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Old 06-01-2015, 04:04 PM   #1
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Smile School vs. Coach/passenger

I am just starting my research and hoping to be able to buy my bus within the year. I was wondering if anyone had some advice on the difference between coach/passenger buses vs. school buses. I don't have my heart set on either just looking for something with enough space to make a home and something mechanically reliable. All suggestions and advice will be appreciated.

-genevieve
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Old 06-01-2015, 07:51 PM   #2
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School buses are built to last a lot longer than transit/coach style buses. Repair costs are probably going to be about the same unless you're talking a full blown motor coach.
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Old 06-01-2015, 10:25 PM   #3
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I was like you when I started. I thought, if I could find a bus with a bathroom in the back like some coach and greyhound had, I'd be starting with some of what I need already in the bus. It isn't that easy. I am happy I went with a school bus base - IH Bluebird.
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Old 06-01-2015, 10:47 PM   #4
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if your talking a greyhound type bus, thats a whole different class in it's self, much bigger investment to start with, more maintenance, you would need a different class drivers license over all just more money. but on the plus side , you would have a much better bus, nicer ride, it would be a much more luxury set up.
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Old 06-02-2015, 12:15 AM   #5
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WIBlueBird, whomever told you a school bus was built to last longer than a coach doesn't know what they were talking about.

Most school buses have a life cycle of 10-15 years. Crowns had a 20-year warranty but that was the exception and not the rule.

In 20 years even a Crown would be hard pressed to have 300,000 miles.

Coaches, on the other hand, are just starting to get broken in at 300,000 miles. Greyhound has been known to put 3,000,000 miles on a coach before retiring it.

The way they can go that far is they use heavy duty diesel engines and transmissions, heavy duty truck parts in the suspension, and for years the major pieces were made of stainless steel.

As gbstewart pointed out if you go with a coach they will cost much more to start with and they will continue to cost you more in the future.

An in-frame rebuild on a DT466 might cost over $14,000.00 but an in-frame for an 8V-92 or a Series 60 could cost in excess of $25,000.00. A complete R&R for an Allison MT series automatic transmission might cost as much as $6,000.00. A complete R&R of a B500 could cost in excess of $20,000.00.

If you choose a coach with a tag axle you have two more tires and two more sets of brakes, brake drums, and axle ends to maintain. The additional two tires will cause more drag using more fuel.

Coaches are usually longer than most school buses and they are always taller with very large pass through under the floor luggage compartments. It is very easy to load those compartments with lots of creature comforts which can make your coach weigh in excess of 60,000 lbs. Weight eats fuel.

Coaches usually have much larger engines so that they can get those fully loaded coaches up to highway speed, keep them at highway speed, and go over the hills without slowing down appreciably. Big HP eats fuel.

I am not saying all of this to dissuade you from getting a coach if that is what you want to purchase. I just want you to know there are huge differences between a coach and a school bus.

Just as there are horses for courses, there are buses that are better suited to do a specific task than others.

If you plan on traveling in excess of 20,000 miles per year you should be looking at a school bus that was set up for trips or a coach. The cost of improving the power package of a school bus to comfortably travel many miles quickly will be much greater than purchasing a coach that is already set up to go many miles quickly.

But if your plan includes a lot of back roads, unimproved roads, and way out beyond civilization then you need to be thinking about a school bus.

There are very few roads in this country a school bus doesn't travel at least twice a day. And most of those roads have never seen a motorcoach.

I hope I haven't rained on your parade. I just hate to have someone make an uninformed purchase when they go to purchase a bus.

Good luck and let me know if I can help.
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Old 06-03-2015, 12:29 AM   #6
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I was talking more like the shuttle type buses. You know, the cutaway-type buses that typically use Ford/Chevy chassis and fiberglass body shells.

I agree, coaches are a whole nother ballgame. The company I drive for also has a coach division. They have several Prevosts that must be an absolute dream to drive on the highway.

It would be kinda scary to think about the maintenance on those as a lot of it is proprietary stuff that is specific to the manufacturer.
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Old 06-07-2015, 10:42 AM   #7
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The only reason they retire school buses after 10 or 15 years we have children on them so for safety they replace them with new ones, i have a crown and i know i will get 300,000 from it.
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Old 06-07-2015, 12:47 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by brownfamilybus View Post
The only reason they retire school buses after 10 or 15 years we have children on them so for safety they replace them with new ones, i have a crown and i know i will get 300,000 from it.
99% of buses go well passed 300,000.

You need to do some reading.

Crowns break down and fail like every other bus if not maintained properly.

Here our goverment forces buses transporting kids off the road after 15 years for safety sake.

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Old 06-08-2015, 12:48 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by WIbluebird View Post
School buses are built to last a lot longer than transit/coach style buses. Repair costs are probably going to be about the same unless you're talking a full blown motor coach.
I would have to respectfully disagree with this. The school buses are definitely manufactured to be replaced after 15 years or so. Though I am in MD, where there are decently harsh winters and they use (an f-ing ton of) salt on the roads, the underside of my bus for the most part looks terrible. Heavy rust on the frame, most undercoating has fallen / is falling off, and everything behind the rear wheels is very heavily rusted. The old radiator was disintegrating (run your fingers along the fins and they fall off) because of salt and water spray kicked up by the wheels. And the one I took out was it's second radiator.

Quote:
In 20 years even a Crown would be hard pressed to have 300,000 miles.
My bus is a 1999 (17 years old) and has probably 300-350k miles on the original engine and second transmission. Odometer has been replaced but I figure with the hours on the motor 300k is a reasonable estimate.

Quote:
If you plan on traveling in excess of 20,000 miles per year you should be looking at a school bus that was set up for trips or a coach. The cost of improving the power package of a school bus to comfortably travel many miles quickly will be much greater than purchasing a coach that is already set up to go many miles quickly.
I would agree and honestly 10k or more miles per year and predominately interstate driving, I would look into a school bus with a bigger motor. Mine has 7.2 liter and 210 hp CAT, and it is geared pretty well for highway driving but it just doesn't have the power for long uphill grades. 5-6% grades it will downshift to 4th and stay pegged at 45 mph until the crest of the hill, then going down the hill the only thing to stop you is 4 drum brakes. If ever possible, and if I do another conversion at some point, I will try and find a bus with similar weight but a 300hp rated engine, exhaust brake, etc to make it a little more comfortable for high speed long distance driving, which many of these just were not meant for.

I love the idea of getting a coach bus as they would ride more nicely and be more comfortable on the highway which they were meant for, but it would just be so unbelievably expensive and so much work. Even for a school bus, I have put 3-4 grand into my motor between a coach-specific radiator ($1200) a CAT reman turbo ($1500) a few injectors (150 each for a cheap reman) and misc seals, gaskets and fluids which are all 2-5x more expensive than what you'd put in your car. And that is just for a school bus. I do 8-10 mpg on diesel in my bus, and that is with a low hp engine and good highway gearing (2000 rpm at 65). I would imagine a coach bus with an engine thats 2x or more in displacement, 2x or more the weight would suck down fuel way quickly.

I feel like alot of the attraction of a skoolie conversion is that it is relatively affordable. The bus can be had for 4 figures instead of 5, it doesn't use much more fuel (if any) than a cutaway based RV, and can generally be set up to be drivable on a regular license. A coach bus with tandem axles, beefier everything, and bigger everything that requires a different license just sounds too costly and difficult for me, everything needs to be taken much more seriously. While a skoolie conversion isn't "cheap" necessarily, it is a lot more affordable to most people and just a lot easier to manage in my opinion.

Not to say that I am against a coach conversion, I just think it is beyond my abilities. I think if you don't know whether you want a skoolie or a coach, then you DO NOT want a coach because you REALLY need to know what you are doing for that.
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Old 06-09-2015, 07:47 PM   #10
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Thanks everyone for your input. I don't need tons of extra space or luxury and since I will be looking to travel more rural places, and I want to keep it affordable I'm thinking that a skoolie is for me. Especially since I want to do as much of the conversion as I can myself (with family and bf's help of course)

You all made this decision much easier for me. Perhaps my second conversion will be a fancy coach, but for now I'll stick to the school bus.

Any recommendations for what school bus would be good for an all around durable traveling home? what do you have? do you like it? What would you change and why?

-gwinna
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