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Old 07-29-2015, 10:42 AM   #1
New Member
Join Date: Jul 2015
Posts: 3
Hello from Utah!

Hi everyone! I've been lurking for a while and decided it was time to join and say hello.

I am obsessed with the idea of a Skoolie and I have been doing non stop research for quite a while now. I am aiming to buy my first bus by March. Ideally I want a 56 (?) passenger rig. I have three children from 5-10 so I need some thing with plenty of room plus my boxer and my hound dog.

I guess I can throw a few questions out there.

1-Is there any one make,model, or motor/trans combo that I should be looking for that is better/more reliable than most?

2-I like the idea of a raised roof, how much work is involved in doing this?

3-are any of you in Utah? I am in the salt lake area and it would be great to talk to someone local who has done a conversion and see what they have done.

I am a welder/fabricator/blacksmith with a lot of carpentry and cabinet making experience so I think my skill set will really help me get the job done well. I'm only really concerned about wiring, I don't get along with electricity very well.

I guess that is it for now, sorry for the long post I'm just very excited and every one I know just looks at me like I'm crazy when I talk about it.
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Old 07-29-2015, 12:13 PM   #2
Bus Geek
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Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Houston, Texas
Posts: 4,345
Year: 1946
Coachwork: Chevrolet/Wayne
Chassis: 1- 1/2 ton
Engine: Cummins 4BT
Rated Cap: 15
Howdy & Welcome! --- sounds like you were born to build a Skoolie given your skill sets! Best bet is to do as much reading here as possible. Especially the "Build Threads". There are so many variables that it can seem overwhelming but there are a few basics you definitely want to keep in mind while shopping.

Avoid any units that spent their life running salted roads.

Forget the paint job, begin by looking under the bus for rust, oil/fuel leaks etc.

Go diesel. Gassers are not really worth investing your time & money in unless you only plan on driving it once or twice a year for less than 100 miles round trip. There are many good reasons why virtually all commercial OTR vehicles are diesel powered.

If you know a good mechanic or have a friend with knowledge of the engine and/or transmission type you are interested in...take them along. It could be the best beer you ever invested.

Most will be automatics but there are a few five speed standards around that are fine as long as your left leg is up to it in traffic. If you go automatic, try to avoid the old Allison 543 trans. Just about all of the later Allison 4-5 & 6 speeds are much better trannies. Look for lock up and closer gear ratios. Some come with overdrive...a real plus. The more gears the better.

Buying direct from school districts provides many possible advantages. They are generally very well maintained AND often come with complete maintenance logs which are worth their weight in gold. And very often, you can chat up the techs who have been intimate with each bus and provide you a line on the "pick of the litter".

Just a few generalizations. I hope they help a bit. Be patient and don't hesitate to spend a little more up front if you find a really good unit with all the right bells and whistles. It will pay back in the long run.

Best of luck and please do keep us up on your progress.

PS...My 1946 Chevy Skoolie came from near Monroe Utah. I traveled from Houston to get what I was looking for.
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Old 07-29-2015, 01:16 PM   #3
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Join Date: Jul 2015
Posts: 3
Thanks for the tips. I was already thinking about the salt issue so I have been looking for buses from AZ, NM, or TX.

A gasser was always a no go.

I just hope I can find one with a taller ceiling height, the ones I have looked at locally have a height of 6' and I am 6' tall without my boots on.

Quite the drive from Houston to Monroe and back. Do you have a thread with pics of your 46?
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Old 07-29-2015, 01:33 PM   #4
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Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Salt Lake City Utah
Posts: 916
Year: 2000
Chassis: Blue Bird
Engine: ISC 8.3
Welcome to the mad house! We specialize in crazy here. Although we might give the "you're crazy" look, usually there'll be encouragement to go for it anyway, too.

As for finding a bus, you might recall the Utah legislature passed a measure in their last session allocating money to help school districts replace the older buses in their fleets. This could mean there'll be an increase in used buses coming available, but there's a catch: the old units are supposed to be moved out of state or destroyed. You might be able to find a way of moving one out of state temporarily, at least on paper... just sayin'... The first step would be to learn from the transportation departments whether they'll be disposing anything that's interesting to you. Many of us weren't so lucky to find something near and traveled hundreds to even a thousand miles to bring "the right one" home, and it could be that way for you too.

There's a "public service announcement: don't buy a CAT engine" thread here, and it's only partly tongue in cheek.. I don't have any personal experience with CAT though.

I've been so mired in "little stuff" getting around to my roof raise that it's becoming difficult to isolate how much work is related to the raise specifically. The level of work involved in a roof raise depends on several things, including: how do you want to fill in the newly created void on the sides, vs how you'd do it if you were to just remove windows (or even not at all); how do you want to adapt the raised roof line to the front and rear end caps. I guess there's a spectrum of easy but patchwork to difficult but polished appearance.
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Old 07-29-2015, 11:48 PM   #5
Bus Geek
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Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Houston, Texas
Posts: 4,345
Year: 1946
Coachwork: Chevrolet/Wayne
Chassis: 1- 1/2 ton
Engine: Cummins 4BT
Rated Cap: 15
Don't fear a roof raise. Like my bus, I too am a "shorty" so I'm fine with the low overhead in my antique. But I raised an old BBAA 19" and my ex and I did most of it in a weekend. There are several good threads here that discuss roof raises and numerous opinions on ways to go about it. Don't hesitate to ask when you get to that point.

And yep...I have been working on my relic for nearly 4 years and the thread is getting a bit...heavy. Still have plenty to do but I had a pretty good idea of what I was getting into. It begins below...
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Old 07-30-2015, 01:17 AM   #6
Bus Nut
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Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: Katy, TX
Posts: 758
Year: 1989
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: Saf-T-Liner ER
Engine: 3208 CAT/MT643 tranny
Rated Cap: 87
Originally Posted by Tango View Post
And yep...I have been working on my relic for nearly 4 years and the thread is getting a bit...heavy.
We're NOT going to talk about our waist-lines AGAIN?!?!!?:hid e:
Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself. They are the American people’s liberty teeth and keystone under independence. — George Washington
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