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Old 08-31-2017, 04:22 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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New and need help choosing a bus!! Please!

So we have done research but want to get some input here. We know we want at least a 40 footer but aside from that we would love any and all bus recommendations.

We will be living in it full time with our one year old son, 2 small dogs and our cat. We also plan to have another child in the near future and want to live in our bus for around the next 2-5 years and want to get it done in about 3-6 months (I know ambitious lol)
We will mostly be parked living in it but will travel/move to different places up to 2 times a year but likely less. Also we hope to be able to tow our SUV behind us.

What do you guys recommend?


EDIT we want to spend under 4K on the actual bus and 10-15k or less on the conversion (my dad just built an earth home and we are building it with him so labor and tools aren't a concern)
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Old 08-31-2017, 04:31 PM   #2
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Location: Billings, MT
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Year: 2003
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: HDX
Engine: Cat C7
Rated Cap: 84 passenger
  • Define your need.
    You've already done this.
  • Check your finances.
    MOST IMPORTANT. You will find your finances get depleted QUICKLY.
  • Size
    The bigger, the better. Some will define length as the number of windows; others will define size as the number of rated passengers. Windows come in far too many sizes, so go with rated passengers. Of course, if you can physically touch the beast, bring a tape measure.
  • Engine placement
    Front engine? Rear Engine? Conventional (with a hood)? Transit (no hood)? Front engined conventional give you great access to the engine, but the drive train is very long. A front engined transit's biggest drawback is the engine is inside and difficult to work on. It, too, has a very long drive train and, while driving, is noisy - very noisy. The Rear Engined transit style - quiet while driving, very short drive train and lots of vacant floor space. Big plus - basement space.
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Old 08-31-2017, 05:06 PM   #3
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I edited to add our budget -under 4K for the bus
Driving noise isn't a huge concern as we will only be driving it 1-2 times a year when we move locations.

We are open to recommendations on all front, model engine placement, engine in general, tranny, etc. the whole thing.
Ideally some specific recommendation for what busses to look for would be ideal!
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Old 08-31-2017, 05:37 PM   #4
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Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 1,497
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: Bluebird
Engine: 5.9 Cummins 24v
Rated Cap: 72 pax
If you're planning on towing, look for the bigger engines international dt466 and dt530
Cummins 8.3
Transmission: most bigger engines will have the md3060 or Mt 643.
The 3060 has 5 gears, torque converter lock up and an OD
The 643 has 4 gears and a final drive of 1:1 with lock up.
Both of those are solid trans.
Body style: a transit style front engine will give you the most living space. A rear engine slightly less with more room under it for house mechanical and storage.
A conventional is the easiest engine to work on, but you lose around 6-8 ft of floor space.
Stay away from any bus that has emissions equipment... Pricey and troublesome.


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Old 08-31-2017, 06:38 PM   #5
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Thank you! Any specific busses that fit that mold or is it just look through the listings for similar specs?
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Old 08-31-2017, 07:34 PM   #6
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Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 1,497
Year: 2002
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: Bluebird
Engine: 5.9 Cummins 24v
Rated Cap: 72 pax
Most RE busses have an md3060 or 643 on the mechanical years.
A Cummins 5.9/3060 with the right gears could pull a toad easily on flats but I wouldn't do too many steep grades.
I am partial to international/Amtran busses, but I bought a bluebird because I found it had what I needed and was in my price range. When you start to get into what maker of bus you are asking Chevy vs Ford vs Dodge.

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Old 08-31-2017, 08:30 PM   #7
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Location: Billings, MT
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Year: 2003
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: HDX
Engine: Cat C7
Rated Cap: 84 passenger
Good luck on the <$4k price range. You'll need it. Area, too, is important. Some areas (Rustbelt) give you garbage for a high price. Midwest Transit has a listing for buses <$4K, but they're long in the tooth.
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Old 08-31-2017, 09:13 PM   #8
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Location: Bemidji MN
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Year: 1998
Coachwork: Carpenter Body
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: DT466
Rated Cap: 65 to Zero. Folding Chair
Sorry guys, I have no idea what kind of bus config has those specific types of engines and transmissions.
The only thing I recognized was the engine and tranny from my bus which was classified as a bigger bus with pulling abilities.
I have an 1999 International 3800 full size 40 foot bus.
I paid $2,700 a year ago this last march.
Great engine, great transmission, great tires and it runs like a champ.
A very good lucky find once, you correct the massive rust issues I faced.

Honestly, $4,000 for a bus conversation seems light to me.
I picture $4,000 getting you a bus, seats removed, maybe a couple of 2x4 walls, a cooler as a frig, gallon jugs for water, a hunters bathroom bucket, and a laptop for entertainment, work, communications. I wouldn't expect much for four grand but, it certainly can be done.

A lot of people have done amazing things with reclaimed products. Wood, craigslist free stuff, salvage yards, friends and family and made some very comfortable skoolies.

Good luck and welcome to the best forum on the WWW.
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Old 08-31-2017, 09:45 PM   #9
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4K is the bus only budget, 10k-ish for the actual conversion
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Old 08-31-2017, 09:46 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CaptSquid View Post
Good luck on the <$4k price range. You'll need it. Area, too, is important. Some areas (Rustbelt) give you garbage for a high price. Midwest Transit has a listing for buses <$4K, but they're long in the tooth.
What is "long in tooth"? I'm not familiar with that phrase
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