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Old 01-07-2012, 02:19 AM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Cascadia
Posts: 18
Year: 1990
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: P35
Engine: 6.2l diesel
Still searching for my bus....

Hi all, I'm new to the forum, but have been dreaming of converting an old bus into a camper for years. I live in Oregon, so see plenty of examples on the road. I have been searching a 2-3 hundred mile range around my home, looking for a 6-8 window bus that I can afford and is in "decent" condition. I see alot of 4 window buses, and plenty of 10+ window buses, but the 6-8 window guys are pretty rare around here.

I've had a few buses that almost worked out, but so far, I've been lied to on CL, where someone tried to sell me a bus that had a damaged frame, and the title had the bus labelled as "not to be driven." Another CL bus was old, rusty and overpriced. The guy told me that $5000 was a great deal on a 1988 Bluebird Workhorse with holes in the roof and it needed 6 new tires. The engine hadn't started in 3-4 years, and he wasn't sure what kind of engine it was. I was pissed that I drove an hour to see that one.

So, I've been watching Craigslist (Search Tempest is very helpful when searching multiple CL sites) and Ebay but haven't seen many buses in my size class. I have also been trying a few school bus dealers in the PDX area that mainly sell new buses, but also sell old buses that are traded in as part of a new bus purchase. Their stock is slim, and their prices are high. The sales manager at one place told me that buying a bus is alot harder today than it was a few years ago. She said that things will only get worse in the next few years. I'm not sure if she was giving me good industry insight, or trying to sucker me to give her $4900 for a 6 window 1989 Bluebird Workhorse with a 6.5L diesel with 255,000 miles. Either way, I walked away. I've been trying to contact First Student, whose website shows that they have a few buses nearby that would fit my needs. They have not responded to emails, and have no local phone numbers listed.

Anyways, I'm getting frustrated with this search, and mostly wanted to vent, but also figured that I would announce that I am looking for a bus in case anyone in the PNW had something that would fit my needs. I'm hoping to find something that can haul 3-4 mountain bikes, and have space for 2-3 to sleep and hang out for 3-5 day road trips. I dont need anything fancy, but I need enough room to fit our gear and not climb over each other all day.

Ideally, the bus would have a handicap door near the back end of the bus to make it easier to load bikes into the "garage" I have planned for the rear of the bus with a sleeping loft above it. I hate the buses with the handicap door next to the main entry. Aesthetically, and functionally, they are horrible. I'll use the back door for garage access if I dont find a bus with the handicap door in the rear corner.

I need to keep the bus small enough to handle some remote gravel roads and tight turns, but I'm not going 4 wheeling, and I don't plan on driving 1000 miles on the highway at a time. Mostly trips of 50-200 miles. Basically, I want a bus that is mechanically sound and has the right amount of space. Fuel efficiency isnt a major concern, but I do want a diesel engine for longevity.My budget is approx $3000 for the bus.

I have been looking at conventional shaped dog-nose buses and the Workhorse chassis "P30" buses. I see alot of the van based mini buses, but they all seem to small for my needs. Do they make van based buses that have 15ft of space behind the driver seat? I also worry that a van shouldn't take such a big load, and that a real bus would be the safest choice. Do you agree, or is 15-18 feet of basic living area without heavy tanks for toilet or shower within the weight limits of the 450 vans?

Any other good spots to look for a good bus? The more that I look, the more worried I am of finding a "good bus" 500 miles away and arriving to find a piece of crap awaiting me. I'd really like to find a bus within the state of Oregon, or in SW Washington.

Thanks,
Boudreaux
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Old 01-07-2012, 06:34 AM   #2
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Oregon/Philippines
Posts: 1,660
Re: Still searching for my bus....

the short ones are up on the oregon cl sites all the time. check them all, or use something like claz. and eastern wa is not too far, neither is boise.
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Old 01-07-2012, 12:38 PM   #3
Skoolie
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 214
Year: 1997
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: International
Engine: DT466e
Rated Cap: 47
Re: Still searching for my bus....

I would reconsider the larger bus just so you have more options.
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Old 01-07-2012, 12:55 PM   #4
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Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Oregon/Philippines
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Re: Still searching for my bus....

there is a ton of them - short to 40' and even a 4104 converted which probably can be had for 5000. in the salem and portland cragislist... i just checked by typing in "bus" in the search box.
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Old 01-07-2012, 02:42 PM   #5
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Cascadia
Posts: 18
Year: 1990
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: P35
Engine: 6.2l diesel
Re: Still searching for my bus....

Quote:
Originally Posted by chev49
there is a ton of them - short to 40' and even a 4104 converted which probably can be had for 5000. in the salem and portland cragislist... i just checked by typing in "bus" in the search box.
Huh? I just searched Craigslist again, searching for the word bus in all categories and I see the same few buses that keep coming up. CL Salem has a 4 window bus (too small) for $2900 that just came up in the past 2 days, plus there is an airport shuttle bus and a converted 35' GMC bus (too big) for sale. CL PDX has a few more options, but nothing in my range. They have alot of high mileage shuttle buses for 3000-6000. I am really hoping to get a real school bus and not a fiberglass framed shuttle bus, but I may have to settle on what is available.

The closest thing I can find in a skoolie is this:
http://portland.craigslist.org/clc/ctd/2775528379.html
but it has the handicap window in the worst spot. This bus is pretty nice otherwise, but on the small end of my range.

I have seen alot of buses online and on the road that have the set up that I am looking for. I'm looking as far away as Seattle and even the SF Bay area, but worry about buying a bus sight unseen when it is hundreds of miles from home.

Thanks for looking for me. To help clarify what I'm looking for: 6-8 window school bus with 20-27ft total vehicle length and 14-18feet of interior length behind the driver's seat. The bus would ideally have a handicap door at the rear end of the passenger side.

Roll on....
-B
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Old 01-07-2012, 04:14 PM   #6
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: ellijay ga
Posts: 560
Year: 94
Coachwork: b/b
Chassis: tc2000
Engine: 5.9
Rated Cap: 72
Re: Still searching for my bus....

i had a short bus 45 passger but after u get one u'll wish u had a 35 or a 40 fter 72 passger i'have build a many of bus for people and they turn around an sell them for a bigger one..
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Old 01-07-2012, 07:11 PM   #7
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 446
Year: 89
Coachwork: thomas
Engine: 7.3 diesel
Re: Still searching for my bus....

govdeals
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see my conversion at http://www.skoolie.net/gallery/v/Skoolies/Putters+Bus/
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Old 01-08-2012, 10:40 AM   #8
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Oregon/Philippines
Posts: 1,660
Re: Still searching for my bus....

Quote:
Originally Posted by keith
i had a short bus 45 passger but after u get one u'll wish u had a 35 or a 40 fter 72 passger i'have build a many of bus for people and they turn around an sell them for a bigger one..

even people who have 40' coaches frequently want the 45' ones...

35' - 40' is enough for me.... esp with trailer...
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Old 01-10-2012, 03:07 AM   #9
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Cascadia
Posts: 18
Year: 1990
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: P35
Engine: 6.2l diesel
Re: Still searching for my bus....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boudreaux
The closest thing I can find in a skoolie is this:
http://portland.craigslist.org/clc/ctd/2775528379.html
but it has the handicap window in the worst spot. This bus is pretty nice otherwise, but on the small end of my range.

Thanks for looking for me. To help clarify what I'm looking for: 6-8 window school bus with 20-27ft total vehicle length and 14-18feet of interior length behind the driver's seat. The bus would ideally have a handicap door at the rear end of the passenger side.

Roll on....
-B
I've been negotiating with the seller of this bus. They aren't coming down much on the price, and I can't get over the location of the handicap door. For loading bikes, and the use of a loft over the bike storage, the rear of the bus with a side door to load bikes is the perfect set-up. I also doubt the condition of the bus, but I would hire a mechanic to inspect the bus before I'd ever agree to purchase it. It'll cost me $100 for the inspection, but it could save me plenty.

I think I need to work on my patience, because I keep trying to talk myself into buying this bus, even though I know that a better option will eventually come along. I've never been good at waiting, especially indefinitely.
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Old 01-10-2012, 04:01 AM   #10
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Oregon/Philippines
Posts: 1,660
Re: Still searching for my bus....

i see two reasons why they won't lower the price much. First... it's a dealer... .. you are paying retail. and Second.... it's worth that if it runs and trans, etc works correctly. and has great tires. The dealer probably paid about half of that, and may have it on his lot for a long time. Personally, I try to pay only about a third of what a vehicle is worth at the auction cause its pretty likely i will have to fix some things.
and if you are actually willing to pay the full price if necessary, you can always bring cash with you and tell them that you have 3K cash and are looking at two others in the next hour...
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