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Old 07-10-2018, 08:57 PM   #1
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Hello! Need help finding the right bus

Hello all! I've been shopping for a used bus but the hell if I know what I'm doing anymore. I started looking at auction school buses as a permit free way to have something more solid than a tent. I've got a couple acres in SW Michigan with nothing but trees that I've been having a grand time camping, building trails and cutting trees at.

We went down to Midwest Transit in Kankakee, IL and looked at the different configurations. Conventionals pull on heart strings although we really like the rear engine with storage underneath. And now we're excited at the idea of going on trips with it. We've been looking at RV's and travel trailers for years.

At this point I'm pretty sure I want a road worthy bus. I've been looking at Gilligs and MCI's lately. My brain is mush from researching. Not really a fan of the low floors. All the 77-87 MCI private sellers talk about huge maintenance costs. I've reading that motor coaches are expensive. Is a 20 year old used school bus going to be any better on maintenance or fuel economy than a 40 year old coach?

For reference. I'm in the chicago suburbs. I got lured in by $1000 used bus auctions. I'm a scrooge at heart and would like to spend $6k ish on the vehicle if we're going to drive it. I have a CDL with combination and air brake endorsement. Can fix lots of stuff although zero experience with big buses. I did have an 85 g30 short bus I tailgated at NIU. That was a 350 small block and I felt very comfortable working on it.
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Old 07-10-2018, 09:11 PM   #2
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Check out this thread and answer all the questions posed in post #1
I would not consider buying anything from your area, too much salt on the roads destroys these thing. Expect to travel to get a good deal, which isn't always just a good price. You don't need a CDL to drive a privately owned bus. You'll easily find a quality bus within your budget. I splurged and spent $3500 for mine.
My daughter lives in Romeoville, anywhere near you?

http://www.skoolie.net/forums/f6/tur...tml#post279800
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Old 07-11-2018, 10:40 AM   #3
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What do you want to do with your bus? Camp with it on private property. Maybe a trip or 2 a year.

Where do you want to go with your bus? I'm in Illinois and all my regular destinations are in Michigan.

Will you aim for RV parks and friends with extension cords? Nope.

What sort of terrain will you be expecting? Michigan sand and hills.

How fast do you drive? 70

How much time do you want to spend in your bus? Couple days to a week at a time. 6 weeks a year total.

What climate will you be in? Midwest! I get both extremes.

How many people will you be hosting? 6 people, 2 adults, 4 boys 12, 9, 6, 3. Might take another family out. Don't need to sleep more thsn 6 but would like to have enough seats for friends to come along.

How good are you at construction? Framing? Finish? Electrical? Plumbing?Do all my own work.

How good are you at fixing cars? Diesels? Cars and light trucks are no problem. No experience with bigger trucks or diesels but it can't be rocket science. I fully expect to do the majority of service work.

How much money do you have to spend for the bus? For the conversion?6k for bus, 10k total

Where do you live? Illinois. Strangley enough in Romeoville

How far can you travel to check out a bus? To pick up a bus? I'd consider travelling, but not loosing working hours is key. My brother works in San Antonio pretty regularly and has offered to drive something back for me in Texas or OK.

How soon do you need a working conversion? Meh, just a water tight shell is better than any tent we've had. I'd like the vehicle this year.


I though I read some of the places wouldn't let you take the vehicle unless you had an appropriate driver's license for it? Just call it an RV with too many seats?
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Old 07-12-2018, 12:49 AM   #4
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Rated Cap: 20? five rows of 4?
if you know your way ....

sounds like to me you can do the work on a bus..... bigger bus, bigger engine. Every thing is bigger and heavier.

Keep in mind just about anything 7 liters or 400 cubic inches is gonna be on the small side, for a four stroke diesel anyways, on a big bus.

7.9 to 8.5 I think is the size range you will be more pleased with.

If you have storage space, I am using 2017, 2018 ford transit seats. Check them out on ebay to see what I am talking about. Integrated seat belts, have latch in points for child seats, cloth or vinyl, come in triples, doubles and singles. some will recline, like air plane seats recline. Most I have seen for sale also include the mounting rails that get bolted to the floor. I ask if you have storage space, if you dont want seating for 15 you can take some seats out.... There seems to be a magic number of 15 seats or less. More than 15 you open the can of worms and the insurance and DMV gods will be angry.

From what I read, some state or federal parks have a length limit.

William
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Old 07-12-2018, 02:11 PM   #5
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I had issues with more than 15 passengers when title'ing my short bus. So out a seat came and everyone was happy. After poking though some build threads it sounds like I need to find the law that says I can do whatever I want as long as it's for personal use.

Are there any good suggestions for dealers to shop? I could probably fly out and drive back over a weekend. 1000 mile radius from Chicago?

The MCI's are all Detroit Diesel 2 strokes. I was under the impression 2 strokes aren't as efficient as 4 strokes. But the coach fuel economy numbers I'm reading make me think otherwise? What'd I miss? Huge fuel economy gains from rear radiators?
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Old 07-12-2018, 02:32 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Heavy View Post
The MCI's are all Detroit Diesel 2 strokes. I was under the impression 2 strokes aren't as efficient as 4 strokes. But the coach fuel economy numbers I'm reading make me think otherwise? What'd I miss? Huge fuel economy gains from rear radiators?

Keep in mind the big coaches were set up for long distance cruising and Greyhound wants to save every dime possible on their fuel costs. As such, they were engineered for the purpose.
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Old 07-12-2018, 02:32 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Heavy View Post
The MCI's are all Detroit Diesel 2 strokes. I was under the impression 2 strokes aren't as efficient as 4 strokes. But the coach fuel economy numbers I'm reading make me think otherwise? What'd I miss? Huge fuel economy gains from rear radiators?
Not all have 2 stroke engines. While the 2 strokes were the most popular option into the early 90's there are plenty of them on the road with Series 50/60 as well as a few Cummins.

I have seen one CAT powered Eagle.

Eagle, MCI and Prevost offered a number of engine options to their customers.

My 8v71 powered Eagle (42k lbs) got 7.25-7.5mpg. A gent that I met who had a 350hp Cummins in his Eagle.claimed 8.5-9mpg.

I did find that adding alcohol did improve fuel economy. Sitting around bus rally's in the evening I noticed that as the cocktails flowed mpg claims steadily increased.....
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Old 07-24-2018, 07:35 PM   #8
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Bought a running 40' low floor Gillig. It's the perfect bus because it's mine, right? Gonna pick it up tomorrow and see what I really got
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