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Old 03-20-2012, 02:50 AM   #1
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A new guy with a handful of questions..

Hi All,
Glad I found this site... a lot of useful info and loved looking at everyone's projects. I am planning a cross country move and I figured what better way than a bus... My only dilemma I am having is that I need to tow an enclosed trailer with a car in it and tools/welder/etc. I really would like to stay away from the larger full sized buses just for ease of driving and maneuvering. I have read that certain transmissions and frame designs on certain buses are not ideal for towing though. I dont want to have a bad experience and I am trying to research as much as I can prior to any purchase. I hope someone would be able to chime in as to what I should be looking for with the idea that I would like to tow and the road trip will be a hefty one. (NY to CA)

Certain years, makes or models that are best for towing???

Maybe a price range to go with that of what a fair price is and what key areas to check when looking over potential bus purchases. ???

I am also slightly worried about insurance and legally operating the bus, would anyone know anything specific to NY and what I would need to do to make sure this idea is even feasible???

I apologized if this is the wrong place for my questions or if I am just asking "noob" questions in general.. I would love to learn and get into owning a bus. Have always been a car guy so I am fairly handy and not just looking for answers to pipe dreams.. Thank you in advance. Looks like a great community here!
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Old 03-20-2012, 09:17 AM   #2
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Re: A new guy with a handful of questions..

Welcome,

This is just my opinion, I'm sure others will chime in with differing opinions

I can't answer to NY specifically, but generally if you license it as an RV you don't need anything special for a drivers license. I do know that Indiana, and I think California are going to give you a hassle if it is still yellow. Probably some others as well.
It sounds like your trailer will be fairly heavy, you would want something built on a chassis with a good frame that goes all the way to the back. I think all school buses and probably most
shortys built on a van chassis fit this description.The shorty guys would know this. Some of the coach type buses that have the engine mounted in a "cradle" aren't good candidates for towing.How big of a trailer are we talking about, 20,30 ft? How much weight. Depending on what you do as a conversion, a bus with no seats and no people is a lot farther away from the GVW of the bus.

You are going to be crossing some fairly tall mountains, so you may have to sacrifice top speed for something that can actually get you to the top.I think that generally a school bus that picked up kids on a route will be geared lower than one that was built as an activity bus. As for engine transmission combos, I really don't have much of an opinion. Probably something in the 250 HP diesel with an automatic range with air brakes.

Since I don't know your plans or time frame I think I would get the smallest trailer that would haul the car,with the biggest bus I could find,throw everything out of the bus, install ONLY enough to get it titled as an RV and haul the tools, welder in the bus. If you still want an RV do the fancy conversion when you get there.

I think the three main things to look out for are rust, rust, and rust. May not be easy in your part of the country, unless you are willing to travel to get your bus.
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Old 03-20-2012, 02:47 PM   #3
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Re: A new guy with a handful of questions..

Thank you very much for all that!

Yes, the trailer would be probably about 20 feet and carrying about 4,000-5,000 pounds. I dont really need the whole conversion.. I dont mind stopping for pee breaks and what not, more concerned with the extra space to keep my stuff safe. I know a regular trailer would make things easier but I am not willing to let my car see the elements and spend nights outside in random places. I am not against traveling south and then west to make things easier on myself. I am also willing to travel pretty far to pick up a bus as most older automobiles here in NY are rusting away.

The "cradle" mounts is what I want to stay away from.. not positive what models specifically used them. I have had my eye on some GMC buses with the extra wheels.. I know Ford makes a good product, harder to find though, and the chevy stuff Im just not too sure about, have not had good experiences with chevy stuff.

Im in no rush.. Its a life move and looking for the adventure of starting over. I dont want to go crazy with the conversion.. majority of the free space I hope to use for storage and at most a refrigerator.
Do I need a bathroom and running water to be counted as an RV?

I know this is all very beginner questions.. I do appreciate any response and help I receive.
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Old 03-21-2012, 12:23 PM   #4
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Re: A new guy with a handful of questions..

Howdy & Welcome --- I have to agree with Somewhere...for the tasks you've set, I'd definitely be looking for a well maintained diesel rig with a big old Allison automatic, power steering and air brakes. Take a look at the Blue Birds. There are plenty around at remarkably cheap prices given what they sold for new and built like tanks. I picked up a 40-footer a number of years ago for just over three-grand that was in excellent condition from a bus re-seller here in Texas. And if you can find one with underbay storage bins, all the better. Great places to build in tanks, generators and such with minimal effort.

In most parts of the country you will find dealers who specialize in re-selling used skoolies. Typically they will have the best selection to pick from. In fact with many, you can give them your specs and they can track down a given unit for you through their network. Got my last one through an outfit here in Houston called 7-K Bus Sales. That's all they deal in and they buy in big lots and do all their own maintenance & repairs which they stand behind. With most individuals, it's just a shot in the dark.

Just do your homework (and this forum is the best place in the world to start, I might add) and you will no doubt find the unit that's right for you.
Best of luck and we're all rootin' for you!
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Old 03-21-2012, 12:31 PM   #5
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Re: A new guy with a handful of questions..

Quote:
The "cradle" mounts is what I want to stay away from.. not positive what models specifically used them
As far as I know there are no school buses with these, only motor coaches.
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Old 03-22-2012, 12:09 PM   #6
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Re: A new guy with a handful of questions..

I appreciate the responses..I think the weight of the bus itself will be my downfall... there is just not enough information out there for me to make such a purchase and feel comfortable with it. Seems like a lot of variables and I guess to pull a trailer using just a good old regular truck is the best way to do it.... I thank you guys, but was hoping that some better, more first hand responses would have came from it. I get the idea that these buses are not meant to be used for towing.
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