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Old 03-25-2006, 12:45 PM   #1
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Insurancing and registering a converted bus

My wife and I are thinking about buying a bus and converting it into a camper.In New York state what do I need to do to get it insured and registered.Is $ 3000.00 a good price for a 1991 international 66 passenger bus, with a front engine?Thank you and hoping to learn alot from you guys.
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Old 03-26-2006, 05:04 PM   #2
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There are an incredible number of factors that go into how much a bus is worth. The engine was my biggest concern. I did LOTS and LOTS of research on different diesels long before purchasing my bus. With a 1991 International I'd be worried you might still have a 6.9 or 7.3 IDI. If that's the case, look the other way as they are not as powerful or reliable as some of the other options. They also have some nasty harmonics that eat Allison AT545 trannies which is what you have most likely if it is an automatic. On the otherhand...you might have a DT360 or 466 or in a dream world, HT570 sitting there. Then the price might be worthwhile.

Here's an easy way to tell them apart without looking for tags

6.9 & 7.3=V-8
DT series=I-6

After you figure that much out you can decide what it is specifically.

Mileage plays a big part although school buses tend to be well maintained o don't make that the deciding factor.

Big dollar items to check (get service records if possible):

Oil-clean? Consistant color? This indicates engine health.

ATF-clean? I'd say look for red, but Allison allows regular motor oil to be used. Instead, sniff it and see if it smells burnt. A new 545 is about $1200

Batteries-clean terminals? Wiring look ok? What's the date on the battery?

Tires-GOOD tread? Caps or vrgin rubber front and rear? What wheel style?


Oil, Fuel, Coolant filters-changed recently? Not a huge problem and it wouldn't hurt to do it yourself again for piece of mind, but it's good to know.

Brakes-if hydraulic, MASH the pedal and see if the lines hold. Good lines will, rusted ones won't. Also check the parking brake operation. If you have air brakes, make sure the whole system is in good shape and functional. Check compressor recovery time, spring brake operation, etc.
In either case make sure the linings are good.

Rust-look EVERYWHERE. Surface rust is easily taken care of, but where there is surface rust there is usually much worse lurking elsewhere. Take the time to crawl around under the bus and look.

Other add-on items: Is the roof already painted white? Are the windows tinted? Does it have underbody storage? How about an aux. coolant heater and/or a block heater? All these items add functionality without really affecting the price.

That said, don't be afraid to shop around. It took me close to 6 months to find my bus, but now that I did I've never been happier.

Good luck!
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Old 03-26-2006, 06:49 PM   #3
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thanks

thank you, you have given me a lot to look for. so far I do know that the two buses we are looking at have standard transmisions. they are both going up for sealed bids at the end of this school year and my wife is an administrator at the school they are at. she is the cafateria manager and we know how well maintained these buses are. but i will have to find out what motors are in them looking them over i could not find any major rust there are no under body storage compartments the tires are virgin and look good. both buses have about 200k on them. once again thank you for your feed back
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Old 03-26-2006, 06:50 PM   #4
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It took me a few months to find mine too. I'd say the tire condition & the engine are the 2 biggest things to look at when choosing a bus. I hear the DT360 or 466 are both great engines. Mine has a Cummins 5.9 (actually the same size as a 360), which seems to run fine for me. Plus parts are cheap since the Dodge pick-ups used this engine for years.

I guess all diesels smoke when started up cold, some real bad. From what I hear this is normal.

There are a few minor things that I noticed after I bought mine that I would keep a look out for if I ever bought another bus.

Are the windows tinted? Mine weren’t & it took some time to do & would look a lot better if they were that way from the factory.

Rear end - what’s the gear ratio? I never even thought to look for this on my bus but luckily mine has 4.33:1 rear end, which translates to about 10 MPG on the highway. Jason’s bus has a 5.??:1 rear end which only gets about 6 MPG on a recent 3200 mile trip he ended up spending about $400 more on fuel than I did. He can change out his rear end but if the same bus could be had with lower gears I'd get that one.... at least for long trips.

As far as leaks go, the bottom of my engine has oil all over the place & if you looked at it you'd think it leaked. I checked my oil several times on that 3200 mile trip and by the end I was only down by 1/2 quart. My car uses more oil than that! Basically don’t be to scared if you see a little oil on the undercarriage. I'd let it idle for a while though & see if it leaves a puddle.

Other than that there’s probably 1,000 other things to consider but that will vary depending on what you want to do with it.

It’s hard to say if that’s a good price without knowing any more specs on the bus. I'd pay that for the perfect bus any day.
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Old 03-28-2006, 09:49 AM   #5
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Re: Insurancing and registering a converted bus

Quote:
Originally Posted by loose change
My wife and I are thinking about buying a bus and converting it into a camper.In New York state what do I need to do to get it insured and registered.Is $ 3000.00 a good price for a 1991 international 66 passenger bus, with a front engine?Thank you and hoping to learn alot from you guys.
Loose Change...

Do a search here on the site for New York requirements; I'm sure they're in here somewhere or maybe one of the NY folks will chime in.

An awfully lot of folks (including me) have insurance on their buses though GMAC (they'll insure the bus even if you don't have other insurance with them). You can also join the Good Sam Club and get insurance through them; they use GMAC insurance but then you get the Club benefits (if that means anything to you).

Also, it seems from several posts here that if you have State Farm already and work with your agent you may be able to insure your bus.

There's also some indication that if you go to your local Progressive agent they can get you insured. It seems that Progressive Direct (either by phone or on the Internet) does not do buses.

The short answer is yes, a 1991 International is probably worth $3000 and the chances are that if it's currently in service that it's in good shape. With your wife in School District Admin you can probably talk directly to the maintenance folks to get the real skinny.

The rest is up to you; I can pretty well guarantee that almost any combination of motor and transmission is out there and running somewhere and someone's happy with it. What you've done here is landed in a group of enthusiasts! And as such we're a little more fanatical about the details and making our buses the "best". Use the search engine here to drill down for some info on engines, trannies, rear-ends and such; then start reading!

A lot of what you end up with depends on what you want out of the bus. Is it just a weekender, a fulltimer, or something in between? Is it only used in the summer or are year-round trips a possibility? Are trips generally short or long? Where do you like to go; will the bus fit there? Is a lot of your driving in city and urban areas or more rural? And more and more...

I wouldn't have a bus with a manual tranmission if it were free (other than to resell it). I drove enough miles in a semi with a 13-speed and spent enough time stuck in stop-n-go traffic that if I never have to push a clutch and move a shift lever again it will be all too soon. Other folks love standards and they can get better mileage. Some automatics like the Allison AT545 have torque converter slip all the time (not because they're broken) and that equates to lower fuel economy. I decided to stay away from that one but it works for an awfully lot of schools and fellow skoolies.

I live out west where there are lots of open roads and major mountains so I wanted power. I specifically looked for a bus with a DT466 (I'm told it's the largest engine that's typically installed in school buses). I also was told that the torque of a DT466 could (or would) tear up an AT545 and to make sure the bus I wanted had an MT643. I'm happy to say I found it but not with the rear-end I wanted. That will be changed sometime in the future. So my engine choice was driven (no pun intended) by my desire to have a long-distance, full-timer with plenty of power for my area of operation. Your choice could be quite different and equally valid because of where you live and how you'll use your bus.

And that brings up my next point. How long are you willing to search and how far are you willing to go to get your bus? You may luck out and find exactly what you're looking for in your own backyard. On the other hand you could search for months and never find your dream bus. If you like everything about the buses your school district is selling and information from the mechanics indicates they're in great shape then buy one unless you want to get much more in depth and find out if there's something specific you want. There's a lot to be said for getting a bus locally and knowing where it came from. In my case Washington State buses (as far as I was able to discern) rarely, if ever, spec'd out DT466 engines; I had to go out of state to find one but I would have much prefered to just get a bus locally.

My bus in a 1979 Internatinal S1800 chassis with a Bluebird body. It has the aforementioned DT466 and the Allison MT643 transmission. The rear end is a too low (for me) 6. something or other; I cruise at 55 to 58 which is fine but I want to drop the rpm at which that happens. Most of my trips are over 1000 miles (round trip) and I average just over 9 mpg. I will change the rear-end ratio once I have the bus conversion totally finished (I opted to install a "quicky" interior to start with, then based on our experience with that do a "real" conversion with all the goodies). I knew when I bought the bus that I would swap out the rear-end and it wasn't a major consideration.

Well, that's way too much typing and I hope I didn't confuse rather than help!

Best wishes and good luck...
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Old 03-31-2006, 06:56 AM   #6
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got the specs on the two buses i am looking at

1st bus is an international with 133951 miles this one has a DT-466 with a spicer 6 speed trans. most recent services include rear brakes 12/ 12 / 05 rear seals same date on 5\20\05 muffler
2nd bus is an international with same motor and trans with 127854 miles recent services include 3\27\06brake chambers 2\28\06muffler 5\24\05 front brakes 6\7\05 rear brakes rear seals front seals I will have to ask about the rear end gears both buses are just about free of rust and are very clean we have a drive through bus wash here and they go through it every day so the salt dose not sit on them also i don't plane on driving in in the winter just a few trips in the sumer well thanks to every one so far with all your great info i am hoping not to maney poeple bid on these buses we are getting exited about getting it and getting started on our convertion
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Old 03-31-2006, 09:03 AM   #7
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Wow! I have no way to ascertain the condition of the buses from this far away but they sound sweet. I have been very happy to give $3000 for them (excepting the manual trans but that's strictly a personal choice on my part; technically they're the better tranny).
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Old 03-31-2006, 02:17 PM   #8
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more specs

got the poop on the rear ends they both have 5:11 gears. so I supose if I go on a long trip I will have to bring my check book lol. on the other hand where I live we have a lot of hills so I guess I won't have a problem pulling them. also I we were thinking of pulling a car behinde us what do you think?
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Old 03-31-2006, 04:12 PM   #9
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If those transmissions are 6 speeds, there is a very good chance they have overdrive. The overdrive combined with the non-slip nature of a manual transmission will make those gears much more livable than they would be for those of us with the AT545. They sound like a great find to me.
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Old 04-01-2006, 11:34 PM   #10
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just waiting now

just waiting till we can bid on them now they have to put them in the paper for two weeks that is going to happen the last two weeks of june then they will take bids for the first two weeks in july then we cross our fingers hopfuly we will get one .
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