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Old 12-11-2013, 11:09 PM   #1
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What the best base to start with??

New guy to the board, and I have spent the last two days reading different builds you guys have done... I bow to your knowledge.. My wife hates you all

So I'm sure this has been covered but I have not found it, so maybe it has not been..

What the best starting point?? Thomas, international, Blue bird, other??? Pusher or puller ??

My first thought was a mini bus, but with a wife and two kids I think a full size maybe in order.. I have seen how fast these fill up..

Highway speeds are important to me..

Are there years I should avoid??

Any pointers would be great ??
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Old 12-12-2013, 09:27 AM   #2
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Re: What the best base to start with??

The very best base is the one I started with, of course!

But seriously, that is a very individualized decision, and I don't think there is a clear cut right or wrong answer to the question. You have to consider your application and needs and then decide for yourself. Each type of bus has it's own advantages and disadvantages.

Your wife may come around one day, but if she is like mine, it won't be until the bus is done and your family is enjoying it.
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Old 12-12-2013, 11:50 AM   #3
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Re: What the best base to start with??

From my limited experience, if you want the wife to get on board it has to be attractive. She is probably thinking "redneck wagon" as displayed at so many NASCAR events. The fastest way to get her excited may to head in the direction of a crown or old flxible (if you can find one) as these are the most attractive (read cute) according to the women I have spoken to. 1 of the people here is selling an old crown in the classifieds:
http://www.skoolie.net/forum/viewtop...?f=12&t=196755
Other than that your, starting point is really up to you, it is a personal choice.
welcome and good luck
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Old 12-12-2013, 09:30 PM   #4
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Re: What the best base to start with??

I have a Thomas, so I may be biased a little. If you are not pulling the interior panels and roof for adding extra insulation, it does not matter much which unit you pick. If you intend to pull the panels and redo the factory insulation, I would lean towards the Thomas as it has screws instead of rivets. Ask anyone here about rivets, they can be a major pain.
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Old 12-12-2013, 10:30 PM   #5
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Re: What the best base to start with??

Bluebird TC2000 rear engine, 8.3 Cummins flat nose. In my mind, flat nose buses are the only ones worth converting. The dog nose buses are a waste of space, more ugly, and don't turn nearly as sharp. However dog nose buses deal with head wind better, and get a little better mileage. Some say dog nose is more easy to work on, but I disagree.

Crowns are what everybody on here likes, but they are the hardest to convert, due to their curved everything, and their uni body construction. None of the crowns use the good engines DT366 Cummins 5.9, DT466 or the Cummins 8.3.

Thomas uses inferior engines (Cat), and has inferior coach work. Ribs running the length of the bus on the roof that hold water and debris. Three piece roof panels. The side support ribs are not plumb from the floor making a simple roof raise more difficult. Two piece wheel wells that seem to rust more than Blue birds one piece design.

I don't know much about Ward coach work. They seem to use a realy good engine (DT466) and have a nice long nose. (the part in front of the tire).

Blue Bird is the best of all. In Canada, the coach work all completely galvanized. One piece roof panels, one piece formed wheel wells, strait plumb walls. The flat noses come in rear and front engine. You can get a 5.9 and the 8.3 Cummins in both front and rear engine models. All the 8.3 powered buses come with the preferred MT643. The 5.9 powered buses mostly come with the AT545 but some have the MT643. The AT545 causes excessive fuel consumption as the torque converter doesn't lock up. If you live in the hills, or road travel alot, you need the rear engine 8.3 Cummins.

Nat
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Old 12-12-2013, 11:13 PM   #6
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Re: What the best base to start with??

Quote:
Originally Posted by nat_ster
Crowns are what everybody on here likes, but they are the hardest to convert, due to their curved everything, and their uni body construction. None of the crowns use the good engines DT366 Cummins 5.9, DT466 or the Cummins 8.3.
Hardest to convert I would say yes, if you're pulling the interior. Otherwise, not really. The solid construction is very nice. Single panel windows are great, as is having a huge trunk. Yes you lose a bellybox or two, but there's still under floor space available aside from the trunk.

Don't count out the engines Crown uses either. Ours is a DD 6-71 with almost 400,000 miles on it and it runs like it's brand new, cranks right up in below freezing and gets better gas mileage than most of the buses on the board - 14.7mpg on the highway (that's the actual average from driving across the entire width of the country, incline, decline, headwinds, tailwinds, etc.). The mid ship engine also brings a nice balance to the ride. I can have a cup of coffee hanging out on the table while we take a turn, go over a bump, hit a pot hole or slam on the brakes and not lose a drop. It's kind of amazing.

It's built like a tank and that makes me happy. The most important things in the world to me will be in that bus and I'd rather be safe than smushed!

Otherwise, we wanted a blue bird but found a lot of Thomas' so if we hadn't found our Crown we would have gone with a tall body Thomas, rear engine.
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Old 12-13-2013, 01:02 AM   #7
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Re: What the best base to start with??

one that's already finished
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Old 12-13-2013, 08:55 PM   #8
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Re: What the best base to start with??

Well let me re ask.. What are the up and down sides of each make..

Thomas, international, ford, blue bird, freghtliner, etc..

Push or pull

Different motors and transmissions..

Some of you have already started to move the thread in that direction.

THANK you so much for the advice so far.. The Thomas with its screws is a great for example.

Figure my budget is cheap as dirt (under $5000 probably closer to $3000), so we are talking about busses being sold now from the bus cos NOT re sales..

Thanks again I am learning a ton !!
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Old 12-14-2013, 11:05 AM   #9
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Re: What the best base to start with??

This is purely my opinion but it seems that people tend to favor the blue bird more than any other. I could be wrong but that's the vibe I walk away with.

I think the better question is what do you intend how to use your bus. I think each platform has its pros and cons. I would also imagine that your budget will influence what you get also. If you have to sub out a lot of the work well your budget better be healthy. I highly discourage against this. If you build it you will know how it works, how to take it apart, and how to fix it. Have the pleasure (IMO) is the journey to get there. This is why you start with a blank canvas and see what comes on the other side. If it was easy you would go down and special order what you want .... pay for it.. then use it.

As for motor trans... Those opinions will vary but it seems that the 5.9 and 8.3 Cummings, and the dt 466 seems to be the kings as well as the mt643. Those should produce the best results for you.

I think with your budget you better plan on a bare bones setup. Not unless you can score killer deals. But even if you go bare bones you can still make a bus and enjoy life with good people around you.
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Old 12-14-2013, 12:06 PM   #10
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Re: What the best base to start with??

The thing is, we've had this conversation ad nauseum on this forum. I guess it may not be so easy to find the information wherever it is buried, but I don't feel like re-hashing it all over again and again. However, as Bapos suggested, if you could lay out your intended use and features that are important to you, that would help focus the conversation. For instance, how high of a roof do you need? Will you need a garage in back? How long of a bus? Living full time, or just short trips? Camping? Tailgating? How many occupants? That sort of thing.
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Old 12-15-2013, 10:47 AM   #11
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Re: What the best base to start with??

I think Dan is correct lots of these topics get rehashed on a regular basis. This is an issue with EVERY message board out there not just this one. I don't think many people use the search function of the board but that's ok. I know its a pain in the ass and kind of only perpetuates the problem but I say keep answering the constant questions and move on. The site is about interaction and helping people not file management. Keeping things tidy is a admin issue not a user issue. Only way to have that is make more people admins (which seems that wont happen here) to do such. I think they have a hard enough job with keeping the spam at bay. So to me I say just throw your answer in there and move on. Change what you can.... things you can not... move on.

As Dan said having detailed info on what you want... what you can spend... will help others help you make some of those decisions.
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Old 12-17-2013, 12:45 PM   #12
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Re: What the best base to start with??

Well if you guys can point me in the direction of the older posts where this was covered I would be very appreciative. I have tried to search but there is so many posts I can't find the info I want. Maybe a sticky note ??

As for what I'm looking to do eventually, would be a full blow motor home. Queen size bed in the rear, one set of bunk beds for the kids, full bath (shower and toilet separate) some kind of kitchen and eating area.. Must be able to do highway speeds (70-75 mph), and I'm going to loom for buses with factory AC. Budget is going to be low end..

Has anyone ever done a former city bus rather then a school bus, can they be better jump off points??
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Old 12-17-2013, 12:55 PM   #13
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Re: What the best base to start with??

most city buses are low floor and geared for city driving, I personally think anything faster than 60mph in a heavy bus is too fast...call me old fashion; whatever

now having excess power for the mountains is something different!

basically decide flat nose or dog nose (they drive different and turn different)

front or rear engine (rear normally has bigger engines and more OTR features like being able to add jakes) they also have a lot of under belly storage options

body names don't mean squat really (except for Crowns and Gillags)

the carpenters that had issues with roof collapses are (or should be) off the road or fixed (I would still not want one tho') and it was only buses manufactured at just 1 plant (I have posted many times how to tell them apart from other buses)

I will not argue the build differences of all the buses out there; they all are built like brick crap houses

so everyone here will have an opinion of what has worked out the best for them...

hope this helps
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Old 12-17-2013, 01:15 PM   #14
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Re: What the best base to start with??

If you are looking for something that is closest to an "RV", then rear engine flat nose buses are probably your best bet. That's what I would go with if I were going for a full size bus. The main limitation there is you do not have a rear entry door, or really any easy way to load stuff into the rear from outside. So that pretty much rules out a large garage/shop/storage/cargo area in the rear. Factory AC is not very common in buses I've seen on this site, though I guess you should be looking in the southern states if that is what you want. If you are not going to do a roof raise, and are over 6 feet tall, then a high roof model will be your best bet. Most people prefer diesel buses. Transmission and gearing will determine top speed to a large extent. I'm not sure where to point you in terms of finding discussions of various bus configurations, except to say I've commented on some of those threads - but you probably don't want to search through all my hundreds of posts. Dang, I need to get a life!
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Old 12-17-2013, 09:40 PM   #15
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Re: What the best base to start with??

I think bansil and diesel Dan hit the nails on the heads. Not a lot more you can wring out of the topic than those.

I think you will feel that once you get in a bus and start to chip away at things it will seem like a huge mountain to tackle but over all it will come together if you have a well thought out plan. Collecting parts... finding those "REALLY GOOD DEALS" and being at the right place at the right time is every thing.

I am frustrated with my build right now cause I either have plenty of time and no money or plenty of money and no time. Its a feast or famine deal.

Just get your feet wet. if you don't like it then take it out and re do it.
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Old 12-18-2013, 08:23 AM   #16
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Re: What the best base to start with??

Quote:
I either have plenty of time and no money or plenty of money and no time
Welcome to the club, that's pretty much the story of my life. Now that I'm retired, I keep finding more things that interest me and take up more time, new projects.
I still don't have any money.
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Old 12-19-2013, 02:29 PM   #17
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Re: What the best base to start with??

Quote:
Originally Posted by nat_ster

Crowns are what everybody on here likes, but they are the hardest to convert, due to their curved everything, and their uni body construction. None of the crowns use the good engines DT366 Cummins 5.9, DT466 or the Cummins 8.3.


Nat
I've got the Cummins 8.3 in my Crown, Granted it is a pusher
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Old 12-20-2013, 03:58 AM   #18
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Re: What the best base to start with??

Nice!!

I stand corrected.

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