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Old 05-04-2015, 07:40 PM   #1
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Location: Raleigh, NC
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Looking for help starting a short bus conversion

Hey there folks,

I just ran into this site as I'm preparing for my build, and it seems like an awesome resource packed with awesome people.

I'm looking to buy a short schoolbus--hopefully in the next few weeks as I wrap up with graduate school. I intend to make it into my full-time residence. Luckily, I've got a family member who's a contractor (and a bit of a mechanic) with all the tools and space I'll need while I'm building. I hope to spend the next year getting it together and moving in, and then take it out on the road for summer 2016.

A few questions as I'm getting going:

1. What are good resources for buying a bus? I haven't found much more than this:
- Craigslist
- eBay
- Government Surplus Auctions - GovDeals.com

2. I'm guessing that as the public school year is about to end, there will be a bunch of schoolbuses going up for sale. Does anyone have experience trying to purchase from a school system?

3. What is a reasonable mileage for a schoolbus? I'm seeing most of them for sale in the realm of 150,000 - 250,000 miles.

4. Is there anyone near the Raleigh area who might be willing to show me their skoolie? These photos and descriptions online are nice, but nothing beats being able to actually see it person.

Thanks,
ET
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Old 05-05-2015, 07:06 AM   #2
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i got my bus off craigslist,do some research on how big you want and what motor trany combo is the best. transit or shutle buses have a higher head room, lots to think about, good luck
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Old 05-05-2015, 07:09 AM   #3
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There are some nice e350 shuttle vans with the high roof in NC right now on Public Surplus or GovDeals. One even has low mileage and the 7.3.
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Old 05-05-2015, 07:30 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ethompson66 View Post
I got my bus off fleaBay from a 3rd owner company, but Gov Deals will net you a decent, probably single district (and district maintained) bus for conversion, and you should be able to get all the maintenance records for it.
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Old 05-05-2015, 09:55 AM   #5
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Don't make the mistake of buying a one ton van cutaway bus.

Get a full size chassis, short bus.

Better engines, brakes, load capacity, last longer, way way easier to work on, ect.

At the bus shop we hate the small van buses. Nothing but wiring and engine trouble.

Nat
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Old 05-05-2015, 10:51 AM   #6
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^ What Nat said. I used to drive ambulances for a living, van and modular, and they were *all* pains to work on and electrical nightmares.
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Old 05-05-2015, 03:16 PM   #7
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I'll "third" that motion. Get a REAL bus. Not an overpriced custom van.
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Old 05-05-2015, 04:27 PM   #8
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The biggest problem with any of the light duty Type 'A' and 'B' buses is there is a lot more bus on top than there is truck underneath.

It is very difficult to do much when you only have about 2,000 lbs. of payload (people, stuff, and furnishings).

A medium duty bus will usually allow a minimum of 3x that amount of payload.

Currently we have for sale some really nice shorter Type 'C' buses that just came out of service. They are 2002 IC CE buses with the T444E engine and Allison automatic transmission. Average mileage in the 150,000 range. Asking price is $4,900.00 and they are all currently in WA state.

http://www.harlowsbussales.com/inventory/

Good luck and happy trails.
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Old 05-05-2015, 04:35 PM   #9
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For full time living a short fullsize bus would be better.
But for weekending and general stealth light duty stuff the vans are great.
My friend Ben has well over 300k on his 2003-ish f350. He practically lives in it on the road as a solo musician. For actual travel the vans will save on fuel and attract less attention.
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Old 06-02-2015, 10:05 PM   #10
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If you don't like what you see on the public school surplus page, call your local bus garage and just ask when they expect more surplus. We tracked one district in my area for about 6 months and they had several small "surplussings" rather than one big one. Usually, they'll tell you straight when to expect some more but they usually don't know what they'll be getting.

They're better than private party sellers for being able to get service records and often you can talk to the mechanic(s) and get the dope on the surplussed busses. We interviewed one mechanic who directed us straight to the bus he thought was in best condition and told us (plain as you please) why it was the best choice. In the end, it was too short (there are two of us and one of us is 6' tall).

In fact, I'd suggest a newbie like myself start with a trip to the school bus garage to have the opportunity to poke around the buses and talk to the mechanic. They are a wealth of practical information just chatting with them. Watch out for snakes and bees, wear work-type clothes and take some water.

oh, and a measuring tape and note pad...forgot that.
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