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Old 03-09-2019, 01:12 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Decent bus? Seems decent to a newb.

Heck of a first post.

been lurking a while, watching videos for over a year, and finally making moves to living out a dream and need some advice.

I live in VA and found a bus nearby. It is a 2004 Thomas rear engine safetyliner school bus. It has just over 100k miles. Condition decent. Has a Mercedes 906 201 engine and a MD3060 Allison.

I was in the military for 20 years. My job was a Diesel mechanic but I only worked on them a few years and as I stayed in the military I ended up doing other things outside of that job field. That said, I feel fine doing any maintenance it may need, as long as I am not buying a combination that is known to be a lemon.

Please offer any advice you may have. Thank you and I look forward to many more posts here as I find and build.
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Old 03-09-2019, 01:36 AM   #2
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Do you mean the 3 from Manassas, VA on publicsurplus? They are 4-5 hours from me, so I'd be interested in what you find out. I've seen some say they wouldn't own a MBE 906 and others say they are fine if you stay out of the shop(expensive). I also remember seeing a member purchase a similar model(different engine) from around the same area. They ran into some surprising rust problems in a few areas once torn down.
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Old 03-09-2019, 01:41 AM   #3
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They list it as 906210 so probably set at 210HP. Does this mean it is the 6.4L or 7.2L?
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Old 03-09-2019, 01:51 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Kinson View Post
Do you mean the 3 from Manassas, VA on publicsurplus? They are 4-5 hours from me, so I'd be interested in what you find out. I've seen some say they wouldn't own a MBE 906 and others say they are fine if you stay out of the shop(expensive). I also remember seeing a member purchase a similar model(different engine) from around the same area. They ran into some surprising rust problems in a few areas once torn down.
If I was interested in making it known where it was for sale I would have posted that. Not trying to be rude, but it seems kinda irrelevant to the question I asked. May not make any difference in this case but if it was a perfect find that only you and I knew about it might drive a price sky high.

That said, thank you for your other input. The buses I looked at had a decent amount of rust but I have access to welding facilities and welders that I can make the requisite repairs.
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Old 03-09-2019, 01:53 AM   #5
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They list it as 906210 so probably set at 210HP. Does this mean it is the 6.4L or 7.2L?
I think the one I was looking at was a 4.8 but not sure.
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Old 03-09-2019, 04:46 AM   #6
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If I was interested in making it known where it was for sale I would have posted that. Not trying to be rude, but it seems kinda irrelevant to the question I asked. May not make any difference in this case but if it was a perfect find that only you and I knew about it might drive a price sky high.

That said, thank you for your other input. The buses I looked at had a decent amount of rust but I have access to welding facilities and welders that I can make the requisite repairs.
People here check those public auction sites daily and post any good candidates. Don't think you won't have competition. If you let others know which you are interested in, you will have less. Intention has no bearing on result as far as being rude. If you don't want to share what you find out about them, why should anyone want to share their knowledge with you?
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Old 03-09-2019, 09:17 AM   #7
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Good point. I may have been a little more tired and cranky. I wasn't trying to be a jerk about it. I guess I was just trying to be a little guarded about a potential find but I see people are pretty open about what they are looking at here.

Yes, those are the ones I was referring to.

https://www.publicsurplus.com/sms/al...ew?auc=2282548

https://www.publicsurplus.com/sms/al...ew?auc=2282555

https://www.publicsurplus.com/sms/al...ew?auc=2282567
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Old 03-09-2019, 11:37 AM   #8
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An '04 is probably going to have the first year EPA garbage on the motor. In general...they were nightmares.


And being an MB...as noted...they are fine as long as they are running...but crazy expensive on parts & service when they quit running. And with all the environmental crap involved...they have lots of reasons to go wonky.



Personally, I wouldn't touch it. It is part of a group of buses that are being dumped long before their (mechanical) time should be up due to the outrageous costs to try and maintain.
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Old 03-09-2019, 12:28 PM   #9
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An '04 is probably going to have the first year EPA garbage on the motor. In general...they were nightmares.


And being an MB...as noted...they are fine as long as they are running...but crazy expensive on parts & service when they quit running. And with all the environmental crap involved...they have lots of reasons to go wonky.



Personally, I wouldn't touch it. It is part of a group of buses that are being dumped long before their (mechanical) time should be up due to the outrageous costs to try and maintain.

many schools have a 15 year rule.. so 04's would be right in that range.. I would take each one on a case by case basis.. the mercedes engines have a good rep.. some used oil at times but as long as you didnt run em out you were fine.. merc has been making trucks and truck engines a long time.. the 906 has been around a good while. expensive to fix? sure any dieselk is if you send it to a shop and say :"it broke".. but oftentimes unless you have a major internal failure someone mechanical like yourself can fix it..



Rust... if there is a lot of it visible. then there is twice as much you cant see.. that said.. check it closely.. we have had a couplke forum members who's busses looked "reasonable" only to find out all the floor ribs and alot of the body ribs were rusted behind the panels.. one was a total scrap.. i think he turned it into a flatbed.. if the cross ribs and frame are good and its just the floor then yeah its pretty straight-forward to replace and move on... but structurals are tough to get right...

-Christopher
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Old 03-09-2019, 06:37 PM   #10
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From what I've seen, a couple fleets had constant issues with EGR coolers. I think 04 is when they started with the EGR's on this engine. It may have an 2003 engine though.. I think you can tell by inspecting the engine for the EGR valve, but someone would have to enlighten me. Some also have oil consumption issues as others have mentioned. That may only apply to certain years, though. The member's bus I'm speaking of was from the same area and of same chassis make if I recall correctly. I seem to remember him stating that it barely had any visible rust, but he ran into some severe rust under the dash and somewhere else. I cannot find the thread again. Anyone recall? Have you spoken to the auction contact or mechanics there? I had planned on it, but it slipped my mind. Any preference or are they all of pretty equal condition? Sometimes the mechanics are pretty respectful and pass along what problems they've had with them.
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Old 03-09-2019, 07:00 PM   #11
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The mechanic said "All of them run good, and they are in the same condition. There are minor gasket leaks (nothing gushing) as to be expected for a vehicle 15 years old. However, mileage is low for a vehicle their age, and diesel engines run for many miles. The vehicles are sold ďas is.Ē They have been serviced regularly for their lifetime by our City shop. You are not likely to have any problems driving the vehicle in the near future".

I also saw where others asked about rust and they replied "some rust on the steps. Nothing around the outside of the vehicles. Some rust on the under carriage on both vehicles"

What about power to weight.. is it low? from what I am seeing it is a 4 cylinder??
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Old 03-09-2019, 07:41 PM   #12
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The mechanic said "All of them run good, and they are in the same condition. There are minor gasket leaks (nothing gushing) as to be expected for a vehicle 15 years old. However, mileage is low for a vehicle their age, and diesel engines run for many miles. The vehicles are sold ďas is.Ē They have been serviced regularly for their lifetime by our City shop. You are not likely to have any problems driving the vehicle in the near future".

I also saw where others asked about rust and they replied "some rust on the steps. Nothing around the outside of the vehicles. Some rust on the under carriage on both vehicles"

What about power to weight.. is it low? from what I am seeing it is a 4 cylinder??
Anyone have an idea if these are 6.4L or 7.2L? The consensus is they are decent on mpg, but low on power. It's an in line 6-cyl.
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Old 03-09-2019, 07:47 PM   #13
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I misunderstood and thought you went to see them. All you can judge the rust issues on are their answers and the engine pics I guess.
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Old 03-09-2019, 08:23 PM   #14
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Looking over the same auction

Let me lead this by saying I was poking around to get some info on the same three auctions. I am also considering these, but lack the diesel engine and metal background of okinawascuba. I am a carpenter and electrical hobbyist. For me the build will be easy, but I may build out an oversized piece of lawn art and wouldn't know it.

I am well out of range to get my eyes on these personally and based on the chatter, I am about to consider stepping away in fear of rust and engine repair cost. But, before I do I would love to ask this question. Based on the collective experience, does anyone have a ballpark on where these might end up in price? I see some in CA and AZ that are listing with opening bids at $5000. Is that based on the local market or the fact that they are so less likely to have rust? If they go super low, I may have room to afford metal work and some mechanicals.

And, okinawascuba, if you let me know which of the three you are leaning toward, I will absolutely stay off your auction.

Tony
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Old 03-09-2019, 08:48 PM   #15
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I was going to see how they trend but I like the #33 for no real reason other than it was my old hockey number. I would offer the same courtesy back and avoid one you may bid on.

If I bid it wont be until Monday morning and may just opt for the cheapest if no one claims preference for it. I am in VA and I am reading about how much of a PITA it might be to title it as an RV. I can also use a NC address so that is my next option.
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Old 03-09-2019, 08:59 PM   #16
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I too have no preferences at this point, and am getting colder feet as the time ticks by. I was thinking the same thoughts about waiting until Monday. Might throw something on one tomorrow just to make sure I don't have a website issue at the last minute.

I was probably leaning toward 32. It has slightly lower mileage since everything else looks equal and is being reported as such. And...well, I didn't play hockey past 4th grade on a neighborhood pond. We didn't get numbers.
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Old 03-09-2019, 09:10 PM   #17
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From what little I know about the MB906, I understand it is a very low maintenance motor. It benefits in colder regions. It is made in the USA by Detroit Diesel. This seems like the kind of motor I would prefer, one that is more expensive to repair, but seldom needs repair, than one that is cheaper to repair, but needs it more often.
Looking at those buses, if they aren't rusty, look like good deals at the price they are at. Whether they stay that low or not we'll know on Mon.
The EPA issues on these motors didn't come into play until the 07 year model, the 04's should be safe.
Mileage looks like only difference, #32 would be my first choice also. Let us know your bidder name there so no one bids against you. But I'm going to watch these and make a bid if they stay low. I need an RE. And those all look nice.
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Old 03-09-2019, 09:21 PM   #18
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I was going to see how they trend but I like the #33 for no real reason other than it was my old hockey number. I would offer the same courtesy back and avoid one you may bid on.

If I bid it wont be until Monday morning and may just opt for the cheapest if no one claims preference for it. I am in VA and I am reading about how much of a PITA it might be to title it as an RV. I can also use a NC address so that is my next option.
I lived in southern VA near the border and heard NC is extremely lax with its restrictions. You'll probably have some luck, but I haven't looked into it. I see the VIN lookup and where it spits out 4.8L under engine, but I'm pretty sure that's wrong. MBE906=6.4L MBE926=7.2L I'd say its the 906 based on "engine: 906210". The prices probably don't matter too much atm so good choice so far. The best we can do is avoid bidding against one another and just keep an eye on them. Who knows what will happen.
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Old 03-09-2019, 09:24 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by tonyandselena View Post
Let me lead this by saying I was poking around to get some info on the same three auctions. I am also considering these, but lack the diesel engine and metal background of okinawascuba. I am a carpenter and electrical hobbyist. For me the build will be easy, but I may build out an oversized piece of lawn art and wouldn't know it.

I am well out of range to get my eyes on these personally and based on the chatter, I am about to consider stepping away in fear of rust and engine repair cost. But, before I do I would love to ask this question. Based on the collective experience, does anyone have a ballpark on where these might end up in price? I see some in CA and AZ that are listing with opening bids at $5000. Is that based on the local market or the fact that they are so less likely to have rust? If they go super low, I may have room to afford metal work and some mechanicals.

And, okinawascuba, if you let me know which of the three you are leaning toward, I will absolutely stay off your auction.

Tony
With only a day or so to go I'm surprised they are as low as they are currently. I will not be surprised if these end up between $4k-$5K.
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Old 03-09-2019, 10:15 PM   #20
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With only a day or so to go I'm surprised they are as low as they are currently. I will not be surprised if these end up between $4k-$5K.
I can guarantee I will not be bidding on them if they reach that price.
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