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Old 05-11-2015, 01:20 PM   #1
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bus buying virgin... looking for advice

hi everyone,

well i am just about to buy my first short school bus, its a 1983 international model 1723, automatic, gas, 36 passenger in great condition. I would love as much advice as you all have for me on converting this to a RV. (Im very excited)

Also, I was told by the school mechanic that its top speed is 50 mile and it is not built for highway driving???? as high speed will cause the back end to lose control????? (not quiet sure what this means) so as i would like to take it on highways, can i upgrade this engine??? approx cost???

It also comes without any heating or aircon, so looking at getting that installed as well as part of the conversion.

would love to hear from you all with as much advice, plans, ideas and info as possible.

My little bus will be located in tampa at my home for renovations.

many thanks
Tanya
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Old 05-11-2015, 01:53 PM   #2
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I hate to discourage you but I would buy a bus that is more suited for your intended purposes. Regearing and engine swap are costly and then you still need to do the conversion.
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Originally Posted by miss_rockford View Post
hi everyone,

well i am just about to buy my first short school bus, its a 1983 international model 1723, automatic, gas, 36 passenger in great condition. I would love as much advice as you all have for me on converting this to a RV. (Im very excited)

Also, I was told by the school mechanic that its top speed is 50 mile and it is not built for highway driving???? as high speed will cause the back end to lose control????? (not quiet sure what this means) so as i would like to take it on highways, can i upgrade this engine??? approx cost???

It also comes without any heating or aircon, so looking at getting that installed as well as part of the conversion.

would love to hear from you all with as much advice, plans, ideas and info as possible.

My little bus will be located in tampa at my home for renovations.

many thanks
Tanya
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Old 05-11-2015, 01:59 PM   #3
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hey, thanks for your reply... when you say expensive for re gearing and engine swap, approx how much you talking?

Also can you recommend another type of bus that size approx for me to convert with the intention of doing a round America and Canada trip in.

thanks
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Old 05-11-2015, 02:21 PM   #4
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Around america and canada? Sounds like you need a coach.
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Old 05-11-2015, 09:01 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by miss_rockford View Post
hey, thanks for your reply... when you say expensive for re gearing and engine swap, approx how much you talking?
Well.... we know that sometimes people will buy a bus to transplant its drivetrain into another body that they like better (maybe it's already converted, or whatever). That gives us some idea about how much the used drivetrain alone is worth. Cost depends heavily on how much professional labor is involved, and whether the engine and rear end are heavy-duty pickup truck stuff or medium duty truck stuff. Said another way, whether the subject bus is built on a cutaway van type chassis with maybe 19.5" or smaller tires, or whether it's built on a medium duty truck type chassis with bigger tires.

My uninformed order-of-magnitude guess would be that for a bigger medium duty type bus, you might be looking at $1k to re-gear the axle and $4k+ (sky is the limit) to do an engine and transmission swap..?

I second the comment EastCostCB (?) made about gas engines, on your other thread I think.. I've never driven a gas-powered bus but I imagine they'd be similar to a gas-powered U-haul truck.
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Old 05-12-2015, 06:42 PM   #6
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I have driven many tens of thousands of miles in gas powered IHC chassis buses.

Many of them had top speeds of 47 MPH. Most of them had top speeds of 57 MPH.

On ski runs the 57 MPH buses would leave the 47 MPH bus in their dust but the 47 MPH bus always got up the hill first. On the flats the faster buses could go faster. But once you got to the hills the slower bus was at least one gear higher on every hill.

Fuel mileage for the buses with the automatic transmissions were consistent in the 2-5 MPG range. The bigger the engine the worse the fuel mileage got.

The biggest issue besides fuel mileage with a gas bus is driveability. Do you know how to use a manual choke? Do you know what to do when you shut off the engine and the engine starts to kick back?

Definitely you need to reconsider a gas powered bus.

We just took in on trade several shorter buses (32' long) with the T444E engine and Allison automatic transmission. They have a governed top speed of 65 MPH. And they will go that speed all day long and not slow down too much on the hills.

They just came out of service so the tires are all at least 50% and because they are WA state buses there is no rust. And all of the heaters are still intact and blow hot when needed.

Good luck!
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Old 05-13-2015, 03:55 PM   #7
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I tend to agree with some others that the majority of gas engined school buses should be avoided. Better to pay a bit more up front for one equipped to run highway speeds on diesel fuel. Diesel engines will outlast gas by many hundreds of thousands of miles and be much more economical to maintain. There is good reason just about 100% of the commercial highway vehicles are all diesel powered.

These units can be found in good condition anywhere from $3500 bucks to $10+ grand so shopping is critical to a good find. Also look for an automatic transmission with at least 5 speeds, 6 is even better and overdrive is a definite plus.

Re-motoring and re-gearing can be done but it is not anything remotely cheap to pull off. You are much better served searching for and waiting for the "right" unit to begin your conversion.

My 1946 Chevy Shorty has a rebuilt Cummins turbo diesel and factory fresh 6 speed Allison transmission plus a new rear axle. Total value of those three elements...just about $20 thousand. And three+ years later I am still putting it together. No complaints here...because I knew exactly (more or less) what I was getting into.

Best of luck on your hunt.
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Old 05-14-2015, 12:44 PM   #8
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thank you... i think you have all given me great advice and alot of info i wasnt aware of.

So i think now (based on advice and research) i am looking for a short skoolie, deisel, auto, for highway travel and aircon would be a bonus... so please message me if you have any good links to places i should be looking at purchasing one.. many many thanks once again.
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Old 05-14-2015, 12:54 PM   #9
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1994 gm 6.5 diesel bus
This one is for sale in Ohio. originally from down south and is almost rust free. Where are you?
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Old 05-14-2015, 12:55 PM   #10
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rockford, illinois.... so its not to far...

thanks
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