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Old 11-20-2016, 03:25 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Nov 2016
Location: central alabama
Posts: 29
Year: 98
Coachwork: amtran
Chassis: 3000
Engine: t444e
Hello from Alabama.

I've been lurking for a while and have learned a lot so far. I figured that I should finally introduce myself.

We don't own a bus yet but my wife and I are looking to find a full size bus to convert (a fairly low budget build) and live in full time for maybe a year or so - maybe more if things go well. We'd like to leave Alabama near the beginning of June and we have loose plans through the summer that would take us to L.A., S.F. bay area, maybe up to Seattle, and then to Colorado.

So we're looking for something that would be big enough to live out of relatively comfortably while also carrying a motorcycle and a fair amount of tools. On the other hand neither of us has ever driven such a large machine So the idea of getting around in dense urban areas and maneuvering into friends' driveways and such is a bit intimidating. We're limiting our search to flat nose busses thinking that they'd offer maximum maneuverability for a given interior space. Fe or RE is toss up as both have their distinct advantages.

I can work on this project nearly full time. (I have general carpentry and mechanical skills but will need to learn some things about diesel, electricity, ....?)

None of the busses We've looked at within our budget ($4,000 or less) have been exactly what we're looking for but I fear waiting too long, going thru Christmas without a bus to work on and not having enough time to get it done before summer.

Of the busses we've looked at so far we're still considering two that seem to be still available:

https://atlanta.craigslist.org/nat/cto/5872444363.html

This one has a mechanical dt466 that looks nice and clean runs good. at545 with 60k or so miles on it. only negatives I can see are the headroom and I believe the front springs have sagged somewhat. Front left tire is worn significantly on the inside. Any body have experience with such spring, and/ or alignment issues on such a bus? We would probably go for this one if I weren't worried about those things.

And one of these:

https://atlanta.craigslist.org/nat/cto/5819693726.html

looks to be well maintained, 193k miles, t444e, AT545, very good tires. Didn't go for a ride in this one as it was buried in other busses but it cranked and sounded good. Clear exhaust. Clean engine and underneath except for Slow engine oil drip from inside the bell housing. (which, I've learned, is most likely coming from the top of the engine).

I'd probably go for either of these right now if they had a better tranny.

Well, if anybody reads all of that long post and has any sort of guidance I'd be appreciative. If we end up with a bus maybe things will get interesting!
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Old 11-20-2016, 09:42 PM   #2
Bus Nut
 
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Join Date: May 2016
Location: Richmond Virginia
Posts: 932
Year: 1984
Engine: 366 Big block Chevy! :) w/ Stick shift
Welcome, glad you are here. I am excited for you. The right one has a way of finding us in right time.
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Old 11-21-2016, 08:09 AM   #3
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: Pensacola and Crystal River, FL
Posts: 554
Year: 1998
Coachwork: AmTran International
Chassis: 3800
Engine: Navistar 7.6L
Welcome!
Are you planning to haul the motorcycle on a trailer?
A rear engine bus might be tricky to install a proper receiver type hitch onto.
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Old 11-22-2016, 09:46 AM   #4
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Nov 2016
Location: central alabama
Posts: 29
Year: 98
Coachwork: amtran
Chassis: 3000
Engine: t444e
Quote:
Originally Posted by DoubleO7 View Post
Welcome!
A rear engine bus might be tricky to install a proper receiver type hitch onto.

Hadn't thought about that aspect of an RE. But I've no plans to carry a trailer any time soon. To mock up the opening of the side exit on the RE bus I rigged up a 26" X 54" opening with a sliding door and a board and was able to get a bike through it. A ramp up the side of the bus and through that small opening wouldn't be very convenient but it would be do-able.
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Old 12-28-2016, 02:52 PM   #5
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Nov 2016
Location: central alabama
Posts: 29
Year: 98
Coachwork: amtran
Chassis: 3000
Engine: t444e
Well, we got a bus. It's a 1998 amtran re. t444e and at545. 167k miles, doesn't have an hr meter.

here it is hiding from the neighbors:



Maybe it will look like this soon:



Was hoping to start in on seats and paint and what not but during the 200 mile drive home the warn engine light came on and there was an intermittent lack of power. The bus would struggle to get up an incline slowing to 35 or so but usually at some point something would change, there'd be an increase in power, I'd hear the turbo (i think) and the bus could slowly accelerate up the remainder of the hill. After getting it home I checked for codes with the diagnostic button and got a list of them. From the research I've done I'll focus on the exhaust back pressure sensor and the rapid warm up device first. Hopefully I'll get it registered in the next day or so and then I'll clear the codes, drive it around and see what happens. So, not exactly the way I wanted to start the project but we're still excited about it!
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Old 12-28-2016, 03:05 PM   #6
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Nov 2016
Location: central alabama
Posts: 29
Year: 98
Coachwork: amtran
Chassis: 3000
Engine: t444e
Well, we got a bus. It's a 1998 amtran re. t444e and at545. 167k miles, doesn't have an hr meter.

here it is hiding from the neighbors:



Maybe it will look like this soon:



Was hoping to start in on seats and paint and what not but during the 200 mile drive home the warn engine light came on and there was an intermittent lack of power. The bus would struggle to get up an incline slowing to 35 or so but usually at some point something would change, there'd be an increase in power, I'd hear the turbo (i think) and the bus could slowly accelerate up the remainder of the hill. After getting it home I checked for codes with the diagnostic button and got a list of them. From the research I've done I'll focus on the exhaust back pressure sensor and the rapid warm up device first. Hopefully I'll get it registered in the next day or so and then I'll clear the codes, drive it around and see what happens. So, not exactly the way I wanted to start the project but we're still excited about it!
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Old 12-28-2016, 03:27 PM   #7
Bus Crazy
 
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Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: So Cal
Posts: 2,406
Year: 1935
Coachwork: Superior
Chassis: Chevy
Engine: 317 ci/tid / Isuzu
The first bus sounds like it may need king pins along with the spring work---pricy at best.

Good luck!
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Old 12-28-2016, 03:30 PM   #8
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: SE Florida
Posts: 1,074
Year: 2003
Coachwork: International
Engine: T444E
Rated Cap: 65 pax
Have you tried Public Surplus? I got my skoolie from there and I am very happy. I got if from a school system, so it was up kept and runs great! Here's the link to mine: Public Surplus: Auction #1682539

They have tons of school buses on there.

Sandi
Living full time on my skoolie
www.thismidwifetravels.com
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Old 12-28-2016, 03:44 PM   #9
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Nov 2016
Location: central alabama
Posts: 29
Year: 98
Coachwork: amtran
Chassis: 3000
Engine: t444e
Well, we got a bus. it's a 1998 amtran re. t444e, at545, 167,000 miles.

Here it is hiding from the neighbors:



and maybe it will look like this soon:



I was excited to get started with tearing out seats and getting ready to paint but we had some engine trouble on the 200 mile drive home. The bus has an intermittent lack of power. It would at times struggle to get up a slight incline slowing down to 35 or so. then something would change, there'd be an increase in power, I'd hear the turbo and the bus would slowly accelerate for the remainder of the hill. I checked the codes with the diagnostic button and got a long list. Based on that and the research I've done I will focus on the rapid warm up device and the exhaust back pressure sensor first. Hopefully I can get it registered in the next day or so and then clear the codes and drive it again to see what happens. So, not exactly the way I wanted to start but we're still very excited!
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Old 12-28-2016, 03:51 PM   #10
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: SE Florida
Posts: 1,074
Year: 2003
Coachwork: International
Engine: T444E
Rated Cap: 65 pax
Congratulations on your bus! Where did you get it from? I hope you get the engine issue resolved easily.
Sandi
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