14 AM   #9
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Virginia,

You could buy three well maintained buses for that price! OUCH!!!! I agree with Scooter, wait for a bookmobile to come up. One was up for auction about three weeks ago. Also look at this bus as an example of what I'm talking about:

Public Surplus: Auction #1560681

Even though it hasn't been on the road for a while, it's still a good bus. Granted it's in California and needs work before coming home. However, as an example it's the type of bus I suspect you may be looking for.

Just tryin' to help,

M1031
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Old 03-31-2016, 06:17 AM   #10
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
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OK I get that the Freightliner has a jacked up price. I'm not stupid, just new to this area. What do you think a reasonable price is for a bus like this with this work? Remember it has two working interior mounted AC units.
Also, what is a good price on an older International Thomas or Bluebird (1990 ish, 200k, 71 seater, NO interior AC)?
Be nice.
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