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Old 06-18-2018, 09:12 PM   #1
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Location: Las Vegas, NV
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Question INTRO: New Full Timer - Please Help Me Choose The Bus

Hello all. Thank you for the great information I have been reading on here.
I am ready to pull the trigger on a Skoolie and would greatly appreciate some guidance from the forum.

The Plan:
1 year full time journey with a family of 4. Kids are 13 and 15. Everyone is on board.

The Timeline:
Not ideal but targeting early October (yes this year) as a departure. I gotta get moving on this conversion.

The Questions:
The usual.....
Whats reliable (I know I need to make the ultimate decision here and have looked at by local mechanic, but looking for opinions as to known issues or strengths of the listed choices). I just want something that is safe and will last a year.
What size
What works best for all around driving (Highway, hot weather, cold weather, mountains and flats). Not looking for a single bus that is best for all these things, but one that would not be a total non starter for any one of those scenarios. Will spend most time following temperate climate but do want to spend some time in snow and well we are from the desert.

The Buses:
I have been pouring over the internet looking at auctions and dealers. I understand that a dealer will greatly increase the price, but I also have limited time and need to get started like yesterday. I am ok paying a premium for something available now and near me but I dont want to get totally hosed. I will walk if I cant get a deal I am happy with.

The following are buses available at a local dealer (Las Vegas Bus Sales-let me know if you have any experience with them good or bad). I know they are very high in listed price so I am looking for some specific advice.
1. Given the mechanical details, mileage and condition, what do you think a good price to offer would be?
2. Any thoughts/advice on the specific engine/trans combo of the buses I am looking at. I know DT466/MT643 is the mantra, but I am looking for thoughts on what I have available here (unless you have a bus to offer for sale then let me know).
AGAIN- If you have a bus for sale that meets my needs please let me know.

Bus 1:
2004 Thomas Saf-T-Liner
CAT 3126 (pusher)
Auto Trans (manual shifting as opposed to push button)
75,500 Miles
AC/Heat ducted throughout
More RVish style windows
Under storage compartment

LIKE:
Storage
Size (but smallest I would consider)
Clean

ASKING $19500






Bus 2:
2006 Blue Bird All American
CAT C7 ACERT
Allison Auto
126,930 miles
AC/Heat ducted 2 units
More RVish style windows
luggage racks inside
fresh white paint

LIKE:
Already painted (but I wonder why this one was painted are they hiding something)?
Clean inside
Possibly keep some of those inside racks for storage

NOT LIKE:
Front engine
some soft spots in the center of the floor when walking through

Asking $24,450






Bus 3:
2003 Thomas Saf-T-Liner HDX (they have about 12 of these to pick from with identical specs and mostly the same mileage)
8.3 Cummins turbo diesel ISC (pusher)
Allison 5spd push button
220,000 miles (average for all of them)
AC and heat Ducted
UP Down school bus windows
Big 90 pass (kids) size
Desert bus from Clark County School District (Las Vegas) no rust

LIKE:
Size big boy
Rear Engine
Those goofy big mirrors
AC
Desert bus

NOT LIKE:
In rougher condition then the other ones on this list. But, its mostly cosmetic (cracked mirror housings, torn seats, bumper damage). I think it is mostly stuff that I would expect in a school bus but not sure if it indicates rough treatment.
Mileage is higher than most others I have seen. Is this too much mileage?
Desert bus (operated in hot hot conditions, I am not sure if this has a negative effect on Diesel engines to be ran and idled in the brutal heat of Las Vegas)
Size, is this too big?
No under storage

ASKING $13900







Bus 4: (not sure about this one. Not a skoolie and I think its too much work for me but I looked at it today). Instead of the above format Im just going to cut paste his listing. Nice guy had a motor coach conversion company for like 30 years, got kicked out of his building and just decided he was done in this biz.
1986 Eagle Model 10 Bus for sale.

Cummins motor (I think he said it was a 350 or 400) with 740 Allison, 40 ft., raised roof, custom built water and waste tanks, Webasto heater, water heater, slide out tray, custom front step. new dash, custom battery pack, 3000 watt inverter, LED clearance lights, custom stair well, set up for side by side seating, water manifold, driver and passenger seat, custom engine door, custom engine hatch, RV windows, 1 roof mount AC unit, custom tail lights,polished bumpers, electric wipers, RV refrigerator, rear view camera. No rust, engine installed but not running. Needs tires but is towable.

LIKE:
Roof raised
tanks installed
tons of under storage
Coach ride
tons of stuff

NOT LIKE:
not sure about this thing mechanically and need to find someone to help me finish those parts. He did guarantee that if purchased it would be running and ready to drive off.
Needs Tires
The work was stopped a long time ago and much of the wood and interior stuff is weathered. Might have to strip it and start over.
Too much work for me.

ASKING $19,000








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Old 06-18-2018, 09:21 PM   #2
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Join Date: Jun 2018
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1) those are really expensive compared to auction buses.

2) leaving in October is an incredibly aggressive schedule. Do you have about 80 hours a week to work on it?
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Old 06-18-2018, 09:23 PM   #3
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Join Date: May 2015
Location: Oklahoma aka "God's blind spot"
Posts: 2,260
Year: 1989
Coachwork: 1853FC International/Navistar
Chassis: 35' Retired Air Force Ambulance
Engine: DT466, MT643
Rated Cap: 6 souls and a driver
about all I can add

If I had it to do all over...
I'd go PUSHER!!!
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Old 06-18-2018, 09:27 PM   #4
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Year: 2004
Coachwork: IC
Chassis: CE300
Engine: DT466E
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Op you must have extremely deep pockets.
Just buy a nice coach conversion and hit the road with your family.

the buses you're looking at are worth about 1/5 what they're asking. On a good day.
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Old 06-18-2018, 10:20 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cycle61 View Post
1) those are really expensive compared to auction buses.

2) leaving in October is an incredibly aggressive schedule. Do you have about 80 hours a week to work on it?
I know they are super high priced trying to figure if they are even worth negotiating on.

Yes 80 hours a week should be doable as long as my the amazon clone I ordered really comes with 2 day prime delivery. Kidding aside I can devour full time to the project right now.
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Old 06-18-2018, 10:21 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by milkmania View Post
about all I can add

If I had it to do all over...
I'd go PUSHER!!!
I like pusher as well
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Old 06-18-2018, 10:35 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EastCoastCB View Post
Op you must have extremely deep pockets.
Just buy a nice coach conversion and hit the road with your family.

the buses you're looking at are worth about 1/5 what they're asking. On a good day.
East coast - no brother my deep pockets got serious holes in em. I know those prices are crazy. I appreciate the 1/5 ballpark you mentioned as I have a point of ref now. To explain, I came at this first looking at trailer truck combos, then class A entry or used, then realized it was high dollar for garbage construction new or used, then I stumbled on buses and thought ok that sounds solid. Finally, I found the Skoolie world and thought “yes that sounds right in so many ways”. So, I am coming down from 60-80k rv world (which I couldn’t really afford) to the more manageable skoolie world. If I had a year I would hound auctions and search far and wide, but I don’t. I need to beg borrow and haggle my way into something right away if I have any hope of finishing in time. I do not intend on paying near that asking price.
All that being said, I figure for 30k I should be able to build a nice skoolie that’s just the way I want it. All I need is the right bus to start with. So, maybe someone has the perfect bus for me that is looking for someone to overpay for it (just a little).
Or if you know of a reliable safe coach conversion that doesn’t look like 1980-2000 rv style inside for 30k, well that would be imteresting too.
I really want a skoolie though
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Old 06-18-2018, 11:41 PM   #8
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Thank you

Iím glad I posted all that even though I feel silly now. You guys gave me the wake up call I needed. What do you think of this one on eBay?
https://m.ebay.com/itm/2007-IC-School-Bus-78-passenger-Turbo-Diesel/132666407062?hash=item1ee388b896:g:Qs8AAOSwgGtbJZj A

Sounds better then the hdx I was looking at with less miles DT466 and asking half the one local. Still too high price but do you think this is a good bus? Comparable or better than the hdx I posted?

Thanks again for the wisdom.
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Old 06-19-2018, 12:29 AM   #9
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Location: Fayetteville Arkansas
Posts: 409
Year: 1991
Coachwork: Carpenter
Chassis: GMC G3500 Vandura
Engine: V-8 5.7L Gas
Here are some more resources:

https://www.publicsurplus.com/sms/br...aucs?catid=402

http://www.rollerauction.com/home.as...ming#&panel1-3

https://www.purplewave.com/search/bus

Here is a Vehicle VIN Search website:

https://www.gates.com/search-by-vin

Ideal RV Length for Fitting into National Park Campsites:

http://camperreport.com/best-rv-leng...ational-parks/

It would help if we knew where you live. If you're willing to travel for the right one you're going to have more great options.
Colorado buses are typically ideal for mountain climbing situations. Anything out west is probably safe regarding rust. There's a lot of decent ones in Texas as well.
Avoid Florida, Georgia, Michigan and most everything out east for this reason.
If you have your bedroom in the back you can easily find places for two others to sleep whether it's a foldout couch, bunk beds or hammocks. A 30 foot bus will be a lot easier to find camping and parking spots for compared to the full size 40 foot. It just depends on your needs.
Anything before 2004 won't have the electrical and emissions problems that can be costly.
Here are some with good drive trains:

Good engine for this size vehicle. You can find parts for it anywhere.
https://www.purplewave.com/auction/180619/item/DD5668

This engine is highly sought after for full size buses:

https://www.purplewave.com/auction/180619/item/DD5668

Good luck.
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Old 06-19-2018, 07:18 AM   #10
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Join Date: Dec 2017
Location: Frisco, Texas
Posts: 751
Year: 1998
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: Dt466e
Rated Cap: 71
All I'm going to chime in is that I got my bus for 2000, and most purchase for under or around 4000. Run away from the buses you're looking at. If you like spending money, just send some my way for my build, lol.
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