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!