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Old 02-07-2018, 12:29 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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What one to keep? Sell and keep looking? Or just make a quick buck?

I would like some advice from the collective wisdom of the group here.
My dad and I recently purchased 8 busses because the deal was too good to pass up, I hadn't really given much thought to a conversion but haved talked for a lomg time about taking my family of 8 on a year long road trip.

My dad is getting 5 of them as mobile storage units, all he cares is that they can move about 30 miles in the next 2 years.
I get the choice 3 as I was planning on converting one, keeping one as parts and selling the third to pay for the other 2.

As I actually research my decisions I am realizing just how good a deal I got but still questioning- Is this the right model for me? Is this really something I want to tackle? If the answer is yes to both then how do I decide what 3 to choice?

Ideal wants- higher roof, longest I can get (large family and all), pusher, ability to tow a minivan or honda pilot around the U.S. ie engine and transmission up to the task.

Bus background.
Busses, all are 2003/2004 saf-t-liners, front engine, 71 passenger, standard height, cat 3126 unknown hp, unknown transmission,
Mileage between 80k and 140k, hours between 9 and 11k

They are straight from Seattle area school service and have been sitting in the school lot for a year before they decided to clear them out, most of them have service records from the bus garage.

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Old 02-07-2018, 12:46 PM   #2
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sound lkike some pretty cool busses you might actually flip most all and go buy junkyard busses for the mobile storage units.. keep the best one and make a camper out of it for your road trip.. or if he keeps the mnobile ones, you know where to get drivetrain parts if you break stuff on your travellin rig.. , those likely all have allison 2000/3000 transmissions which are nice overdrive units ..

the 3126B is pre-ACERT so not too bad of a powerplant..

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Old 02-07-2018, 04:06 PM   #3
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Thanks for the response cadillackid, any recommendations on deciding what one to keep? I'm 95% sure they all have the same specs, the only thing I know to look at right now is to look at the hours (odometer on several have been replaced so can't trust that.) and tires.
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Old 02-07-2018, 04:32 PM   #4
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Checks would be for rust tires and puddles of oil. it's a Cat so chances are it will be oily as most are. big puddles are bad slimy is to be expected. Gene
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Old 02-07-2018, 05:08 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Godspyro View Post
Thanks for the response cadillackid, any recommendations on deciding what one to keep? I'm 95% sure they all have the same specs, the only thing I know to look at right now is to look at the hours (odometer on several have been replaced so can't trust that.) and tires.
The Hours meters suggest higher mileage than the odometers are showing.

The service records should give you some clues. WIth the stated miles I'd expect the Hour meters to be showing 4 to 6000 hours.

School buses are considered "severe duty" on the drivetrains, and at 11000 hours they are getting up there, especially on the CAT engines that have to come out to be rebuilt.

Anyway, check the documentation and it may tell a different story.

What you have though is a bunch of popular buses.
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Old 02-07-2018, 05:43 PM   #6
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Thanks Twigg, so if I was to start flipping and looking for the "right" canvas what should I be asking? IE not a rip off 8k from Florida but not a total give away either?
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Old 02-07-2018, 07:00 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Gdog 5651 View Post
Checks would be for rust tires and puddles of oil. it's a Cat so chances are it will be oily as most are. big puddles are bad slimy is to be expected. Gene
good tip, I didn't think to check for puddles when I looked at them, I basically made sure they started and came up to air pressure OK, I will take a look below them each, they have been sitting there for a year so if there was a leak we would see it.
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Old 02-07-2018, 07:04 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Twigg View Post
The Hours meters suggest higher mileage than the odometers are showing.

The service records should give you some clues. WIth the stated miles I'd expect the Hour meters to be showing 4 to 6000 hours.

School buses are considered "severe duty" on the drivetrains, and at 11000 hours they are getting up there, especially on the CAT engines that have to come out to be rebuilt.

Anyway, check the documentation and it may tell a different story.

What you have though is a bunch of popular buses.
remember this is Seattle so average speed of 12 mph may not be that far off.
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Old 02-08-2018, 05:52 PM   #9
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Lead tech from the bus barn got back to me with the vin numbers of the buses I am buying.
I also confirmed it is the Allison 2000 tyranny.
Best news is that they are all 78" headroom buses

Sounds like I will keep one, maybe 2, now just to talk my dad out of the other 5 as we may be sitting on a goldmine.

Bus info
Digit position=Designation=Description
1-3=1T8= Thomas Front Engine
4=8=MVP-EF
5=M=? unknown wheelbase
6=4=School 78" headroom
7=C=Caterpillar Diesel (I know it is the 3126b, no idea on HP)
8=2=Air Brakes
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Old 02-08-2018, 07:14 PM   #10
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Sell them all and get your dad some storage containers/conex boxes.
I can get 50' boxes for 2000$ placed where I want them and 20-30' ones 11-1400$
But that's local delivery.
Most container companies will move a loaded container as long as it's not heavily loaded as far as weight.
And containers can be placed to put a roof on to build a garage or cut a door into and don't have to worry about motor,tranny,tires or getting it started when you want to move it. But a 50-100$ phone call. But getting a diesel that has set started isn't cheap either especially since you can't run to your local parts store and get anything CAT.
And if you can't get it started where it sets and have to get a mobile CAT mechanic then (in my area) it's 100$ an hour from the time he leaves his shop. Whether it's 1-hour away or 4 to get to you to figure out the problem,to order parts for overnight delivery and stays in a motel or leaves until the parts come in and don't know when he will be back but it will probably be another mechanic.
I don't know CAT engines in buses but I DO KNOW CAT construction equipment experience and you need money if it's not warranty work.
And with the lifetime warranty stuff car dealers offer it is only good if everything is done through them? CAT isn't that bad but then again only a CAT mechanic can work on them.
Next time you drive buy an equipment rental store then look at how much CAT equipment they own to rent to anyone.
The big rental companies don't rent unless they are a CAT specific shop.
I could go on and on about CAT rental equipment also. Serviced buy them and sent out to work.
There are several other types of equipment available that are more user friendly.
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Old 02-16-2018, 02:30 AM   #11
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Thank you all tou your advice I am pickimg up the busses Monday, temp should be around 20 so will be a good test of the cold start. All the busses have coolant heaters (schoolastic?) So hopefully it will be easy.

New question, the yard where i am getting them also has 2 busses non running busses that I am told I could get for a song, one is an international with a blown engine, the other is a Thomas very much like these others but that hit a car amd messed up tje front end, if i could get the busses for just the price of towing are there specific options that would make them worth the work of parting out?
Cummins engine? Ac? Heater (lew ones are $3000 http://store.nexternal.com/penncvs/m...ater-p225.aspx)
Help me out, convince me i need 2 mor busses.
Yes i realize im new to the skoolie world but if i have to get my feet wet anyway i may as well dive in head first.

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Old 02-16-2018, 08:25 AM   #12
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If you're wanting to do a year long road trip with 8 people, get a bus that is the top of line. What you have there with the cat 3126FE is essentially just a standard route bus bought by the school district. It'd work for most people on here, but you're not most people.

When I say top of the line. I mean an RE with air brakes and preferably air ride. 40 ft long with the high headroom option(windows will tell). As far as engines are concerned, get either the dt530 or cummins ISC8.3 and either an allison 3000 or MD3060. Go heavy duty on everything that you can because 8 people, all of their stuff, and a minivan is a lot of weight to be lugging around for a year.

In all honesty, in your scenario, I'd suggest finding a motorcoach over a school bus, but a school bus would work.
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Old 02-16-2018, 09:44 AM   #13
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If you can sell them all at profit and buy something with a Cummins or Navistar power plant, with air conditioning and under belly storage that would be my goal. I don't want to sound like I'm hating on CAT engines but I have an aversion to stealerships.
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Old 02-16-2018, 12:17 PM   #14
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Your dad wanted storage. Two extra non-running buses that you can still part out are perfect for his needs. He wanted three, and I'm sure you can come up with one more non-runner out of the original 8.

You have got a lot of bus driving to do real soon. Don't envy you there.

Good luck.
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Old 02-16-2018, 01:20 PM   #15
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Quote:
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Your dad wanted storage. Two extra non-running buses that you can still part out are perfect for his needs. He wanted three, and I'm sure you can come up with one more non-runner out of the original 8.

You have got a lot of bus driving to do real soon. Don't envy you there.

Good luck.
Dad wanted to back it up to his house, fill it up, drive it to a friends property and park it.
Not something that works with non running busses.

I see people all the time here driving busses hundreds of miles, i only have 20 miles to drive (8 times) ;)


Now you guys are making me rethink the whole conversion thing...... I guess that happens when we add variables right?

--on another thread--
Quote:
Originally Posted by cowlitzcoach View Post
....Those shorter wheelbase FE engines can get to rocking and jouncing as you go down the road. It can get especially noticeable when you are on a concrete highway and you hit all of the expansion joints. ....
I never thought of that but I guess I need to make sure I can live with the feel before spending a year converting it.
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Old 02-16-2018, 03:38 PM   #16
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Don't rethink it. That just causes delays, because you know you want to build a bus anyway.

Darn right your Dad has the right to park running buses if he wants to. I have no idea of his intentions. It seemed you had talked about parting out the power packages after he got them parked, then you came up with two more non-running buses. It seemed like a logical assumption to use non-runners for the storage portion of his plans. My bag.
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Old 02-28-2018, 05:38 PM   #17
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I finally got the last of them home, all started and drove home with no issues, i even got service records for the last 5 years (one had both front tires replaced a month before removal from service)

I figured you all may enjoy a picture of my flock.

I talked Dad out of his 5, it looks like I will be keeping 2 and selling the other 6.

It looks like they have the 210hp Cat in them, any one know how to figure out if 6th is unlocked? I was able to get it up to 65mph at 2k rpm, I couldn't push it higher because the road has a 45 mph speed limit and a turn was coming up.


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Old 02-28-2018, 05:52 PM   #18
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Fine looking bunch.

If 6th is unlocked it will say "6" in the display when you turn on the ignition.

If it says "5", then five are all you have.
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Old 02-28-2018, 06:16 PM   #19
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That's the biggest private purchase of buses I've seen at one time.

It took me 30 years to play with 5 buses.
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Old 02-28-2018, 06:32 PM   #20
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I do know how to get six unlocked...more or less! I discuss the whole process on my build thread but the short version is that you get a letter from Thomas approving the change and then you take that to a certified Allison technician who gets a control code from Allison that then reprograms your transmission control module. If I remember right the process is set up to allow you to do it by the fleet. I only had one bus to do it to but the form and paperwork was definitely set up so that he they could approve multiple buses at one time.
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