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Old 01-13-2018, 03:22 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jan 2018
Location: Currently in Germany, moving to Davis, CA
Posts: 24
Models, Engines, where to buy etc. New to the skoolie world.

Hello everyone!

My wife and I are moving to Davis, CA soon and are looking to buy a bus for conversion. At first I was looking into sprinters and box vans (for the overhead cabin), but the durability and amount of windows keep drawing me towards a skoolie. We're planning on finding a spot to park and live in it full time.
Here's what I think I want and have read up on, trying to find what skoolie is right for us:

- Should fit: Bed for two, gas stove for cooking, small fridge, seating/dining area, shower w/ composting toilet, tiny wood stove. Sounds like a lot for a short bus, but I've seen some great layouts for just that.

- 5-6 window short bus. Should fit into most parking spaces and RV campsites, but should also be big enough for a shower and composting toilet. So no big bus, but bigger than the 4-window.

- Diesel over gas for more durable engines.

- If it's a Ford, looking for a pre-2004 7.3L, avoiding a 6.0L.

- No idea for other makes/models. Chevy? GMC? Thomas? International?

- Zero knowledge about transmission. What should I be looking for?

- Read that the 8.3L Cummins is desirable. Why? How hard are these to find? In which models?

- Keep reading about a full size chassis over van cutaway. I'm not even sure what that means. Not only do I not have much knowledge about mechanics, I'm also not american, so not even familiar with the vocabulary and what's common.

- Places to buy: I'm looking into craigslist, ebay motors and facebook marketplace. Then there's these government auction sites on which I have no idea of how they work. Then there's these dealers that sell busses, some even have infos about conversions on their websites. These seem to be the most expensive, but not knowing much I like the idea of buying something a dealer hat checked, and the opportunity to go there if something comes up that I can't fix with tutorials. Some places I found around California:
www.nationalbus.com
BusWest Pre-Owned Buses for Sale. Used School Bus Sales in Los Angeles & Fontana, California. School Buses, Special Needs Buses, Conventional School buses, commercial buses, coaches & more
www.a-zbus.com

Sorry for the long read. I already found loads of useful info through the search bar here, just trying to put the puzzle pieces together for what we're looking to do.
So thank you in advance for all advice on any of these points!!
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Old 01-15-2018, 10:52 AM   #2
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jan 2018
Location: Currently in Germany, moving to Davis, CA
Posts: 24
Sorry, this thread didn't appear here for two days, so I posted another one because I thought something went wrong. Now suddenly both are up and I don't see a delete-button. Well, rookie mistake.
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Old 01-15-2018, 11:17 AM   #3
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jan 2018
Location: Stockton, CA
Posts: 14
Year: 1898
Coachwork: Ward / GMC
Engine: 6.0 GMC
Good Morning Chris.
Im a new Skoolie from Stockton, CA. Just an hour South from you. My parents used to have a Bus company in the area so i know a few places for Busses and Parts.

One good place for looking at All kinds of Used buses are A-Z bus sales....

http://www.a-zbus.com/used-bus-sales/

Most have been services really well. Prices are pretty fair.
As of 1/15/2018 they have 57 Used buses for sale.

I would love to have a chance to talk with you. I can send a private message with my Contact information. But in this area there are MANY places for buses and Parts.

As for Engines, I have always known Diesel over gas for reliability. but it matters your ability's. I just purchased a 1989 GMC B6000 bus with a 6.0 Gas engine because even though i have worked on both and find Diesel Easier to work on. I am still more comfortable to work on a Gas engine by myself without having to ask too many questions.
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Old 01-15-2018, 11:23 AM   #4
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: Owasso, OK
Posts: 1,588
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Saf-T-Liner MVP ER
Engine: Cummins 6CTA8.3 Mechanical MD3060
Rated Cap: 46 Coach Seats, 40 foot
With all due respect, this is not my idea of a "good price":

http://www.a-zbus.com/bus-listings/1...-unit-16u112s/
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Old 01-15-2018, 11:31 AM   #5
Traveling
 
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: Midwest
Posts: 2,573
Year: 2003
Coachwork: BlueBird
Chassis: TC2000
Engine: 5.9L Cummins
Rated Cap: '00
Quote:
Originally Posted by Twigg View Post
With all due respect, this is not my idea of a "good price":

http://www.a-zbus.com/bus-listings/1...-unit-16u112s/
It's a GREAT price, but only from seller's perspective.
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Old 01-15-2018, 11:34 AM   #6
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jan 2018
Location: Stockton, CA
Posts: 14
Year: 1898
Coachwork: Ward / GMC
Engine: 6.0 GMC
On the other hand...

http://www.a-zbus.com/bus-listings/1...-unit-17u013s/

This isn't a bad price.
LOL

All of you are great.
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Old 01-15-2018, 12:13 PM   #7
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: May 2014
Location: West Ohio
Posts: 650
Year: 1984
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: International 1753
Engine: 6.9 International
Rated Cap: 65
Do you plan on travelling with the bus? Or will it be something that is parked and left permanently? If your plans are to park it, it makes 0 sense to pass up on gas engined shorties when the engine won't be utilized anyways.

The reason people like the 8.3 cummins is that it has the most torque/power available of the common engines that you'll likely find in a school bus. They're more commonly found in full size busses and are kind of a rarity(maybe unicorn status?) as far as shorties go.

As far as the layout goes, what you want to do should be attainable, it will just take some planning to get there. Others with shorties can chime in on that.
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Old 01-15-2018, 12:34 PM   #8
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: Owasso, OK
Posts: 1,588
Year: 1999
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Saf-T-Liner MVP ER
Engine: Cummins 6CTA8.3 Mechanical MD3060
Rated Cap: 46 Coach Seats, 40 foot
If you are leaning towards a dealer, try these guys:

aaabussales.com - Home

Sure, their prices are dealer prices, but they are way more reasonable and everyone who comments says they were well, and fairly, treated. Their prices are negotiable.

They don't list prices on the website, but they do list the buses, with price, on Phoenix Craigslist.
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Old 01-17-2018, 05:36 PM   #9
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jan 2018
Location: Currently in Germany, moving to Davis, CA
Posts: 24
Thanks everyone, I find so much helpful information here!
Planning to travel, so durability, parts, mpg etc is important. If it would be parked permanently, I'd get a really old shell and make a nice house out of it.
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Old 01-18-2018, 01:52 PM   #10
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jan 2018
Posts: 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisHieronimus View Post


- Keep reading about a full size chassis over van cutaway. I'm not even sure what that means. Not only do I not have much knowledge about mechanics, I'm also not american, so not even familiar with the vocabulary and what's common.
So I will preface this with I am by no means an expert, but maybe an example of a "full sized" Chassis would be something like this https://www.commercialtrucktrader.co...ran--113381636 Although I am not sure if that is a bit long to be considered a shorty.

I think the main thing people are trying to emphasis is that some of the shorties are built on 'cutbody' van (or even pickups) which means the manufacturer delivered a van chassis with a cab and then the coach builder put a school bus body on it. The point being, as an example, a Ford E350 or E450 Van with a 7.3L Diesel with Turbo, is a very FULL engine compartment and access isn't great through either the hood or the doghouse, and working on it can be difficult. Even if you aren't doing your own maintenance, you may end up paying a mechanic alot of money to do certain tasks because they make take alot of time to get at components. Do to limited space for instance, you always have to worry about heat management and cooling, and I doubt for instance you could fit an intercooler for the turbo on most van bodies.

Where if you have a full sized bus chassis (but shorter) you may have a tilt forward hood/body exposing basically the entire engine.
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