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Old 03-22-2019, 12:56 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2019
Posts: 17
Thumbs up Hello from San Diego

Hello everyone!


I'm new to Skoolie life but I have done Tiny Home builds in the past. My pal just bought an Ambo 4x4 and lives in it so I'm helping in that build also.


I realized that I'm paying around 18,000 in rent every year and that's just rent so why should I pay someone else?


So I'm looking for a 5-6 window Skoolie (non-cutaway) to work on and live in. I'm former Military so I have the GI Bill, which is a nice safety net for money while I build. I plan to live in it for the next year or two and if I love it, longer.


So far I know that I want a Diesel engine and to stay away from Cat and C7 Engines. I saw somewhere that I should avoid anything after 2000? (That part is iffy) and I am searching all sorts of marketplaces for a good deal.


My initial budget is somewhere around 8g for the buy and ongoing up to 15-20k for the whole build including the purchase. I've seen some buses go for as low as 1500. So, I hope I find one of those.


I'm a graphic designer and web developer by trade and I love working on Sketchup too. So I hope I can be useful around here. Thanks!
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Old 03-22-2019, 01:46 PM   #2
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: San Diego, CA
Posts: 27
Hello fellow San Diegan!

I’m getting started on my finding a short bus journey as well!
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Old 03-22-2019, 01:54 PM   #3
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Location: Houston, Texas
Posts: 8,446
Year: 1946
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Chassis: 1- 1/2 ton
Engine: Cummins 4BT
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2000 is OK for most makes. It is the 2004 and later years to avoid. That is when the Feds mandated a lot of EPA/environmental electronics and such that makes those units real nightmares to own/operate. You will often see very low mileage buses for sale that match those dates...they are NOT deals. They are being sold at low miles/hours because they have simply become to expensive to operate and maintain.


The first few years were the absolute worst and if you are very tech oriented, you might be able to deal with some of the later years but personally, I'd avoid them all and try to find the best older and all mechanical unit I could find.


Just my 2 centavos.
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Old 03-22-2019, 01:58 PM   #4
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Join Date: May 2016
Location: Eastern WA
Posts: 4,050
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: All American RE (A3RE)
Engine: Cummins ISC (8.3)
Rated Cap: 72
Welcome,

Sounds like you have a plan.

If you plan on staying in the San Diego area, I would recommend securing a place to park and live in the bus before buying a bus.

I spent some time in San Diego in my first bus and found affordable places to stay were a bit hard to find.

If you are able to work remotely that opens up a number of cheap or free places to stay. Take a look at California LTVA's. Almost free

Regarding favorable years of buses, after 2004 the required emmissions equipment makes them less reliable and more complicated/expensive to maintain.

Some folks prefer mechanical (no computer) engines for their reliability and simplicity. The electronically controlled engines started in the mid '90s and by 2000 they were all computer controlled.

As far as budget goes, there are plenty of good buses for $5k or less. I bought my Bluebird with 170K miles, 8.3 Cummins and Allison MD-3060 for $3450. I have seen a few really nice buses go at auction for less than $2k.

Good luck!
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Old 03-22-2019, 02:43 PM   #5
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Mar 2019
Posts: 17
Thanks for all the advice everyone. Tango, I really appreciate that clarity on the bus years and what to look for. I was wondering why so many newer models are much cheaper.


PNW_Steve, San Diego just made it legal to sleep in your vehicle this year. It's awesome because it solves a lot of homeless problems and also opens it up for Van Life and Skoolies and all that. I do have a couple places I can park too, between friends and places around here. I also have my motorcycle which I will tow behind me and park it in the community when I am not moving around.


I almost had the perfect Skoolie but it turns out in Pennsylvania, you need a CDL for air-brake vehicles.
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Old 03-22-2019, 03:18 PM   #6
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Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: Damascus, OR
Posts: 511
Year: 2004
Chassis: International
Engine: T444e w/ 2000 Allison Trans
Rated Cap: 35
Welcome! this is the best place to learn most everything you will need to know in regards to buying, building, operating a skoolie. My search took 7 months. ended up buying a 2004 8 window (29 total feet long) bus for around $2200. It was the last of the few T444e (7.3l) buses that went into service before being transitioned into the 6.0l.

I am sure you can find one for much less than 8k. Also something to consider when buying a bus is where it is from. Rust is not our friend. I will let others chime in on other things to think about. Research, search, research, search some more. The hunt for the right bus is half the fun!
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Old 03-22-2019, 03:57 PM   #7
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: San Diego, CA
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San Diego has a rule banning RV parking overnight on city streets. It’s possible they won’t bother a bus but there is still a chance that you will be ticketed or towed. You can still legally park in Lakeside.
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Old 03-22-2019, 04:21 PM   #8
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Join Date: May 2016
Location: Eastern WA
Posts: 4,050
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Bluebird
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Engine: Cummins ISC (8.3)
Rated Cap: 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by Disastrogirl View Post
San Diego has a rule banning RV parking overnight on city streets. Itís possible they wonít bother a bus but there is still a chance that you will be ticketed or towed. You can still legally park in Lakeside.
Good to hear.

Many cities are going in the opposite direction and making more restrictive laws affecting overnighting.

It looks like SD repealed a law restricting sleeping in your car that had been on the books for 35 years.
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Old 03-22-2019, 04:34 PM   #9
Mini-Skoolie
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: San Diego, CA
Posts: 27
Now you can’t be ticketed for sleeping in your legally parked car and the last time I checked there were a couple of safe places for people to park and sleep overnight that had portos but you have to leave first thing in the morning. I still see RVs parked on the street but there are way less than there used to be. It helps a lot if you don’t look janky but if you park in a neighborhood the neighbors WILL complain.
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Old 03-22-2019, 05:10 PM   #10
Bus Geek
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Eastern WA
Posts: 4,050
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: All American RE (A3RE)
Engine: Cummins ISC (8.3)
Rated Cap: 72
I parked in residential areas when I was down there.

Arrived late, left early and didn't spend more than one night in any spot. I was fortunate and did not have any problems.
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