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Old 07-18-2017, 11:54 AM   #21
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Georgia
Posts: 862
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: IH
Engine: T444E
Rated Cap: 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by AMLbusnoob View Post
Update on our bus search. I have been speaking with a very nice gentleman who has a bus that clearly needs work but seems to be upfront about everything. It is one of the buses I sought everyone's input on already. It is this guy:
1987 MCI-9 40foot already started some conversions on it. https://buffalo.craigslist.org/rvs/d...168637072.html

Here is a transcript of his last communication with me (please let me know if this is a pass or pursue situation, he is flexible on the price):

I never had a issue with this motor. I think it is rather strong. Blows smoke when you start it but not when you are running it. Detroit motors all leak oil and this does down the rubber drain lines but no major leaks anywhere.
The transmission had the lights come on a few times but has always shifted smooth. I was worried about the hills in PA but it took those very well.
I did have an issue with the fuel once. I went to get some fuel for a very short trip. The fuel gauge was never fully true and the speedometer only works when it rains (must need an alignment). Anyway the RV stopped as I pulled out of the gas station and quit. Luckily I was on a hill and rolled it back into a parking spot. I tried everything to get it to run. Called a road service and they sent out a kid to tell me he had no idea. They towed it 15 miles ($750) and had it in the shop for 5 days. Finally told me it lost the prime and had no fuel in the lines. The put a air hose in the tank to push the fuel into the motor. Charged me $1,700 for that. Oh I was pissed.
Well it happen again the next week. So I fixed it myself. I got 10ft of hose. Found an extra dead end line on top of the fuel tank. Took the fuel filters off next to the motor. Got on the roof and poured a couple gallons of fuel in the hose to gravity feed it the 30ft back to the motor - not pushing it with air. I heard the fuel hitting the pan under the filters and closed it up. Worked like a charm. Ever since I shut the tank lines off and park it nose up and starts every time. So might be an air leak in the fuel line but could never find it.
You have to remember this is a 30 year old machine.
Needs an air dryer for the front to level the bus out while riding = $300. It never bothered me when I drove it and you don't notice it that much.
The kneel function doesn't work and might be part of the air dryer?
Has a new lobe in the passenger rear side.
Brake pads = $1,000 - install is $1,500 to $2,000 probably.
Muffler could possibly be welded I'd think.
Windshield had a small chip but had it sealed.
Windows are all good and will give the RV windows that I bought for it = 4 windows at $150 each - $600.The standard bus windows in it now are $400 each x 14 windows = $2,000 worth of glass.
Drivers tag wheel seal is leaking and might need attention.
No rust except maybe in the forward AC area / is a small hole in the body under the passenger side door but very small. I can get you a picture of those areas.
No forward AC but the rear might be able to charge and might work.
Can't think of anything else we worked on or needed attention.
So far I'm not seeing anything I wouldn't expect from a 30 year old coach. The old 2-stroke Detroits were known to leak a little and as long as you leave 'em be, they'll run trouble-free. The fuel losing prime could be the driver allowing it to run too low, or an aging line allowing air to get it, it's hard to know without further investigation. The fuel gauge and speedometer should be relatively easy fixes (I believe many coaches have electronic speedometers going back to the 70's). The air dryer will likely need some love, too. This is a somewhat common failure item if neglected and will be a cause of air loss if/when it does (oil and grease gum up the inner workings if the air dryer filter is not serviced regularly).

Two things I would at the very least check before driving it any distance. I'd check the brake lining thickness, and the oil in the wheel hub. You do *NOT* want to drive with a "dry" bearing, and even more importantly you do *NOT* want to drive on excessively thin brakes. The bearing can be topped off rather easily (to address the seal later) but you'll need a pretty big jack and wrench to remove the tires to service the brakes. Some have backing plates which make it difficult to check the lining thickness, some don't. You'll want at least 3/8" of brake thickness (and even that's getting thin, I believe the minimum is about 1/4"); new shoes are about 1" brake thickness.

If the A/C hasn't been converted to R134 then you'll probably want to do that. The R12 it likely has/had is no longer in production and is hard to find and expensive if/when you do. A conversion will probably be cheaper than the cans of R12 it would need to service the system - and you'll be able to service it in the future.
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Old 07-18-2017, 12:49 PM   #22
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: MD near DC
Posts: 712
Quote:
Originally Posted by AMLbusnoob View Post
Keene is a ways South of me, but still gets a lot of the nice cool weather we enjoy. It has been ranging from mid-60s to low 80s for the highs this past week or so. Be warned though, 80+ degrees is damn hot (imo) at least in NH. But you will find it pleasant. I drove around Bethesda to Frederick and back down through Dickerson, Poolesville, Potomac one day looking at places and learning I can't stand the traffic and can't afford anything South of Poolesville, and man alive, if I slowed down for too long in the Jeep with the top down, the heat was overwhelming (yep, thats right, the wife, dog and I drove the Jeep, top down from NH to Missouri on a road trip, tent camped when we needed some shut eye, MD was the hottest place along the way, VT, & rural PA were the prettiest, though Poolesville & Dickerson, MD were heavily forested w/ that old time feel).
I drove for an entire day just to explore Maryland between Poolesville and Middletown, just checking out the little roads and towns that felt most like home in NH. I saw a ton of deer, I guess most people in MD aren't hunters, smaller deer than in NH, but big racks on those bucks, more for me But again, the traffic and the heat is killer.

What you have to watch in NH are the property taxes. We do not have income taxes which is fantastic. But, if you own an expensive piece of property, you will experience those taxes. Most towns in NH have a formula that works out to around $30-$40 per $1,000 of assessed property value (property taxes north of $10k are easy to achieve...
I've already bought in Keene, and I'm happy with my choice. I hear you about the property taxes there though. They gotta get their pound of flesh one way or the other. The taxes on my $190K house in NH are 50% more than the taxes on my $375K house in MD, and the NH house is nicer to boot. Having grown up in the Liberal DC Bubble I'm OK with taxes so long as you get something in return. But that's a different story, and you ain't gonna get these live-free-or-die types up here to vote in any more taxes any time soon.

The deer are not any more common in MD than in NH; it's just that we've cut down damn near all the woods around here for McMansions.

If you slow down your Jeep with the top down around here, you'll get run over by some a$$hole in a $60K Hummer. He'll flip you the bird, to boot.

You are not going to find 5 acres around here within driving distance of DC. And if you do it'll be somewhere north of $100K per acre. Where is your job? If it's downtown and you're in Poolesville (it is nice there) you are 75 to 90 minutes from your job.

I just don't want you to make an uninformed decision that you will later regret.
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Old 07-18-2017, 12:51 PM   #23
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: MD near DC
Posts: 712
Oh, and as a DC native, I get a kick out of the NH locals lying down on the sidewalk and moaning "Take me now, Jesus!" every time it gets to 85 degrees.
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Old 07-18-2017, 02:34 PM   #24
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Posts: 17
My wife works in Bethesda. She has a great set up in terms of telecommute policies. Her boss even said she could count commute time as part of her work day, so long as she was doing work (taking a phone call or sitting on the train with her laptop out). I am sure there is a limit to that, like if she is only in the office a few hours a day, that might be antisocial, but still, such a policy could give us a bit more distance. I drove Poolesville to Bethesda and back twice that one day and it seemed true to Google maps, about 25 miles and 45 minutes each way. By our standards that stinks, but for the area it seems pretty good.

It is a give and a take. As much as I Love living out in the sticks, it is not the best for maximizing career growth. We absolutely will be moving into an even more rural location someday, but for now, it is what it is. I just know we don't want to do the tiny lot with no garage in Silver Spring for $500k. I would rather spend my dollars on some privacy and nature and commute in a little farther (even if that means we buy land and live on a bus for a while), hell bus + land might be the best thing ever! I think we are going to find out.

The drivers were not that bad in the Maryland area to be fair. There were a few inpatient you-know-whats, but we get our fair share of MA visitors in NH and we don't call'em Massholes for nothing, I am talking about people who, while driving through scenic Vermont and New Hampshire, slow, winding roads lush with maple and pine and the occasional farm and of course old rock walls, will tailgate the whole time like they have something better to do in life than enjoy it.

Yes us Live-Free-or-Die folks are pretty adamant about small government and light taxes when possible. We (surprisingly) are the only state that doesn't require a seatbelt. There are all kinds of political views since most of us are transplants, but plenty of us raise bees, keep chickens, hunt and fish and like it that way.

The heat is a real concern for me. I was one of those, lay down and wait for death folks when I visited. I wonder what kind of fans/windows/cooling I will want on the bus. If there are roof hatches, maybe I can outfit them with skylights that open up to vent out hot air. Some solar panels to operate a cooling system, I don't know, will figure that out once I decide on a bus.
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Old 07-18-2017, 02:46 PM   #25
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Posts: 17
Still thinking about the 1987 MCI-9:
https://buffalo.craigslist.org/rvs/d...168637072.html

As well as the 1995 MCI DL3:
https://newjersey.craigslist.org/cto...211109436.html

I emailed a guy in Boston area who sells buses for a living, mainly school buses to see if he has any 40' flat nosed with cargo bays available. I saw that there is one in MD:
https://baltimore.craigslist.org/cto...178716787.html

Also in MD, another Eagle:
https://baltimore.craigslist.org/cto...219328169.html

And then the other two I am still thinking on, just not sure where they rank:
the 1976 GMC - Need to contact seller about the condition of the engine,
https://newlondon.craigslist.org/rvs/6142045527.html

And the '67 Silver Eagle RV:
https://hudsonvalley.craigslist.org/cto/6206423632.html

Hopefully one of these will work out.
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Old 07-18-2017, 04:06 PM   #26
Bus Nut
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Georgia
Posts: 862
Year: 2001
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: IH
Engine: T444E
Rated Cap: 14
If you're thinking of a 40' school bus, don't limit yourself to only those with underbody storage. Those can be added later without too much cost or difficulty.
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Old 07-18-2017, 10:38 PM   #27
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Posts: 17
embarrassed to say that I only just realized the MCI DL3 is 5 feet longer than the 9 and a half a foot taller. That is not insignificant.

I think I may pursue the DL3 more seriously and see about the price.

One question on the DL3, with bathroom coming standard in the back of the bus, is it q big deal to move its location so that the back can be the bdrm, or at least move the bthrm so that it is forward of the bdrm. I don't like the idea of any guests (not that I am a big entertainer) having to go through the bedroom to use the restroom.

Was planning on going the composting route with the toilet, one of the fancy models, who knows maybe a separate toilet for the numero unos and bidet (I am a believer in the bidet...).

Any suggested configurations? My wife is wondering about a separate powder room, toilet sink config at the front of bus and a private bathroom back in the bdrm area, that seems like a less inefficient use of space, but am open to all thoughts (of course this all assumes, we can get the DL3 at good price).
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Old 07-18-2017, 10:43 PM   #28
Bus Crazy
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Pacific North Wet
Posts: 1,330
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: All American RE (A3RE)
Engine: Cummins ISC (8.3)
Rated Cap: 72
Most coach converters remove the factory restroom. Is it easy & clean? Absolutely not!

The toilet & waste tank configuration & location is not well suited to the finished conversion.

Plan on taking it out.
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Old 07-20-2017, 11:29 AM   #29
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Posts: 17
I have my choice narrowed down to the MCI dl3 and a 40' flat front school bus w/ cargo bays. A couple points of consideration between these options:
Ongoing maintenance costs, I imagine every repair/replacement part will be much more expensive w/ the MCI than the school bus and that mpg will be less; those DL3s are heavy?

What about in terms of getting off the highway and exploring, hitting those winding 2 lane country roads, or needing to access gravel roads, would this rule the big coach out?

The DL3 is 16k, and as much as I'd like that extra width, height & length, if I can't take it many places, that might be an issue (though I must be honest with myself, other than a few trips a year, the bus will be parked on rural land ... not sure if I will need to make a gravel lot for it).
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Old 07-20-2017, 09:40 PM   #30
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Posts: 17
a few more questions:

if we plan on keeping the bus primarily parked on the property except for a couple cross-country trips/year, are there best practices we need to follow to protect the bus (leveling systems, etc?), and if so, do those vary depending on if we choose the 40' school bus vs the 45' MCI? I read about the Bigfoot leveling system and apparently, the importance of such a device with the monocoque shell of the MCI. I guess this would be another way in which the big MCI is more expensive to maintain than a 40' skoolie?

If we are not doing a lot of regular driving, what are your opinions on the school bus vs MCI dl3? I know the DL3 costs more to begin with, in this case, right around double. I am being told by the MCI seller that his DL3 (for which he is not the original owner) shows 90k miles, he does not know if it has rolled over and back to 90 or not. It has apparently had an inspection in '15 or '16 and has had the transmission rebuilt recently. I am told there are no major mechanical issues/"needs absolutely no mechanical work".

The one thing I do feel good about is for the price of either of the buses I am looking at right now, to finish out a 300-400 sqft tiny house would likely cost as much or more and be a hell of a lot more difficult to relocate, so in that respect the buses are looking pretty good... Just looking for some final weigh in here.
Thanks guys.
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