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Old 01-17-2017, 12:49 PM   #1
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Join Date: Jan 2017
Location: Calgary,AB
Posts: 9
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Thomas Saf-T-Liner MVP ER
Engine: 7.2L CAT
Rated Cap: 37 feet, flat nose, RE
Hello from Alberta =) buying bus soon! Advice needed

Hello everyone!

I've been thinking about buying and living in a mobile arrangement for a while and I thought it was going to be a van at first but I now 100% want a bus! More space and bla bla bla. Same reasons were all here I'm sure haha

I've been scouring forums, websites, videos, articles and any other resource for a while now but it seems like this community might be the best resource available for school bus conversion projects (obviously =P)

I'm super excited to be a part of this great group of people and the incredible journey that's ahead of me.

Anyways, I've scoped out a few buses in my area and will be going to shop this week! I'd love to hear any advice if possible. I have about $25 000 to spend right now but I have an inexpensive living arrangement and decent employment so I should be able to have at least a few hundred every month to spend on this project. (I'm also swearing off women and intoxicants for the time I'll be working on this project for extra time/focus/$$ haha) This will be my full time home and adventure mobile, so I don't mind buying a bus that's higher in price if it's in better shape and will last longer. Same goes with the conversion.

These are the beauties I'm looking at

1999 Thomas Navistar 3800
$8000
International diesel Turbo T444 with Alyson Auto transmission
160,000Km, 4 wheel disk brakes and fair to good rubber on the front and good to excellent on the back .
New exhaust system and 3 starter batteries. The bus runs and drives great and is up on blocks for storage.
It needs its diesel and coolant filters changed out.
Work done so far includes. Swell red velour Captains Chair, Insulated sub floor, engineered cork floor, Four deep cycle AGM batteries ( 10,000+ amp hours ) with 4000w pure sine wave inverter and special deep cycle battery charger, Power trunk and two power outlets w/USB, Corner bench with storage/ Electric Heater, Elegant Laundry sink with cabinet, Matching Deep Ikea drawers with Led lights, Gas RV Oven with three burner cook top, Custom Maple epoxy sealed counter top, Swiss made Propane/Electric fridge, 6foot folding bamboo slab tabletop, White gloss wood twin bed with spindles and storage drawers with ikea super foam mattress (new), Fire rated wall with slate stone and wood burning stove, and chimney, Storage loft over driver and bed provides massive amount of storage. Entire roof insulated with poly vapour barrier and sheeted with 1/4 wood, all wood materials have been sealed build so far has been MARINE GRADE, every effort has been made to seal and make surfaces washable to eliminate mould opportunities providing longevity to this project. Everything is riveted/ screwed and fastened properly . All the work is clean and modifiable.This is a solid foundation and the sky is the limit as far as what you can do structurally with these things like add another level or build a folding deck or whatever you can dream, it is a metal beast. A lot of the time consuming crappy work has been done like the floor and ceiling. there is a little bit of floor and ceiling to be done at the back but it's minimal like 10% left and all the material is there.
Materials that come with the bus to finish, Accessory propane tank and hoses, Electric ignition propane Furnace, water tanks, solar panels, Rv Toilet, Skylights, Wood paneling, Pre finished divider panels, etc.

1992 Songbird
$4500 OBO
5.9L Cummings engine, with a Detroit/Allison automatic transmission

1997 GMC ...?
$4000
375 695 km
IN GREAT RUNNING CONDITION. Passed all safety inspection regulations
comes with 2 spare tires on rims and runs on propane and has an Allison automatic transmission. New battery
You can also speak to the previous owner as he is my father and was a bus driver for 50 years.

2008 Freightliner Thomas
$20000
Mercedes MBE906 Diesel 190HP; Allison 2500 Automatic Transmission; good condition; good tires

1999 Freightliner
$8500
46,940KM. CAT DIESEL 3126 ENGINE. 190HP. AUTO TRANS. FRONT TIRES 80%, REARS ABOUT 20% GOOD, WEATHER CRACKED

2005 Freightliner FS65
$6500
330,206km
6.4L L6 DSL MERCEDES, AUTO TRANS

1998 THOMAS BUS SAFETY LINER
$5000
5.9 L 6 CYL. AUTOMATIC, Diesel
BODY IN GOOD CONDITION WITH SOME
CHIPPING. SPRING SUSPENSION. STARTS WELL. DRIVES STRAIGHT

1990 GMC MODEL 6000
$5000
140,200km
C/W 8.0L V8 LPG AUTOMATIC, Propane

1993 GMC MODEL BLUEBIRD
$3500
399,458 KM
V8 PROPANE, AUTOMATIC, C/W 454 CID PROPANE AUTOMATIC


**These are all ~39 foot buses and all prices are Canadian Dollar. If there's no mileage in the info, it's because it wasn't offered. I also posted as much relevant info as possible that was listed.
I'll be checking every bus for rust, mileage, tire/wheel condition, engine condition, oil stains, and trying to take all of them for a test drive.
Without knowing any more info than what I have given you, I'm leaning towards the 1990 (for lower price and low mileage), the 2005 (because the price is decent and it's newer), or possibly the 99 Thomas because it comes included with so much and the mileage is low. If the 2008 has lower mileage, I'd even be willing to settle on it for that price range for peace of mind because it is the newest. A 2009 for $22k was just sold, so I'm guessing it's a good price for that year...?

Any pointers, advice, thoughts would be greatly appreciated please!
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Old 01-17-2017, 02:06 PM   #2
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Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: NY
Posts: 314
Year: 2000
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: T444E
8k for that conversion is fantastic. I'd check your figures though -- I doubt he has a 10,000 amp hour battery banks. Probably closer to 1,000 tops. I would DEFINITELY go with that one. The conversion parts alone are probably close to 8k. Why spend money on a brand new bus when you are going to gut it and depreciate it anyway? Cummings, the Dt466 and Dt360, T444e ... they're all great engines. With 25k I wouldn't spend more than 5k on a bare bus and dump the rest into solar, inverters, water, toilets, et cetera. But you've already got one with all the hard work completed. I have a T444e. It's slow but it chugs all day, You'll be happy. I forgot how much more expensive Canadian vehicles are! you've got a nice sized budget in any case.

Other than that you're on the right track with looking for mileage, HOURS on the engine (this is just as important), rust, tire tread, leaks. Maintenance history, red flags like missing radiator caps or clogged air filters. Good luck and welcome.
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Old 01-17-2017, 03:27 PM   #3
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Location: Calgary,AB
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Year: 2001
Coachwork: Thomas Saf-T-Liner MVP ER
Engine: 7.2L CAT
Rated Cap: 37 feet, flat nose, RE
Quote:
Originally Posted by warewolff View Post
8k for that conversion is fantastic. I'd check your figures though -- I doubt he has a 10,000 amp hour battery banks. Probably closer to 1,000 tops. I would DEFINITELY go with that one. The conversion parts alone are probably close to 8k. Why spend money on a brand new bus when you are going to gut it and depreciate it anyway? Cummings, the Dt466 and Dt360, T444e ... they're all great engines. With 25k I wouldn't spend more than 5k on a bare bus and dump the rest into solar, inverters, water, toilets, et cetera. But you've already got one with all the hard work completed. I have a T444e. It's slow but it chugs all day, You'll be happy. I forgot how much more expensive Canadian vehicles are! you've got a nice sized budget in any case.

Other than that you're on the right track with looking for mileage, HOURS on the engine (this is just as important), rust, tire tread, leaks. Maintenance history, red flags like missing radiator caps or clogged air filters. Good luck and welcome.
Thank you so much for your input! This is the link to the ad with pics and everything. My biggest issue with this rig is that it currently has 5'8" of clearance inside. I'm ~5'11" and being able to stand without hunching over at all is a big must for me. Don't really care for taller visitors haha

http://www.kijiji.ca/v-rv-motorhome/...ationFlag=true

I realize that I could probably tear up the floor and possibly ceiling to make up at least another 4" but that may prove to be difficult. Time will tell I suppose.

I'm intrigued to see the condition of most of the gear too. Might just ask them if they're willing to part ways with the stuff I want for a good price
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Old 01-17-2017, 05:16 PM   #4
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Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: Prince George, BC, Canada
Posts: 467
Year: 1974
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: CHEVROLET C60 just under 19700 lbs body#B10353
Engine: 350 ci on propane
Rated Cap: 48
Gas or propane fueled buses may need engine work soon 300+ on the clock is getting close to max mileage for a well maintained engine.
JMO Gordon
Good luck and welcome from Northern British Columbia

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Old 01-17-2017, 05:51 PM   #5
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Join Date: Nov 2016
Location: Alberta
Posts: 112
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Thomas 72 passenger
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: 230HP DT466 engine MD3060 transmission
Lots of good options. Depends on how much work you want to do.
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Old 01-17-2017, 09:57 PM   #6
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Join Date: May 2015
Location: Oklahoma aka "God's blind spot"
Posts: 2,217
Year: 1989
Coachwork: 1853FC International/Navistar
Chassis: 35' Retired Air Force Ambulance
Engine: DT466, MT643
Rated Cap: 6 souls and a driver
The scuttle I hear on this forum is to steer clear of Cats & Mercedes
Too proprietary from what I hear.
But I only know less than shinola about diesel engines

Welcome aboard!

I wouldn't kick this one outta bed!
"1999 Thomas Navistar 3800
$8000"
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Old 01-17-2017, 10:51 PM   #7
Skoolie
 
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Join Date: Nov 2016
Location: Alberta
Posts: 112
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Thomas 72 passenger
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: 230HP DT466 engine MD3060 transmission
This one is nice.

School bus for sale | used cars & trucks | St. Albert | Kijiji
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Old 01-17-2017, 11:30 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidrheal View Post
(I'm also swearing off women and...)
I concur...
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