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Old 01-21-2019, 07:15 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jan 2019
Location: NM
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Year: 1999
Coachwork: AmTran
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DT466E HT
Rated Cap: 78
Finally pulled the trigger! Please help me get her home

Hello Everybody!

I've been lurking this site for years wanting to start a project, I've read so much, I feel like I know a lot of the frequent posters already. I'm excited to finally be an active member.

I finally pulled the trigger today purchasing a 1999 Conventional AmTran International 3800.

Basic Specs:

DT466E HT (230hp@2300, 660lbf@1450)
Allison MT643
Solid State Driveline Retarder
13 windows (~39')
78" ceiling
Air Brakes
Air Ride
Minimal rust
Dual Storage Bays

I probably overpaid ($9K), but it checked almost all the boxes (I would've preferred an earlier fully mechanical DT466) for what I was looking for based on the research I've done on this site and others. I've lost out on a couple other similar buses at auction though and some went even higher than I paid (madness!!).

I now have to go pick her up in CO, and drive her back down to NM. I test drove her and had a local diesel mechanic give her a full diagnostic evaluation, so I'm fairly confident she is road worthy. My main concern is getting her from point A to point B with insurance and despite my lack of a CDL.

I've done some research in this area and my current plan is to pull a progressive insurance plan online right before I leave to pick up the bus, fully recognizing that they will most likely cancel within a week of me getting the plan. I'll be driving up on a Thursday night, driving back Friday afternoon. I've read that removing the bus seats "may" negate my need for a CDL, but I've also read that getting the bus seats out can be quite an ordeal. I'm debating gambling with not pulling them, and hoping I just don't get pulled over. Is this a terrible idea?

It's about a 300 mile trip on mostly two lane rural highways, I'm wondering if there is an advantage to trying this late at night versus the middle of the day, or if anyone has any other advice on getting the bus home without a ticket, impound, or other unanticipated disaster. I will have my co-conspirator (wife) following me home in a far more boring vehicle.

We're all super excited over here, and I cannot express how helpful this site has been in the decision making process. I know for a fact I would have bought the wrong bus if not for the information I gleaned from here.

Thanks for all the information so far, I'm really looking forward to the upcoming adventure!

GGN
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Old 01-21-2019, 07:35 PM   #2
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Sounds like an awesome bus....also sounds a lot like our Colorado bus, same features and whatnot. IMO if it checked all of your boxes and you can afford the price, why worry about it at this point? That ship has sailed. We got Progressive commercial for personal use (I think that's what they call it) and they've not cancelled us yet...we've had it a year. I don't think you'll need to worry about the CDL issue, honestly. Make sure you're insured and drive it home during the daytime, you'll blend right in.
Welcome aboard, and post pics when ya get a chance!
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Old 01-21-2019, 07:45 PM   #3
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Sounds like an awesome bus!

I would recommend trying to do most of your driving in daylight hours.

Driving at night, regardless of what you are driving, is a bit more work than daylight driving.

If driving a bus is new to you then keeping driver workload to a minimum may be beneficial.

Check with your insurance company. My last two bus purchases were covered under an automatic extension of my primary coverage when I purchased a new (to me) vehicle.

This coverage does vary considerably by state and carrier.
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Old 01-21-2019, 07:48 PM   #4
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Just go get it!
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Old 01-21-2019, 07:49 PM   #5
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You may have paid a bit more than most...but the bus you got has quite a bit more going for it. Great find! Can't wait to see some pix & plans!
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Old 01-21-2019, 08:02 PM   #6
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Is it a terrible idea? Not if you drive like an adult. Buses are basically invisible on the road and LEO's don't usually hassle you unless you're sticking out like an idiot. I got stopped once in Wa. and once further south, actually I was already stopped, they didn't stop me. I explained that I just bought it, here's the title and BOS. I am insured under regular car insurance for 7 days. It is a decommissioned bus so therefore a CDL is not required as a personal vehicle. And I'll be out of your state within the hour on m way home. Neither cop had an issue at all, though mentioned if I was staying in the area I would need a temp tag. That was at mile marker 14 and I told him I'd be out of his jurisdiction in about 3 minutes. Shook my hand told me to have a safe trip.
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Old 01-21-2019, 08:24 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goodguyneighbor View Post
I know for a fact I would have bought the wrong bus if not for the information I gleaned from here.



GGN
Kudos to you for researching.....if more folks would take that time, they'd be a lot happier. An HT and 643 is a great combo. Congrats!

Quote:
I would recommend trying to do most of your driving in daylight hours.

Check with your insurance company. My last two bus purchases were covered under an automatic extension of my primary coverage when I purchased a new (to me) vehicle.
Quote:
We got Progressive commercial for personal use (I think that's what they call it) and they've not cancelled us yet...we've had it a year.
Quote:
Just go get it!
All great points.
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Old 01-21-2019, 09:14 PM   #8
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Join Date: Jan 2019
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Thanks for the feedback.

We checked with our insurance before buying the bus, alas, they will not cover us. I'll go with the Progressive option and hope they don't cancel on us.

I guess the consensus is drive during the day, which makes more sense to me. I've driven a bus before, but it's been a long time, and I've never driven one 300 miles in a sitting.

I'll probably just keep the seats in and have a story to tell if I get pulled over. Since it is speed governed (until I can get the ECM flashed) at 65, I couldn't speed if I wanted to.

Here is a picture:
myBus.jpg

@Drew Bru, looks like almost the exact same bus as the one I got. Do you know what school district yours came from? Mine was Littleton, CO. Do you have a mechanical 466 or an "E", I'm curious about difficulties flashing the ECM. I want to unlock cruise control, remove the governor, and potentially up the HP to 250 (though I think this will require a new HPOP).

I've talk to some International shops about flashing the ECM and they charge an arm and a leg ($400+) just to press a few buttons on a laptop, it's almost more worth it for me to just buy the software @ $600, then at least I can use it for future diagnostics. Anyone else out there buy the software, do I need a "special" laptop to install it?
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Old 01-21-2019, 09:41 PM   #9
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When was the last time any of you have seen a school bus detained by LEO?
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Old 01-22-2019, 10:24 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goodguyneighbor View Post
@Drew Bru, looks like almost the exact same bus as the one I got. Do you know what school district yours came from? Mine was Littleton, CO. Do you have a mechanical 466 or an "E", I'm curious about difficulties flashing the ECM. I want to unlock cruise control, remove the governor, and potentially up the HP to 250 (though I think this will require a new HPOP).

Ours was from Eagle County School Dist. (Vail area?), though it spent some time after it was retired around Littleton, getting prepped for us to pick up. We've got a 250hp mechanical engine, so no such luck with the cruise control. I would love Love LOVE to add cruise control, but I have no idea if it's possible on a mechanical engine. There's at least a few guys here who have software for their rigs @CadillacKid being the one who seems to know the most about it.....he should be able to answer a lot of your questions.
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Old 01-22-2019, 05:40 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by o1marc View Post
When was the last time any of you have seen a school bus detained by LEO?
I got stopped on my cross country drive for having no plates (California "One Trip Permit" which they claimed every other state will honor, turns out not so much). But then again I was painted bright blue/green by then, not normal bus color.
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Old 01-22-2019, 05:56 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by firebuild View Post
I got stopped on my cross country drive for having no plates (California "One Trip Permit" which they claimed every other state will honor, turns out not so much). But then again I was painted bright blue/green by then, not normal bus color.
Ya, the non school bus color made you stick out as NOT a school bus.
I put over 3k miles on mine from Butte to Seattle to Atl with no tag, no problem.
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Old 01-22-2019, 06:19 PM   #13
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Ya, the non school bus color made you stick out as NOT a school bus.
I put over 3k miles on mine from Butte to Seattle to Atl with no tag, no problem.
The guy had someone else pulled over, and I KNEW he was going to stop me because he looked at the bus as if he'd seen a UFO! Sure enough - next rest stop - flashers behind me.
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Old 01-23-2019, 08:04 AM   #14
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Engine: DT466E HT
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@Drew Bru Wow! a 250HP Mechanical is my dream engine, I lost an auction on a 230HP 30' 96' mechanical 3800 from Eagle Vail (went for ~$10K), it was a really well maintained bus. I got the impression that their school district takes really good care of their vehicles based on my inspection.

Everything I've read indicates the the "E" engines from the period before the mid 2000s are all really solid as well, just a little harder to work on, more expensive to work on, and lacking the flexibility of the mechanicals.

I was reading how the mechanical DT466s are REALLY popular among tractor pull enthusiasts, and there is a huge aftermarket in parts to really boost that engine beyond anything I would ever be interested in. I really wanted a mechanical, but it always seemed like every mechanical engine that came around didn't have something else I needed like a narrow body, high roof, 643, etc, or the bidding got too high. Plus I'm impatient and about 6 months of looking was enough to encourage some small compromises.

Seems like this whole skoolie/tiny home thing has really hit a stride as of late and prices are a little bonkers for 20+ year old buses with close to 200K on them. I remember buying an International Lodestar for $1500 about 15 years ago, and having a lot of options when I did so.

I'll have to reach out to @CadillacKid (does this site notify users on mentions like Slack?) about the ECM bits. If not what is the best way to contact people?
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Old 01-23-2019, 08:33 AM   #15
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It sounds like you got a solid bus, 1999 is pre EPA rules which certainly seems to makes things simpler. It took us a solid 6 months to find the right bus and I totally would have compromised from the get-go for a DT466E 230hp. Not sure if it's a compromise or not, really, considering the possibility of cruise control and also the diagnostics options. Did you get the auto chains too, by any chance? That wasn't necessarily one of our checklist items, but it was a nice bonus.I think you'll have to PM members here....this site doesn't notify users of mentions. He's pretty accessible though and definitely the person who's brain you'd want to pick about...well, lots of bus stuff but engine tuning for sure.
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Old 01-23-2019, 08:50 AM   #16
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It sounds like you got a solid bus, 1999 is pre EPA rules which certainly seems to makes things simpler. It took us a solid 6 months to find the right bus and I totally would have compromised from the get-go for a DT466E 230hp. Not sure if it's a compromise or not, really, considering the possibility of cruise control and also the diagnostics options. Did you get the auto chains too, by any chance? That wasn't necessarily one of our checklist items, but it was a nice bonus.I think you'll have to PM members here....this site doesn't notify users of mentions. He's pretty accessible though and definitely the person who's brain you'd want to pick about...well, lots of bus stuff but engine tuning for sure.
Yours is king of the DT's.
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Old 01-23-2019, 08:58 AM   #17
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Yours is king of the DT's.
Maybe so, but I still want cruise control (but not badly enough to lock the auxiliary-idle cable in when I get up to cruising speed!)
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Old 01-23-2019, 09:13 AM   #18
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Maybe so, but I still want cruise control (but not badly enough to lock the auxiliary-idle cable in when I get up to cruising speed!)
I'm sure if you want it bad enough there's a way.
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Old 01-25-2019, 11:43 PM   #19
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Sounds like a solid runner. Next to the door I put a peice or 2 of tape and write private coach not for hire. Dont know if it helps but clearly states it. I have drove 2 home on temp tags no problem. Next one trying to buy a little scary as it has no front windshield. Going use the cover of night I think,and some goggles. Plain yellow bus just put on your favorite trucker hat and go��
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Old 01-26-2019, 03:44 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goodguyneighbor View Post
Hello Everybody!

I've been lurking this site for years wanting to start a project, I've read so much, I feel like I know a lot of the frequent posters already. I'm excited to finally be an active member.

I finally pulled the trigger today purchasing a 1999 Conventional AmTran International 3800.

Basic Specs:

DT466E HT (230hp@2300, 660lbf@1450)
Allison MT643
Solid State Driveline Retarder
13 windows (~39')
78" ceiling
Air Brakes
Air Ride
Minimal rust
Dual Storage Bays

I probably overpaid ($9K), but it checked almost all the boxes (I would've preferred an earlier fully mechanical DT466) for what I was looking for based on the research I've done on this site and others. I've lost out on a couple other similar buses at auction though and some went even higher than I paid (madness!!).

I now have to go pick her up in CO, and drive her back down to NM. I test drove her and had a local diesel mechanic give her a full diagnostic evaluation, so I'm fairly confident she is road worthy. My main concern is getting her from point A to point B with insurance and despite my lack of a CDL.

I've done some research in this area and my current plan is to pull a progressive insurance plan online right before I leave to pick up the bus, fully recognizing that they will most likely cancel within a week of me getting the plan. I'll be driving up on a Thursday night, driving back Friday afternoon. I've read that removing the bus seats "may" negate my need for a CDL, but I've also read that getting the bus seats out can be quite an ordeal. I'm debating gambling with not pulling them, and hoping I just don't get pulled over. Is this a terrible idea?

It's about a 300 mile trip on mostly two lane rural highways, I'm wondering if there is an advantage to trying this late at night versus the middle of the day, or if anyone has any other advice on getting the bus home without a ticket, impound, or other unanticipated disaster. I will have my co-conspirator (wife) following me home in a far more boring vehicle.

We're all super excited over here, and I cannot express how helpful this site has been in the decision making process. I know for a fact I would have bought the wrong bus if not for the information I gleaned from here.

Thanks for all the information so far, I'm really looking forward to the upcoming adventure!

GGN

My National General agent told me they have an insurance plan for people in the conversion process that will cover it while it's still a commercial vehicle. PM me for his contact info. As for the commercial license, ask around. Chances are you know somebody that has one but you never knew. My bus was just under the weight limit and once the seats were taken out it no longer required a commercial license. Yours sounds like it's too heavy for this.
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