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Old 01-31-2019, 11:26 AM   #1
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Van Hool or Prevost?

For a long time, I have had my heart set on finding a Blue Bird All American RE for my conversion project. I am familiar with this bus because this is what I drove when I was toting America's most precious cargo from their homes to school and back again. But I haven't been able to find one that is in the price range that I can afford.

Then, out of the clear blue, I ran into a tour company here in middle Tennessee that has some old buses for sale. I went to look at them but I know really very little about them. But I CAN afford one.

They have four coaches sitting side by side. They are a Van Hool CX45, an MCI, another Van Hool that's about 35 feet long and a Prevost H series from the 1990s. However, all four of these buses are so vastly ahead of the Blue Bird that I've decided I can get one of them instead.

I really like the Van Hool CX45. It's HUGE! It might even be a 50 foot because it's just so big. I don't know. My 87 year old mother wants me to get the Prevost.

I can't decide. They are both the same price - $6000 (Actually, all four of the buses have the same asking price)
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Old 01-31-2019, 11:34 AM   #2
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35 foot coaches are cool. WHat model is the MCI?
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Old 01-31-2019, 12:24 PM   #3
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I don't know but I will find out here in a little while and get back. I'll also take some photos of everything that's there and see where I can post them so that you folks can view them.

I will say that, sitting next to the Van Hool, the MCI looks little.
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Old 01-31-2019, 12:45 PM   #4
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Back in the 1990's I used to take my Eagle to the service shop at a local charter operation that ran a bunch of Eagles.

After Eagle went belly up for the third or fourth time the charter company decided to start replacing their retiring Eagles with VanHools.

The service guys and drivers that I talked to were very happy with the VanHools. The only complaint that I heard was was that they didn't ride as well as the Eagle.



This forum is a great, laid back and (mostly) very friendly place with lots of great info and people. However, don't limit yourself. There is some good info specific to OTR coaches at www.busconversions.com

Good luck with your quest.
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Old 01-31-2019, 08:16 PM   #5
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I went to meet with the seller of the buses today. They operate a company that, ... well I'm not sure what they do but it is a faith based outreach organization that helps homeless, down-on-their-luck and others who are going through rehab and such. They're selling off their inventory of OTR long distance buses and switching over to schoolies. I'm not sure why but the guy I met with said that they were having to maintain insurance on these buses that were on their lot. Apparently, insurance for school buses is a lot less expensive.

Anyway, I looked the Van Hool over really good and then the Prevost. Turns out the Van Hool has a lot of problems - mostly electrical. It's not running. The Prevost is actually in pretty good shape and runs well. It needs air bags in the rear and the Prevost dealer in Nashville quoted these folks some $17,000 to replace them. I've already found a website that shows how to do it myself. The Prevost has a mere 162,000 miles on the clock so YES, it's in good shape. It looks like one of the top vents was broken out by some vandals that wanted to get into the bus and sleep there. ...or smoke something funny. I'm not sure. It's not in the best of neighborhoods.

So the decision has pretty much been made for us. Although, the seller said he would take $12000 for all FOUR of the buses. He said that he REALLY needs to get them off of his books.

So, if anyone can come up with a few grand, he can choose from among the other three. If I knew how to post photos, I'd show the buses. I'll see what I can do.

I just posted a photo, the only one I have, of these buses in the photo album. Since I'm new to this forum, I'm learning as I go.
http://www.skoolie.net/forums/member...ture20987.html
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Old 01-31-2019, 08:35 PM   #6
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Does the mci run?
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Old 01-31-2019, 08:50 PM   #7
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I don't know. But I will find out. Can you PM me?
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Old 01-31-2019, 09:36 PM   #8
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162k miles on a good running Prevost......

RUN AWAY!!!!! but not until you send me the sellers phone number....

Tell us more about that one. If you don't buy it someone else here may be interested.
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Old 02-01-2019, 12:38 AM   #9
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Oh I'm buying it. There is no way in the world I would let this one go. This is really one of the once in a lifetime things and it's never happened to me before. It's about time one came my way. I need to be very thankful and very respectful for what I'm getting here. This coach will get a good home where it will be taken good care of.
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Old 02-01-2019, 02:56 AM   #10
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I would stay strictly away, a long way away, from any Van Hool.



For whatever reason all of the VH's tend to become garage queens as they get older. The number one gripe is always something to do with the electrical. The problem is compounded by the fact that even though the engine might be a Cummins or Detroit Diesel and the transmission an Allison, normal regular scan tools won't work on a VH. For whatever reason VH has added proprietary code into the Cummins, DD, and Allison software that prevents anything except for VH scan tools to work.



To compound the electrical problems even further VH follows the European practice of the ground is in the switch and the power is always hot to whatever. You can imagine the problems that arise as a bus gets older and insulation wears out. It is bad enough on an American vehicle that when you turn on a switch you blow a fuse or a breaker. But on a VH you will have power leads dead shorting all over and you will have a devil of a time figuring out what is causing all of the electrical gremlins.



The only coach worse for electrical issues are the Neoplans. And their biggest issue is Neoplan used aluminum wiring in a LOT of their buses.



The Prevost H3-coach has been their premier coach for more than 20-years. They are a little quirky and parts can be an issue at times but nothing like a VH. Rust can be a problem with them but otherwise they are a very solid coach.



The MCI has been the workhorse of the motorcoach world since the '60's. Many of the parts are interchangeable between the MC-5, -7, -8, -9, -10, and -12. The MCI E-coaches can have some electrical problems. The fact it has seven brain boxes can give you an idea of what some of the issues might be. The MCI J-coaches are a lower line E-coach with only three or four brain boxes. The D- and DL- are the newer version of the -9 and have proven to be very reliable.


The longest any of the buses will be is 45' at the most unless the Prevost is an H5-60 which was an articulated bus with five axles--two steer, one drive, one tag, and one trailer.
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Old 02-01-2019, 12:16 PM   #11
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I would be VERY surprised if the Prevost has only 162K miles. Are you sure it's not one million and 162K? Does it have a hub odometer or an engine hours meter? Has the engine been rebuilt or replaced? Please do not assume the indicated mileages are correct! Which company previously owned it, and why did they sell it to the present owner?

As with any vehicle, but especially with something as expensive to repair and maintain as a Prevost (at least, to do so correctly and up to factory standards), condition is everything. Spending a few hundred dollars for a thorough evaluation could be the best investment you'll ever make. Also, you should also spend some time reading all you can on the BCM and BNO forums about those buses, particularly from folk there who already own them.

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Old 02-01-2019, 01:30 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
For whatever reason all of the VH's tend to become garage queens as they get older. The number one gripe is always something to do with the electrical.
It is interesting that you would say that. The seller told me not to buy this coach for the exact same reason. He wanted me to understand that, if I bought the VH, I should buy it for the parts. He said that it was electrical gremlins that caused them to park it.

He also said that he had another VH elsewhere for sale that got parked for electrical problems too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
To compound the electrical problems even further VH follows the European practice of the ground is in the switch and the power is always hot to whatever.
Ok, I may be demonstrating my complete ignorance here but is this what we used to call a "positive ground" vehicle? Years ago, I had a friend that messed around with British Leyland cars - Austin Healeys, MGs, Triumphs, you know.... Lucas Electric things. Those cars were always positive ground but could be changed to negative ground with some mods that I was not familiar with.

So, I wonder.... if a guy were to strip the bus to the entire frame anyway... what would be the possibility of just stripping out all the wiring and developing a new harness that covered all the basics needed for operation?
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Old 02-01-2019, 04:24 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by WoodenYouKnowIt View Post
It is interesting that you would say that. The seller told me not to buy this coach for the exact same reason. He wanted me to understand that, if I bought the VH, I should buy it for the parts. He said that it was electrical gremlins that caused them to park it.

He also said that he had another VH elsewhere for sale that got parked for electrical problems too.



Ok, I may be demonstrating my complete ignorance here but is this what we used to call a "positive ground" vehicle? Years ago, I had a friend that messed around with British Leyland cars - Austin Healeys, MGs, Triumphs, you know.... Lucas Electric things. Those cars were always positive ground but could be changed to negative ground with some mods that I was not familiar with.

So, I wonder.... if a guy were to strip the bus to the entire frame anyway... what would be the possibility of just stripping out all the wiring and developing a new harness that covered all the basics needed for operation?

Not positive ground. It is still negative ground.


Think for a minute how American vehicles are wired. Everything that uses 12-volts is grounded where the thing is mounted. When you want it to turn on you flip a switch that runs juice out a wire to whatever you just turned on.



On European electrical systems it is just the opposite. Everything has a hot lead going to it but nothing is grounded where the light or motor is mounted. When you flip the switch the juice goes from the battery to the light or motor and then back to the switch where it finds the ground and then the light or motor will then activate.



It some ways the European method is better. One doesn't have to go searching around a plastic body panel in order to find a proper ground for a light or a blower motor. If I understand the way the system operates there is very little juice actually going through the switch so the number of relays required to operate something that uses lots of juice is greatly reduced. The one real downside I see is you end up with hot leads going all over the bus all the time looking for a place to ground out.
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Old 02-01-2019, 04:33 PM   #14
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"if a guy were to strip the bus to the entire frame anyway... what would be the possibility of just stripping out all the wiring and developing a new harness that covered all the basics needed for operation?"


It all depends upon how electrically savvy you are.


If the bus is old enough that the engine and transmission are all mechanically operated would make rewiring pretty simple. What is leftover in a stripped out coach that requires electrics is pretty minimal. Lights, heaters, and defrosters could be wired in fairly easily and at the same time replace everything with 12-volt instead of 24-volt stuff.



But if the bus is new enough to have electrical engine and transmission controls you would have to be able to make a new harness that would allow the engine, transmission, exhaust, wheel speed, etc. all work and talk together to make the power package brain boxes work.



Multiplexing was starting to be used in the mid-90's in some coaches and had become pretty standard for the early-00's. Figuring out how the maze of multiplexed wiring is laid out could turn a bus that runs with a few gremlins into a very expensive yard decoration.
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Old 02-01-2019, 06:36 PM   #15
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I have driven both.. I like the seating position a little better in a VanHool than in a prevost... however the 45 foot VanHool may not be welcome everywhere.. and is a beaer to drive on 2 lane roads making turns in narrow areas.



the 35-40 foot Prevost I drove for a number of years back n forth to florida (my friends ordered it and had it custom built).. was a lot easier to drive in town than the 45 footer... both are great busses.. and both will be expensive to repair if you break them.. and a prevost with just 126K actual toital miles is essentially as Brand new bus.. these things are designed to go 500K+ before major overhaul...
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Old 02-01-2019, 08:34 PM   #16
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get the MCI
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Old 02-06-2019, 05:24 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iceni John View Post
... Also, you should also spend some time reading all you can on the BCM and BNO forums about those buses, particularly from folk there who already own them.

John
What is the "BNO forum?"

I subscribed to the BCM and WOW, there is a lot of great stuff there that I can use.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by WoodenYouKnowIt View Post

So, I wonder.... if a guy were to strip the bus to the entire frame anyway... what would be the possibility of just stripping out all the wiring and developing a new harness that covered all the basics needed for operation?

It all depends upon how electrically savvy you are.
I'm pretty good with electrical stuff other than being too fat to crawl around in tight places. But I can get some of the neighborhood teenagers to help me with that. They're good kids and I pay them well.

Also, I would think that rewiring ANYTHING might be a simple matter of knowing how many circuits you would need and what their amp ratings would need to be. I'll have to meditate on that some more.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kubla View Post
get the MCI
I wish I could! Ah Heck! I wish I could get all four of them. LOL

Quote:
Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
But if the bus is new enough to have electrical engine and transmission controls you would have to be able to make a new harness that would allow the engine, transmission, exhaust, wheel speed, etc. all work and talk together to make the power package brain boxes work.
And THAT is probably what will total that bus. ...which is really sad. Here we go around looking for projects and this one shows up. But it needs way more TLC than is worth putting into it. I could probably score the thing for around $2000 but it would cost way more than that just to have West Nashville Towing to get it to my place. It's for darn sure that it isn't going to move under its own power.

Another problem for me is that I have six acres up in rural Kentucky. But I haven't yet gotten a driveway graveled in. So, I couldn't even get the tow truck with the bus anyway of getting in and out yet.
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Old 02-06-2019, 05:47 PM   #18
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You state you are located in Middle Tennessee arguably the BUS CAPITAL OF THE WORLD. There are MANY bus maintenance facilities, bus converters and even a Prevost company service center location in Nashville.

It should be pretty easy to find an experienced Prevost/MCI/Van Hool bus mechanic to pay for a personal onsite inspection of these or any other bus you may wish to purchase. PAY him/her the going rate for their time, their mileage to get to the bus and their personal inspection report of ANY bus you are considering purchasing.

So you spend $500 for an inspection maybe even twice for inspecting 2 buses. No Big Deal!

The knowledge, experience and most importantly the inspectors personal and impartial report might, can, will save you THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS in the long run buying a bus such as a Prevost, Van Hool or MCI!

These bus's can be maintenance nightmares. Just ask anyone in the bus business in Nashville!
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Old 02-06-2019, 10:58 PM   #19
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Paying for an experienced mechanic to come visit my bus is actually a very good idea. I didn't think of that. But you are absolutely correct. With all of the bands going on tour and using Twang Town as their base of ops, there are buses EVERYWHERE!

I should be able to find a Prevost guru with whom to befriend.
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Old 02-07-2019, 11:33 AM   #20
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Worked on those buses many years. If it were me I would look at the Prevost or MCI.

Van Hools a big can of nightmare even for an experienced mechanic. Check the bag mounts on the prevost, they are known to rot then the repair gets expensive. If your going to do the bags yourself understand you need very heavy duty jacks and stands. They are not cheap.
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