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Old 05-24-2014, 09:56 PM   #1
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Workshop Conversion

Hi All-

A little introduction first. I've always wanted a school bus for some reason. Can't really explain it. But, then again, can any of us? My side job is computer recycling. I take them apart, and send out all of the components. Right now, I use a table under a shady tree. It's not the best. I do my pickups in a 1997 Ford E350 box truck that's falling apart- literally.

So , my thought is to take an older bus, and use it. I was figuring on making a removable workbench that bolts to one of the walls or something. That way, I can take the bench out, and drive the bus for larger loads. When I need a workshop, put the seats back in.

One of my clients does metal recycling and has a junkyard. She said that they get in tons of buses. When I was at the yard, they had three Blue Bird conventionals, a Thomas pusher, a 1988 Thomas/Chevrolet, a 1977 Superior/Chevrolet, among others. They have some retired Wayne's that just came in. I haven't looked at any of them too closely, but that comes later.

My questions: If it's under 26000# GVWR, can it be licensed as a truck, where a regular Class C license would work. I'm studying for the Class B, but I'd like not to be the only one who could drive a bus. Do you need an Air Brake endorsement for Class C, or is it B only?

Next: Are Wayne's a good body? I've heard good things about them, but they did go under, so...

Next question: How hard is it to get a Class B CDL? I've heard mixed things. I'm in Wyoming, so it could be worse

Also, what's a good price for an older bus? The 1988 Thomas was a diesel (8.2L?), but I didn't look at the rest.

All thoughts and inputs are appreciated!
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Old 05-25-2014, 10:56 AM   #2
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Re: Workshop Conversion

Quote:
Originally Posted by matador
Hi All-

One of my clients does metal recycling and has a junkyard. She said that they get in tons of buses. When I was at the yard, they had three Blue Bird conventionals, a Thomas pusher, a 1988 Thomas/Chevrolet, a 1977 Superior/Chevrolet, among others. They have some retired Wayne's that just came in. I haven't looked at any of them too closely, but that comes later.

My questions: If it's under 26000# GVWR, can it be licensed as a truck, where a regular Class C license would work. I'm studying for the Class B, but I'd like not to be the only one who could drive a bus. Do you need an Air Brake endorsement for Class c Or is it class B only?

Next: Are Wayne's a good body? I've heard good things about them, but they did go under, so...

Next question: How hard is it to get a Class B CDL? I've heard mixed things. I'm in Wyoming, so it could be worse

Also, what's a good price for an older bus? The 1988 Thomas was a diesel (8.2L?), but I didn't look at the rest.

All thoughts and inputs are appreciated!
My questions: If it's under 26000# GVWR, can it be licensed as a truck.
Yes.... ie after some simple mods removal of decals,, flashing lights, etc. and in some state it cannot remain school bus yellow.


where a regular Class C license would work. Yes most states under 26,000 lbs a CDL is not required.

Do you need an Air Brake endorsement?
No, but it would be a good ideal to study up on air brakes before hand.
good info link... http://www.thetruckersreport.com/cdl-practice-tests/

Do you need an Air Brake endorsement for Class c Or is it class B only?
no

Are Wayne's a good body? I've heard good things about them, but they did go under, so...
depends. good and bad in all of them....... Bluebirds are a fave of lots of people, crowns are great. the drive train "engine/trans etc" are your most important things..... check any and all of them out before purchase!!! If it's already in the yunk yard theres a reason????? just food for thought
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Old 05-25-2014, 02:04 PM   #3
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Re: Workshop Conversion

Quote:
Originally Posted by matador
Hi All-

A little introduction first. I've always wanted a school bus for some reason. Can't really explain it. But, then again, can any of us? My side job is computer recycling. I take them apart, and send out all of the components. Right now, I use a table under a shady tree. It's not the best. I do my pickups in a 1997 Ford E350 box truck that's falling apart- literally.

So , my thought is to take an older bus, and use it. I was figuring on making a removable workbench that bolts to one of the walls or something. That way, I can take the bench out, and drive the bus for larger loads. When I need a workshop, put the seats back in.

One of my clients does metal recycling and has a junkyard. She said that they get in tons of buses. When I was at the yard, they had three Blue Bird conventionals, a Thomas pusher, a 1988 Thomas/Chevrolet, a 1977 Superior/Chevrolet, among others. They have some retired Wayne's that just came in. I haven't looked at any of them too closely, but that comes later.

My questions: If it's under 26000# GVWR, can it be licensed as a truck, where a regular Class C license would work. I'm studying for the Class B, but I'd like not to be the only one who could drive a bus. Do you need an Air Brake endorsement for Class C, or is it B only?

Next: Are Wayne's a good body? I've heard good things about them, but they did go under, so...

Next question: How hard is it to get a Class B CDL? I've heard mixed things. I'm in Wyoming, so it could be worse

Also, what's a good price for an older bus? The 1988 Thomas was a diesel (8.2L?), but I didn't look at the rest.

All thoughts and inputs are appreciated!
Welcome to the forum
If the GVWR is under 26000 in most states you can register it as a truck. Since there is a pretty big chance of the bus being a dually in some states you need to register it commercially. What state are you in?

Depending upon the state, you may need an air break endorsement. If its registered in MA commercially, you will need the air break endorsement. However if you were to register it as a RV you don't need a air break endorsement. Some buses have hydraulic breaks so if you don't want a air break bus look for one that is hydraulic.

There are pros and cons to any body make. Try to get a high roof with any make for standing room.

I drove a e250 with a utility body on the back, and at 98K the transmission went. I sell computer parts and dismantle computers in my free time, and I have been doing it out of mini van since. I build computers out of the parts I get and sell them on ebay and flea markets. Pretty profitable business to be in.
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Old 05-25-2014, 10:43 PM   #4
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Re: Workshop Conversion

I live in Wyoming! Laws here are pretty relaxed. I've driven many pickups with straight-pipe exhausts. I think the police tend not to care, but I'd like to be by the book.

I use a Dodge Dakota, a Chevrolet C10, and now my E-350 Box Van. The pickups do most of the stuff just fine, but for the big loads...

I do resale (Microsoft Reg. Refurbisher), and do a lot of repairs. This is one of the reasons that enclosed vehicles appeal to me. I've lost many computers to moisture (Though, when you have a load of Pentium II's, you really don't care! ) If junk is wet, the scrap value isn't hurt. But, I'd like more storage for the good stuff.

To me, a bus seems perfect. Cheap, Big, Enclosed (Hopefully!), and fairly common. Plus, I've always wanted a school bus.

Any ideas on chassis or body makes to pick, and what a good price for an older unit is?
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Old 05-26-2014, 12:58 AM   #5
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Re: Workshop Conversion

Welcome.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jmar896
Quote:
Originally Posted by matador
I build computers out of the parts I get and sell them on ebay and flea markets. Pretty profitable business to be in.
So you have a good size budget for this bus?

Nat
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Old 05-26-2014, 09:04 AM   #6
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Re: Workshop Conversion

Quote:
Originally Posted by matador
I live in Wyoming! Laws here are pretty relaxed. I've driven many pickups with straight-pipe exhausts. I think the police tend not to care, but I'd like to be by the book.

I use a Dodge Dakota, a Chevrolet C10, and now my E-350 Box Van. The pickups do most of the stuff just fine, but for the big loads...

I do resale (Microsoft Reg. Refurbisher), and do a lot of repairs. This is one of the reasons that enclosed vehicles appeal to me. I've lost many computers to moisture (Though, when you have a load of Pentium II's, you really don't care! ) If junk is wet, the scrap value isn't hurt. But, I'd like more storage for the good stuff.

To me, a bus seems perfect. Cheap, Big, Enclosed (Hopefully!), and fairly common. Plus, I've always wanted a school bus.

Any ideas on chassis or body makes to pick, and what a good price for an older unit is?
Even Pentium 4 is hard to sell now

What is your budget? Do you want a flat nose, pusher, or a conventional, or no preference? Theres not many buses on the Wyoming craigslist so you might have to travel a little. If you get a bus on an international chassis (Some later Waynes were) look for the DT466, or DT360. The DT360 is similar to the 5.9 Cummins. The T444E is the same as the 7.3 Powerstroke in ford pickups so you can get parts almost anywhere. Try to avoid CAT engines. CAT engines are in a lot of pushers.

If your OK with the T444E than this is a pretty good deal in my opinion. It is the same as the 7.3 Powerstroke and you might have that in your van.
http://wyoming.craigslist.org/cto/4486786782.html

EDIT: You should also look at govdeals.com and publicsurplus.com Alot of schools out there own there own buses, and you can score one from one of these sites cheaper than ebay.
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Old 05-26-2014, 09:21 AM   #7
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Re: Workshop Conversion

You sure you are going to be wanting to load your stuff thru the smallish escape door in the back? Or if you get a pusher-then where?
I'd look for a bus with a handicapped lift.
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Old 05-26-2014, 09:31 AM   #8
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Re: Workshop Conversion

Quote:
Originally Posted by sdwarf36
You sure you are going to be wanting to load your stuff thru the smallish escape door in the back? Or if you get a pusher-then where?
I'd look for a bus with a handicapped lift.
Agreeing with sdwarf36, lifting some computers through the escape door will be hard, on most buses the escape door is 4 feet of the ground or more.
http://www.publicsurplus.com/sms/auctio ... uc=1128386
This one has a handicap lift, and you could get it pretty cheap if your OK with traveling to get it. It has a good engine with a high horsepower rating for that model.
http://www.publicsurplus.com/sms/auctio ... uc=1135313
If you want smaller this one has a handicap lift too.
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Old 05-26-2014, 04:41 PM   #9
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Re: Workshop Conversion

I think Wayne buses are great....but I'm slightly biased
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Old 05-26-2014, 05:16 PM   #10
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Re: Workshop Conversion

I'll try my best to answer questions in order:

1. Mine budget is cheap. If the bus is driven down the road, it'll be sparingly. I put only 500-800 miles on the box truck last year. My pickups do most of the work. In pickups and my station wagon, I drive about 30,000 miles per year. I'm only replacing the box van due to it's major issues (Frame rusted away, transmission going out). My budget will expand to what I need for a workshop, but

I'd like to keep the bus costs around $2000 or less. I think I can get one for pretty cheap- the school districts here tend to send them straight to the junkyard. Nobody bids on them, and the junkyards snatch them up for cheap. Last year, a man I know purchased a 2003 Blue Bird Micro Bird with a wheelchair lift, GMC diesel engine, and only 85k miles or so for $1200. We had a river rafting company close, and they sent four or five Wayne's straight to the junkyard. Another school sent three Blue Birds and a Carpenter to a different yard.

2. I'd put my preference at the conventionals. I've seen some under 26000# GVWR and they seem to be plentiful. I'd be fine with a FE Transit (TC2000, Lifestar, ...) but wouldn't be too keen on a pusher. They have no back door (Except for some late Carpenters I've read???), and the wheelbase is long. I'm assuming that most under the hood stuff on a GM gasoline bus is a lot like the C/K trucks were???

3. Does anyone know the width of a rear door on a bus. I didn't have a measuring tape with me at the junkyard. I have a tall entrance on my box van, and no ramp or bumper (I told you the rust was bad!) I could come up with a ramp for our hand truck if I had to. I'll have to measure the height of my Chevy C10- most stuff comes in on that truck. I could probably transfer from one truck or the other without too much difficulty.

4. A wheelchair lift- now you're talking! It's now basically a box truck- with a liftgate! I'm scouting the yards for one of those- that would be perfect!

5. I'm willing to travel. Utah isn't too far for me.

So, what is the scrap value of a full-sized bus? The yard owners seem to be willing to let buses go for cheap- we have tons of schools out here, and few people want them. If someone knows the values of older buses, that would be great! Knowledge is power after all...
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