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Old 01-29-2018, 09:34 AM   #1
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Impatient in Appalachia

Hey everyone,

I've been browsing this site for about a week now (as I scour the internet searching and re-searching all the craigslist ads and auctions I can find) and I gotta say everyones advice, humor, and knowledge is a beautiful thing to scroll through.

I've been dreaming of one day converting a mini school bus, shuttle bus, or box truck into an rv, and it seems like now may be the time. My lease is up soon, and Id love to get my hands on a vehicle so I can get some basic stuff done during these next few months.

I found a box truck (from FedEx) that I was going to check out today actually, but some wise advice is causing me to second guess my decision. There IS this mini bus (4 windows, so VERY mini) about an hour from me that I been interested in. Its a 95 Thomas, they said with a 350 engine they believe. Everything works but gas gauge (so they say), and most seats are out already and some beds were built as the guy wanted a hunting rv. Id have to rip beds out cause theyre too big, but Im wondering if a bus that small will end up feeling too cramped. They want $2700 obo for it, and specifically say they wont be offended by any offer, which makes me want to throw out $1000 and see where it goes from there.

I am feeling VERY impatient, but if there's any advice out there from folks who've lived in such a small bus, maybe thatd dampen this fire. It'll just be me and my dog, and I plan on parking it more than I drive. I dont need much at all in the way of set up.

Thanks a whole lot everyone. Im excited to really become a part of this site!
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Old 01-29-2018, 10:36 AM   #2
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Don't rush your purchase. Many of us wish we had waited for the perfect bus.
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Old 01-29-2018, 12:25 PM   #3
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Welcome

Don't rush your purchase. Many of us wish we had waited for the perfect bus.
Its almost like marriage.
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Old 01-29-2018, 05:24 PM   #4
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Haha yeah, y'all'r right. What do you think the odds are for finding a decently mechanicly sound gas short bus for $2000?
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Old 01-29-2018, 05:26 PM   #5
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Haha yeah, y'all'r right. What do you think the odds are for finding a decently mechanicly sound gas short bus for $2000?
decent if youre patient and vigilant.
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Old 01-29-2018, 05:33 PM   #6
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decent if youre patient and vigilant.

Thats what I wanna hear! Y'all know any reputable places in eastern TN (or eastern KY or western NC)? Broad google searches confuse the hell outta me with all these different websites.
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Old 01-29-2018, 05:45 PM   #7
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I've bought mine off Public Surplus. And GovDeals.
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Old 01-29-2018, 06:06 PM   #8
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Haha yeah, y'all'r right. What do you think the odds are for finding a decently mechanicly sound gas short bus for $2000?
https://www.ebay.com/itm/2007-Ford-E...haai7-&vxp=mtr
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Old 01-29-2018, 10:19 PM   #9
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EastCoast, I been scanning online auctions and sites, but I dont wanna buy anything without checking it out first, and there's rarely stuff listed nearish me. I know some folks have taken a chance with online auctions, but Im too cautious.

Thanks pbeggs. I wouldnt be able to get it from CA tho :/

I now have my eyes on a 1990 Ford Econoline 350 7.3L most seats taken out already, 89,000 miles (what?). It looks sooo beautiful and pretty well taken care of (just from the pictures of course). I was leaning against diesels because of maintanence cost, but I also won't be driving this around too much so I figured as long as I start it every once in a while it would need repairs less than if I was driving cross country, and it could tow my car no problem whenever I deciden to leave. Asking $2880
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Old 01-30-2018, 01:43 AM   #10
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EastCoast, I been scanning online auctions and sites, but I dont wanna buy anything without checking it out first, and there's rarely stuff listed nearish me. I know some folks have taken a chance with online auctions, but Im too cautious.

Thanks pbeggs. I wouldnt be able to get it from CA tho :/

I now have my eyes on a 1990 Ford Econoline 350 7.3L most seats taken out already, 89,000 miles (what?). It looks sooo beautiful and pretty well taken care of (just from the pictures of course). I was leaning against diesels because of maintanence cost, but I also won't be driving this around too much so I figured as long as I start it every once in a while it would need repairs less than if I was driving cross country, and it could tow my car no problem whenever I deciden to leave. Asking $2880
posted the link as an example of what was out there,

diesel isn't all that much more difficult than gas,.. if you plan on having a diesel sit most of the time, fill up with k-1 instead of diesel it sits better and burns a little hotter, won't gel in cold.
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Old 01-30-2018, 11:55 AM   #11
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Most of us consider a gas engine to be a deal breaker.
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Old 01-30-2018, 01:25 PM   #12
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...if you plan on having a diesel sit most of the time, fill up with k-1 instead of diesel it sits better and burns a little hotter, won't gel in cold.
Thanks for that tip! Gah, FedEx guy is willing to drive the truck 1.5 hours closer to me, so I'd only have to drive 30 minutes if I wanted it. Is it wishful thinking for me to assume if he's willing to drive 1.5 hours there musn't be anything major wrong with it? (Just thinkin about recent friend who bought a POS cause the test drive was only 10 miles and it was rigged somehow)
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Old 01-30-2018, 01:30 PM   #13
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Most of us consider a gas engine to be a deal breaker.
Oh I didnt even see your comment there. I didnt realize this thread reached 2 pages. Thanks everyone for helping me with this so far!

I've just read a lot about how much more expensive diesel repairs are. I'd love to learn as much about repairs/maintenance as I can, but if I break down somewhere on the road and don't have all the time to be setting up shop on the side of a highway, I gotta take it in somewhere. I AM however really drawn to the option of being able to convert it to VO if I want.
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Old 01-30-2018, 01:45 PM   #14
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It sounds like you could get that for a great deal. That's a good year model for that engine. It won't have any plastic parts like the air intake. I paid a little more than that for my 91. You don't need a diesel engine many people just like them.
Also, vegetable oil isn't really worthwhile anymore. Restaurants don't give it away anymore. It's a dirty process and there's always a chance of a little bit of water in it which would ruin your engine.
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Old 01-30-2018, 02:27 PM   #15
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It sounds like you could get that for a great deal. That's a good year model for that engine. It won't have any plastic parts like the air intake. I paid a little more than that for my 91. You don't need a diesel engine many people just like them.
Also, vegetable oil isn't really worthwhile anymore. Restaurants don't give it away anymore. It's a dirty process and there's always a chance of a little bit of water in it which would ruin your engine.
I remember a friend tellin me restaurants finally caught on and were charging. Still cheaper than diesel tho. Ruining the engine would be my biggest deterrent. I wouldnt mind the mess/time it takes to strain. Thanks for the info abt the econoline too. I know its just pictures, but it looks real great, and has an interior width of 8.5ft! Id have so. much. room. Im scared to spend lots of money on anything really, especially if I dont know everything to look for, but for a nice bus/home that should last me a while itd be worth it. $2,880 is already more than half my savings, but I usually dont even HAVE savings. He dropped the price from 32, but Im still gunna try for a few hundred less.
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Old 01-30-2018, 02:46 PM   #16
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Overall operating costs for diesel engines are considered to be lower than in gas engines.

WVO isn't free anymore at most places. You could supplement your fuel bill when it is available, but would it be worth the mess and smell and the space it takes in the back of your bus? Sorry but it does not smell like french fries.

8.5' wide? Are you sure? I've heard someone mention the maximum width of vehicles allowed on public roads and I believe it was just a hair over 8'. Bus inside dimensions are closer to 7'6".

Now I'm getting impatient too. What's it going to be?
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Old 01-30-2018, 03:05 PM   #17
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8.5' wide? Are you sure? I've heard someone mention the maximum width of vehicles allowed on public roads and I believe it was just a hair over 8'. Bus inside dimensions are closer to 7'6".
Road trailers are commonly 102" wide (that's 8-and-a-half-feet) and some city/urban buses are too. School buses are typically at or under the 8' mark because some states and many routes are not legal for the extra width (and in some cases, simply impractical or impassable at that width).

I believe Hawaii allows 9' wide trailers without a permit - or at least used to.
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Old 01-30-2018, 03:06 PM   #18
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Depending on vintage, a diesel option will go between 100% and 30% farther on a gallon of fuel. They are also engineered from the beginning for lasting durability under extreme load.

Your typical 5.7L Chevy is just not engineered the same way a 5.9 Cummins is.

Sometimes, repairs on a diesel will cost more than on a gas engine. But you should be doing a lot fewer.

The only tie I recommend a gasoline engine for a bus is if you are a mechanic with access to a shop and are prepared to do a full overhaul. The reality is, these buses hit the used market with 150k-250k miles. On a medium duty truck diesel engine you're talking about changing your fluids so you have a good starting point for your future maintenance, rather than an overhaul.

Ask yourself why the vehicles that travel the most are diesels, even though repair costs trend higher for them.
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Old 01-30-2018, 04:38 PM   #19
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Y'all are gettin me jazzed about diesels all over again.

I'M not sure the bus is 8.5, cause I didnt measure it myself. The guy said it was 16 behind the cab, 6.5 tall and 8.5 wide. Its still available so Im gunna see if I can meet with him soon. It is 2 hours away though :/
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Old 01-30-2018, 07:22 PM   #20
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I'll say it again...if gasoline engines made any sense in big vehicles, that's what truckers would be running. But they don't. Virtually every large hauler or long range transporter on the road is diesel powered based on a hundred years of economic evidence.
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