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Old 04-11-2009, 10:24 PM   #1
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Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Middle of MN
Posts: 8
Year: 1985
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: Chevy G30
Engine: 350
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Huntin' for a (short) bus in MN/WI

Hello all!

New member here. I've always found the advice on this board to ring true, and I seem to recall that at least a few of the regular posters here are from up in my neck of the woods... so here goes.

I work with a youth center. About this time last year, we had the opportunity to purchase an '85 Chevy/Blue Bird short bus for under a grand. I knew it was too far gone to be a long-term keeper (pretty rusty, 177k miles, 2 owners before us), but since I'm used to working on GM trucks/vans of that era, I figured that the risk was minimal, and that it would be a good way to "get our feet wet" and see how useful having a bus would be.

Fast-forward to today. The kids have loved the bus trips we took last summer, and getting rides home on those below-zero days. But the rust is beginning to catch up with us (brake lines, exhaust, etc. now need attention), and I'm not quite so keen on doing another summer of road trips with as low-geared as it is (it must do around 3000 RPM when cruising at 50 MPH - can you say "gas-hog"?). That, and I'm just not sure I trust it for long (300+ mile) trips anyways.

So I'm shopping. We've gotta keep it cheap (preferably $2k or less), and it's gotta be something I can work on myself - no diesel experience here. I'm trying to stick with something that's on a GM chassis, or at least GM powered. I'm also looking to avoid Collins/Corbeil/Mid-Bus products, as I've been extremely unimpressed with the quality of their bodies, or at least on the (mid '90s) ones I've seen.

I'm not completely opposed to a full-sized bus, but I'm not sure how the insurance would work out, and I'm not particularly interested in having a diesel (otherwise I'd have to jump on one of these). And I'd have to get myself a class B CDL - the nice thing about shorties is that I can remove one of the seats from a 16-passenger bus and make it legal for any licensed driver to drive here in Minnesota.

But, at any rate - can anyone recommend place(s) to look for such a bus? I've been chasing around on Craigslist and eBay, and I also called a few bus companies and most of the Head Start programs in the state... so I'm getting closer and closer to being stumped.

Any help would be appreciated!
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Old 04-12-2009, 11:37 AM   #2
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Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: downriver, detroit mi
Posts: 794
Re: Huntin' for a (short) bus in MN/WI

don't back yourself into a corner on/about diesel engines, the routine maintainence stuff is simple, keep the oil and filters changed and drive it, the only thing different from a gas engine is how to bleed the fuel system after changing the filter and once you've gone thru that proceedure once it's not hard.
from a repair standpoint I prefer manual trans over auto's because I can replace the clutch easier and cheaper than an auto.
the removal of seats to only hold 15 passengers will work for a long bus and leave lots of room for luggage or whatever.

look for buses at your local school systems, also look at auctionzip.com as well as ebay and craigslist.
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Old 04-13-2009, 12:20 PM   #3
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Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Middle of MN
Posts: 8
Year: 1985
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: Chevy G30
Engine: 350
Rated Cap: 16
Re: Huntin' for a (short) bus in MN/WI

Quote:
Originally Posted by paul iossi
look for buses at your local school systems, also look at auctionzip.com as well as ebay and craigslist.
Never heard of auctionzip.com - have to check that one out.

Other than that: Craigslist, eBay, schools, state surplus office... check, check, check, check. Closest I've come is those Ford/Champion 22-passenger fiberglass things that the Met Council in MSP uses for senior/handicapped transportation - not quite what I had in mind.

I know there's gotta be some hiding in garages, back lots, etc. but so far no luck in uncovering them. Went for a drive on Sunday and happened upon an early '80s P30 that was hiding in a barn... but no motor/tranny, and a mess to boot. So close, and yet so far!
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Old 04-19-2009, 10:49 AM   #4
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Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 39
Re: Huntin' for a (short) bus in MN/WI

Did you happen to see the War Wagon? I'm going to take a look at it - I'm looking for a place for all my books.

http://minneapolis.craigslist.org/cto/1127099997.html

Paul
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