Originally Posted by Jdmapes
I was able to find a bunch of times where you answer questions in a dickish way that is completely unnecessary.
I feel that way a lot of times too.
I think forums are better at providing more of a conversational type way of talking about skoolies than a step-by-step how-to guide to skoolie selection and construction. If I want to see if a question has been asked here before, I usually use google to search for it, but even those threads have a habit of getting off topic.
Some of the build threads can be very informative; however, they tend to tell a story instead of a step-by-step how-to. My favorite build thread would be porkchopsandwiches teen spirit thread. Great story and very informative. But you can spend hours reading it and might not find the info you're looking for.
Also, there's a facebook skoolie group that's a lot less judgemental when people ask questions that've been asked a hundred times before.
I really like vonslatt's website for a step by step how-to guide. When I started searching for a bus I found a really nice website that compared dog-nose/FE/RE and engines and coach manufacturers. But I just did a search and couldn't find it.
An easy answer to most of your questions is "it depends," which is why so many of these threads get off topic. A lot of people like a purely mechanical engine, so are okay with going with an older bus. I've got an 88 bluebird with 5.9 cummins in it. Many people say the 8.3 cummins is the best engine to get. The dt466 is also considered good. A lot of people will say to stay away from anything with 8 cylinders. A lot of people will say to stay away from the AT545 transmission.
Mileage only matters a little. Good maintenance is more important than mileage, so if you've got good records then that's a plus.
Fuel economy is what it is. Diesel is much better than gas tends to be the prevailing attitude.
Tires are really pricey and for most people will probably die of old age before they wear out. My tires are nearly 16 years old and I need to buy new ones before I hit the open road with them. I found a concrete company that sells cheap chinese tires. Mounted and balanced for about $200/tire. That's probably the best deal you'll ever get on new tires. If I were to buy all new of a big brand tire they'd cost more than what I paid for the bus, so if you can find a bus with good tires that's a deal.
So, welcome to the party. My best advice for you would be to decide how big a bus you want and what you're willing to spend. Set aside a portion of your bus budget for mechanical repairs. Find something in your price range, buy it, and start building. I'm having a great time building mine.